Never pass up a chance to sit down or relieve yourself. -old Apache saying

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Community Garden

It's coming together.

As you can see in the pic at the top 'o the blog, our Community Garden is coming together, and just in time for the fall planting season.


Many of you in the U.S. don't have a second season to grow crops like we do down hyah in the Gulf Coast, and you also don't get weeks and weeks of 105-110 degree heat indexes, so shut up and be grateful for what you have.

We are transforming a 100' x 100' vacant lot only blocks from downtown - and right across the street from my home! - into a Community Garden. We have space for 25 plots (18 or so taken) measuring 4' x 20' along with some space for a small pond, a small neighborhood "gathering space," a compost heap, and a citrus/tree orchard in the corner. The owner of the lot is letting us lease it for $1/year. I guess we should take him some of the produce we grow, huh?

This pic is from two days ago. Much has changed since then. Pics to come. Try clicking on this pic.


I'm meeting neighbors that I didn't know I had, and that's a good thing. Like Lee up there.


We are very fortunate to have an organization like Urban Harvest here in Houston. They have been instrumental in the formation of some 50+ gardens in the Houston area, and are an invaluable source if you are into gardening. Take a look at this map of gardens in the area.


First and foremost, our members are going to consume what we grow. Have you ever grown your own tomatoes? Oh. My. God. (Figure. Of. Speech.)

Weed reduces pain

The evidence is in. The evidence has BEEN in. Marijuana has a myriad of uses. "Medical" marijuana has been making inroads, but why haven't we decriminalized it for personal use and cultivation? I see two reasons: the power of special interests (like pharmaceuticals and the timber industry) that don't want their businesses threatened and cowardice of our politicians. It's just one of the many conundrums and paradoxes in the world today. Frustrating conundrums.

Marijuana effective in reducing pain, study shows
Montreal researchers establish scientific basis for medical use of drug

by Caroline Alphonso, Globe and Mail

A team of Montreal researchers has lent scientific credibility to the view that smoking marijuana can ease chronic neuropathic pain and help patients sleep better.

People suffering from neuropathic pain often turn to opioids, antidepressants and local anesthetics, but those treatments have limitations and the side effects can be punishing. Many physicians and policy-makers, however, are reluctant to advocate the use of cannabis since there has been little scientific research into its effectiveness, even though patients champion its use.

The study, published Monday in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, found that pain intensity among patients decreased with higher-potency marijuana. It is one of a handful of scientific attempts to determine the medicinal benefits of the drug.

“We’re not saying that this is the final solution for chronic pain management. As with any pain strategy, especially with chronic pain, we know that the best approach is a multidisciplinary one,” said lead author Mark Ware, director of clinical research at the Alan Edwards Pain Management Unit of the McGill University Health Centre. “All that this does is open the door to the cannabinoid being another tool in the toolbox in treating chronic pain.”

Twenty-one adults with post-traumatic or post-surgical chronic pain took part in the study and were randomly assigned to receive marijuana at three different potencies: with a tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) content of 2.5 per cent, 6 per cent and 9.4 per cent, and a placebo. THC is the active ingredient in the cannabis plant. Participants inhaled a single 25-milligram dose through a pipe three times daily for the first five days in each cycle, followed by a nine-day period without marijuana. They continued this over two months, rotating through all four strengths of THC.

The researchers measured pain intensity using a standard scale, with study subjects reporting the highest-strength drug was the most effective at reducing the pain and allowing them to sleep.

The study does not address questions about the long-term efficacy of using the drug to treat chronic pain, the researchers acknowledge. Also, there were some adverse effects among participants, including dizziness, numbness and a burning sensation in areas of neuropathic pain.

Dr. Ware said further research will build upon this study.

“As a cannabis user, it can be really hard to get people to take you seriously,” said Amy Brown, 28, a Toronto woman who was not a subject in the study but uses marijuana to relieve chronic pain and swelling in her wrist, which was injured in a car crash five years ago.

“To me, this study is vindication.”

For her, cannabis has been more effective than chemical painkillers, which had unpleasant side effects. “I wasn’t me any more, I was a drone, I was robot-like,” she said. “[When I started cannabis], I made a complete 180. I know what’s going on now. I have a clear head.”

The federal government has given authorization to almost 5,000 people to possess dried marijuana, and 3,500 people hold personal use production licences, according to Health Canada. A doctor’s authorization is required before a licence is issued. Several court judgments forced Health Canada to get into the marijuana business a few years back, so that patients would not have to rely on the black market for their supplies.

But despite Health Canada’s regulations, Dr. Ware said many in the medical community are not open to the use of marijuana to relieve pain.

“There’s a lot of resistance from physicians, and in fact some of the policy-makers, that there isn’t much evidence to support this. I know some of the Colleges and the CMA want to see evidence behind these claims before they will consider supporting or endorsing the regulations,” he said. “[This study] should provide some support to the fact that there is evidence now out there to support these claims.”

Henry McQuay, a professor at Balliol College at the University of Oxford, said the study adds to three previous investigations of smoked cannabis in coping with neuropathic pain, two of which involved patients with HIV. He noted, however, that the participant size of the study was small, the trial was short and it remains to be seen if marijuana can yield greater analgesia with fewer adverse effects than conventional drugs.

“The current trial adds to the trickle of evidence that cannabis may help some of the patients who are struggling at present,” Prof. McQuay wrote in an accompanying commentary.

With a report from Adrian Morrow

Original.

Unhappy Abe

Monday, August 30, 2010

The Beckoning

This post-script from the Beckoning (Beck-A-Palooza, the Beckture, etc.) this past weekend in Washington, D.C., from one of my favorite bloggers, The Rude Pundit.

Nine Final Observations on the Beckture: So That Happened:

A few random things left over from watching Glenn Beck's Tent Revival Meeting and Hoveround Demonstration this past Saturday in DC:

1. What the fuck was that? No, really. Before it happened, Beck was promising nothing short of a "miracle." Instead, what we got was a Very Special Episode of The Glenn Beck Show, starring Glenn Beck as the lovable lump Glenn Beck, featuring the Glenn Beck Minstrels. It was terrible and boring and old and white. It wasn't frightening, as some liberals have said. It was pathetic, like watching a parade of freaks from a Fellini film. And Beck's hour-long speech was absolute fucking nonsense. The Rude Pundit's seen actual tent-revival preachers who have been awe-inspiring and scary. Fuck, he's seen scabby homeless guys screaming about Armageddon on the street corner who were more coherent.

2. You can't spend every day of your life making broad, awful, confrontational political statements in order to get an audience and then say you're gonna have a big damn life-changing rally but it won't be political. No, motherfucker. It's political because you're political. You can wave your hammy arms at the different memorials in DC like the most enthusiastic tour guide in history, you can yell about a magical sky wizard, but it's political. And people who think it wasn't political are the blind fools who always follow the deranged sociopath right off the cliff. It was political because it was specifically Christian, specifically putting American history in a Christian context. (Yes, he trotted out a Jew.)

3. The best analogy the Rude Pundit can come up with for the whole goddamn ridiculous waste of time is the Hajj, the annual Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca. For what was this but a journey from across the nation of Christians going to the city of our stone holy sites in order to pray.

4. Advice to unthinking Beckerheads: Just because one says something with fervor and volume does not make it true. However, a good con man has to act as if he believes the lie and act accordingly. (So, you know, kudos, Glenn.)

5. Fun juxtaposition:Glenn Beck, speaking on Friday at the Kennedy Center, just before raping a kitten, using his tears for lube: "We are 12 hours away from fundamentally transforming the United States of America."Sarah Palin, speaking at the Beckture: "We must not fundamentally transform America, as some would want."

6. Neither Beck nor Palin nor the crowd nor his own niece understood a goddamned thing about Martin Luther King, Jr. Beck has reduced King to "the content of character, going so far as to say on Fox "news" the next day that King's actual ideas on economic justice are "racial politics." Using "racial politics" as a pejorative against King is like using "touchdown" as an attack on the skills of Peyton Manning. Beck perverted King, transforming one of the most confrontational figures in history into Dream Negro, the Care Bear.

7. If this was, as some analysts have said, like the Obama rallies of 2008, well, all one can say to the people there, "You've got one hell of a letdown coming your way."

8. And you follow someone who admits that he cries all the time and hears voices whose only advice to you is "Pray." Did you need to hear that?
9. In the end, Beck introduced a group of religious leaders (almost all Christian) who he called his new Black Robe Regiment, as if they were superheroes ready to fly off the stage and kick ass. They did not.

10. If anyone can tell the Rude Pundit how that was an important or interesting event at all, please do it. Because, in all honestly, he's boggled and confused.

(For the live-tweets during the Beckture and the pre-Beckture, check out the Rude Pundit on Twitter.)

No shit, Rude. All that build-up, build-up to some amazing "miracle," and all they get is an exhortation to "pray." Hahaha! To quote a friend of mine, "Nothing fails like prayer."

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Boogie

video

Pitt: Facepalm

This whole column by William Rivers Pitt is good, but pay close attention to the last paragraph...the P.S.

It's Called (facepalm)
Wednesday 25 August 2010

by: William Rivers Pitt, t r u t h o u t Op-Ed


I've been online for a number of years now, in forums and chat rooms and in the reply sections of online articles, and the jargon has never failed to crack me up. Much of it has entered the modern lexicon, thanks to the nimble fingers of a million texting teenagers. Hell, nine letters - OMG WTF LOL - makes for a whole sentence nowadays. Once upon a time, back when I was teaching English Literature, I thought the rise of online/phone-typed conversation would bring about a new Age of Letters, where the written word would once again reign supreme over the forces of monosyllabic dialog...but no, it led instead to a novel form of shorthand, some of which is pointed enough to carry an entire conversation within a single word. My favorite of these, by far and away, is (facepalm). The Urban Dictionary defines it thusly:

The act of dropping one's face/forehead into one's hand. Usually accompanied by a "thunk" or a cry of "D'oh!" Similar to (headdesk)...The only logical answer to a stupid question or statement.

(facepalm) is quite possibly the best bit of slang the internet has wrought (short of "FAIL," which speaks for itself), and by far and away the best and only reaction to some of the stuff we hear in the news these days. It just works so well. Take, for example, a recent field report put forth by Wonkette about an anti-Muslim protest near the site of the proposed Cordoba House facility several thousand feet away from the site of the former World Trade Center.

Now, I'm no stranger to the spelling adventures of right-wing protest-sign pen-wielders. We've all seen the miraculously hilarious "Get A Brain! Morans" sign. I personally chronicled the following legendary slice of stupid - Best sign so far: a guy holding a placard reading "Remember when dissent was patriotic?" Except he spelled it "dessent," and had crossed out the incorrect "e" and penned in an "i." Poetry. - while blogging a Palin/Teabagger event in Boston back in April. The phenomenon is ubiquitous, and gives me hope; if these people can't spell their way out of a paper sack, they're not likely to get organized enough to take over the country (again).

But this...this is just beyond the beyond. Here are these madding crowds in an absolute froth to defend GROUND ZERO (please note the spelling). We all know what GROUND ZERO is, what it means, and people of good conscience can disagree over whether or not a Muslim community center should be built a couple of football fields away from GROUND ZERO. But if you're going to chuck up a virulently anti-Constitutional, anti-First-Amendment protest with signs as a means to defend your interpretation of the sanctity of GROUND ZERO...well...you might want to work on your spelling:

Did you spend the weekend rocking out to the Mosquetard anthem "Keep Your Hands To Yourself"? Well then maybe you've already noticed this special part of the video, at 0:39, when the Doofus Forces of Justice raise this banner in support of "Groud Zero, the monument to terrorism!"

America's differently-abled freedumb fighters tend to have trouble
spelling the dumb shit on their signs and banners and trucks, but this
particular piece of visual evidence also calls into question their comprehension of the supposedly Hallowed Ground of the WTC site. Is it truly a "monument to terrorism"? And if so, does that mean these wingnut slobs are actually protecting Islam and America's Muslims from being associated with this nation's vile "monument to terrorism," which is the "Groud Zero" home of 9/11?


Yup. "Groud."

(facepalm)

Wait, it gets better. Apparently, there was another one of these anti-Mosque (even though it isn't a mosque) protests near the site on Monday, perpetrated by the patriotic ranks of oh-no-we're-not-racist Tea Party brigades. At some point, a Black man named Kenny - a Union carpenter wearing an UnderArmor skullcap and a chain around his neck with an amulet bearing the Puerto Rican flag - began working his way through the crazed crowd, trying to get to work. The all-white-but-we're-not-racist crowd turned on him like hammerhead sharks in a meat tank and started shrieking all sorts of anti-Muslim nonsense his way. According to reliable reports, Kenny comported himself well:

The crowd, astutely recognizing that he was on his way to build the mosque, began to chant "NO MOSQUE HERE" at him. In the video, someone says, "run away, coward." The man turns around, perturbed. "Y'all motherfuckers don't know my opinion about shit," he says. Au contraire, my friend: You are a black man wearing a skullcap, after all! You are definitely a pro-Mosque, anti-freedom Jihadist! Why, aren't you, in fact... Osama Bin Laden??

No, actually, according to the guy who uploaded the video to YouTube,
the skullcap-wearing gentleman's name is Kenny and he's "a Union carpenter who works at Ground Zero." Kenny is also - as he points out several times in the video - not a Muslim. (No word on whether or not he voted for Obama, as one of the very reasonable and intelligent-sounding anti-"Mosque" protestors speculates.) But I'll bet you Kenny has been totally convinced about the truth of the Burlington Coat Factory Desecration Community Center. Who wouldn't be?


(doublefacepalm)

So, yeah, there is a reasonably accurate snapshot of the current state of right-wing resistance to today's realities. You may love the idea of the Cordoba House, or you may hate it, but do me a favor: use spell-check, and double-check your knee-jerk racism at the door, before you charge out to protest anything.

Oh, and P.S.: if well-meaning people stay home in November, these are the nitwits who will be fully back in charge of our national destiny.

(epicfacepalm)

Original. Yep, as bad as things may be now, if the Democrats are too depressed or disappointed in Obama to get out and vote, the Republicans will win elections coast-to-coast and just might finish the job they started with Duhbya: destroying the country and crushing everyone but the wealthy.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

60-mile traffic jam!

This is pretty hilarious. I do feel sorry for the people stranded in that 60-mile long traffic jam outside of Beijing, but ... hahahahaha!

China's Epic Traffic Jam Could Last For Weeks

(AP) BEIJING -- A massive traffic jam in north China that stretches for dozens of miles and hit its 10-day mark on Tuesday stems from road construction in Beijing that won't be finished until the middle of next month, an official said.

Bumper-to-bumper gridlock spanning for 60 miles (100 kilometers) with vehicles moving little more than a half-mile (one kilometer) a day at one point has improved since this weekend, said Zhang Minghai, director of Zhangjiakou city's Traffic Management Bureau general office.


S
ome drivers have been stuck in the jam for five days, China Central Television reported Tuesday. But Zhang said he wasn't sure when the situation along the Beijing-Zhangjiakou highway would return to normal.

The traffic jam started Aug. 14 on a stretch of the highway that is frequently congested, especially after large coalfields were discovered in Inner Mongolia, Zhang said. Traffic volume has increased 40 percent every year.

Drivers stranded in the gridlock in the Inner Mongolia region and Hebei province, headed toward Beijing, passed the time sleeping, walking around, or playing cards and chess. Local villagers were doing brisk business selling instant noodles, boxed lunches and snacks, weaving between the parked trucks on bicycles.


Though there were no reports of road rage violence, drivers complained about price-gouging by villagers who were their only source of food and water. A bottle of water that normally costs 1 yuan (15 cents) was selling for 10 yuan ($1.50), while the price of a 3 yuan- (45 cent-) cup of instant noodles had more than tripled, media reports said.


"A boxed lunch is 10 yuan ($1.50), and one box isn't enough for me," China National Radio cited a driver surnamed Lu as saying. "I'm spending up to 50 yuan (about $7.50) a day on food. It's more expensive than eating in a restaurant."


The highway construction in Beijing that is restricting inbound traffic flow and causing the jam "will not be finished until Sept. 17," Zhang said.

Authorities were trying to speed up traffic by allowing more trucks to enter Beijing, especially at night, Zhang said. They also asked trucking companies to suspend operations and advised drivers to take alternate routes.


China's roadways are increasingly overburdened as the number of private vehicles booms along with commercial truck traffic hauling materials like coal and food to cities. Traffic slowdowns because of construction and accidents are common, though a 10-day traffic jam is unusual even in China.


Really? A 10-day long traffic jam is unusual? Even in China? Hahahahaha! I really shouldn't laugh, but, hahahahaha!!!

Original.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Solar Roadways

We simply have to start weaning ourselves off of fossil fuels. This is a very interesting "solution."



Oh yeah, I found that video here.

Brain Teaser

Question 1: One costs $1, 38 costs $2, but 794 costs $3. What are you buying?

Question 2: I have rivers but no fish, cities but no houses, forests but no trees. What am I?

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Speak English?

Here's another silly quiz on word usage. Even though I have a fairly decent vocabulary, I am 100% southerner, y'all.

Click here. It will only take a minute or two.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Bruce Bartlett

Bruce Bartlett was an advisor for Ronald Reagan and Bush I. Here he speaks a little bit of truth, and for that, he will surely be banished by the Republican Party:

On the question of where I place myself on the political spectrum, I will have more to say as time goes on. In my own mind, I have the same political philosophy I've always had--basically libertarian but tempered by Burkean small-C conservatism. But I am no longer a member of the Republican Party and no longer consider myself part of the "conservative movement." That's not because I changed, but because I believe that they have. The Republican Party of today is not the party of Jack Kemp and Ronald Reagan that I was once a member of; it stands for nothing except the pursuit of power as an end in itself, with no concern whatsoever for what is right for the country. In a recent interview with The Economist magazine, I characterized the Republicans as the greedy, sociopathic party. I stand by that.

As far as the conservative movement is concerned, I think Russell Kirk and Bill Buckley would be absolutely aghast at the things it stands for today and the people that are acclaimed as its leaders. When clowns like Glenn Beck are its leaders and right-wing bigots pander to ignorant yahoos about a planned mosque in lower Manhattan, I want to be as far away from any such movement as I possibly can. And readers of this blog know what I think of the know-nothing tea party movement, which conservatives have latched onto en masse.

You can read the rest of Bartlett's blog post here, but the two paragraphs above are the best snips.

When you combine this with former Ronald Reagan OMB Director David Stockman's recent comment that the "G.O.P. destroyed the economy" (the rest of that story can be found here), it might appear that the moderate Republicans are trying to take back their party from the know-nothing TeaBaggers. Alas, I think there are not enough moderates left to do much good. And so? Republicans are going to be FLATTENED in this November's elections.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

More amazing truths

Often, when I am feeling rather uninspired or especially tired ... kinda like lately ... I'll read some of Mark Morford's rambling prose. He gives a pretty good mindfuck.

10 Amazing Truths You Already Suspected
Volume V! San Francisco brains, gay disco priests, Wikileaks sighs


Did you already know? I bet you already knew. Or at the very least, had a sneaking suspicion. Here we go...

1) I know what you're thinking: In these times of acrimony and divisiveness, is it still possible to find peaceful consensus? Can any group of educated individuals ever agree on anything worthwhile, besides Blue Bottle Coffee, the Fiat 500 and grilled sausages in summertime?

Good news: They totally can! Watch in awe as every one of the country's 238 respected presidential scholars recently agreed, without the slightest doubt or hesitation and despite all their varying backgrounds, ages, political affiliations, heights and weights and hairstyles, that George W. Bush really is the worst president in modern history, and the 5th worst of all time. Wonders!

2) It's entirely true that San Francisco can be a whiny, opinionated place, obnoxiously politically correct, sometimes a bit too passionate about issues and ideas for its own good. But really, it's all just a happy side effect of the fact we have such a huge and generous surplus of educated, active brains lying around.

It's true. Turns out SF has the highest number of college degrees per square inch, followed by New York, Boston, Chicago ... well, all the major cities, really. The locations with the fewest sophisticated brainstems? Why, that would be places like Oklahoma City, Kansas City, Birmingham ... all those burgs where books are scary, God is always scowling, and deep fried is the only way to cook your squirrel. It might even be easy to suggest that the smarter and more educated you get, the more liberal, healthier and generally less terrified you become. I mean, obvs.

3) Then again, maybe not. As I write these words, it's fairly clear that the BP oil spill, much to the disappointment of many on the far liberal left and the apocalyptic right, has not caused the end of the world via methane explosions, giant tsunamis, acidic toxic rain, or by way of a million horrific screams emanating from all those politicians who've had to swallow their "drill baby drill" chant like a greasy backwash poison.

Make no mistake: The BP spill ruined lives, coastlines, portfolios. It is an environmental nightmare unmatched in our lifetime. But somehow the world still spins; it's just a bit darker and greasier than before. What will the next apocalypse porn be? What will finally spell our doom? Let us ponder.

4) How clever you are, using your kid's birthday as your secret online banking password. Or is it your wedding anniversary? Is it 1-2-3-4? Oh, you silly thing. Don't bother fixing it now; research shows that frequently changing your password is pretty much useless. Here's the thing: If nefarious hackers haven't swiped your password by now, they're not really going to. Or if they do hack it, they'll use it immediately, and hence, changing it every month or two is, well, pointless. Did you already know?

5) Do you love yourself some Vitaminwater? Do you like to think that overpriced product is at least remotely healthy, better than, say, liquefying a Twinkie and injecting it directly into your eyeballs? Nope. Vitaminwater is just sugar water. It is junk food.

Proof: A federal judge has now ruled that a class-action lawsuit against Coca-Cola -- which owns Glaceau, which owns Vitaminwater -- can go forth and lay waste to Coke's insidious claims of Vitaminwater being a healthy happy gulp of drinking goodness. Now, go turn on your tap. Fill up a Sigg. Drink it down. There. About 20 times healthier. And it's free.

6) Your intuition was right all along: Mel Gibson really is a raging lunatic. You already knew his bloodfest slaughter porn movie about that sweet Jewish mystic was even more cartoonishly disturbing than an episode of Happy Tree Friends. But Mel Gibson might be one of the first modern megastars to go completely insane before our very eyes. Would that be something to behold? You can say: Sure my life's rough, sure I have some darker issues, but holy hell on a hand grenade, at least I'm not Mel Gibson. Far more frightening than Tom Cruise and his silly sci-fi cult. So reassuring.

7) "People who are untrusting, fear rejection, or are otherwise insecure about their relationships might be at a greater risk for health problems than their more secure counterparts." Thus spake a new study directly to your overwhelming sense of duh.

No matter. It's one of those delightfully obvious non-findings that tends to eat itself alive. Because upon hearing such terrible news, the fearful and insecure among us will of course only become more fearful and insecure, thus further elevating the risk of heart attack and illness, thus reinforcing the study's findings, thus perpetuating a lovely downward spiral of imminent self-fulfilling doom. Science is neat!

8) Another day, another hidden camera catching three young Catholic priests gyrating, groping and partying hard at a gay disco in Italy, then having hot gay sex in a church building. Dovetails beautifully with the recent tale of the Rev. Kevin Gray of Connecticut, busted for swiping $1.3 million from church coffers to pay for gay escorts, fine restaurants, Armani duds. Awesome.

Not to be at all confused with the ongoing churchly scandals about all the creepy old Catholic pedophiles who prey on young children, gay clergy are far more common, harmless, adorable in their wildly hypocritical, sinful debauchery, all underscoring what has to be the church's worst-kept secret: The Catholic seminary is like a big ol' gay bathhouse. Also: God loves mesh.

9) More than 91,000 classified military documents, one big scandalous info dump over at some site called Wikileaks.org that few have ever heard of, countless Defense Department officials and White House staffers scurrying about trying to do damage control, the NYT, Der Spiegel and the Guardian all happy as clams to be part of the headlines, and yet all of the secret documents about the "truth" of the Afghan war so far only seem to underscore the grand reality you surely already suspected.

It's this: Unwinnable wars are exactly as grueling, difficult, miserable, sad, brutal, dishonest, unforgiving, trivial, insane, damaging, surreal, bureaucratic, technically dizzying, numbingly tragic, and often downright criminal as they've always been. We just never had the Internet to back it all up.

10) Exercise for 10 minutes, and your body feels the positive effects for at least an hour. Exercise for an hour, your body feels good for a day or more. Exercise for six hours a day, consume copious gallons of powdered protein shakes, do a thousand crunches in five minutes and get that manic workout-freak look in your eye, and your body recoils and starts to shut down, spasms, gives you weird dreams, screams, "Knock it off already," urges your to seek therapy, have a pulled pork sandwich and get some sun.

Really now, exercise isn't meant to be all that extreme. Despite what you might've heard, life is not one giant, grueling, joyless endurance test. Well, not always. You're going to be just fine. But you knew that already.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Crazy-cons

A decent opinion piece in the Los Angeles Times by David Klinghoffer, a former editor of the National Review. He laments what has happened to conservatism. Read the short piece here.

While I still reject the basic tenets of conservatism, it is somewhat heartening to know that not all conservatives have descended into the demogogic world of Palin, Beck, Limbaugh, Hannity and Breitbart.

So, when will the conservatives take their party back from the Teabaggers? Better hurry. All signs point to a total disaster for Republicans at the polls in November (unless they can steal it with the rigged voting machines).

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

119 rounds of golf?!

In a year? That's over two rounds per week!

Republican Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) played 119 rounds of golf last year. 119!! That's around 3-5 hours per round. How can he find time to actually do his job? This is perfectly emblematic of the Republicans as a whole: hobnobbing with the upper crust on the golf courses while the people are suffering, and insisting on more tax cuts for the wealthy while cutting unemployment compensation for the unemployed.

Ed Schultz recently highlighted this story on his show. Watch it by clicking here. If you are a Democrat, you will LOVE it. If you are a Republican making less than $250K/year, WTF is wrong with you?! Boehner is ripe for the picking in Ohio's 8th.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Zillow.com

Would you like to get a snapshot of the homes in your neighborhood and what they are "worth"? Check out zillow.com by clicking here and input your address.

Say, I didn't know Liz had her home on the market, and is asking over half a million!!

Redistribution upward

If you make less than $250,000 and you vote Republican, you are, well, to put it nicely, not voting in your own self-interest.


There is so much propaganda media out there these days (think FOX and other Murdoch properties), people are constantly bombarded with crap. It can make it hard to think for yourself and find the truth.


Maybe look at it this way: the Republicans, from 2000-2008, drove our national car into the ditch. And now, they want the keys back again? Don't give it to them! It takes some time to pull that car out of the ditch and get it fully functioning again, and the Republicans are blocking anything and everything they can to keep the economy in the ditch until they can get back into power. It's shameful, putting their own self-interest ahead of the interests of the country at large.


In short, I know that, in many ways, the Democrats suck. But, quite simply, the Republicans suck FAR WORSE!



Krugman's Takedown of Ryan Demonstrates How Conservatives Are at War With The Middle Class
by Mitchell Bard


Conservatives routinely paint Barack Obama as a socialist looking to redistribute wealth in the United States. (Or worse, as Rep. Bob Inglis (R-S.C.) reported that tea party leaders, during a meeting, espoused paranoid delusions of a totalitarian takeover of the U.S. by Obama.) This charge is cynical and outrageous, not just because it is false and a naked attempt to use fear mongering to drum up votes, but because there is actually a group of Americans actively engaged in wealth redistribution, and they have been for quite some time.

Who are these people looking to move massive amounts of assets from one subsection of Americans to another? The conservatives themselves.

Beginning with the Reagan administration, and reaching its fullest realization during the presidency of George W. Bush, conservatives have systematically been acting to redistribute wealth from the middle class upward. The result has been the steady decay of the middle class, and it's all a result of conservative policies, specifically involving taxes and deregulation.

Bush successfully pushed through accelerated deregulation and massive tax cuts for the highest earners. The result was that while the wealthiest Americans saw substantial income gains, real income for the middle class was static (and far below the robust growth of the middle class during the Clinton administration). And when, in the absence of regulation, Wall Street's reckless bets nearly brought ruin to the financial industry, the result was a massive recession that severely hit the lower, working and middle classes.

As I lamented last month, middle and working class Americans have every right to be angry now, but that anger shouldn't be directed at the Democrats in November, but at the Republicans, whose policies created the economic mess the country finds itself in. Which is why I was so happy to see Paul Krugman's annihilation of the economic plan advanced by the so-called "intellectual" star of the Republican party, Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin. Krugman exposed Ryan's plan for what it is, a replay of the Bush economic policies, only this time on steroids: A massive tax break for the wealthiest five percent of Americans that would cost the country $4 trillion over the next ten years, a tax increase for the other 95 percent of Americans, and monumental cuts in government spending that would cause catastrophic pain for the lower, working and middle classes (while having little effect on the wealthy, the primary beneficiaries of Ryan's plan). Oh, and Ryan's plan would add to the deficit, pushing it far beyond the current projections for 2020. (Of course, Ryan is touting the savings of his spending cuts without accounting for the costs of his tax cuts for the rich.)

I thought Krugman's exposure of the realities of the Ryan plan provided a solid summing up of current Republican ideology. On the surface, Ryan appears more reasonable than the more vocal leaders of his party. He tends to avoid the outrageous pronouncements of his fellow conservatives (think Sarah Palin, Rep. Steve King (R-IA) and his talk of "velvet revolution," Rep. Michelle Bachman (R-MN) and House Minority Leader John Boehner, not to mention the lies and vitriol spouted by pundits like Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck, as well as the consistent national security fear-mongering of Newt Gingrich, and the out-and-out insanity on parade daily in the media, like the recent charge by Colorado gubernatorial candidate Dan Maes that his Democratic opponent encouraged bike use as mayor of Denver as part of a plan to convert the city into a "United Nations community," not to mention the possible Queen of the wackos, Nevada GOP senate candidate Sharron Angle, including her claim that the press should ask the questions she wants to answer.).

Ryan is the young, normal-looking and sounding face Republicans would like to send out in front of the public, but, as Krugman comprehensively laid out, his policies are no more mainstream or plausible than those of his more obviously extreme colleagues. No, Ryan, just like the others, is completely dedicated to policies that empower corporations and transfer wealth upward, at the expense of the middle class.

In short, Ryan and the rest of the conservatives are at war with lower, working and middle class Americans.

The Republicans would like to frame the November midterm elections as a matchup between a socialist party looking to redistribute wealth and engineer a government takeover of the private sector (the Democrats) v. a party defending traditional American values of free market, capitalist economics (the Republicans). Such a framing of the two parties is a Republican fantasy, as accurate as the charge that President Obama was not born in the United States (which, according to a recent CNN poll, nearly two in five Republicans believe to be true).

But one look at the reality of the Bush years and the behavior of Republicans during the Obama administration paints a very different picture. On issue after issue, the Republicans have sided against the middle class, whether it was opposing financial regulation (even after GOP-touted deregulation resulted in the near financial collapse that plunged the country into deep recession), pushing for an extension of the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy, opposing any kind of job-creating stimulus (that didn't involve more tax cuts for the rich), opposing and delaying the extension of unemployment benefits to those out of work (and painting the unemployed as lazy), opposing state aid that would preserve the jobs of teachers, police officers and firefighters (even though it would decrease the deficit), opposing health care reform (except to protect private insurance companies), and even opposing aid to workers sickened by the toxic fumes at Ground Zero after the 9/11 attacks.

The smoking gun of GOP dedication to the wealthy at the expense of the middle class (and the revelation that the party's supposed fanatical opposition to deficits is a facade) came when one Republican after another lined up to back Sen. John Kyl's position that it was okay to add to the deficit for tax cuts for high earners (something even conservative stalwart Alan Greenspan could not support).

The GOP record of the last ten years demonstrates that, in reality, the election in November will pose a choice between Democrats who support a free market capitalist economy, but with protections to prevent against its excesses (thus protecting lower, working and middle class Americans), and Republicans at war with the middle class, advocating policies that further their suffering while benefiting Wall Street, corporations and the wealthiest Americans.

Conservatives are right when they say that there are those in Washington looking to redistribute wealth. It's just that it's their party that is all for the redistributing.


Original is here.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Prayer for Grandpa

PRAYER FOR GRANDPA
This is just too beautiful not to share.

Dear God, please send clothes
for all those poor ladies
on grandpa's computer.
Amen!


Religious intolerance

Classic!


Find 28 more clever signs by clicking here.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Prop 8 overturned

California's Proposition 8 has been ruled unconstitutional!!

The religious right and fundamentalist wackos need to just give it a rest and realize that same-sex marriage is going to be the law of the land. It is simply inevitable as society continues moving towards a more-tolerant attitude.

U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker issued a 136-page ruling (read it by clicking here) that lays everything out pretty well. His decision will probably be appealed to the Supreme Court, and although that court is packed with conservative activist judges, even if the Supreme Court overturns Walker's decision, it is still only a matter of time until they are removed and replaced by more-tolerant judges.

Naturally, most of the opposition to same-sex marriage comes from a religious perspective, as if the "Bible" can be trusted as an authority on anything. Geez, people, it was "written" by who knows who thousands of years ago, has been transcribed, re-translated and transliterated countless times since.

Come to think of it, a theological degree is the only "educated" degree where you are not supposed to "think." Lovely.

If the above link to the Judge's ruling doesn't work too well, there is a .pdf of the decision here.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Jersey Shore

The premier of "Jersey Shore" was the most watched cable program of the year.

The bad news: The premier of "Jersey Shore" was the most watched cable program of the year.
-
Jay Leno

Monday, August 2, 2010

Quote of the Day

QUOTE OF THE DAY.... One of the uglier strains of modern conservative thought is pervasive anti-intellectualism. As Faiz Shakir noted today, House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) offered a rather classic example on "Fox News Sunday."

Host Chris Wallace noted that "a number of top economists" believe that the nation, right now, needs "more economic stimulus." Boehner replied, "Well, I don't need to see GDP numbers or to listen to economists; all I need to do is listen to the American people."

That's actually kind of crazy -- the "American people," en masse, lack the qualifications and background needed to make sweeping decisions about complex economic policies. It's why our system is built around the notion that voters will choose sensible representatives to do this work for us -- evaluate a situation, consider the judgment of experts, and ideally reach a wise decision about the way forward.

If Boehner were facing a serious ailment, would he say, "Well, I don't need to see lab results or to listen to medical professionals; all I need to do is listen to the American people"? Maybe so, but at this point, the serious ailment is our national economy, and it affects us all.

When Wallace pressed Boehner on how he'd pay for trillions of dollars in tax cuts, the would-be Speaker eventually concluded, "This is the whole Washington mindset, all these CBO numbers."

I don't even know what this means. "All these CBO numbers"? Boehner loves those CBO numbers, when they're telling him what he wants to hear. But when tax cuts for billionaires are on the line, suddenly objective, independent budget data is deemed useless.

There's just no seriousness here. Boehner comes to the debate with all the sophistication of a drunk guy yelling at the TV from the end of a bar. He hasn't thought any of this through, and seems prepared to argue that he shouldn't think things though because forethought is part of "the whole Washington mindset."

If I thought Boehner was just playing for the cameras, throwing out garbage on Fox News, when in reality he actually takes reason, evidence, and arithmetic seriously, I wouldn't be scared of his leadership role. But all available evidence suggests Boehner simply doesn't know what he's doing and he believes his own nonsense.

As political hackery goes, it's the worst possible combination of traits.

Original.

Oy

It's a new month, but some things never change.

The wife and I are up in Arkansas for a few days to spend some time with my aging father. We'll be with him for his 84th birthday.
Probably like most 84-year-olds, my father is in declining mental health. He's not bad physically, mostly because I and my three siblings convinced him to work with a personal trainer to regain his strength after a fall and extended hospital stay early this year.

But his mind is showing some obvious signs of decay. He's certainly not to the babbling fool stage yet, but he's moving down that road.
He's a hardcore Republican, so in one sense, he's already a babbling fool. Sorry, couldn't help that one.

He's very sympathetic with the Tea Party and thinks Sarah Palin is "smart" and Glenn Beck "makes a lot of sense." I could go further and suggest that anyone who actually believes the demagogues on the right should be committed to a facility, but that would be silly. Maybe not wrong, but silly.


He, like the Teabaggers, thinks he's paying too much in taxes. He, like most of the Teabaggers, does not think that he got a tax cut under Obama, when he and they did.
Earlier today he is railing that he's paying too much in taxes. He's Taxed Enough Already!

My wife tells him that the average American's tax rate is actually in the 15-20% range, which I believe is a very reasonable tax rate, for those of us who are not rich, by American standards. He agrees that 15-20% is not unreasonable, but he's sure his tax rate is much higher than that.


So, he eventually scurries off and digs up several of his most-recent tax returns, to try and prove us wrong. Sure enough, one year his effective tax rate was 16.5%. Another year it is 14.2%. Another year it was actually 9.8%! Yet another year it came in at 5.5%!!

So he comes back to us bragging about how low his tax rate is, and "See! I told you that I was paying less than 15% in taxes!"

(sigh) No, an hour ago, you disagreed with our 15-20% tax rate average. You claimed you were paying more than that. And now that you discover that we were right, you claim that that is what you had claimed all along.

Is it being a Republican, or is it his mental decline?
Well, he is a Republican, after all. In my experience, they're born liars. It's like they can't help themselves. And then they try to take credit for something that they previously disagreed with, if they think it is to their advantage.

And one more example that I perceive as his decline: he's wearing the same clothes today, Monday, that he was wearing Saturday when we got here. He's sleeping in his clothes. Yesterday, he was working outside a bit and his shirt was almost totally soaked in sweat. Will he take a shower? Later, perhaps, when his clothes start disintegrating off of his body.

As people are living longer and longer, their bodies are lasting longer than their minds. It's pretty sad. I have no doubt that millions of other Americans are going through similar things with their elders. Good luck to all of you.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

August stargazing

Don't stop looking up!

AUGUST STARGAZING SUMMARY

An extraordinary show plays out in the west during early evening this month: an ever-changing configuration of the planets Venus, Mars, and Saturn. Mercury tries to join them, but it remains low in the twilight, and sets by the time night falls. The Summer Triangle — the stars Vega, Deneb, and Altair — highlights the eastern half of the sky. And on moonless nights, the glowing band of the Milky Way arches across the sky. The combination of stars and planets makes this a must-see month for skywatching.

More stargazing information: http://stardate.org/nightsky

RADIO PROGRAM HIGHLIGHTS

Hear StarDate every day on more than 360 radio stations nationwide. Or subscribe to our podcast and RSS feed. http://stardate.org/feeds/rss.xml

August 2-8: Summer tea party Sagittarius scoots low across the southern sky on summer nights. It’s easy to find because its brightest stars form the shape of a teapot. Join us for the constellation, some of its brightest stars, and its hidden wonders.

August 9-15: From meteors to the Milky Way This is a great week for watching some faint treasures in the night sky, including the Milky Way and a good meteor shower. And on the brighter side, the crescent Moon passes some bright planets.

August 16-22: Evening treats The Moon passes by the bright star that marks the heart of the scorpion this week, while a bright planet puts on its own good show. Join us for the Moon, the planets, and many more treats in the night sky.August 23-29: Building planets Astronomers have discovered hundreds of planets outside our own solar system, and they expect to find many more. We’ll talk about how these worlds form, and how some of them get unusually puffy.

August 30-31: Danger from beyond Thousands of asteroids pass close to Earth’s orbit around the Sun — and some of them could someday threaten us with global destruction. Join us for details on efforts to find them and ways to knock them off course.

August Program Schedule: http://stardate.org/radio/calendars

Marijuana legalization

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