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

Thursday, January 31, 2013

McCain is senile

It's long past time for John McCain to step down from the Senate.  He's becoming very erratic.  I'm afraid that some senility has set in, and it may have been there for awhile now.  Think Sarah Palin.  Or maybe it's just the pressure from the Tea Party that is making him act like an idiot.



dung beetles

Dung beetles can look up at the sky and use the Milky Way as a navigation guide.

WTF?  

Why not?  It's just another example of the vast mysteries we have yet to understand.   We know birds can use the stars to navigate.  Why not dung beetles?   Or mitochondria?

Hey humanity, get off that dead-end Biblical Road while you still can and discover your world!


DUNG BEETLES, DANCING TO THE MILKY WAY

POSTED BY 
Look up at the sky on a clear, moonless night, and you can make out the broad, hazy band of the Milky Way. For the longest time, observers were unsure what the milkiness was. Celestial clouds? Tiny stars? The “fiery exhalation” of large, sublunar stars, as Aristotle proposed? In 1610, using a telescope (a recent invention), Galileo revealed that the haze is made up of individual, barely visible stars; they are faint only because they are so distant. So continued the hard process of putting us in our proper cosmic place—an orientation that only gets more disorienting with each new scientific discovery.

Today we know that the Milky Way is a galaxy a hundred thousand light-years wide and that it contains more than two hundred billion stars, including our sun. Our galaxy is shaped like a flat, spiraling disk, with a bulge at the center where the density of stars is greatest (there’s a black hole in there, too); we live more than halfway out, on one of the spiral arms. When you view the Milky Way, you are gazing through the plane of this disk and at the universe around and beyond—which, astronomers report, is imponderably vast and contains billions of other galaxies. Are there other sentient beings out there? Who knows. On Earth, at least, humans suppose that we alone seek out the sweep of our own galaxy. 

But we’re wrong. Late last week, in a paper in Current Biology, Marie Dacke, a biologist at Lund University, in Sweden, and her colleagues revealed that at least one other species takes guidance from the Milky Way: the dung beetle.

hidee-ho, off to work we go!

“People find them a bit revolting,” Eric Warrant, a biologist at Lund and one of the paper’s authors, said over the phone. “But they’re fascinating, and they’re the cutest animals you can imagine. When you’re holding one in your hand, they’re quite sweet.”

There are some six thousand known species of dung beetle in the world, all of which thrive on feces: cow, bison, tiger, kangaroo, chimp, what have you—the smellier and more exotic, the better. A dung heap is a frenzy of shoving and shovelling. “Never did adventurers hurrying from the four corners of the earth display such eagerness,” the French entomologist Jean-Henri Fabre once wrote. “They are there in the hundreds, large and small, of every sort, shape and size, hastening to carve themselves a slice of the common cake.” Some grab what they can and cram it underground on the spot. Others, the ball-rollers, embark on a journey that requires the heavens to navigate.

Read the rest here



Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Screw austerity

Paul Krugman hits the nail on the head once again.  Keynesian economics prevails!  The right-wing agenda to cut social programs is revealed!  America is on the right track!  Eat it, rightwingnuts.

Deficit Hawks Down

by Paul Krugman
President Obama’s second Inaugural Address offered a lot for progressives to like. There was the spirited defense of gay rights; there was the equally spirited defense of the role of government, and, in particular, of the safety net provided by Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security. But arguably the most encouraging thing of all was what he didn’t say: He barely mentioned the budget deficit.


Mr. Obama’s clearly deliberate neglect of Washington’s favorite obsession was just the latest sign that the self-styled deficit hawks — better described as deficit scolds — are losing their hold over political discourse. And that’s a very good thing.

Why have the deficit scolds lost their grip? I’d suggest four interrelated reasons.

First, they have cried wolf too many times. They’ve spent three years warning of imminent crisis — if we don’t slash the deficit now now now, we’ll turn into Greece, Greece, I tell you. It is, for example, almost two years since Alan Simpson and Erskine Bowles declared that we should expect a fiscal crisis within, um, two years.

But that crisis keeps not happening. The still-depressed economy has kept interest rates at near-record lows despite large government borrowing, just as Keynesian economists predicted all along. So the credibility of the scolds has taken an understandable, and well-deserved, hit.

Second, both deficits and public spending as a share of G.D.P. have started to decline — again, just as those who never bought into the deficit hysteria predicted all along.

The truth is that the budget deficits of the past four years were mainly a temporary consequence of the financial crisis, which sent the economy into a tailspin — and which, therefore, led both to low tax receipts and to a rise in unemployment benefits and other government expenses. It should have been obvious that the deficit would come down as the economy recovered. But this point was hard to get across until deficit reduction started appearing in the data.

Now it has — and reasonable forecasts, like those of Jan Hatzius of Goldman Sachs, suggest that the federal deficit will be below 3 percent of G.D.P., a not very scary number, by 2015.

And it was, in fact, a good thing that the deficit was allowed to rise as the economy slumped. With private spending plunging as the housing bubble popped and cash-strapped families cut back, the willingness of the government to keep spending was one of the main reasons we didn’t experience a full replay of the Great Depression. Which brings me to the third reason the deficit scolds have lost influence: the contrary doctrine, the claim that we need to practice fiscal austerity even in a depressed economy, has failed decisively in practice.

Consider, in particular, the case of Britain. In 2010, when the new government of Prime Minister David Cameron turned to austerity policies, it received fulsome praise from many people on this side of the Atlantic. For example, the late David Broder urged President Obama to “do a Cameron”; he particularly commended Mr. Cameron for “brushing aside the warnings of economists that the sudden, severe medicine could cut short Britain’s economic recovery and throw the nation back into recession.”

Sure enough, the sudden, severe medicine cut short Britain’s economic recovery, and threw the nation back into recession.

At this point, then, it’s clear that the deficit-scold movement was based on bad economic analysis. But that’s not all: there was also clearly a lot of bad faith involved, as the scolds tried to exploit an economic (not fiscal) crisis on behalf of a political agenda that had nothing to do with deficits. And the growing transparency of that agenda is the fourth reason the deficit scolds have lost their clout.

What was it that finally pulled back the curtain here? Was it the way the election campaign revealed Representative Paul Ryan, who received a “fiscal responsibility” award from three leading deficit-scold organizations, as the con man he always was? Was it the decision of David Walker, alleged crusader for sound budgets, to endorse Mitt Romney and his budget-busting tax cuts for the rich? Or was it the brazenness of groups like Fix the Debt — basically corporate C.E.O.’s declaring that you should be forced to delay your retirement while they get to pay lower taxes?

The answer probably is, all of the above. In any case, an era has ended. Prominent deficit scolds can no longer count on being treated as if their wisdom, probity and public-spiritedness were beyond question. But what difference will that make?

Sad to say, G.O.P. control of the House means that we won’t do what we should be doing: spend more, not less, until the recovery is complete. But the fading of deficit hysteria means that the president can turn his focus to real problems. And that’s a move in the right direction.   Original.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Crisis averted?

With all the babble about the "fiscal cliff" that was going on this past December, I found it difficult to find any straight, complete information about what would or would not happen. 

As we know, the "fiscal cliff" was averted at the last minute.  Sort of.  There were some real changes to the tax code that took effect, but we know the Congress put off the big cuts, the "sequester" for another two months.

Anyhoo, I found this article from Fidelity.com that summed up the actual changes after the crisis was averted pretty nicely.  There's a lot of good, solid info in there, in case you were still wondering what the hell actually happened.

I hope you will able to view it.  Go here.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Roe v. Wade

After finally giving women the right to control their own bodies in Roe v. Wade, that right is not going to be taken away.  I, and millions of others, will see to that.  

So, what do the right-wingnuts do instead?  Try to place restriction after restriction on that right, making women jump through all sorts of hoops and run all types of gauntlets to exercise that basic right of deciding whether or not to have a baby.  We have to be vigilant in keeping the crazies from putting too many onerous hurdles in women's paths.  They've already gone too far.  They will have to be slapped down again.  And again.  And again.

Texas Governor, the most-ignorant Rick Perry, is trying to tie the 40th anniversary of Roe v. Wade to the 40 years the Israelis wandered in the desert (in the *cough* Bible), and the 40 days and 40 nights that Noah had to ride out the great Biblical flood.  Get it?  40, 40, 40?  Get it?  (sigh)

This would be a good place to start to roll back the continual assaults on the rights of women: replacing the Bible-thumping, most-ignorant, pandering, egomaniacal current occupant of the Governor's mansion in Texas with someone that has an actual belief in science.

It IS possible.

Texas shall rise again.  In a good way.

Roe v. Wade issued

January 22


“This right of privacy, whether it be founded in the Fourteenth Amendment's concept of personal liberty and restrictions upon state action, as we feel it is, or, as the District Court determined, in the Ninth Amendment's reservation of rights to the people, is broad enough to encompass a woman's decision whether or not to terminate her pregnancy. The detriment that the State would impose upon the pregnant woman by denying this choice altogether is apparent. Specific and direct harm medically diagnosable even in early pregnancy may be involved. Maternity, or additional offspring, may force upon the woman a distressful life and future. Psychological harm may be imminent. Mental and physical health may be taxed by child care. There is also the distress, for all concerned, associated with the unwanted child, and there is the problem of bringing a child into a family already unable, psychologically and otherwise, to care for it. In other cases, as in this one, the additional difficulties and continuing stigma of unwed motherhood may be involved. All these are factors the woman and her responsible physician necessarily will consider in consultation.”

—Justice Blackmun, for the majority, Roe v. Wade

Sunday, January 27, 2013

350 sq. ft.

This is pretty amazing, but I don't think I'd like to live there, or live in a space like that.  I'm too used to the big, wide open spaces we have in Texas.  I notice they didn't ever talk about price.  This much convenience cannot be cheap.  

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Argo

Just finished reading another book.  This one, "Argo" by Antonio Mendez (if that's his real name).

The story of the rescue of six Americans from Tehran after the U.S. Embassy was taken over in November of 1979 is amazing on a couple of levels.

One: the audacity of the plan in the first place, and,

Two: the fact that I never heard a word about this.  I consider myself to be fairly well "tuned in" to the world and what's going on, but I have to admit that when this movie appeared, it was the first time I'd ever heard of this rescue.

Which is amazing because a Canadian journalist published a story on the rescue shortly after the six Americans had escaped safely to Germany in early 1980.  That story apparently was quickly spread around the world, but it didn't seem to have "legs", meaning it vanished from the news shortly thereafter.

Then in 1997, the CIA publicly acknowledged the rescue and Antonio Mendez personally, and again, the story was circulated around the world.

Somehow I missed it both times.  That's kinda spooky to me.

But regardless, it's a great story.  Anytime you are dealing with the intelligence services, you never really know how much of the story they are telling is really true, and you never really know how much has been left out.  For this book, that didn't matter.  I read the 300-odd pages in about 36 hours, with sleeping, eating and bathroom breaks in there, of course.  I can't recall the last time I read a book that quickly.  Mendez writes in a simple and fluid style which allowed me to blaze right through the book.  I highly recommend it.  It's a pretty fair history lesson to boot.


Now, to see the movie!!  So far in my short time on Earth, I have yet to find a movie that is as good as the book it was made from.  It's not surprising, really.  A typical movie lasts 90 minutes to 2 hours or so, and it takes several more hours than that to actually read a book, so....

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Hilary testifies

The GOP continues to embarrass itself on practically everything it does.  It's little more than a collection of racist, sexist, know-nothing egotistical showboaters that seem intent on harming the country.

It's about time someone took these Neanderthals to task.  Some of these GOPer clowns even suggested that Hillary was FAKING having a brain blood clot to get out of testifying to the Senate about Benghazi.  Like any of these clowns are formidable?  Haha!  You go, Hillary!



Hey, GOP!!  I hear that Ringling Bros is hiring!!

Friday, January 18, 2013

Gerrymandering

The term "gerrymandering" means to manipulate the boundaries (of an electoral constituency) to favor one class or party over another.  Doesn't really even SOUND fair, does it?  

Gerrymandering is how the Republicans retained control of the U.S. House this past election in 2012, even though Democratic House candidates got over 1 million more votes nationwide than did their Republican opponents.  Because of the absurd way the district boundaries have been drawn, the Republicans lost only 8 seats in the House.  If the boundaries had been fairly drawn, Democrats would likely have re-gained control of the House.  

Speaking of absurd, look at the district where I live, in red:


This is the Texas U.S. House District #2.  It covers Kingwood in NE Houston, cuts west through Spring in north Houston, then picks up Jersey Village in NW Houston, the Memorial area in west Houston, and bits and pieces of Midtown and Montrose, south and southwest of downtown.  This is one tortured district.  

Last election cycle, in 2010, I was in U.S. District 7, which was won by a Republican nutcase named John Culberson, who recently vowed, "I will not compromise on our absolute right to keep and bear arms."  Absolute?  That must cover grenade launchers, hand grenades, and machine guns, right asshole?  Culberson is a real disgrace, a knee-jerk wing nut.

For some inexplicable reason, my little piece of neighborhood was moved from District #7 to #2.  Both districts elected Republicans.  They basically took part of a heavily Democratic area (Montrose) and linked it up with a larger Republican area (Kingwood), effectively diluting the Democratic vote.    

Rather than be embarrassed by the GOP's poor showing in the 2012 election cycle, Republicans have been BRAGGING that even though they LOST the election by a pretty large margin, the GOP kept control of the House, thanks to their gerrymandering efforts.  They are PROUD of this cynical manipulation of voters.  Oy, the chutzpah!

But that's not enough for them.  Now they have a plan to rig the Presidential election too.  

Read on...


by Steve Benen

Rachel and MaddowBlog reported this week on the Republican State Leadership Committee and its Redistricting Majority Project, or REDMAP. To briefly recap, the Republican group freely admits -- boasts, even -- that if American voters had their way, there would be a Democratic majority in the U.S. House, but thanks to Republican gerrymandering, the party has successfully rigged the game.
The next step for the party is identifying key states -- including Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Ohio -- and changing the way they allocate electoral votes. In effect, after having "fixed" congressional district lines to guarantee success regardless of popular will, Republicans also intend to rig presidential elections, starting in 2016.
It's reassuring to see other major media outlets pick up on the significance of the story.
After back-to-back presidential losses, Republicans in key states want to change the rules to make it easier for them to win.
From Wisconsin to Pennsylvania, GOP officials who control legislatures in states that supported President Barack Obama are considering changing state laws that give the winner of a state's popular vote all of its Electoral College votes, too. Instead, these officials want Electoral College votes to be divided proportionally, a move that could transform the way the country elects its president.
In this case, "transform" is a polite euphemism for "stack the deck in Republicans' favor."
As Rachel noted on the show last night, state legislation has already been introduced in Pennsylvania, and the Associated Press reports that GOP lawmakers in other states, including Michigan and Wisconsin, are poised to unveil their bills soon.
As a policy matter, this is so outrageous, it's almost hard to believe. "It is difficult to find the words to describe just how evil this plan is," Pennsylvania Democratic state Sen. Daylin Leach told the AP. "It is an obscene scheme to cheat by rigging the elections."
We've come to expect a certain degree of audacity from the radicalized Republican Party, but even for today's GOP, this offends basic norms of decency. I expect them to go far; I don't expect them to go this far.
As Rachel explained on the show last month, Republicans "are talking about crossing a Rubicon that has never been crossed before." GOP officials, with the national party's blessing, are looking for ways to rig presidential elections in Republicans' favor, and have settled on this scheme as a possible solution to the problem of American voters preferring Democratic candidates.
It occurs to me that might finally be the kind of issue that gets Democratic voters engaged in a midterm cycle. My friend Tom Schaller recently reported on the dramatic dropoff in Democratic turnout between presidential elections. Telling rank-and-file Dems that if they don't vote in 2014, Republicans will rig the presidential election in 2016 may get some folks off the couch.
Also, just as an aside, I'd like to think the Republican State Leadership Committee's rhetoric on REDMAP should resolve a lingering question from the 2012 elections. Remember, since early November, the Republican line has been, "We have a mandate. We won a House majority because people love us."
Behind the scenes, however, there's a very different Republican line: "Look how we rigged the game so that we win even when we lose."
Looking ahead, Vanessa Silverton-Peel posted an "Election process toolkit" to MaddowBlog last night, and we plan to keep a close eye on this story going forward.

The GOP just sinks lower and lower in the morality department.  Because they cannot win elections fairly and squarely any longer with only old white males in their ranks, they resort to gerrymandering and blatant lying about Democrats to maintain power.  They are becoming little more than parasitic leeches on the body politic.  

Boycott!


Here is my latest list of companies that I am boycotting, with reasons listed.   Although I do not believe that "corporations are people, my friend" their CEO's and other officers have the right to free speech if they wish to be bigoted, intolerant, or hateful.  Likewise, we have the freedom to boycott them for being bad corporate citizens and assholes.  I'm sure this list is incomplete.

Chik-Fil-A:  They are a good "Christian" company that donates lots of money to anti-gay groups.

Carl Jr's:  They donate lots of money to anti-choice politicians and anti-abortion groups.

White Castle:  the Ohio-based burger chain, gave $25,000 to the Boehner-linked Congressional Leadership Fund Super PAC.

Hershey's: outsourced most jobs overseas; using child labor; anti-union; discriminate against those with AIDS

Cracker Barrel: strict anti-gay policies, and their food is too salty.

Waffle House:  the 24-hour breakfast food restaurant, gave Karl Rove’s group American Crossroads $100,000 from its corporate fund

IKEA:  uses forced prison labor in Eastern Europe.

Papa Johns:  Papa has been a basher of Obama and the Affordable Care Act

Domino's:  Owner is one of the head nuts for the extreme right wing

Whole Foods: founder is anti-Obamacare "free-enterprise" extremist

Phillip Morris:  utilize child labor overseas; death merchants

Regal Cinema:  is an affiliate of AEG, whose parent company Anschutz Corporation is run by Philip Anschutz. He has made many political donations, including a $50,000 to the Boehner-linked Congressional Leadership Fund Super PAC.

Victoria's Secret:  uses child labor in Africa

Exxon-Mobil: anti-LGBT, horrible polluters.

Smithfield:  anti-environment; anti-LGBT

Marriot Hotels:  is a subsidiary of Marriott International, whose chairman J.W. “Bill” Marriott, Jr. contributed $1,000,000 to Mitt Romney’s Super PAC Restore Our Future.

Ritz Carlton:  a subsidiary of Marriott International, whose chairman J.W. “Bill” Marriott, Jr. contributed $1,000,000 to Mitt Romney’s Super PAC Restore Our Future.

New Balance:  the shoe company, is headed by Jim Davis who donated $1,000,000 to Mitt Romney’s Super PAC Restore Our Future

Golds Gym:  a subsidiary of TRT Hodlings, a private corporation whose co-founder Robert Rowling gave more than $1,000,000 in total to American Crossroads and Mitt Romney’s Super PAC Restore Our Future

News Corporation (Wall Street Journal, FOX): need I say any more?

Forever 21:  uses cotton picked by child laborers overseas

Curves:  a gym that is mainly women supports the defunding of Planned Parenthood and is against abortion rights.

Koch Industries:  headed by Charles and David Koch, anti-union, anti-choice; gave approximately $400 million to groups like Mitt Romney, the National Rifle Association, Grover Norquist’s Americans for Tax Reform, the National Right to Life Committee, Ralph Reed’s Faith and Freedom Coalition, the 60 Plus Association and the American Future Fund.


Koch Industries products and subsidiaries:
Dixie Cups
Brawny Paper Towels

Angel Soft Toilet Paper
Northern Toilet Paper
Sparkle Paper Towels
Georgia-Pacific LLC
Stainmaster Carpet 
Flint Hills Resources LP

Olive Garden:  cutting workers hours to circumvent Obamacare.

Red Lobster:  cutting workers hours to circumvent Obamacare. 

Longhorn Steakhouse:  cutting workers hours to circumvent Obamacare.

Denny's:  cutting employee hours to circumvent Obamacare.

Dunkin Doughnuts: anti-union, anti-environment.

Dole:  anti-union, big polluter

Home Depot:  when Al Franken was running for Senate their CEO said that any business person who voted for Franken should be shot. He refused to apologize or even say that he was joking.  He's a bigot and right wingnut.

Urban Outfitters:  uses cotton picked by child laborers overseas.

Applebee's:  cutting employee hours to circumvent Obamacare.

Yum! (KFC, Pizza Hut, Taco Bell):  use violence/intimidation to union-bust.

Jimmy Johns:  anti union and against Affordable Care Act; cutting workers hours to circumvent Obamacare.

WalMart:  Anti-union, poor employee benefits; exploit cheap foreign labor 

Toy 'R' Us:  utilizes child laborers overseas.
Outback Steakhouse:  forced employees to make donations to GOP candidates, and let Rick Sanitarium use their corporate jet, like it was his personal car. Plus, they're pushing to lower the "tipped" minimum wage to servers.

Wyndham:  NRA backer

Charles Schwab:  Large level of funding supporting the extreme right wing nut agenda.

Hobby Lobby:  good "Christians" oppose Obamacare for giving women access to contraceptives.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Peel that kiwi!

I bought a lot of kiwi fruit at Costco the other day and wasn't sure how to peel and eat them, until I found the vid below on the net.  The internet is so frikkin' awesome!

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Hemp car

Yes, a car made mostly out of hemp!!  Henry Ford pioneered the technique back in the 1930's, shortly before cannabis was outlawed in the U.S., so production was halted. 

Now, Canada is doing it.  The "Kestrel" is slated to be available this year - 2013 - from Motive Industries

THE UNITED STATES NEEDS TO GET ITS COLLECTIVE HEAD OUT OF ITS COLLECTIVE ASS AND LEGALIZE INDUSTRIAL HEMP NATIONWIDE!!  

It would unleash an entrepreneurial boom the likes of which we have not seen in ... ever?

Monday, January 14, 2013

Guest Post

Here's another guest posting from Lee T., the PolySci professor.  I will be forever indebted to some of my professors in college that really opened my eyes to history, science, and the world around me.   It's too easy to live in the bubble of ignorance.

Democracy in the House
by Lee T.

I do not often read the editorials for the N.Y. Times as I tend to be a pretty independent thinker. However, I found this interesting as I know most Americans, even those so-called highly educated Americans, simply do not know nor they understand the workings of Congress "within" Congress.


The Congress means the House and the Senate. Each chamber sets it own operational rules in accordance with Constitutional Authority. In other words, they can do whatever they dam please, as long as the majority votes for it. In the House, not as much in the Senate, the Majority runs the show. Mr. Boehner, the Speaker, has chosen to take the approach that unless a majority of his caucus (Republican Members) vote to support a specific bill, he will not bring it up for a vote. in other words, if 99 Republicans oppose a bill and 98 support it and and all 150 Democrats support it, he will not bring it up for a vote because his caucus did not support it although over 70% of the House would support the bill. That's why we were not able to reach a deal in July, 2011 when Mr. Boehner and Mr. Obama reached a hand shake deal but the Majority within the Majority vetoed the deal Mr. Boehner had reached with the President. Therefore, it was never voted on by the House. The result was that the Republicans got a much worse deal two weeks ago, had they voted on the original deal. But Boehner was trying to protect his Speakership from his Tea Party Wing.

While the Senate also has its strange rules, the minority (Republicans) are protected by the filibuster rule, which has been in effect since 1806 in one form or another. The Senate also has one rule which is totally stupid, listen up, any ONE member of the 100 members in the Senate can hold up "ANY" nomination for any presidential appointment for any reason he/she deems appropriate. So one Senator can kill one person's career elected by a state with no people like Montana, North Dakota, Wyoming, Idaho, S. Dakota, etc. but he can kill a nomination became he wants to. Can you believe that? It true.

So we're into the new term for Mr. Obama and he already forced the issue on the House with the Fiscal Cliff and as I expected, he won. Mr. Boehner has lost a lot of political power by giving in to the Tea Party in the Previous term. Now the Senate is going at it with all kinds of new nominations for high Secretarial positions, let's he how Mr. McConnell handles it.

After the 2008 election, Sen. Minority Leader Mitch McConnell proclaimed that his number one job in the Senate was to make Mr. Obama a one term President. Well, not only did he not do his Number One job, but he also lost two Senators in his caucus. But he's a lot smarter than Speaker Boehner, Mr. McConnell knows when to say yes, and he says it fast before he becomes a public embarrassment.

Read the linked article here and see what you think.
Here is a simple question in Poli-Sci 101. What do you call the above which I just described?

Plutocracy, Oligarchy or both?

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Sleep driving?!

Lately, my poor wife has been having some trouble sleeping.  She's had some sinus troubles over the past few years and appears to have developed some sleep apnea - an affliction I used to have until I had some surgery to fix it.

She's also got a bit of a nerve impingement in both of her elbows that cause her arms and hands to fall asleep if she curls them up while sleeping.   Poor thing has not been sleeping well.

So, in addition to doing some tests that will most likely confirm that surgery would be the best course of action to deal with both of those issues, her GP (General Practitioner) prescribed her a medication that is supposed to help her sleep.

Those Drug Information Sheets are always fun to read, aren't they?  Almost as entertaining as the television commercials listing all the side effects of the drug they want you to ask your doctor about. 

For this sleeping aid, Temazepam (common brand name: Restoril), here are some snips from the Drug Information Sheet that came with the pills:

Many people using this medication do not have serious side effects.
Rarely, after taking this drug, people have gotten out of bed and driven vehicles while not fully awake ("sleep driving").
People have also sleepwalked, prepared/eaten food, made phone calls, or had sex while not fully awake.  
Often, these people do not remember these events.
This problem can be dangerous to your or to others.

Dangerous?  Ya think?  

And this is cute too:

Although it is very unlikely to occur, this medication can also result in abnormal drug-seeking behavior (addition/habit forming).

So...is my wife, after she falls asleep, going to hop into the car and go cruising for heroin and a  gang-bang?  WTF?!

Like I've said, follow your dreams, except that one where you're naked at work, looking for drugs.

Jeff Ross

Damn.  I may have to add another recording to my DVR's schedule.  

Friday, January 11, 2013

Gun control

Gun control.  



Why is this so hard?  Because of a lot of Congress just quakes in its shoes when dealing with or discussing the National Rifle Association (NRA).  It is truly a shame, but a lot of our Congress is thoroughly beholden to special interests, be they the pharmaceutical industry, the oil companies, the banks, whatever.  Wherever there is big money, there is big influence.  But the NRA seems to hold special sway over Congress and much of the public.


Someone made the point the other day that people possessing or using grenades or machine guns is no longer an issue.  They used to be legal.  They were outlawed, and the laws stuck. The same could be done with assault rifles.

Perhaps the reason the assault weapons ban didn't work so well the last time around is that the law was not very strong and allowed for loopholes and workarounds.  Shortly after the assault weapons ban was put in place, some gun manufacturers made slight adjustments in their assault weapons to get around the rules.  A tough assault weapons ban could be, and ought to be, put in place.

And to issue the usual disclaimer:  Neither I, nor any Democrat I know, wants to outright BAN all firearms.  NO one is coming for your guns, so just fucking chill out.  That's just a scare tactic used by the NRA and others.  Quite effectively, I might add.  The level of hysteria reaches absurd heights when people talk about guns and the 2nd Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.  Witness Alex Jones.  

Barring an outright assault weapons ban, such as the Bushmaster AR-15 pictured here, we should at least ban high-capacity magazine clips.  No hunter needs to have 30 rounds available at the squeeze of the trigger.  No one defending their home will need to fire off 10-30 rounds to ward off intruders.  

What should be easiest to do would be to extend background checks to ALL weapons purchases, even private transactions between individuals.  Even a majority of the NRA membership agrees with that position.  Yes, if even private transactions are subject to a rigorous background check, there still will be black market selling without a license or background check.  We will NEVER wipe out all of the black markets.  That's just human nature.

33 states in the U.S. require no background checks at all for many purchases.  Remember the 2nd Amendment's language about a "well-regulated militia".  At this time, only FEDERALLY-licensed gun dealers are required to perform background checks.  That means that most of these localized gun shows require no check at all, so any felon, criminal or thug can waltz into one of several gun shows and waltz out loaded for bear with no background check at all.  That's the so-called "gun show loophole."  Why should this be tolerated?   How is this "well-regulated"? 

There are 30 deaths by gunshot per day in the country.  30 per day.  Haven't we had enough of this mindless mayhem yet?  Why is it that other nations that also allow possession of firearms have much, much MUCH lower rates of homicide than we do.  Canada, for example.  Or Japan.  If anyone can explain it, please do. 

It's time to get past the hysteria and special interests and pass some common-sense laws to protect our citizens. 

I hope for your sake you never end up in a position like these people.  


Invisible Driver

....and how would you react?

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Is GOP ignorant?

About the previous post I made "CUT SPENDING!", could it be that the GOP is not always LYING but could in fact be simply IGNORANT?

Of course that's a possibility.  Just because someone is elected to an office does not mean they are an intelligent, aware person.  Big duh on that one.  (Plus, they all seem to be Religionistas, so, double duh!)

But, maybe they are not always LYING.  Maybe they are in fact IGNORANT.  We don't need LIARS OR IGNORANT elected officials.  Which would be worse?  See below.

http://maddowblog.msnbc.com/

When policymakers' minds go 'blank'

by Steve Benen

I continue to believe one of the more troubling aspects of the debt-ceiling crisis is the fact that those who've instigated the crisis don't seem to know what the debt ceiling is. It's difficult enough to reach a sound remedy to the looming calamity; it's worse when some policymakers do not yet grasp the basic details of the debate.


Last week, for example, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) suggested debt-ceiling increases empowers the White House to "spend taxpayer dollars without any limit," though this simply doesn't make sense. Yesterday, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) added this gem:



Those who followed the 2011 Republican debt-ceiling crisis might recall that the "blank check" talking point was a GOP favorite, repeated ad nauseum, so it shouldn't come as too big a surprise to see it make a comeback.

But as a substantive matter, it's still gibberish. We're not talking about writing checks, blank or otherwise; we're talking about borrowing money to pay for things Congress has already bought. A debt-ceiling increase wouldn't give President Obama any funds or resources; a debt-ceiling increase would allow the administration to finance money that Congress has already authorized to be spent.

As we discussed last week, it's really not that complicated. Congress approves federal spending, the executive branch follows through accordingly. When the legislative branch spends more than it takes in, the executive branch has to borrow the difference.

Who's asking for a "blank check"? What does that even mean?

The next question is whether Lindsey Graham is being cynically dishonest or shockingly ignorant. I don't know the senator personally, and I obviously can't read his mind, but the man has been in Congress for nearly two decades. He's voted for many debt-ceiling increases and he's twice positioned himself as a leading proponent of holding the debt ceiling hostage to advance a far-right agenda.

In other words, Graham has had plenty of time to familiarize himself with the basics of the policy. If, after 18 years on Capitol Hill, the senator still doesn't know what the debt ceiling is, perhaps Graham is in the wrong line of work and he should stop playing with weapons he doesn't understand.

It's more likely that the Republican understands quite well that the "blank check" talking point is nonsense, but he's repeating it anyway in the hopes Americans will be confused by nonsense.

Original.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Cut Spending!

The GOP's big refrain, but only since Obama became President, is to CUT SPENDING!!  They keep hammering on and on and on that spending is out of control!  The debt is out of control!!  

This bullshit is all so transparent to anyone who does not exclusively watch FOX NEWS or listen to Rush Limbaugh. 

First, if we have a spending problem at all, we have a MILITARY spending problem.  Our military budget is larger than the next 15 nations COMBINED.  

Second, look at the chart.  This graph was compiled by Forbes magazine, not exactly a left-leaning organization.


It is quite obvious that it's the REPUBLICANS who spend like drunken sailors, and it's the DEMOCRATS who tend to curtail spending.  I wish for ONCE the GOP would quit LYING about everything.  

Oh, yeah, third, we didn't hear a PEEP out of the CUT SPENDING crowd while George W. Bush gave HUGE tax cuts, started two wars and put them on the U.S. credit card, and passed the Medicare Rx drug fix.  He kept the costs of the wars OFF OF THE BOOKS!!  And all those "supplementals" were likewise not even listed in any budget!  

So, when Obama comes into office, he puts all those costs on the books where they belong, and LO AND BEHOLD, suddenly we have a SPENDING PROBLEM!!

It is obvious to just about anyone that this cry of CUT SPENDING is a ruse to cut back on entitlements, or as some call them, EARNED BENEFITS.  

For a long time, the GOP has been trying to "shrink the size of the government so that it could be drowned in a bathtub."  They have, by and large, been successful at starving the federal government.  And what happens when you shrink government revenues?  Well, government program start to be cut or you do go deep into debt.  And one of the first places the GOP wants to cut is social programs.  Can't EVER cut the military.  Oh, no no no!

For the life of me, I don't know why the GOP and Republicans in general seem to HATE THE POOR so much. Do they just hate anyone who is not rich?  They seem jealous of anyone getting ANYTHING from the government, unless, of course, it's THEIR friends who are getting government contracts, or their rich friends getting more tax breaks.  

The rich already have so much.  Why do they resent the less-well-off getting a leg up now and then?


Monday, January 7, 2013

Will it be cold?

Pause for some comic relief.


It's late fall and the Indians on a remote reservation in Minnesota asked their new chief if the coming winter was going to be cold or mild.


Since he had grown up in modern society, he had never been taught the old secrets.

He looked up at the sky, and hadn't a clue what the winter would be like.

Nevertheless, to be on the safe side, he told his tribe that the winter was indeed going to be cold and that the members of the village should collect firewood to be prepared.

But, being a practical leader, after several days, he got an idea. He called the National Weather Service and asked, "Is the coming winter going to be cold?"

"Looks like this winter is going to be quite cold," the meteorologist at the weather service responded.

So the chief went back to his people and told them to collect even more firewood in order to be prepared.

A week later, just to be sure, he called the National Weather Service again. "Does it still look like it is going to be a very cold winter?"

"Yep," the man at Weather Service again replied, "It's going to be a very cold winter."

The chief again went back to his people and ordered them to collect every scrap of firewood they could find.

Two weeks later, the chief called the Weather Service again. "Are you absolutely sure that the winter is going to be very cold?"

"Without a doubt!" the man replied. "It's looking more and more like it is going to be one of the coldest winters we've ever seen."

This time the chief asked, "How can you be so sure?"

The weatherman replied, "Because the Indians are collecting a shitload of firewood!"

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Texans win?!?!

Yeah, I was just as surprised as many Texans fans that the Texans pulled out a win against the Cincinnati Bungles in the first round of the NFL playoffs. 

They couldn't make it easy, oh no!  Only up by 6 points towards the end, and all it would have taken was for the Bungles to make one TD pass, and it would have been over.

The Texans cannot get to the Super Bowl unless and until they start scoring more TD's and quit kicking so many Field Goals.  Still, a win is a win is a win.

I see that the New England press is already taunting the Texans, calling them "fraudulent" and "the worst 11-1 team in history."  It's understandable, since the Patriots totally crushed and embarrassed the Texans in early December on Monday Night Football.

If the Texans can't learn from that humiliation, it will be all over.  Their defensive line has to step up and hassle Tom Brady big time.  If Brady gets plenty of time in the pocket, it will truly be all over.  And the Texans defensive secondary has to play more man-to-man.  Finally, the offense has to wake up out of its funk and remember how to score TD's. 

Anything is possible, but it'll be a near-miracle if the Texans pull out a win next Sunday at New England.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

2012 clip of the year

I missed this when it happened, but an informal poll of a bunch of lefties voted this clip from Rachel Maddow as the "Best Video Clip of 2012."  It gave me goosebumps.

Christian crime spree

Now, why would so many "good" Christians go about stealing and defacing banners and billboards paid for by various atheist groups? 

Are they so insecure in their own faith that they have to try to quash anyone with a different viewpoint?  Are they just carrying on the age-old tradition of trying to crush the "heretics"?  

And have you seen the profanity-laced, misspelled tirades that many of these "good" Christians go on when writing to atheist groups like the Freedom from Religion Foundation?

Yeah, yeah, I know, not EVERY Christian acts this way, but FAR TOO MANY of them do.  It would seem like they don't even believe in the teachings of their savior, Jesus Christ, much less practice them.  And they call atheists immoral!  Atheists are scorned on a level with pedophiles, and that has to stop.  This is what we get for actually USING OUR MINDS!?!

America's shameful Christian crime spree
By: William Hamby
There's a rampant crime spree going on in America. You won't hear about it through most media sources, and you aren't likely to hear anyone calling it what it really is: a Christian crime spree. But that's a very accurate description.


Over the last few years, various atheist and skeptic groups have started posting billboards, banners, and other advertisements all over the country. In response, many Christians are taking it upon themselves to steal or deface them. The most recent incident was in Virginia, where a Freedom from Religion Foundation banner was stolen. The press release title is telling: "Another FFRF solstice banner disappears." All told, FFRF placed 12 banners in December 2012. Five of them were stolen or vandalized. (That's 42%.)

Another atheist group in Roanoke, Va, placed four signs. Two of them were vandalized. In May of last year, an American Atheists billboard made it one day before it was vandalized. A Fresno, CA atheist billboard lasted all of three days. This kind of thing has happened in North Carolina, New Jersey and Portland, to name a few.

Of course, the public is outraged, right? Freedom of speech is sacred, right? Well, maybe not so much. In fact, if the media and blogosphere are to be believed, it's the atheists' fault for speaking something so unspeakable. The idea that there are atheists out there who would dare to mention their beliefs? Intolerable. Said one blogger,
Never would I encourage vandalism, but in this case I think I’ll let it slide. Atheists have been vandalizing my beliefs for years, so it’s about time the shoe was on the other foot...
The best part of this whole situation, though, is that these secular billboards were part of a Fourth of July project that placed similar ads in Greensboro, Raleigh and a handful of other cities – and it totally backfired. They underestimated their demographic, and because the vandalism occurred days before the Fourth, no one could service the billboard until after the holiday. It’s the small victories in life that make it all worthwhile.
Let's get a few things on the table from the start. Vandalism is a crime. Theft is a crime. In fact, theft is specifically prohibited by the Ten Commandments. Nevertheless, when it's atheists who are the victims of these crimes, there is little or no sympathy, and sometimes the criminals even get TV time. After vandalizing a sign in Pennsylvania in front of news cameras, a young man had this to say:
I just think in the light of the elementary school massacre in Connecticut, that we shouldn’t be divided as a country over petty stuff like is there a God or isn’t there a God,” McDonald reportedly said. “If they wanted to put the sign down here with us, that’s fine because we’re united. But to put it above everybody? No, it’s symbolic."
Three days after this criminal act, the authorities had made no efforts to bring the criminal to justice. It appears that as of this writing, no charges have been filed and there has been no arrest despite concrete evidence of both the crime and the perpetrator.

Here's something else to put in the open. We have every reason to believe these are all (or mostly) Christians perpetrating these crimes. In the previous example, it's obvious, but in other cases, we have to ask, "Who else would it be?" Who else has a reasonable motive to attack atheists in particular? Christianity is, after all, the overwhelming majority religion in America, and no other religious group has been as openly hostile to atheists.

In response to this observation, there will inevitably be cries of injustice from "moderate" Christians. (Think about that for a second. Christians will be upset at atheists for pointing out that Christians are committing crimes against us.) These protests are red herrings, as usual. It is patently obvious that all Christians are not committing crimes against atheists. In the first place, there aren't enough billboards to go around. In the second, nearly all of us atheists know and are friends with Christians who accept our views. We know it's not all Christians. But it is some Christians.

Finally, let's admit that regardless of legal hair-splitting, these are hate crimes. They are crimes committed by people who hate our views and even hate us so much that they take it upon themselves to prevent other people from hearing our voices. The existence of Christian hate for atheists is so well documented at this point that there ought to be no need for justification. Nevertheless, we would be remiss if we didn't remind readers of the inexcusable treatment of Jessica Ahlquist. Or the litany of abuses hurled at atheists during the 9/11 Memorial lawsuit. There are a lot of Christians who hate atheists. It is surely these Christians who have also resorted to crime in the name of Jesus.

Fortunately, there is a bright silver lining to this crime wave. In a nutshell, the Christians are proving us right. Every time an atheist billboard is defaced or stolen, a Christian is proving not only that (s)he is hatefully intolerant of atheists, but that (s)he is willing to commit crimes in the name of Jesus. In the days before the internet, Christians -- especially in rural areas -- could oppress and discriminate with near impunity, and no one would be the wiser. Today, we are watching and taking notes.

Each act of vandalism also gives us atheists the chance to take the moral high ground. There are countless Christian billboards, posters, marquis, and other displays all over the country, and today as always, they are virtually unmolested. If atheists were in the business of perpetrating hate crimes against Christians, it would be noticed. Do we really believe that Bill O'Reilly or Sean Hannity would pass up the opportunity to publicize an "atheist crime wave?" Given their penchant for exaggeration and even fabrication, it's even more telling that no such accusations are brought forth. There simply isn't enough actual atheist vs. Christian crime to make even a flimsy case.

Of course, there are occasional exceptions to this rule. Atheist vandalism does happen from time to time, and when it does, the atheist community soundly condemns the vandals, and raises funds to repair the damaged property. As of this writing, a thorough Google search could find no similar Christian fund to repair atheist billboards. One is forced to wonder if this is the reason no Christian pundits are rushing to allege an atheist crime wave. Perhaps they know that in doing so, they would expose their own crime wave as well as "moderate" Christians' unwillingness to condemn the acts or offer reparations.

This is a win-win situation for atheists. A billboard that escapes assault conveys our message to the public. A vandalized billboard is also money well spent. It is a dramatic demonstration of just how marginalized we are, and just how intolerant many Christians are towards us. We can (and do) generate our own publicity through social media and blogs. We energize our philosophical brothers and sisters to continue the work of social change. We become more convinced that our work is necessary.

The time has passed when Christians could bully us with impunity. No longer will we sulk silently into a corner for fear of further reprisal. We are a powerful community, and we are gaining strength. It is this power that frightens many Christians, and some are resorting to crime in the name of their god. This is a victory for us, for only the powerless resort to such base acts. These vandals are aware that they can no longer expect our silent complicity in their religious culture, and all they can manage to do is pester us with petty theft and spray cans. We will continue to display our billboards, and whether they let them stand or tear them down, it is we who are winning this culture war.

Amen!

Original.

The Daily Puppy

Black Collar Crime

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National Weather Outlook

Amen!

Amen!