Monday, March 31, 2014

Today's Eewww

Science (and the dogged relentless pursuit of What Da Fuck) does not always lead to rainbow-farting unicorns, or - really - to anything guaranteed not to make your skin crawl.  I can almost understand why some people just throw up their hands and say, "Fuck this - I'm goin' with Jesus".


At about 2:05, you might feel a powerful urge to run and hide.

Go ahead - do some porn surfing with the key word 'hairy' - do it now.  I fuckin' dare ya.

It's Just A Theory

hat tip = X-Christian (commenter) at Moyers & Company
Denying the Big Bang:
In the first episode of Cosmos, titled “Standing Up in the Milky Way,” Tyson dons shades just before witnessing the Big Bang. You know, the start of everything. Some creationists, though, don’t like the Big Bang; at Ken Ham’s Answers in Genesis, a critique of Cosmos asserts that “the big bang model is unable to explain many scientific observations, but this is of course not mentioned.”
"Not mentioned"?

Ya mean like on the gazillion other occasions when Tyson has said, "I don't know" in response to questions like:
What came before the big bang?
What does the big bang have to do with dark matter and dark energy?

When he doesn't know something, Tyson admits it, and he doesn't pretend that his imaginary friend has the answer, but conveniently left it out of that one stoopid book.  C'mon, Ken - we all know you're a douche, but it's important for you not to let the rubes see you actually being a douche out in public like that.

Alas, this creationist critique seems very poorly timed: A major new scientific discovery, just described in detail in the New York Times, has now provided “smoking gun” evidence for “inflation,” a crucial component of our understanding of the stunning happenings just after the Big Bang. Using a special telescope to examine the cosmic microwave background radiation (which has been dubbed the “afterglow” of the Big Bang), researchers at the South Pole detected “direct evidence” of the previously theoretical gravitational waves that are believed to have originated in the Big Bang and caused an incredibly sudden and dramatic inflation of the universe. (For an easy-to-digest discussion, Phil Plait has more.)
Pushing back against the Denialists when they inevitably try to pull the False Equivalence  crap:

First - there're some big differences between the use of "theory" when we're talking about science, and the use of "theory" when we're indulging ourselves in conversational conjecture and speculation and such like that there.

Conflation of the two meanings is a very useful rhetorical trick, but it's a fucking trick. Please stop using it; please stop falling for it.

Second - here's a handy, and (I'm fairly certain) incomplete list of some other minor items that are also "just theories":

1. Atomic Theory
2. Theory of Matter and Energy, also Conservation of Matter and Energy
3. Cell Theory
4. Germ Theory
5. Theory of Plate Tectonics
6. Theory of Evolution
7. Big Bang Theory
8. Chaos Theory
9. The “Gaia” Theory of a Sustainable Earth, which is illustrated with the idea of Spaceship Earth
10. Theory of Quantum Mechanics
11. Theory of Special Relativity, which subsumes The Theory of General Relativity which subsumes Newtonian theories of motion
12. Photon Theory of Light Energy and its speed of light
13. Theory of Electromagnetism as begun by Maxwell and continued with the work of others
14. Theory of Radioactivity or Nuclear Theory
15. Theory of Molecular Bonds
16. Theory of States of Matter - or is this part of Atomic Theory and Molecular Bond Theory?
17. Theory of Thermodynamics—hey, I guess this theory takes care of the States of Matter and the Molecular Bond theories.
18. Theory of Homeostasis within Living Organisms
19. Constructivist Theory of Learning
20. Theories of Self and Development - mental processes in the brain.
21. Theory of Gravity

I realize pointing these thingies out should be tres obvioso by now, but repetition is the surrogate mother of political success (aka: the brood bitch of propaganda).  Turn-about's fair play, muthuh fuckuh.

And just to put the cherry on top - your eyes may have been opened by the Lord's eternal awesomeness, but if you've got your head up your ass, all you're gonna see is your own shit.

Yo - Brian

At first blush, it's easy to follow Mr Fischer's reasoning as he says he "discriminated", but he wants us to understand that he's not really "discriminating" (tho' of course he is), but no really, he just wants us all to know that he thinks wimmins is all wonderful and capable and competent...but but but flip flop flip.

The not-so-discreet implication is that them wimmins is only wonderful and capable and competent at doin' all that Wimmin's Work, but hey, let's throw the gals a bone, shall we? (even a bad double entendre seems appropriate here because the kinda shit this guy peddles is convoluted enough to confuse a Byzantine Imperator).

Maybe we should talk about the obvious Mommy Issues that are just barely below the surface, but also too, anybody who spends that kinda time and energy gushing about how welcoming and comforting he feels women are - well, maybe we're into a little self-loathing; trying to admit to being a complete dickweed who has none of the loving qualities he says he finds so endearing in women.  Or maybe he's overcompensating a tiny bit because he has doubts about his own manliness.

Or maybe it's just another mundane example of a guy applying a little lubricating flattery to loosen up somebody's panties.

Fucking classic, dude.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Telomeres And Centromeres

Read all about it at NIH.  But that'll give you a headache unless you're Amy Farrah Fowler - and besides, I put that up there just to pump up my public image by inviting you to infer that I actually read that shit, and that I might have some remote chance of understanding it.  I don't read it, and while I insist on believing I could understand it if somebody explained it to me in very simple terms, I really just don't fuckin' get it.

But, I found this helpful:

And here's one from Carl Sagan:

I love the part when Sagan points out that Creationists have to knock down the thing about the 4.5-billion-year-old Earth - cuz if they don't, they've got exactly bupkis when it comes to their denial of evolution.

Flipping The Message

A while back, Cadillac ran this ad aimed at the Douche Bucket demographic:

Here's an Answer Ad from Ford:

The world is what we make it, kids.

Today's Doonesbury

Gary Trudeau can be about as subtle as a hand grenade in a bowl of oatmeal.  What passes for 'wry' is usually more like a barstool across the face.  Which is what it takes sometimes.  Like now fer-instance.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

DIY Whitewash

First, say something honest-ish sounding:  "There will be no whitewash".  But don't use the term "whitewash" because that's old hat, and you must never ever ever allow any words to be used that might make anybody question your "integrity".

Second, make it clear to the handful of underlings who actually know you're a lying sack of shit that they will burn if they say anything - that's what you tell them in private just before you announce that they've been fired for the scummy things they did on your behalf and at your instruction been fired for doing bad things totally unbeknownst to your own saintly self, or that they've left public service to pursue opportunities in the private sector, or that they need to spend more time with family blah blah blah.  Also, publicly you say there will be no immunity and no deals and no fuckin' around here - I mean it.

Well, no shit - you cut people loose and leave 'em standing naked and alone while you threaten to bring the full power of a state government down on them as you slide on by?  Gosh - you just might get some very quiet people that way.

Third, since all or most of your fellow-consprators won't be saying anything to your hand-picked team of "investigators", there's no real chance that anything of substance will ever turn up - not in time to make a difference anyway - so you can conveniently insinuate that the people who know where you buried the bodies are actually the guilty ones because - hey, why else would they plead the 5th?  Why would they not testify if they have nothing to hide - am I right or what?

Of course, Bridget Ann Kelly et al will deny it and refute the findings, and we'll all have a merry old time being distracted by raising money for the Defense Fund and spending the next several years slugging it out in court, and watching the whole thing every day and every night on Nancy Grace and DumFux News and Ed Schultz.

But Christie has done the politically smart thing by getting his shit out in front.  No matter what else, he gets to point at "an investigation that exonerated me fully", and to play the jolly ol' fat workin' stiff who's just tryin' to do a job for the fine folk of New Jersey, but who's beset on all sides by disloyal sycophants and a corrupt liberal-biased press; and they're all jealous of his masterful prowess; and they only wanna bring a good man down to further their own ambitions.

And you just keep pounding away at it - believe what I say, not what your lyin' eyes are tellin' ya.

There's a perversely delicious beauty to it.

America - Made In China

"American Icon" has become the perfect realization of style over substance; that the symbol is now more important than whatever the symbol is supposed to represent.

The uniforms worn by the 2012 US Olympic Team were made in China.  That's not news, of course, but when I ponder that one, it seems more than a little warped that we just let it go by, with the only result of the complaints and pushback being that the winter team unis were "American Made" (and just look how that turned out), while the stampede of jobs to foreign locations continues not only unrestrained but encouraged; and even "required" under the interpretation of certain laws.

I realize I'm a fogey at this point in time, and it's always a possibility I'm worrying about a few BBs in a boxcar but does it really mean nothing to anyone that we don't do anything other than "manage the brand" anymore?  We're being sold a pocketful of mumbles.

Made In China:

Saturday's Tune

Can't You See --Marshall Tucker band

Friday, March 28, 2014

Friday's Tune - 4

Deacon Blues --Steely Dan

This is the day
Of the expanding man
That shape is my shade
There where I used to stand
It seems like only yesterday
I gazed through the glass
At ramblers
Wild gamblers
That's all in the past

You call me a fool
You say it's a crazy scheme
This one's for real
I already bought the dream
So useless to ask me why
Throw a kiss and say goodbye
I'll make it this time
I'm ready to cross that fine line

I'll learn to work the saxophone
I'll play just what I feel
Drink Scotch whisky all night long
And die behind the wheel
They got a name for the winners in the world
I want a name when I lose
They call Alabama the Crimson Tide
Call me Deacon Blues

My back to the wall
A victim of laughing chance
This is for me
The essence of true romance
Sharing the things we know and love
With those of my kind
That stagger the mind

I crawl like a viper
Through these suburban streets
Make love to these women
Languid and bittersweet
I'll rise when the sun goes down
Cover every game in town
A world of my own
I'll make it my home sweet home

I'll learn to work the saxophone
I'll play just what I feel
Drink Scotch whisky all night long
And die behind the wheel
They got a name for the winners in the world
I want a name when I lose
They call Alabama the Crimson Tide
Call me Deacon Blues 

This is the night
Of the expanding the man
I take one last drag
As I approach the stand
I cried when I wrote this song
Sue me if I play too long
This brother is free
I'll be what I want to be

I'll learn to work the saxophone
I'll play just what I feel
Drink Scotch whisky all night long
And die behind the wheel
They got a name for the winners in the world
I want a name when I lose
They call Alabama the Crimson Tide
Call me Deacon Blues

Deacon Blues lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group

Today's Moment Of Clarity

Friday's Tune - 3

Love Has No Pride --Bonnie Rait w/ David Crosby and Graham Nash

Friday's Tune - 2

Home --Bonnie Raitt


Lil Donny Trump is one of the guys we want near the power switch?  When I think about the possibility of the GOP being put in control this November, I start to think it would be less painful and do far less harm if I just lobotomized myself with a rusty ice pick.   C'mon - we're not really letting these guys back in, are we?

Friday's Tune

Mother's Daughter --Santana

Got no time for foolin' with you, baby
Your stupid game is about to end
You played it out, thought you had it made
And it looks like someone passed you by again

I left her standin' in her corner
She told me, she was tryin' to find her way
I got to leave before I get much older
'Cause she ain't moved in nearly forty days 

I got a woman that's treatin' me better
She takes her time and she ain't so cruel
I got someone to take you over
Your mother ain't so bad, what happened to you?

Songwriters: ROLIE, GREGG
Mother's Daughter lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group

Beatin' 'Em Back

Sometimes the best way to raise your own positives is to pump up the other side's negatives.

Correlation 1: Sometimes advancing your own agenda means stomping on the other side's attempt's to push for a Trigger-Happy Christianist Idiocracy.

Va Pilot Online:
Gov. Terry McAuliffe has vetoed Republican-sponsored legislation that would prohibit state censorship of certain military chaplains' prayers, a move lobbied for by the American Civil Liberties Union, but disappointing to some social conservatives.
The Democrat Thursday spiked a bill from GOP Sen. Dick Black of Loudoun County, reasoning hisSB 555 "would seriously undermine the religious freedom of National Guard members by potentially exposing them to sectarian proselytizing."
McAuliffe's veto of the bill that would apply to the state-controlled Virginia National Guard and Virginia Defense Force is the second of the governor's young term.
He vetoed a guns rights expansion bill last week.
While military chaplains can minister as they choose at voluntary worship services or unofficial private settings, they don't "have the right to use official, mandatory events as a platform to disseminate their own religious views," McAuliffe wrote in a March 27 veto letter.
American Civil Liberties Union of Virginia director Claire Guthrie Gastañaga this month urged McAuliffe to veto Black's bill, arguing "National Guard members required to attend any official event have the right not to be forced to worship in another person's faith."
Sen. Bill Carrico perceives the veto as a blow against religious freedom, not a protection of it, saying McAuliffe has taken a stand "against any bills protecting individuals' rights to conscience."
McAuliffe owes the public an answer as to why he thinks government should control "what they say and what they believe," said Carrico, a former state trooper who has fought to free Virginia State Police chaplains to offer sectarian prayers.
Recalling Black's bill passed the Virginia Senate and House of Delegates by voting margins above the requisite two-thirds veto-proof majority, Carrico, R-Grayson County, said he hopes there are enough votes to override McAuliffe's veto.  -- Julian Walker
He vetoed Del. Ben Cline's HB962, intended to clarify that gun owners without concealed handgun permits can keep the weapons in their vehicles if they're secured in compartments that aren't locked. McAuliffe considers that broadened definition a public safety risk.
An amendment from McAuliffe had required storage of weapons in locked containers but was rejected by the Republican-run House of Delegates earlier this month. Cline, R-Rockbridge County, has said the legislation is necessary to make it clear that a storage container needn't be locked to comply with the law.
McAuliffe's veto is the final action on Cline's bill this year, legislative officials said.
I'm not going to start crowing about what a great and powerful and steadfast defender of American democracy Mr McAuliffe is.  He's a 3rd Way Clintonite Neo-Liberal, and a politician who got elected because he's a step or two above a crotch stain like Kenny the Kooch.  So there will come a time when it becomes obvious that he's made a deal that he can get us to believe is good for us, but really just keeps his buddies in power and the rest of us in line.

That said, here's hoping Gov McAuliffe proves me dead wrong by disappointing me in a good way.

Instant Karma

Everybody's doin' this one, so why should I be different?

I get a little crazy too when I see the boneheaded stunts people pull on the roads just about every time I venture out.  But (so far) I've managed to keep it all inside my own car.  That's kinda the important part because it allows me the rationalization of differentiating myself from the complete asshole driving the pickup in the video.  I can be kind of a dick behind the wheel, but I'm not that kinda dick.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Logical Fallacy #7: Tu Quoque

Tu quoque /tˈkwkw/,[1] (Latin for "you, too" or "you, also") or the appeal to hypocrisy, is a logical fallacy that attempts to discredit the opponent's position by asserting the opponent's failure to act consistently in accordance with that position; it attempts to show that a criticism or objection applies equally to the person making it. This dismisses someone's point of view based on criticism of the person's inconsistency and not the position presented[2] whereas a person's inconsistency should not discredit the position. Thus, it is a form of the ad hominem argument.[3] To clarify, although the person being attacked might indeed be acting inconsistently or hypocritically, such behavior does not invalidate the position presented.

Told Ya So

I have to admit that sometimes I feel a sparkly little tingle when it turns out that one of the shitty things "them damned dirty hippies" said was going to happen eventually does happen, and it gets "reported" - even though practically nobody notices.

Like driftglass says - Liberals: takin' shit for being right about stuff since before you were born.

NYT yesterday:
BEIJING — From taxi tailpipes in Paris to dung-fired stoves in New Delhi, air pollution claimed seven million lives around the world in 2012, according to figures released Tuesday by the World Health Organization. More than one-third of those deaths, the organization said, occurred in fast-developing nations of Asia, where rates of cardiovascular and pulmonary disease have been soaring.
Around the world, one out of every eight deaths was tied to dirty air, the agency determined — twice as many as previously estimated. Its report identified air pollution as the world’s single biggest environmental health risk.
“The big news is that we have a better understanding of how large a role air pollution plays in strokes and coronary heart attacks,” said Dr. Carlos Dora, coordinator of public health and the environment at the organization. “Given the astronomical costs, countries need to find a way to prevent these noncommunicable diseases.”

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

One More From Steve

Steve Shives at

Today's Tune

Comfortably Numb --Pink Floyd (cover David Gilmour, Richard Wright et al)

Put your headphones on - It's Floyd.  Relax and be groovy.

Is there anybody in there?
Just nod if you can hear me
Is there anyone home?

Come on now
I hear you're feeling down
I can ease your pain
Get you on your feet again

I'll need some information first
Just the basic facts
Can you show me where it hurts?

There is no pain you are receding
A distant ship's smoke on the horizon
You are only coming through in waves
Your lips move
But I can't hear what you're saying

When I was a child I had a fever
My hands felt just like
Two balloons
Now I've got that feeling once again
I can't explain
You would not understand
This is not how I am

I... Have become comfortably numb

Just a little pin prick
There'll be no more aaaaaaaah!
But you may feel a little sick

Can you stand up?
I do believe it's working
That'll keep you going through the show
Come on
It's time to go

There is no pain you are receding
A distant ship's smoke on the horizon
You are only coming through in waves
Your lips move
But I can't hear what you're saying

When I was a child
I caught a fleeting glimpse
Out of the corner of my eye

I turned to look but it was gone
I cannot put my finger on it now
The child is grown
The dream is gone
I... Have become comfortably numb

Comfortably Numb lyrics © Warner/Chappell Music, Inc.

Today's Quote(s)

“For instance, on the planet Earth, man had always assumed that he was more intelligent than dolphins because he had achieved so much—the wheel, New York, wars and so on—whilst all the dolphins had ever done was muck about in the water having a good time. But conversely, the dolphins had always believed that they were far more intelligent than man—for precisely the same reasons.”  --Douglas Adams, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy

hat tip = FB Friend VWE

New(ish) Discovery

YouTuber Steve Shibes

--and (let no one go unpunished)--

Tuesday, March 25, 2014


I don't know what to do about schools or poverty or unemployment or healthcare or crime.  I don't even know what to call it; this combination of symptoms that indicate a pervasive and (if history is any guide at all) generally fatal disease of the body politic.

Can we call it The Cycle of Shitty?

How 'bout Disintegrating Empire Syndrome due to Electoral Dysfunction?  Quick - somebody call Pfizer and threaten to give them billions of tax dollars if they don't develop a new pill to take our minds off our troubles.

I just don't know.

But I'm fairly certain that we can't keep following along blindly, buying into the bullshit of Austerity and Tough Love and Economic Shock Therapy - all of which are just manufactured terms used to keep us off-balance and to hide the fact that our "leaders" either have no workable solutions or they're determined to rule rather than serve.  Either way, not a happy choice.

Here's what I think I know:
You don't keep a guy from getting run over by a cement truck by shoving him out into traffic.
Translation - You help people by helping them - you don't help them by not helping them.  (and I can't believe ya have to say it out loud like that, but fuck me - I guess maybe ya do)

Here's my message for the guys who put up the federal budget - that's Paul Ryan in the House and Patty Murray in the Senate:
The only thing worse than a government that spends too much is a government that doesn't spend enough - so figure it out, assholes.

Gene Robinson at WaPo:
Alleviating stubborn poverty is difficult and expensive. Direct government aid — money, food stamps, Medicaid, housing assistance and the like — is not enough. Poor people need employment that offers a brighter future for themselves and their children. Which means they need job skills. Which means they need education. Which means they need good schools and safe streets.
The list of needs is dauntingly long, and it’s hard to know where to start — or where the money for all the needed interventions will come from. It’s much easier to say that culture is ultimately to blame. But since there’s no step-by-step procedure for changing a culture, we end up not doing anything.
And just to be clear about Paul Ryan's dog-whistle crap about some kinda "...tailspin of culture, in our inner cities...", let's try to remember what Brother Jay Smooth teaches us:

Monday, March 24, 2014

Today's Irony

...but more like The Law Of Unintended Consequences - unless you're convinced that Evil Geniuses control our legislative process from outside the visible political spectrum.

Ms Seabrook came pretty close to screwing the pooch on this one by not addressing some important questions, which are basically:
What was the rationale for the fucked-up-edness in the first place?
What deals had to be struck that made the thing the way it is?
Who were the major players at the time?
Who was lobbying for one side or the other?
She never asks the questions directly, but maybe that's OK because she's trying to focus on outcome instead of process(?) - anyway, she does (kinda) get to those points eventually.

And while Mr Johnson spins a bit of conspiracy about poisoning the well, he puts up a very good conclusion - ie: if it seems like the gubmint ain't listening to you, it's prob'ly because this law makes it really hard for the gubmint to listen to you.  And since lawmakers have the power to do something about it but continue doing nothing about it, the conspiracy angle just gets harder and harder to dismiss.

Like the man said - nobody's going to get elected running against something called The Paperwork Reduction Act.

The numbers mentioned in the clip:
Hours spent every year by Americans doing their tax returns: 2,147,483,647
...which converts to 244,983 years.

Today's Pix

Sunday, March 23, 2014

The Matter With Words

Crappy sound quality - high-sounding message.

You can't make it work if you can't sell the idea, but it bothers me that feeling you have to play the other guy's game is the beginning of a process that leads to your becoming those other guys.

Let's be careful out there.

It's (Supposed To Be) About Balance

JFK speaking at a meeting of the American Newspaper Publishers Association in 1961:

(hat tip = Democratic Underground)

"Solon decreed it a crime for any man to shrink from controversy" - that bit's pretty good, but beyond that, it seems like this speech is one of those moments in history that lets us see at least the beginnings of a certain unravelling.

He says it straight out - we have to take the right of all citizens to know what their government is up to and weigh it against the need to keep "the enemy" from knowing things we really need them not to know (insert snarky crack about Don Rumsfeld here).

I guess I could spend the next few decades trying to trace thru all the flips and turns of journalism just in the last half of the 20th century, trying to figure out where "it all went wrong".  And while that may be a truly fun ride, I get the feeling it's not as useful right now as figuring out what's been driving the enormous changes we've been seeing.  I'm not just talking about the tech revolution or whatever - I think it has everything to do with the tensions that are always present between What's-Best-For-The-Most vs what's good for a fairly narrow power agenda on the part of almost literally a few very well placed individuals.

Capt Obvious says, "Robbing the house gets a lot easier once you've killed the watch dog.  And if you can get the homeowners to kill their dog for you, well then you're one clever mother fucker, and maybe you deserve all the booty you can carry, and whoa - can I give you a hand?  Some of those pillow cases look pretty heavy."

We've had to fight this fight on several occasions - kinda what got us going in the first place back in the 18th century.  So here we go again.

It's not about pointing and laughing at The Tea Party. Although it's great sport and somebody needs to do that, they're mostly people who're rightly upset, but who're being co-opted and misled.

And it's not about pissing and moaning about how the Dems have also been co-opted and now they're just as bad as the Repubs.

It's not about immigrants or brown people in general, or your upper middle class douche-y Libertarian neighbors or the jag-off at the 7-11 who doesn't seem to care about satisfying your every whim in a humble but joyous way while constantly expressing his gratitude for the opportunity to slowly starve to death on $8.50 an hour.  It's also not about the kid in the do-rag and the baggy pants, and it's not about a whole fuckload of distractions that're easy to say and easy to understand and just as easy to recognize as total crapola once ya spend half a micro-neuron thinking about it.

It's not even about being mad at the right people - or being mad for the right reasons.  It's about figuring out what to do about being mad at the right people for the right reasons.  If I ever figure that one out, I'll be sure to let ya know, but in the mean time, yeah - let's take our country back.  We can start by taking it back from Goldman-Sachs, and from Exxon-Mobil, and from Koch Industries, and from The Walton Gang, and from whoever else wants to rule over us instead of serving beside us.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

A Friendly Reminder

We've probably left it all too late to keep from crashing thru the +2°C ceiling that the Climate Nerds have been trying to warn us about.

What's important now is to figure out how to get ready for the Global Cluster Fuck heading our way.  (I'm not holding out a lot of hope on that one btw, simply because we still can't figure out to stop short of bashing each other over the head with sticks and rocks for fuck's sake, but anyhoo)

There's a weekly news show on HBO called VICE.  It's only half an hour, and kinda scatter-gun, but they pick good topics and they spend a good 12-15 minutes on each story.  Kinda like what we used to think 60 Minutes used to be - but without the asshole Mike Wallace.

Here's the "debrief" on the Greenland Is Melting segment from last night's show:

VICE on the web

Fun Fact:  The Greenland Ice Sheet is disappearing at a much faster rate than they predicted 10 years ago - it's accelerated to the point where it's something like 60 years ahead of schedule.  Once it's all melted, the world's sea level will be a solid 20 feet higher than it is now.

Oh yeah - watch for the bit about how Antarctica has now joined the fun as well.


Punishing Success

A short item at NYT:

Authorities are trying to determine how a 16-year-old New Jersey boy sneaked past security at 1 World Trade Center and spent two hours early Sunday making his way to the top of the 1,776-foot tower, which is still under construction.
The boy, identified as Justin Casquejo of Weehawken, entered the construction site surrounding the tower through a 12-by-12-inch hole in the exterior fence, said Joe Pentangelo, a spokesman for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which owns the building.
The teenager crawled through the hole around 4 a.m. and was caught about two hours later, Mr. Pentangelo said. A law enforcement source said Mr. Casquejo was arrested in the lobby. He was charged with criminal trespassing, a misdemeanor.
Mr. Casquejo admitted breaking into the site, according to a criminal complaint.
“I found a way up through the scaffolding, climbed onto the sixth floor, and took the elevator up to the 88th floor,” he said, according to the complaint. “I then took the staircase up to the 104th floor. I went to the rooftop and climbed the ladder all the way to the antenna.”
At least one security guard, whom Mr. Pentangelo described as “inattentive,” was fired. It was unclear if any other security personnel were at the site.
Though Mr. Casquejo seemed to be nothing more than a young thrill seeker, the breach raised questions about the level of security at the site, which largely remains a construction zone more than 12 years after the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11 destroyed the original World Trade Center.
“We take security and these type of infractions extremely seriously and will prosecute violators,” Joseph Dunne, the Port Authority’s chief security officer, said in a statement. “We continue to reassess our security posture at the site and we are constantly working to make this site as secure as possible.”
Photos of Mr. Casquejo posted to his Twitter account show him and his friends scaling a crane overlooking the Manhattan skyline and posing on top of a bulldozer at a construction site. One photo shows someone doing a flip from a bridge into the water. He describes himself at one point as part of a parkour team, a reference to the gravity-defying urban sport that sometimes involves scaling buildings and other high structures.
Mr. Casquejo’s exploits were first reported by The New York Post.
Security is an illusion - and the more effort any given government exerts to "keep us safe", the more it fails to provide anything other than profits for contractors, way too much power for a buncha dopes with badges and low SAT scores, and a relentless corrosion of civil liberties for everybody else.

Huge hat tip to The Rude Pundit, who put the NYT bit together with MH370 to give us this:


Reminders of How Small We Are: MH370 and Justin Casquejo

You can bet that there will be a movie made about 16-year-old Justin Casquejo. When the kid from Weehawken, New Jersey (the town where Aaron Burr and Alexander Hamilton dueled to the death), got to the top of the unopened 1 World Trade Center in order to take photos to post to Twitter, he was following an impulse that in other times made people conquer mountains and rivers, doing the impossible for the first time. Imagine the view he had, alone, at the very end of night, at the very beginning of sunrise, on top of the tallest building in the country. He also demonstrated, probably unwittingly, just how tenuous, how permeable, how human our belief in security is.

If you've been to the 9/11 Memorial, you know that you have to pass through ridiculous levels of security. If you came in from New Jersey on the PATH train, you no doubt walked past soldiers armed with rifles. You had to get your ticket in advance in order for someone to check if your name is on any watch list. You had to go through a metal detector and a possible pat-down. While you were walking around the cascading pools, you couldn't help but see all the guards and police. This place, you are shown in absolutely certain terms, will not be attacked again, at least not by someone on foot. Apparently, though, not so much for the construction site that's still up around the nearly-complete skyscraper.

Often we must learn a simple lesson through violence - that schools aren't built to prevent shootings, that airplanes can be taken over with razor blades - and then we react and believe we have come up with a way to keep us safe. But, as further violence demonstrates, that safety, security in a larger sense, is a lie.

What Justin Casquejo did in the innocent, adolescent, brave, and stupid act of sneaking through a fence was to show us how meaningless our security apparatus is, how we've given over so much of our freedom to a fraud, to a thin veneer of protection that was punctured by a kid with a camera. It was, in its way, the gentlest act of terrorism one could commit. We are one sleeping guard away from anarchy. And it should be humbling not just to those who are supposed to keep us safe, but to all of us. By scaling the tower, Casquejo brought us to earth.

An even greater humbling is occurring in the search for Malaysian Airlines Flight 370. It is, without a doubt, an unendurably awful vigil for the families of the 239 passengers and crew. Putting aside the ghoulish news network coverage of the search, let us instead see the inability to find a large jet plane as a moment for sublime wonder along with the very real suffering of very real people. The loss of a plane filled with electronics and devices that are supposed to make it near-impossible to lose is another kind of humbling, another demonstration of our limits.

We live, we are told, in a shrinking world, a world where data and technology are erasing old barriers to knowledge and to understanding, to the distance between people. But sometimes an event occurs that shows us just how huge and mysterious the planet actually is. In a time when Google Earth can let us see individual trees in an African jungle, when one can go thousands of miles in a few hours of flying, the fact that hundreds of people and a large object can disappear reinstills a long-gone sense of awe at the immensity of the world, especially of the oceans. Imagine this for a moment, too: We might not find Flight 370, perhaps not in our lifetimes, perhaps not ever, because the earth is just that big.

That's the takeaway from this: We still don't know what we're doing. It's the tragic and lovely thing about humans, that we often believe we have a grasp, that we have control, even when we have constant reminders that it's an illusion.

Logical Fallacy #6 - Ad Hominem

Per Wikipedia:

An ad hominem (Latin for "to the man" or "to the person"[1]), short for argumentum ad hominem, is a general category of fallacies in which a claim or argument is rejected on the basis of some irrelevant fact about the author of or the person presenting the claim or argument.[2] Fallacious Ad hominem reasoning is normally categorized as an informal fallacy,[3][4][5] more precisely as a genetic fallacy,[6] a subcategory of fallacies of irrelevance.[7] Ad hominem reasoning is not always fallacious, for example, when it relates to the credibility of statements of fact.

Ad hominem arguments are the converse of appeals to authority, and may be used in response to such appeals.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Monday, March 17, 2014

Skipping To The Chase

...and also too, a new acronym: ACD = Anthropogenic Climate Disruption

The "good news" is that Climate Change has been on a minor hiatus; tho' not really, since the bad-news part is that all the shit we were expecting somewhere down the road is  pretty much on pace to become one ginormous fuckburger way sooner than we tho't it would.

Here're the last bits from a long piece at truthout (with a link to a report from those treehuggin' pussies at DoD):
Hence, they are also unlikely to believe anything that comes out of the "progressive" and "left-leaning" US Pentagon, which just released its 2014 Quadrennial Defense Review Report, which states:
"Climate change poses another significant challenge for the United States and the world at large. As greenhouse gas emissions increase, sea levels are rising, average global temperatures are increasing and severe weather patterns are accelerating. These changes, coupled with other global dynamics, including growing, urbanizing, more affluent populations, and substantial economic growth in India, China, Brazil, and other nations, will devastate homes, land, and infrastructure. Climate change may exacerbate water scarcity and lead to sharp increases in food costs. The pressures caused by climate change will influence resource competition while placing additional burdens on economies, societies and governance institutions around the world. These effects are threat multipliers that will aggravate stressors abroad such as poverty, environmental degradation, political instability, and social tensions - conditions that can enable terrorist activity and other forms of violence."
Every single piece of information you’ve just read is only from the last month.
This is what catastrophic ACD looks like.
This information may lack the dramatic background music and thrilling scenes that would accompany the Hollywood blockbuster movie that many in the United States might expect advancing ACD to look like. However, it is real. It is happening right now. And it is time for all of us to pay attention.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Mr Deity On Evolution

Dearest Dr Carson

This one's been making the rounds:

Just wanna home in on the PC Police bit.  First, there're good reasons for Godwin's Law, and even better reasons for the First Corollary (whoever mentions Nazis first loses).

But second, there're actually some pretty good reasons for what these jag-offs call "PC".  And I'll put the main reason to Dr Carson in the form of a question:  Dr Carson, if somebody walked up and called you a 'nigger', would you at least consider kicking him in the nuts for being the racist asshole he obviously is, or would you shake his hand and congratulate him for having the great courage to be such a stalwart Freedom Fighter?

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Today's Tune

Today In Absurdity

Ms Forlano mentions something about mammography and a recent study that the authors have said suggests annual screening isn't as vital as we've been told.  I haven't found a lot about that study, so I'm kinda talking out my ass here, but when you're trying to make a judgement call on practically anything medical ya gotta look at the outcomes first, and then work your way back thru all the treatment options.  Outcome is what matters, and evidence - what you can prove - is what has to drive those treatment decisions.
The study, which included nearly 90,000 women ages 40 to 59, is the latest to question the value of routine mammography. The researchers found the same number of women died of breast cancer over 25 years, regardless of whether they underwent yearly mammograms or not.
I'm always gonna start from a skeptical viewpoint. eg: The Cancer Treatment Industry has a dog in this fight, so there's some probability for us to see at least a little self-promotion on their part when they push back.

Of course, it's all a shitload more complex than that.  Take a ride thru The Placebo Effect some time and tell me it didn't make you just a tiny bit dizzy.  (Try this one too)

The more we learn, the more we understand how little we know.

Today's Pix


Logical Fallacy #5: The Slippery Slope

Per Wikipedia:
In logic and critical thinking, a slippery slope is a logical device, but is usually known under its fallacious form in which a person asserts that some event must inevitably follow from another without any rational argument or demonstrable mechanism for the inevitability of the event in question. A slippery slope argument states that a relatively small first step leads to a chain of related eventsculminating in some significant effect, much like an object given a small push over the edge of a slope sliding all the way to the bottom.[1] The strength of such an argument depends on the warrant, i.e. whether or not one can demonstrate a process which leads to the significant effect. The fallacious sense of "slippery slope" is often used synonymously with continuum fallacy, in that it ignores the possibility of middle ground and assumes a discrete transition from category A to category B. Modern usage avoids the fallacy by acknowledging the possibility of this middle ground.
The argument takes on one of various semantical forms:In the classical form, the arguer suggests that making a move in a particular direction starts something on a path down a "slippery slope". Having started down the metaphorical slope, it will continue to slide in the same direction (the arguer usually sees the direction as a negative direction, hence the "sliding downwards" metaphor).
Modern usage includes a logically valid form, in which a minor action causes a significant impact through a long chain of logical relationships. Note that establishing this chain of logical implication (or quantifying the relevant probabilities) makes this form logically valid. The slippery slope argument remains a fallacy if such a chain is not established.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Death And Taxes

Wanna get a good close look at where all the money goes?

Here it is.

A few screen shots:

Today's Wingnut

Steve Swanson via RightWing Watch, via Addicting Info:

Almost right from the start, Mr Swanson tries to bring the warning home; basically saying, "If I were the devil I'd buy Disney..." to make that standard leap-of-stoopid: Gay is bad; Disney is Gay; and so Disney must be bad.

BTW - it wasn't all that long ago that Disney was one of the mainstays of the Christianists' version of USAmerica.  But then, of course, Disney went all shove-the-gay-down-our-throats by recognizing that gay money spends really good too, and there's a lot of it, so let's try not to treat the customers like shit - and that's what ruined it for everybody.

BTW #2 - with all the Princess Fantasies and the show tunes and the pixie dust, aren't Disney and Teh Gay just kinda the perfect fit?  Seems like the classic no-brainer if you know anything about bidness.

Anyway, how do we know Swanson isn't the devil?  Satan's supposed be all wily and sly, and really good at fooling us into thinking he's the good guy so he can get us to do all those horrible things that Swanson says Disney's doing - seems maybe Swanson's actually implying we should do something to gay people and then blame Disney for it(?)  Gets a little complicated.

Just wonderin'.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Saying Good-Bye

Say Something --A Great Big World w/ Christina Aguilera

We Lost A Good One

...when Richard Jeni killed himself - 7 years ago today.

Music For Monday

The Last Of The Mohicans --Luca Stricagnoli

One CPAC Thing Only

Attendees at the annual "conservative" fap-fest they call CPAC (Corporatized Panderers And Clowns) had a fine time over the weekend.

Two things:

First, the word is that the Casual Encounters section of Craiglist (for hookups and one-night stands) went crazy with traffic in and around the beltway, and the big hits were of the m4m variety.  To wit (via Addicting Info):
CPAC looking for discrete fun – m4m – 26 (Prince George’s County)

Staying in town for the conference. Looking to get my rocks off. discretion assured. Versatile looking for a masc man in his 20s or 30s.
CPAC 24 m4m NSA – m4m (CPAC)

It is that time again and I want to have some NSA fun after the speechesI want to fuck your mouth while I sign you up on the health care market place.I want you to be the gipper and go down on my jelly beans. I want to be discrete
The author at AI does note that some of these could easily be jokes, but even if they are, ya gotta know that some closet case at CPAC will likely take some of them perfectly seriously, which points up the ridiculousness of the anti-people policy positions of "the conservatives".

Second, here's a picture tweeted by a guy named John Hudak (Brookings Inst - so, a grain of salt on this one as well) that he says shows the "crowd" at the "Minority Outreach" panel discussion at CPAC, about 10 minutes into the session:

There is simply nothing of substance in anything the GOP has to say about how people-friendly they are or want to be.  You may have noticed they don't talk much about the big tent anymore.  It seems an awful lot of them don't feel they even have to pretend that's what they want.  And it's getting harder not to believe that their positions on issues like Immigration and Voter ID are all about an effort to establish minority-party rule.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Stand Up And Scream

Things Goin' On --Lynyrd Skynyrd

Have you ever lived down in the ghetto?
Have you ever felt the cold wind blow?
If you don't know what I mean,
Won't you stand up and scream?
'Cause there's things goin' on that you don't know.

Too many lives they've spent across the ocean.
Too much money been spent upon the moon.
Well, until they make it right
I hope they never sleep at night
They better make some changes
And do it soon.

They're goin ruin the air we breathe
Lord have mercy.
They're gonna ruin us all, by and by.
I'm telling all you beware
I don't think they really care
I think they just sit up there
And just get high.

It's Gotta Stop

How stupid do we have to be?  How bad does it have to get before we know that it has to stop, and it can only stop when we stand up and make it stop?

If you have the stomach for it, look at these pictures closely, and then tell me you don't understand how men and women in uniform are all fucked up in the head when we finally let them come home.  Why can't they just chill out and relax?  Why do so many of them look away - sometimes they seem embarrassed or even ashamed - while we're falling all over ourselves trying to convince them how grateful we are when all we can do is recite a few meaningless cliches about service and sacrifice that we heard on TV or we saw on a Facebook post?

There's no such thing as a Non-Combatant, and there sure as hell ain't no Un-Wounded Warriors.  What we've been doing for the last 15 years; the damage we're doing - purposefully - to an entire generation of American kids, as well as populations around the world - I guess all I can say is that every one of these asswipe TheoCons better hope there's no god after all, cuz he's gonna be pretty fuckin' pissed at all this shit.