Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Welfare Cowboy Update

This just in from DumFux News - all the latest on Cliven Bundy!!!!

New Show

This past Sunday, HBO premiered John Oliver's Last Week Tonight, and I managed to miss it.

YouTube won't let me embed the video, but click here and watch the whole thing.

Here's a screen cap (for reasons unknown even to me):

Another Milestone

Well not quite yet.

Next year will be the 70th anniversary of Nuclear Weapons.  Woohoo.

Here's a cool little animation by Isao Hashimoto that's just scary as fuck:

Monday, April 28, 2014

Post What Now?

Can we dispense with this bullshit about Post-Racial America now please?

  Clippers Owner Donald Sterling to GF - Don't Bring Black People to My Games, Including Magic Johnson
  - Watch More
  Celebrity Videos

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Saturday, April 26, 2014

It Won't Stick

Here's Cliven Bundy trying to remind everybody that DumFux News is really in near-perfect agreement with everything he had to say "about the negro":

It's almost impossible for anybody not to know something about what's been happening with ol' Clive by now, and I'm not here to tutor you.  So if you can't keep up, take notes.  And if you're still a little confused, then you're prob'ly gonna be better off in some other class.

Now that I've weeded out the slackers and alienated most everybody else in my vast audience of ones and twos, let's get on with it:  Bundy obviously saw his opportunity to dance in the spotlight and he was determined to do it.  We saw video of him being all folksie and shucks-ma'am.  And we saw him galloping up that little hill with the stars-n-stripes.  And there he was speechifyin' at a podium festooned in red white and blue bunting, flanked by militia members looking all stern and cool and macho as they (almost literally) fondled each others' metal penises etc etc etc.

But then it all went to shit when Bundy took that next fateful step - which everybody "on the left" knew he'd take eventually, btw.  And suddenly, there's Bundy trying hard not to acknowledge that his 15 minutes were up about 20 minutes ago.

So anyway - two things:

1) DumFux News is in full retreat / damage control mode - disavowing him like he was Jim Phelps and the cassette tape's already self-destructing, while Bundy refuses to play along.

2) If history is any guide at all, the gurus at GOP and DumFux News will Etch-A-Sketch the fuck outa this little episode, and in a month or two the bubble-dwellers will be thinking it's all back to "normal" - like none of this ever happened.

The good news may well turn out to be that this has an effect on the big squishy middle.  

Bunches of people vote more or less according to "the fashionable trend".  They don't pay much attention to politics, and they don't know much about positions or policy, even tho' they have a general philosophy in mind and they tend to vote in a certain way.  These are the ones who get really uncomfortable in any discussion where they have to go beyond their usual centrist platitudes.  They haven't spent any real time or effort reading or listening or watching - they leaf thru People and Cosmo and USA Today, and they just kinda pick up a general attitude; they seem to get their political views by some kind of Social Osmosis.

It's not so much that they want to vote for somebody they think will best represent their interests (figuring that out requires work, which requires time, which a lot of people just don't have).  It's more like they only want to avoid being made fun of if they ever reveal who they voted for.

Sean Hannity isn't running away from Cliven Bundy because Bundy's a racist asshole.  

Hannity's running away from Bundy because Hannity's a craven political panderer who knows he has to un-couple Bundy from the GOP's candidates - in a big fuckin' hurry.

Here's what the symbology was supposed to be:  Every vote for a GOP candidate is a vote for freedom-loving patriots in The Real America® (roll the footage of Bundy waving the flag - what, you tho't video like that happened by accident?).

But here's what it is now:  Every vote for a GOP candidate is a vote for inveterate racist fuckheads like The Welfare Cowboy (roll the sound clip of "...about the negro").

When the thing kinda boils down to people thinking "you vote for the guy who's most like you", you're not gonna want people thinking you voted for the GOP because that makes them think you're an inveterate racist fuckhead like Clive Bundy.

Let' see if the Dems can make it stick.

Friday, April 25, 2014

A Little De-Programming, Please

From the film's website
As filmmaker, Jen Senko, tries to understand the transformation of her father from a non political, life-long Democrat to an angry, Right-Wing fanatic, she uncovers the forces behind the media that changed him completely: a plan by Roger Ailes under Nixon for a media takeover by the GOP, The Powell Memo urging business leaders to influence institutions of public opinion, especially the universities, the media and the courts, and under Reagan, the dismantling of the Fairness Doctrine.

Survivorship Bias

Try to focus on whatever killed the dead guy, not on what didn't kill the survivor.

"A stupid decision that works out well becomes a brilliant decision in hindsight" --Daniel Kahneman

From the podcast of You Are Not So Smart:
"Despite how it may seem, success boils down to serially avoiding catastrophic failure while routinely absorbing manageable damage."

Careful Who Ya Hang With

A 21-year-old Italian man was crushed to death today by a giant crucifix dedicated to the late Pope John Paul II. The tragic event happened just a few days ahead of the Pope's canonization.
According to the Telegraph, a piece of the 100-foot-tall crucifix collapsed on the man, Marco Gusmini, during an event near the village of Cevo while he posed for a photo with a group of friends. The cross was designed by sculptor Enrico Job and was created for John Paul II's 1998 visit to nearby Brescia in northern Italy.
Pope John Paul II will become a saint on Sunday in an unprecedented double-canonization with Pope John XXIII. Pope John Paul's canonization is surrounded by a bit of controversy, due to the idea that it is happening too quickly after his death — only nine years — and to the thought that he did not take seriously enough the sexual abuse crises that emerged at the end of his tenure.
And if this sad happening isn't spooky enough for you already, the Telegraph reports that Gusmini is said to have been living on a street named after the other to-be-canonized Pope, Pope John XXIII.

So, god is saying, "Don't be such a suck-up"?  That's something else that just doesn't square with what it says in the bible, or with what you hear practically every day.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

'Scuse Me, Mr Issa

Darrell Issa's been making a fuss over the IRS flap for a while now, and even tho' it's always looked like the standard fishing expedition; and even tho' there's plenty of evidence that Da Gubmint wasn't just trying to beat down a buncha poor defenseless slobs like Karl Rove, there seems to be something missing in all the hubbub.

Here's a short look at the kind of outfits the IRS was looking into.  Remember, bureaucrats have a lot of shit to get thru in a day.  And so like anybody with a living thinking brain who's trying to work with even a little efficiency, they need to prioritize and organize; and the IRS had some database tools that they were using to help them sift thru all that paperwork and get to the good stuff first etc.

OK, so here's the graphic:

But wait - it seems the outfits that Issa is saying were being Jack-Booted by the army of evil CPAs weren't the ones attracting all the attention after all.  The TeaBaggers are down at #4, and so ermahgerd, Mr Issa has been fibbing this whole time!?!  How could this be?

OK OK, I'll stop because nobody but the bubble-dwellers ever believed it was about trying to rein in the outa-control tyranny of Da Gubmint anyway. 

Unfortunately, a coupla things are still pretty fucked up about it.

First, the law and the attending regulations are vague about what does and what doesn't make your little organization eligible for tax-exempt status.  Laws need to be specific. Laws that are not specific tend not to be enforceable.  Which leads us to the paranoid presumption that maybe somebody wants these laws to go unenforced in order to gain an unfair advantage.

And that gets us to the second part.  By bitching about the IRS, and claiming some kinda bullshit mistreatment, Issa's little dog-n-pony show conveniently distracts us from finding out whether or not any of those outfits might be breaking the law.

Darrell Issa is using his position of wealth and power to protect his clients (ie anyone else in a position of wealth and power) from being held accountable for anything by anybody.  He's protecting them from us; he's facilitating the sale of our Representation to the highest bidder; and he's using our money to fucking do it.

Helluva deal.

Logical Fallacy #11 - Burden Of Proof

When debating any issue, there is an implicit burden of proof on the person asserting a claim. An argument from ignorance occurs when either a proposition is assumed to be true because it has not yet been proven false or a proposition is assumed to be false because it has not yet been proven true.[1][2] This has the effect of shifting the burden of proof to the person criticizing the assertion, but is not valid reasoning.[3]

While certain kinds of arguments, such as logical syllogisms, require mathematical or strictly logical proofs, the standard for evidence to meet the burden of proof is usually determined by context and community standards.[4][5]
In public discourse[edit]

Burden of proof is also an important concept in the public arena of ideas. Once participants in discourse establish common assumptions, the mechanism of burden of proof helps to ensure that all parties contribute productively, using relevant arguments.[6][7][8][9]
Proving a negative[edit]

When the assertion to prove is a negative claim, the burden takes the form of a negative proof, proof of impossibility, or mere evidence of absence. If this negative assertion is in response to a claim made by another party in a debate, asserting the falsehood of the positive claim shifts the burden of proof from the party making the first claim to the one asserting its falsehood, as the position "I do not believe that X is true" is different to the explicit denial "I believe that X is false".[10]

Matt Dillahunty gives the example of a large jar full of gumballs to illustrate the burden of proof.[11][12] It is a fact of reality that the number of gumballs in the jar is either even or odd, but the beliefs a person could hold are more complicated. We can choose to consider two claims about the situation, given as
The number of gumballs is even.
The number of gumballs is odd.

These two claims can be considered independently. For each claim, because of the law of excluded middle, we are forced to either believe or not believe. Before we have any information about the number of gumballs, we have no means of distinguishing either of the two claims. All of the information we have applies to claim 1 in exactly the same way it applies to claim 2. Due to the law of noncontradiction we cannot accept both of the two mutually exclusive claims, so we must reject (or not believe) both. This is the default position, which represents the null hypothesis. The justification for this position is only ever the lack of evidence supporting a claim. Instead, the burden of proof, or the responsibility to provide evidence and reasoning, lies with those seeking to persuade someone holding the default position.

Fair's Fair

Rain Song --Jimmy Page and Robert Plant

This is the springtime of my loving-
the second season I am to know
You are the sunlight in my growing-
so little warmth I've felt before.
It isn't hard to feel me glowing-
I watched the fire that grew so low.

It is the summer of my smiles-
flee from me Keepers of the Gloom.
Speak to me only with your eyes
it is to you I give this tune.
Ain't so hard to recognize-
These things are clear to all from
time to time. Ooooh...
Talk Talk-
I've felt the coldness of my winter
I never thought it would ever go
I cursed the gloom that set upon us...
But I know that I love you so
but I know that I love you so.
These are the seasons of emotion
And like the winds they rise and fall
This is the wonder of devotion-
I see the torch we all must hold.
This is the mystery of the quotient-
Upon us all a little rain
must fall, Just a little rain?

Feels Like Rain --John Hiatt

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Because --Dave Clark Five

Because --Beatles


Once upon a time, you could count on your marketing department to be able to "prove" any conclusion management had already reached.

When the board at BP needed to feel reassured that the company could avoid being tagged as a major contributor to the death of an entire geographical region and the resultant slow implosion of several local economies, they went to their marketing geniuses and we got all those great commercials on TV about "Disaster? What disaster? Everything's great here."  It doesn't matter what's really going on because you're "controlling" the message, so nobody's going to see the real problems because Big Oil owns a majority stake in the politicians in the Gulf States and the money they're able to spend on media makes it easier for people (who desperately need to believe it's all OK) to believe it's all OK, in spite of some small voices to the contrary.

Variations on that little scenario have played out quite often over the years.

Things have been changing a bit though.  Social Media is the way to go now.  You can save many millions of dollars (paying me a few hundred K instead) by putting up a Facebook page and letting Twitter carry your message virally to millions more consumers than TV or even that old-fashioned Inter Tubes thing could ever imagine.

But "control" is an illusion, and what frequently happens on Social Media proves it.  What you get might be very much the opposite of what you were probably expecting and/or hoping for, and it can come as a very rude surprise when you start to understand that you can't cherry pick the feedback.

Mitch McConnell found that out not too long ago (eg).  And now the New York Police Dept is finding out too.  NYPD decided they were in need of a little PR boost, and believing (as all authoritarian organizations do) that the undeserving masses must surely be grateful to us  - or at least respect us for our abilities to crush their puny skulls at the slightest provocation - they went along with the Social Media suggestion by asking their fans to tweet their favorites pictures of the noble NYPD in action.

Here's a quick sampling of what came in by the thousands before they could shut the account down - prob'ly not quite what they had in mind:

Monday, April 21, 2014

Cuz It Works

Mostly, there's a buncha smart people running the businesses that run the world.  And mostly, these smart people make smart decisions, and (again, mostly) they decide to spend something like half a trillion dollars every year on advertising.  We think that's about right, but nobody's real sure anymore because the outfits doing the spending stopped talking about it openly several years ago, and the outfits that try to keep track of it have come to understand that the information is pretty valuable, so if you wanna know about such things, you get to pay for it (it's all about "The Analytics", dontcha know).  So the rest of us - well, we're just kinda shooting in the dark.

Anyway, smart people spend a fuckload of money on advertising - because it works.

The KrugMan Speaks

A Song For Adam --Jackson Browne

If You Could Read My Mind --Gordon Lightfoot

Today's Quote

Logical Fallacy #10 - Loaded Question

A loaded question or complex question fallacy is a question which contains a controversial or unjustified assumption (e.g., a presumption of guilt).[1]

Aside from being an informal fallacy depending on usage, such questions may be used as a rhetorical tool: the question attempts to limit direct replies to be those that serve the questioner's agenda.[2] The traditional example is the question "Have you stopped beating your wife?" Whether the respondent answers yes or no, he will admit to having a wife and having beaten her at some time in the past. Thus, these facts are presupposed by the question, and in this case an entrapment, because it narrows the respondent to a single answer, and the fallacy of many questions has been committed.[2] The fallacy relies upon context for its effect: the fact that a question presupposes something does not in itself make the question fallacious. Only when some of these presuppositions are not necessarily agreed to by the person who is asked the question does the argument containing them become fallacious.[2] Hence the same question may be loaded in one context, but not in the other. For example the previous question would not be loaded if it was asked during a trial in which the defendant has already admitted to beating his wife.[2]

This fallacy should be distinguished from that of begging the question,[3] which offers a premise whose plausibility depends on the truth of the proposition asked about, and which is often an implicit restatement of the proposition.[4]

The term "loaded question" is sometimes used to refer to loaded language that is phrased as a question. This type of question does not necessarily contain a fallacious presupposition, but rather this usage refers to the question having an unspoken and often emotive implication. For example, "Are you a murderer?" would be such a loaded question, as "murder" has a very negative connotation. Such a question may be asked merely to harass or upset the respondent with no intention of listening to their reply, or asked with the full expectation that the respondent will predictably deny it.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Cartoon Hero --Lydian Collective

The trick is playing it the same way twice in a row, but I'll take this one all day long.

That Sinking Feeling

Sometimes the metaphors walk up and smack ya right in the face.

Here's a picture of Lee Jun-seok, captain of the ferry that sank off the coast of South Korea recently:

Captain Lee has been arrested because he left the ship before doing everything he was supposed to do to ensure the safety of his passengers.  Weirdly (to me anyway) the conduct of a ship's captain is generally prescribed in terms of "should" instead of "must",  but according to S Korea's laws, this guy split early and now he's in deep shit.

What if I look at this from a different perspective though?  Am I not supposed to try to see things from the point of view of people with whom I disagree?  Shouldn't I be willing to consider others' opinions and philosophies?  What if I never stop asking rhetorical questions?

Maybe I should wait until I have a chance to ask somebody directly, but I don't see it as a big stretch to imagine the reaction of Paul Ryan (eg) to Lee's behavior.  I should hope Mr Ryan would react with the same disgust and horror as the rest of us, but in one way (one that feels pretty important to me) Lee did exactly what I think Ryan and his fellows are always saying we should all do.  Lee found himself in dire circumstances, and simply turned his back on the people who were looking to him for help and guidance.

The Straw Man risk notwithstanding, it can't be all that hard for any of us to believe there's a tiny inkling of thought on the part of our current batch of "conservatives" that sounds like this: "those dead passengers should've had the gumption to save themselves - but they didn't - they had grown complacently dependent on the superior capabilities and sheer awesomeness of Capt Lee and his crew, and they were obviously just waiting around expecting a handout.  See what happens to stupid moochers!?!"

Wanna go full Romney with it?  "...do whatever it takes - borrow some money from your parents if you have to - so you can buy your own rescue boat..."

In the end - look at that picture again - having tended to his own interests to the exclusion of everything else, Capt Lee loses everything worth saving in the first place.

Just sayin' - the Slippery Slope can be a real thing.

Ludlow Day

Today's the 100th anniversary of the Ludlow Massacre (April 20, 1914).

The Ludlow Massacre was an attack by the Colorado National Guard and Colorado Fuel & Iron Company camp guards on a tent colony of 1,200 striking coal miners and their families at Ludlow, Colorado, on April 20, 1914. Some two dozen people, including women and children, were killed. The chief owner of the mine, John D. Rockefeller, Jr., was widely criticized for the incident.
The massacre, the culmination of a bloody widespread strike against Colorado coal mines, resulted in the violent deaths of between 19 and 26 people; reported death tolls vary but include two women and eleven children, asphyxiated and burned to death under a single tent.[1] The deaths occurred after a daylong fight between militia and camp guards against striking workers. Ludlow was the deadliest single incident in the southern Colorado Coal Strike, lasting from September 1913 through December 1914. The strike was organized by the United Mine Workers of America (UMWA) against coal mining companies in Colorado. The three largest companies involved were the Rockefeller family-owned Colorado Fuel & Iron Company (CF&I), the Rocky Mountain Fuel Company (RMF), and the Victor-American Fuel Company (VAF).
In retaliation for Ludlow, the miners armed themselves and attacked dozens of mines over the next ten days, destroying property and engaging in several skirmishes with the Colorado National Guard along a 40-mile front from Trinidad to Walsenburg.[2] The entire strike would cost between 69 and 199 lives. Thomas G. Andrews described it as the "deadliest strike in the history of the United States".[3]
The Ludlow Massacre was a watershed moment in American labor relations. Historian Howard Zinn described the Ludlow Massacre as "the culminating act of perhaps the most violent struggle between corporate power and laboring men in American history".[4]Congress responded to public outcry by directing the House Committee on Mines and Mining to investigate the incident.[5] Its report, published in 1915, was influential in promoting child labor laws and an eight-hour work day.
The Ludlow site, 12 miles (19 km) northwest of Trinidad, Colorado, is now a ghost town. The massacre site is owned by the UMWA, which erected a granite monument in memory of the miners and their families who died that day.[6] The Ludlow Tent Colony Site was designated a National Historic Landmark on January 16, 2009, and dedicated on June 28, 2009.[6] Modern archeological investigation largely supports the strikers' reports of the event.[7]

And A Happy Easter To You Too

Saturday, April 19, 2014

It's All In Your Head

Here's a podcast about neuroscience(?) stuff, relating humans and chimps and how we develop etc - and right about the 7 minute mark, the woman says something about how the hippocampus helps convert short-term memory to long-term memory, and that kinda popped a flashbulb in my brain.

It's a close variation on the Orwell thing about if you control the past you control the future.

(paraphrasing) "If you can't remember the past, you can't imagine a future".

I flashed on how propaganda is supposed to work - and it occurs to me that maybe we're seeing that concept playing out.  So, if I can disconnect you from your own history; if I can make you believe the history you were taught is all wrong; and knowing that you'd then be unable to come up with a coherent vision of your future for yourself, it would be pretty easy for me just to hand you a tidy little package of everything I want you to do and to think and to be.  Sometimes I hate my brain.

Anyway, it's an interesting discussion about other things as well.

hat tip = FB friend DR

Walk It Back, Glenn

The Monsters of the Id are breaking loose all over the joint, and even Glenn Beck's more than a little spooked.

At about 12 minutes, Beck gets to the point where he's trying oh so desperately to pull it all back - making the usual theocracy arguments about how god gave us the constitution and we should be worshipping god and not the document god gave us (or whatever that stunningly and stoopidly and in this case conveniently flip-floppy circular crapola's about); anyway, he says he wants to steer us away from armed conflict, and since he's already on about a loving and non-violent god, he throws down the gauntlet, daring us to show him where the bible tells us god sent any prophet to do violence.

Challenge accepted.

1 Samuel 15:
Samuel said to Saul, “I am the one the Lord sent to anoint you king over his people Israel; so listen now to the message from the Lord.
2 This is what the Lord Almighty says: ‘I will punish the Amalekites for what they did to Israel when they waylaid them as they came up from Egypt. 
3 Now go, attack the Amalekites and totally destroy[a] all that belongs to them. Do not spare them; put to death men and women, children and infants, cattle and sheep, camels and donkeys.’”
(the rest of it's a pretty fun read too)

20 So Ahab sent word throughout all Israel and assembled the prophets on Mount Carmel.
21 Elijah went before the people and said, “How long will you waver between two opinions? If the Lord is God, follow him; but if Baal is God, follow him.”

But the people said nothing.

22 Then Elijah said to them, “I am the only one of the Lord’s prophets left, but Baal has four hundred and fifty prophets. 
23 Get two bulls for us. Let Baal’s prophets choose one for themselves, and let them cut it into pieces and put it on the wood but not set fire to it. I will prepare the other bull and put it on the wood but not set fire to it. 
24 Then you call on the name of your god, and I will call on the name of the Lord. The god who answers by fire—he is God.”

Then all the people said, “What you say is good.”

25 Elijah said to the prophets of Baal, “Choose one of the bulls and prepare it first, since there are so many of you. Call on the name of your god, but do not light the fire.” 
26 So they took the bull given them and prepared it.
Then they called on the name of Baal from morning till noon. “Baal, answer us!” they shouted. But there was no response; no one answered. And they danced around the altar they had made.
27 At noon Elijah began to taunt them. “Shout louder!” he said. “Surely he is a god! Perhaps he is deep in thought, or busy, or traveling. Maybe he is sleeping and must be awakened.” 
28 So they shouted louder and slashed themselves with swords and spears, as was their custom, until their blood flowed. 
29 Midday passed, and they continued their frantic prophesying until the time for the evening sacrifice. But there was no response, no one answered, no one paid attention.
30 Then Elijah said to all the people, “Come here to me.” They came to him, and he repaired the altar of theLord, which had been torn down. 
31 Elijah took twelve stones, one for each of the tribes descended from Jacob, to whom the word of the Lord had come, saying, “Your name shall be Israel.” 
32 With the stones he built an altar in the name of the Lord, and he dug a trench around it large enough to hold two seahs[a] of seed. 
33 He arranged the wood, cut the bull into pieces and laid it on the wood. Then he said to them, “Fill four large jars with water and pour it on the offering and on the wood.”
34 “Do it again,” he said, and they did it again.
“Do it a third time,” he ordered, and they did it the third time. 35 The water ran down around the altar and even filled the trench.
36 At the time of sacrifice, the prophet Elijah stepped forward and prayed: “Lord, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel, let it be known today that you are God in Israel and that I am your servant and have done all these things at your command. 
37 Answer me, Lord, answer me, so these people will know that you, Lord, are God, and that you are turning their hearts back again.”
38 Then the fire of the Lord fell and burned up the sacrifice, the wood, the stones and the soil, and also licked up the water in the trench.
39 When all the people saw this, they fell prostrate and cried, “The Lord—he is God! The Lord—he is God!”
40 Then Elijah commanded them, “Seize the prophets of Baal. Don’t let anyone get away!” They seized them, and Elijah had them brought down to the Kishon Valley and slaughtered there.

I wonder if there are any other examples of god instigating violence.  I mean, gee willikers, I had to search for almost 85 seconds to find those.

Sometimes, It's just too fucking easy.

Friday, April 18, 2014

PS) re: Welfare Cowboy

And another thing, dang it!

Regarding Cliven Bundy's fight with BLM over paying his rent for use of public land:

Shouldn't there be at least some small voice coming from the Right Radicals about how the evil rotten lazy no-account shiftless moocher Bundy has grown dependent on gubmint handouts, and that by far the best thing that could happen is for us to kick him in the ass and make him stand on his own?  Ya don't hear that coming from "The Right".

And what ya don't hear coming from "The Left" is, "Ah, c'mon, let the guy stay at the federal tit as long as he needs it - and what the hell, let's throw in some food stamps too".

Both sides my ass.


Doing god's work, the folks at VICE are trying to show us all something that at least has some faint ring of truth to it.

Quick aside:
Isn't it interesting that so many of these Rebel Patriots crow about "both sides" being rotten, but their little militia-ness always seem to be in full flower only when the Dems hold power?

It's never about what they tell you it's about - "they" being Government or Business or Media or Political Activists.

The first corollary is that it's also never about what you think it's about.

All we can do is look at what information we can find - or whatever "they" allow us to see - and then gun it through our filters of experience and reason, trying to assess the probability that what we're observing is true or false or somewhere in between.

A couple of the smartest things I've heard anybody say in a while (Chris Hedges):

"Language is not benign - You have to get people to talk in the language of violence before they commit violence."


"Violence isn't gonna work.  Violence is a mistake.  The machine wants violence - it justifies further repression."

Also interesting is the view from inside this piece that there's a thread of truth that ties all of us together - the feeling of being alienated, used and abused, and disposable.  The trick now is to remember that most of us really do want the same things - in a broad and general sense - but we do; we want the same things.

Of course, we have to work out the details of how we go about getting what we want, and that's gonna take some serious attention to our absolute #1 Principle; the thing that lies at the very root of American Exceptionalism...compromise.

Figure it out, guys.  The only way you always get everything you want is to shoot everybody who disagrees with you, and that's not just rude, it's counterproductive, which makes it ineffective.  People have been trying to conquer the world in exactly that way for more than 500 centuries, and guess what - the world remains undefeated.

Ya sit down.  Ya have a drink.  Maybe a nosh.  And you work it the fuck out.

God Love The Onion

WASHINGTON—Putting the nation on alert against what it has described as a “highly credible terrorist threat,” the FBI announced today that it has uncovered a plot by members of al-Qaeda to sit back and enjoy themselves while the United States collapses of its own accord.
Multiple intelligence agencies confirmed that the militant Islamist organization and its numerous affiliates intend to carry out a massive, coordinated plan to stand aside and watch America’s increasingly rapid decline, with terrorist operatives across the globe reportedly mobilizing to take it easy, relax, and savor the spectacle as it unfolds.
“We have intercepted electronic communication indicating that al-Qaeda members are actively plotting to stay out of the way while America as we know it gradually crumbles under the weight of its own self-inflicted debt and disrepair,” FBI Deputy Director Mark F. Giuliano told the assembled press corps. “If this plan succeeds, it will leave behind a nation with a completely dysfunctional economy, collapsing infrastructure, and a catastrophic health crisis afflicting millions across the nation. We want to emphasize that this danger is very real.”
“And unfortunately, based on information we have from intelligence assets on the ground, this plot is already well under way,” he added.
A recently declassified CIA report confirmed that all known al-Qaeda-affiliated organizations—from Pakistan to Yemen, and from Somalia to Algeria—have been instructed to kick back and enjoy the show as the United States’ federal government, energy grid, and industrial sector are rendered impotent by internal dissent, decay, and mismanagement. According to statements made by top-level informants and corroborated by leading Western terrorism experts, if seen through to its conclusion, al-Qaeda’s current plot could wreak far more damage than the events of 9/11.
In the past year, money transfers to al-Qaeda cells around the world have reportedly been accompanied by instructions to use the funds to outfit safe houses with the proper equipment to receive American cable news broadcasts and view top U.S. news websites, allowing terrorists to fully relish each detail of the impending demise of the last global superpower.
Additionally, FBI officials made public an internal al-Qaeda video today in which the terrorist organization’s leader Ayman al-Zawahiri chillingly exhorts his followers to “take a load off” and “unwind” in the name of jihad, and really cherish the victory over their enemy.
“Praise Allah, for soon every American city shall be plagued with disaster and hardship,” al-Zawahiri said in the video, which includes several minutes of footage of young, masked al-Qaeda militants casually sipping beverages as they thumb through the latest issues of Time andU.S. News And World Report.
“The infidels have brought this pain and destruction upon themselves through their arrogance and callousness. Soon, the United States will watch in horror as its bridges crumble, its desperate citizens suffer in want of medicine and paying employment, and its once vast riches are reduced to naught. The righteous warriors among our ranks must now unite, get comfortable, and look on from afar at the calamity unfolding in the West.”
“We vow that we will not cease sitting around and laughing it up until America is reduced to rubble,” he continued.
Al-Zawahiri, who is seen in the video reclining back in his chair, putting his feet up, and flipping on CNN, later shouts “Allahu Akbar!” when a story is aired about the decade-long trend of stagnant wages among American workers.
The FBI has also warned that numerous al-Qaeda agents may have established sleeper cells for the purpose of “getting a kick out of” the nation’s downfall on American soil. The bureau urged U.S. residents to use caution around schools, hospitals, legislative bodies, prisons, and other decaying institutions whose imminent failure terrorists may wish to observe up close.
Speaking on condition of anonymity, one high-ranking U.S. counterterrorism official has described the present situation as a massive failure of intelligence.
“The warning signs were there all along, but unfortunately we failed to heed them,” said the official, who advised Americans to brace for widespread devastation. “If we’d listened to experts or even our own common sense, we would’ve realized that this plot was being actively orchestrated within our own borders. But we didn’t, and now every one of our citizens and our very way of life is at risk from this threat.”
“Sadly, al-Qaeda has us right where they want us,” the official added, “and at this point, I fear it is too late to do anything about it.”
Responding to the allegations, a spokesperson for al-Qaeda reportedly confirmed the terror group’s plot and praised the American people as martyrs of the highest order.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Pot Smokers Beware!

Via Reuters:
Young, casual marijuana smokers experience potentially harmful changes to their brains, with the drug altering regions of the mind related to motivation and emotion, researchers found.
The study to be published on Wednesday in the Journal of Neuroscience differs from many other pot-related research projects that are focused on chronic, heavy users of cannabis.
The collaborative effort between Northwestern University's medical school, Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School showed a direct correlation between the number of times users smoked and abnormalities in the brain.
"What we're seeing is changes in people who are 18 to 25 in core brain regions that you never, ever want to fool around with," said co-senior study author Dr. Hans Beiter, professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Northwestern University.
In particular, the study identified changes to the nucleus accumbens and the nucleus amygdala, regions of the brain that are key to regulating emotion and motivation, in marijuana users who smoke between one and seven joints a week.
The researchers found changes to the volume, shape and density of those brain regions. But more studies are needed to determine how those changes may have long-term consequences and whether they can be fixed with abstinence, Beiter said.
"Our hypothesis from this early work is that these changes may be an early sign of what later becomes amotivation, where people aren't focused on their goals," he said.
The study, which was funded in part by the National Institute on Drug Abuse and the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, comes as access to pot is expanding following 2012 votes in Washington state and Colorado to legalize its recreational use. The drug remains illegal under federal law.
Medical pot is allowed in 20 U.S. states.
Pot legalization advocates make the argument that marijuana is safer than alcohol a central part of their campaigns.
Other research has found drinking alcohol alters the brain, Beiter said. But while researchers do not know exactly how the mental rewiring seen in pot users affects their lives, the study shows it physically changes the brain in ways that differ from drinking, he said.
This latest study fits with other research showing marijuana use has significant effects on young people because their brains are still developing, and Beiter said he has become convinced that marijuana should only be used by people under 30 if they need it to manage pain from a terminal illness.
So first, this tiny little study - funded by the 2 most influential anti-drug policy shops in the US Gov't, and which seems not to be particularly well-designed - has somehow managed to reach certain conclusions that confirm and/or reinforce what the current policy happens to be?  Imagine my surprise.

But secondly, the researchers have found that smoking pot has a pronounced effect on your "emotions" and your "motivation".  They spent how much of my money?  To find out that potheads get kinda giggly sometimes - or maybe a little gushy?  And that they're a bit lax about things like deadlines and/or that when some people get stoned, they tend not to do much of anything more strenuous than hittin' speed dial to order a fuckin' pizza?

Sweet screamin' Jesus, you guys - does anybody up there ever fucking wonder why everybody shits on your heads about wasting time and money?  Whose brother-in-law do I have to blow to get a few of those bucks flowin' this direction?

This reads like The Onion.  Tell ya what - why not just ask The Prez what was up with him when he was smokin' that shit?  That way, you find out exactly the same thing, but you save a shitload of tax dollars; and then you could send about 20% of that money to me as a Consultant's Fee, while you crow about how diligent and frugal you are.  Fuck.

Welfare Cowboy

Cliven Bundy is a deadbeat who can either pay us what he owes us for the use of our land, or he can get off our land.  There are no free rides here.  Pay up or get out.

Some truly amazing things:
--The absolute certainty that Bundy's the victim of a ruthless tyrannical government, and not just some dipwad running a scam at the expense of taxpayers - which includes every last one of his "supporters".

--The cool disregard for the lives of the women and children who they expect to die first.

--The simple fact that they're convinced Da Gubmint will kill women and children no matter what.  Because if it happens, then they can crow about how they were right all along.  It's not much of a stretch for me to think they don't just expect it, and they're not just hoping for it; they're doing what it takes to make it happen.

So if you're trying to get people killed because it'll make you look good on TV; how the fuck does that make you the good guys?

These people have no soul and no honor.

Today's Bumper Sticker

War Is Not Healthy

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Any True Christian

You have to have heard about this already, so I'll just pop my bit in here.


Cindy Castano Swannack is a great example of a Shopping-List Christian who thinks Jesus is really just god's customer service rep; somebody you get in touch with whenever you need to put the bite on the almighty for a favor (which is why they all go to god's house on his day off, btw). She's absolutely sure she knows everything about her lord and savior while actually knowing next to nothing.

Knowledge Is For Wimps

“Whenever the people are well-informed, they can be trusted with their own government.”  --Thomas Jefferson 1789.

Maybe that's why it feels impossible for me to trust most "conservatives" to run this joint.

From "Climate Change is a hoax", to "the federal budget problem is just like balancing my  check book", to "keep your gubmint hands off my Medicare" - these people go with intellect the way fruit bats go with motorcycles.

From boston.com:
Mankind may be crooked timber, as Kant put it, uniquely susceptible to ignorance and misinformation, but it’s an article of faith that knowledge is the best remedy. If people are furnished with the facts, they will be clearer thinkers and better citizens. If they are ignorant, facts will enlighten them. If they are mistaken, facts will set them straight.

In the end, truth will out. Won’t it?

Maybe not. Recently, a few political scientists have begun to discover a human tendency deeply discouraging to anyone with faith in the power of information. It’s this: Facts don’t necessarily have the power to change our minds. In fact, quite the opposite. In a series of studies in 2005 and 2006, researchers at the University of Michigan found that when misinformed people, particularly political partisans, were exposed to corrected facts in news stories, they rarely changed their minds. In fact, they often became even more strongly set in their beliefs. Facts, they found, were not curing misinformation. Like an underpowered antibiotic, facts could actually make misinformation even stronger.
This effect is only heightened by the information glut, which offers — alongside an unprecedented amount of good information — endless rumors, misinformation, and questionable variations on the truth. In other words, it’s never been easier for people to be wrong, and at the same time feel more certain that they’re right.
hat tip = Democratic Underground

Happy Palindrome Week, Everybody

From April 12 thru April 19, each day (as written here in USAmerica Inc anyway) is a palindrome.  4/12/14, 4/13/14, 4/15/14, etc

I'm sure somebody somewhere thinks that must mean something magical and mystical and ooky-spooky or whatever.  I'm just thinking it's a semi-interesting weirdness and I needed something to stick in the blog, so yeah.

Of course, next year the same thing will happen in May, and then the year after that it'll happen in June, and - aaaaaaaarrgh - we're doomed!

Monday, April 14, 2014

Not Much Has Changed

Your opponents don't stop doing what's working as long as it keeps working, and it keeps working until your side does something to make it stop working.

(from Boogie Man: The Lee Atwater Story)

The night is filled with terrors.  The darkness holds everything we fear.  There's a dark and dangerous side to populism.  Come to the dark side.  Dark is evil and ugly. White is godly and clean.  Cockroaches flourish in the darkness while flowers thrive in the sunlight.  Black is bad - White is good.

As long as we continue to allow this medieval associative bullshit to persist, we will never be rid of the assholes who manipulate those associations for less than honorable purposes.

Today's KO

The Wonderlic Test is always something of a mystery, inside a riddle, wrapped in an opportunity to poke fun at the NFL bosses who actually think we're going to believe they have any interest in any player's intellect.

Mr Deity And The Psych Exam

Sunday, April 13, 2014

And This Is News?

Via Think Progress:
When organized interest groups or economic elites want a particular policy passed, there’s a strong likelihood their wishes will come true. But when average citizens support something, they have next to no influence.
That’s according to a forthcoming article in Perspectives on Politics by Martin Gilens of Princeton University and Benjamin I. Page of Northwestern University. The two looked at a data set of 1,779 policy issues between 1981 and 2002 and matched them up against surveys of public opinion broken down by income as well as support from interest groups.
They estimate that the impact of what an average citizen prefers put up against what the elites and interest groups want is next to nothing, or “a non-significant, near-zero level.” They note that their findings show “ordinary citizens…have little or no independent influence on policy at all.” The affluent, on the other hand, have “a quite substantial, highly significant, independent impact on policy,” they find, “more so than any other set of actors” that they studied. Organized interest groups similarly fare well, with “a large, positive, highly significant impact on public policy.”
From the report itself:
As to empirical evidence concerning interest groups, it is well established that organized groups regularly lobby and fraternize with public officials; move through revolving doors between public and private employment; provide self-serving information to officials; draft legislation; and spend a great deal of money on election campaigns.21 Moreover, in harmony with theories of biased pluralism, the evidence clearly indicates that most U.S. interest groups and lobbyists represent business firms or professionals. Relatively few represent the poor or even the economic interests of ordinary workers, particularly now that the U.S. labor movement has become so weak.22
But do interest groups actually influence policy? Numerous case studies have detailed instances in which all but the most dedicated skeptic is likely to perceive interest group influence at work. A leading classic remains Schattschneider’s analysis of the 1928 enactment of the Smoot-Hawley tariff, an astounding orgy of pork-barrel politics.23 Still, many quantitatively oriented political scientists seem to ignore or dismiss such non-quantitative evidence. There have also been some efforts (particularly during the Cold War era, when unflattering depictions of U.S. politics may have been thought unpatriotic) to demonstrate that interest groups have no influence on policy at all. Raymond Bauer, Ithiel Pool, and Lewis Anthony Dexter argued that business had little or no effect on the renewal of reciprocal trade authority. Lester Milbrath, having conducted interviews with lobbyists and members of Congress, rated lobbyists’ influence as very low. More recently, Fred McChesney(*) has made the ingenious argument that campaign contributions from interest groups may not represent quid pro quo bribery attempts by groups, but instead result from extortion by politicians who threaten to harm the groups’ interests.24
*McChesney's credibility is suspect because of his close ties to Cash-For-Comments type schemes - one of the more notorious being the Tobacco Lobby efforts to fight tax increases on tobacco products back in the 80s.  But more to the actual point, McChesney gives us a great example of The Turnaround (sales tactic). He's saying, "Oh no - these huge campaign contributions and the corrosiveness of lobbying and regulatory capture and the incest of the revolving door between Gubmint and Bidness - that doesn't really constitute a system of legalized bribery at all - it's those rotten politicians threatening to strangle our noble job creators if they don't pony up vast sums of money..."  It's easy to see it from that angle and I'm not pretending none of that goes on, but to make it out that the whole problem is one of simple extortion?  That sounds just a tiny bit too conveniently consistent with the standard malarkey of "government is all bad, in all things, and in all ways at all times."  And actually, McChesney isn't denying the quid pro quo shittiness anyway - he's acknowledging that people are buying influence and favors - he's just shifting the blame.

Not that any of this is going to make much difference.  This 'revelation' only confirms what we've known for a long time.  And let's remember we've been thru a coupla decades of Rising Idiocracy.  Paul Broun and Louie Gohmert - guys you shouldn't follow into your own fucking house - these are two of the leading lights in "conservative" politics.  Lots and lots of booger-eatin' morons just like them are in power - and will stay in power - because the people who put them in office have a lot more money than you have, and that's about all that's gonna matter for a while.