Monday, November 30, 2015

Cyber Monday (NSFW)

I held off as long as I could.  Now let's get out there and shop our asses off, people.  The planet's not gonna fuck up itself, y'know.

We'll start with a nice assortment of ornaments for your Holiday Tree:

Pix and Memes and Toons and Stuff

Today's Weird

On a tip from my brother, I went over to Fandango to look at the trailer for a new movie called Spotlight.  I clicked on the start arrow and ended up having to see 2 video ads before I got to the trailer.  

So, in order to watch the commercial for the movie - it's a commercial; I went in search of a commercial because I wanted to see a commercial.  And as if that's not bad enough, I had to sit thru a coupla commercials I didn't wanna see before they'd let me see the commercial I did wanna see.

I'm trying to decide if I'm a little bummed and/or aggravated at the extreme levels of monetization going on, or if I'm more than a little impressed that somebody's figured out just how captive we are to this kinda crap.

Or maybe I'm just pissed that I'm willing to put up with the whole mess.  My head hurts - I may start drinking early today.

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Score Card

For those of you scoring at home - or even if you're all by yourself - somebody's gotta be trying to keep track of all the shitty things Trump has said or done - things that so many of the Press Poodles tell us will blow him up and scatter his remains to the four winds.  But then, somehow, he stays around because the "lefty librul lame-stream media" are unable to resist breaking away from any and all programming to make sure we all get to see Lil Donny doing whatever he does that will surely disgust all of us, while we are never quite disgusted enough to stop watching that crap which of course is why they keep showing us that crap.

Anyway, here's a (probably) partial list:

  • outraged prisoners of war by doubting the heroism of Vietnam veteran John McCain, because he allowed himself to be captured
  • he appeared to accuse Fox News moderator Megyn Kelly of asking him tough questions because she was menstruating
  • accused Mexican immigrants to the US of being rapists
  • claimed that a Black Lives Matter protester who was violently ejected from a rally deserved to be “roughed up”
  • appeared to mock a New York Times journalist for his disability and then accused the journalist of “grandstanding” on that disability in his response
  • falsely accused Muslim Americans of cheering on the 9/11 attackers
  • agreed with suggestions that all such Muslims should have their names tracked on a database
  • Trump’s Twitter account recirculated racially charged but falsified crime statistics from an actual Nazi sympathiser
  • complained that many of these incidents were exaggerated by the political media, saying 70% of whom are “scum”

Suck It Up And Listen

Time for a little homework now, kids:

ha tips: Facebook buddy LM-M and MoJo
There is by now evidence from a variety of laboratories around the world using a variety of methodological techniques leading to the virtually inescapable conclusion that the cognitive-motivational styles of leftists and rightists are quite different. This research consistently finds that conservatism is positively associated with heightened epistemic concerns for order, structure, closure, certainty, consistency, simplicity, and familiarity, as well as existential concerns such as perceptions of danger, sensitivity to threat, and death anxiety.

Today's Latenite

Seth Myers has lost quite a bit of his sparkle in the last several months - almost like he's gone full Leno, insisting on staying safely within the No-Offense Parameters of a numbers-driven management team trying to scrub the content of anything that veers too far from the path of never saying anything "controversial", which of course ends up meaning that almost nothing making it onto the air is actually funny anymore.

Or so it seemed, but then this:

Now, none of that was knee-slappin' pig-snortin' hi-larious, but it also wasn't the usual bleached out bloodless pap we get on network TV so goddamned always. It wasn't presented in that bullshit passive-voice that keeps us thinking these dipwad Trumpkins are simply expressing an alternate viewpoint, inviting the inference that it's just as valid as any other, and we should all shut up and wait for our opportunity to give their advertisers a big sloppy blowjob at the next commercial break - cuz that's all we're good for anyway.

Fuck those guys.  And good on you, Seth.  Don't stop.

Friday, November 27, 2015

Today's Podcast

Ripping the scab off the big festering ulcer on the national ass - all of those being apt metaphors for the GOP, btw.

And oh yeah - ya gotta get all the way to 36:15 for the cool holiday surprise - for me anyway.  

But first, there's a bit of brilliant at about 9:00 when driftglass hits one out, talking about Matthew Dowd, using a font size metaphor.


This popped up quite a few places.  Just need to get it in before I lose it.

I think it has to start taking it's toll after a while.  Any attention is better than being ignored as far as Trump cares - he knows it's hard to find 'bad' publicity.  But there's a point where you become Terminally Uncool.  Like when Dick Nixon's handlers knew he needed something to help him "connect with the youngsters" in the late 60s, and so they invited Up With People to perform at The White House, and then at some rallies.  Fuckin' disaster was all that was.

Here's a little taste (sorry).  Although it does feature a very young Glenn Close - but don't listen to the whole thing.  Seriously - it could give you diabetes. Don't do it:

Anyway, when people are laughing, and they're laughing not because you elicit some pathos, but because you're pathetic and they pity you - time to turn around and head back to the barn.

Today's Cold Shot

Wednesday, November 25, 2015


So - should we be afraid for ourselves?   Or is it that we should be afraid of ourselves?

Isn't that pretty much what it comes down to though?  Politicians in general (and Repubs mostly in particular) are eager to peddle the panic.  They know how to play on our fears to keep us divided, and to use that division to get what their big money donors are paying them to get.  

But over time, we become conditioned to the fear, which starts to drive a trend towards ideological purity, which always gets us out to the logical extreme in one big fuckin' hurry.  ie: Everybody's a traitor to the cause except you and me, and I'm beginning to have my doubts about you.

We can have some fun pointing and laughing, but this shit gets real if we don't smarten up and stand in its way before it has a chance to reach critical mass.

And BTW - in case it's not obvious enough, lemme state the obvious for you - smart guys working for John Kasich put this together using Trump's nutty-tude to make Kasich look like something other than the radical god-knobbing authoritarian freak that he actually is.  It's not like Kasich doesn't think very much along the same lines as Trump does, it's just that Kasich doesn't say that shit out loud.

And of course, that's kinda the problem - Trump gets a boatload of support for being "Anti-PC".  But here's the word on that one, guys.  It's Politically Incorrect to say certain things because they're shitty things to say. And since words comprise the expression of thought, PC becomes not much more than a general attempt to get you to stop thinking shitty thoughts about people.  

Putting it another way - if you can learn not to talk stoopid, it'll help you learn how not to be stoopid, and then we can stop calling you stoopid, and then you can stop bitchin' about how everybody's always callin' ya stoopid.  Deal?  

And BTW also too - Since the "voting" in Ohio appears to be nearly as honest and forthright as it was in Noriega's Panama, I'll go out on a limb and say this: Assuming Kasich's still in this thing next March - and even if he's polling behind by 20+ points - he'll somehow manage to eke out a landslide upset.   Just sayin' - again.  

I guess my main problem now is deciding how to defend myself from accusations of peddling a little fear my-own-bad-self.

What We Already Knew

So there's this new study out of Yale, published in The Proceedings of the National Academies of Science that says Climate Change Denial is all about a Cash-For-Comments system used to manufacture an "opposing view".  

And what that allows is for the political operators to separate voters along imaginary ideological fault lines, which makes it easier to keep us bitching at each other rather than voting to send the Coin-Operated Politicians back home so they can open that shoe store their mom always wanted them to have - which would be a much closer career match for their skill sets while still meaning most of them would be vastly over-employed.
Ideological polarization around environmental issues—especially climate change—have increased in the last 20 years. This polarization has led to public uncertainty, and in some cases, policy stalemate. Much attention has been given to understanding individual attitudes, but much less to the larger organizational and financial roots of polarization. This gap is due to prior difficulties in gathering and analyzing quantitative data about these complex and furtive processes. This paper uses comprehensive text and network data to show how corporate funding influences the production and actual thematic content of polarization efforts. It highlights the important influence of private funding in public knowledge and politics, and provides researchers a methodological model for future studies that blend large-scale textual discourse with social networks.
Like I said - that's not something we didn't know.  But I'll take it as a positive sign anyway, because while it's not likely to convince the hard core rubes, it's one more bullet point that rebuts the Both-Sides crap and might be useful convincing the Hipster-ish I'm-Too-Cool-To-Vote crowd to get up off their suspended-adolescence butts and realize they've got skin in this game whether they like it (or whether they even realize it) or not.

hat tip = truthout

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Another Winner

From Balloon Juice:

Betteridge's Law tells us to answer 'no' to any headline (or chyron or crawl) that editors and/or producers end with a question mark.

But a commenter on that post at Balloon Juice said it best, and so he has the winning intertoobz thingie (Amateur Division) for today:
"Donald Trump transzendiert die Wahrheit, wie Schei├če Sauberkeit transzendiert"
It's worth the trip over to Google Translate, BTW.

Today's Winner

Charlie Pierce is good clear voice in a very dull crowd, and wins Best Blog Post today.

Being our semi-regular weekly survey of the state of Our National Dialogue which, of course, is what the Penguins would have sung, had they recorded "Derp Angel."

We were roaming Iowa watching live politics all weekend, so we only caught a smidgen of a crumb of the Sunday Showz. Which is to say, we only caught a little, but we caught enough to hand the House Cup over to CBS, where John Dickerson continues to adjust the casters on the chair once occupied by former Angevin minstrel Bob Schieffer. After a pretty good bipartisan dose of the old boogedy-boogedy, Dickerson brought out the panel, and we heard this from Ruth Marcus, scourge of teenaged potty-mouths everywhere.

"This was a very ugly week for Republicans in terms of their response on refugees and I think it was something that was exacerbated by the failure of President Obama to explain to people that we weren't crazy to be nervous but to understand their nervousness and to explain it away."

Holy Third Way No Labels! If that isn't the perfect distillation of the vaporlock caused by Beltway conventional wisdom, I don't know what is. (It's even worse than the hairball Fournier coughed up on the same subject, over at the Overlook Hotel, where my man Chuck Todd always has been the caretaker.) Apparently, it either has escaped Ruth's notice, or she thinks it's impolite to mention, that the Republican party is completely out of its mind, and that its current front-runner, the Libidinous Visitor, is one step away from invading Ethiopia. How in Broder's name is the president in anyway responsible for the xenophobic rantings of a party gone mad? I know the president has mad Kenyan telepathic skillz, but what precisely would Ruth have him say? "Only worry a little, Americans. We are extremely unlikely to be overrun by exploding Syrian toddlers"? Jesus, these people…

Here's a tip, gang. Short of "I resign," there is nothing the president can say that will stop the Republicans from mongering fear and mongering war and just plain making stuff up. The people who believe this indigestible fried crud are going to believe it no matter what this president says or does. The level of anti-Islamic panic is going to remain the same because it is an election year, and because the Republican field is now led by a guy wrapping himself in out and out fascism, and doing it for laughs. And that's the double truth, Ruth.


I proclaim this to be Dylan Day.  No particular reason.  Just cuz.

Shelter From The Storm --Bob

Buckets Of Rain (cover) --Wendy Bucklew

Things Have Changed --Bob

I'll Be Your Baby Tonight (cover) --Nora Jones

To Ramona (cover) --The Flying Burrito Brothers

Most Of The Time --Bob

You're Gonna Make Me Lonesome When You Go (cover) --Shawn Colvin

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Let's Throw A Study Into It

Nobody west of about Cairo knows more than this guy - Juan Cole:
1. Terrorism or hirabah is forbidden in Islamic law, which groups it with brigandage, highway robbery and extortion rackets– any illicit use of fear and coercion in public spaces for money or power. The principle of forbidding the spreading of terror in the land is based on the Qur’an (Surah al-Ma’ida 5:33–34). Prominent [pdf] Muslim legal scholar Sherman Jackson writes, “The Spanish Maliki jurist Ibn `Abd al-Barr (d. 464/ 1070)) defines the agent of hiraba as ‘Anyone who disturbs free passage in the streets and renders them unsafe to travel, striving to spread corruption in the land by taking money, killing people or violating what God has made it unlawful to violate is guilty of hirabah . . .”
2. Terrorism is above all murder. Murder is strictly forbidden in the Qur’an. 5:53 says, “… whoso kills a soul, unless it be for murder or for wreaking corruption in the land, it shall be as if he had killed all mankind; and he who saves a life, it shall be as if he had given life to all mankind,” Qur’an 6:151 says, “and do not kill a soul that God has made sacrosanct, save lawfully.” (i.e. murder is forbidden but the death penalty imposed by the state for a crime is permitted).
The list has 10 items on it, and they all seem pretty clear.

But there's this weird thing going on right now.  The debate over what is or isn't Islam - or Christianity or any other religion - is starting to sound a lot like one giant logical fallacy of "No True Scotsman", with a dash of "False Equivalence".

ISIL is to Islam what the KKK is to Christianity.

Real Christians don't fire bomb Planned Parenthood Clinics, the same as Real Muslims don't hijack airplanes and crash them into American office buildings.

In the end, we're back arguing degrees of fucked-up-edness concerning the other guy's religion.  We're only saying this or that religious nonsense is less bad than this or that other religious nonsense.  --Update: It's all nonsense, and btw, it's not the same as having to choose the lesser of two evils.  Politics gets evil enough all by itself - we don't need the extra layers of bullshit that (really) only religion can bring.

Mostly, we gotta stop pretending that anybody's religion makes for good government.

Government is about law, and law is about what you can prove, out in the open, where everybody can see it.

Let's get the debate back where it belongs.

Getting It Right

I really dig this kinda shit even tho' it usually gives me something of a headache.

Mary Norris, aka The Comma Queen:

My mnemonic is:
He = Who
Him = Whom

Key phrase: Err on the side of 'who' - it's better to be casual than it is to be super wrong.

Today's Best Rant

Reprinted here in its original form:
hat tips = bluegal and Crooks & Liars 

Can We Chill A Little?

The reality is this: The United States has resettled 784,000 refugees since September 11, 2001. In those 14 years, exactly three resettled refugees have been arrested for planning terrorist activities—and it is worth noting two were not planning an attack in the United States and the plans of the third were barely credible.
As the more than 4 million refugees who have spilled out of Syria overwhelm neighboring countries and roil Europe, many Americans have been asking what more the United States can and should do to help cope with this crisis. Fewer than 2,000 Syrians have been resettled in this country since the Assad regime’s crackdown on peaceful protests ignited a savage civil war in 2011.
The most common arguments against resettling more Syrian refugees, made by some Republican presidential candidates and members of Congress, is that the resettlement program could be a path for infiltration into the United States by ISIS or other terrorists. But the refugee resettlement program is the least likely avenue for a terrorist to choose. Refugees who are selected for resettlement to the United States go through a painstaking, many-layered review before they are accepted. The FBI, Department of Homeland Security, State Department, and national intelligence agencies independently check refugees’ biometric data against security databases. The whole process typically takes 18-24 months, with high hurdles for security clearance.
So lemme see - 3 bad guys outa 784,000 is ... uhmm ... less than .0004%

We're gonna let some short-fingered vulgarian like Trump get our panties in a bunch over something that's about as likely to happen as dying in a shark attack at the YMCA in Topeka?

Y'know, that .0004% figure seems to pop up with some regularity.  I'm thinking that's the same number we get when we look empirically at "Voter Fraud"(?)  Hmmm.  I'm not ready to say there's a real pattern, but there seems to be something - a kind of threshold ; or more like a Bullshit Benchmark; an upper limit that indicates that this is so unlikely to happen, it's safe for us to jump all over it and then take credit for "preventing it".

And here's how I see that working now, btw (this keeps Glenn Beck and Alex Jones and certain god-knobbers in bidness, and bidness is fucking great): 
  • First, you "warn" the rubes about the stoopidest shit you can think of - radicalized librul UFO pilots are plotting to swoop down on our homes while we're at church and spike our favorite frozen breakfast entrees with MDMA and fluoride so we'll be dull-witted when Obama's secret Muslim Citizen's Patrols break down our doors to confiscate our guns and rape our house pets.
  • Wait for a bit, while being diligent and watchful - reporting "further details as we learn them".
  • When it's run its course - and you know this because your marketeers and their army of unpaid recently graduated "interns" tell you the donations tied directly to that particular impending disaster start to drop off - you make a splashy presentation about how your good-and-loyal-real-American listeners have once again thwarted the evil genius du jour, and you're just so darned proud (but humbled) to have the privilege of leading and I hafta stop this now before I make myself puke.
And there ya have it.  The less likely something is to actually happen, the more we can expect to be loudly and wildly "warned" about it by people who have nothing more in mind than looking for their next shot at fleecing the rubes.

Try not to be the rube.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Today's Idle Speculation

I remember quite a bit from all that sales training I went thru for all those years, and the big one is that Communications is:
  • 10% words
  • 20% Tone & Inflection
  • 70% Body Language
None of that makes me no kinda special or expert or nuthin', but when something like this pops up right in front of me, I can't help but notice.


I'll let Eddie Izzard 'splain it all to youse.

Today's Quote

The Prez:
“We are not well served when, in response to a terrorist attack, we descend into fear and panic. We don’t make good decisions if it’s based on hysteria or an exaggeration of risks.
“When individuals say we should have a religious test and that only Christians, proven Christians should be admitted, that’s offensive.
“I cannot think of a more potent recruitment tool for ISIL [ISIS] than some of the rhetoric that’s been coming out of here during the course of this debate.
“ISIL seeks to exploit the idea that there’s war between Islam and the west, and when you see individuals in positions of responsibility suggesting Christians are more worthy of protection than Muslims are in a war-torn land, that feeds the Isil narrative. It’s counter-productive. And it needs to stop.
“And I would add, these are the same folks who suggested they’re so tough that just ‘talk to Putin’ or staring down ISIL [will work] … but they are scared of widows and orphans coming into the United States of America as part of our tradition of compassion. At first they were too scared of the press being too tough on them in the debates. Now they are scared of three-year-old orphans. That doesn’t seem so tough to me.”
Where's that guy been for the last 7 years? 

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Today's Podcast


Authors Baratunde Thurston (How To Be Black), Raquel Cepeda (Bird Of Paradise: How I Became Latina) and Tanner Colby (Some Of My Best Friends Are Black) host a lively multiracial, interracial conversation about the ways we can’t talk, don’t talk, would rather not talk, but intermittently, fitfully, embarrassingly do talk about culture, identity, politics, power, and privilege in our pre-post-yet-still-very-racial America. This show is "About Race."

New Concept

New to me anyway - Coercive Engineered Migration: The use of internal upheaval in one country to force the populations to move to another country in an attempt to destabilize that other country's economy and/or government.

This is Russia Today, so grains of salt are in order.  That said, differing perspectives are generally a plus when trying to figure out just what the fuck is actually going on here.

hat tip = Facebook pal DR

Ever Mindful Of Poe's Law

I can't wait to hear some knucklehead try to make the argument that we can't allow refugees into USAmerica Inc because it's too easy for them to get guns and start killing us.

Some guys have their heads so far up their asses they can't even see their own shit anymore - and no matter what anybody like me is apt to make up outa nuthin', it'll sound like something one of these mushbrains would say.
Poe's Law (in case ya fergot) is an Internet adage which states that, without a clear indicator of the author's intent, parodies of extreme views will be mistaken by some readers for sincere expressions of the parodied views. 

And then up jumped the devil, via Think Progress:
A Texas state legislator wants the U.S. to stop allowing Syrian refugees into the country. His reasoning: They might be able to buy guns in his state.
Rep. Tony Dale (R) made this argument in a television interview on Monday and in letters to Texas’ U.S. Sens. John Cornyn and Ted Cruz (R) and U.S. Reps. Michael McCaul and John Carter (R).
“While the Paris attackers used suicide vests and grenades,” Dale wrote, “it is clear that firearms also killed a large number of innocent victims. Can you imagine a scenario were [sic] a refugees [sic] is admitted to the United States, is provided with federal cash payments and other assistance, obtains a drivers license and purchases a weapon and executes an attack?” He urged the lawmakers to “do whatever you can to stop the [Syrian refugee] program.”


Mr John Fugelsang (every atheist's favorite catholic - well, maybe after Stephen Colbert, but he's right up there too):

"The people who blamed 9/11 on Saddam Hussein, remind you to blame ISIS on the refugees fleeing from ISIS."


Tuesday, November 17, 2015

What He Said

This is how I want Obama to do everything.  And maybe it's just me, but it seems like it's only been in the last several months that he's stepping up and calling the opposition out on their bullshit responses to everything he does or says.

Talking about what needs to be done about ISIS in light of the Paris thing:
What I do not do is to take actions either because it is going to work politically or it is going to somehow in the abstract make America look tough. Or make me look tough.

And maybe part of the reason is because every few months I go to Walter Reed and I see a 25 year old kid who is paralyzed or who has lost his limbs and some of those are people I've ordered into battle.
And so I can’t afford to play some of the political games that others may. We’ll do what’s required to keep the American people safe. And I think it’s entirely appropriate in a democracy to have a serious debate about these issues. If folks want to pop off and have opinions about what they think they would do, present a specific plan. If they think that somehow their advisers are better than the chairman of my Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the folks who are actually on the ground, I want to meet them. And we can have that debate.
But what I’m not interested in doing is posing or pursuing some notion of American leadership, or America winning or whatever other slogans they come up with, that has no relationship to what is actually going to work to protect the American people. And to protect people in the region who are getting killed. And to protect our allies in people like France. I’m too busy for that.
And of course the nutballs went straight into Deliberately Misunderstanding mode anyway.

BTW - We've spent a good 35 years bitching about shortened attention spans, and shrinking sound bites, and news that has a life cycle of about 48 hours - how worried should I be about the 140-character Tweet becoming the dominant debate vehicle?  

Monday, November 16, 2015

Speak Of The Devil

Google Is Our Friend

Bug brains on "the right" tried to make it a big deal when Obama decided it was time for Mt McKinley to revert to its original name - Denali.  They said it was just another typical dictater-y thing that politicians in far-away federal Washington were alla-time tryin' to pull on the real Americans out here in the blah blah fucking blah.

Guess what. 

So apparently, Obama was trying to get outa the way so the people who live in the state where the fucking thing exists can make up their own minds about it.

I don't know why it didn't occur to me to check it out - which is something I usually do - and maybe a lotta people who know how to think real thoughts knew this all along.  

Maybe I've kinda hit Wingnut Overload(?)  Dunno.

But maybe we really have reached that illusive if not mythical point of Peak Wingnut, and there's just not much capacity for such nonsense anymore.

A guy can hope.