Thursday, June 30, 2011

A Couple of Random Thoughts

A couple of thoughts trickled through my mind today, for what reason I know not. First, I had to make one of my extremely infrequent trips to Wal-mart (or the mart of darkness, as I refer to it). I don't have to rehearse, do I, the reasons why I find going there a repulsive experience? And to all the usual reasons you can add the fact that it was beastly hot in Oklahoma today. Over 100. Not fit weather for man or beast to be out in. (In fact, although I usually--almost always take Prozac, the Boston Terrier, with me whenever I go somewhere in the car, I left her home on purpose. I wasn't about to leave her locked in the car in such heat.) Anyway, I was uncommonly aware of all the Wal-mart employees I saw today. And I could not get out of my mind the fact that these poor wretches probably could't get any other kind of job--and even so, are better off than millions of other people who can't find any kind of job in an economy even more wretched than working at Wal-mart. I thought about how fortunate I am and my kids are . . . And how sorry I am for all the victims of soulless American capitalism.

And second, the remarkable fact that tomorrow I will have been married to Susan for 45(!) years. I've been married to her my entire life, really, because I truly knew nothing about what's important before this event. And she has been my life: I could not have gotten this far without her. I have never net another person so inherently good. That I should be so blessed as to have this person love me for all those years and be the mother of my children . . . well, that's just miraculous.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

It's Unbelievable

I just encountered this little tidbit informing me that (presumably) supporters of Michelle Bachman, the bubble-brained bimbo from Minnesota who thinks she has what it takes to be president, have gone to changing the entries on Wikipedia for John Wayne and John Quincy Adams to fit the botched rendition of facts she's rendered in speeches. She claimed that John Quincy Adams is one of the Founding Fathers. Yeah, right. He was John Adams's kid and was a young teenager when the American Revolution ended. And to make it even more amazing, she refuses to back off this position . . . She continues to claim that JQA is a "Founding Father." The other issue involves the birthplace of John Wayne. She got this wrong in a speech, confusing Waterloo, Iowa, with Waterloo, Indiana.

This is trivial stuff, right? But when you have got people willing to go and change information on an online encyclopedia to fit a twisted untrue version of events because a political candidate they support doesn't know what he/she is talking about, you have to shake your head in complete wonderment. What is wrong with these people? Have they gone completely nuts? It has to be some explanation like this. No one in possession of their faculties does such a thing. But we live now in an Orwellian universe. This kind of thing is normative. Me, I still find it unbelievable.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Actually, Some Good News

I got this notice in email today from It caught my eye because of mention of a MLB team:
And the Minnesota Twins make 5. To cap it all off, CBS reported on Tuesday that the Minnesota Twins will be the 5th pro baseball team to make an "It Gets Better" video to help prevent suicide by teens who are bullied for being gay. Every team that's made a video (Twins, Red Sox, Cubs, Mariners, and Giants) has done so after a local member started a petition asking them to. As these victories add up, the cumulative effect is eroding the culture of homophobia in men's pro sports.
Well, I didn't know that. In fact, I barely knew there was a campaign "It Gets Better" going on, much less that the likes of the Chicago Cubs were involved in it.

Sunday, June 26, 2011


Oh, there's a lot going on in the world. New York passes a gay marriage bill. And I read that we taxpayers are paying more for air conditioning the troops in Afghanistan & Iraq than we are for the entire NASA budget. (Are you frigging kidding me??) Just roll that one around in your head for a second or two. Does it give you a headache? All kinds of other stuff happening, too.

But what's really on my mind right now is the drubbing the Texas Rangers have taken over the last four games they have played. The team looks like crap of late. (I have noted before how one's feeling of well-being and contentment if one is a baseball fan is directly proportional to the fortunes of your team.) All at home. And against a couple of chump teams: the Houston Astros and the New York Mets. The Rangers managed to win 1 of these games. It was my painful experience to watch two of these games. The last game of Houston series, game 1 in this stretch of 4, the Rangers blew in the top of the 9th inning. The closer, Nephtali Feliz, has a meltdown and gives up 4 runs. And the last game of the 3-game series against the Mets today was just a horror show. Mets little dribbly-ass hits rolling through the infield. At least three atrocious calls by three different umps, all of which cost Texas runs. Sloppy defense. I don't even want to talk about it anymore.

Just one more thing. I wonder what kind of penalties are attached for ballplayers to say that the umps made some awful calls? Both Ron Washington, Ranger manager, and Derrick Holland, the Ranger pitcher, refused to say anything about the awful umpiring. Is it about later retaliation? Hell, Washington got tossed out of the game. Anybody watching knew what he thought of the calls.

Here's the article that got me to thinking along these lines. The whole damn thing was disgusting.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Dribbling Out

Dribbling out. That's what I would describe Obama's ballyhooed plan to withdraw American forces from Afghanistan. Earlier this week, the president announced that he would withdraw 10,000 troops by the end of this year, and 33,000 total by the end of next year. We currently have 100,000 troops in Afghanistan. In other words, then, by the end of next year, not this year, we will have removed one-third of our troops from a country we have been fighting a war in for over ten years. One-third! When in hell are the other two-thirds coming out?

Are you kidding me? A conflict that has already taken the lives of some 4,500 American soldiers, that has cost our country over half a trillion dollars, that is disapproved of by a majority of the American people, and that is being fought for no discernible reason other than to further enrich the grossly corrupt and incompetent Afghanistan government--do you seriously think the so-called Afghan National Army and the police force will be effective in securing the country from the Taliban no matter when we leave? That is the stated goal. But, as you might recall, the original reason we went into that country was to get Bin Laden and flush Al Qaeda from their haven there. Both those original goals have been accomplished.

But of course those goals have long since been overtaken by first, nation-building (establishing a stable democracy) to the present vague aim of standing up the Afghanistan forces to cope for themselves. An open-ended commitment, actually, with no idea of what the end of the US mission there looks like at all. How in the name of all that's holy has this country let this farcical situation continue?

And I'm sure you'll be surprised to learn that the Pentagon doesn't like Obama's timetable. Naturally. It's too precipitous for them. What else did you expect?

Well, I'm here to tell you that I think Obama has once again wimped out. If it were me, I'd have every last one of our troops out of there by the end of this year, all 100,000 of them. The policy of ever fighting a war there was folly. After ten years, it's madness.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Two Notable Items

First, I noticed this little notice today. It can only be seen as a bid for sanity. We now are witnessing people at the level of the national government who are introducing legislation that will begin moving the country towards a sane policy on marijuana. This is a first step only. But it's a significant one, not a baby step. The proposed legislation, introduced in the House by cosponsors Barney Frank (D-MA) and Ron Paul (R-TX) aims at ending the federal prohibition on weed altogether. (Another five Democratic reps are co-sponsoring the bill.)
The Oakland Tribute reported that the bill would limit the federal government to enforcing cross-border or inter-state smuggling laws, and allow people to grow, possess, use or sell marijuana in states where it is legal to do so.
Of course, the states would still be able write their own marijuana laws, but this would be a huge step forward. Getting the Fed out of the insane business of spending God only knows how much of our vitally needed sustenance chasing stoners. And, be it noted, helping keep the price of pot so high that criminals are naturally all over it.

Currently 16 states and DC have legalized the use of medical marijuana, and legislation is pending in 10 more . By my count that's more than half the states of the Union. If you add the five additional states (including Oklahoma!) where bills to legalize medical marijuana never got out of committee, you are talking a fair majority of the states.

It's plain that the time has come for this issue. Straight out legalization cannot be too far away. The striated financial condition of just about every state in the U.S. is going to have lawmakers casting about everywhere they can to scratch up some revenue. A "sin tax" on legalized pot will have irresistible allure.  And all the winds are blowing that way.


And the second item: I just keep discovering these great bands. This one I stumbled over quite by accident on a podcast.

This group is called The Rosebuds. A fantastic song, don't you think?

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

No, It Isn't

No, it isn't time to kill the liberal arts degree. It never will be that time. Even if only a tiny fraction of the college student body majors in something besides business-related subjects, there's always going to have to be some people around with the knowledge to remind all the others what lies at the core of us: our humanity. And that's what the humanities are all about, aren't they?

It appears that we're moving inexorably into an era where the accursed marketplace will call all the tunes. Everything will be judged by same criterion: does it help or hinder business. Are you ready for this world? I fear, despite my fervent wishes otherwise and all my instincts, that is the world we have already entered. As if to confirm it, I ran across another blog today that I will be reading regularly--yet another! (I can't keep up with all of them now.)--called "The Leibowitz Society"--by the way, if you've never read Walter Miller's A Canticle for Leibowitz, your life is woefully incomplete--anyway this blog is dedicated to the preservation of knowledge for the rebuilding that will be necessary after the coming Dark Age. And this piece, coincidentally the first I've ever read there, concerns this very subject of liberal arts degrees.

Remember yesterday when I was talking about Ms Kim Brooks, the author of the piece that set off these ramblings? And I said I did totally dismiss her out of hand? This was because after several hundreds of words arguing that it was indeed time to kill the liberal arts degree, she ended up saying that she would not trade her education in English, and all that poetry, fiction, and theory, for anything. Which doesn't necessarily mean she would do it all over again if she were starting today, but even with 20-20 rearview vision, she cannot bring herself to say what she learned was useless. I sure as hell can't. Either for her or for me.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Is It Time . . .

I was already pretty well irritated by the time I had finished reading the title of a piece in Salon, the online general interest magazine (best thing about it, btw, is that it carries Glenn Greenwald's regular column). "Is it time to kill the liberal arts degree?" the author, one Kim Brooks, asks. Well, I have to confess, I was prepared to go into full what-the-hell-kind-of-idiot-question-is-this mode, but by the time I got to the end of the article, I couldn't really be angry with her because I found myself agreeing with her, at least the stuff she said near the end of the piece.

Which followed a long, dreary lament that 1) liberal arts degrees are worthless in the marketplace; 2) the poor graduates owe thousands of dollars and the poor dears can't find a job; 3) the recession is real bad and it makes finding jobs harder; 4) liberal arts professors have no answers for these observations--she knows because she talked to several of them. She also thinks the universities should be more helpful to students in these employment matters, if only, I gather, telling them all the reasons they should not be studying liberal arts.

Well, okay. Not that employment is not a concern. It's a great concern. But my question is while we're rooting around in the crass realities of how we're going to handle our lifelong enslavement to the Almighty Marketplace, the only God the U.S. recognizes and worships unconditionally, what about the rest of us, the rest of ourselves, the part that makes us something other than economic units worth only the weight we register on the marketplace scales?

Stay tuned . . .

Sunday, June 19, 2011

No Privacy

Back in the late '70s or early '80s, the Rolling Stones had a tune called "Fingerprint File"--at least I think it was in this tune--where Jagger moaned about "all secrecy, no privacy." It's a lament that fits our times even better than then, and it fit well enough 30 years ago, that's for sure.

Just thinking about the implications of my discovery that Google, a company whose products I use continually and habitually, is tailoring results of my searches to my own individual profile it has built up based on no less than 57 variables about me that it knows and applies. I've become a Heinz 57 Variety without even knowing it. In fact, I think that all of us are transparent to hundreds of commercial enterprises. We're being sliced and diced by data mining software daily. All this data in the service of selling us more merchandise we don't need. And this is hardly the whole of it. I think this Google thing is just the tip of the iceberg. How much does the U.S. government know about me? What lists am I on?

The very notion of privacy has become almost quaint. And you know what I think? I think that even if the American people had any idea about the tons of information numerous corporate entities as well as the U.S. government has on them, and believe me, they don't--well, there would be nothing they could do about it. Let's face it: the idea of democracy itself has become quaint. This thing we go through the motions of in the U.S. Well, it's a charade. The people have control over nothing. We belong to the corporations, the government belongs to the corporations, and both know everything about us. We live in George Orwell's world, and we may as well get used to it.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Google Is . . .

Here's a little quiz for you. This is a multiple choice question. It goes like this. Complete this sentence:

Google is:

a. Cool
b. Ubiquitous
c. Scary
d. Indispensable
e. All of the above.

You want to say e., don't you? Sorry. The correct answer is c. Scary. Okay. It was a trick question, just by way of introducing you to some information you may not know. I consider myself a pretty well informed person, and I did not know this.

The information I'm about to share can be found here, in a pretty stout article in The New York Review of Books--thanks to my friend Cecil for turning me on to it--about three new books out about computing. More specifically, the effects and future of the revolution computers have wrought in the world. The names of the books aren't important. You can read about them in the piece. But what I want to tell you about is some stuff I discovered that, I have to confess, I find bothersome indeed.

I pretty much knew that somewhere at some mega database in the sky that every place I've ever been to on the Internet is recorded and who knows how it's being sliced and diced. This thought is disturbing enough, but there's a lot worse. We all think that Google is pretty much working on a much improved and sophisticated version of the original algorithm. Which, as you recall, figured out what to throw up there first when one searched by figuring out what sites people most visited for that information. So-called "page ranking". There's probably a better way to explain it, but I trust you know what I mean.

So if you and I search for, say, the word "art," we're going to get the same thing back, right? Well, of course, you say. In fact, you could not be more wrong. Without our knowing it Google has been amassing a whole slew of data about us as individuals. And on every search we do, it applies this data to construct a search result just for us. There are 57 separate variables considered. Read this bit from the article:
The search process, in other words, has become “personalized,” which is to say that instead of being universal, it is idiosyncratic and oddly peremptory. “Most of us assume that when we google a term, we all see the same results—the ones that the company’s famous Page Rank algorithm suggests are the most authoritative based on other page’s links,” Pariser observes. With personalized search, “now you get the result that Google’s algorithm suggests is best for you in particular—and someone else may see something entirely different. In other words, there is no standard Google anymore.” It’s as if we looked up the same topic in an encyclopedia and each found different entries—but of course we would not assume they were different since we’d be consulting what we thought to be a standard reference.
If this ain't scary, I don't know what is. More on this tomorrow.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

A List

Things I find hateful:

  • broccoli
  • hyper-patriotism
  • roaches
  • people who abuse sales clerks and waiters/waitresses
  • the New York Yankees
  • being clumsy
  • watching the Texas Rangers or LSU Tigers lose (especially to the New York Yankees and Alabama or Florida, respectively)
  • incomprehensible poetry
  • hypocrisy
    • political
    • religious
    • moral
  • the idea of Wal-mart
  • Wall Street fat cats
  • wildlife poachers
  • all varieties of people and institutions that despoil the environment
  • liars generally
  • boredom
  • being hurried up when I'm already hurrying
  • people who blather on the telephone
  • Fox News
  • vincible ignorance about ordinary stuff
  • militarism and racism
  • sweet potatoes
  • knowing that I will never, ever be caught up on reading
  • sex traffickers 
  • the entire airport/air travel experience
  • people who are cruel to animals
  • waiting somewhere with nothing to read
  • anti-immigrant nut cases
  • knowing that I've left probably half a dozen things off this list

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

A Great Big Bored Outa My Gourd Yawn Already

The Republican campaign in one easy mock.

I told Susan, more accurately I forced Susan to listen to my rant about the absurdity of all the hullabaloo being made about the so-called "debate" among seven Republicans who want to be president. It's June of 2011, the first primary is in February next year. What the hell?

The rant was along several lines: first, that we are all going to be subjected from now till November of 2012 with the endless blather of not only candidates, but the pundits, commentators, and other talking heads who are going to breathlessly keep score on who's ahead and who's losing. Second, all of this will be carried on in great seriousness, as if who is elected president is going to really make a difference in the lives of ordinary Americans. Third, all this election crap will be inescapable if you a) read; b) watch TV; c) are conscious during the next 18 months.

I tell you, brothers and sisters, as I think I have already, I'm done with believing that politics in this country is anything more than a continuing exercise into the ways and means of advancing the interests of global corporations, keeping the Pentagon happy, and swelling the already obscenely bloated fortunes of the fat cats. To me, it's lamentable naivete to believe otherwise. It basically makes no difference whatever who is the president or from whatever party. The agenda is the same for any of them.

Making it all even more painful is the utter vacuousness of the campaigns of I-don't-care-who. The whole purpose of whatever comes out of their mouth is to say nothing substantial. Nothing that could possibly be construed as thoughtful or challenging. And this is matched by the mind-numbing predictability of media coverage. It's a race, you see, and all we're interested in is who's ahead and by how much and who's behind.

Pardon me, but fuck it. Let me know when somebody proposes substantial cuts to the defense department, advocates stiff taxation on those who can afford it, or tells the American people the truth about the real state of affairs instead of blowing huge quantities of smoke up their butts.

Matt Taibbi is the guy to read during this coming ordeal . . . Here's what he had to say about the so-called GOP debate:
  • The clear winner was Michele Bachmann, who kept her insanity bottled up very effectively, only lied once or twice, and made the rest of the group look like vacillating stooges. 
  • Man, I had forgotten in four short years how little there is in the way of actual ideas in presidential politics. Every single candidate last night was saying one version or another of the same thing: that the private sector rocks, the government sucks, we need to drill everywhere, reduce taxes and end regulation. 
  • Newt isn’t going to make it to the New Hampshire primary, which is too bad, because watching his hyper-macho intellectual ego be battered by the reality of losing to Michele Bachmann is going to be extremely entertaining while it lasts.
He had other excellent insights that you can read here. Guys like Taibbi are the only people you should be reading during this coming ordeal.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Need a Yuk?

Well, then here are a couple of really bad commercials. And I do mean bad. Both of them are actually hilarious. Watch and see why.

Can you believe that this would ever sell a stick of furniture?

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Is It Not Pathetic?

I don't mean to harp on this--after all, every comedian in America is having a field day with the subject of Anthony Wiener and his (ahem) wiener--sorry this is virtually unavoidable--which apparently was  brandished about photographically for several women in several public places on the Net and in some cases for ladies not even old enough to be considered adults. Not only is this incident so monumentally stupid that words fail me, but consider: how can a member of the United States Congress possibly think that he could get away with something like this? Unbelievable. But this whole affair is also pitifully pathetic on two levels, and you can decide which is lower:
  • The acts themselves. The whole notion of parading your naked self before strangers. Well, I don't care how you do it, mama always told me that was something you just didn't do. Maybe I'm just too old and not hip enough about everything that's happening out there in cyberspace. Apparently it's a regular meat market out there. Can guys really find women to bed this way? I mean what's up with this? I fear I'm showing my age.
  • The ludicrous attempt by Wiener to first of all lie his way out of his guilt by concocting phantasmal stories that only invited even more slavering hounds of the lamestream and low road media to jump on him, and second of all, Wiener's attempt after his astonishing press conference where he 'fessed up to everything, his pathetic attempt to carry on as if nothing happened and this will all go away. It's the equivalent to standing in a house that's burning down around you and claiming it's just a little heat wave that will pass.
Here's the thing. Up until this incident, I rather liked Wiener . . . I saw him frequently on Rachel Maddow and admired his unflinching progressivism. But, dude, you are so far beyond my caring about what happens to you now . . . just slink your sorry ass out of Washington, go home, and for God's sake, shut up. Don't worry. Give it a few years, and you can become a respected commentator like Elliot Spitzer

Saturday, June 11, 2011


Sometimes nice thing happens when you're out of town. A really nice thing happened for me while I was in Louisiana. My iPad2 arrived. (A gift to myself with the honorarium from the talk in Hammond.) All the way from China. Well, it wasn't exactly while I was gone to be precise. UPS attempted to deliver the thing last Friday, but since no one was here to sign for it, they left only a notice and I had to make arrangements for it to be brought here on Tuesday, when I was sure to be home.* I have to say, I've been pretty much entranced with the thing since. I'm right now, five days later, just getting to the point where I can initial set-up has just about finished. You know, all that stuff you have to go through when you get a new computer (laptop, smart phone, tablet, etc.): getting to know the device, setting up where you want all the applications, playing with them and others, and generally learning how the new toy works.

There are all kinds of excellencies about this device, not the least of which is that I can access the Internet now from anywhere in my house, which means I will be able to spend more time in the same room with Susan. The way our house is situated when I'm sitting at the computer I'm away from the kitchen/living room where my spouse is most of the time (when she's not outside puttering around in the garden/yard, which she does a lot). Her laptop is there. So closing that physical separation will be nice.

Plus, of course, there are literally over 300,000--I think that's right--apps (applications) that running independently accomplish about any task you can think of.

I'm still having some glitches getting everything to work the way it's supposed to, but I can tell you now, friends, these things are addictive.

*And as luck would have it, the iPad I got had a defective wall plug-in so the damn thing would not charge up. I had to drive 30 miles to the nearest Apple store to get a replacement plug.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Is Stupidity Rising?

As you all know, it's a question I put to you at regular intervals. It takes no thought whatever to answer the question. The evidence, in my opinion, is overwhelming that we're soon to be completely inundated, drowned miserably in a vast ocean of stupidity. Ran across an interesting article on a blog called "The Hammock Physicist." In it, the blogger, one Johannes Koelman, references a 35-year old article by Italian economic historian Carlo Cipolla entitled "The Basic Laws of Human Stupidity". Let me quote:

"A stupid person is a person who causes losses to another person or to a group of persons while himself deriving no gain and even possibly incurring losses."
"Always and inevitably everyone underestimates the number of stupid individuals in circulation."
"Non-stupid people always underestimate the damaging power of stupid individuals. In particular non-stupid people constantly forget that at all times and places and under any circumstances to deal and/or associate with stupid people always turns out to be a costly mistake."
and further
"Our daily life is mostly, made of cases in which we lose money and/or time and/or energy and/or appetite, cheerfulness and good health because of the improbable action of some preposterous creature who has nothing to gain and indeed gains nothing from causing us embarrassment, difficulties or harm. Nobody knows, understands or can possibly explain why that preposterous creature does what he does. In fact there is no explanation - or better there is only one explanation: the person in question is stupid." 
What's to argue with here? All you have to remember is Hanlon's Razor: "Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity. Precisely.

Think George W. Bush. Think Anthony Weiner. Think your basic person on the street in any city in America. It's all very distressing.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Would You Eat One?

Yummy! Grasshoppers.
What you see over there to the left is a mess of grasshoppers ready to eat. I don't know if I would have known what these were had they not been identified in Boing Boing's entry today. (At a quick glance, they look like crawfish.) Seems that La Oaxaqueña Bakery and Restaurant in San Francisco has been banned by the city health department from serving its famous grasshopper tacos. Not because grasshoppers are gross, but because they are not from an FDA-approved source. They are, in fact, straight from Oaxaquena, Mexico, where they are sold everywhere and eaten in swarms, if you will pardon the expression.

So, OK, what is an FDA-approved source where a hard-working restaurant owner can get some hoppers? Well, there is no FDA-approved source. Next!

Aside from the Kafka-like mess this restaurant finds itself in, I find myself wondering about the cultural boundaries that surround food that humans consume. Entomophagy--eating of insects by human beings (can you believe there's a word for it?)--is not only verboten by the cultural norms of this country and Europe, but the very notion of eating a bug causes lots of people to gag. I would be willing to bet that the vast, vast majority of Americans would not even try eating a  tasty insect.

Once again, as in health care, the Western World is out of step with the non-Western world. According to Wikipedia, 80 percent of the world regularly eats insects, and if you want to be technical, arachnids. Over a thousand different kinds of the former and over 1,200 of the latter.
Some of the more popular insect and arachnids eaten around the world include crickets, cicadas,grasshoppers, ants, a variety of beetle grubs (such as mealworms), the larvae of the darkling beetle or rhinoceros beetle, a variety of species of caterpillar (such as bamboo worms, mopani worms, silkworms and waxworms), scorpions and tarantulas. Entomophagy is sometimes defined broadly to include the practice of eating arthropods that are not insects, such as arachnids (tarantulas mainly) and myriapods (centipedes mainly). There are 1,417 known species ofarthropods, including arachnids, that are edible to humans.
Now the question is, given the chance, would you eat one? Or several? I can say positively that I would. Hell, I'm from South Louisiana. If you can eat a crawfish or an oyster, you can eat a bug. Besides, they are good for you. Loaded with vitamins and minerals and protein. Unsaturated fat in some. And think about this: isn't eating insects more ecologically sound than depleting the oceans of fish and feeding half the grain  grown in the world to cows?

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

A Decent Idea Out of Texas

Stop the presses! This is an unusual story, indeed. I'm about to say something good about Texas that doesn't involve my Texas Rangers baseball team. To wit: in a rare action that actually meets my approval the Texas House of Representatives recently passed a bill banning searches by TSA agents without probable cause. (Read about it here. See also here.) The law says that searches by these ubiquitous airport agents unless they have good reason to suspect that a person has committed a crime are illegal in Texas. The Boing Boing writeup has a wonderful description of the TSA's reaction: "The TSA has responded with headless chicken hysteria, making up gradeschool misinterpretations of the nature of US federalism." The TSA claims that the supremacy clause of the US Constitution (Art. IV, Clause 2*) "prevents the states from regulating the federal government." A bald-faced lie, according to knowledgeable commentators. Good writeup why is here.

So we have the long arm of federal intrusion into our lives claiming basically that there is nothing to restrain their intrusive power. I'm not interested in the constitutional niceties here. The huge public outcry against the latest outrages on Americans perpetrated by the TSA had no effect whatever. The intrusive pat-downs and scans have simply continued. So it's time for a state legislature, or many of them, to step in and protect the basic constitutional liberties of the citizenry.

Too bad it had to be Texas, though, a fruitcake state if ever one there was.

*This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in pursuance thereof; and all treaties made, or which shall be made, under the authority of the United States, shall be the supreme law of the land; and the judges in every state shall be bound thereby, anything in the constitution or laws of any state to the contrary notwithstanding.

Monday, June 6, 2011

I Miss George Carlin

George Carlin died too soon. I would love to hear his commentary on the times right now. Here's the kind of thing we're missing. This is the rap/poem he delivered on his last appearance on The Tonight Show. (Source). We could use his wisdom . . . and can you imagine? His wit would be savage.
I’m a modern man,
A man for the millennium,
Digital and smoke free.
A diversified multicultural postmodern deconstructionist,
Politically anatomically and ecologically incorrect.
I’ve been uplinked and downloaded.
I’ve been inputted and outsourced.
I know the upside of downsizing.
I know the downside of upgrading.
I’m a high tech lowlife.
A cutting edge state-of-the-art bicoastal multitasker,
And I can give you a gigabyte in a nanosecond. (The rest after the jump…)
I’m new wave but I’m old school,
And my inner child is outward bound.
I’m a hot wired heat seeking warm hearted cool customer,
Voice activated and biodegradable.
I interface from a database,
And my database is in cyberspace,
So I’m interactive,
I’m hyperactive,
And from time-to-time,
I’m radioactive.
Behind the eight ball,
Ahead of the curve,
Riding the wave,
Dodging a bullet,
Pushing the envelope.
I’m on point,
On task,
On message,
And off drugs.
I got no need for coke and speed,
I got no urge to binge and purge.
I’m in the moment,
On the edge,
Over the top,
But under the radar.
A high concept,
Low profile,
Medium range ballistic missionary.
A street-wise smart bomb.
A top gun bottom feeder.
I wear power ties,
I tell power lies,
I take power naps,
I run victory laps.
I’m a totally ongoing bigfoot slam dunk rainmaker with a proactive outreach.
A raging workaholic.
A working ragaholic.
Out of rehab,
And in denial.
I got a personal trainer,
A personal shopper,
A personal assistant,
And a personal agenda.
You can’t shut me up,
You can’t dumb me down.
‘Cause I’m tireless,
And I’m wireless.
I’m an alpha male on beta blockers.
I’m a non-believer and an over-achiever.
Laid back but fashion forward.
Up front,
Down home,
Low rent,
High maintenance.
Super size,
Long lasting,
High definition,
Fast acting,
Oven ready,
And built to last.
I’m a hands on,
Foot loose,
Knee jerk,
Head case.
Prematurely post traumatic,
And I have a love child who sends me hate mail.
But I’m feeling,
I’m caring,
I’m healing,
I’m sharing.
A supportive bonding nurturing primary care giver.
My output is down,
But my income is up.
I take a short position on the long bond,
And my revenue stream has its own cash flow.
I read junk mail,
I eat junk food,
I buy junk bonds,
I watch trash sports.
I’m gender specific,
Capital intensive,
User friendly,
And lactose intolerant.
I like rough sex.
I like rough sex.
I like tough love.
I use the f word in my email,
And the software on my hard drive is hard core, no soft porn.
I bought a microwave at a mini mall.
I bought a mini van in a mega store.
I eat fast food in the slow lane.
I’m toll free,
Bite sized,
Ready to wear,
And I come in all sizes.
A fully equipped,
Factory authorized,
Hospital tested,
Clinically proven,
Scientifically formulated medical miracle.
I’ve been pre-washed,
And I have an unlimited broadband capacity.
I’m a rude dude,
But I’m the real deal.
Lean and mean.
Cocked, locked and ready to rock.
Rough tough and hard to bluff.
I take it slow.
I go with the flow.
I ride with the tide.
I got glide in my stride.
Drivin’ and movin’,
Sailin’ and spinnin’,
Jivin’ and groovin’,
Wailin’ and winnin’.
I don’t snooze,
So I don’t lose.
I keep the pedal to the metal,
And the rubber on the road.
I party hearty,
And lunch time is crunch time.
I’m hanging in,
There ain’t no doubt.
And I’m hanging tough,
Over and out.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Gone Again . . .

Dear Readers, I'm gone from my little abode for yet another weekend trip, as I think I warned you. But this time I've been so jammed up with stuff to do, I was not able to post ahead, as I did last weekend. But who knows? I may find a way even from the heart of darkest Louisiana. In any event, I'm back with you on Monday, so you will have to just endure the weekend without my blather. And then, when I'm back, I get to stay home for a little while. That will be great.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

You Will Be Delighted to Learn

That the outbreak of sickness and more than several deaths in Europe and being attributed to food-consumption is being caused by what is described as a "an unusually virulent strain of E. coli that scientists haven't seen before and that may be dramatically more dangerous." This bug is more brutal than previous strains because it attacks the blood in such away that it induces renal failure.

I heard about this on NPR yesterday and today I read that they still haven't pinpointed the source. Apparently the killer bug is being transmitted on fresh vegetables: cucumbers, tomatoes, and lettuce. 

All the healthy foods, you will note. So consider the irony that people who are trying to eat healthy are much more likely to contract a death-dealing illness from their "healthy" food.

E coli . . . nasty looking little sucker, no?

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Who Would Have Thought . . .

The Face of Millions of Americans: Homeless & Hungry
. . . that the level of poverty in the U.S.A. would rival that of North Korea? My sister, the same one who sent the piece about education I talked about yesterday, sent this one a while back. For reasons that will become apparent below, you might want to check out the CNN source for the story. Both articles have all the grim facts, and they are grim indeed. I've saved it on my desktop and have been meaning to talk about it since.

I just haven't gotten around to reading it till now. One does not have to agree with the Biblical outrage in the piece, nor its pro-Israel bent* to be appalled by the facts here presented. In North Korea 5 million people face "food shortages." In this, the richest country that's ever been in history, the number of similarly situated people is 45 million. Why is no one, why isn't everyone just completely scandalized by this?

But no, we just go about our business, getting and spending. Out of sight is out of our mind. This goes for everything harmful, from pollution to the graft, lies, and corruption that grease the wheels of our "democratic" government at every level to the killing being done in our name in Afghanistan . . . and of course, the millions of poor people in their miserable tent cities all over the country.

*I have to observe that these sentiments are decidedly not those of my sister. As far as I know, and I know her pretty well, she doesn't embrace the virulently pro-Jewish partisanship of this website.