Thursday, July 31, 2014

Stupid America, Episode 6,451

Why is this man smiling? At the absurdity of it all?
Are you ready for this? Some guy in Utah--the lucky state this time because I can think of about 40 more states at least where this could have happened, Oklahoma not the least of them. Why? Because our stupidity or ignorance, if I wanted to be kinder, is nationwide. It knows no boundaries. (I suspect my friend Bob, who lives in Utah would disagree. When I told him about this, he already knew and informed me that the story had gone viral.) Anyway some guy in Utah who teaches at an English as second language school lost his job because he blogged about homophones. (Check this story out.) Yes, you read that right. And moreover, the reason you think this cost him his job is also correct.
Tim Torkildson told the Salt Lake Tribune that shortly after his lesson went up, Nomen Global Language Center owner Clarke Woodger fired him, complaining "now our school is going to be associated with homosexuality."

"I had to look up the word" Woodger said, according to the account Torkildson published on his personal blog, "because I didn't know what the hell you were talking about. We don't teach this kind of advanced stuff to our students, and it's extremely inappropriate. Can you have your desk cleaned out by eleven this morning? I'll have your check ready."
It seems too ridiculous to believe, but Torkildson's former employer confirmed the incident of homophonia actually happened.

"People at this level of English," Woodger told the Tribune, "may see the 'homo' side and think it has something to do with gay sex."
What more is there to say? This guy still got fired. Even a dictionary couldn't save him.


Wednesday, July 30, 2014


None of it is good. I'm talking about the news yesterday. Let's see: war and death in Iraq, Syria, Libya, the Gaza strip, Ukraine. Seriously. I'm talking about this was most of the news. The part on Syria . . . was it NPR or BBC? . . . focused on the kids--well, so did the one on Gaza partially, because most of the people being killed and maimed there are children, women, and old men--who have now had four years of education taken from them, have been traumatized by deaths of parents, dislocation, destruction of their homes or villages or city, deaths of siblings and other relatives, hunger, sickness, refugee camps, and on and on. Sometimes I just despair. What is wrong with us? We are seriously disturbed people to allow this to continue generation after generation. Seriously disturbed.

Monday, July 28, 2014

On Being Afraid

I would not have come up with the precise same list, but it would be something analogous, for sure. Another post from one of my favorite bloggers at "Some Assembly Required".
On Being Afraid: Things to worry about, more or less in order: Texting while driving, brain-eating parasites, Publisher's Clearing House, falling out of bed, flying Malaysian Air, pink slime in your hamburger, hospitals, autoertoic asphyxiation as an observer, Paul Ryan budgets, terrorists. 
I think I would have added somewhere in there: 2nd amendment crazies, bedbugs, running out of coffee, and environmental deterioration everywhere.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

A Wise Observer

A wise observer remembers things other wise people say:
The Human Condition: John Kenneth Galbraith: ‘Faced with the choice between changing one’s mind and proving that there is no need to do so, almost everyone gets busy on the proof’….

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

It Never Goes Away

I've gotten to the point where I almost feel guilty dealing with anything that's plastic. It is so ubiquitous. From where you're sitting right now, how many things can you see that are plastic or contains plastic components? Thank goodness I can salve my conscience some by recycling all the plastic waste this one little household with only two people in it generates. But I know it's just the smallest atom of help for a problem that staggers the imagination.

Plastic, Plastic Everywhere: Plastic, that handy, lightweight, nearly indestructible stuff is... well, indestructible. We throw a lot of it away, but for plastic there is no 'away'. Most of it ends up in landfills, where it will sit for a few thousand years. A tiny bit, about 9% of the US share, gets recycled. A lot of it ends up in the ocean, about a million tons so far. Of that vast amount, about 35,000 t ons has ended up in those swirling garbage patches – every ocean has at least one of them. But the 965,000 plus other tons of seaborne plastic has just 'disappeared'. But plastic doesn't simply disappear. It'll be back. Shut up and eat your fish.

Monday, July 14, 2014


The little kid is so good--how old do you think he is?--it makes you forget or maybe disregard the music. Which is all I had to go on when I first heard these guys. It captured me right away. Kind of a really funky electronic concoction with more hooks in it than a bait store. Enjoy.

The tune? It's called "Platoon."

Saturday, July 12, 2014

The Intercept

For those of you who share my interest in the secret and often nefarious doings of our security and defense apparatus, I would commend to your attention the establishment of a new online publication called "The Intercept." I've long been a reader of Glenn Greenwald, most lately (in)famous for being instrumental in breaking the Edward Snowden story that informed the world the extent to which the U.S. national security agency (NSA) is spying on just about everybody in the world including us millions of once-unsuspecting (but now fully aware) Americans. Who thought the laws protected them from domestic spying and also prevented the NSA and other arms of the government from snooping into their affairs. The amazing thing is that even after the revelations of widespread NSA misconduct, a great many Americans aren't upset by it. It's yet another measure of our ignorance.

Here's an edited discussion of The Intercept's goals and purpose from its website. The emphasis in the paragraphs is mine.

This looks like something all friends of civil liberties ought to be jumping on.

About The Intercept
The Intercept, a publication of First Look Media, was created by Glenn Greenwald, Laura Poitras, and Jeremy Scahill. It has a two-fold mission: one short-term, the other long-term.
Our short-term mission is to provide a platform to report on the documents previously provided by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden. . . . Our NSA coverage will be comprehensive, innovative and multi-faceted. We have a team of experienced editors and journalists devoted to the story. We will use all forms of digital media for our reporting. In addition, we will publish primary source documents on which our reporting is based. We will also invite outside experts with area knowledge to contribute to our reporting, and provide a platform for commentary and reader engagement.
Our long-term mission is to produce fearless, adversarial journalism across a wide range of issues. The editorial independence of our journalists will be guaranteed. They will be encouraged to pursue their passions, cultivate a unique voice, and publish stories without regard to whom they might anger or alienate. We believe the prime value of journalism is its power to impose transparency, and thus accountability, on the most powerful governmental and corporate bodies, and our journalists will be provided the full resources and support required to do this.
While our initial focus will be the critical work surrounding the NSA story, we are excited by the opportunity to grow with our readers into the broader and more comprehensive news outlet that the The Intercept will become.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Vatican North

The UK is being rocked by a pedophile scandal of mammoth proportions and (of course) official complicity in covering up the crimes of highly placed individuals in British society and government. Here's a summary of events in the probe until now. Susan asked me if I had heard about this a couple of days ago. I had, but just barely. My guess is we're going to be hearing a lot more about this appalling business in the days ahead.
Vatican North: The UK establishment is apparently home to as many, if not more, pedophiles than the Roman Catholic Church, with an appalling concentration in Whitehall. The practice, concealed since the Thatcher government if not before, has been at best passively condoned by politicians and senior government officials. And the denial continues, with over 100 child abuse investigative files being 'missing from official records.' The current Education Secretary, continuing decades of cover ups, insists there is no need for a public inquiry into the cover-up or the crimes – especially in that investigation would show that Madame Thatcher's administration actively hid the crimes of MPs and peers. According to a former UK health minister, as early as 1992, government investigators were aware that “powerful people” used government run children's homes as a “supply line” for their victims.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Bush Trifecta

As in the vile little pretender who occupied the White House from 2000-2008. That Bush. And the trifecta being Afghanistan, Iraq, and Gaza. All of which are coming unglued and are being convulsed by violence--except maybe Afghanistan which is on the brink of being convulsed by violence on account of a disputed election for president which is ongoing. As we speak, Hamas is firing rockets into Israel from the Gaza Strip and the Israelis are responding with their usual air strikes in retaliation. I don't need to remind you how both of Bush's wars to bring democracy to Afghanistan and Iraq have fared. Iraq is alight as parts of it and Syria are now being claimed as the caliphate proclaimed by Islamic jihadists so violent and extreme that even al qaeda spurns them. And yet we never hear anybody raging against Bush and the consummate folly that has brought us to this pass.

See this piece by Juan Cole for gory details on what a massive fuck-up U.S. policy in the Middle East has been for the past 15 years. The whole area is imploding . . . do you entertain any thought whatsoever that this would be going on had the U.S. military not been there during that time?

Monday, July 7, 2014

Fourth of July Worship Service

Fenway patriots holding up the monstrous flag over the Green Monster in left
This is what Chris Hedges called his visit to Fenway Park in his latest piece in Truthdig. Subtitled "Kneeling in Fenway Park to the Gods of War," Hedges states plainly what any thinking person has noticed about big-time sports in America. All of them, without exception worship at the shrine of Mars. They never miss an opportunity to trumpet their love for the country and especially the "heroes" in uniform who fight the nation's wars. Here's part of what he wrote:
The religious reverie—repeated in sports arenas throughout the United States—is used to justify our bloated war budget and endless wars. Schools and libraries are closing. Unemployment and underemployment are chronic. Our infrastructure is broken and decrepit. And we will have paid a crippling $4 trillion for the useless and futile wars we waged over the last 13 years in the Middle East. But the military remains as unassailable as Jesus, or, among those who have season tickets at Fenway Park, the Red Sox. The military is the repository of our honor and patriotism. No public official dares criticize the armed forces or challenge their divine right to more than half of all the nation’s discretionary spending. And although we may be distrustful of government, the military—in the twisted logic of the American mind—is somehow separate.
 Precisely. I was talking not long ago to a woman who is progressive in every other aspect of things that I've had occasion to discuss with her, except for the military. She could advance no good reason for not wanting to halve the defense budget. Indeed, she was just vague. There are a lot of bad people in the world, she says. As if that's a reason for bleeding our very sustenance into the military machine that is as rapcious as it is monstrous.

It's an unholy marriage, this coupling of American sports with the manic embrace of all things military. I've thought for a long time that bodes badly for our future. A people mindlessly embracing everything "patriotic" are ripe for exploitation by the most reactionary forces in our society.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Why is it . . . ?

. . . that whenever you read these kind of stories they are always about people of color? Have you ever noticed that? Can somebody send me a link to a story about a white person being freed from prison years later because he was innocent and jailed anyway for a crime he didn't do? I'm certain there have to be some, but these stories about some poor (always) innocent African American being incarcerated are almost as regular as stories about mass shootings in this country. Which is to say, frequent enough to be quite disturbing.

Nobody seems to draw, or at least mention, what to me is a perfectly obvious conclusion. That our judicial system of the past was grossly racist, and routinely did not serve the cause of justice. Do you ever wonder how many guys (and women) are in prison for crimes they did not do? And do you have any idea of how long it takes to right an injustice like this? This in itself is a crime. But don't hold your breath about it being prosecuted.

Friday, July 4, 2014

The Cost of Doing Crooked Business

The cost is actually pretty low, if you're a crooked bank. Which is to say if you're a bank, although I'd really love to see some press on the honest bankers out there. Surely there are some. The point to remember here is that these fines don't mean diddly to these scumbags. They are simply the cost of doing business as usual, which is to say, keeping the world constantly on the brink of economic catastrophe.

Pocket Change to These People. Oughta be Putting the CEO's Asses in Stir

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Colbert on Birth Control

Here is the link in case the embed above doesn't work for you. They can be squirrelly sometimes.

Sometimes the only way to deal with the idiotic logic-chopping the Supreme Court majority (the four cavemen plus Kennedy) uses to shackle the corporate state upon us further is to mock it beyond the limits of credulity. Because that's what some of these decisions are: beyond the limits of credulity. I'm speaking right now about the Hobby Lobby decision which now allows corporations to have religious objections to facets of the law. It's a way of letting them to selectively decide what portions of a law, in this case the Affordable Care Act, they want to follow. Of course, the corporation has this right, but all those employees who may not have the same religious objections, don't have it. Here's a story about the SC decision in the case.

Colbert takes a swipe at the foolishness by skewering the whole argument against contraception paid for by the government. It's great stuff. He is really blasting the court for its decision, but the Court isn't mentioned once. This is deeply funny.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Facing Up

I read in the Washington Post that we're on the brink of having technology that will be able to predict how long we're likely to live. It does this with facial recognition software and, one supposes, the black magic that is behind all these technological wonders. Article says that if your parents were people who didn't age in a hurry, you're not likely to either. Nobody believes how old I am now (except those who know), but I suppose that has something to do with my looking about 10 when I was 16, 16 when I was 26, etc. At this stage of the game, it's about the only blessing of aging that I can think of. Looking younger than you are, that is. And now through the magic of technology we (and all the insurance companies) will have a basis for projecting our future years. What a country!

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Unceasing Wonders

Technology. It will be the death of us for certain, but in the meantime it keeps serving up wonders and glorious gadgets. I learned just recently about carrying coupons around in your cell phone and using them at cash registers. Now I read that the hotel key cards that replaced regular ole keys are on their way out. They will probably be replaced by a cell phone app. When guests check in through this app, they get their room number and the ability to open their door via their cell phone. You don't have to even go to the front desk because sensors in your room's door will recognize your phone. Reason we don't have widespread use of this right now is the hotels don't want to cough up the cash it'll take to transition. Don't they know there's a recovery on? Ha.