Tuesday, June 30, 2009

What specious, pompous, asinine cowards with no sense of decency…

posted by Bill Arnett @ 10:40 AM Permalink

…or dignity or, seemingly, holding little value the lives of American soldiers, Iraqis, Palestinians, or anyone other than the power structure of America. Those whom care naught for anything but hegemony, control of the world's resources, and the means, fair or foul, by which we seek to dominate and enslave the other countries which have the misfortune of sharing this planet with the most war-mongering country on earth, America.

I sit day by day semi-absorbing the news (if I actually did absorb the news I would be certifiably insane) listening to our collective talking heads stirring up ill feelings between nations that in many cases they have never been to, insulting world leaders (including our own) in order to puff up their alleged credibility just as a peacock spreads its glorious tail with the dozens of 'false eyes' to intimate that it is a much larger and threatening beast than it actually is.

America has become that peacock and should several countries, very few really, decide to form an alliance they could easily defeat America to, "… bring democracy to the American people…" as democracy is to be understood by current world citizens.

Democracy: elections fixed or stolen or the results ignored or tied up in a court to prevent an elected representative from assuming office after a lawful vote was taken. (Think Franken/Coleman)

Democracy: no national health care, millions uninsured, millions making that awful choice between taking their medicine or splurging by opening a fresh can of dog food.

Democracy: where anyone can be imprisoned indefinitely for any reason (as long as the words national security are uttered as a witch utters incantations while stirring her acidic, poisonous brew) with no hope of being charged, given an attorney to represent them, unable to see, feel, touch, and examine any evidence presented against them and no right to confront their accuser and have their case decided by a jury of their peers. You know, the things that formerly made America great.

Democracy: where evidence that was formerly considered, "…the fruit of the poisonous tree…" evidence and any other evidence to which it lead that was obtained by illegal means such as torture, coercion, and similar means was forbidden. It was not allowed and had no legitimacy in American Courts.

Democracy: where the leaders of America are desperately seeking any provocation, however slight or even imagined, to attack other countries with whom we disagree and to further American dominance.

Democracy: a government that ignores lawful votes in other countries if our leaders just happen to dislike the person/s elected in foreign countries, or, worst yet, places sanctions on the entire civilization of another country because we dislike their leaders or the policies they espouse. Freedom of speech, freedom of religion, and the right of other people to assemble in support their leaders is utterly ignored by America.

Democracy: brought to you by the leading producer of nuclear weapons, cluster bombs, heat ray cannons to disperse crowds by burning their skin, sound cannons so painful as to drive away a threat. (When Nikoli Tesla died he was working on a weapon so terrible that he believed it would end all war by necessity. The weapon was a death ray that killed people and animals but did no damage to infrastructure: they simply fell dead where they stood. Upon his death the American government immediately seized his laboratories, classified all his research TOP SECRET, it remains so classified, and our government has never allowed anyone but very carefully vetted people access to his work. Hmm, death rays, rays to burn you from a safe [for our soldiers] distance away, sound cannons, but…nah…there couldn't possibly be any connection between these events, eh?)

Democracy: led by America, which is the only country to order the use of nuclear weapons and which demands that other countries be prohibited nuclear weapons or by golly, we'll nuke them out of existence!

Democracy: where a government has become so inured to the suffering of its own people that wishes to impose even greater suffering, starvation, genocide, murder by presidential fiat, the killing of dozens or more to possibly, just possibly kill a single terrorist with a 2,000 pound bomb, and the destruction of any other type of government showing the audacity to not immediately follow any and all orders given to them – even when its clearly against the other countries self-interest, religion, or desire to live in the same manner in which they have lived for THOUSANDS of years and ignore the orders and interest of a country such as America, which is not much more than two HUNDRED years of age and a mere infant compared to the more ancient countries of the world.

Democracy: in the minds of a few billion people, the leading exporter of terror and death.

Democracy – it's a gas! Or some other noxious emission.

Aw, enough. When carefully examined democracy has not stood the test of time and fails the tests of fairness, neutrality, leadership by example, and the decency to treat Americans, much less others, with dignity and a kind regard for the unalienable rights of man.


Monday, June 29, 2009

"...catastrophic and catalyzing event – like a new Pearl Harbor."

posted by The Vidiot @ 3:22 PM Permalink

Sound familiar? It was from the PNAC document that said that in order for US foreign policy objectives to be met in the Middle East, a new Pearl Harbor type of event had to happen. And they got it with 9/11.

Well, now it seems there's a new 'think tank' paper out there, this time it's the Brookings Institute. And this one says:
‘With provocation, the international diplomatic and domestic political requirements of an invasion would be mitigated, and the more outrageous the Iranian provocation (and the less that the United States is seen to be goading Iran), the more these challenges would be diminished. In the absence of a sufficiently horrific provocation, meeting these requirements would be daunting.’
The authors of the report sound like a who's who in the run up to the Iraq war:

Kenneth M. Pollack, Director of Research, Saban Center for Middle East Policy
Daniel L. Byman, Senior Fellow, Foreign Policy, Saban Center for Middle East Policy
Martin S. Indyk, Director, Saban Center for Middle East Policy
Suzanne Maloney, Senior Fellow, Foreign Policy, Saban Center for Middle East Policy
Michael E. O'Hanlon, Senior Fellow, Foreign Policy
Bruce Riedel, Senior Fellow, Foreign Policy, Saban Center for Middle East Policy

Here we go again, folks.

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Money For Nothing

posted by The Sailor @ 2:15 PM Permalink

I know how to fix the economy! All we have to do is charge $80,000 for every MP3 downloaded from the internet.
File-Sharing Mom Fights Back

Thomas-Rasset was sued by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) for pirating music. But unlike most of the more than 30,000 other targets of RIAA pirating lawsuits, Thomas-Rasset fought back. Her case was the first of its kind to go to trial. In 2007 she lost. A jury awarded $222,000 to the RIAA, but the judge threw out the verdict because he believed he gave incorrect instructions to the jury.

That led to a second trial. Thomas-Rasset lost again. This time the jury ordered her to pay a whopping $1.92 million, or $80,000 per song.
1.) The RIAA doesn't represent musicians, it represents the music industry that takes advantage of musicians. The music industry blew it years ago when they didn't understand the digital age and now they're desperate for a business model to make money, not art.
2.) An MP3 is a low-bandwidth representation of a song, not a 1:1 digital copy of the music.
3.) The 24 MP3s that were proven to have been in her share folder and then downloaded by a company that was legally authorized to download them.
Where's the crime?
4.) Ms. Thomas-Rasset is probably a liar and perjurer, but that's not what she's charged with.

So if the RIAA actually collects 1.92 MILLION DOLLARS for 24 songs that were uploaded by a Mom and then downloaded by an arm of the RIAA, where does the money go?

I've emailed the RIAA, I've called the RIAA, and I still can't get an answer. And I have a Gold Record certified by the RIAA.

It's been awhile since I worked in the biz in LA, but I still know a few artists, producers and engineers that had points on records and the ones I still have contact with have never received a dime or been informed that there was an RIAA settlement with $$ that they should be entitled to.

It seems the artists get screwed again. Welcome to the music industry.

I recommend if you want to buy music go out to your local clubs. If you like the band then buy their CD. It's cheaper than big labels, the band makes more than if they'd released on a major label, and actual music is performed. And there are lots of other ways to find music you like that don't involve the music industry and make the artist more money.

Corporations don't make art, artists do, and the artists deserved to get paid.

Pink Floyd put it best:

Cross posted at SteveAudio


Maybe if they stick a finger in his eye...

posted by The Vidiot @ 12:55 PM Permalink

they'll get him to start that war they all so desperately want.
The Air Force successfully launched an unarmed Minuteman 3 intercontinental ballistic missile Monday from the California coast to an area in the Pacific Ocean some 4,200 miles away.


Anti-Bloomberg Education Diatribble

posted by The Vidiot @ 9:38 AM Permalink

What prompted the writing of this post is a recent spate of Bloomberg for mayor ads touting his record with the New York City school system. In one of them, he says that since he's been mayor, test scores have gone up. I'm here to tell you that the reality is, they have not.

The state of education today is one of those hot-button issues that's sure to get all sorts of opinions and ideas stirred up into a cauldron of uselessness. "Throw money at the problem!" "Punish the bad schools by withdrawing funds!" "Longer school year!" "Privatize!" Yada, yada, yada. Additionally, Bloomberg is basing a whole lot of his reelection campaign on how much the schools have improved under his tutelage.

But let me tell you, most folks have absolutely no idea what really goes on in the schools. So, I'm going to give you a little peek into a sliver of it. What follows is long, but if you are really interested in how a school system like New York creates their propaganda, read on.

Here in New York, the students are required to pass what is called a Regents exam in four subjects: English, Math, Government and History. They're supposed to make sure that all students graduate with the at least a minimum of competency in those subjects. But do they really? No, of course not.

I hold in my hands a copy of this year's United States History and Government test along with a copy of the chart that converts the raw test scores into final exam scores. Before I get to the chart, let me describe the test.

There are three parts.
Now, the multiple choice questions are framed in two ways. One way is to make three of the four choices a little silly so that the answer is more obvious. For instance: "Which of these trials established the principal that leaders of a nation may be tried for crimes against humanity? 1) Scopes 2) Rosenberg 3) Sacco and Vanzetti 4) Nuremberg. The other way the questions are framed are the answers are actually a part of the question, like in a graph or a cartoon.

For the part two essays, the first was on individual rights. They tell you what to do and how to do it:
"Select two different groups in American society who have faced discrimination and for each, describe one specific example of discrimination faced by the group, describe one action taken by the federal or state governments related to this example of discrimination and discuss how the action taken by the federal or stat governments either protected or limited the rights of the group. You may use any example from your study of United States history. Some groups you might wish to consider included Native American Indians, African American, Asian Americans, Hispanic Americans, women, the elderly, and the disabled."
Additionally, the instructions tell you how to write and essay and what the words "describe" and "discuss" mean. For the most part, this essay is the most difficult part of the test. Though, if they just wrote "African Americans are discriminated against. I'm African American and I've been discriminated against." That would garner at least a point. If they added "My friend is Hispanic. He's always discriminated against." They would definitely get two points.

The second essay is based on the "documents" used in the questions for part three. Basically, if they just rewrite the initial essay question as a statement, and then copy a bunch of stuff from the "documents", they'll get it right.

Part three has paragraphs, charts and cartoons with a corresponding question and for the most part, the graders looking for them to write, nay copy, a line, or even just a key word, from the selection as an answer to the question. So they don't even have to come up with anything on their own. Just find any line in the paragraph that sounds like it answers the question and write it out, word for word.

Keep in mind, the teachers are supposed to explain all of this to the students before the test.

OK, so that's the test. Now here comes the fun part: The grading

Obviously, part one is easy to grade. They either get it right or not. For part two, they get one point out of possible five for just writing a sentence, nonsensical or not. Two sentences gets two points and three points goes to the student who has two sentences that actually pertain to the essay topic. Of course, if the student actually writes a real essay, that's four points right there. And if that essay makes any sense, that's a five. The same lenient standards apply for part three.

Here's a conversation that actually occurred during the grading of the papers:
Asst. Principal: Let me see XXXX's scores for the third section.
Teacher: Here it is.
Asst. Principal: [After looking it over] Why did you mark that one wrong?
Teacher: Because "Health of the machines" is a completely nonsensical sentence.
Asst. Principal: But he used the word "machines" in the sentence. That's one of the key words. He gets that one right.
Teacher: {sigh} OK, I'll change the answer if you want, but it's the wrong answer. I'll mark all of them right if you want me to.
Asst. Principal: (Turning to the other teachers in the room) We have to be more careful when we grade these exams.
I'm not kidding. That actually happened.

OK, so now to the final tallying of scores:

First, they're in the process of raising the baseline pass score from 55 to 65, but they're doing it incrementally. This year's seniors need only one 65 and three 55s to pass. Next year, they'll need two 65s and two 55s and so on.

So you take the amount of answers answered correctly in parts one and three and add them together. Then, you look down the column of essay scores to see what the final exam score is. So, for instance, if the total correct answers for parts one and three is 40 (out of 64), then the student doesn't have to do better than a 4 out of 10 on the essays to pass the exam. Keep in mind, that could just mean writing two-sentence essays for each.

Here are some weird things that can happen with this grading system.
There are other weird things but basically, any combined score on parts one and three has added to it some amount for the essay, whether or not an essay is actually written. And the more points you get on parts one and two, the more points you get for NOT writing the essay. Combined 20 points will get you 2 extra points if you did not write the essay. Combined 40 points will get you 9 points if you did not write the essay. So, even though there are only 64 possible combined points for parts one and two, and that's one point below the 65 needed to pass for the higher pass score, the student will pass because even if they don't write the essay because they get an extra 17 points, pushing them to 81.

Also, NOBODY scores a 54 or a 64. If any student scores a 54 or 64, the teachers are 'encouraged' to go back and find that extra point so that student can pass.

Additionally, if you just look at how the essay points are weighted, each point on the essay exam is worth, on average, four points, making the total number of points for the exam approximately 104, not 100. (Actually, the average is higher than four points, because the initial bump can range from 1 point to 17 points depending on the combined score. I just don't fee like doing a lot of math right now. My gut tells me the average is about 8. Mathematically, the essays are weighted to account for the fact that the test only has 74 raw points. But the essay, which is the most flexible in scoring, is too heavily weighted.)

And this gets revamped every year and softened up. I have a scoring chart from 2007 and then, the passing grade for all was just 55 and there were 65 questions instead of 64. I also noticed that there were fewer points awarded for the essay section on the chart by an average of 2-3 points, especially in the lower ranges. Even when taking into consideration the extra multiple question (when compared to this year), it's still fewer points awarded, but since passing was 55, that's OK. Which means that when you hear anybody say "Oh, we're raising the passing grade level. Our requirements are getting more stringent." You know they're lying. Standards aren't being raised, scores are being artificially raised by adding more weight to the essay section.

Conclusion: So, bottom line, the test is fluffed, the grading is fluffed, the scoring is fluffed and so, in the end, the pass rate is fluffed. Bloomberg's claim that "pass rates have increased since he took control of the school system" is a bunch of hooey.

[There's another aspect of the school system that's been getting some coverage in the press of late and that's the issue of the so-called "Rubber Room" which is where they send teachers who have been accused of wrong doing to await their hearings. Sometimes, they can languish there for years. Now, someone is making a documentary about it. Watch the trailer.]

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Sunday, June 28, 2009

Someone To Watch Over Me

posted by The Sailor @ 11:38 AM Permalink

The Washington Post fired Dan Froomkin, one of the few journalist/columnist writers that wasn't a stenographer for the government. Here are portions of his last column, but I urge you to follow the link and read all of it:
White House Watched

Today's column is my last for The Washington Post.
I started my column in January 2004, and one dominant theme quickly emerged: That George W. Bush was truly the proverbial emperor with no clothes. In the days and weeks after the 9/11 terror attacks, the nation, including the media, vested him with abilities he didn't have and credibility he didn't deserve. As it happens, it was on the day of my very first column that we also got the first insider look at the Bush White House, via Ron Suskind's book, The Price of Loyalty. In it, former Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill described a disengaged president "like a blind man in a room full of deaf people", encircled by "a Praetorian guard,” intently looking for a way to overthrow Saddam Hussein long before 9/11. The ensuing five years and 1,088 columns really just fleshed out that portrait, describing a president who was oblivious, embubbled and untrustworthy.

When I look back on the Bush years, I think of the lies. There were so many. Lies about the war and lies to cover up the lies about the war. Lies about torture and surveillance. Lies about Valerie Plame. Vice President Dick Cheney's lies, criminally prosecutable but for his chief of staff Scooter Libby's lies. I also think about the extraordinary and fundamentally cancerous expansion of executive power that led to violations of our laws and our principles.
I don't understand why the WaPo would fire one of their few employees who got it right. But wherever Dan ends up writing next, I'll be reading.

Cross posted at SteveAudio

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Atheism is believing too!

posted by The Vidiot @ 11:22 AM Permalink

Anyone who says they are an atheist is as much a believer* as, well, a believer.
Budding atheists will be given lessons to arm themselves in the ways of rational scepticism. There will be sessions in moral philosophy and evolutionary biology along with more conventional pursuits such as trekking and tug-of-war. There will also be a £10 prize for the child who can disprove the existence of the mythical unicorn.
Think about it. A believer says "I know that there is a God. No doubt about it. It is knowledge, I possess it and I've internalized it. And I can prove it with my doctrine."

An atheist says "I know that there isn't a god. No doubt about it. It is knowledge, I possess it and I've internalized it. And I can prove it with my doctrine."

The only difference is the word "isn't" and that's not much of a difference, is it. Atheists are claiming to have knowledge of the unknowable, just as much as anybody who strongly believes there is a God.

Don't get me wrong, I have no problem if someone says they are an atheist, just like I have no problem with some who says they're a believer. It just seems to me that atheism is just as much of a dogma as believing is.

I, personally, am an agnostic. I have no idea if there is a god or not. How can one claim to have any knowledge of god, either of his existence or lack thereof, if it's unprovable either way?

*The reason I use the term "believer" instead of religio-nut or religious believer--or anything using the word pertaining to religion for that matter--is because there are believers in God who don't consider what they do as practicing a religion. Pentacostals, if you ask them, for the most part, won't say they're practicing a religion. They tend to prefer to describe it as having a personal relationship with God. They converse with him, they worship him and give him praise. To them, it's not a dogma or a religion, but rather it's having and maintaining an actual relationship with the Almighty.

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Ah, yes.

posted by The Vidiot @ 11:08 AM Permalink

Now that's change I can believe in!
The Obama administration...has drafted an executive order that would reassert presidential authority to incarcerate terrorism suspects indefinitely, according to three senior government officials with knowledge of White House deliberations.

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Saturday, June 27, 2009

Taibbi Strikes Again

posted by The Vidiot @ 2:53 PM Permalink

This time, he went after Goldman Sachs. If you read nothing else, read this.
Rubin was the prototypical Goldman banker. He was probably born in a $4,000 suit, he had a face that seemed permanently frozen just short of an apology for being so much smarter than you, and he exuded a Spock-like, emotion-neutral exterior; the only human feeling you could imagine him experiencing was a nightmare about being forced to fly coach.
The whole thing examines the Goldman-enabled bubbles from the Great Depression to tomorrow's Carbon tax.

Goldman sort of replied to the article here.
We reject the assertion that we are inflators of bubbles and profiteers in busts, and we are painfully conscious of the importance of being a force for good.
Suuure ya' are, buddy.

It'll make you want to bash your cable box to pieces... mostly because now, when you hear any economic news, you'll understand just how it's rigged against we the people.

As an aside, remember, in "1984", those reports they would issue every day? How many shoes they made, how much chocolate was available and all of the numbers were completely made up and meaningless? Well, lately, when I hear things like "durable goods are up" and "new housing starts are down" I get an immediate and all-encompassing feeling that I'm listening to a Big Brother report of meaningless and propagandizing data.

UPDATED THOUGHT: I don't think Taibbi is right when he lays all the blame at Goldman's doorstep. It wasn't just Goldman that did it. They all did it. The institution did it, or rather, it's the logic of the institution that created the right environment for it. The people are a part of the institution and merely play their roles. They're true believers, to be sure, which is why they performed so well. But they were driven by the logic of the institution: profit at all costs.

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Thursday, June 25, 2009

Try a Little Tenderness

posted by The Sailor @ 6:03 PM Permalink

One thing the Baptist churches I attended as a youth taught me: The folks who pray the loudest and cast the first stones are the biggest sinners. Personally, I think human failings are none of my business. But when people preach one thing and practice another they are fair game.

And when you're in the republican church, and we see how the politicians in the the RNC and GOP believe that their Party of No is washed in the blood of the lamb, they pray the loudest against; the gays (Larry Craig, Ted Haggard, Jeff Gannon, Gov. Christ, et al) ; and the adulterers, (Newt Gingrich, John McCain, David Vitter, John Ensign, Mark Sanford, et al). Except when their colleagues trip and fell over their dicks. As always, IOKIYAR.

Hey repubs? Look for the log in your eyes before searching for the mote in ours.

And if you want to keep your marriage & families together, gay or straight, maybe you should

Cross posted at SteveAudio

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Stupidly, I watched the news last night

posted by The Vidiot @ 7:31 AM Permalink

And they were 'reporting' on the Iran fracas and they put up a splash screen with the Twitter logo and they were using posts from Twitter... as if they were news!

Let that sink in for a minute; using Twitter posts as if they were actual news. I'll wait....

[insert "girl from ipanema" elevator music here]

OK, are you ready to scream yet?

The posts were outrageously graphic and inflammatory and there I was on the couch, LMAO. The posts sounded like they were written by a bunch off Hollywood hacks for a Harrison Ford movie from the 90s.

Seriously, am I the only one who sees this for what it is?

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Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Regarding Gov. Sanford

posted by The Vidiot @ 6:32 PM Permalink


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I just dropped in to see what condition my condition was in…

posted by Bill Arnett @ 10:34 AM Permalink

…[h/t to Reef]

Is it just me or have bush/cheney, king and queen aspirants, seemingly completely, entirely, and perhaps forever utterly discredited democracy, destroyed any faith people used to have in election results, so damaging the very ideals expressed in the U.S. Constitution that they have become meaningless.?

Look what's been happening in Minnesota ever since good ole boy Norm Coleman (R-Jerkoff) lost the '08 election to Al Franken but has yet to acknowledge defeat, despite being told by the courts there at least twice that he lost. He is willfully depriving the constituency of that state one of its two U.S. Senators. Is that democracy?

Think back to:

Illegal phone, internet, and mail invasions of every American without a court order.

Illegal spying on groups of American citizens guilty of no wrongdoing whatever and the compiling of dossiers on those groups.

Think about the Pentagon using some of its very most powerful spy satellites, not on foreign countries causing international concern, but instead using them to spy on American citizens.

Think for a moment of the fact that you no longer enjoy the right to travel freely using any means of public transportation if your name appears on some arbitrarily composed 'terrorist watch list' of millions of names, composed by unknown people using unknown criteria.

How 'bout all those acknowledged FBI abuses of 'National Security Letters' to obtain information unlawfully and without judicial review?

Know now that the government wants to regulate your travel to Canada for goodness sakes, a country that from jump street has been an ally to America. Now you need a passport to travel to the best neighbor and friend a country could have.

Think how abused has been the 'State Secrets Act' to deny persons or companies from pursuing a case just by the mere assertion of the act without any showing that states secrets would actually be revealed if the case proceeded?

The GOP, republicans, allegedly devout defenders of America and the Rule of Law are now using every means within their power to obstruct the Senate, to stop the implementation of ideas and legislation by the Democratic party at all costs, even though they might agree that the ideas or legislature are sound? Obstructing just to obstruct, damaging the American legislative process, denying their constituents effective stewards of their wants and needs, even if it means betraying America as well. They will, have, and will continue to deliberately obstruct and betray America as the cowards, loudmouths, blowhards, idiots, and traitors they have become as a political party.

But lest you think this diatribe is strictly anti-republican, look at how reluctant Obama has become to relinquish the ability to also claim 'state secrets' to stop court cases cold, his failure to completely restore the right of habeas corpus to our people, whom has taken advantage of republican malfeasance in office to secure tax payer dollars to shore up shipwrecked corporations that used the republican mantra of 'trickle down economics' and 'fewer regulations and regulatory agencies' to bend the Statute of Liberty right over and stick the high hard one to her without benefit of regulatory condoms to prevent the unwanted pregnancy which they will insist not be aborted even if Lady Liberty will otherwise die.

Why do Americans pretend to be gods on earth? We have bigger, more destructive power (to include nuclear weapons) than any country on earth – for now. Given our dire financial straits other countries are able to continue weapons development unabated and unswayed by the paper tiger threats of a bankrupt, both monetarily and morally, America. While Kim Jong Il provides comic relief and the magicians aids trained to distract your attention you can bet China continues steadily with their stealth submarine programs, negating their need to build long range missiles. Why bother when you can park hundreds of undetectable subs loaded for nuclear bear right off our shorelines. And in case you think that impossible, read this:
Two years ago, a Chinese sub shocked the U.S. Navy by surfacing within torpedo range of the USS Kitty Hawk aircraft carrier near the Japanese island of Okinawa. Beijing claimed the sub was in international waters and was not "stalking" the carrier, which was taking part in a naval exercise.
All of these things tend to point towards the end of democracy as a legitimate form of government, with the American government working just as hard, if not harder, than foreign countries seeking that goal. This is already NOT the America that I, or anyone else over 50, grew up in. It is unrecognizable as the beacon of hope and freedom it used to represent.

America, American government, democracy, and the freedoms and rights we formerly enjoyed are in grave danger, as much so from the inside as from the other countries threatening us all.

But these are only some of the thing about which I ruminate, there are many more, but hey, my mind shuts down twice a day so I could be wrong.

I just know that you don't look at bear footprints and say, "Oh! Look! Kitty went this way!"

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A decent dissection of the Iranian election

posted by The Vidiot @ 7:46 AM Permalink

By sociologist James Petras.
The recently concluded, June 12, 2009 elections in Iran are a classic case: The incumbent nationalist-populist President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (MA) received 63.3% of the vote (or 24.5 million votes), while the leading Western-backed liberal opposition candidate Hossein Mousavi (HM) received 34.2% or (3.2 million votes). Iran’s presidential election drew a record turnout of more than 80% of the electorate, including an unprecedented overseas vote of 234,812, in which HM won 111,792 to MA’s 78,300. The opposition led by HM did not accept their defeat and organized a series of mass demonstrations that turned violent, resulting in the burning and destruction of automobiles, banks, public building and armed confrontations with the police and other authorities. Almost the entire spectrum of Western opinion makers, including all the major electronic and print media, the major liberal, radical, libertarian and conservative web-sites, echoed the opposition’s claim of rampant election fraud.

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More 9/11 truth is seeping out

posted by The Vidiot @ 7:40 AM Permalink

Here's a guy who was a videographer for FEMA during 9/11 and boy does he have a few beans to spill:
We are asked to believe that all four of the “indestructible” black boxes of the two jets that struck the twin towers were never found because they were completely vaporized, yet I have footage of the rubber wheels of the landing gear nearly undamaged, as well as the seats, parts of the fuselage and a jet turbine that were absolutely not vaporized. This being said, I do find it rather odd that such objects could have survived fairly intact the type of destruction that turned most of the Twin Towers into thin dust. And I definitely harbor some doubts about the authenticity of the “jet” turbine, far too small to have come from one of the Boeings!
He is asking for political asylum in Argentina. He's being harassed and threatened. I think I have to buy his book.


Tuesday, June 23, 2009

As in all totalitarian states...

posted by The Vidiot @ 7:45 AM Permalink

The government encourages its citizens to do their own policing. And the lemmings comply.

Washington Square Park has always been a sort of bohemian hangout as well as a tourist location. In one corner, you had the wealthier neighborhood people socializing with their dogs. In another corner, you had patchouli soaked pot heads playing bad folk music. Near the center you had street performers and skateboard geeks. Then, in 2007, they closed it down for renovations. Granted, it may have needed a bit of a face lift, but now that its reopening, the neighborhood coalition of rich folks and the largest property owner around the park, NYU, are forming a 'citizen's watch' group to scoot the riff-raff out.
The founder of the Coalition, Gil Horowitz, told the paper, "There are wealthy New Yorkers that are public-minded. We have brought together some very high-level people in order to get this done. Radicals see this as a form of the loss of their public space but we see this as securing the public space so it is civilized and better for them and for us."
Civilized for whom? Better for whom?

Oh, right. I forgot. Only people in the monied class deserve to enjoy our parks and open spaces. The poor or pot smoking riff raff can go find somewhere else to make their noise.

Honestly, I didn't know if this blog post should be about a police state or yet another screed against Bloomberg's prettifying of the city. On both fronts, it pisses me off.

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Monday, June 22, 2009

Made in the USA

posted by The Vidiot @ 1:12 PM Permalink

It's obvious that the West has had something to do with the mess in Iran.
The following summary, with extensive links, highlights the major evidence that suggests western intelligence agencies are aiding in stirring up unrest inside Iran as part of a "color revolution" to foment regime change.
(Another analysis can be found here.)

Also, if you read Obama's speech on the issue,
The Iranian government must understand that the world is watching. We mourn each and every innocent life that is lost. We call on the Iranian government to stop all violent and unjust actions against its own people. The universal rights to assembly and free speech must be respected, and the United States stands with all who seek to exercise those rights.
it really does sound like the US had something to do with it. It seems like so much grandstanding. "The world is watching" indeed.

But my favorite denial of all time comes from Feinstein.
Senator Dianne Feinstein, who chairs the Senate Intelligence Committee, said officials responsible for US clandestine operations had given assurances that they had not interfered in the Iranian elections or the ensuing protests.

"I don't think our intelligence candidly is that good," she told CNN.
It's not that the CIA is competent enough to orchestrate such a thing. They're not. BUT they have been known to stumble into a few things. Throw enough crap up against the wall and something is bound to stick. And, oddly, the country they've had the most luck with outside of Latin America is Iran.

UPDATE: Wow, it really is beginning to look like 1953.
Iran's one-time crown prince Reza Pahlavi said Monday that week-long protests in his country were supported by much of the military and clerical establishment and could end up bringing down the entire Islamic government. Pahlavi, who has sought an end to the Islamic regime since his father was deposed in the 1979 revolution, said he had sources within the military and intelligence that were ready to switch sides.

"It's almost a revolutionary climate," an at-times teary-eyed Pahlavi told reporters in Washington. "Let me assure you, (the movement) will not die because we will not let it die."
Here comes the Shah, here comes the Shah...

UDPATE 2: This seals it for me. This whole thing in Iraq is totally being fabricated and managed by the CIA/Neocons types.
The defeat of the movement protesting the outcome of presidential elections 10 days ago would not only threaten global stability but could lead to nuclear war, Pahlavi told a news conference here.
Of course, if you don't let them win, then there will be a nuclear war. Now, where have we heard that before???? Hmmmm, let me think....Oh, now I remember.


Sunday, June 21, 2009

Sake and Japanese food in Brooklyn

posted by The Vidiot @ 11:50 PM Permalink

Mr. Vidiot and I are always trying to find new places to try out regional cuisine. It doesn't have to be weird or particularly exotic, although we'll do that too, but really, it just needs to be authentic.

Well, we found a place that serves real Japanese home cooking. It's called Kappa Sake House and it's at 388 Fifth Avenue between 6th and 7th in Park Slope. It's not American Japanese food, where you get a california roll with too-salty soy sauce. It's not all sushi either, which it does have, but it has stuff that we've never tried before like Saba Shio (broiled mackerel with Japanese sea salt) which had a delicious salty crust and the meat was tender, moist and flakey. We also had the Tsukune (home-made chicken meat balls with original Teriyaki sauce). She served the Tsukune with a poached egg. The teriyaki sauce wasn't the overly sweet sauce one is is used to from standard American-style Japanese restaurants and you wouldn't think a poached egg would add flavor, and maybe it doesn't, but it certainly enhances it.

Additionally, she has an excellent sake and Japanese beer menu and she will help you pair your food choices with your drink. (She suggested the Saba Shio and Tsukune because we were drinking sake and she was right.) She's extremely personable and we felt comfortable just talking to her and getting her advice on the different sakes (there are so many to try!) and what Japanese home cooking really is.

I know many of our readers live in NYC and many others visit. This place should be put on your list of restaurants to try.

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Why I Don't Like Mike

posted by The Vidiot @ 10:40 AM Permalink

Mike Bloomberg that is, NYC's wealthiest mayor. He never met a development project he didn't like.

I've been saying for years that NYC just isn't what it used to be. Giuliani started it by making everything illegal, including the time-honored tradition of NYC jaywalking. Then Bloomberg moved in and starting turning the place into the magic kingdom.

Right now, development is running so rampant you can't walk a block without seeing something in the process of development; either it's being razed or raised. Seriously, there a parts of Manhattan that has so much scaffolding, you don't need an umbrella on a rainy day. Here in Brooklyn, it's worse. I hardly recognize the borough and its inhabitants anymore. Even the accent is disappearing.

Besides the Ratner arena project that abused eminent domain so bad that I think it will someday be used as an example in the history books as one of the worst consequences of capitalism, there is a huge project being developed near a poisoned waterfront called the Gowanus.

Now, the Gowanus is... um, a special waterway. During the war years, it was one of the primary ways munitions made their way from the factories to the ships. Tons of industry set up along the waterway and as a consequence, tons of pollutants were dumped into it. Then, in the late 60s, some numbnut literally dropped a wrench in the pump that moved the water out of the canal and the machine remained broken for thirty years. During that time, all the poisons settled onto the bottom, along with several lost munitions that had fallen off the boats and probably more than a few bodies dropped into it from various mafia hits and other murders. It's a stagnant, pungent waterway. So pungent that walking anywhere near it on a humid summer day is near impossible. (They finally fixed the pump a few years ago. It still smells though, but not as bad.)

Now, some developers, the Toll brothers, want to build a monstrosity of a development on the Gowanus waterfront and of course, Bloomberg thinks it's just a great idea and his building departments rezoned the development area to the Toll brothers specifications.

Then along came a monkey wrench: the EPA wants to declare the Gowanus a superfund site and clean it up. The Toll brothers freaked out, called on their buddy Bloomberg to denounce the superfund plan and Bloomberg, in turn, brought out all his cronies to say they same. Now, there's a propaganda campaign being run by the Toll brothers to subvert the superfund plan, even though everyone who lives and works around the canal, for the most part, believes it should be a superfund site. It's quite the display.

OK, so now you have the background. Here's a way better story on it written by a way better writer:
Bloomberg, suddenly hearing that one of his peeps (i.e., wealthy developers) was in peril, immediately came out against the clean-up. Again, the main concern was that the Toll Brothers would be negatively impacted. Lots of other pols came out against it, too, including the super-slimy Bill DeBlasio, who takes a bath in extra virgin olive oil every morning so as to render himself as slippery as possible. No surprise there, after the Tolls spent near half a mil on lobbying City Hall for the zoning change that gave them the ability to build on the canal. Nobody, meanwhile, seemed to be thinking about the communities of Gowanus, Boerum Hill and Carroll Gardens, and how the rejection of a free clean-up of a poisoned canal might effect them.
It goes on and gives a pretty good picture of what living here is like these days, especially if you're involved with the community.


Friday, June 19, 2009

Anarchy? Communes? Communism? Wha?

posted by The Vidiot @ 2:10 PM Permalink

So, my mom sent me an article from the New York Times about some book written by some people in France that seemed to have anarchy and radicalism written all over it. I read the article which described a book called "The Coming Insurrection" written by the Invisible Committee.
The book, which predicts the imminent collapse of capitalist culture, was inspired by disruptive demonstrations that took place over the last few years in France and Greece. It was influenced stylistically by Guy Debord, a French writer and filmmaker who was a leader of the Situationist International, a group of intellectuals and artists who encouraged the Paris protests of 1968.
So you can see why she might think I like it. Though the fact that the New York Times was covering it immediately made it suspect.

I found the book/pamphlet online and I read it and printed it out so Mr. Vidiot could read it. Was it remarkable? No. It had its moments, some of it was interesting, but for the most part, it seemed like a bunch of mildly educated kids regurgitating some thoughts. I knew it wasn't great, but I didn't know why. I couldn't put my finger on it, but I knew my instincts were right. Mr. Vidiot, however, found it a bit laughable and could express the reasons easily.

For instance, he explained that this is impossible because it reifies money:
A commune tends by its nature towards self-sufficiency and considers money, internally, as something foolish and ultimately out of place. The power of money is to connect those who are unconnected, to link strangers as strangers and thus, by making everything equivalent, to put everything into circulation.
The reification of money continues into the next paragraph:
The reign of money is, therefore, always the reign of control. The practical abolition of money will happen only with the extension of communes. Communes must be extended while making sure they do not exceed a certain size, beyond which they lose touch with themselves and give rise, almost without fail, to a dominant caste. It would be preferable for the commune to split up and to spread in that way, avoiding such an unfortunate outcome.
See, money cannot, in itself, connect anything. Money is powerless in and of itself. Money does not and can not reign all on its own. Additionally, the abolition of money doesn't equal the abolition of power. Power relations existed before money, indeed before institutions, before capitalism.

Mr. Vidiot can pretty much go through the entire book like that. It's annoying, but he's good at it. Too bad he's writing his dissertation. He would've torn apart the whole thing.

His bottom line thought on it was that they were arguing for utopia and utopia is unrealistic, unattainable and, quite frankly, boring. I also think he was offended by their use of NOLA and Katrina as examples of effective communes. There was NOTHING effective about post-Katrina NOLA, except in the minds of maybe a few idealistic and doe-eyed, well-educated kids.

Read it at your peril.

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posted by The Vidiot @ 7:43 AM Permalink

The power of the State is obvious. Just read the headlines:
They can protect their friends, control other governments, they celebrate violence against the people, they'll imprison you whether you're guilty or not, they support war against others and their own people, they'll lie to their own people, and the list could go on and on, but my computer is too old and slow and I think my point is made.

Those headlines, and others, DO NOT reflect a government whose best interests lie with the people they are supposed to represent and support.

So why do we support them?


Thursday, June 18, 2009

And in the interest of Amurican Justice everywhere…

posted by Bill Arnett @ 1:40 PM Permalink

…our SCOTUS, in its collective wisdom, has ruled that convicted persons have no right to have a dna test done to try and prove their innocence after already having served lengthy sentences. From the NYT:
“DNA testing has an unparalleled ability both to exonerate the wrongly convicted and to identify the guilty,” the majority conceded, in an opinion written by Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. “The availability of new DNA testing, however, cannot mean that every criminal conviction, or even every conviction involving biological evidence, is suddenly in doubt.” [Of course it doesn't, but there should be certain exceptions to a law like this if we are truly interested in justice. Bill]

In addition, the majority reasoned, it is not so much up to the federal courts as it is to the state legislatures to establish rules “to harness DNA’s power to prove innocence without unnecessarily overthrowing the established criminal justice system.”…

Justice John Paul Stevens wrote a dissent expressing his dismay that the majority had chosen to approve of Alaska’s denial of the evidence sought by the defendant. “The DNA test Osborne seeks is a simple one, its cost modest, and its results uniquely precise,” Justice Stevens said.

Since 1992, 238 people in the United States, some who were sitting on death row, have been exonerated of crimes through DNA testing. In many of those cases, the DNA testing used to clear them was not available at the time of the crime.
My word! We cannot tolerate the injustice of seeing an innocent man go free after many years in prison!

So, okay, these facts involve a single case in Alaska (guess the guy wasn't killing enough wolves from low and slow flying aircraft with powerful rifles and watching them writhe in pain until death, you know, like Shotgun Sarah) so please read the linked article as I, here, have addressed only the most vile and disgusting aspect of this decision.

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Global Warming? Really?

posted by The Vidiot @ 8:00 AM Permalink

Now, I understand weather patterns. I really do, remember, I could be considered a weather girl. However, I have to say, it's June, I live in NYC, and I'm freezing my butt off in the freezing cold and near constant rain.

I'm not complaining mind you. The more cool days we have, the fewer hot days I'll have to live through. Postpone the heat for as long as possible. I know it's selfish of me. I know that I'll not see any good corn this summer, but dammit, we don't have AC and no AC + NYC summer = one of the rings of Hell, and definitely one of the inner rings at that.

But I'm reading about the late start of summer just about everywhere. June snow in one of the Dakotas. Hail in New Jersey. I mean, it's weird. Yet, the media is still screaming global warming and ideas for more taxes are being bandied about the halls of power.

I'm not saying there's no global warming. There may well be. Do I think humans cause it? I don't know. Seems the earth warmed and cooled all by itself without any intervention from us for millenniums. I'm more comfortable saying that the human race are pigs and are making a crap storm out of the planet just with their filth. Should that be taxed? Well, I doubt it's my light bulb that's doing it so I'm loath to give more of my money to the government because of my light bulb. Now, the fellas that MAKE the light bulb however, well that's a different story. Tax them and don't let them dribble down that tax to us. If they don't want to pay the tax, they have to come up with a better way to make the damn light bulb. Why should we suffer?

I just feel like this whole global warming thing is yet another way to socially control the population. Gives them another thing they can dictate to us; telling us what we can do and how to do it.

Any more social control and my head will explode. I feel stifled as it is.

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The (S)election In iran

posted by The Vidiot @ 7:34 AM Permalink

I have no idea who really won. Juan Cole, a pretty knowledgeable professor, seems to think Mousavi won. Robert Fisk, who has remained in Iran to cover the aftermath of the election, initially thought it was stolen, but now thinks that Ahmadinejad won, only that the numbers were beefed up to humiliate Mousavi. There has been tons of parsing of the twittering coming out of Iran, most of it pro Mousavi, and none of it is verifiable as actual inside-Iran twitters. (Interestingly, the Obama administration asked Twitter to not update its servers until after the crisis had passed so as not to disrupt the alleged Iran twittering. Could go either way with that; either the US is the one doing the twittering or the twitters are real and the US doesn't want to appear to be interfering.)

(HahahahahahHAHHAHAHAHhhahaha! OK, Sorry. "US doesn't want to appear to be interfering." Sometimes I crack myself up.)

I have no idea what to make of it all. Could it be 1953 all over again? Could the US Government, by way of the usual CIA tactics, be attempting a coup in Iran? Mousavi is definitely the West's guy. The neocons want him in for sure. And it's not like the US doesn't have a history of manipulating elections and installing a puppet in order to get what they want. And one thing you can say about Ahmadinejad is he is NOT a puppet of the US. He sometimes plays into US hands, and he definitely somebody's puppet, but he's not OUR puppet.

All the demonstrations (complete with signage in English no less), all of the media spin, points to the fact that the US government wanted Mousavi to be elected. SO, I have to say, just on that point alone, I have to agree with Fisk. I think Ahmadinejad won, just not as big as the results indicate. And additionally, my own thought is that the Ayatollah ordered the numbers beefed up as a big F-you to the US (via Mousavi), just to slap some icing on that bad daddy.

Just another nail in the coffin of US hegemony.

As an aside, I find it fascinating that those folks who wouldn't possibly consider that the US elections are falsified, are so willing and ready to jump on the "election was stolen" bandwagon when it comes to Iran. It can't happen here, they think, but there, well, of course THERE it's what they do. It's not us, but them.

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Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Celebrate Good Times

posted by The Sailor @ 8:43 PM Permalink

The Chicago PD is planning to celebrate their 41st anniversary of their police riot during the 1968 Democratic Convention.

In addition to their proud moments of gassing and beating non-violent protesters they should celebrate beating barmaids, torturing people, beating handcuffed people in wheelchairs, [ED: his fellow cops, who did nothing to stop the beating, not only go free, but complain about his sentence.] and it's not like they don't have a history of such acts.

These cops were out of control in 1968, previous to 1968, and 41 years later they are still out of control.

The only 2 places I have ever been solicited for a bribe were Mexican border guards and CPD. I paid both times. It's really hard to argue with a man with a gun in his hand.

So go ahead CPD, celebrate your torture, your beatings, your trashing of laws and the constitution.

And may you all be sentenced to LWOP with your worst nightmare as a cellmate.

Cross posted at SteveAudio


Every Breath You Take

posted by The Sailor @ 5:26 PM Permalink

ABC News in flap over health care special

ABC News has drawn fire for an upcoming special on President Barack Obama's health care plan after rejecting a Republican request for airtime.
During the special, the president will discuss his health care plan and answer questions from a cross-section of Americans. [ED: the participants & questions are picked by ABC, not the WH] But the event will not include an official Republican Party response, prompting the Republican National Committee to complain to the network.

"I find it outrageous that ABC would prohibit our party's opposing thoughts and ideas from this national debate, which affects millions of ABC viewers," wrote RNC chief of staff Ken McKay in a letter posted on Drudge Report. "I am concerned this event will become a glorified infomercial to promote the Democrat agenda. If that is the case, this primetime infomercial should be paid for out of the DNC coffers. President Obama does not hold a monopoly on health care reform ideas or on free airtime."
Well, in the 1st place, Obama speaks for America, not the democrats and not the DNC. 2nd, not even all democrats are on board, kinda shoots down that whole democratic agenda thing. 3rd, the RNC is a political arm of republican politicians and doesn't even represent the 21% of voters who self-identify as republicans. 4th, to repeat, Americans who will be affected, unlike politicians who already get public health care, get to ask the questions.

Gosh, with their faux outrage, it's almost like they are calling for the Fairness Doctrine to be reinstated.

The real joke is "I find it outrageous that ABC would prohibit our party's opposing thoughts and ideas from this national debate"
Republicans Unveil Health Plan but Are Thin on Details

House Republicans presented a four-page outline of their health care reform plan Wednesday but said they didn’t know yet how much it would cost, how they would pay for it and how many of the nearly 50 million Americans without insurance would be covered by it.

Rep. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), who heads a GOP health task force, said that when the details are drafted in the coming weeks, they would present a plan that “costs far less than the Democrats’ [plan] and provides better results for the American people.”

But Republicans who stayed at the press conference to answer questions — the leaders made statements but didn’t stay — could not answer whether their plan would include a tax increase to pay for such costly items as refundable tax credits for low- and middle-income workers to help pay for insurance.

Other reforms proposed by the GOP were largely minor tweaks to a system that House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) said is already the “best health care system in the world.”

“We want to work within the existing market structure,” said Rep. Joe Barton (R-Texas), ranking member on the Energy and Commerce Committee.
Of course Boner (R-Boneless) says he has the “best health care system in the world.”, he has the best taxpayer funded health care in the world!

Now let's look at "the existing market structure" of health care:
Health insurers refuse to limit rescission of coverage

Executives of three of the nation's largest health insurers told federal lawmakers in Washington on Tuesday that they would continue canceling medical coverage for some sick policyholders, despite withering criticism from Republican and Democratic members of Congress who decried the practice as unfair and abusive.

The hearing on the controversial action known as rescission, which has left thousands of Americans burdened with costly medical bills despite paying insurance premiums, began a day after President Obama outlined his proposals for revamping the nation's healthcare system.

Cross posted at SteveAudio

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I feel the earth move under my feet I feel the sky tumbling down tumbling down…

posted by Bill Arnett @ 10:56 AM Permalink

…which has been the way I've been feeling the last couple of weeks or more, but not in a good way as Carol King sang it.

Medications I've taken for years suddenly turned on me, erupting to do violence upon my skin. Ever had to cover yourself from top to bottom with a gooey ointment, then cover that with Saran Wrap, replete with rubber gloves on both hands twice a day for over a week? It's virtually impossible to type with rubber gloves on, take my word for it. And I'll never buy Saran Wrap ever again in my life.

On top of that the rapidly changing "mini-environment" of the S.F. By Area lit up every pain sensor in my body so the V.A. doubled (again) my morphine dosages, which also does not lend itself well to clarity of thought. Hard to write cohesively when you forget your name every few minutes…what was I saying?

But the saddest most vile and disgusting thing as I start to regain the ability to think and enjoy free will is that those idiotic, ignorant, waste-of-skin-windbags in the republican party are still playing the party of no - for no reason I can discern - and betraying both their country and their constituents. Cowards! Pusillanimous pussyfooters in the very finest Spiro Agnew sense of those words. Maybe more republicans need to follow in Agnew's steps and land themselves in jail for tax evasion or whatever is chic this year (they already molest children, cheat on their wives, try to force dying people to become lab rats in experiments to see just how long a totally brain dead person can be kept alive, and they will soon, if they get their way, get to chain women to hospital beds and force them to bear a child resulting from rape or incest, and totally without regard to the health of the mother.)

And they even have Governor Arnold to give voice to their sentiments, "If she dies, she dies, only the unborn child matters and we will kill anyone who disagrees with us."

So after finally curing my skin and fighting through my morphine haze attempting to achieve partial clarity of thought I turn on cable news again and what do I find?

SSDD. It just doesn't seem fair does it?

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Tuesday, June 16, 2009

UPS vs Fed Ex

posted by The Vidiot @ 8:46 PM Permalink

UPS wins.

That's it. Fed Ex has a "we're God, so you don't have to" attitude that gets them nowhere. I've had packages vacationing in France when they're supposed to be in Tel Aviv. One time, I had a shipment literally 6 miles from where it needed to be but couldn't be delivered until 3 days later. And Fed Ex's response? I'm sorry, but it got there, so even though it was unusable, we still have to charge you and we won't reimburse you for loss of use or waste of time-sensitive materials.

UPS, on the other hand, tried to deliver a package twice in one day because the first time, there was nobody home.

They win. That's it. Fed Ex Sucks.

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I'm sorry

posted by The Vidiot @ 8:29 PM Permalink

but did anyone actually watch the second Highlander movie? In Highlander 2: The Quickening, MacLeod used his vast knowledge to create a shield around the planet due to a climate issue and the planet completely sucks because of his 'shield' idea. The franchise, ever since, has preferred to treat the second installment as if it never happened because it was so bad.
Climate researcher Ken Caldeira was skeptical when he first heard about the idea of shading the Earth a decade ago in a talk by nuclear weapons scientist Lowell Wood.

"He basically said, 'We don't have to bother with emissions reduction. We can just throw aerosols — little dust particles — into the stratosphere, and that'll cool the earth.' And I thought, 'Oh, that'll never work,'
As an aside, Ken was part of my graduate program at NYU when I was getting my masters in atmospheric science and fluid dynamics (Yes, I'm either a weather girl or a rocket scientist, depending on the joke I'm telling). I remember absolutely nothing about him, which is about how much I remember of my coursework. I'm not sure if he was a professor, assistant professor, a TA or a student. He was that unremarkable to me. However, I'm sure he wouldn't appreciate me saying that. I mean, who would?


Venturing into the unknown

posted by The Sailor @ 5:53 PM Permalink

Updated below for additional SteveAudio input.

Bob Bogle, founding member of The Ventures, is now playing in a more heavenly venue. I can't say it any better than The Ventures' site does:
Bob Bogle 1934-2009

Jun, 14 2009
It is with profound sadness and grief that we must inform Ventures' fans all over the world that Bob Bogle passed away on Sunday, June 14. Our thoughts and prayers are with Bob's family at this terrible time, especially his beloved wife, Yumi, who has been the light of his life for so many years. The Ventures' members are completely devasted, and share the pain of this loss with all our friends and fans. As more information becomes available, it will be posted here, and we hope to set up a section on this site for messages from those who wish to post them.

The music world has lost a true original and an innovator - may all our wonderful memories console us.
It's somewhat comforting to know that Bob lived long enough to see The Ventures inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2008.

As I wrote in 2006:
Why Aren't The Ventures in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame!?

The Ventures are still touring with the surviving original members and have sold 110+ million albums worldwide. They are the biggest selling instrumental rock & roll group of all time. They've influenced everyone from Jimi Hendrix to Joe Satriani to countless players who didn't have a clue as to who helped forge their style.

So I'm instituting the 1st ever vidiotspeak drive ... no, not for something as crass as $$, but to get The Ventures into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
SteveAudio actually had the honor to work with The Ventures:
Oddly enough, I, too, played with The Ventures. For about an hour, in 1980. They had used a keyboard player named Biff Vincent for a few tours, and I did tech work for his studio, at the time located in Costa Mesa, CA.

While I was there one day, installing some new equipment, he was working on something with Mel Taylor and Don Wilson, drummer and rhythm guitarist from The Ventures. They were trying to record something for a demo using a Vocoder, and Don, being a rhythm player, couldn't quite get it.

Biff knew that I played quite a lot, and asked if I would mind, and of course I said yes. So I played guitar on a Ventures demo for about an hour, long ago, far away.

That, of course, means nothing in the big picture. What really matters is that these guys played rock instrumental guitar music, at a time when it was all brand new. and for that, they deserve inclusion into the R'n'R HOF.
Here's Tacoma's News Tribune quoting co-founder Don Wilson:
“Boy, I tell you, he’s the brother I never had,”
“And he is much more than any brother could be. He and I were partners for, like, 52 years. And to tell you the honest truth, we had never, ever had an argument in all that time — never.”
“If you listen to ‘Walk, Don’t Run’ and ‘Perfidia,’ the lead guitar is just totally unique,” Wilson said. “He used that vibrato bar – they call it a whammy bar – and he used it like nobody else.

“Nobody had heard anything like it. That was why ‘Walk, Don’t Run’ was such a monster hit. I run across so many people, guitar players – famous ones - and they say the first song I learned was ‘Walk, Don’t Run’.”

And 40 years later:

Thanks Bob, Telstar never shined so bright that you didn't eclipse it.

Update (SteveAudio):

Instrumental songs are something many rock listeners today don't think about. They have been important in all types of pop music all through the 20th Century, and especially once the electric guitar emerged as the instrument that would define rock.

When I started playing in bands in '63, instrumentals were mandatory. And while many famous instrumentals still get air play today, from Sleepwalk to Rumble to Tequila to Miserlou, The Ventures made the unusual career of recording virtually only instrumentals.

Every aspiring guitarist of the early '60s knew most of The Ventures' repertoire. But the song that defined them and was arguably the high point of their career was indeed "Walk, Don't Run". While many early rock instrumentals were fairly simplistic and often downright primitive, The Ventures' work, due to their ages and jazz experiences, showed much more subtlety than most rock did in 1960 when WDR was recorded and released.

But that makes sense when you consider that they didn't write the song. Jazz guitar great Johnny Smith did. They took his not loud but hard-swinging song and gave it a rock feel.

Here are 3 songs of Johnny's "Walk Don't Run" (1954) album, starting with the eponymous title song:

Listen to all 3 songs, they're all pretty great.

Update 2:

Please see my friend Max's post at Crooks & Liars:
The Ventures (the best selling instrumental band of all time) are the style's finest. Bob Bogle may be gone, but he's in every whammy bar shake on a Stratocaster for some time to come.


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Monday, June 15, 2009

And the beat goes on

posted by The Sailor @ 5:52 PM Permalink

Some say Holocaust Memorial shooting signals a broader war
Home invasion suspects tied to border group

Two of three people arrested in a southern Arizona home invasion that left a little girl and her father dead had connections to a Washington state anti-illegal immigration group that conducts border watch activities in Arizona.
While the self-proclaimed Minutemen are now distancing themselves from this "Minutemen American Defense" group, it's important to note what Jim Gilchrist, President of The Minuteman Project commented on an earlier news article:The Minuteman Project is proud to be a supporter of Shawna Forde’s Minutemen(women) American Defense (M.A.D.)

And the hits just keep on coming:
Far-Right Shootings Raise Fear of Hate Offensive in America

Von Brunn wrote in a note: "The Holocaust was a lie. Obama was created by Jews." Von Brunn, who shot dead Stephen Johns before being shot himself, is in hospital and has been charged with murder.
Two weeks ago Kansas-based abortion doctor George Tiller was gunned down in a church by an anti-abortion campaigner. In April, Joshua Cartwright shot dead two policemen in Florida after a domestic disturbance. Police interviews established that he was "severely disturbed" that Obama had been elected. In North Carolina a former marine is facing charges after police investigating an armed robbery found a private journal containing a plan to kill Obama and white supremacist material.

In January, the day after Obama was inaugurated, a white man in Brockton, Massachusetts, went on a gun spree that killed two blacks. He also had links to white supremacist groups. That followed another shooting spree last summer in which an unemployed truck driver in Tennessee shot two people dead at a church. The gunman, Jim Adkisson, left a note saying he was targeting the church because of its liberal and gay-friendly outlook.

But perhaps the most disturbing recent incident involving the far right happened in December 2008, when police investigated the murder of James Cummings in Maine. Searching his house, they discovered literature on how to build a dirty bomb and many ingredients that could have been used to make such a weapon. Cummings, who collected Nazi memorabilia, had amassed four barrels of radioactive material.
And just in case you think these are 'isolated incidents' by 'lone wolf gunmen', you should know and understand that Pat Buchanan, one of the most invited and quoted wrongwing pundits on TV has invited a white supremacist to speak to his conference:
Leading White Nationalist To Speak At Pat Buchanan’s American Cause Conference This Month

Cross posted at SteveAudio

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Must die, must die, this Jesus must, Jesus must, Jesus must die!

posted by The Sailor @ 1:53 PM Permalink

While most of the anti-choice outlets are distancing themselves from the murder of Dr. Tiller, and put out press releases denouncing the 'left' for politicizing the event, they were also putting out calls to their fellows to politicize it. e.g
How Tiller's Death and Office Closing can Help Propel Pro-Life Movement
Even more disturbing is christain pastors calling and praying for Obama's death:
Colmes: ...you then said, I asked for whom else are you praying in that fashion and you said President Obama. Are you praying for his death?

Drake: Yes.

Colmes: So you're praying for the death of the president of the United States?

Drake: Yes.
WWJD? Well I won't pretend that I have conversations with Jesus, (or god), but I can't see the Prince of Peace praying for anyone's death, or walking up behind a man in church and assassinating him.

Cross posted at SteveAudio

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Friday, June 12, 2009

Let's just poke a stick in his eye

posted by The Vidiot @ 10:24 PM Permalink

and see if he reacts.
The U.N. Security Council imposed punishing new sanctions on North Korea Friday, toughening an arms embargo and authorizing ship searches on the high seas in an attempt to thwart the reclusive nation's nuclear and ballistic missile programs.
Excuse me, but wasn't it the ship searches that twisted Kim Jong Il's knickers in the first place?

Just askin'.

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News that isn't news

posted by The Vidiot @ 10:20 PM Permalink

Key health care senators have industry ties

Senators held stock in bailed-out banks

I'm shocked SHOCKED I tell you.

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posted by The Vidiot @ 1:49 PM Permalink

You may have caught a glimpse of something in the news recently about indigenous uprisings in Peru. I had read a bit about it, but here's a good summation of what it is all about. (Hint: Western-style Capitalism's usual bad behavior.)
In early June, Peruvian President Alan García, an ally of US President Barack Obama, ordered armored personnel carriers, helicopter gun-ships and hundreds of heavily armed troops to assault and disperse a peaceful, legal protest organized by members of Peru’s Amazonian indigenous communities protesting the entry of foreign multinational mining companies on their traditional homelands.

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My Congresscritter did something I agree with?!

posted by The Vidiot @ 9:35 AM Permalink

It's like I woke up in a parallel universe or something.
Congressman Kucinich, along with Rep. Edolphus Towns (D-NY), announced Tuesday that the House Financial Services Committee will subpoena the Federal Reserve to ascertain the details of the Fed’s agreements with Bank of America in the institution’s acquisition of Merrill Lynch.
I can hardly believe it. Additionally, Kucinich signed on to HR 1207 which is Ron Paul's audit the Fed bill. It now has majority support in the House.

Now, normally, I wouldn't recommend that you call your Congresscritters or $enators and tell them to do anything because chances are likely that they'll not do anything that doesn't benefit them. However, I don't think a lot of them realize what the Fed is so they may just go ahead and sign on to the bill. Also, I can't think of what else our political institution could do to rattle the Fed's cage more than an audit would.

It could all be for show and an audit will just be like watching a big broadway musical with lights, music by Andrew Lloyd Weber and choreography by that chick from the TV show "Fame." But this morning, for a brief period of time, I'm just not feeling all that cynical. So call your people and let them know -- support HR1207 in the House and S604 in the Senate.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Happiness is a warm gun

posted by The Sailor @ 6:41 PM Permalink

You've probably heard by now that the rightwing, christain, anti-semite James vonn Brunn gunned down a security guard at the Holocaust Museum.

I don't know whether it's an actual conspiracy of the rightwing extremists or just a virtual conspiracy, but the exact same thing that the DHS was warning about rightwing extremist groups and their terrorism is coming to pass. (That's the report that the republicans were so up in arms about.)

And the terrorism, according to the rightwing extremists own words, is going to escalate.

Here's a rundown:
Von Brunn friend: It’s what happens ‘when white people are provoked’

What White Supremacists Are Saying Today About Holocaust Museum Gunman

AMERICAblog's End of day shooter updates

Cross posted at SteveAudio

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And when I feel my finger on your trigger

posted by The Sailor @ 5:53 PM Permalink

Suspect in abortion doctor death warns of violence

The man charged with murdering a high-profile abortion doctor claimed from his jail cell Sunday that similar violence was planned around the nation for as long as the procedure remained legal, a threat that comes days after a federal investigation launched into his possible accomplices.
Tiller's clinic had been a target of regular demonstrations by abortion opponents. Most were peaceful, but his clinic was bombed in 1986 and he was shot in both arms in 1993. In 1991, a 45-day "Summer of Mercy" campaign organized by Operation Rescue drew thousands of abortion opponents to Wichita, and there were more than 2,700 arrests.
I'm a firm believer in free speech, and the test of that is when you support free speech from folks you disagree vehemently with. Another test of that is when you yell 'Fire! in a crowded theater.

Now let's take a look at the definition of 'terrorism' from Dictionary.com:
1. the use of violence and threats to intimidate or coerce, esp. for political purposes.
2. the state of fear and submission produced by terrorism or terrorization.
3. a terroristic method of governing or of resisting a government.
Now let's look at how our country defines it:
U.S. Code Title 22, Ch.38, Para. 2656f(d)

(d) Definitions
(2) the term “terrorism” means premeditated, politically motivated violence perpetrated against noncombatant targets by subnational groups or clandestine agents;
(5) the terms “terrorist sanctuary” and “sanctuary” mean an area in the territory of the country—
(A) that is used by a terrorist or terrorist organization—
(i) to carry out terrorist activities, including training, fundraising, financing, and recruitment;
So, by definition, what Scott Roeder did was terrorism. And it worked, Tiller's clinic,one of only 3 in the country, has closed it's doors. And Scott Roeder is celebrating that fact.

And while the anti-choice folks at Operation Rescue clutch their pearls and declaim him as a lone whacko, the facts are "the authorities found a slip of paper with the organization’s name in Mr. Roeder’s car when he was arrested, as well as the name of one of its leaders and her telephone number" and the 'leader' that the NYT didn't name is senior policy adviser Cheryl Sullenger, a terrorist that has been convicted of conspiring to bomb the Alvarado Medical Center in California. From her previous actions in helping track Dr. Tiller's movements it seems she should be indicted as an accessory.

So why isn't Operation Rescue been designated a terrorist group? And why isn't anyone who contributes to it guilty of funding a terrorist group?

I'm so glad you asked: Because they're white christains.

This movement is the American version of the Taliban. They seek to impose their religious values on others, subjugate women, and make America a theocracy.

Cross posted at SteveAudio

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Weird "Final Destination" Moment

posted by The Vidiot @ 1:26 PM Permalink

Too weird to NOT blog about.

An Italian woman who arrived late for the Air France plane flight that crashed in the Atlantic last week has been killed in a car accident.

Johanna Ganthaler, a pensioner from Bolzano-Bozen province, had been on holiday in Brazil with her husband Kurt and missed Air France Flight 447 after turning up late at Rio de Janeiro airport on May 31.

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