After this was finished, Dick then stripped the little kiddos naked and subjected them severe beatings, painful stress positions, severe sleep deprivation, and exposure to extreme cold and hot temperatures. until they confessed to whatever crime he wanted them to confess to. Then he let Mark Foley take it from there.
The cat on the left is my mom's cat after rolling over on her back for me to pet her tummy... while she lies on my rain jacket, which she had been rubbing her head against when I interrupted her. Meanwhile, the Mighty Fang on the right is on alert looking for dastardly Trick-or-Treaters to pounce upon and eat for dinner...
If not, click on the picture, and look at its big version, and notice that each little square in the picture is actually a brick.
That is a BIG frog. Not a frog to meet in a dark alleyway somewhere!
-- Badtux the Frightened Penguin
For the South Louisiana contingent out there, you already know where this frog is. For the rest of ya, it's on the side of a building on Main Street in Rayne, Louisiana, self-styled "Frog capital of the world".
Whoa! The never-right-wing has its panties in a knicker over New Jersey's Supreme Court saying that gays have rights. How dare they! Why, if gays have rights, people will gay-marry box turtles and have man-on-dog sex in the streets, according to Senators Cornyn and Santorum. Everybody knows that. Why, people gay-marry box turtles and have man-on-dog sex in the streets all the time up in Canada, where gay marriage has been legal for two years now!
Now, since the never-right-wing is so upset about gay marriage and how "un-Christian" it is, I've been reading my Bible to see what it says about gay marriage, and not seeing anything there about gay marriage. It does, however, have lots to say about divorce. For example:
“32: But I say unto you, That whosoever shall put away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, causeth her to commit adultery: and whosoever shall marry her that is divorced committeth adultery” (Matthew 5: 32) and, “9: And I say unto you, Whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery: and whoso marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery” (Matthew 19: 9, all quotations are from the King James unless otherwise stated).
It is interesting that the Bible Belt has the highest divorce rate in the country… and that the “sinful” states of Massachusetts and New York have the lowest. Heck, Alabama, with 2/3rds the population of Massachusetts, had more divorces than Massachusetts in 2005!
So let’s add it up:
The Bible says nothing about gay marriage
The Bible has lots to say about divorce
The Bible Belt and Republican Party are full of people who’ve violated the Bible when it comes to divorce, people like Newt Gingritch and Rush Limbaugh have even violated it *MULTIPLE* times.
Let’s see, what’s that “h” word again? That word to use when a man with a plank in his eye is pointing out the splinter in another’s eye? Oh yeah, that one is in the Bible too: “hypocrite”. Matthew 7:4.
It’s amazing how so many people who profess to follow the Bible apparently have never even read the dadburned thing…
Even if you agree with the ideological goals of the Bush Administration, the implementation has been so incompetent, so corrupt, so absolutely insensisible, as to defy comprehension. They’ve managed to destroy the Army, run up insane budget deficits, increase government spending to unprecedented amounts, make our nation beholden to our worst enemy (Communist China, which can destroy the value of the U.S. dollar at any time by dumping their dollar reserves upon the open market). The Bush Administration threatens to discredit conservatism for a generation, much in the same way that Herbert Hoover’s incompetent handling of the Great Depression discredited conservatism for a generation.
This just leaves two questions to be asked:
Who are the kool-aid drinkers who keep supporting this train wreck? Any sensible Republican has to be running screaming and shouting about just how bad and evil the Busheviks are. Yet you still have Freepi and RedState'ers catapaulting the propaganda for their Dear Leader... what gives? Are they all being paid to do this? Or are they really that stupid?
And, the most important of all: Is George W. Bush a closet Democrat, who purposely has set out to destroy the Republican Party by discrediting it for a generation?
Don't you all rush to answer the questions at once :-).
As an aside, I utterly despised Clinton, though I never understood the fascination of the right wingnuts regarding Willy's willie (Presidential dalliances have been the norm since the notorious womanizer George Washington was in office -- sorta a Presidential perk, if you will, the aphrodaisic of power... SAAAAYYYY, what was JimJeff doin' on all those White House visits anyhow?!). But next to Bush, Clinton looks like the second coming of Barry Goldwater and Ronald Reagan combined... frightening, eh?
Anybody who thinks Marines don’t curse and fuck and fight and drink like fish ain’t ever been a Marine or even talked to one in real life. I found it very realistic. I.e., not prettyfied and pussified like those chickenhawks who are shitting on our Marines. And if they want to call it "immoral" because of that...
Correction: It has been pointed out to me that Marines do NOT drink like fish. Rather, fish ASPIRE to drink like Marines. Thank you for that correction, anonymous!
This is one of my mom's many cats. This cat's terrifying power, the power that makes her terrifying, is the ability to shed. My mom fills up a vacuum cleaner bag every day vacuuming cat hair off the carpet and furniture...
Here, to my mind, is the deepest truth of the present situation [in Iraq], and the hardest for Americans to grasp: We are part of the problem, not part of the solution. ...
The deep belief that, even at this late date, the United States can somehow "solve" the problem of Iraq is part delusional self-regard, part leftover goodwill, and part a greedy desire to remain, as well as a total fantasy. But as long as we believe that the problem is ours to solve, we will only continue to rev up the motor that is actually making it worse, no matter what "tactics" we turn on or off.
Withdrawal from Iraq is no longer a good path. Long ago, in fact, any good path may have been drowned in a sea of blood and suffering. It is, however, the only path that has any hope of relieving the situation.
The most important part: We are part of the problem, not part of the solution. Leaving Iraq will be a disaster. Staying, however, will just mean another 550,000 dead Iraqies within the next three years, more blood, a bigger bloodbath. As in Vietnam, our own actions there have killed far more people than would have died if we'd just let them get their civil war on back in 2003. In Vietnam, we killed several million Vietnamese in order to prevent the bloodbath that occurred when the NVA overran South Vietnam. Said bloodbath: Approximately 50,000 South Vietnamese government officials were executed by the North Vietnamese when they conquered South Vietnam. Congratulations, America. You're 60 times more bloodthirsty than the North Vietnamese... and, on a death-per-year basis in Iraq, 10 times more bloodthirsty than Saddam. Makes a penguin proud to be an American...
And the war floggers get a hard-on just thinking about it... more blood, they scream. More death. More killing. That's the solution. that's the only solution they ever offer for anything, as they sit there in their mommy's basements yanking their pud as they gape with open mouths at the blood on their computer screens.
Bastards. Every single one of them Mark Foleys in the closet, except yanking their pud at the thought of dead Iraqis, rather than live boys. Necrophiliacs. Sick fucking bastards. Every single one of them.
I'm sort of embarassed about that previous picture. So now I give you a bonus Friday cat blogging picture. From a few weeks after I brought him home from the Humane Society animal shelter, here is the Mighty Fang when he was just a (very large) kitten. Note that Mencken looks irritated. After all, he's an ornery old man, and now there's this (very large) kitten in the house who just wants to play, play, play?! Note how Mencken's tail is curled around. Baby Fang had just pounced on it, and Mencken yanked it away. Then, tired, Baby Fang curled up. Mencken is not amused.
As pointed out, all a fence will do is raise the profits of ladder and shovel salesmen. The solution to the illegal immigration problem is obvious. Repeal the minimum wage law and the child labor laws, outlaw labor unions, and wait for wages to drop to 3rd world levels. After that, there’ll be no incentive for illegals to enter the US.
We can applaud Wal-Mart for its innovative attempt to implement this policy all on its own.
You see, the Republican Party and its so-called "conservatives" have devolved to two principles: a) winning isn't everything, it's the only thing. and b) facts are irrelevant, it's only your beliefs that count. And I'm proud that I'm not one of them, and by the demented standards of redstate.org and etc., am thus a "moonbat".
I'm somewhat of a Goldwater small-government Republican. I voted for George H.W. Bush (twice), and voted for Clinton the second time only because I wanted to ensure continued divided government and thus less government (hopefully!). My view of government is that it has its place, but its place is limited to only those things where facts have shown the free market doesn't work, things like, for example, building roads and providing fire protection. If there are other things that we as a society want our government (OUR government, not some foreign imposition, OUR government, that we ourselves vote for and elect) to do, fine, but it should only be done if there is a clear consensus that this is what needs doing. By "clear consensus", I don't mean majority vote. I mean "almost everybody agrees". Such as, "almost everybody agrees that older men should not be having sex with young boys" (i.e. everybody but NAMBLA and Mark Foley agrees with this statement). If you can't get buy-in from virtually everybody, it doesn't need to be done by government, it needs to be done by the smaller groups that want it.
One of the things I most dislike about the current American system is that it is too easy to pass a law. Laws should be things that are hard to pass, that require the agreement of pretty much everybody to pass, because once government is given a power by a law, it rarely gives up that power. The current behavior of the Republicans in power sickens me in that regard. They've managed to expand government more than any President since LBJ, mostly by simply passing laws whenever they feel like it, rather than passing only those laws that pass bipartisan muster. As a result, you get bloated government. As a result, you get the Republicans in Congress ignoring the concerns of the Democrats regarding the course of the war in Iraq and ignoring little facts like the difference between Shia and Sunni that make it hard to find a suitable course for stabilizing Iraq. As a result, you have Osama bin Laden attacking America, and getting away with it, because Bush decided to attack Iraq instead of putting the whole military into Afghanistan and Pakistan to track down and kill the men who attacked America, a strategic mistake that is the equivalent of declaring war upon Mexico because Japan attacked Pearl Harbor. These are facts. But these facts don't count for today's Republicans, because doing all this was what Karl Rove needed to do in order to win elections for Republicans, and in today's Republican Party, only winning counts. Only winning, and belief. By stating belief loudly enough and ignoring those little "fact" things, you win. And winning the only principle -- the *ONLY* principle -- that today's Republican Party has.
If these beliefs make me a "moonbat", fine. Better a "moonbat" than someone without morals, without principles, and without shame. I want a party of principle and small government to be in charge in Washington. That party, unfortunately, is not the Republicans, and will not be as long as winning, not principles, is the most important thing for the Republican Party.
At which point, the youngsters beat up the old geezer, jumped into their convertible, and headed home. Well, up until the cops stopped them and arrested them for assault and battery, at which point one of the youngsters said, "I don't beat up on my grandpa, he wasn't my grandpa, so I hit him".
But the last part -- that youngsters today are hoods and thugs -- is the unsurprising part. Unfortunately.
-- Badtux the "Young farts today are ____" Penguin
The Never-Right Wingnuts seem rather confused by what the role of the police are in a free nation. In a free nation, the police are charged with a) protecting human life, b) protecting property, and c) apprehending suspects. Special emphasis upon word suspects. The police are NOT responsible for a) judging guilt or innocence (that is the court's job), and b) deciding upon or carrying out punishment upon judging guilt or innocence (again, that is the court's job).
The Never-Right-Wingers apparently have forgotten all of this, as exhibited by their fervent frothing at the mouth when two Border Patrol agents by the name of Jose Alonso Compean and Ignacio Ramos forgot the little fact that they aren't supposed to be judge, jury, and executioner, and shot an unarmed Mexican in the back as he ran from the agents. They then failed to file required reports for discharge of a weapon, destroyed evidence, and laughed and joked about it. Until their supervisors turned on them and turned them in, that is.
Here's the thing. Law enforcement agents aren't allowed to shoot people just for running. They're only allowed to shoot people who present an immediate danger to the agent or to innocent bystanders. That's the law. That has always been the law, because law enforcement's job is not to be judge, jury, and executioner. Law enforcement's job is to apprehend *suspects*. Get that? SUSPECTS. Until a man has been judged in a court of law, he is not a criminal, he is a SUSPECT, and has a right to life that is enshrined in our Constitution, and any person -- lawman or no -- who tries to remove that life without meeting the fundamental criteria for doing so (i.e., immediate danger to life, or due process via conviction in a court of law) is a CRIMINAL.
These border patrol agents broke the law, and they paid the price for it -- as they should have. Being a lawman doesn't exempt you from following the law -- period. These lawmen knew better, and they allowed their emotions to override their training and departmental policy. It's not the first time, and it won't be the last time, but lawmen who break the law cannot be allowed to do so, because that sets up a dual system of law -- one for you and me, and one for lawmen. There is a name for such a dual system of law. It is called TYRANNY.
Some other things to think about:
These Border Patrol agents requested a jury trial. So it wasn't the State that found them guilty. It was a jury of American citizens, nevermind that some of the members of said jury have now been intimidated into saying that they shouldn't have voted 'Guilty'. I'll note that if you're innocent of a crime, request a trial by judge. If you're guilty of a crime, request a trial by jury. Sounds like these two border patrol agents weren't so confident of their innocence, eh?
The Border Patrol was instrumental in locating the evidence to convict these two. That's telling. I grew up around cops. My dad was close personal friends with the police commissioner of our town, and we lived next door to a cop and a cop's kid was my best friend growing up. I'll tell you this: If cops turned on two of their own, those two were BAD cops. As in, corrupt, violent, probably done a lot worse multiple times, until finally their co-workers got tired of having their good name sullied and ganged up and set these two up.
My suspicion is that there's a lot more dirt that could be dug up on these two, that got covered up under the blue wall of silence, until finally it got to be too much even for that wall. Because police agencies just don't prosecute their own unless we're talking *REALLY* bad cops, I mean the worst of the worse. Don't believe the propaganda that these two are somehow victims. Police agencies just don't work like that. If it was a righteous shoot, they'll stand up for the cops involved to the end, because they're all cops and they all know what it's like on the street. Just ask Police officers Edward McMellon, Sean Carroll, Kenneth Boss and Richard Murphy, who shot Amadou Diallo 41 times and still have a job (albeit McMellon retired and went to work for the fire department afterwards).
Either these two were dirty cops, or somehow human nature has changed over the years and the blue wall of silence has gotten thinner. I'm suspecting the former. In which case, good riddance.
One last thing: If you do a Google search on "border patrol convicted ramos compean" you'll see all these right-wingnuts frothing at the mouth. They ALWAYS mention the race and immigration status of the suspect who was shot in the back by these two cops. Always. Do you think they'd be frothing at the mouth if it'd been a white American from Dallas who was shot in the back? I don't think so. They'd be frothing at the mouth about how the cops ought to be hanged. Racism, anybody?
We need to get rid of the authoritarians, we need to get rid of the big-spenders, the religionists and the gay-bashers, the liars, con-artists, crooks, and thieves, and we need to start over. I really look forward to the day where I have the high ground on tax related issues because my party is not spending us into bankruptcy. I look forward to the day when my party, when faced with difficult scientific questions, turns to the experts (rather than turning on them) instead of Sen. Inhofe and James Dobson and Randall Terry. I look forward to the day when my party once again has enough of a moral standing that we should even be allowed to discuss human rights and torture in foreign regimes. I look forward to the day when we can, with a straight face, argue that we are the party of small government- after, of course, we get rid of the religionists who are trying to dictate who we can love, who we can sleep with, who gets to determine what we watch on tv, and who gets to determine our end of life decisions. I look forward to the day when it is once again the Democrats who look crazy.
But for right now, it is the GOP that is out of touch, out of control, and drowning in it’s own hubris. It is time to throw them an anchor, and it looks like there are a lot of people lining up on the docks to do just that.
#1: Paraguay signed an extradition treaty with the United States in 1998. (scroll down on link to 'Paraguay' to see the text of the treaty). Do note the exception for "political crimes" in the extradiction treaty, but it is dubious whether that would cover the war crimes that Bush has committed, such as the murder of half a million people in Iraq.
#2: All the hits on the Internet seem to be a reprint of an article from the Cuban News Service (Prensa Latina), which has, let us say, a rather dubious record (call'em the Fox News of Latin America and leave it at that).
On the other hand, Jenna Bush WAS in Paraguay, officially as part of a UNICEF mission, but she dined with the President of Paraguay. So there is at least a possibility of it being true that Bush has some plans for Paraguay and used Jenna to carry them to the President of Paraguay. But my suspicion is that this was just the courtesy of one tin-pot third world dictator to another tin-pot third world dictator.
In short: This is Castro playing with Bush again. Funny. Really funny. True? Probably not.
Yes, Forward Base Falcon got blown to smithereens. But 300 dead? Hardly. From what I've read from soldiers who were near the scene, the insurgents "walked" a mortar into the camp, taking several minutes to finally "walk" it onto the ammo dump. That was plenty of time for everybody to roll out of bed, put on flak jackets and such, and head down into bunkers. Furthermore, the ammo bunker was on fire for several minutes before the ammo in it finally cooked off. One soldier reports seeing the fire trucks that were trying to put out the fire suddenly go in reverse and get the hell out of there at full speed as the small arms ammo started cooking off. The bunker didn't just go "boom!" all at once. It started cooking off a little bit at a time, until it finally went "boom!" as the biggest explosives went off.
So yeah, it was a big boom. And yeah, it took out a ton of ammo and probably any jeeps nearby. But 300 dead? 300 Iraqis, maybe -- this camp and ammo dump was next door to a children's hospital. But the American troops were well undercover in their bunkers by the time the ammo cooked off.
This may seem a bit insensitive, given that an Afghan refugee was recently murdered in Fremont in what appears to be a hate crime, but here goes. One reason I have little respect for those who come into America and insist upon wearing their traditional garb from home is because they are in turn exhibiting little respect for America.
Look. This is America. If you want to be an American, dress like one. If you don't, stay home. And whatever you do, don't try to tell me that your religion requires you to dress like this:
Because, frankly, my dear, that dog don't hunt. Islam requires that women "dress modestly", not that they dress in a specific type of garb. Modest dress is a culturally dependent thing, not something fixed in stone. What counts as modest dress in Yemen is not what counts as modest dress here in the United States. Here in the good ole' USA, here is what modest dress looks like for women:
See the difference?
Now, there's the notion that "hey, I'm a woman, I can dress any way I want to dress, and if I want to wear an abiyah, that's my right!" Yes dear. And if I want to wear the following garb, that's my right too:
But y'know, if I do that, people might just look at me as if I'm some kind of freak. If I walked into my office looking like that, I might get fired. Hell, I *know* I'd be fired, since I live in a multi-cultural office with co-workers from four different continents.
Point being that if you want to be arrogant and dress like a freak, yeah, you have a right to do that. But don't be surprised if you get fired if you insist on doing it in a professional setting... because you are demonstrating, by doing so, that you are not a professional, that you place your religious or cultural beliefs ahead of your professional responsibilities. So while you have a right to dress like a freak, well, fine. Just don't expect a job in my office, where we all dress like conservative professionals.
I have been drinking too much coffee and must cut back. Today I only had one cup, in the morning. My head is pounding. Time for some Advil, sigh. BTW, my coffee is Community Dark Roast (the state coffee of Louisiana!), always freshly brewed.
This hereby completes the unholy triumvirant of pizza - chili - coffee. I figure that if I blogged about nothing but pizza, chili, and coffee, this blog would shortly be the most popular blog on the Internet, judged by prior response to postings that talk about pizza, chili, and coffee.
I have an article about the death penalty coming up, but it's rather slow. I just have one question to ask you: If the purpose of the death penalty is to remove murderers from the gene pool in a cost-effective manner (as vs. simply locking them up for the rest of their natural lives), why do prisons spend so much time and effort keeping death row prisoners from committing suicide? Why not just issue them some cyanide capsules upon their entrance to death row? I mean, dead is dead, right?
I cook a mean pot of chili, if I say so myself. Good quality lean meat and fresh spices and beans (yes, I'm a heretic and put a can of chili beans in) result in a fiery yet flavorful concoction that is irresistable.
The problem is that making up a good batch of chili takes time, and to do it right, you have to make a BIG batch of chili. Then there's the fuss of freezing it into individual containers, carrying it to work in a backpack (motorcycle, remember?) still frozen, yada yada yada. Plus you can't carry it on a camping trip on the motorcycle. So I've been searching for something in a jar, can, foil pouch, whatever that I can easily haul to work or on a camping trip.
Verdict: I'm still searching.
I tried a couple of variants of the Stagg's. Blah. Fatty-tasting, no bite, the overwhelming taste of the corn starch and lard used as a thickener. Blah. Just blah.
Same deal with the Bush's. The Bush's "Hot" chili was almost edible. Almost. The spice was okay, but it still had the redolent reek of lard.
Hormel: You're joking. This crap is dog food.
So: Is there anything out there that's actually edible? Curious penguins want to know!
Oh boy. Teh Gay is conspiring against good Reagan-fearin' right-wing Christians again! Good Reagan-fearin right-wing Christians have their bungholes knickered tight about the notion that a "Christian" gardner should be able to turn down business from gays. See, hate is a Christian value in the Never-Right-Wing's point of view, and gay-ness is a communicable disease. Thus the Gay-dar that they're always using to try to avoid the taint of teh gay, which, surprisingly enough, never seems to properly detect the Mark Foleys and David Driers and
Larry Craigs of the world...
After all, remember, Jesus said in the version of the Gospels used by the Never Right Wing, "thou shalt hate teh gay, and condemn them, and cast them out from thy communities, for they are teh gay and shall decorate your homes and cut your hair most tastefully, which is an abomination in the eyes of the Lord." This is in Reagan 5:45, which is the 5th Gospel in the Never-Right-Wing's Bible, right next to the part that says, "thy shalt have knotty pine furniture in thy double-wide, or thy shalt be cast to the eternal fogs of San Francisco."
And remember, if teh gay object to this reading of the Gospels and organize a boycott of your business, why, that's an abomination before the Lord! For as it says in Reagan 4:35, "verily verily I say unto thee, it is easier for a poor man to go through the eye of a needle than it is for a poor man to enter Heaven." Money, according to Reagan 4:36, is NOT the root of all evil. Rather, it is the LACK of money that is the root of all evil. When teh gay organizes a boycott, they're not just hurting you, a good never-right-wing Christian. They're offending Jesus Himself, who says that it is the responsibility, nay, the DUTY of all to give their money to good never-right-thinkin' Christians like yourself!
What, you say your Bible only has four Gospels, and is missing the Gospel of Reagan? HERETIC! Get thee from our presence, you... you.... HOMO!
Stupid reason #255 to get hyper about Iran's nuclear program
Most of the scare-mongering about Iran's nuclear program is laughable. Reason #255, courtesy of a small-town editor in the Midwest who shall not be named in order to protect his ignorant ass (also because I can't remember which newspaper I read it in!), is typical of the breed: absolutely ignorant about Iran's government, Palestine's demographics, the Islamic religion, and simple geography.
Says this editor in his editorial: We cannot allow Iran to have the Bomb because President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran is a madman who would use them against Israel in order to force the Israelis into the sea.
Oh man, oh man, oh man. I cannot even *begin* to count the ways in which this statement is stupid. Okay, so I lie. Let me count a few ways:
President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is not in control of the Iranian armed forces. Under the Iranian Constitution, the Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, commands the Iranian armed forces. The office of President in Iran is mostly ceremonial in nature, as in most nations other than 3rd-world banana republic dictatorships and the United States (hold it, I repeat myself!).
Iran considers itself, as the only Islamic republic in the Middle East, to be the defender of Islam in the Middle East. Approximately 500,000 Israeli Muslims live within the borders of Israel, and approximately 5,000,000 Palestinian Muslims live in the West Bank and Gaza Strip (according to the CIA World Factbook). All of those Muslims would get incinerated or fatally poisoned if Iran nuked Israel. It ain't happenin'. Iran's citizens would rise up and slaughter any politicians in Iran who even hinted of ever killing so many fellow Muslims in cold blood.
Iran's nuclear program is part of a general push to become a regional power, rather than anything dealing with Israel. The Iranians consider themselves Persian (nevermind that the current nation of Iran was created by Safavid Turks who created a nation centered around Tabriz near the current Azerbaijani border then took the rest of Persia from its Mongolian overlords shortly thereafter), and consider themselves to be the heirs of the ancient Persian empire that once ruled the entire Middle East. Not only would incinerating those 5,500,000 Muslims in Palestine infuriate their own people who consider themselves to be the defenders of Islam, but it would infuriate all the people that they're trying to gain influence over also. Not Happening.
Iran has no reason to attack Israel. The Israelis are doing a good enough job of self-destructing all by themselves. There is a *reason* why there have been no Muslim nations attacking Israel since 1973 -- the Muslim nations have decided to take the long view, and wait for what they consider to be a European "crusader state" to self-destruct the way the former crusader states did. The Crusades failed in the end because the European barbarians proved incapable of working with each other, fell to squabbling, and most of them left and went home, the small remainder fell to warring amongst themselves until finally the Mamaluk Egyptians could step in and restore order and end the little crusader state to the hearty applause of the general population, which was tired of those squabbling barbarians running around tearing up the place. The Muslims are waiting for it to happen again, and given the current fragmented state of Israeli politics and the net out-migration of Israeli Jews, it doesn't seem like they have long to wait.
Iran considers the Jews to be "People of the Book" and thus worthy of a protected status. Judaism is an official state religion of Iran. Religiously speaking, killing Jews simply for being Jews (as vs. for warring against them) is against their religion. Since Iran and Israel have never been at war, there is no theological justification for their Supreme Leader to declare war against Israel (note: the Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Khameni, is the man who has the power to declare war under the Iranian Constitution -- not President Ahmadinejad).
Iran has never threatened to "drive Israelis into the sea". President Ahmadinejad has talked about "destroying the Zionist regime", but when asked, he replies to reporters that what he means is that all Palestinians either currently living within the boundaries of historic Palestine or whose ancestors were born there -- both Jewish and the refugees -- should be citizens of a Palestinian state, rather than the current apartheid scheme, and thus his statement is morally equivalent to saying, during South Africa's apartheid years, that he endorsed "destroying the apartheid regime". Not to mention that Ahmadinejad has no army -- that's Ayatollah Khameni's army, remember?
And finally: The Iranians have not, in the past, been prone to rash or ill-advised or insane actions. I.e., Iran and its leaders have never been "insane" by any reasonable man's definition of the term, and Ayatollah Khameni seems typical of the bunch. Probably the most "insane" action that Iran's ayatollahs have ever taken was the takeover of the U.S. embassy back in 1979, but that was a case of internal Iranian politics trumping common sense -- Ayatollah Khomeini was looking for something to use to solidify support for a religious theocracy rather than a secular democracy as the basis for Iran's new Constitution, and used the whole "Great Satan" sticht to do that. But he had absolutely no problem at all trading with the "Great Satan" for weapons once the Iraqis decided to invade Iran -- as the Israelis have found out, thanks to gift-wrapped U.S. TOW anti-tank missiles (reverse-engineered by the Iranians and mass-produced after Ollie North delivered them to Tehran in exchange for money for the Contras) smashing into their tanks in Lebanon.
There's reasons to be concerned about the Iranian nuclear program. But those reasons have more to do with Iran's drive towards regional hegemony (they still remember that the Safavids held Afghanistan, most of Iraq, and most of the borders of the Caspian Sea as part of Iran at the peak of the Safavid period) and little to do with any threat to Israel (and BTW, why the f*** would I care about Israel anyhow? I'm an AMERICAN, not an ISRAELI! I care about AMERICA, not about ISRAEL!). Iran is not our friend, and thus Iran's interests are not our interests. But then, who is our friend anymore? I mean, who wants to be friends with the overbearing, bullying, egotistical shit-for-brains playground thug? Other than the sad little poodle that is so eager to whine at the feet of the bully in hopes of obtaining tidbits out of the bully's lunch?
The Mighty Fang, upset by being called "soft and fluffy" in the prior cat-blogging, threatens to turn the photographer into a penguin dinner... of course, given his sagging wobbly belly, it might be that he already has had too much dinner...
Removing a child from the custody of his or her parents is a momentous decision. Yet it is being made by social workers who have little training or expertise (my experience with social workers as a teacher who had close contact with many of them during my teaching career is that they are, in general, rather dim and have rather enormous biases and blind spots), or by judges who have no training or expertise in child rearing or child psychology other than that which happened by them surviving their own childhood. Any single human being, or even this penguin, has biases and opinions that affect our judgement. That is why the U.S. Constitution set up a jury system.
But apparently the same "experts" who cannot maintain a safe foster care system, who make up phantom children to get more money from the state and feds, who break up relationships where there is no evidence that there is any danger to a child, who take children away who are not being abused because their parents are not well educated and who leave children in homes where they are being abused because their parents are well educated and capable of snow-jobbing the less-well-educated social worker, apparently lawyers turned judges who have no training or background in child psychology, apparently these "experts" are more qualified to detirmine whether a child should stay with or be taken away from his or her parents than a jury of twelve?
I'm sorry. That provision of the Constitution was put there for a reason. Yes, a judge knows the law better. Yes, a child psychologist knows child rearing better. But a jury of twelve knows justice better. And justice, in the end, is what is lacking here. The notion that one possibly-biased person can better judge whether a child should be permenantly removed from his home than a jury of twelve is simply un-American. What you end up with is kids who get killed by abusive parents because the parents are, in the biased opinion of one person, "good" parents, and kids being taken away because the parents are, in the biased opinion of one person, "bad" parents... and no justice. Especially no justice for the kids, who are fucked (often literally) either way...
My shocks on my truck, that is. The rears dumped their full load of shock oil the first time I loaded up the truck with 800 pounds of books and hauled it all 1,000 miles over aweful California highways (thump thump thump). The fronts seem to have gradually faded until they're pretty much gone too. So now my ride is bouncity-bouncity-bouncity-bounce, moderated only somewhat by the fact that, as a truck, it has rather stiff suspension.
After some looking around, it looks like the Monroe Reflex might be what I need. It looks like they use a variation of the motorcycle cartridge fork technology, which have a spring-loaded valve in them that opens on sharp bumps to solve the hydraulic lock issue that makes forks essentially go solid on sharp abrupt hits (ouch!), yet stays closed on smaller bumps where the normal damping holes provide good controlled damping. The result is a more controlled ride that doesn't bounce you all over the place when you hit big bumps.
Just curious what the more mechanically inclined amongst you think about this shock....
So, I talked about my tire dilemma, and how it looked like I might have to support the Great Satan. I finally did it -- I now have the Uniroyal Liberator tires from Wal-Mart on my truck.
So how do they work? Well, like truck tires. They have a thick six-ply sidewall, so they're very stiff and ride rough. They also have an astonishingly high load rating for such a skinny tire, and require a lot of weight to balance. Traction-wise I can only compare them to the OEM tires, but they seem to have more traction on both wet and dry pavement than the OEM tires (not that this is saying much -- the OEM tires would trigger the ABS even on normal braking when the pavement was wet). And because they're so stiff, they make the handling somewhat crisper than with the old Kitten Paws, which would howl in dismay whenever you asked them to anything more vigorous than a graceful weave.
All in all, they are what you pay for -- a cheap truck tire that's better than the OEM tire, but not by much. There are definitely better tires out there, and if I intended to put a lot of miles on this truck, I would have bought one of them. But since this truck gets used very occasionally (I usually ride my motorcycle)... it just didn't make sense to put a top of the line tire with an 80,000 treadwear warranty onto the thing. Hell, I'll be ready for retirement before I put 80,000 miles on this truck!
Okay guys. After that previous post, I need a fluffy kitty hit:
sniff... ahhhh.... that feels better. All is right with the world. Okay, so it's just the drug speaking. But who can resist a soft fluffy kitty putting a box to its rightful use? Except, perhaps, Dr. Bill Frist?
Billmon: For someone in my shoes, though, hopelessness can become an excuse for not thinking about unpleasant truths. But there was something about Riverbend's quiet despair that forced me to think hard about my own moral responsibility as an American for a genocide caused by America -- because of a war started in my name, paid for with my taxes.
I've opposed this war since it was just a malignant smirk on George Bush's face. I've spoken against it, written against it, marched against it, supported and contributed to politicians I generally despise because I thought (wrongly) that they might do something to stop it. It's why I took up blogging, why I started this blog.
But the question Riverbend has forced me to ask myself is: Did I do enough? And the only honest answer is no.
Jonathan Schwarz at A Tiny Revolution: There are very, very few Americans who can honestly say we did what we should have done, what any basic morality required of us. God knows I'm not one of that few. In fact, when I compare myself to that few, and take a step back, I see I'm standing much closer to George Bush than I am to, say, Kathy Kelly.
At some point I'll have to talk to some of the few and ask them how they managed to pull it off. Meanwhile, as mistah charley likes to say: may the Creative Forces of the Universe, if any, have mercy on our souls, if any.
There is nothing more that I can add. I am in the same crowd as Billmon and Jonathan. As are you, most probably. And while Jonathan Schwarz appeals to a deity for mercy upon his soul, the Great Penguin is not famed for dispensing mercy. I doubt even daily sacrifices of herring will suffice to wake Him from His sated slumber. Tuxology can be an unforgiving religion at times...
Why am I not surprised? Mr. Shut Up has always been a two-bit thug who makes his bones via character assassination, slander, and inciting his hoards of devotees to violence. Why should I be surprised that he wants to kill me? After all, I'm sure he'd tell you that fried penguin tastes just like chicken...
Remember, boys and girls, low taxes are more important than feeding the men and women in uniform who sign up to defend our country. At least, if you're a Republican.
Uhm, so who hates America, again?!
-- Badtux the Snarky Penguin
Note: I paid four times more in taxes last year than Thomas Kean Jr. despite making half his income, but then, I work for a living. I guess it's true -- those who work pay taxes, those who don't... don't. Way to reward the American work ethic, Junior!
This is a question that nobody has really answered, or even asked, in the wake of the Israeli defeat. None of the capabilities that Hizballah showed in the war were new. They were the same capabilities that drove Israel out the first time, with the exception that Iran noticed that their TOW's weren't effective against Merkavas in the late 1990's, and developed a tandem warhead that would take out Merkavas and provided some to Hizballah for this one. I am reading a paper published by the U.S. Army War College in 2000 about the factors that led to Israel's defeat in that earlier war. It is very, very familiar.
What the war showed is that a detirmined irregular force can bog a modern mechanized army down into a war of attrition -- a war that a modern mechanized army is ill-suited to fight due to simple cost factors (a Merkava costs over 5 million dollars, an Iranian anti-tank missile costs maybe $5,000). But we already knew that. We knew that in 2000, when Hizballah drove Israel out the last time. We new that in 1990, when the Afghans drove out the Soviets. We knew that in 1973, when the Vietnamese drove out the Americans. We knew what the outcome was going to be this time too -- if Israel couldn't defeat Hizballah in 2000, there was no way they'd do it in 2006 after Hizballah had six years to prepare for the invasion. And we got the expected outcome -- a disaster for Israel.
Why, then, did Israel do it? I think it is because Israel is a failed state. Their internal politics is in chaos. Their economy is in free fall. All the best and brightest have fled to the United States or even back to Europe from whence they came, leaving behind mostly the dregs that the US or Europe do not want. One Israeli immigrant in the U.S. that I talk to says that in essense, Israel is now a concentration camp for the world's unwanted Jews, the Jews that nobody else will accept into their own countries. Like many failed states before them, the ruler tried to re-unite the nation by embarking upon a foreign war and getting a "rally behind your leader" effect. Who to invade, then? Why, the weakest state on their borders, of course -- Lebanon. And so they did. And, as in 2000, got driven out again, for the same reasons they were driven out in 2000 -- because a modern mechanized army cannot invade a mountainous nation and win a war of attrition against an irregular army fighting a defense in depth. The Soviets learned this in Afghanistan, and the Israelis had learned this in 2000 -- and promptly forgot it. But a failed state does not pay much attention to those "fact" thingies.
The scary thing is that this failed state has nuclear weapons. If one of the more batshit-crazy factions in Israel get ahold of those weapons as the Israeli state continues its decline...
Courtesy of Paul the Spud, we now find out that elementary schools are banning games of tag at recess. Big Brother Government apparently is necessary to prevent little Jennifer and little Jeffy from running into each other on the playground and getting a boo-boo. And what do their parents think? Well, how's this: Willett parent, Celeste D'Elia, said her son feels safer because of the rule. "I've witnessed enough near collisions," she said.
Oooh, can't have little sonny get a boo-boo on the playground! And yet another generation is raised to be happy with the blackjack... yet another generation of wimp Americans, no longer the "home of the brave", but, rather, the "home of the cowering in fear".
This is a relatively new development in American culture. Until the 1960's, it simply was accepted that life was dangerous. Until the 1940's, it was well known that at least 1/3rd of your children would die before reaching adulthood due to disease, so it didn't make sense to try to protect them from less likely causes of death such as, say, colliding with a girl while playing tag on the playground. This general attitude persisted even after immunizations reduced childhood deaths drastically -- until Ralph Nader.
I think it is ironic that the fear-driven politics used by the Reich Wing derives from that created by Ralph Nader and similar left-wing "consumer safety advocates" of the 1960's. Their fear-based tactics convinced millions that they needed to live their lives in fear unless Big Brother Government came in and protected them, whereas before then, it was simply accepted that life was a risky business. I think this just goes to show just how "conservative" the Bushevics really are... when it comes to that fear thing and "big brother government must protect you!", they make Ralph Nader look as conservative as Ronald Reagan.
So here we have the spectacle of American society not only comfortable with, but welcoming the blackjack, out of some deranged notion that the purpose of government is to make them "safe". There are no Americans rioting in the streets over the fact that Dear Leader has now been granted the power to disappear anybody he wants into the gulags with no court review for eternity. Indeed, the majority applaud it. The new American dream is Singapore, a fascist one-party dictatorship that maintains order by ruling with an iron hand. The new American dream comes complete with jackboots and uniforms and blackjacks on every street corner to insure that Americans don't have any of that "risk" or "danger" stuff in their lives. They want Big Brother to kill or torture lots of "evildoers" for them, where "evildoers" consist of anybody who is not part of their particular troop of hairless monkeys. They are, in the end, the townspeople of the Clint Eastwood movie High Plains Drifter, where the majority of the townspeople are cowards too scared to stand up for themselves, and get what they ask for and deserve in the end.
Unfortunately, they're taking the rest of us down with them. And this penguin, for one, isn't happy at all with the blackjack, but hasn't the foggiest notion what to do about it given that the majority of Americans are happy with the blackjack, indeed, embrace it as the new American dream.
Have been dropping some blogs that I no longer browse, and adding new ones. If you know one I should be linking to, please, pop a comment on this post. If you know one on my sidebar that is no longer around (since Blogspot is down right now I can't check most of the Blogspot blogs), please let me know.
-- Badtux the Administrative Penguin
PS -- pop a look over at TBogg's Place today. He's on a real tear. And our favorite pol other than the Shrubbery, Rick 'Man on Dog' Santorum, is now courting the hobbit vote... desperation, anybody?! And over in New Orleans, Mayor "Chocolate City" Nagin has decided that the worst threat to the city is not the rising crime rates, not the crumbling levees, not FEMA, but ... ho's. Agh! My head! My exploding head!
Scary John gets his strong arm on
He can break me and make me
Happy with his blackjack
Scary John gets his heavy hand on
he smiles without his eyes
nice and easy with his blackjack
Don't tell me that you didn't see this coming down
please don't say that this isn't what you wanted now
Scary John gets his strong arm on
He can break me and make me
Happy with his blackjack
Scary John always knows whats going on
He is everywhere
Happy with his blackjack
Please don't tell me that you didn't see this coming down
Please don't this that this isn't what you wanted now
Yeah this is your American dream
Everything is simple in the white and the black
you will never need to see the gray anymore
you will never have to be afraid
When you are happy with the blackjack
Happy with the blackjack
I hope you are happy with the blackjack
scary john wants to kill my song
he doesn't like the fact I'm not happy with the blackjack
I don't want to hear the words that he has to say
Don't tell me that you didn't see this coming down
Don't say that this isn't what you wanted now
Don't tell me this isn't what you asked for
Be careful what you ask for
Be careful what you ask for
Be careful what you ask for
Yeah this is your American dream
Everything is simple in the white and the black
Never have to see the gray anymore
Never have to be afraid
when you're happy with the blackjack
I hope you're happy with the blackjack
Happy with the blackjack
Happy with the blackjack
Happy with the blackjack
This is your American dream
This is your American dream
This is your American dream
This is your American dream.
And made it! Or as one of my co-workers put it, "Ship it!". (That's a joke, BTW -- the joke being that whenever we prototype a new product and demonstrate the initial alpha prototype to Marketing, Marketing's inevitable response is, "Ship it!" and we have to break it gently to them that it still needs refinement, a usability study, a beta test period, etc. :-).
Anyhow, my mom is spending her retirement travelling nowdays, and asked me what a good laptop computer would cost her. I told her around $1,000. She was quiet for a moment and then said she'd have to think about that (she and her husband are travelling around the country in a Honda car, staying at relative's houses, so they're not exactly spending lots of money). So a day later she called me back and said, "What if I give you $500 for your current laptop, and you buy a new one?"
Hmm, okay. I've been looking at the 13.3" laptops to make it easier to carry on a train or plain (my current 15.1" won't fully open in a normal airline or train seat, and it's a nuisance typing on a half-opened laptop!), and saw the Apple Macbook. I tried out the keyboard at Fry's Electronics, and it works for me. Apple had a problem with the thing randomly shutting down, but it appears that they found the problem (a sensor wire wearing through and indicating to the software that the CPU was overheating and had to be put to sleep immediately to prevent damage), and have fixed it with a new heat sink redesigned so it doesn't rub that wire. In addition, it runs Unix, so I wouldn't need to dual-boot Linux anymore to run my favorite Unix software.
The other laptop that I'm looking at is the Sony SZ series. It is the only other 13.3" laptop that I've tried out whose keyboard works for me. It has more USB ports, a memory card reader, a PC card slot, and other goodies. But it is also around $400 more expensive than a Macbook. Of course, once I bought a legal version of Windows XP for the Macbook, that price difference would be gone...
So it looks like I'm going to go ahead and get the Macbook. Comments?
Somebody said, regarding a prior story, that everything sucks and we need more cat photos to keep our sanity. So here we go:
Yes, the world sucks. But
the curmudgeonly Mencken allows himself to forget for a few seconds that he hates everyone and everything, thanks to the kindness of a stranger's lap and an ear massage...
As promised, my review of the "Totino's Party Pizza".
I typically shop for groceries late at night. My feeling is that the time before 9pm is too precious to use for such trivial things.
So I went shopping for the usual -- herring, tuna, noodles, you know the deal -- and they bagged my groceries and I paid for them and they put my groceries into the cart and I pushed the cart to my truck and started taking groceries out and putting them behind the seat (extended cab model). About halfway through, I pick up this bag with five square things in it... hold it, I didn't buy any square things!
So I slid the bag down and... Totino's Party Pizza? WTF? I didn't pick up any Totino's Party Pizza! I looked at my receipt to see whether I'd been charged for these things. Nope. This stuff is so bad that they're giving them away?!
Anyhow, I went home and went to sleep, and a few days later decided to try one of these things. The first warning sign was the nutrition label. Lots of fat but ... not much protein? Huh. So I popped it in the oven and cooked it until it met the requirements for being cooked, then sliced it and served.
Bleh. Just bleh. Utterly tasteless. Just lard, and lard, and lard. Apparently the "crust" of this thing is pure lard. The "pepperoni" is just a sprinkled garnish on top. The "cheese"... I don't think it qualifies to be cheese, maybe "processed cheese-lookin' pseudo-food" qualifies. Bleh bleh bleh bleh bleh.
Lesson: There ain't no party with Totino's, just bleh. Avoid. The other four "pizzas" are now officially dumped in the trash.
Note: If you want a good pizza, any of the Red Baron brands are good (Red Baron owns three different brands, from their "base" Red Baron brand which is pretty good, to their top of the line stone baked stuff sold under the Freschetta name which is darn good). Top with jalapeno of course :-). But avoid this cheap crap like the plague... saving a few pennies over the better brands just ain't worth it.
Every single Bradley and Humvee not in Iraq or Afghanistan is busted. Every... single... one of them.
I cannot understate the scale of the disaster that this is. First of all, if anybody anywhere else in the world starts making trouble, there's no troops to send there, unless we're going to send light infantry walking on two feet as cannon fodder. We don't have enough troops to use them as cannon fodder. But worse of all is the effect upon training: There isn't any.
One of the thing that has traditionally differentiated the U.S. Army from potential adversaries during the post-Vietnam era has been the professionalism and training of its soldiers. The first Gulf War in 1992-1993 is a perfect example of how well the U.S. Army can function when clicking on all cylinders. Desert Storm was a perfect example of using airpower to immobilize an enemy, then using maneuver and concentration to cut him to pieces. Yes, the U.S. had better tanks than Saddam, but not by that much. What the U.S. had was a huge edge in training and operational capabilities not to mention morale.
Now, morale is in the pits, and there's no equipment to use to train all the gang bangers, autistic kids, and just plain dumb recruits that are being accepted under new lower standards. So even if the recruits were as high a calibre as in the past, the Army's effectiveness as a whole is much reduced over what it was in 1992.
As the war goes on, things are going to get even worse. The Army is caught in a war of attrition in Iraq. But the Army isn't set up for a war of attrition. None (zero) of the Army's major weapons systems are still in production, with the sole exception of the HMMWV, which AM General has the capability make approximately 4500 of per year. 4500 HMMWV's isn't even replacement rate for the ones being destroyed in Iraq. The M1 tank hasn't been manufactured since 1993. Its gas turbine engine has been out of production since 1992. The Bradley hasn't been manufactured since 1994. Because we had enough Bradleys and M1's for Ronald Reagan's 18 division Army, it was felt that we had plenty for any war that we'd ever fight, and thus no need to make more. But that was before George W. Bush sent so many of them to be ground into shards in the sands of Iraq for years at a time.
If this goes on, the U.S. Army stands a good chance of simply disintegrating -- becoming completely ineffective, with military units that lack the skills, training, and equipment to even defend themselves, much less embark upon offensive operations against an enemy. The last time this happened was in 1972, when a drastic military withdrawal from Vietnam occurred because the U.S. Army units there simply had ceased to exist as viable military formations, with recon patrols turning into trips to the local coffee houses to smoke heroin, and Army sergeants and lieutenants being frequent victims of fraggings if they tried to order their men into combat. Only a complete withdrawal and re-organization of the Army succeeded in rebuilding it into a usable military force, but as a result when the Soviets invaded Afghanistan and the Iranians rebelled against the Shah, President Carter had no Army to send even if he'd desired to do so. It took over ten years to rebuild the Army after the disaster of Vietnam... and unfortunately, my suspicion is that it'll take another ten years to rebuild the Army after the disaster of Iraq. Or else we'll simply cease to have a viable Army. Which, I suppose, would make the rest of the world breathe in relief, but is hardly a "good" thing for America and Americans...
One of the interesting things about boomers is how they justify their drug usage. Stuff about "opening the doors of perception" and so forth. In that vein I have a confession to make: I was a high school stoner.
When I was in high school, it was well known that I was a druggie. I had that "stoner stare", people said, and kept asking me for my "connection". Reality was that I didn't even use alcohol. My testosterone-clouded mind had enough problems processing sans interference from other chemicals.
The doors of perception are controlled by one's mind, not by the drugs one uses. He who wishes to perceive, perceives. Drugs have nothing to with it. A willingness to think beyond what one is told to think, a desire to see beyond what one is told to see, a desire to listen beyond what one is told to hear, that is all it takes. And sadly, said willingness and desire is as uncommon today as it was in my youth xx years ago (let us just say that I voted for Jimmy Carter, and leave it at that).
Sundays are a great day to cook red beans and rice. My boss at the office gave me three fresh habernero peppers out of his garden, so it's time to use them before they go bad. But no, I'm not going to put all three into my red beans and rice, that'd be just plain crazy!
Here's the basic recipe for my version of this simple but delicious dish:
1 pound red kidney beans
roughly one pound of seasoning meat (smoke sausage, andouille sausage, ham, tasso, Spam!, etc.).
1 habernero pepper
1 tablespoon Tony Chachere's Cajun Seasoning to taste (a teaspoon more or less depending on how salty you want it)
1/4th cup Tabasco
You can make it fancier, with fresh garlic and celery and onion and etc. rather than the pre-packaged Cajun seasoning. But it doesn't taste any better that way.
Once you're done cooking the above, you have enough beans for a small army. You then cook some rice and serve over rice. Optionally, you can serve with French bread or cornbread on the side to help stretch it even further.
First thing you do is, on Saturday, put the beans soaking in a big pot of water. Leave them there overnight in the refrigerator to help tenderize them.
On Sunday after you get home from church, drain the beans into a strainer, put 5 cups of water into the pot, bring the pot almost to a boil, then dump in the beans. Bring to a boil, then simmer for a couple of hours. It's important to *not* put the seasoning in at this time, because you need to get the beans tender first, and salt toughens the cell walls. You can go ahead and mince the habernero and put it in at this time, though. It needs to be tenderized too. (note: Use latex gloves while handling the habernero, and carefully rinse the cutting board and knife afterward! Voice of experience here!). Depending upon your tolerance for heat, either discard the seeds, or put them into the pot with the rest of the pepper. (I recommend discarding them unless you are hard-core).
After a couple of hours the beans and habernero should be pretty much tenderized. Put in the meat and other (non-habernero) seasonings, put in enough *HOT* water (bring it to a boil in a teakettle on another burner) to cover the beans, and simmer for another couple of hours.
Cook some rice, cook some cornbread if you want the Prairie Cajun version vs. the Swamp Cajun version (the Prairie Cajuns used cornbread, the Swamp Cajuns used French bread) or slice your French bread, then serve.
Simple, filling, cheap, will feed an army. You'll have to provide the army though.
-- Badtux the Recipe Penguin
Cough cough cough... just finished cutting up the habernero. Had me coughing, eyes running, etc. even though it was just one habernero. My suggestion: Unless you're hard-core, leave out the habernero, and if you ARE hard-core, just put half the habernero -- no seeds -- into your chile or red beans or what have you. That stuff is *HOT*!!!!!
Afterward #2: Yep, half the habernero, no seeds, was *PLENTY* of high-register hot. Complemented the low-register heat of the Tabasco perfectly. This recipe, simple as it is, is *GOOD*, I just finished making a pig err fatter penguin out of myself!
By and large, we do not have democracy in America. When Benjamin Franklin, upon leaving the Constitutional Convention in Philidelphia, was asked what sort of government had been created there, ole' Ben replied, "A republic, if you can keep it." And for that, we can be thankful. If you think the current republic misrules this nation, democracy would have been a thousand times worse.
To illustrate the fundamental problem with democracy, here is exibit one: The absentee ballot I just received for the upcoming California elections. It is two legal-sized pages (that's the *BIG* pages, roughly the size of a laptop computer), front and back, in tiny print. One page is candidates. The other page is ballot initiatives.
Let's look first at the candidates pages. Now, I'd like to think that I'm a fairly well-informed person. I have no problem with figuring out which of the gubernatorial candidates I want to vote for (the Governator or Phil Who? Hmmm). Same deal with the local mayor's race and my local city council race. But then there's all these other wierd offices on the ballot. Fire district? Community college district? District judges? Appeals court judges? Board of Effin' Equalization?!!!! Hey look, what I need is someone with views compatible with mine who has a full-time staff that does nothing but look at all these little local offices and figure out who the best person is. I don't have a staff to do that. Hmm, but I know some people who do... they're called "the governor" and "the mayor". Whoa, what an idea, have my elected officials actually WORK FOR ME in finding the best people for these low-level staff positions, what a revolutionary (pun intended) notion!
Same deal comes to the ballot initiatives. Two pages of small print?! Look, there's a couple of high profile initiatives that have been properly dissected by the local press, and I know what to do there. But past those, it's all a blur. I need someone with views compatible mine who has a full-time staff that does nothing but look at all this small print and figure out which ones are a good idea and which are not. I could call this person, hmm... oh, I know! I could call him CONGRESSMAN!
Sans such a person with a full time staff, what am I to do? I know what most people do. They just vote according to who has the best ads on television, or what the guy at the water cooler said, or whatever. But that's no way to hire the best people to run the local community college, and that's no way to make sure that the laws being passed aren't going to have the sort of dire consequences that Proposition 13 (which destroyed California's educational system) had. What I want is a person (call him governor, mayor, or congressman) who has views similar to mine who has a full-time staff to look at these things and thus can make more informed decisions than I can. I'm just one man, and I have a full-time job and I don't have the resources to hire staffers and lawyers to look at all this legal gibberish. How the hell, without having a full-time staff and lawyers on retainer to decipher all this legal gibberish, am I supposed to be able to tell which of these five competing proposals for improving the schools is the best one to vote for?!
And that, my friends, is why the Constitutional Convention in Philidelphia created a Republic, not a Democracy. Democracy means that governing decisions are made by people who do not, and cannot, have enough information to make informed decisions, and the inevitable result of democracy is bad laws and bad governance. Of course, it can be said that the same is true of our current "representative democracy" (republic), but as we might put it in computer science land, that's a problem of implementation, not a problem of fundamental algorithm or structure. Implementation can be fixed. Democracy, on the other hand, can't.
One of the major regrets of my life is that, as a penguin in a time of chimpanzees, I will never have similar stories to tell. I never was any good at playing those chimpanzee mating games, much less 4x worth of them. Ah well, I am getting whiney and maudlin and that is never good for a penguin. Which brings me to the subject of guilty pleasures.
For some reason, Death Cab for Cutie's album Plans is playing on my CD player. If every shallow "high school" show had a theme album, this would be it. One reviewer said about it, "It is an album-length version of 'The OC'". It is all about chimpanzee mating games, and is part of a society-wide indoctrination of our youth in how those chimpanzee mating games are supposed to work (it is rather hilarious comparing how it works in India and China when talking with my co-workers with how it works here, it becomes utterly clear that all this "true love" stuff that we talk about here is an entirely social construct). Yet it has good poppy hooks in many of the songs, and the vocalist has a spare style that manages to make even the most banal of lyrics seem fraught with meaning.
Next up: A review of Totino's Party Pizzas. It ain't pretty...
I am preparing for my annual migration. I am working on getting my motorcycle ready for the trip, including new tires and a new clutch cable (the old one is looking a bit shabby), and getting my camping gear all straightened out for camping along the way. While doing so, I came across this stuff:
Previously I've been carrying paper plates. But they were rather inadequate for a number of reasons, one being that they weren't re-usable (easy to clean tho -- just toss them on the campfire :-). I just went to REI and got the three-piece set. The whole set, flattened, is smaller than the small bundle of paper plates that I carried last year during my migration -- and doesn't soak through, and isn't floppy like those paper plates.
Man, this is going to be the bestest migration ever! I'll be able to create culinary masterpieces on the road without having to carry bulky aluminum tableware that was easily bent and hard to fit into my motorcycle's paniers, woohoo!
-- Badtux the Migratory Penguin
Uhm, you didn't know that us modern high-tech birds ride motorcycles to migrate, rather than do it the old-fashioned way?!
Well fine. The class of people you meet down there has to be better than the child molesting, wife cheating, money-grubbing Republicans who apparently are going "up there". It'll be great meeting Groucho Marx and Mark Twain in person....
-- Badtux the Vacation-planning Penguin
Props to Ole' Blue, Mimus Pauley, et. al. for getting there first...
The European contingent at the office finally brow-beat Operations into buying real fresh-roasted coffee beans to their specification and a coffee grinder to turn it into grounds for the coffee maker.
Good coffee. GOOOOOD coffee. I'm not sure whether I'm going to go thru the trouble of switching from my favorite coffee at home, it tastes better than Community Dark Roast but not *that* much better, but it is a 10000% improvement at work.
Question: What gift should I give to the European contingent for getting us some decent coffee? I thought about cooking them some Cajun food, but their coffee is the gift that keeps giving every morning, and a one-shot deal of red beans and rice or gumbo just isn't the same. New coffee mugs? Naw, we already got too many free ones around here. I'm stumped. Anybody?
One reason why Preznit Coo Coo Bananas hasn't managed to accomplish anything with his counterpart in North Korea is simple: The Koreans are nuts.
This is hardly a new thing. In 1871, modern American warships were sent to Korea in order to ask about the fate of an American merchant vessel, the General Sherman, and to query them about their bad habit of boiling alive missionaries and sailers who washed up upon the shores of the Hermit Kingdom. The Koreans refused to talk. They instead fired upon the American vessels using 15th century technology -- brass cannons and matchlock muskets, all of which of course just bounced off of modern armored warships. The American vessels pounded the Korean fortresses into rubble with their modern rifled artillery, and sent in the Marines. The first fort the Marines entered was empty -- the crazy Koreans had decided they wanted nothing to do with the Americans, and left. So the Marines tossed all its brass cannons into the mud flats and moved on. The second fort the Marines entered was empty. Same deal. The next Korean fort, however, had several hundred Korean soldiers in it, armed with those 15th century matchlocks. The Marines, armed with modern repeating rifles and machine guns and artillery, slaughtered them, of course, with minimal loss of life on the part of the Marines -- less than a dozen killed or injured. Then they looked upriver at the next fort... and the next fort... and realized they'd be years hopping from fort to fort slaughtering Koreans but never really accomplishing anything because a few hundred Marines weren't enough to occupy the whole country. So they went back to the ship, tried talking to the Koreans again, the Koreans continued to refuse to talk, and eventually they gave up and left.
To this day, the Koreans -- North and South both -- celebrate this as a glorious military victory.
That's crazy, you say? Well, how about this. In 1920, Korean guerillas fighting the Japanese takeover of Korea raided across the Yalu River from China and occupied several Korean villages. the Japanese, of course, didn't take this sitting down -- they'd already slaughtered a million or more Koreans since taking over in 1910. So they sent three divisions to drive these guerillas out of the border towns and chase them down and kill them all. The Korean guerrillas saw the Japanese coming, and ran like hell, and didn't quit running until they'd made it all the way to the Soviet Union, where Lenin had just died and the new Soviet leader, Stalin, slapped them all into gulags. The Japanese lost a total of a dozen soldiers in this entire campaign. To this day, the Koreans -- North and South both -- celebrate this as a glorious military victory.
Crazy enough for you?!
There isn't anything we can do to North Korea that's going to make them behave rationally. You can't threaten Koreans. They simply won't care. You can't bomb their facilities. They will beam with pride at being so singled out. You can't kill bunches of their soldiers. They'll celebrate that as a glorious victory. In the end, the joint Chinese and South Korean policy of bribing them to not do something crazy is probably the only reasonable course there is.
And now I hear you say, "but what about South Korea?" Yeah, what about them? They're nuts too. They're just nuts in a different way. The South Koreans, in reaction to first the Japanese occupation then the North Korean invasion, have gone major coo-coo-bananas religious nuts.
We all know about the Rev. Sun Myung Moon and his Moonies, of course. What is less known here in the West, except amongst evangelical circles, is that the South Koreans have gone Christian in a big way. And I'm not talking tame Methodist or Presbyterian either. I'm talking full blown all-out babble-in-tongues Pentecostal and Assemblies of God snake-handlin' you name it coo coo. South Korea, a nation with 1/10th the population of the United States, now sends more Christian missionaries to the Third World than the United States does, despite the many fundamentalist congregations within the United States such as the Jehovah's Witnesses and Mormons where missionary work is a fundamental part of their faith.
The same applies to all their modern technology. They've just gone nuts there, working themselves to the bone to become the world's #1 builder of ships, the world's #1 builder of RAM chips for computers, the world's #2 builder of consumer electronics... the list goes on and on. T
Then there's their military. South Korea's regular military, at 600,000 strong, may not have the numbers of the North Korean military. But if South Korea invaded North Korea, they'd whip North Korea's butt. Their military has all the latest and greatest military technology. Their Hyundai tanks aren't quite as good as the M1A1 but are much superior to the antiquated Soviet-era tanks possessed by the North Koreans. Their Air Force is armed with F-15's and F-16's equipped with all the latest electronic warfare gizmos that Samsung can fit them with, and can shoot down North Korea's antiquated Mig-21 fighters at ranges where the North Korean fighters wouldn't even be able to detect the South Korean jets on their radars. South Korea has five million military reservists that are better trained than North Korea's entire "million man Army". South Korea is six weeks from an atomic bomb, if they decide they want one -- they possess both uranium enrichment capability and several Canadian CANDU plutonium production reactors (currently being used to produce electricity instead, but they could easily be put into use creating plutonium), and it recently came out that South Korea even has the machinery to extract Pu-239 from fuel rods, although it's all currently in storage. These guys are far more potent in reality than North Korea could ever hope to be.
Frankly, this is not the kind of mess that anybody needs to be rushing into precipitously. If you're dealing with a couple of crazies, the last thing you want to do is take any kind of hasty action. I know from experience dealing with mentally ill youngsters that you want to de-escalate, not escalate. Nine times out of ten, you can talk the crazy kid down and get him to do something reasonable. The 10th time, of course, he goes nuts and you have to call for the "here squad" to restrain him and haul him to isolation (i.e., sanctions, if we're talking in international terms), but (shrug). Why make trouble when you don't have to?
Of course, what with President Coo Coo Bananas being crazy and all, it's not likely that the sane course of action is going to take place regarding North Korea. Having President Coo Coo Bananas in charge is like looking at a dorm room with a couple of crazy kids in it, and seeing that one of them is misbehaving, and deciding to send in the craziest kid on the floor to go in and break it up. No good can come of that. Alas.
Fisk is a throwback to the Romantic era of English history, the Lawrence of Arabia era. It is always wise to view his pronouncements with caution. As with T.E. Lawrence, he views the Arab world from the viewpoint of the old-school Arabist. Nevertheless, the core of his argument stands. The first freedom that the Muslim world wants is not freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, or any of those other freedoms that are inscribed in Europe's charter of human rights or America's constitution. The first freedom they want is freedom from us -- from our secular liberal ideas, our greedy corporations, and, most of all, freedom from our tanks and guns and bombs.
It has become increasingly clear that the Muslim world doesn't want "our" democracy (not that we've ever had democracy in America). All that "our" democracy has accomplished, in their opinion, is bloodshed and slaughter of Muslim innocents, such as the children of Lebanon whose bodies are still being pulled out of the rubble of buildings bombed with American bombs from American planes flown by our proxies, the Israelis. They just want us to go away. They want to live in Muslim countries without us bothering them.
Fine, I say. Time to find an alternative to oil, pull our troops, pull our aid, and let them all do what they will. And oh, I think we can spare Broward County (Fla.) as the new Israel for all the European Jews currently in Palestine. It's almost as big as the current Israel, and there's more Jews in Ft. Lauderdale than there are in Jeruseleum anyhow. The Arabs view the current state of Israel as a problem of illegal immigration, a bunch of illegal immigrants from Europe invading and forcing out the original inhabitants at gunpoint. Fine. Remove said heavily armed Europeans to some place where they're more welcome (and unlike the Middle East, Florida *loves* heavily-armed Europeans, Floridians do love their guns!), and let the Arabs all rot in peace in their Islamist "utopias". They want to live in the Middle Ages? Well, that's their decision, not ours, and it's time to let them do what they will.
Karlo, c'mon, get with the program. If you're not a good white European-descended Amurrican, you're not a human being, and thus your death is nothing worse than killing a cockroach. Sheesh. Next thing you know, you dastardly liberals are going to be claiming that ARABS are human beings and thus we shouldn't be killing thousands of them in Iraq. What next? Equal rights for Negros? How un-American can you get?!!!
Which brings to mind another issue that has been bugging me. Politicians today -- the Bush administration and Republicans especially -- lie and lie and lie. They lie about what they're going to do (see: New Orleans, rebuilding, Bush promises thereof, vs. reality), they lie in order to get what they want (see: Iraq, weapons of mass destruction, lies about), they lie about their opponents (see: "If you elect John Kerry, you'll all DIE!"), they lie about reality ("Iraq is TURNING A CORNER!" -- about ten dozen corners over the past few years, by my count), they just lie like other people breathe.
The problem is that with all this bullshit flying around, the public has a damnably hard time shoveling all the cow dung aside to find the grains of truth underneath. All these lies are toxic to representative democracy, since it becomes impossible to figure out who'll do the best job as dog catcher, mayor, or President short of spending massive amounts of time shoveling through all this bull crapola to figure out what the real deal is.
So, applying right-wing logic, I have a proposal: You have the right to tell all the lies you want to tell, but if you do, then you get fired from your job as a politician.
Call it the "Truth in Politics Act of 2007". Tell a lie in any public forum (i.e., not to your family or close friends), and you're automatically disqualified from political office -- forever.
A co-worker from India says, "but who decides what is a lie or not?". He points out that in his nation, whoever bribes the Truth Commission with the most money is found to be telling the truth. Well, we have a whole court system devoted to that sort of thing. Any prosecutor in any state of the nation will be allowed to present a case to a grand jury alleging violation of the Truth in Politics Act of 2007. If the grand jury agrees that there is a case, then it goes to trial. At trial, what the prosecutor has to do is prove to a jury that the person involved a) said something that was not true in a public forum, and b) was either negligent (i.e., made no effort to detirmine whether what he said was true) or deliberately did so. All the normal rules of evidence, subpoena power, etc. apply. This isn't some kangaroo court "ethics committee" thing, this is the real deal. And if a jury of ordinary Americans decided that politician X lied, that's it. He is immediately removed from office, and forever barred from holding office again.
Now obviously, this could be abused, so we might want to have some checks and balances here. For example, if the jury rules that the prosecutor brought the case fraudulently or in bad faith in order to harass a politician or, worse yet, immunize a politician from being prosecuted again for a particular lie, it is the prosecutor, not the politician, who loses his job and is barred from public office forever. The jury then has the option to dismiss the case with or without prejudice (legal terms meaning, "the politician is found not guilty and cannot be tried again" and "the politician can be tried again by a prosecutor who isn't misbehaving").
Of course, the other problem is that politicians today employ proxies in order to avoid themselves being tarred as liars. For example, the Bush campaign, via one of their major campaign contributors, employed the "Swift Boat Liars For Truth" to lie about John Kerry's war record, rather than themselves lie about John Kerry's war record. I am accepting suggestions about what to do about that problem. But given that the people who employ liars generally are liars themselves, it's arguable that this situation would remedy itself over time -- lying politicians would go the way of the dodo bird, and thus their lying proxies would end up the same way.
It won't happen, of course. Our political system is based upon lies, the first lie being that it is a democratic system. But hey, a penguin can dream, eh?
There's speculation that North Korea may have faked the test by using lots and lots of high explosives. There's speculation that it was a "fizzle", a partial fission that fizzled out prior to reaching critical mass in the majority of the plutonium. There's even more way-out speculation that North Korea has no way of delivering a 10 ton nuclear weapon, given that its tests of its missiles have failed miserably (the last, BTW, is not true -- North Korea has dozens of mini-subs that could be used to deliver nuclear weapons to South Korea and Japan's ports, albeit it would of course be a suicide mission for the mini-sub). But there's one thing certain: North Korea did not explode an atomic weapon while Clinton was President, and did explode an atomic weapon while Bush Junior was President. Thanks for making me feel safer, Dear Leader George III!
It is easy to say that it is only racism that gets Southerners to vote Republican. "Scratch a Republican, see the white robes underneath", as I said in an earlier message. But it's more fundamental than that, and while racism is involved, it isn't the fundamental reason why the South votes Republican in national elections. The fundamental reason -- the reason that, amongst all other reasons, is most responsible for driving Southerners to vote for Republicans -- is a failure of hope.
From 1932 to 1960, national politics dominated by Democrats brought enormous gains to the South. The rural South gained electricity, telephone service, and indoor plumbing. The average Southerner went from being a subsistence farmer living in a tar paper shack under conditions reminiscent of the Third World, to living a somewhat normal American life.
And then the progress stopped -- with life in the South still being one of comparative poverty and deprivation compared to that in the rest of the nation. With Southern children still receiving an inadequate education, and Southern politicians still using electoral corruption and rigged laws to make sure that a small elite continued to control Southern politics. And since 1970, things have even started sliding backwards somewhat in the South, as factories close and move to China and elsewhere. And the response of the Democrats on a national level was... [crickets].
The fact of the matter is that Southerners have simply lost faith in the national government and its ability to build a better life for all. When Democrats make promises, Southerners look at those pretty promises and say, "Yes, I heard those same promises from LBJ." Southerners have simply lost faith in the ability and willingness of a Democratic Party dominated by big cities in the North and Pacific coast to address their needs. Thus they vote for the party that promises to drown the national government in a bathtub. At least then they won't be paying as many taxes to be misgoverned, the thinking goes.
Democrats will re-gain power in Washington some day, unless the Busheviks engineer a coup and declare the end of the Republic. If nothing else, the reaction of the ruling oligarchy to continuing Republican misrule will insure this. But if they obtain power and still do nothing to improve living conditions for all Americans -- including those in the South who did not vote for them -- they risk seeing their experience in the South extending nationwide. A Party that does not keep its promises is a Party that is doomed to extinction. If after regaining power the Democrats do not implement a French-style medical system, address the loss of good-paying jobs and declining standard of living of a large swathe of America, and otherwise behave as a party of the people rather than as just another arm of the ruling oligarchy, they risk going the same way as the Whigs. Whether that will be enough incentive for the Democratic heirarchy to risk bucking the ruling oligarchs and bring in reforms that improve the life of the average American... well, that remains to be seen.
The Republican Revolution has been kind to the oligarchs who rule America. The Fortune 400, the 400 wealthiest people in America, now control 50% of the wealth of America and even the least amongst them is a multi-billionaire. Their investment in getting their servants, the Republicans, elected to office, appears to have paid nicely.
That said, the oligarchs appear to be getting nervous. Their servants have started to become arrogant and started to believe their own propaganda. The last time this happened, they got their servant Richard Nixon fired by having one of their own, former Naval Intelligence officer Bob Woodward, publish details of Nixon's corruption. Once again, they've started pulling out the stops. Once again they've sent in their hired gun to smear the President (not that it takes much to smear the most incompetent and most corrupt President since Ullyses S. Grant). And now comes the latest: an article in the house organ of the oligarchy, Time Magazine, taking whacks at the Republican legislature in general.
Clearly the oligarchy is worried. While Republican rule has been kind to their pocketbooks, allowing them to amass more personal wealth than 50% of the American public combined, the continued degeneration of Republican competence to what is now a level that is astounding only in that these people all somehow managed to graduate from college (talk about your grade inflation!) is a threat to that pocketbook. The massive costs of the Iraq and Afghan wars, the enormous budget deficits, the lack of investment in infrastructure needed to help them live a good life with their wealth, and, more importantly, the possibility of public disorder if the economy and government infrastructure utterly collapses as appears likely if the Republicans continue to rule, have all combined to alarm them.
Especially the possibility of public disorder. The last time that happened was in 1932, when a Communist revolution appeared to be certain due to the collapse of the Republican order into corruption and incompetence. To prevent a revolution then, the oligarchs had to put forth programs and compromises that went far beyond what they were comfortable with. But better to offer semi-socialist solutions via FDR's "New Deal" than to have the Communists take over and strip them of their wealth and power altogether -- and that's what anything less than the New Deal would have resulted in.
They don't want the situation to get to the point this time where another "New Deal" is necessary to prevent revolution. They want to remedy the situation early, before they have to once again give up a huge chunk of their wealth and power in order to keep the peasants from storming their gates and hauling them out and hanging them from the nearest oak tree. Thus the latest sabre-rattling by the various old-line oligarchical institutions.
The only question is whether the Republicans will give up power voluntarily, or whether they will instead defy the oligarchs and cling to power by any means necessary -- by ANY means necessary. Already the Busheviks have some assets in their corner that prior regimes opposed by the oligarchy did not have -- their own propaganda networks, their own armies of brownshirted storm troopers willing to do anything for their Dear Leader and His holy annointed administration, and, most importantly, control over the voting machines that count the votes in major swathes of the country. No longer is it necessary to have operatives in each and every precinct in order to stuff the ballot box. One little 'if' statement in the programming for every electronic voting machine in the country suffices. However, it is unclear if the Republicans are going to be able to hold on to their nifty little ballot-stuffing machines past the current election. The oligarchy has started to take steps ("verified voting", paper trail requirements, etc.) that render that null and void.
As for democracy, no such thing exists in America. We get to vote for candidate A or candidate B, both of whom are candidates due to their ability to gain financial support from the oligarchy. We vote for candidates that the oligarchs choose for us, rather than for the best person for the job. Instances of true democracy in America are very rare, and typically happen only in unimportant local elections in small towns where candidates can individually meet every single voter. This nation was founded by men of wealth and means who revolted against their rightful government because said government wished to take back rule of the colonies from the wealthy and powerful men who ran them, and its government was deliberately set up so that the oligarchs who created and funded the American Revolution could retain their wealth and power into perpetuity.
For the most part, they succeeded, thanks to a propaganda effort astounding in its thoroughness and thanks to their willingness to allow the "little people" the illusion of freedom. This is how it has always been, and how it will always be. Us little people have about as much power as ants to change this, as long as the majority believe the propaganda that tells them that they are free -- despite all evidence to the contrary.
with comments that offend Hispanics, but which will have his core supporters clapping and cheering.
Scratch a Republican, see the white bedsheet underneath. Or the swastika in this case, given that the Governator hails from the same locale as that short painter dude who got half of German manhood killed...
Will it hurt his governor's run? Of course not. The people he offended weren't voting for him in the first place. This wasn't an off-the-cuff remark. This was a remark specifically calculated to shore up his support amongst the Republican base, a Republican base that in an earlier era would be capering about in a pointy hood and bedsheet, and nowdays merely vote Republican (cheaper than buying bedsheets -- have you see the price of new bedsheets lately?!).
Can... not... resist... urge to knock over the trash and lick the cardboard!
To be fair, said cardboard *did* smell slightly of catnip. And the Mighty Fang does like his catnip, to the point where I'm always scared that the DEA will smash through my door, and, mistaking the baggies in my pantry for another weed, haul me off as a major drug distributor. But this is just ridiculous, the action of an addict jonesing for his drug and willing to do anything, no matter how anti-social, to get it.
One proposal of the nutball fringe, in response to the recent school shootings, is to arm the teachers.
This is the stupidest, most inane idea I've ever heard of. All you're doing, giving guns to teachers, is giving future school shooters a source of weapons already pre-loaded in the classroom.
See, here's the deal. Guns have one purpose: to kill people. It takes a special kind of person to just pull out a gun and kill a person -- the thought of killing another human being is abhorrent to most thinking feeling humans, meaning that only antisocial crazies can easily use a gun in this kind of situation, and hopefully "antisocial crazies" does *not* describe our teacher corps. Or it takes a special kind of training to over-ride that abhorrence. Infantry soldiers get that kind of training. Cops get that kind of training. Ordinary civilians don't.
Now, some folks, conditioned by television and fiction (and I'm slightly guilty here, sigh!), think you can just pull a gun out and kinda wave it around and stuff and the bad guy will just stop and put his hands up. That's not the case. The bad guy is going to lunge at you and grab the gun and turn it on you and kill you. The only way to stop that is to kill him -- immediately, without hesitation, without thought. Unless you're trained beforehand to do this, it isn't happening.
And then there's the question of where the hell teachers are going to carry weapons. In their purse that's in their locked desk drawer during class hours to keep the little hoodlums angels from stealing them blind? Open carry in a shoulder holster because the male teacher took off his sport jacket because teaching is a hot and sweaty business (talk about your classroom distractions!)? In a gun safe where it's going to do a helluva lot of good if an armed hoodlum rushes the classroom? The people proposing this have never taught a day in their life, and don't have the slightest damned idea of just how logistically impossible their idiotic proposal is, given the working conditions of a typical teacher. Unlike an office worker, you can't just leave a loaded weapon in a desk drawer where it's easily accessible. The little thieves angels *will* get into your desk the moment you turn your back, satisfying their need to steal curiousity. And because teachers are in close proximity to children all day long, the kids will swiftly figure out that there's a gun in that fanny pack holster... and if the children know you're carrying, everybody does, meaning the bad guy will simply take you out first, take your weapon, and use it to kill others.
So yeah, go ahead and arm teachers -- if you're wanting to provide bad guys with more guns and ammunition. There's a reason why all the cops surveyed think this is the dumbest idea ever to come out of the right wingnuttysphere. And it ain't 'cause they're interested in coddling criminals either.
The Communists had their "Iron Curtain". Now the Busheviks, their natural successors, are going to be building the "Jesus Curtain" along the Southern border to keep atheists, gays, and feminists from escaping Jesus Campsuntermenschen out. Of course, show me an 10 foot fence, I'll show you a twelve foot ladder... so expect the next stage to be deployment of armed soldiers to keep the untermenschen out and, most importantly, to keep the athiests, gays, and feminists in (oops, and let's not forget about evolutionary biologists, the most heretical of all!). After all, we don't want them to be able to just leave when it comes time to round them up and send them to Jesus Camp where they can properly learn to love and worship our Lord and Savior, George W. Bush, right?!
Bill Gates is the only person on this planet more arrogant than George W. Bush. His attitude apparently is, "I can do what I want, and if you don't like it, bite me." Makes me glad I'm a Linux penguin.
I'm wondering whether the passage of the Enabling Act of 2006, which like its predecessor the Enabling Act of 1933 gives Dear Leader or his successor the right to jail anybody without trial forever in a military gulag with a simple declaration that said person is an "enemy of the state" (whoops, "enemy combatant", same difference), means I ought to start the process of leaving now rather than later when the borders might be sealed to prevent Americans from leaving rather than foreigners from entering. Penguins are not a member of one of the groups that Dear Leader's core constituency wants rounded up and placed into detention camps (gays, feminists, evolutionary scientists, etc.), but still...
In my post below I mention some places. Here we go:
Canada: Easy to get residency if you have a professional degree and professional experience. Hard to get work outside of a taxi cab, especially if you have a stereotypically American accent. 25% unemployment rate amongst immigrants.
New Zealand: See Canada.
Panama, Chile, Uruguay: Relatively "pro-business" by South American standards (meaning it takes only six months and tens of thousands of dollars in bribesfees to start a business, and if you hire someone, it takes only a year to fire them and you must pay their wages for that full year even if they find another job), note that because they are so "pro-business" you'll probably end up working in the "irregular" economy as an "independent businessman" dodging the policia, rather than as an employee. Still, if you can hack it as an "independent businessman", either place is a nice place to live. Panama has no military thus isn't going to be invading anybody, Chile has a military but the only people they would want to invade are Argentina, and the Andes make that kind of hard, so their military mostly just goose-steps a lot and occasionally overthrows the government in a junta (but that hasn't happened for 30 years now, so that's good, I guess).
Brazil: Enormous underclass, don't like Americans, period. Not safe for Americans anymore, alas.
Europe: You're kidding, right? Europe is a bunch of effete snobs who are bigotted against anybody who wasn't born in whatever country you're thinking about. And sometimes even against people who WERE born in that country. You have Algerian Muslims who have been living in France for three generations who were born in France, whose parents were born in France, whose grandparents were born in France, who aren't allowed to become citizens or to legally work, thereby forcing them into the underground economy (i.e., slave labor for the unscrupulous). Same deal with Turks in Germany.
Africa: Don't go there. Period.
Asia: As a white European you can do okay in China or South Korea or even Thailand, but you'll always be a foreigner. Some people can deal with that, others can't. Don't even think about Japan -- they're the most bigotted people on Earth, even more bigotted than the French.
Eastern Europe: You gotta be kidding.
All in all, your best bet is Canada if you're one of the groups targetted by Dear Leader's SS (gays, evolutionary biologists, etc.), followed by New Zealand. The Latin American locales are cheap and if you are good at hustling you can make a decent living there, but aren't particularly friendly to the groups that the Enabling Act is going to target -- e.g., abortion is illegal in most of them so feminists fleeing the camps probably won't feel welcome, and homosexuality is viewed as beyond disgusting down there. The only good news is that they will take anybody with money -- if you can get $200K out of your house (easy for Californians, hard elsewhere), Panama will take you in a heartbeat, for example. Canada and New Zealand are more picky, only accepting degreed professionals in certain fields. If you're an auto mechanic, neither wants you -- though it is proposed in Canada to change that (they've noticed that they have too many software engineers and not enough auto mechanics thanks to rubber-stamping so many visas from software engineers).
I'm just wondering. Is there, like, some law that says that office coffee must be disgusting?
I poured a cup of office coffee a few minutes ago. It foamed. Bad portent. I took a sip. BAH! Even worse than the Folgers they used to make! I poured it out, washed out my cup and my mouth with soap and water to get rid of any taint of the stuff, and made a spot of tea instead...
Thankfully I have a little 4-cup coffee maker and my own Community Coffee dark roast at my desk, or I'd be going thru caffeine withdrawal big-time.
Republican leader Trent Lott gave the most succinct reason why Americans don't care about all the innocents dying from American bombs and bullets in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Lebanon, when he said, of dark-skinned people overseas, "I can't tell the difference between them." Scratch a Republican and see the white robes underneath that fancy facade. There's a reason why the KKK's symbol and the right-wing Chistopath's symbol are both a cross.
I've reluctantly come to the conclusion that despite the fact that I was born in the United States and hold a US passport, I am not an American. If I were an American, I would believe, like 63% of Americans, that torture is a right nice thing rather than a moral atrocity. I would believe that it is a good idea to bomb and/or invade random countries just because we can. I would believe that the question of whether Jennifer Lopez had liposuction on her hips is more important than thousands of innocents dying due to American bombs and bullets in Lebanon or Iraq. If I were really an American, I would be an incurious Budweiser-swilling boor with an unwarranted sense of self-entitlement and an impenetrable willful ignorance about anything outside of Entertainment Weekly.
The only question is whether I make it official and start the immigration process now to move north to Canada, or wait 20 years until I hit retirement age and move south of the border, where their governments are as corrupt and incompetent as the Bushevik governments but at least they don't invade random countries and start slaughtering people for no reason but to prove that their Dear Leader has a big swingin' dick.
More to follow, after I finish cursing SOB chickenhawks and get my breath back...
"Keep fighting for freedom and justice, beloveds, but don't forget to have fun doin' it. Lord, let your laughter ring forth. Be outrageous, ridicule the fraidy-cats, rejoice in all the oddities that freedom can produce."
-- Molly Ivins, 1944-2007
"The penalty good men pay for indifference to public affairs is to be ruled by evil men."
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