Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Chasing Sarah

This past weekend, our national treasure -- S-Pal -- visited Washington, D.C., to kick off her grifter bus tour.

To add some spice, the hot tamale of American politics kept all her fans -- and the press corps -- guessing where she would go. There were hints she would be here, there, and everywhere.

And the Washington media, never getting enough to cover America's sweetheart, was chasing S-Pal all over the place. From The Huffington Post:

On Sunday, Palin entered Washington on the back of a Harley-Davidson in a war veterans' motorcycle parade that is part of the Memorial Day weekend observance in the capital.  Rumors, then Twitter messages, then posts on her website showed Palin had also visited sites in and near Washington -- the National Archives, where the U.S. Constitution is on display, and Baltimore's Fort McHenry, where the "rockets' red glare" described in the national anthem took place.  A photo on her website late on Sunday showed the closing words of the Gettysburg Address delivered by President Abraham Lincoln after the 1863 battle. That was taken as a hint.

The crack journalists at Dcap Media caught the Washington pundits Chasing Sarah around town:

And we wonder why the country is going off a cliff. Instead of discussing real problems, the U.S. media is running around like a bunch of Keystone Kops chasing a woman who will cause a helluva lot more problems than she is worth.

Programming Intentionally Biased Left: Top TV Exec

Story here.

Hollywood and the entertainment industry in general is notoriously liberal and frequently seeks to shift Americans' cultural sensibilities leftward.  Even though it seems obvious to many of is, it's still a tad jarring to hear a top television executive cavalierly discuss the dearth of conservative-leaning programming on the major networks.  Fred Silverman has been a heavy hitter in network television for decades, holding influential programming and leadership positions at CBS, ABC, and NBC.  Listen as Silverman frankly admits that there's only one ("progressive") perspective in television entertainment today, and how right-leaning comedy programs are simply "not available:"

A Few Blocks Apart--a different treatment of the "N Word"

     A few short blocks away from the offices of New South Books, the publisher who caused an international stir by coming out with a version of Mark Twain's novels with the word "nigger" replaced with "slave", the Southern Poverty Law Center has posted a letter from a teacher in Louisiana.

     She described her own experience with the word and her students.

Trains = Death Too

     Thanks to Chief-Editing-Person-In-Charge Jay for pointing out another story to reawaken my snakophobia. This time it's on a train in a place where I spent some time: Vietnam. A lot of the headline writers have been having fun with it. "Snakes On A Train", you know.

     Anyway, here's the CBS TV Report about the discovery of living samples of the world's largest venomous snakes in a bag under a seat on a passenger train.
     I couldn't find any pictures of the snakes in the story, but this is me in Vietnam in 1970, and I kinda look like I'm wondering what's causing the ripples near my feet. I was young then, and had not yet developed my mature snakophobia...explaining why I am willingly standing in water that is surely infested.

(The photo also explains why I was never drafted into my unit's basketball team, and why the team has such a short season.)

Subscription = Death

Yup, it is the ultimate test of the subscription economy's hold on us.

The headline: WHO report says cell phones are carcinogenic for humans.

So what do we do?

a) Stop using cell phones?

b) Accept new safer phones that look like and weight the same as the orignal "brick" phones?

c) Ignore the report entirely and continue using our cells because we all---and I mean all of the world's people---are addicted now.
C it is then!

Why the GOP is f***ed in 2012

By Nicholas Wilbur 

The future of the Republican Party rests on the shoulders of one candidate. Unfortunately, not even the Republican Party has any idea who that candidate will be. 

The long list of potential, possible, likely and too-stupid-to-calculate-basic odds second-string presidential hopefuls include: a flip-flopping Mormon with a soft spot for government-run health care; a libertarian advocate of legalizing heroin and prostitution; a perpetually stoned former governor from a state most Americans don’t know is part of the union; another Mormon (this one who worked for a socialist as ambassador to communists), a paranoid Constitutionalist whose followers have threatened to rape a high school girl who challenged their candidate’s knowledge of America’s founding documents; an evangelic whose last name has come to mean “the frothy mixture of lube and fecal matter”; a hopelessly unattractive Minnesotan with no redeeming qualities other than his own self-awareness in admitting publicly that he’s boring; and a pizza maker.

Romney is ready to take on
supporters of Medicare. Other
potential GOP candidates,
 order your red man suits online today

With such a pathetic roster of uninspiring candidates, the Republican Party was more than happy to leave the media spotlight for a weekend as the perpetually campaigning Mama Grizzly from the Upper One state launched a Memorial Day “Rolling Thunder Magical Mystery Bus Tour” along the east coast. Riding into DC on an all-American hog and dressed in full leathers, the still unpopular, still unqualified former half-term governor of the Great Frontier, who sold her soul to Rupert Murdoch in order to prolong her short-lived 2008 Mama Grizzly publicity tour, kept the limelight burning for one last-ditch effort to sell some books and boost her public image before the media finally catches on and permanently turns the cameras away from the publicity hound and onto the real, equally hopeless but nonetheless inarguably “legitimate” candidates for the presidency. The most that will come of this magical bus tour is a Fox News segment on patriotism and motorcycles – and possibly a sequel to Hustler’s 2008 porn flick “Nailin’ Paylin.” (“Nailin’ Paylin Part II: The Bang Bus Tour,” or maybe “Paylin Does Pennsylvania.”) 

Whomever the GOP trots out as the next “savior of the party” better come equipped with a red man suit, a dog-eared copy of “How to Win Friends and Influence People,” and either Scott Brown’s Cosmopolitan centerpiece photographer, Brad Pitt’s personal trainer or Bristol Palin’s cosmetic surgeon – because he’s going to have a lot of heartened hearts to soften before Election Day. 

Between near-riotous town hall meetings prompted by Rep. Paul Ryan’s plan to “voucherize” Medicare, the party’s backing of anti-union laws, and the continuous state- and federal-level efforts to defund family planning services and undermine women’s right to choose, the Republican Party’s presidential nominee will face the seemingly impossible feat of convincing retirees, women and laborers – not to mention the unemployed, the LGBTQ community and college students fighting for grants and scholarships – that the GOP cares about more than securing the votes of the Tea Party base. 

Then, of course, there’s the question of party’s post-primary strategy: how will he (or, less likely, she) go toe to toe with the supercandidate (and popular incumbent) Barack Obama, who enters the race with the political equivalent of a Seal Team 6 campaign apparatus? President Obama – the Commander in Chief who captured and killed Public Enemy No. 1, the international uniter, the eloqutionist and the level-headed pragmatist – is already salivating at the prospect of debating a presidential challenger about the fiscal ramifications and social consequences of continuing tax cuts for millionaires, abolishing the health care reforms that stopped insurance companies from dropping coverage on a whim and bankrupting families without mercy, eviscerating the social safety net for seniors and the poor through radical changes to Medicare and Medicaid, holding hostage federal funds for disaster relief to ravaged states until Democrats embrace more budget cuts and every other radically unpopular policy the GOP has pushed since 2010. 

All of this is to say that the candidate Republicans nominate to face off against Obama in 2012 won’t be a candidate who is capable of actually winning. There is no such candidate. Not even in the party’s wildest, homoerotic political wet dream does such a candidate exist. But that isn’t what the 2012 race is all about. If Republicans are smart (a rhetorical question if there ever was one), they’ll take advantage of the free publicity, use the opportunity to train a future leader in the art of presidential campaigns, save the estimated $1 billion they’ll have to spend in order to make a dent in the Obama incumbency, and use 2012 as a primer for the only election race in which they have a fighting chance: 2016.

(Cross-posted at Muddy Politics.)

Beer For Breakfast

By Carl
David "BoBo" Brooks is to thoughtful analysis what Charlie Sheen is to lucidity.
To-wit, in pondering the fate of college graduates:

College grads are often sent out into the world amid rapturous talk of limitless possibilities. But this talk is of no help to the central business of adulthood, finding serious things to tie yourself down to. The successful young adult is beginning to make sacred commitments — to a spouse, a community and calling — yet mostly hears about freedom and autonomy.

Today’s graduates are also told to find their passion and then pursue their dreams. The implication is that they should find themselves first and then go off and live their quest. But, of course, very few people at age 22 or 24 can take an inward journey and come out having discovered a developed self.

Most successful young people don’t look inside and then plan a life. They look outside and find a problem, which summons their life. A relative suffers from Alzheimer’s and a young woman feels called to help cure that disease. A young man works under a miserable boss and must develop management skills so his department can function. Another young woman finds herself confronted by an opportunity she never thought of in a job category she never imagined. This wasn’t in her plans, but this is where she can make her contribution.

Two observations immediately spring to mind. First, the ten most popular college majors seem to indicate that Brooks' concerns are ill-advised. You need to get down to number nine on the list, psychology, before you hit a soft, non-material target. College students today get it, David. The world requires money, it demands a genuflection to authority (note where criminal justice lands on the list), it inspires...conformity.

Second, as should be obvious from that list of popular college majors, students have taken that inner journey and decided that a good salary is the most important plan for their lives.

(An aside: number three on that list, communications, concerned me at first, until I realized they are also lumping in media like web-design, advertising and even marketing into the mix. But I digress...)

But soft, what is Brooks' issue with asking our young people to aspire to greatness? Life is about limitless possibilities, and while the vast majority of us will work forty, fifty, maybe sixty years making someone else richer, what's the problem with reminding people that there are alternatives? Or reinforcing in the minds of the small minority that they should have the courage to strike out on their own?

"Ah, a man's reach should exceed his grasp, else what's a heaven for?"

Even if you do end up working as an office drone, a cubicle gopher, a desk jockey...and there will always be jobs for people willing to spend eternity in front of a computer screen monitoring someone else's wealth...what's wrong with applying that same advice to the rest of your life? What's wrong with running that extra mile, or painting a landscape, or collecting that stamp that you've always wanted to own? Is life our job? Is our job our life?

Brooks, being the quasifascistic little capitalist drone that he is, by his very nature has denied the existence of a morale value to life that cannot be measured in dollar terms. He hacks away at a keyboard, then presuambly goes off to cocktails and whatever pathetic little existence he squanders his precious time on planet earth with.

No one lives to work, except for those idiots who somehow believe that, with hard work and perserverance at a job, they can themselves become fabulously wealthy and make other people drone for them. To those who still believe THAT fantasy, buy lottery tickets because your odds are better. You might make a comfortable living, but you will never get that rich slowly, and you will never have a life.

Adults make compromises with life, even as they've decided that there are no compromises to be had. Ask any artist who has made it big on the back of their own work, and they will tell you of the countless friendships they've lost, the money they've forgone working in an office, the opportunities they've missed. In choice, there is always a compromise to be had. Sacrifices are made by both sides.

"Progress has never been a bargain. You have to pay for it. Sometimes I think there's a man who sits behind a counter and says, 'All right, you can have a telephone but you lose privacy and the charm of distance. Madam, you may vote but at a price. You lose the right to retreat behind the powder puff or your petticoat. Mister, you may conquer the air but the birds will lose their wonder and the clouds will smell of gasoline.' "

Brooks would rather that this small percentage of American adults, this 20% of college age Americans who actually graduate each year (scary thought, that), should be like the rest of us, as if giving them the tools to build the wings to fly their own lives as high as they want is a bad thing, that they might crash and burn. No, they should be like the vast majority of us, and hunker down for our next paycheck and live life as though we will always have a safety net under us, as pathetic as that net may be.

If the past thirty years in America have taught us anything it's that the social contract between a company and its employees is not sacred. My job can go away in the blink of an eye, through no fault of my own. So can yours. So can hers.

Now, I will say this in defense of Brooks' piece: in my experience, very few people at 20 or 25 know themselves well enough to know what they want, but here's the thing. It's not that they can't. It's that we've given them so many conflicting images and opinions about how to shape their own world that we've imposed expectations and "should haves" on the most fragile of beings. These fawns are barely standing on their hooves and we ask them to sprint and compete.

If that's so and if the contract with citizens and corporations is nulled, then perhaps counseling our graduates to caution is a bad idea. We should encourage them to exceed their expectations. We should demand that they take five years off and walk the world. (I've always had this fantasy of a draft for the Peace Corps, sorry.) We should tell them that it doesn't get any better than they have it right now, and they ought to enjoy it because most of them will fail and they will end up in the corporatocracy. But they should try first, so that when the alarm clock rings on the cold winter mornings that sees them get dressed and jump on a commuter train, bleary eyed, they can smile back on the effort and know they gave it their best shot and can move on now.

As opposed to people of Brooks' age who never even tried and now try to rationalize their failures by warning people behind them how scary the world is. I'm Brooks' age. I know of where I speak. For it is only now, as I turn the corner of my middle years and face the yawning descent that I see how much time I must make up and how little energy I have left to do it in.

Many of my readers are recent college graduates, certainly more recent than I, and are at cusps and cross-roads of their lives. I tip my hat to you, and offer this small consolation.
You can't have screwed things up that badly that you can't tear it all down and start from the beginning. It will be difficult, it will be fraught with psychic peril and yes, sometimes it might be painful, but there is no pain worse than looking back across decades and seeing yourself stagnate.
Do it. Just do it.
(crossposted to Simply Left Behind)

I know what you're thinking

By Capt. Fogg

My first thought was: I've seen this scenario in some cheesy Tom Cruise infected Sci-Fi movie. Apparently that thought occurred to the Nature.com editorial staff as well. The Department of Homeland Security it would seem, is testing a system to detect malicious thoughts. No really.

They call it Future Attribute Screening Technology (FAST) because that's what government departments do with their doings, lest clear speech shed clear light. They make up acronyms that disguise the tunnels they dig under the foundations of liberty, but I digress. The technology purports to identify individuals who are planning to blow things up or have "malintent" as they say in the dialect.

Like a more traditional polygraph, FAST measures heart rates, among other things. Heart rates respiration and perspiration go up, after all when you're nervous about the bomb in your shorts or wishing you could throttle some thick-skull TSA twit as he gives you grief over an aspirin in your pants pocket that shows up on a scanner and starts groping you for explosives as you put your hands over your head in abject submission. Hell I'm sure I'd set off all kinds of alarm bells right now just thinking of how I've so often been treated as a felon on his way into the penitentiary instead of a tired traveler trying to get home.

I have no idea about what else this electro-mechanical night club bouncer measures and I'm not sure it invades any privacy that hasn't already been taken away by the cowardly traitors who passed the "Patriot" Act. I'm too lazy and too unwilling to provoke myself into another Lewis Black style tantrum to read the " Privacy Impact Assessment" our bureaucratic brethren at DHS have given us. I'll leave that to you. Besides my loathing of people who seem to exist only for the purpose of inserting that fly-blown and putrid metaphor into every sentence, it was written, most revealingly, by someone any German speaker will recognize as the Devil himself: Hugo Teufel III, Chief Privacy offer at the DHS under George W. Bush.

Does it work any better than the Polygraph does at detecting the evasions of sociopaths? It would have to, since those tend to be the people we're looking to put on no-fly lists and of course we won't have the results interpreted by a seasoned professional, but rather someone who was promoted from K-Mart security officer last week.

No, it's the stuff of B movies or sarcastic Dr. Strangelove sequels or even Orwell novels, but perhaps we've lost the ability even to see what the politics of fear has done to us in our cringing, cowardly new century.

(Cross posted from Human Voices)

Patriotism Versus Gonadism

Sarah Palin demonstrating proper hand position during the National Anthem on Memorial Day.

Obama demonstrating disgraceful hand position during the National Anthem.  On one of at least two occasions, suggesting that it's a deliberate snub to America.

Obama doing it AGAIN.  What, do his balls hurt when someone sings the National Anthem?  Or is he just showing that he's anti-American?

The TRUTH About the Middle East

Story here.

The truth is that "Palestine" is no more real than Never-Never Land. The first time the name was used was in A.D. 70 when the Romans committed genocide against the Jews, smashed the Temple and declared the land of Israel would be no more. From then on, the Romans promised, it would be known as "Palestine." The name was derived from the Philistines, a Goliathian people conquered by the Jews centuries earlier. It was a way for the Romans to add insult to injury. They also tried to change the name of Jerusalem to Aelia Capitolina, but that had even less staying power.

"Palestine" has never existed – before or since – as an autonomous entity. It was ruled alternately by Rome, by Islamic and Christian crusaders, by the Ottoman Empire and, briefly, by the British after World War I. The British agreed to restore at least part of the land to the Jewish people as their homeland.

There is no language known as Palestinian. There is no distinct Palestinian culture. There has never been a land known as Palestine governed by Palestinians. Palestinians are Arabs, indistinguishable from Jordanians (another recent invention), Syrians, Lebanese, Iraqis, etc. Keep in mind that the Arabs control 99.9 percent of the Middle East lands. Israel represents one-tenth of 1 percent of the landmass.

But that's too much for the Arabs. They want it all. And that is ultimately what the fighting in Israel is about today. Greed. Pride. Envy. Covetousness. No matter how many land concessions the Israelis make, it will never be enough.

Monday, May 30, 2011

American Presidents and their wives free paperdolls

Major migraine today, so not much of a blog today.
I have loads of things that I wanted to share today, so I will do that with a later blog.
Not to disappoint, today I will share paper dolls of American Presidents and their wives.
These are mostly, if not all, from Dover publications.
Please check out their web for TONS of super paperdolls, site is on the right.

George Washington and his wife Martha Dandridge Curtis Washington:

Thomas Jefferson

this includes a costume for Dolly Madison.
Here is the base doll for Dolly Madison:

Andrew Jackson and his wife Rachel:

Abraham Lincoln and his wife Mary Todd Lincoln:

Dwight D. Eisenhower and his wife Mamie:

Jimmy Carter and his wife Rosalyn:

John F. Kennedy and his wife Jackie:

Richard Nixon and his wife Pat:

Gerald Ford, his wife Betty:

Ronald Reagan and his wife Nancy:

Bill Clinton and his wife Hilary Rodham Clinton:

George Bush and his wife Barbara:

George W. Bush and his wife Laura:

I am embarrassed to include our current President.
While I try to respect him as the leader of the USA, he is so NOT our leader.
I know of no one in my circle of family and friends that agree with his policies,
the laws he has overturned or put in place.

I am deeply ashamed of his attitude towards Israel.
My dear friends in Israel,
please know that his lack of support
is NOT the general attitude of the American people,
and certainly is not mine.


Oh well, this is a paperdoll event, so we include the saints and the sinners.
We have had other "poor" leaders, and have survived.

Barack Obama and his wife Michelle:

just a side note here,
as a person, I really like Michelle Obama!

So, that's it for today.
We'll have more fun tomorrow!