Monday, January 31, 2011
Sunday, January 30, 2011
A spam message from the phone company wishing their customers a Happy New Year triggered the bomb. Read more here.
Tuesday, January 25, 2011
Have you ever smoked? Did you smoke for a number of years, then quit? If not, run this past one of your friends who did. Imagine cutting down... but never completely quitting. You're not allowed to cold turkey. You have to smoke five cigarettes a day: morning, noon, and night, with two unscheduled "snack" smokes. Never less- five smokes. But never more, either; if you cheat, have too many, you can't make up for it by skipping one the next day- it's not that easy. No, for every one you cheat with, you have to spend a week smoking the same five smokes, but half length cigarettes- just a couple puffs, not enough for satisfaction, then put it out. No matter how much you want one more toke, put it out, try to hold out 'til the next smoke... which will also be too short, until you've worked off that extra one you had.
If you're not a former smoker, ask one- there are tens of millions of us; statistically, I know you know one. Could you do it? Spend the rest of your life smoking five cigarettes a day, never more, never less?
That's what it's like losing weight.
Monday, January 24, 2011
10 Funniest Windows Error Messages
In Oakland, CA, 2nd graders had sex in class, while the teacher was present, on at least two separate occasions, according to this CBS story. Now, I've gotten used to the idea that kids will screw in class, in front of the teacher, their peers, and the recording eye of cell phones nowadays- judging by this story and this story and this story and this story and this story and this story and this story. But at least those kids were ten or more years old; the kids in Oakland were 7 and 8. Now maybe it's true, as was suggested when I brought the subject up the first time, that kids from the fifth grade on up have always screwed in class, and I just didn't hear about it when I was that age- but I'm finding it hard to believe that of 7 year olds. I tend to blame the coarsening of the popular arts for the sexualization of children these days, but like Tipper Gore and Dan Quayle before me, I get laughed at for suggesting it. I notice, however, that some of the same people who believe raunchy TV and videos have no effect on kids are the same people who think a few words from Sarah Palin will turn adults into mind-numbed robots programmed to kill.
9/11 Museum execs cash in big. "Schoolchildren thought their penny jars and bake-sale proceeds would go toward building a 9/11 memorial at Ground Zero -- not the six-figure salaries of nonprofit execs. But 11 staffers at the National September 11 Memorial & Museum each pulled down more than $170,000 in total compensation in 2009, according to the most recent filings. Four execs took home more than $320,000."Read more here
Did you think it was just a stunt when the newly elected Congress began with a reading of the Constitution? It might have been more needed than you think- according to this study, elected officials tend to know even less about key provisions of the Constitution than the general public!
Ever had a hard time getting out of jury duty? this cat knows how you feel!
The difference between private schools and public schools.
The recent astrology controversy made this blogger realize that Astrology is like Nascar
Thursday, January 20, 2011
Wednesday, January 19, 2011
I'm sure by morning Republicans will be calling Democrats socialists*, and we'll be back to normal.
*I wasn't referring to Bernie Sanders, who actually ran as a socialist.
UPDATE: The Congressman defends himself in a CNN interview by comparing the Tea Party to the KKK. His proof? That they speak of wanting to "take the country back"- which, as I pointed out, was the title of a book by Democrat party chairman Howard Dean, and the motto of out-of-power candidates in every election cycle.
Tuesday, January 18, 2011
This post has been bubbling around in my head for a while now, and recent events and discussions have brought it to the fore. I keep hearing people bemoaning how things are worse than they've ever been, and I think of my childhood and wonder how they can believe it. In the wake of the Tucson shooting, I hear people talking about the vicious, violent political rhetoric of today and I feel like I'm channeling Crocodile Dundee: "That's not vicious, violent political rhetoric- this is vicious, violent political rhetoric..." That's when I remember that I'm older than many UU bloggers, so my perspective is different. I think it's important for us to reflect just how far we've come, just in my lifetime.
I was born two weeks after the lynching of Emmet Till. It was well past the heyday of lynching; there were no box lunches or commemorative postcards sold- still, I would be a teenager before the practice stopped. Call a black man "Mr. President"? They wouldn't even call him mister- I was nine years old before the Supreme Court ordered federal courts to use honorifics when addressing black men and women. But there was no such requirement for newspapers, magazines, state and local government offices, and the general public to do so, and they generally didn't. The man we know as "Mr. President" would back then have been known simply as "Barry". I was twelve years old when Sidney Poitier's delivery of the line, "They call me Mister Tibbs! in the movie "In The Heat Of The Night" became a stand up and shout at the screen moment so big they based a sequel on that one line; I would be old enough to vote before all mainstream newspapers and magazines would routinely use honorifics.
Violent politics? While I don't remember the first, unsuccessful attempt on President Kennedy's life, I certainly remember the second one. I also remember the assassination of his brother Robert, and Martin Luther King, and several civil rights leaders. I remember the assassination attempts on Wallace, Nixon, Ford, and Reagan. I remember the riots the assassination of Rev. King caused- all told, 150+ killed and 2,000+ wounded across the United States, in addition to property damage so great many neighborhoods still haven't recovered.
Think the targets-on-the-map articles by Palin and the DLC are oh, so violent? I remember the SLA filling the hollows of their hollow point bullets with cyanide before attacking a school board meeting. I remember the Weatherman's bomb throwing. Think Code Pink or the Tea Partiers are the ultimate disrupters of public gatherings? I remember the riots at the 1968 Democrat National Convention. I remember how Vietnam war protests routinely turned into disruptions, if not always full fledged riots, until the protesters learned what a dangerous game that was at Kent State.
Oh, by the way- all of the above occurred while the Fairness Doctrine was in full effect.
And it's not just in the US, or the G-8 nations that progress has been made. When I was born, the majority of mankind lived in absolute dictatorships; today, only a handful of absolute, not answerable to the public in any way dictatorships survive. And the whole world is learning that violence doesn't have to be the answer- the peaceful breakup of first the Soviet Bloc, then the Soviet Union itself show that empires don't have to devolve into endless civil wars. And speaking of wars, we've now had the longest period in recorded history in which none of the European powers have gone to war with another!
For all of mankind's history, from the first curious ape to the last few decades, our politics, philosophies, and religious truths have been based on the underlying fact stated so well in "Jesus Christ Superstar": "Surely you're not saying we have the resources to save the poor from their lot? There will be poor always pathetically struggling..." This is no longer true- as George McGovern wrote in the United Nations Chronicle "Here are some other encouraging statistics: the world now produces a quantity of grain that, if distributed evenly, would provide everyone with 3,500 calories per day, more than enough for an optimal diet. This does not even count vegetables, fruits, fish, meat, poultry, edible oils, nuts, root crops, or dairy products." We now have the capacity to feed, clothe, and house every man, woman, and child on Earth- we need only find the political path to do so. And the history of the last couple centuries have shown that once it becomes technically possible to relieve suffering, it will eventually become politically possible as well- if only to allow the powers that be to enjoy their comforts without listening to the rest of us whine.
All this progress has come while simultaneously improving the environment, not making the situation worse. From the Cuyahoga river catching fire, to being able to develop photographic film inn the waters of lake Ontario, to the destruction of the Aral Sea, economic or technical improvement has often meant environmental degradation in the past; but today's technology means that as the Third World catches up with us, they don't have to go through those destructive stages- they can leapfrog to societies that are both modern and clean, while we developed countries continue to work on cleaning up our past.
Wow... 900 words, and I still haven't gotten to advancements in Gay rights, Women's rights, the rights of minority religions, Voting rights, OSHA and workplace safety, product liability laws, any number of things that makes this a better place to live than when I was born. So when you hear worst-evers and never-befores and other such negative superlatives, take a breath and reflect. We've come a long, long way in a very short span of time; don't let impatience and frustration at imperfection blind you to that fact. Remember that exaggeration and hyperbole are an activist's job, to claim things are much worse than they actually are, so that when s/he compromises, s/he'll be getting what he actually wanted. Avoid the greatest trap of the social activist: believing your own propaganda. You'll feel better.
Thursday, January 13, 2011
But there are other times... rarely, at times of national pride and accomplishment, like the Moon landing; more often during times of heartache, when we really need the president to be The President of the United States. And there is something about being President that affects the occupant of that office, something that elevates them to another plane of performance at those moments- no matter who they were before, or who they will be after, they become in that moment the archetype we carve into the sides of mountains. They become my President, our President. It happened last night, at the memorial in Arizona.
Here is the finest moment, an ad lib, added to the prepared speech at the last minute:
Tuesday, January 11, 2011
Look people, as I noted in my previous post, nobody has an exclusive on over the top rhetoric. (Note that the phrase "Over the top" is of military origin, from WWI) Now, many have said that the right does so much more of it that the left's few examples hardly count, and to you I say, with feeling, Bullshit.
And worse, it's insane to ascribe reasons to irrationality. From William McKinley to Harvey Milk, from Reagan to Giffords, none of their actual or attempted assassins have had a coherent political philosophy. If you wanted to ban those things that are proven to incite political assassination, you'd have to ban Twinkies and Jodie Foster movies. Call for the moderation of political rhetoric all you want- I did plenty of it in the last few election cycles. But pretending that standard political phrases and/or tactics that have been around for decades or centuries are newly minted, violent, or racist hate speech is indulging in the demonization of your enemies (who should be your loyal opposition), not warning against it.
Monday, January 10, 2011
Of course, "You Have the Power: How to Take Back Our Country and Restore Democracy in America" is actually the title of Howard Dean's book. I will grant that it was written by a white man, though.
Well, ok, but what about the map with the targets on it? There I have to agree; that's irresponsible at best and incitement to murder at worst- I mean c'mon, look at it:
At least that's not as bad as when Glenn Beck said he'd cut Obama's nuts off! Oh, wait, my mistake again; that was Jesse Jackson