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10/13/09 02:22 pm - EPIC FAIL! GOP tries to use the tubes again.

Kinda like the keystone cops, isn't it? As the GOP is being abandoned by the more repulsive ideological goons that helped catapult them to power along with Chucklefuck and Darth Vader, this latest attempt to attract young voters is both pathetic and laughable. Chairman Steele is going to have a blog called "What Up"? WHAT UP? Are you fucking KIDDING me? How can one be so painfully behind the times (didn't "what up" go out when I was in high school?), AND practice the kind of cognitive dissonance required to be black and racist at the same time? He's pandering and patronizing at the same time and, mores the better, sucking at both. If that doesn't call for an EPIC FAIL, I don't know what does. GOP Chairman Michael Steele, this one's for you!

7/20/09 09:10 pm - Naked what?

And we're back! Would you believe I actually GOT a vacation?

First off, I want to give a shout out to a dear friend who just jumped into the blogosphere, and I mean the REAL blogosphere, not my share-cropped poseur style; he's got a domain name and everything, www.econocataclysm.com. Check it out! As the title of that blog may suggest, he is concerned with the causes and consequences of the economic clusterfucktastrophe, a topic I've addressed occasionally and tangentially in my ranting here but which he analyzes in much greater depth than I ever have. Today's post derives from a conversation I had with him today about a cute little practice called naked short selling. I originally thought this had something to do with midgets and porn, but it turns out to have been another one of the systematic arcane wiz-bangs Wall-Streeters used for years to make it look like our GDP was growing by moving money around so fast it appeared to be in more than one place at once.

There's a great video here describing naked short selling in some detail, and this is one of the few times I would warn my readers AWAY from Wikipedia as an information source. Anyone who pays attention to my links notices that I mine Wikipedia for data shamelessly, so why the change? Because in this instance we are walking in a lion's den, and web 2.0 cuts both ways. I highly recommend that anyone reading this watch both videos, especially the latter, even if it means walking away from my space right now and heading to deepcapture.com. On this, their words are far more valuable than mine.

For those who don't have that kinda time or bandwidth, I'll sum it up: Short Selling, the non-naked variety, is stock market gamble, a means to “bet” that a given stock price will fall and make money off of it. It's essentially the opposite of “buying on margin,” where you buy stock with money you don't have, betting that the price will go up, which is what royally fucked so many people on Black Tuesday. In practice the process is somewhat arcane, but in principle it is actually quite simple: you convince someone to “loan” you a share of a company which you think will lose value (usually by kicking them a few cents on the dollar for the value of the share, renting it from them, if you will). You then sell this “borrowed” share at the current value. If the price of the stock falls, you can then buy a new share at the lower price, give it to the person who loaned you the share in the first place, and pocket the difference. Profit! More or less non-evil. Still making money by pushing it around, which is crap and why the entire financial sector should burn, but fair enough within its own paradigm. This legal variety of selling short is called “Covered Short Selling” because you have to cover your sale with a purchase down the road, usually sooner rather than later. This prevents the supply of shares from inflating artificially, and reduces the amount of downward pressure the process puts on the stock price in question, avoiding the spectre of market manipulation (that evil thing that the SEC exists to prevent, but,uh, doesn't. Pretty much at all.).
Naked Short Selling is the illegal variety, that doesn't require that you borrow that first share. You instead sell a share you don't have, and simply fail to deliver it to the buyer. The current stock exchange system allows for this, by giving the buyer in this situation an I.O.U. Which wouldn't be THAT bad, except that for some retarded damned reason these I.O.U.s are considered just as good as the actual share, and can be resold on down the line; in fact, after that first sale you can't tell the difference between the fake share and the real share! Even the person who purchased the share from the dodgy short seller might not know what the deal is, since all these transactions happen through chains of brokers and hedge funds, so the lie winds up buried in the books of some huge financial institution for years until it goes bankrupt and the rats abandon ship. Now imagine an unscrupulous person doing this hundreds or even thousands of times with the same company's shares. It is, essentially, counterfeiting stock, putting more shares into circulation than are backed by the value of the company, and like any situation where you just print more of something (*cough* US Dollar! *cough*), the value drops. The short seller has made money by sucking value out of the existing shares. It's basically piracy; the short seller blasts the ever loving shit out of the target's stock price in order to make a mint. And if the seller should have another reason to want the company to fail, e.g. to set up a hostile takeover, eliminate a rival company, or screw over someone you don't like, so much the better.
Normally, I wouldn't care much about this. Oh, I'm a little pissed off on the behalf of the investors that got screwed out of the value of their theoretically legitimate shares, but “little guy” is a relative term, and nobody I know has the unique combination of liquidity and stupidity to think that investing in the stock market is anything but playing dice with vampires. However, the lies I mentioned on corporate balance sheets have had this irritating habit of winding up in the national deficit of late. Turns out that short sold I.O.U.s are just another form of toxic asset, and we know what the Guvmint does with those! For instance, while the Fed won't fess up to it directly, there's a lot of evidence pointing to the buying out of about $146 billion worth of those liabilities from Lehman Brothers after they imploded almost a year ago. Which means that I got burned by short selling, and that does piss me off. And it should piss you off to, cuz you're right there on the ground next to me with a boot in your ass. So remember kids: if you ever meet an investment banker, punch him in the eye. NEVER FORGIVE WALL STREET!

6/27/09 10:08 am - Ah, conservatism in a nutshell.

I occassionally read right-wing blogs and websites, to keep my finger on the pulse of the opposition, as it were; they are always coming up with lame new excuses to explain away the fact that they are jingoist, war-mongering bigots, and I try to keep up so I can shoot the new ones down. This morning, I found myself reading a movie review of all things, over as Big Hollywood .

Not much worth talking about there, except for this gem:

"Epigraphs crop up occasionally in literature and film, but more frequently on the SAT exam. In fact, I am using the definition of epigraph as the epigraph for this review. If you are to the right of Bill Clinton, all you need to know about “The Hurt Locker” is its epigraph: “War is a drug.” Incredibly, the mainstream media is trying to position “The Hurt Locker” as politically neutral. The mainstream media are dense. “War is a drug.” Drugs are bad. Thus, war is bad. This is a left-wing film. End of story. "

I like this because of the bold assertion that only liberals think war is bad. Call me crazy, but I thought EVERYONE thought war was bad. Unavoidable sometimes, occassionally neccessary, but certainly never fucking GOOD. This guy goes out of his way to state that as a conservative, he has to love war, you know, cuz only those pussy liberals think war is bad.

I'm glad you're not ruling out service in the military, Alex. It would be good to see a conservative commentator put his money where his mouth is and go see how "good" the war is. Send me a postcard.

6/14/09 07:28 am - Can you be an atheist and still believe in magick?

So, I'm reading the God Delusion by Richard Dawkins. I'm rather fond of Dawkins. I'll admit that fomr a professional biologists viewpoint a lot of his other books look like they are more or less saying the same thing, but I acknowledge that when trying to get something as important and subtle as evolutionary theory through the thick skull of the lay person, one must use a heavy hammer and swing it several times. This book, however, is sheer genius. To be honest, he doesn't say anything I haven't at one point or another thought of myself, but it's quite enlightening to see ti all laid out in front of me in the superior prose of another. I laughed frequently, and agreed universally with everything he said. Ok, not quite, there is one point in his chapter on religion and children where he claims that religious indoctrination does more damage to a child's psyche than sexual abuse. I'll admit that teaching impressionable children to hate those different than them and to fear some petulant creator of Hell is pretty bad, but this seemed to be taking hyperbole awfully far--and when Dawkins, after claiming to have been sexually molested and then called it "embarassing, but otherwise harmless," I thought to myself "then you weren't really molested, Richard." But I digress.
One of the main points of Dawkins' book is to encourage atheist to "come out," likening the position of atheists in society to that of gays and lesbians, which isn't far wrong. I recently read a study that indicated for the first time in history that Americans as a whole are, wehn polled, more likely to elect a homosexual president than an atheist. Given the pure vitrioloic hatred gays and lesbians have to put up with in this country, that should say something! Dawkin's idea is that there are far more atheists than the number who currently claim the title, that atheists may form a significant minority in the western world, or even a plurality if compared against each religion seperately. That last I find unlikely, having encountered to my pain the widespread and acid bullshit of fundementalist fucktardery in this country, but his point is sound. Most atheists keep it quiet for fear of the personal consequences of "coming out," so maybe now is a good time for an Atheist Pride movement. And I'm tempted to do so myself.
The problem is, I'm not sure I can really call myself an atheist. I don't believe in a personal deity, so by one definition I clearly am. But I do believe in magick, something there is no scientific evidence for, and some definitions hold that atheism isn't just no belief in God, but no belief in the "supernatural."
Of course, I don't believe magick (in the neopagan sense) IS supernatural. My suspicion is that there is something about conciousness, properly focused, that can skew the laws of probability ever so slightly. And that there is some as yet undescribed energy field that catches these ripples and amplifies them, while also distorting them to a certain degree, and that this field in turn can have subtle but widespread effects on probabilistic events. I think that the headscratching phenomena in quantum physics is science nibbling around the edges of this. That's the shortest and most concise description I can give of my theory, and it is a theory, because aside from personal and anecdotal evidence, I can do nothing to prove any of it, but I am confident of it nonetheless.
I guess the difficulty for me is that my viewpoint on magick isn't a matter of faith--if conclusive evidence against it could be brought forward I would abandon it--but it isn't really quite a theory, either, because it is difficult, if not impossible, to BRING evidence against it. But since I think of it as a natural system, that follows as yet not understood natural laws, and not governed by any supreme or all-knowing creator-entity, I guess I would count as an atheist. Certainly close enough to lend my voice to the choir, anyway. So, yeah. Big surprise, folks, on top of being a socialist and a secular humanist, I'm also an atheist, save for a difficult to prove idea that conciousness can manipulate probability through some kind of quantum entanglement. Um, so there.

5/30/09 07:43 pm - Saturday night two-fer

Sorry for the long absence, I've not had a day off since my last entry. We are, to put it mildly, behind schedule. But I've got not one but two things to talk about today.

One: A response to Peggy Noonan's article on patriotism. I recognize that this is a shameless sort of necro posting, since this article was written over three years ago. I recently discovered her website and was almost shocked to discover that here was a conservative commentator who managed not to be a braying, dangerous whack-job. I've even agreed with a number of her stances, and her writing is excellent. This, however, demanded a bit of a rebuttal from me. The claim that we can't really love our country without worshipping the "myth" of the nation, and that we don't teach this "myth" in schools anymore. I know it's been almost ten years since I took American History, but all I got was myth. The infallible awesomeness of our country enshrined in a twenty year old 30 pound text. What I did NOT get was "The politically correct nitwit teaching the seventh-grade history class who decides the impressionable young minds before him need to be informed, as their first serious history lesson, that the Founders were hypocrites, the Bill of Rights nothing new and imperfect in any case, that the Indians were victims of genocide, that Lincoln was a clinically depressed homosexual who compensated for the storms within by creating storms without . . ."

That's funny, I thought maybe that stuff should be taught cuz, well, IT'S ALL TRUE. And you know, I think this country would be greater if we acknowledged it. The Bill of Rights IS kinda flawed, in it's ambiguity of nothing else, but look what it has accomplished. Yes, the Founders were hypocrites in many cases, slave owners and misogynists, but they gave birth to a nation free of slavery and working, at least, on race and gender equality. The story loses so much depth when we just say "Look how awesome those old white dudes were. Perfect. Awesomer than YOU'LL ever be, that's for sure." Fuck that.

Some excerpts from Noonan's beloved myth:

"The genius cluster—Jefferson, Hamilton, Adams, Madison, Franklin, all the rest—that came along at the exact same moment to lead us. And then Washington, a great man in the greatest way, not in unearned gifts well used (i.e., a high IQ followed by high attainment) but in character, in moral nature effortfully developed. How did that happen? How did we get so lucky? (I once asked a great historian if he had thoughts on this, and he nodded. He said he had come to believe it was “providential.”)"

...cuz nowhere else in the history of mankind have a lot of smart people gotten together and done something impressive. Oh, and I guess Washington must have acquired all of that character AFTER he pioneered the slaughter of women and children as a means of victory in the Indian wars. Nice. Founder of the nation? Sure, and props for beating back the biggest army on the planet to do it. But paragon of fucking virtue? Hardly. And how do you think our Native citizens feel when they find out that "our Father" was particular good at murdering people for looking like them, and their teacher lied about it? I'm guessing not patriotic.

"We fought a war to free slaves. We sent millions of white men to battle and destroyed a portion of our nation to free millions of black men. What kind of nation does this?"

...um, for starters, the kind of nation that enslaved them in the first place? Seriously, how do you miss that part, and give our nation credit for freeing slaves while neglecting to mention that they were OUR FUCKING SLAVES??? Also, the kind of nation that started that war for economic and political purposes and used slavery as a convenient moral wedge when public support for that war started to flag (as it always does, pesky peaceniks). Just sayin'.

What Noonan is bemoaning is the supposed passing of a mindlessly jingoistic society that is neither to be mourned, nor actually passing. I see enough "Love it or Leave it" bumper stickers to know that. Acknowledging that our nation was founded and has been run by deeply flawed people is a strength, not a weakness, because it teaches out children that every moment, every person, IS history, not just the supposedly perfect guys in white wigs a quarter millenium ago. That's a far more valuable lesson in my book.


And for part two tonight, a rant I drafted earlier today. Some members of my (mostly in-law) family regularly debate science and politics via mass e-mails, and recently a discussion of the Korean crisis got dragooned into a talk about taxes and budget deficits, in turn hijacked for a talk about the legitimacy of social programs. I don't have reprint permissions, but basically a family member many times removed took a VERY cheap shot at welfare recipients, by posting lyrics to the Raimakers song Government Cheese. I took exception:

"Wow. I'm really enjoying the respectful tone of this debate so far, but I have to admit that those lyrics are incredibly offensive to anyone, including myself, who has been on government assistance. When I first moved to Oregon, before J*** and I got married, I was having a hell of a time finding a job in the trades...even in 2005/2006 Eugene had an unemployment rate pushing 10%. There were simply NO JOBS. I was working temp shifts, labor ready, doing odd jobs on craigslist, and sending out dozen of employment applications a week. I was broke, I was desperate, and finally I was hungry, so I applied for food stamps. It was degrading, it was humiliating, they probed and prodded every single aspect of my financial history, my employment records, taxes, everything, before approving me for aid. But it got me through until I managed to get a loan and get back into school to finish my undergrad.

"I bring this up, my personal experiences, because the pervasive myth amongst conservative americans that people on welfare or food stamps are stupid, lazy, or greedy is deeply, personally offensive to me, and also complete and utter fucking bullshit. I've lived and (when I could find it) worked in some pretty damned poor neighborhoods, and while I did occassionally see more or less useless people, not trying to find work or anything except their next score of whatever drug they were doing, NONE of them was on government assistance. Because the moment you go on the dole, you are under surveillance to prevent exactly that! One of my dearest friends is on unemployment right now because she got laid off and can't find work with her skill set, and can't afford to move. And she has to meet every other week with a social worker to prove that she is indeed looking for work, by supplying written proof of each application's being declined. It's like she is on parole. But she accepts it, it's fair, because she IS taking taxpayer money, and in her words "it's just a leg up until I find a job, they have to make sure I'm trying." Those song lyrics are insulting one of the hardest working, most selfless people I know, who is having a run of bad luck.

"Because that's what it comes down to. Luck. That's why the conservative movement in this country HATES social services, "entitlements," and spreads propaganda against them ceaselessly. They MUST believe that people on the skids, on the dole, poor as dirt, are just lazy, because if you don't believe that, you have to admit that contrary to popular belief, HARD WORK ALONE IS NOT ENOUGH TO SUCCEED IN THIS COUNTRY. Oh, it is almost always necessary; but almost never sufficient by itself. If you look back honestly, B***, I'm sure you will recollect some point in your past when you had a lucky break. Some opportunity you sensed and exploited and made good on, and you are to be applauded for that. But nonetheless, I'd bet my next paycheck that at some point something totally beyond your control gave you a leg up, and opening, that you couldn't have made for yourself. There's no shame in that, but for some reason the very idea is anethema to conservative thinkers. Their success must, in their minds, be due EXCLUSIVELY to their brilliance, hard work, and moxy. And the only way they can maintain that belief is to shit on people who AREN'T successful. To blame them for their circumstances, universally. And if it's their fault, why should we help them? All they have to do is pull themselves up by their bootstraps (notice the irony that the very metaphor for being self-made is a physical impossibility?), after all, so let the sluts and their brats, the alcoholics and criminals and ignorant hicks starve, right? Not my problem, I've GOT mine, and I feel fine.

"Well, not in this country. People have been starving and dying in the gutters of every civilization since the dawn of history. We can do better. The United States of America is better than that. We were until recently the most prosperous people on the planet, there is NO EXCUSE for any of our people to go hungry, uneducated, homeless, hopeless. Are some of them lazy? Sure. Crazy? You bet. Criminal? Alas. But we can build a system where the hard working can succeed, without the fear that failure means utter destitution, even death, for themselves and their children. That the best and brightest of our nation can accumulate great wealth and properity while STILL providing everyone with the most basic needs of life, so the liberty and happiness can be persued as promised so long ago. I would rather my tax dollars supported a hundred useless free loaders than let ONE child know the hopelessness that comes with crushing poverty and lack of opportunity. Because opportunity isn't just access to a free market system, it is access to a system that will help you up when life knocks you down, where a people have banded together and declared that no one will starve, not in their neighborhood. The very behaviors that conservatives hold high in small towns they revile on the national scale; why?"

I did not recieve an answer, not really. Just a bullfaced declaration that I was wrong (from someone who has never been or worked with poor people, I gather. Upstanding business owner, this guy), and that hard work IS all that is necessary, and that I could take everything from him, including his education and starting money (not his gender or race, I noted), and he GUARANTEED he'd be a success in 20 years.

...O RLY?

5/10/09 06:24 pm - In the land of Montana, where the shadows lie...

Wow. Just wow.
In the persuit of my top secret duties, I am currently travelling from Oregon to the UP in Michigan, the long, painful way, in a rented truck. It is slow going. At the end of day two I am in Montana. I made a prediction upon the discovery that the truck has no tape deck or CD player: "Great, just a radio--Montana is gonna be 800 miles of country music." Alas, friends, I was incorrect. Montana is actually 800 miles of country music AND Jesus rock. I should have seen that one coming. Jesus rock is actually fairly inoffensive musically; if you turn the volume down just enough that you can't make out the lyrics over the roar of the highway, it sounds like a long string of emo love songs. But the stations themselves...friends, I thought that the internet had broken ground in giving free territory to ignorant batshit morons to air their backasswards bigoted religious crap, but again I was wrong; before the internet there were Montana radio stations. Today I was exhorted to protect my soul (which is "not as invincible as a cartoon") from the horrors of modern life by reading the bible; asked to give money to a lobbying group fighting in Washington to "stop the federal government from curtailing freedom of religion"; warned of the sexual immorality eroding the soul of the country; and forced to listen to a tearful woman describe how, like a car accident, she had inadvertently allowed flirting with a man at work to become "something horrible," that she'd "hurt everyone" and "sinned against God". In that last one, we could be talking anything from abortion to premarital sex, I haven't a fucking clue. And all of this on a single station, in the fifteen minutes I could stand it before slamming the radio off with a curse.
Sonofabitch, I really am in Jeezus land, aren't I? This shit gets beamed around up here 24 hours a day, on easily half the radio stations. Bullshit, propoganda, outright insurrectionary lies pollute the airwaves up here like pig shit in a river. And as I sit in my hotel in what is considered a major cosmopolitan area for this state, I can hear two cowboys out in the parking lot complaining about "them faggots". It's like Afghanistan up here. Dry, harshly beautiful, and full of dangerous morons.
Oregon has spoiled me, I realize. Living in a progressive, liberal metro area like Eugene, and Boulder before that, makes it very easy to fall into the trap of assuming that most people are reasonably tolerant and progressive human beings, if a little dim and materialistic. But drive away from the coasts a bit and BEHOLD the unwashed barbarian hordes. I know I sound elitist, but...hell, I guess I AM elitist, because I have nothing but contempt for willfully ignorant, insular hicks. There. I said it.
I can't wait to hear what Nebraska has to dish out. Stay tuned.

5/5/09 12:05 pm - No Comment

I'm kinda glad no one reads this.
I wouldn't call myself an intrepid explorer of the blogosphere, almost universally preferring forums and other gathering places where there are few, if any, people leading the discussion. But I've been around a fair bit, and what I've seen disturbs me. There are an awful lot of echo chambers out there. It's a phrase that has been used a bunch to lampoon the right wing mainstream echo chamber led by Fox "News" and Rush Limbaugh, but it applies all over the map. Some of the most virulent echo chambers I've encountered have been on progressive blogs, although that may be because my skin is thinner when I think I'm talking to people who at least on the surface aren't raving psychopaths.
It's called cultural tribalism. It affects all internet mediums, including forums, boards, chat rooms, e-mail lists, and yes, blogs. Sort of a mob-mentality thing, when you hang out with people with similar interests in the comfy anonymity of the internet, it doesn't take long for the us/them dichotomy to form. There is a feeling of community, of solidarity, and it is something that you defend against any threat real or perceived. This is a great thing for a tribe, not so good for any kind of intelligient debate.
Am I accusing these sites of squelching all debate? Of course not. But there is always an edge to it, the "loyalists" versus the "rebels" in each and every argument. Everyone on both sides is fully aware of what the "sanctioned" argument is, and it takes no time at all for the hounds of orthodoxy to descend on anyone making the unsanctioned one. Sometimes it is as obvious talking about the merits of progressive taxation on a libertarian BBS, and sometimes it is as simple as questioning the veracity of a study quoted by the unassailable blogmistress. In either case, you're batting with a pretty bad handicap, going against the flow.
So why does it irk me so much when this happens to blogs? As I've said, it happens all the time in my perferred medium, the forum, as well. Well, it'd have to be because blogs more or less inevitably become a cult of personality; a community that consists of a core group of authors, frequently just one (although there is almost always one "top dog" even in multi-author blogs), sorrounded by a core following of close friends who may know the author(s) personally, an "inner party" of generally spineless sycophants, and finally the majority of readers ("lurkers"). What began as a community that was Getting Things Done becomes a circlejerk: Author says what Readers want to hear, Readers praise Author, rinse and repeat. It's still a two way interaction, but it's become an ego thing for all involved. And it's all over when a blogger claims to be "too tired" to explain a concept to one of her readers and unleashes the hounds. Guess what? It's a blog. You're supposed to be prepared for the fact that people will happen by who HAVEN'T read the whole fucking thing (a serious vanity to expect that, really). Be prepared to reiterate, rinse, and repeat. If you don't want to, how's about, I dunno, writing a column? Then no one can comment and you don't have to explain anything. Of course, you can't get your praise that way, either.
Big blogs, it seems to me, inevitably become little dictatorships, with little iron curtains all their own. Regardless of subject matter, political alignment, or societal makeup, they become tribes, proto-nations without spears but with lots of grunting. And they make war on each other, which brings me to the other thing I don't like about blogs.
Obviously, no one really reads this journal. It's a catharsis for me to write here, and the only reason I post it online is the same reason that I subscribe to EverQuest but play solo 99% of the time. There's a certain satisfaction in making your mark on a persistent shared world, even if no one else sees it. I digress. The point is, aside from one or two personal friends who've stopped in to scrawl a penis on the stall wall, as it were, the only comments in this journal come from an earlier post where I burned Shakesville for, honestly, just the issue that eventually led me to leave tha blog behind. Sure, the icing on my cake, the comment deletion thing, was a mistake of mine that I copped to, but isn't it interesting that one of the inner party there took it upon him/herself to come over to MY space and try to start a fight? Some jingoist corner of that poster's brain could not just rip me to shreds in the thread over at his/her space, the fact that I had the temerity to call bullshit meant retaliation was in order. "Where does this guy live?" And they TPed my blog.
Anyone who has ever been to a major commentable site knows that there is no den of scum and villainy more putrid than a comments stream. And it is for this reason that I am disabling commenting on this site. Not just anonymous comments, or comments I don't like; ALL OF THEM. I come here to write. You come here to read. No community, no tribe, no circle-jerk of mutual ego stroking, just white words on a black page. Hopefully I'll make you laugh, or seeth, or even hate my ass; feel free to message me, contact info is in the header. But there will be no scrawling under my writing, no moderating, no "first!" here folks. This isn't a blog; it's a column.

4/29/09 10:40 am - Chill out, you idiots!

Swine flu count reaches 91.
Seriously, people need to chill the fuck out about this swine flu thing. You know how many people world wide have been confirmed with this?
But for giggles, the same article supposes as many as 2,500 cases "suspected" in Mexico, so let's run with that. All told, what, 3,000 people with This Year's Dreaded Plague (TM)? How many people die of REGULAR flu in a year?
Several hundred thousand, apparently.
Well, shit, for the scariest thing since Captain Trips, this sure is taking a long time to get off the ground. At this rate, swine flu'll be more dangerous than the shit I come down with EVERY SINGLE FALL in, oh, about ten years.
This is not the end of the world. This is not the beginning of The Stand, 28 Days Later, Omega Man, or any of that shit. This is an out of control corporate media shitting itself stupid in order to scare you because SCARY = RATINGS!!!!!!! Has anyone else noticed that this has happened an awful lot lately? If it's not Swine Flu, it's SARS. If it's not SARS, it's Avian Flu. If it's not Avian Flu, it's Mad Cow. Makes me wanna round up the entire media and deliver back-o'-the-head STUPID smacks to the lot! Our food supply is riddled with poison and disease thanks to inadequate government oversight of the Greedy Bastards that Own Everything* (G-BOE), and THIS is what we're supposed to be scared of?

*Copyright 2009 to me.

4/24/09 11:12 am - On a changing paradigm, or, how not to get complascent

Hmmph. For somebody as naturally cynical as I am, it is with a peculiar combination of distrust and joy that I greet a resurgence of progressiveness in our government and society. We have a Secretary of State who openly and angrily skewers Republican Representatives who are supposed to be grilling her, a President openly commited to human rights but willing to give the tough orders when necessary, and a people who despite the exhortations of Fox Propoganda believe that we are getting back on the right track. The right-wing echo chamber is as loud as ever, but it rings hollow, to a certain extent, and they are weakening their own (scattered) forces in Washington with frivolous displays and required obeisance to an ignorant loudmouth on talk radio.
All in all, it's a good day to be a progressive, a bad day for those of us who used to get a lot of mileage out of railing against the White House.
However, I want to remind (all three of) you that we can't rest on our laurels, here. Yes, Obama and Clinton are pretty much awesome in a bottle, but we're still talking about Washington, here, and as a unit the feds are just not to be trusted. It was easy to find the outrageous things about the Bush administration because there was so. Damn. Much! But we need to keep on our toes for what this Congress and this Administration will (inevitably) fuck up. In fact, we should be even more on the ball, because while before the nation's safe and sane progressives could do little but protest and rail (by the way, I seem to recall 2004's anti-war protests being WAY bigger than this tea-party bullshit, how come WE didn't get a 24-hour "news" channel covering us all day?) against Herr Bush, now we are the cinstituency, and we have a government that, while still dangerous in its power (not Obama's fault, he inherited it), seems more amenable to listening to us. We have the responsibility to continue to speak up. We could be only four or eight years away from losing everything again, don't lose the momentum!

4/22/09 09:11 pm - Holy Cow!

So I'm on Borders' website, to spend the rest of a gift card my mother-in-law gave me for my birthday last month. It was a $75 card (she likes me), and we went to the store, where I bought a snack for my partner and settled her in the foreign language section while I perused the gaming and sci-fi books. And found NOTHING worth getting. Seriously, do you know how bad a bookstore has to be when I find nothing worthwhile AT ALL? So we left. The point is, I had $70.72 left on the card when I went online (where the selection was far superior). I'd forgotten my exact balance in the intervening weeks, so I just aimed for $70. I got:

World War Z by Max Brooks
The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins
The Dragonriders Trilogy by Anne McCaffrey (for my partner, I've read them a thousand times)
Flag in Exile, Honor Among Enemies, and In Enemy Hands, all by David Weber

My bill, after free shipping and 10% discount on the trade paperbacks? $70.72.

What're the odds???
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