Saturday, October 2, 2010

I don't think "serfdom" means what you think it means

Have the Glenn Beck followers who are buying up Hayek's The Road to Serfdom got to page 148 yet?

Where, as in the case of sickness and accident, neither the desire to avoid such calamities nor the efforts to overcome their consequences are as a rule weakened by the provision of assistance — where, in short, we deal with genuinely insurable risks—the case for the state’s helping to organise a comprehensive system of social insurance is very strong . . . . But there is no incompatibility in principle between the state's providing greater security in this way and the preservation of individual freedom . . . . Wherever communal action can mitigate disasters against which the individual can neither attempt to guard himself nor make provision for the consequences, such communal action should undoubtedly be taken.

Friedrich Hayek, notorious Obamacare socialist

Friday, September 3, 2010

Right wing lawbeaking Brits rewarded

An interesting story via Rupert Murdoch-employed reporters hacked into the voice mail of the royal family, various government officials and celebrities. After a half-hearted investigation by Scotland Yard, the reporters went to jail.

Then, in a stunning display of taking responsibility for one's own actions and avoiding lawsuit abuse, as the right continually pontificates about, they sued their employer for wrongful dismissal and collected big payouts.

Then, showing that (as they tell us about illegal aliens here) breaking the law simply cannot be tolerated, their boss, who encouraged the hacking, became the media advisor to Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron.

Fortunately, in this country, the Murdoch media empire is strictly non-partisan.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Apropos of recent events in Chicago

"The word ‘appeasement’ is not popular, but appeasement has its place in all policy."

"Appeasement from strength is magnanimous and noble and might be the surest and perhaps the only path to world peace."

What flaming, weak, cheese-eating surrender-monkey libtard would say something like that?

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Once in a while you get shown the light in the strangest places . . . .

Last year when I was on my way to the UnRally in New Hampshire, I was riding down a very nice back road in - well, let's say somewhere between Chicago and New Hampshire, for reasons I'll explain. It was after dark, it was a beautiful night, and I came around a sweeping right-hand turn and saw - WTF is that?

Off to the right off the road, there were dozens, possibly hundreds, of colored lights, seemingly hovering a few feet off the ground.

I hit the brakes, found a place to turn around, and came back to take another look. I couldn't see any structures or objects or anything in what appeared to be an open field, just a constellation of red, green, blue, pink, yellow points of light.  It was beautiful, and I absolutely couldn't register what it was. I couldn't see any structures, vehicles, signs, any buildings nearby, and it was too dark (and not advisable) to go wandering off into the field to see what it was. So I marked the location on my GPS and continued.

Later I checked the spot on Google Maps, Bing Maps, everything I could find. There was nothing interesting - an open field, a farm house, a barn. I couldn't find any business or point of interest or search engine hit for anything on that road. It was a mystery.

So this summer I had some unpaid days off work and decided to head to the BMW Riders' Association rally in Pownal, Vermont. Among the ulterior motives for the trip was that I could take a fairly short detour - only about 100 miles out of my way - and ride by whatever this was, this time in the daylight.

So coming back from the rally, I took the little detour, down a really, really awfully boring road, and down the nice little back road, and as I got to the spot, I started laughing with delight.

It's a field full of carousel horses - not the fancy antique kind, the plastic kind from the coin-op rides outside the supermarket - mounted on poles, with light globes on top of the poles.

I took a couple of photos from the road, somewhat intimidated by the signs that said NO TRESPASSING and YOU ARE NOW CROSSING THE 38TH PARALLEL. I didn't want to stumble into some North Korean  carousel-horse trap.

I noticed some people sitting around a picnic table off to the side. I waved, they waved, they didn't shoot, so I figured it was safe to approach. One of the people got up and held out a grimy hand.

"You military?" he asked. An interesting opener.

I pointed to the horses. "I have to ask - why?"

"Why not?" he replied. Which is hard to argue with.

We all chatted a bit more, and it turned out that the two guys sitting at the picnic table were responsible for the horses. It was hard to determine exactly who did what - there had been some beer consumption before I arrived - but what I gathered was, they just wanted to do something, and this seemed like a good idea, and it just kept growing as they found more and more of these horses at flea markets and yard sales.

It also turned out that they were a couple of old-time truckers and bikers (the dog-eared and duct-taped Clymers Harley service manual on the table was a good hint), and we chatted for a while about riding, bikes, life on the road.

Then guy # 2 started telling a story about the time he was riding his Harley somewhere, and he looked up on an overpass and "colored people" were fixin' to drop something on him, so he reached into the pocket of the Vetter fairing and pulled out a pistol and started shooting in the air, not at them, mind you, just up in the air to scare them. From the way he paused before he said "colored people", I had an idea what he meant to say. I also had a feeling that if I hung around much longer, I would either be invited to supper or would be supper.

So, my quest was over and my question was answered. I thought this would be a great bonus for an long distance rally, but I found the people there really, really, well, disturbing, and I don't know that having a bunch of bikers traipsing around their yard would be appreciated. This site is really, really charming in the daytime, and really, really stunning at night with the lights on, and really, really weird. So for now I won't tell you exactly where it is, but perhaps I've leave a clue.

You don't expect creative artists to be redneck bikers, and you don't expect redneck bikers to be creative artists. Once in a while you get shown the light in the strangest places if you look at it right. Yes indeed.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Wild Times in Maine post-Obama

MDI Police: Flaming Air Mattress Brings Charge

Things seem to be getting a little out of hand in Maine since the Obamas visited. From the police blotter:
Christopher Smith, 36, allegedly piled a bunch of clothing and bedding onto an air mattress and lighted the pile on fire while in the Compass Harbor Village apartment of an acquaintance, according to Lt. James Pinkham.

Mr. Smith, who might have entered the dwelling through a window, told police that the woman who rents the apartment had invited him over the night before, Lt. Pinkham said. The woman, however, said that she was drunk at the time and didn’t remember doing so.
I hate it when that happens.

This story builds to a dramatic peak:
The owner of a local kayak tour company is in hot water following a bizarre incident July 14. Brescian Lander, 34, of Bar Harbor, the owner of Acadia Park Kayak Tours, paddled to the town pier in a panic just after 9 p.m. that night, threw his kayak up onto the dock, and began hollering, asking if anyone had a boat he could borrow, Lt. James Pinkham said. When he received no response, and after a fruitless search at the restaurant next door, he ran down to the boats docked along the pier and started trying to get one started. Finally, Mr. Lander allegedly was able to start a boat and take off, Lt. Pinkham said.

Several witnesses were startled by Mr. Lander’s behavior and assumed that someone must have gone overboard from a kayak somewhere. They notified Officer Brad O’Neil, who had just gotten down to the town dock on other business. A major search operation was immediately launched, which included a contingent from the Coast Guard’s Southwest Harbor station, a search with night vision goggles, Officer O’Neil riding on a lobster boat with a lobsterman, and the take-off of a helicopter from the Coast Guard’s Boston division. No sign of anyone in the water could be found.

At some point, Lt. Pinkham said, Mr. Lander himself contacted the police. He said that he never reported anyone overboard. He said further that the reason he had to take a boat was because he left some very important business papers out on Bar Island, and that he had to retrieve them. He was worried, Officer O’Neil said, that the incoming tide was going to wash his things away. Mr. Lander was summonsed on a charge of unauthorized use of property.
Well, perhaps not so dramatic:
Two days later, on July 16, Mr. Lander called police to ask for help retrieving two kayaks that had floated out to sea during high tide. No officers were available at the time.

Then the next item, in its entirety:
Two women were reported walking topless downtown on Monday.
And? Who were they? Were they summonsed, or was Lt. Pinkham too busy dealing with Mr. Lander's problems?

Two people were reported passed out on Bridge Street early Monday. The couple was warned for trespassing.
What was the warning? "Go pass out on your own lawn?"

A landlord reported July 13 that one tenant had given her pictures of another tenant’s Facebook page that showed that tenant engaged in illegal drug activity.
I'm trying to imagine how the Chicago Police Department would respond to that call.

A group of Russians was reported breaking things on Maple Avenue on July 16.
And you thought the Cold War was over.

A Lookout Point Road resident reported July 15 that a stranger had knocked at her door and tried to yank off her screen door. The stranger said that she “just wanted to ask some questions,” according to reports.
I'll bet he said it in a Russian accent.

An intoxicated female walking in the Eagle Lake Road Saturday night was given a ride home by Officer Soren Sundberg.
I know the dating scene in Maine is slim pickings, but . . .

A woman reported July 15 that a computer hacker had changed her passwords to a social networking site, and e-mail, cell phone and banking accounts.
Probably those pesky Russians again.

While assisting Bar Harbor police with patrols during the weekend visit by President Barack Obama and his family, Officer Ryan Lawson charged two women with alcohol violations.

Shortly after midnight Sunday, Officer Lawson saw two young women lying on the sidewalk on West Street. In speaking with the women, the officer noted that they both had been drinking.
It's getting so you can't walk down the street on Mount Desert Island without stumbling over people lying about.

People swimming near the Long Pond pump station were ordered by police to get out of the water on Sunday. The area is posted “no swimming.”
There's just no respect for the law any more.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Watch a Right-Wing Lie Spread

Watch this right-wing lie spread and see how long it takes to get to Rush or Glenn or Sarah.

On the Chicago Tribune website I saw a link today with the headline Something Must Be Done About Excessive Teachers Making $100,000.

First of all, it's illiterate. The teachers are excessive? There's an excessive number of teachers? The irony of someone criticizing the educational system with an incoherent sentence that could use some editing from an English teacher . . .  but I digress.

If you follow the link you get to a ChicagoNow blog (facilitated by the Tribune) from a Warner Todd Huston aka Publius (they always think they're writing the New Federalist Papers) with the title For All Teachers' Whining, Almost Half of Chicago Area Teachers Make $100K a Year. And that links back to yet another blog.

Wow. That's an astonishing number. Almost Half of Chicago Area Teachers Make $100K. Clearly teachers are overpaid whiners.

But if you actually read down to the 3rd paragraph, or click through to the original Tribune article, you find out

"only four percent of Illinois teachers make the big bucks".

And if you read the original Tribune story, you find out that only in wealthy towns such as Highland Park and Deerfield and Park Ridge and Hinsdale do almost half the teachers make six figures.

As the Tribune notes, "Six-figure teacher salaries of that magnitude are rare elsewhere in Illinois."

(Let's just ignore the whole question of whether this isn't exactly what the right-wing has been advocating for years - localized decision-making that allows wealthy people being able to choose to hire the best teachers money can buy to teach their children, and not have to spend their money on inner-city kids (until they end up paying for the inner-city kids to rot in prison for life))

So "Almost Half of Chicago Area Teachers Make $100K a Year" is not true. It's a fiction. It's a lie. You can't attribute it to argument or a difference of opinion, it's factually not true. If you actually read the story cited, you know that this blog post has no credibility.

But if you do a Google search for For All Teachers’ Whining, Almost Half of Chicago Area Teachers Make $100K a Year, how many results do you get?

At this point, 110 results. About 110 other sites have simply linked to a ficticious blog post simply because it has a juicy headline. It gets linked, and re-linked, and some radio talk show host sees the headline and rants about overpaid teachers for 5 minutes, the faithful believe it, and it becomes a right-wing factoid, just like Obama dismissed the charges against the New Black Panthers or Obama spends all his time golfing.

"We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality." I can't wait until somebody tells me that half the teachers in Chicago make $100K. Not that I expect that I'll be able to refute that misapprehension with mere facts, but I'll be able to say "told you so."

Friday, July 16, 2010

Obamas in Maine, and a Really Bad Idea

The Obamas are in Maine, enjoying a weekend in Acadia, which is a great place to be. (I recommend the Jordan Pond House for popovers). And Mainers are understandably excited, but:

Rep. Chellie Pingree, the congresswoman from Maine’s 1st District, said in a statement, “I think the Obamas will really enjoy the quiet woods, beautiful coast, wonderful people and everything else that brings thousands of families here every year.” She also shared with her opinion on Maine’s Coast 93.1 radio Thursday that the Obamas should try two drinks during their stay: Moxie soda and Allen’s coffee flavored brandy.

Moxie, sure, everybody should try it once. Most people hate it - it's kinda like Campari-flavored root beer.

But Allen's Coffee Brandy? Bad idea.

The champagne of Maine, aka "fat ass in a glass", aka "gorilla milk", aka "liquid leg spreader"? "Cited by 59 percent of those seeking substance-abuse treatment" in Maine?

The biggest selling liquor in Maine is the half-gallon bottle of Allen's. The second biggest selling liquor in Maine is the liter bottle of Allen's.

In 2003, a woman from Penobscot dug up the ashes of her boyfriend, then later explained, "I never would have done that if I hadn't been drinking Allen's," according to a report from the time. A year before, a man from Bangor had been discovered asleep in a stranger's bed wearing stolen pink underwear; he explained later that he had consumed a half-gallon of brandy.

We don't want the leader of the free world padding around the White House in his bathrobe sipping sombreros out of an old Dunkin Donuts to-go cup. Better he should have a nice cold Geary's Hampshire Ale if he wants a real, safe taste of Maine.

Latest faux outrage from the Party of No

Stimulus signage has GOP outraged - Chicago Breaking News

First-term Republican Congressman Aaron Schock of Illinois is peeved over the green highway signs that have sprouted across the U.S. touting stimulus dollars at work.

"Propaganda. An unnecessary overhead expense," argued Schock, who, like every House Republican, opposed last year's $787 billion stimulus.

Lately some Republicans have been taking aim at signage for the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. This month, Schock introduced a bill, the "End the Stimulus Advertisement Act," to prohibit them.

Question for Rep. Schock: how much taxpayers' money are we going to waste doing a politicized investigation of how much taxpayers' money was spent on signs? Signs that cost about 0.07% of the total stimulus spending? Signs that are pretty much the same as the "Your Tax Dollars at Work" signs that get put up for every government project? Signs that are actually creating some work for people out there:

Where do Republicans think the signs come from, asked Eddie Vale, political communications director for the AFL-CIO. "There isn't a magical road sign unicorn that brings them. They're manufactured, that is, building and placing the signs also create jobs."

At Western Remac Inc. in west suburban Woodridge, president Mike Conoscenti said it had made and sold about 100 Recovery Act signs -- and he appreciates the work. "In this day and age, everything is extremely competitive in pricing. Work is down for us across the board, our margins are extremely tight, and we're happy for anything that we can get."

How much money are we going to spend to find out that we didn't spend very much money on these signs? How much money are we going to spend printing and distributing and contemplating the "End the Stimulus Advertisement Act", which will probably go nowhere, and be a bigger waste of time and money than the signs?

For my conservative friends: don't you ever read a story like this and recognize, deep down in your heart, that this constant artificial outrage over trivia is manufactured to keep you riled up?

And are you equally outraged that taxpayers' money was spent putting up signs memorializing the Ronald Reagan Memorial Tollway?

Reagan Tollway

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Stupid squirrel

We have a stupid squirrel in our yard. It was about 3 feet up a tree, and the dogs spotted it, and rather than running up the tree, the squirrel ran around it and around it. Bad decision, because that kept it right around dog jaw height. After 3 times round, Hope was inches behind and closing, and Cassie was bearing down with the angle to cut it off, and the squirrel finally figured it out and headed up.

Then, not 10 seconds after the dogs lost interest, with them not more than 5 feet away, it headed back down to sit on the ground and finish off the nut it was working on. Hope you really enjoyed that nut, squirrel.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Why blog when somebody else writes stuff like this?

Failures « The Poor Man Institute:

"Can I make a tactical suggestion? If you find the Center for Advanced Study in Terror Arts and Sciences where Mr. Shazad received the technical training which led him to build a “bomb” out of bottle rockets and Miracle-Gro, and then gave him the operational training such that he was somehow incapable of setting fire to fucking gasoline, please do not do anything which would lead to any disruption of classes. I’ll give you a moment to let that sink in. If anything, the US government should be making sure they have the best facilities and most attractive campus for training people how to fail six different ways at terrorizing anyone."

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

The wisest analysis of the Tea Partiers I've seen lately

Rick Pearlstein, author of Nixonland, gets it right in What Tea Party Backers Want in the NY Times:
[T]hey are the same angry, ill-informed, overwhelmingly white, crypto-corporate paranoiacs that accompany every ascendancy of liberalism within U.S. government.

“When was the last time you saw such a spontaneous eruption of conservative grass-roots anger, coast to coast?” asked the professional conservative L. Brent Bozell III recently. The answer, of course, is: in 1993. And 1977. And 1961. And so on.
. . .
The same “spontaneous eruption” of folks never before engaged in politics. . . . The same blithely narcissistic presumption that the vast majority of Americans (or, at least, “ordinary Americans”) must already agree with them, and incredulity that anyone might not grasp the depth of the peril. . . . The same establishment conservative opportunists taking advantage, setting up front groups. . . . The same lunatic persecution fantasies.

Reading Nixonland in the early fall of 2008, in the midst of the campaign, I had a constant sense of deja vu - the ideological weapons of 40 years are still being used today. Nixon prospered throughout his career by convincing one group of Americans to hate some other group of Americans, and that successful strategy has become embedded in and corrupted the the soul of the Republican Party.

Unfortunately, if you start thinking about parallels with the past, you are reminded of the ugly fact that LBJ's Democratic liberal landslide of 1964 was followed four years later by the ascendancy of Richard M. Nixon.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Spock with a Beard

I just started reading a collection of Orwell's essays, and one of the things I love and hate about Orwell is that with every page I turn, I find something I thought and he expressed better and first. So too with billmon's post at Daily Kos on Eric Cantor's latest output of Republican disinformation. Not to recapitulate billmon's post, because he did it better and first, but what he picks up on, and the media falls for every time, is that a statement like Cantor's doesn't make sense, and doesn't need to. All it needs to do is contain the appropriate survey-tested scary keywords for use in soundbites and quotes. And it works every time.

If you think you saw the same version of Avatar that everybody else saw, you probably didn't

Because there were more than a hundred different versions tailored to particular theaters.

How 'Avatar' changed the rules of deliverables

Saturday, March 20, 2010

and via SMS also.

First post

Tried WordPress, tried Posterous, tried Tumblr, so far Blogger is the only one that works with Blazer on a Treo?