Saturday, July 10, 2010

Genuine Negro Jig

I've posted tunes by this group before, and I was reminded of them the other night when they appeared on the Tavis Smiley show.

I like old time string band music, which we tend to think of as a white musical tradition. It's not really, as these kids show. I think they have a certain "tongue-in-cheekiness" about them too. Enjoy.

Just a personal observation - Dom, on the left, looks like the most confused Orthodox Jew ever, and I think I detected a slight Klezmer undertone at one point. Heh.

The Carolina Chocolate Drops (Wiki - G) offer a preview of their Nonesuch debut album, Genuine Negro Jig, capturing live performances, interviews with all three band members—Dom Flemons, Rhiannon Giddens, and Justin Robinson — and a few words from the album's producer, Joe Henry.

Thanks to nonesuchrecords.

Headline of the Day

Biden on spy swap: ‘I thought they’d take Rush Limbaugh’

Another missed opportunity for sure.

Seven Reasons Why We Can’t Stop Making War

Excellent Tomgram.

Our political leaders, the media, and the military interpret enduring war as a measure of our national fitness, our global power, our grit in the face of eternal danger, and our seriousness. A desire to de-escalate and withdraw, on the other hand, is invariably seen as cut-and-run appeasement and discounted as weakness. Withdrawal options are, in a pet phrase of Washington elites, invariably “off the table” when global policy is at stake, as was true during the Obama administration’s full-scale reconsideration of the Afghan war in the fall of 2009. Viewed in this light, the president’s ultimate decision to surge in Afghanistan was not only predictable, but the only course considered suitable for an American war leader. Rather than the tough choice, it was the path of least resistance.

Why do our elites so readily and regularly give war, not peace, a chance? What exactly are the wellsprings of Washington’s (and America’s) behavior when it comes to war and preparations for more of the same?

Consider these seven:

3. We’ve managed to isolate war’s physical and emotional costs, leaving them on the shoulders of a tiny minority of Americans. By eliminating the draft and relying ever more on for-profit private military contractors, we’ve made war a distant abstraction for most Americans, who can choose to consume it as spectacle or simply tune it out as so much background noise.

7. And don’t forget the seductive power of beyond-worse-case, doomsday scenarios, of the prophecies of pundits and so-called experts, who regularly tell us that, bad as our wars may be, doing anything to end them would be far worse. A typical scenario goes like this: If we withdraw from Afghanistan, the government of Hamid Karzai will collapse, the Taliban will surge to victory, al-Qaeda will pour into Afghan safe havens, and Pakistan will be further destabilized, its atomic bombs falling into the hands of terrorists out to destroy Peoria and Orlando.

Such fevered nightmares, impossible to disprove, may be conjured at any moment to scare critics into silence. They are a convenient bogeyman, leaving us cowering as we send our superman military out to save us (and the world as well), while preserving our right to visit the mall and travel to Disney World without being nuked

Yes, kill all the brown scum foreigners you want to in my name but don't make me think about in in my little plastic bubble of denial.

Capping the Wellsprings of War

Each one of these seven wellsprings feeding our enduring wars must be capped. So here are seven suggestions for the sort of “caps” -- hopefully more effective than BP’s flailing improvisations -- we need to install:

There you have it: my seven “caps” to contain our gushing support for permanent war. No one said it would be easy. Just ask BP how easy it is to cap one out-of-control gusher.

Nonetheless, if we as a society aren’t willing to work hard for actual change -- indeed, to demand it -- we’ll be on that military escalatory curve until we implode. And that way madness lies.

It's not very far off either.

Saturday Emmylou Blogging

This song, of course, does not apply to Repuglicants.

Emmylou Harris ~ All That You Have Is Your Soul

Thanks to JasonKT.

Big hearted hard guys ...

I know I bust on the Jarheads a lot (they deserve it, heh ...), but this is just excellent:

Kitties Rescued by US Marine Soldiers in Afghanistan

Great pics of the softer side of Marines you generally don't see in a war zone. Good on yas, brothers.

Thanks to Mr. Aravosis for the link.

Getting it ...

Mr. Philadelphia does:

One tremendous problem we have in this country is that too many who run in whitecollarish circles get absolutely enraged at the idea that some people working in blue collar or service industry jobs might actually be making a few bucks. It doesn't matter how hard those jobs are, that the jobs might actually require a high level of skills, or how many years people have been in those jobs, they're somehow seen as lesser jobs.


Throughout my career as a mechanic, I've had white collar folks look down their nose at me - I call it the "grease monkey look" - not realizing that to master my profession and get to the level I am now, I've had as much schooling as a Master's Degree candidate in addition to the loss of blood, breakage of body parts, and 3rd degree burns over the years. Guys like me are alumni of the School of Hard Knocks and have invested as much as an MBA has in their careers. We have to work in freezing cold, scorching heat, rain, snow, and every other type of precipitation. And, in addition, we have to put up with these 'elitist' assholes' attitudes every time they drop their cars off for repair. Why shouldn't we get paid on the same scale they are?

It's bad enough ...

Giving people the option of left, right, back, or forward and they're clueless. I don't like adding up and down to that list.

Next year, those of you with a sport pilot license and $194,000 to burn will be able to buy an honest-to-Doc-Brown flying car. Sadly, the demo vehicle is not remotely as cool looking as a DeLorean. (Pesco says the production model is much slicker, and we'll feature an interview with the industrial designers behind the production vehicle in the coming weeks!)


It's summer on Long Island and, beginning Friday afternoons, the Stupidometer is pegged when it comes to people driving (the exodus out to the East End/Hamptons by people who don't drive during the week). You gotta keep your eyes peeled constantly for stupid shit happening around you. Now you have to worry about looking up as well.

And, being cynical about human nature like I am, I know a lot of people won't bother maintaining them as well as they should. I wonder when we'll have to start ducking for cover when one of them 'stalls'.

Thanks to Watertiger for the link.

Friday, July 9, 2010

"...a hundred thousand vuvuzelas, an instrument that gives cacophony a bad name."

Will Durst on the World Cup. Fair and balanced. Not.

Now let me get this straight. The World Cup is the most exciting sporting event on the face of the planet, right? Okay, then. What's second place -- the New England Spinsters Knitting Circle Seniors Tour? Which would make Supermodels Filling In Crossword Puzzles With Leaky Ink Pens a close third. Let's not forget those scintillating Midnight Coastal Colombian Tarantula Crawl-Offs.

My God. It's so European. Like a Bergman Film. [...]

Grown men egregiously flopping is just one reason the sport will never catch on in the USA, no matter how many soccer moms drive minivans. Americans can't get it up for any sport that doesn't involve eighth of a ton, no-neck, brain-dead pieces of premium beef tearing each other apart like the last sack of powdered milk at a United Nations relief tent in Kandahar. And in soccer, that's the fans' job.

Part of it has to do with the lack of commercials. We don't have the attention span. The same reason why a Royal Family wouldn't work here. Of course, next year is the Womens' World Cup which men WILL tune in to just on the off chance that some competitor will pull a Brandi Chastain and rip off her shirt. Next time around the guys might want to try that. Or more head butting.

The above is Mr. Durst's opinion, not mine. My opinion of just about everything including soccer is: whatever blows yer skirt up.

CA Prop 19 poll


Voter sentiment on Prop. 19 is closely divided, with more voters now opposing it (48%) than in favor (44%). Prop. 19 would allow people 21 years or older to possess, cultivate or transport marijuana for personal use and permit local governments to regulate and tax its commercial production and sales.

The three-fourths majority of voters who had some awareness of the measure prior to being surveyed are narrowly favoring its passage – 48% to 44%. However, Prop. 19 is opposed nearly two-to-one among the 23% of voters who had no prior awareness of the initiative.

There are large partisan differences in voting preferences on Prop. 19. While Democrats are backing it 53% to 38%, a two-to-one majority of Republicans (63% to 31%) are opposed. Non-partisans are evenly divided 46% to 46%.

There is majority support for Prop. 19's passage (53% Yes vs. 38% No) among voters in the nine-county San Francisco Bay Area. Los Angeles County voters are about evenly divided (46% Yes vs. 47% No). However, in all other regions of the state sentiment is running against Prop. 19 by margins ranging from six to eighteen percentage points.

Men are split on the measure (48% Yes vs. 47% No), while women are on the No side 50% to 41%.

A small plurality of white non-Hispanics (48% to 43%) favors Prop. 19's passage. However, each of the racial/ethnic subgroups measured in the survey – Latinos, African-Americans and Asian-Americans – are opposed to Prop. 19 by double-digit margins.

Voters age 18 – 29 age are supporting the marijuana initiative 52% to 39%. However, the survey finds that there are significant preference differences between younger voters who are white non-Hispanic and ethnic voters. While younger white non-Hispanic voters favor the initiative 53% to 35, younger ethnic voters oppose it five to four (52% to 45%).

Voters between ages 30-64 are generally divided in their preferences. However, voters age 65 and older are opposing the initiative by a big margin (57% to 33%).

Looks like we'll have to vote on it.

Other ballot measures in the poll as well.


Gallbladder removed through mouth in new surgical technique

So what's new? Fixer's been taking wingnuts' heads out through their asses for years. Of course, their heads are right there anyway...

3 so far!

Follow-up to yesterday's post on job opportunities in the agricultural, er, field. From last night's Colbert Report:

The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Arturo Rodriguez
Colbert Report Full Episodes2010 ElectionFox News

Go be a farm worker! From the job app:

Job may include using hand tools such as knives, hoes, shovels, etc. Duties may include tilling the soil, transplanting, weeding, thinning, picking, cutting, sorting & packing of harvested produce. May set up & operate irrigation equip. Work is performed outside in all weather conditions (Summertime 90+ degree weather) & is physically demanding requiring workers to bend, stoop, lift & carry up to 50 lbs on a regular basis.

Man, that'd be livin' the dream! And you don't even have to say "Want fries with that?" for your low pay, no benefits, bad back, and cancer!

I'm goin' for a career in agricultural aviation. I wanta be the guy in the hazmat suit on a 100+° day who gets to stand at the edge of a field waving a flag at the crop duster plane to show him where to make his next pass and dump pesticide on me each time by. I love airplanes!

Headline of the Day

Report: Poor People Pretty Much Fucked

Yes, Georgie and BP, thanks a great steaming pile

Friday Morford:

Let us now, just for a paragraph or three, recall the sad and soiled era of one George W. Bush, AKA the Dark Times, the Era of Lost Souls, when all felt calamitous and miserable and not a single day went by without some nefarious scandal, abuse, global humiliation, blunder, illegal war or Creationist kiddiebabble to molest your heart, scar your soul and humiliate your finer sensibilities.

Do you remember? I know, I'm very sorry to make you do it. But it just might save us all.

See, there are those who tentatively argue -- I've done so myself, more or less, in this very space -- that we actually owe Dubya a huge dose of (reluctant, teeth-gritted, soul-clenched) gratitude.

There are those who say that, had it not been for The Worst President of the Modern Era, his epic blunderstorm of war, environmental abuse and a deep suckling love for/from the deeply disturbed fundamentalist right, well, the potent groundswell for change and upheaval would not have occurred, the GOP might not have collapsed so violently under the weight of its own repellant misprision, and Obama might never have succeeded as well as he did.

So we come to the great BP spill of 2010, the most gruesomely epic man-made disaster of our age. How do we parse? Through what lens do we observe? Using the Dark Days as a model, I'm here to suggest the possibility that we look at BP, its horrible disaster, its slimy executives, its Republican apologists, its roots in pure evil -- and actually, by short extension, its direct ties to the Bush Administration itself -- and set our sour fatalism aside for a moment, and instead offer up a perverse sort of gratitude.

I would dearly love to express gratitude to Georgie et al for testing the breaking strength of a hangman's rope.

Maybe it's the wrong way to look at it. Of course, the BP spill is nowhere near as traumatic, nation-scarring and historically destructive as a decade of Bush. His reach was wide and deep, the damage decades in the unraveling and recovery, the innocent lives lost counted in the hundreds of thousands; Dubya was a whole-body cancer.

But it's still worth recalling. Because sometimes the gifts come in hideous packages. Sometimes the enlightenment, the higher consciousness only comes after you've been beaten over the head with the oily baseball bat of what the f-- is wrong with you. Thanks for the brutal, nightmarish beating, BP. We'll see if we regain consciousness.

A hideous gift indeed, worthy of regifting to Bush, BP, and the Repugs.

Quote of the Day

The first line of a post by Bill Boyarsky at Truthdig:

Death wish isn’t too extreme a phrase to describe the Republicans’ recent conduct.

Most people who have a death wish eventually connect. I wish the Repugs speedy success.

And if you think ...

I was extreme in my rants about the car industry:


Car Dealership Service Departments:

You, single-handedly, have done more to destroy the reputation of mechanics than any other cause. It's called "upsell" and you all do it so well. It's a dictum that no one leaves a dealership service department without buying something. Take your car in for warranty or recall work and see what happens. You get a laundry list of things wrong with your car, from the brakes to some kind of service, to a cooling system flush, to a tire rotation, that "you really should have done now before something bad happens". And they get you for a thousand bucks. And people wonder why everybody thinks most mechanics are crooks. Rotten fucking scumbags.


Go read this and then tell me if you think so.


So imagine my surprise when my fiance dropped it off and called me to say that they gave her an estimate of $450-$500. Same car. Same windshield. 24 hours apart. Now, I'm not quick to assume bad faith or nefarious motive, but I'm pretty damn sure some pig in the service department thinks it's ok to try to rip off women.


I wouldn't take my car to a dealership service department unless it's for warranty or recall work. This shit is more the norm than the exception.

Take my advice, find a good local independent shop (ask your friends and neighbors) and stick with him, give him your business (stay away from the "oil change places") regularly, and tell your friends about him. Good, honest, independent mechanics can only turn wrenches if customers keep them in business.

Happy Friday!


Just an anecdotal story.

The Mrs. had to bring her Escape in for a recall (transmission cooler) about a month ago (Ford wouldn't give me the parts and let me replace it myself even though I'm an ASE certified Master Mechanic, Ford Certified Master Mechanic and a licensed New York State Motor Vehicle Inspector). She dropped it off one day in the afternoon and I picked her up at the dealership. The next day they called her and told her she needed a service (oil change, check fluids, lube) - I serviced the car the week before and they couldn't bother to look up at the service sticker on the windshield and figure out that the car had only gone 150 miles - tire rotation - I rotated the tires when I did the service - brake job - 20K miles and I checked those when I did the service the week before - and a coolant system flush - 20K miles for "permanent anti-freeze"? Also, it's a lease car that's going back in October. They gave her the "stoplight spiel"; "the brakes are 'yellow', the tires are 'red'", etc. Then she let them know who I was and what I did for a living.

Now, we love the dealership and the sales staff. When they have a deal, they'll call us, even if it's 6 months before the end of the lease (and they'll eat the last 6 months - they ate the last 3 months of my old Escape) and offer to take the old car back and give us a new one. We strike a good deal and they give me professional courtesy because I'm in the business and we live locally. Their service department, on the other hand, are slimy, no good crooks. It's always amazing to us how such a dichotomy (not that I have any love for car salesmen) can exist in one business. It sure wouldn't happen if I ran the show.

And just a note, this isn't about the mechanics. Some of the best mechanics I ever met worked at Ford Motorsport with me. This is about the service manager and that peculiar species of lowlife called the "service writer" who get paid to pad bills as thickly as possible and pray the customer doesn't kvetch too loudly.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Ya just raised my taxes ...

On a pack of smokes, why not legalize my other fucking habit and tax me for that too? I'll gladly pay a sales tax on my reefer (and not have to put my freedom on the line every time I go pick up a bag) if it'll help get us off the balls of our ass.

Yawn ...

Me and Ol' Fez:


I, of course, won't be watching (I'll be sleeping), I'm too good of a person (actually, no, I'd just be sleeping) to put up with this kind of bullshit (but, other varieties I'll entertain obviously, when I'm not sleeping).


Dark Age, mark my words ...

Eating the messenger, part deux

Following up on Fixer's post, he ain't the only one. Heh.

HuffPo, links at site.

The psychic octopus known for his amazingly accurate World Cup predictions has received death threats, the Telegraph reports. Paul, the oracle octopus whose prescient premonitions perfectly predicted the outcome of all six German World Cup games, first generated anger from Argentinian fans who believe his percipient pick doomed Argentina in the quarterfinals.

Paul's keeper in Oberhausen, Germany said "there are always people who want to eat our octopus but he is not shy and we are here to protect him as well. He will survive."

Paul's powers reached a new level on Wednesday, when his bold pick against his current home country proved correct, bringing his World Cup record to a jaw-dropping six for six.

To update a comment I made on Fixer's post, "Will you be having un periquito on your tacos de pulpa, Señor?"

A little silly shit like this is good for the soul.

The Repug Walk - Backing Into The Past

"If you fuck with me, I'll kill you all."


Gen. James Mattis has been joking recently that after 41 years in the Marines, he was going to return to his home of Walla Walla, Wash., to become an onion farmer. He'll have to wait. The four-star general is going to Tampa, Fla., to take over for Army Gen. David Petraeus as commander of the U.S. Central Command, overseeing combat in both Afghanistan and Iraq. The news will be announced by Defense Secretary Robert Gates at a press conference later today.

[...] He commanded Marines as a brigadier general in Afghanistan in 2001. In 2003, he was the Marine ground commander in Iraq, leading the 20,000 troops of the 1st Marine Division for 500 miles over 17 days, the longest sustained march in Marine Corps history. [...]

Holy shit...

It was a disappointment for Mattis. With few spots for someone of his rank, his only real option was to retire. Still, it was inconceivable to those around the energetic 59-year-old that after a lifetime in the service he would be leaving. Then Gen. Stanley McChrystal's career abruptly ended, and Mattis' fortunes were reversed.

It's heartwarming to know that the Corps fucks over Generals just like they do PFCs and Lance Corporals. On the other hand, I guess the way you get to be a four-star General is to like getting fucked over until you can be the one that gets to do it. There's always someone higher though...

[...] In the spring of 2003, in the first of his meetings with recently defeated Iraqi military leaders he famously said: "I come in peace. I didn't bring artillery. But I'm pleading with you, with tears in my eyes: If you fuck with me, I'll kill you all." [...]

I like this guy.

Semper Fi, General Mattis. Best of luck.

Shut up and pick faster, you lazy white good-for-nothing


Lost your job in Silicon Valley?

Tonight, United Farm Workers of America president Arturo Rodriguez will join the deadpan host of "The Colbert Report" to talk about the UFW's "Take Our Jobs" campaign, which encourages American citizens and legal residents to take jobs in the agriculture sector.

According to the UFW, most agriculture laborers are undocumented workers. But if you — a bona fide U.S. citizen — want to relocate to California's Central Valley or Texas' onion fields, they're all for it.

They're assuming that you don't. Rodriguez will be trying to talk up a UFW-backed bill in Congress that would give currently illegal agriculture laborers the opportunity to earn legal residency by continuing to work in agriculture. The proposal has bipartisan support in both chambers.

Heh. I have watched my produce getting harvested from the comfort of my air-conditioned pickup in the Salinas and Santa Maria Valleys, and they are very mild in climate compared to the hothothot San Joaquin and Sacramento Valleys.

Somebody's got to pick the crops. There's a lotta money in produce. If you wanta see these morons who want all the Meskins rounded up and sent home really snivel, hand 'em a celery knife and have 'em spend a day bent over with their noses in the pesticide in the lovely Mediterranean climate in Guadalupe.

They might last an hour. It'd be good for a laugh.

If you wanta kill the same snivelling bastards, have 'em pick onions in Mettler in August. They'd drop like flies from the heat.

The truth of the matter is the Anglos'd get fired after ten minutes and the growers'd be clamoring to get their hard-working Meskins back.

Morning Schmoe ...

Big dumbass crybaby:


I'm not sure this is the kind of attention MSNBC and Joe Scarborough were expecting to garner after Scarborough had his hissy fit. But, again, they're the ones who decided to turn a couple of tweets into a major battle.


Eating the messenger ...

I love octopus.

Paul is not a normal octopus. He is a psychic one. He has managed to predict every Germany game correct through out this years tournament.


Cured and served in a salad would be fine with me.

Chutzpah ...

It was okay for George Bush to appoint a reckless asshole (John Bolton) during a congressional recess, yet heaven forbid a Dem does it.

In April, President Obama nominated Dr. Donald Berwick to serve as Administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). Many Republicans in Congress have made it clear in recent weeks that they were going to stall the nomination as long as they could, solely to score political points.

But with the agency facing new responsibilities to protect seniors’ care under the Affordable Care Act, there’s no time to waste with Washington game-playing. That’s why tomorrow the President will use a recess appointment to put Dr. Berwick at the agency’s helm and provide strong leadership for the Medicare program without delay.


The Republicans have blocked more of Obama's appointments than those of any President in recent history. If the GOP can't run the government, they're gonna make sure nobody else can either.

Great thanks to Oliver Willis for the link.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Facing the Future as a Media Felon on the Gulf Coast

LA Progressive, links and photos:

The United States Coast Guard considers me a felon now, because I “willfully” want to obtain more photos like these to show you the utter devastation occurring in Barataria Bay, Louisiana, as a result of the BP oil catastrophe. If the Coast Guard has its way, all media, not just independent writers and photographers like myself and Jerry Moran, will be fined $40,000 and receive Class D felony convictions for providing the truth about oiled birds and dolphins, in addition to broken, filthy, unmanned boom material that is trapping oil in the marshlands and estuaries. We don’t have $40,000 to spare, and have had to scrape the bottoms of our checkbooks as is to hire boats to take us to the devastation the Coast Guard, under the direction of BP, does not want you to see.

The chilling money line is "the Coast Guard, under the direction of BP".

Working and reporting from American Gulf Coast is starting to remind me of working in Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo, where photos and recordings must be hidden on secreted flash drives at border crossings, and where interrogation by drunken border patrols certainly follows if one does not provide a proper “explanation” for visits to certain regions. In 2007, I was accused of being a “spy” and held by the secret police in Goma, DRC, for having video of illicit “conservation” activities. Now the same sick feelings of fear, anger, and helplessness is stalking my mind as I try to plan for the next round in south Louisiana. Never in my lifetime could I imagine that a foreign company could dictate my ability to move freely and openly in American territorial waters (my em).

What’s next? Will media be totally shut down? Will we face assassinations like journalists do in Rwanda? I realize assassination is over-the-top, but when it crosses your mind, even for a moment, you know something is terribly wrong.

No shit. Go read the rest of this. BP is such a powerful entity in the Gulf (and Congress) that it thinks it can get away with anything, and it may be right.

Livin' the iLife

Apple aficionados will love Morford today.

Sweet Jesus in minimalist design heaven, the iPad. No mouse, no extra cables, no mandatory hookups, no startup times, installation DVDs, RAM guides, accelerators, system folders, font drivers, extensions, launch daemons, Kerberos plug-ins, jpg helpers or compression schemes, no diphthong upslingers pongo hurling goober kerfuffling flipblasters.

Just a devastatingly simple, utterly gorgeous sheet of glass and aluminum that does almost everything your average computer user needs it to do, with a couple finger taps and a happy sigh, sans roughly 500 of the usual steps, clicks, guides, installations, file extensions and so on. It's understandable at a glance, intuitive as candy, enjoyable as a porn star in summertime. You know, just like the Mac has always been, except not really.


Headline of the Day

Hot Dog Eating Champ Kobayashi Charged With ‘Breaking and Vomiting’


Quote of the Day

Michael Stickings:


Sign already, LeBron. Somewhere. Please.


And if you think ...

We have a problem now, just wait a while:

More than 27,000 abandoned oil and gas wells lurk in the hard rock beneath the Gulf of Mexico, an environmental minefield that has been ignored for decades. No one – not industry, not government – is checking to see if they are leaking, an Associated Press investigation shows.


If Big Oil's previous commitments to the environment are any indication, let alone their safety record, this will almost certainly come back to bite us in the ass.

Climate change ...

I tell ya, just anecdotally, in the last 6 months, we've had the worst blizzards in decades this winter and record shattering heat this week (I just love working on a hot car in 110 degree heat). Our storms last longer and are more intense, and tornadoes (though not many) make regular appearances where, when I was a kid, the suggestion of a tornado on Long Island would have men in white suits chasing you with a butterfly net.

While I probably know as much about climate science as the average politician and take the word of the experts (real scientists as opposed to conservative loudmouths), a lot of deniers believe the way to fix the problem is to kill the scientists.


A sobering new report warns that oceans face a "fundamental and irreversible ecological transformation" not seen in millions of years as greenhouse gases and climate change already have affected temperature, acidity, sea and oxygen levels, the food chain and possibly major currents that could alter global weather.


As Philippe Cousteau said not long ago:

... So it’s not a question of can the oceans can take any more. The ocean can’t take any more. They couldn’t take any more fifty years ago. The question is, when are we going to stop?


The way it looks to me, and I see no change of opinion coming anytime soon, the environment will always come in a distant second next to making a buck.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Go laugh yer asses off...

The story of the trial I rode on Saturday is up at Fixer & Gordon. Enjoy.

¡Cuba Sí!

The Hill

A bipartisan pair of senators said Thursday they have the votes in the Senate to lift the longstanding U.S. ban on travel to Cuba.

Sens. Byron Dorgan (D-N.D.) and Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.) said they believe they have the 60 votes necessary to overcome a filibuster and lift the travel ban to the communist-held nation south of Florida.

“It makes no sense to punish the American people by restricting their right to travel simply because our country is trying to punish the Cuban government,” Dorgan said in a statement.

"Decades of the same policy will get you the same result. We're hopefully about to change that and open up a new world for the people of Cuba," said Enzi.

'Bout fuckin' time. The sanctions against Cuba haven't made sense for decades except to woo a bloc of (now) older voters in Florida.

Best of luck with this bill, Senators, and pick me up a '59 El Camino or a '57 Ranchero while yer down there.

Who's winning in Afghanistan?

Hint: Not the U.S.

Antiwar Newswire

As US fights, China spends billions to build a footprint in Afghanistan

As the U.S. and its NATO allies fight to stabilize Afghanistan, China has expanded its economic footprint with several high-profile investments and reconstruction projects. In 2007, it became the country's largest foreign investor when it won a $3.5 billion contract to develop copper mines at Aynak, southeast of Kabul.

For China, the reward is not only expanded trade and access to natural resources, it's also security for its western flank, the vast Xinjiang region that is home to a separatist movement of minority Uighurs, said Liu Xuecheng of the China Institute of International Studies, the Chinese Foreign Ministry's think tank.

Afghanistan is "well aware that the U.S. is likely to only be a temporary ally so it's looking for a longer-term partner in the region. China would be an obvious choice," said security analyst Christian Le Miere, editor of Jane's Intelligence Review.

China has also benefited by focusing its investments on Afghanistan's relatively safer north, while much of the U.S.-funded effort is in the more violent south and east regions. The Taliban is not known to have made threats against Chinese involved in Afghanistan.

They know better. Threaten the Chinese today, expect a million troops tomorrow. No quarter, no rules of engagement, and soon no Taliban. Or much of anyone else. Think 'locusts' and 'wheat field'.

"The Afghan people prefer this gift from China. The Chinese side has done streets, roads and clinics in Afghanistan," Karimi said. "They didn't bring their troops here."

Liu, the Beijing think tank analyst, said he doubted China would ever send troops. "The war is not China's war," he said. "... But economically and socially, we can try to help."

For Afghans such as Akbar the merchant, China is an example to be emulated.

Clever, these Chinese. Smooth sailing for them while the U.S. and the West dashes its blood and treasure on the rocks.

Who's the fool?

What is this "work"?

I know my productivity has been down:

BERLIN - Told they couldn't watch the World Cup on the job, Italian autoworkers went on strike - conveniently, a half-hour before game time. German companies set up office viewing areas to keep employees from defecting on game days.


One study suggests the German economy, Europe's largest, loses more than $8 billion in productivity, about 0.27 percent of gross domestic product, during the monthlong tournament. Surveys in Britain predict output losses there of $1.5 billion to $2.3 billion.


Hey, everybody's got their priorities. Heh ...

Dark Age ...

I said, somewhat in jest, in my last post that we are at the dawn of a Dark Age. D-cap sees it too:


What these very well paid talking heads (who probably couldn't tell a florence flask from Florence Henderson) failed to bring up during their lament on the state of American ingenuity is that our lack of innovation, creativity and scientific leadership is a deeply endemic problem that cannot be fixed by a bunch of suggestions or changes in policy. Our plunge in to the abyss of stagnancy has been years in the making. And this drop off the cliff is constantly being reinforced by long-term neglect to our education system, the rise and loud voice of evangelical religious dogma (which generally hates science), an obsessive fixation on money, a youth culture which values fame above everything else and the media's need to sell soap as opposed to selling development.


We couldn't get to the Moon if we wanted to anymore. We're breeding a race of morons and mystics who believe America is still a great nation just because Hannity, or Beck, or Lintball, told them so. We believe only what we want to hear and anyone who speaks fact or reality is labeled a traitor, a socialist, a communist, or a fascist. We're more interested in some stupid 'reality' show (How much time have so-called 'news' organizations spent on the latest Bachelorette dustup, Lebron James, or Kobayashi?) than we are in how we got into this mess and how to fix it.

When news and entertainment inhabit the same wide, gray area, when mysticism is put on the same level as science fact, when a good chunk of the nation believes we should coddle the rich and powerful at the expense of the poor, and when we look for scapegoats to pin our problems on instead of looking in the mirror, we can consider ourselves finished as a great nation.

Monday, July 5, 2010

TMI ...

Like Lebron, I know far too much about Kobayashi. Professional competitive eating? We are truly at the beginning of a Dark Age of Humankind.

Thank god ...

We'll be in Scandinavia next month. It's fucking hot in NY and it's gonna get worse.

Headline of the Day

More than one-quarter don’t know who US gained independence from

Swell. The Dead End Quarter, self-proclaimed "patriots" to a man, strikes again. I guess it doesn't really matter if they know even a smidgen of our history as long as their ideology is, er, right.


Clean up. Die. Hurry!

Business Insider, links and videos:

Are you sure that you want to help clean up the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico? In a previous article we documented a number of the health dangers from this oil spill that many scientists are warning us of, and now it has been reported on CNN that the vast majority of those who worked to clean up the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill in Alaska are now dead. Yes, you read that correctly. Almost all of them are dead.

In fact, the expert that CNN had on said that the life expectancy for those who worked to clean up the Exxon Valdez oil spill is only about 51 years. Considering the fact that the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico is now many times worse than the Exxon Valdez disaster, are you sure you want to volunteer to be on a cleanup crew down there? After all, the American Dream is not to make big bucks for a few months helping BP clean up their mess and then drop dead 20 or 30 years early.

Perhaps BP CEO Tony Heyward and other high ranking BP executives could roll up their sleeves and go down there and start cleaning up all of that toxic sludge.

It's their mess, so let them clean it.

Fat chance. There are plenty of peasants who can die early in the service of BP's bottom line.

Quote of the Day

From a good rant on the Supremes by Mark Karlin:

Being a GOP senator who denounces Supreme Court "judicial activism" is like being a vegetarian who owns a slaughterhouse.

Oh, the irony...

Ironic Times

Afghanistan: Deal With Taliban Reportedly in Works
They would help government locate Al Qaeda; in exchange government would destroy all art, jail all women and burn down all schools.

Democratic Party Field-Testing Mid-Term Election Slogans
Best so far:

1. It could have been a lot worse.
2. Standing up to the GOP, except for those who aren’t.
3. Not crazy about the war, but....
4. BP: totally not our fault.
5. Sweeping financial reform, sort of.

New Research: Jesus May Not Have Died on Cross
Christians will be advised what changes, if any, to expect.

"Entitlements" ...

"Incentives" when it comes to the rich; "handouts" when it comes to anyone else:

Corporate socialism is alive and well. Isn't it interesting to see the Republicans do their best to provide a very small safety net to help average Americans who are unemployed yet so willingly go along with massive handouts to Big Oil? Politicians are always so quick to pull out the rug on those most in need yet the richest of the rich are always being supported with handouts that dwarf the social safety net. How does this possibly pass the smell test? Big Oil is the most profitable industry on the planet yet they still need help? Let them make their own money on their own dime instead of freeloading from everyone else.


The only thing that isn't "socialized" are the profits. We all pony up for the losses.

If the Dems were smart ...

I could believe he's a 'Manchurian' plant of some type or another but we'll just chalk it up to them being lucky:


But leaving aside Steele's utterly blatant lies, having the head of the Republican Party say that the war in Afghanistan is a failure and that it should never have been fought in the first place is undoubtedly news to the rest of his party.


God what an idiot. Mikey Steele is the gift that keeps on giving. It'll be a shame to lose him but I think the Republicans are gonna find a way to get him out soon.

Thanks to our pal Creature for the link.

Experts ...

Susie pegs McCain:

On This Week with Jake Tapper, John McCain explains how important it is not to have deadlines for leaving Afghanistan. I've often thought that his alleged "expertise" on war, which seems to be grounded only in his personal experience as a prisoner of war, is sort of akin to pronouncing someone who was hit by a car as an expert on automotive engineering. But maybe that's just me!


Maybe he slept in a Holiday Inn ...

Sunday, July 4, 2010

A good 4th of July to all

I hope everybody has a good time on our country's birthday, and I repeat Will Durst's comment from my post of a coupla days ago:

Aahh. The 4th of July. Let's drink a lot of beer and handle explosives. The day many nicknames like "Lefty" and "Patch" are christened.

I know none of our readers are that stupid, but listen for the ambulances. Heh.

We're going back up to the trial at Donner Ski Ranch to spectate. I will have a recount of my adventures as a competitor (Ha!) yesterday up at Fixer & Gordon in a day or so, to include some of the most embarrassing video of me you are ever likely to see. I am rethinking the wisdom of showing Mrs. G how to work the camera. Can't shove toothpaste back into the tube, I guess.

The day went very well, considering how it went. Let's just say for now that what didn't kill me can only make me stronger, if not much smarter. I hope you are all having as much fun as we are on this weekend.

Fourth of July 1776, 1964, 2010

Here's a little of Daddy Frank's column about the 4th of July in the context of of the Civil Rights Act of July 4, 1964.

Even before last week’s ceremonial hazing of Kagan, the G.O.P.’s only national black political figure, Michael Steele, attacked her for writing approvingly of a speech Marshall had given calling the original text of the Constitution “defective” — a restrained adjective, actually, for a document that countenanced slavery. On the first day of the Kagan hearings, Marshall received many more mentions (35) than even that other Republican archenemy, President Obama, in the accounting of Talking Points Memo. Orrin Hatch of Utah and Tom Coburn of Oklahoma said they weren’t sure they could have voted to confirm Marshall to the court. Jon Kyl of Arizona, a state that suffered years of economic boycotts because of its opposition to the King holiday, faulted Marshall’s jurisprudence for advancing “the agenda of certain classes of litigants” (wonder who?) and for being out of the “mainstream.”

“The way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to stop discriminating on the basis of race,” wrote our current Supreme Court chief justice, John Roberts, in a smug majority opinion nibbling away at Brown v. Board of Education in 2007. His conservative self-righteousness, a product of his time, is as delusional as L.B.J.’s liberal faith in the efficacy of a federal “Community Relations Service” was in 1964. On this Fourth, as on the 233 that preceded it, America is still very much a work in progress.

Sometimes I wonder if "progress" is the right word.

Please read the rest.

Happy 4th!

Be safe (already had some idiot here blow his arm off) and enjoy the day!

This is also our 6th Birthday here at the Brain and we've put up over 15,000 posts in that time (#15,000). If that proves anything, it's that me and the old man are stubborn. Heh ...

Thanks to all the readers, commenters, and contributors for making it interesting. If you would have asked me, 6 years ago, if I'd still be blogging, I would have given you and unequivocal "no". I'd hoped we'd have gotten most of the bad shit fixed by now, but when I started here, I didn't think George Bush would 'win' a second term. I figured people would have come to their senses after 4 years of that idiot. If there were any lessons for me in the last 6 years, the one that stands out is that I've come to realize just how ignorant and stupid most Americans really are.