12/09/2012

Breeding Contempt

A guy I knew back in the 60's stumbled on to one of my other blogs this week. Since that blog used to be attached to a business I ran for several years, he found my phone number. My wife has never been able to tell my work from her television watching, so she stumbled up the stairs with phone in hand and interrupted my work flow with my all time least favorite thing; a telephone.

If I were able to go back in time, I don't know who I'd want to eliminate first:: Adolph Hitler, Joseph Stalin, Richard Nixon, Joe McCarthy, the asshole who invented the subwoofer, or Alex G. Bell. Of all of the technological devices I've suffered in my life, I think the telephone is the most obnoxious, least civilized, most useless device in history. Yeah, maybe someday I'll desperately need to call 911 and I'll wish I had a cell phone with me in my dying moments, but I doubt it. I'd just as soon die and get it over with in my dying moments than be bothered by the usual sort of EMT who will insist on torturing me with his/her lame attempts at inserting an IV in the vicinity of a vein. Been there, done that, won't do it again.

The upside of the long, tortured conversation was that I finally installed a lock on the door to my studio. Next week, I'll work on soundproofing the door so that I won't be able to hear her knocking at the door when the damn telephone rings and she feels compelled to answer it but isn't willing to suffer the consequences of that foolish decision.

The motivation for adding a lock to the studio came at about 3AM after a night of restless reliving of that miserable conversation. I should know better. I had these same conversations with my father for 45 years. The call started innocently enough, as the caller wanted to tell me his history of western Kansas R&R bands. Again, been there, done that, won't do it again. I listened for a while, hoping for a moment to cut off the call and end the conversation before I actually began to relive some of my miserable years in Kansas. I was almost there when he made a really stupid comment about how he'd been living on federally subsidized AT&T pension and Social Security for thirty years and was worried that "that commie Obama" was going to drive the country into the ground and leave him penniless.

Like most Kansans, this is a guy who worked for a federally protected monopoly for his whole "career" and has lived off of a pension for more years than he worked. Listening to him change Faux News "history" was about all I could take and, again, I should have cut off the call. But I'm an idiot. Usually, I can keep a grip on my optimism ("'Pessimist' is what an optimist calls a realist."), but sometimes I pointlessly hope that I can get through to people who are clearly uninterested in hearing anything outside of their narrow world. This conversation will, hopefully, help remind me that is fuckin' stupid.

What I learned from this pointless "conversation" was that Glen Beck and Bill O'Reilly are "intellectuals," socialism and fascism are the same philosophy/economic system/politics (based on the overwhelming evidence that Hitler's political party was "National Socialist") and that Hitler hung out with "Bohemian liberals" before rounding up his "old friends" and incinerating them, and the rest of the mindless propaganda has congealed into a muddy goo that I can not penetrate, decipher, or purge from my memory. If I weren't worried about the effects of combining heart medications with alcohol, I'd down a bottle of Jack Daniels and try to forget about the whole thing.

His knowledge of anything outside of small town Kansas was embarrassing as was his knowledge of world and American history. His rambling defense of Faux News reminded me of the recent poll that found FN viewers would be better informed if they never pulled their heads out of their asses to get their Newspeak fix. I probably made his day by saying that I didn't believe that China has a chance in hell of becoming democratic, that 8,000 years of taking two steps back for every step forward has condemned the mainland Chinese to being what they are until the blessed asteroid eliminates the genetic stain of humanity from the earth. In the usual pseudo-concerned voice of pseudo-conservativism, he called that statement "racist." He understood me to be saying that "orientals can't be democratic." Now that is, in fact, racist, but it's what he said, not me.

Like the Chinese state, I don't think Kansans or Nebraskans or Texans or Okies can be democratic, either. Those once great populist, progressive places have purged themselves of intellectuals and creative people and what they are left with is the result of nearly a century of unintentional down-breeding. For decades, every smart kid born in those places is run out of town efficiently and completely. All of those states are single party governments and they are all Republican. I would be willing to be some of my very own money that will not change in my lifetime or my kids' lifetimes.

12/07/2012

How to Know if Your Lawyer Will Work for You

A while back, I wrote a bit about using the existence of non-existence of Unitarian-Universalists congregations in a neighborhood/city/state to determine from a distance if the place has a decent quality of life (How to Know if your State Is an Armpit). A recent experience in one of the nation's hellholes, Texas, taught me another and similar simple stereotyping trick. Stereotyping is about as politically incorrect as a modern American can get, but it's still a natural and useful tactic for making general assumptions about almost anything related to human behavior. Exceptions don't prove rules, but exceptions are rare because many stereotypes are generally accurate.

In my case, I was tasked with finding a lawyer for an estate settlement that was guaranteed to become a stereotypical family battle. The "family" was my wife's father's second-marriage catastrophe and I would have bet the will, if he'd bothered to write one, would be a clusterfuck directed by his pack of inbred hillbilly step-children under duress from his constantly complaining and rapidly declining wife. When the hospital called us to tell us that Bob was dead and that my daughter and my wife were listed as his emergency contact, we traveled to Texas to deal with his mess of an "estate." We knew the step-brats had tried to corral Bob in a care facility in Arkansas a year ago and had conned the old man into signing over power of attorney in an attempt to imprison him in that facility so they could control his expenses and burn through his savings as rapidly as possible. My wife and the manager of that facility worked together to help him escape Arkansas and return to the retirement apartments he'd lived in before the highjacking. Other than a surprise visit, that required the step-brats slipping past the Texas apartment security, that scared the crap out of Bob and sent him into a paranoid panic for a couple of weeks, he managed to avoid contact with the step-family for three-quarters of a year. Knowing his history of delusion, racism, sexism, and retired military sense of entitlement, I figured he had avoided rewriting his will as an act of self-delusion and avoidance. However, after searching his apartment, talking with the complex manager and the lazy fools the Wichita Falls Air Farce Base calls their "Legal Services" deadzone, and contacting his three godawful bank account managers (Wells Fargo and two different disasters with Chase Bank), we determined that no one knew of a will. Still, I expected crap to appear out of Arkansas (isn't that the only thing that ever comes from Arkansas?) and tried to search out a lawyer for my wife.

I had some good advice from Minnesota legal friends, "find an old lawyer with a private practice near the county court house," but after calling a dozen Wichita Falls lawyers and getting a callback from only one in the week we were in Texas, I settled for a young guy "with a private practice near the county court house." He's been ok, but passive and mostly acts as a conduit for information between my wife and her step-siblings.

A few weeks after coming back home, I realized that a straight-forward simple question would have extracted everything I needed to know about a Texas lawyer, "Are you Republican or Democrat?" From Minnesota, that might seem irrelevant, but in Texas it would explain a lot and fast. Texas Republicans are as common as fire ants and about as useful. Years of Karl Rove, G.W. Bush, and Rick Perry and the kind of carpetbagging and corporate-ass-kissing that produced those vicious scumbags has polarized Texas into assholes and people who surrounded by assholes and are either trying to put their shit together so they can escape Asshole Land or who are making a last stand to remind the inbred morons that Texas used to be a place that produced liberal or progressive politicians like Speaker of the House Sam Rayburn, Senator Ralph Yarborough, Governor Ann Richards, and big-balled characters like Jim Hightower. There are a few progressive Texans left, but they are overwhelmingly in the minority.

Finally, I come to my point. When you are looking for a lawyer, you want someone who will stand up for you in the face of overwhelming odds. Obviously, that won't be a Texas Republican. So, the first step in the decision process has to be finding someone who is independent, courageous, and willing to piss into the winds of a grossly corrupt political and legal system; a Texas Democrat.

11/30/2012

And Now for Something Really Common

This is a musical, artistic depiction of the most idiotic activity in human history. Of course, the Corporate States of America tops the list of idiots:


11/07/2012

Left-Right, which are you?

This is a pretty interesting look at the basic qualities of the left-right polarization.The reality is, most of us are something other than "left or right." This isn't even useful information, which fully qualifies it as the domain of the remains of our corporate mass media.

Rigged Voting Machines? Really?


What a surprise! Romney's voting machines are fraudulent?

11/05/2012

Religion's Purpose

Now that is a hyper-arrogant title for a rant, don't you think? However, after watching RSA Animate: The Truth About Dishonesty I was inspired to think about whatever value superstition might bring to society. The reason this was worth considering is that I generally believe religions possess no positive social value. Religion does not "socialize us," but does the opposite in allowing us to imagine there is a god/goddess/collection-of-deities "on our side" who will allow us to do all sorts of evil in the name of whatever god/goddess/collection-of-deities we've invented.

The only tool religion has to control behavior, guilt, is powerless against sociopaths. Even worse, this tool is so useful in controlling the actions of the Marching Morons that it became particularly attractive to clever sociopaths (Is there another kind?) with all sorts of evil agendas. Even not-so-clever sociopaths like the Fox News variety can use this tool to aim-and-fire the Marching Morons off of whatever cliff and into any target they pick. Superstition and guilt and fear are pretty much the most useful weapons ever devised by the crazy lunatics who float to the top of the human toilet bowl.

I particularly liked the quick dismissal Dan Ariely used for the supernatural, "from whatever spirits they believe in." It's quick, clean, and grants no unearned respect or honor to delusional thinking. He quickly moves from the supernatural to what he calls "reminders" of moral expectation and behavior. No messing around with the magical aspect of religion and right to the only possible actual connection to cultural value.

I'm not convinced. Catholics, the originators of confession, have never shown any particular bent toward honesty or moral behavior. The people who brought the world the Inquisition have been on the side of evil, greed, and vicious behavior more often than any other group in human history. Confession might work on a small scale, but it appears to have no value on a worldwide basis.

A more practical religious "value" is explained, repeatedly, in Drew Faust's This Republic of Suffering. That book describes the ways American families handled the wholesale death of the Civil War and religion played a huge part in allowing Americans to send their children, husbands, and siblings off to an insane war over issues that hardly anyone believed in on both sides. As Mary Cabot, a woman who authored a popular book on spiritualism of the time, explained, "I wanted something actual, something pleasant, about this place in which Roy [her husband] has gone." So, she created a more detailed invention of "heaven" to supplement the vague and unsatisfactory description traditional religion and the Bible offered.

Modern evangelicalism is rife with invention to make up for the holes in the Bible and the conservative approach traditional religion once took with providing comfort from the brutality of life. Today, every church from the Southern Baptists to Mormons to Scientology works overtime to create new, more sell-able images of life-after-death to attract customers who have had, or expect to have, great losses from war, disease, or bad luck. It's a tough market out there, between having to create an acceptable and universal illustration of The Big Rock Candy Mountain and inventing a god/goddess/collection-of-deities that is sweet on the believers and psychopathicly nasty to unbelievers.

It is worth remembering that this "purpose" of religion is to allow the peons justification for sending their children to death for the benefit of the ruling class. More than any other way, this is probably the most banal application of the "opiate of the masses" explanation for religion. Offering false comfort to prevent the unbridled outrage for the stolen lives of our children is absolutely the most evil thing religion has done in its long, vicious history.

11/04/2012

Living with Stupid

The worst thing about being a modern pseudo-conservative in 21st Century USA is having to live with being wrong about EVERYTHING. From the Vietnam War to Panama to Iraq to Iran, from Nixon to Reagan to the Bush Royalty to Mittens, from economic theory vs. reality to trickle down to science vs. delusional religious fantasy to civil rights to women's rights to justice and democracy, American Conservatives have been on the wrong side of every issue in my lifetime. I suppose they will be able console themselves with having a .000 batting record but still owning the major media, all of corporate America, and being responsible for crushing the strongest empire in modern history. But still . . . . damn! Wouldn't you like to be right once in your lifetime?

10/31/2012

Deadbeat States

It's well known that the majority of Red States are deadbeat welfare states (taking in more federal tax dollars than paying out federal taxes). Humans are consistently stupid and no one is more consistently dumber than conservatives, but this article really highlights how stupid we are: Comcast Finance Blog, The States Least Prepared for Retirement.The bulk of the states clamoring for Romney's voucher system for everything from Medicare to Social Security to public education are about as prepared for retirement as they are for a calculus exam.

One thing you have to give conservatives credit for, when they aim at their feet they don't miss.

10/10/2012

Every Four Years, Nothing Changes



Canada Tightens Border

OTTAWA (The Borowitz Report)—Canada announced today that it was tightening security along its border with the United States amid concerns that there could be a mass migration of illegal Americans after Tuesday, November 6th.
According to Randolph McTavish, Deputy Commissioner of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, border patrols are on alert due to an “increase in chatter” indicating that a threat to Canada’s border might be imminent.
“We’ve been intercepting troubling comments from some very freaked-out people,” he said. “Most of it has been on NPR call-in shows.”
Stating that the R.C.M.P. is patrolling every kilometre of the Canadian border, he issued this warning to Americans who might try to cross into Canada illegally: “If you drive a Prius, you will be stopped.”
He also warned Americans against trying to slip across the border in the hopes of passing as Canadians: “It is very difficult, if not impossible, to pretend to like hockey.”
Mr. McTavish said that he was sympathetic with those who might flee across the border in search of a new life and socialized medicine, but added, “At the end of the day, forty-seven per cent of Americans is more than Canada can handle.”

Two Reasons Why We Should All Vote 
for Willard Mitt Romney
(Denny Crane’s argument from “Boston Legal,” 2008)

“If McCain [Romney] wins, he’ll help save the salmon.
“Wild Salmon stocks in Canada are threatened… climate change, sea lice… and once they go, there goes half the ecosystem.  I don’t need to tell you!
 “He won’t save ‘em directly!  The polls show that if McCain [Romney] wins, it’s like a third term of Bush – and a lot of Americans will immigrate to Canada.  The smart ones.  The intelligence level of Canada will go up, and they’ll figure out how to save the Salmon.”
And the second reason?
“Women are easier during a Republican administration.  It’s a fact that during Democratic regimes, volunteerism goes up.  Then, you get a lot of women running around for this cause or that… and they start to think they have something to say.  Republicans tend to reinforce the idea that a woman’s place is in her home, on her back.  Now, I haven’t even taken into account all the depressed women, if McCain wins.  Sad girls are easy girls.  I don’t need to tell you, they’re vulnerable!”

10/02/2012

Religion Laid Bare


One of the rare honestly religious people on earth. I, honestly, didn't know they still existed.

9/29/2012

This is what advertising would look like if liberals ever decided to toss off political correctness and come out fighting:

9/28/2012

Why I Don't Give Money to NPR

First, I have friends who work for Minnesota Public Radio (MPR) and they are wonderful people who are doing the right thing for the right reason. They aren't the problem, they work for the problem. If public radio's mismanagement somehow managed to shoot the organization in the foot, that foot became infected, and the institution died, my friends would miss the jobs they had, the mission they thought they were serving, and the community they tried to serve would be lessened by their loss. I once worked for Guidant Corporation. Many people working inside many giant disorganizations have higher goals, a sense of mission, hopes to be providing value and, even, saving lives with the company's products. Having been in meetings with the Guidant executives and hearing their concerns, I know the company's employees who had morals and values would have been disappointed to learn that their mismanagers are rarely more sophisticated or motivated any differently than other white collar criminals. Like most white collar criminals, they got away with a fortune and no responsibility for the wreckage they left behind. Law enforcement doesn't have the skills, the funding, or the interest in pursuing corporate criminals unless they screw up and steal from the 1%.The fact is, good people often work for for evil people because they (the good people) are incredible optimists and hope for the best in face of all evidence.

When my kids were young, 35 years ago, we listened to Nebraska Public Radio a lot. They grew up listening to great BBC and US radio programs like the Monty Python Show, Doctor Who, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, The Zero Hour, Le Show, Earplay, NPR Playhouse, A Prairie Home Companion, and rebroadcasts of old US radio dramas like Johnny Dollar and Suspense. We didn't have a television in the house and NPR was important to our household for all of our electronic media entertainment, news, and just to pass the time. College interns who worked in my lab learned to talk Hitchhiker's Guide dialog to communicate. We ran the program every day and there was damn little conversation in the lab while the show was on. When the local station reran the Pythons, we had listening parties where most of the party'ers could quote the lines; accent intact. From 1973 to 2000, I was a reliable contributor to my local Public Radio stations; from Lincoln, Nebraska to Santa Monica, California, to Denver, Colorado, to St. Paul, Minnesota. Even when we didn't have much money, we always found a couple hundred dollars to give to our local stations.

The 90's were the beginning of the end for NPR. Along with the phony morals outrage about Clinton's blow jobs, the Repuglicans were hammering at the "liberal bias" of public media, doing everything they could to eliminate any public funding on media not firmly on their side. To Repuglicans, "liberal" means anything reality-based. Federal funding dropped and, to make up for the loss of revenue, National Public Radio began to take on corporate advertising, disguised as "sponsorships." Those sponsorships and the fear NPR's mismanagement had that their oversized salaries might be impacted by even less federal investment in public information have shifted the information we get dramatically. (Yes, I know their annual salaries are barely a week's coffee allowance for Rush, Beck, and the MSM regular talking heads. But I don't listen to those idiots at all, ever.) My first strong impression of Minnesota Public radio's (MPR) shift was when Jesse Ventura was running for Minnesota Governor. Ventura was "allowed" about one word out of ten, compared to his Democratic and Repuglican opponents. Four years later, the candidate Ventura recommended for his replacement, Tim Penny, wasn't even allowed to participate in the MPR debates. It was obvious that MPR belonged to the two parties and the state's corporations and my interest in "local radio" has declined in direct proportion to local radio's disinterest in local communities. The bigger the public radio organization becomes, the less connected to the local community they are.

For years, I have used Public Radio as my wake-up alarm. For the last ten years, that has mostly served to get me out of bed pissed off. In the 2006-2007 period, hearing NPR's "financial experts" jabber about how our failing, phoney economy was in great shape because home ownership was at an all-time high did that job. This year, the non-stop conservative commentary and propaganda is putting on the finishing touches. A few days ago, I woke up to what was purported to be a random selection of uncommitted voters in Ohio. What they interviewed were several die-hard Romney idiots, including one bimbo who was voting for Romney because Ryan "is cute." If that's the most non-committed NPR can get, they might as well become a Faux News subsidiary.

And that is why I can ignore NPR's constant begging for money without a blip on my conscience. I know a pile of crap when I hear it. I know that Minnesota Public Radio has enough money to acquire every available small radio station several states through its American Public Radio subsidiary. I know that I miss the real "public radio," the radio stations that were closely connected to local communities and gave us a load of local information with a little national BS and even more international news; lots of BBC, some CBC, and I felt closer to my community because of it. I don't get that from the conglomerates that NPR, APR, and MPR have become. I miss public radio, though.

Political Action

The rash of Karl Rove's presence in television has produced an unintended, but absolutely positive reaction in me. I was trying to watch a little football on Sunday and one of his corrupt pack of lies came on the television during a time out. I got up, turned the television off and haven't watched more than a few seconds of broadcast television since. No loss, there. It was just football and a bunch of stupid network crap occasionally interrupted by the end result of the idiot Citizens United Extreme court decision. I needed something to drive me away from the idiot tube. Rove gave it to me.

You have to wonder if all of the nation's reality-based citizens gave up on television because they didn't have patience for the Crossroads GPS lies and stupidity, how committed would the television networks be to paid political ads?

9/27/2012

Welfare Queens

Mike Lofgren hits a lot of high notes from the vantage point of his experience behind the scenes in the Repuglican Party. His latest piece that analyzes the "welfare queens" that Willard Romney never talks about is right on target: Meet the Welfare Queens of the 1%: The Moochers Mitt Missed Work for the Pentagon.

To quote Mike, "Unlike the cases of Dimon or Blankfein, I doubt one American in a thousand knows who Wes Bush is. The CEO of Northrop Grumman, he made over $26 million last year, exceeding JPMorgan Chase's payout to Dimon, the highest paid bank CEO. In fact, the chiefs of the five largest Department of Defense (DoD) contracting firms hauled in $107 million combined, more than the top five bank CEOs (who limped in with a mere $75 million altogether). Yet somehow, this form of income redistribution through the medium of government manages to bounce off the consciousness of people like Romney and his supporters like Swedish peas off an Abrams tank."

The 1% are a lot more dependent on handouts than the 99% because rather than being "job creators" they are completely useless without the money and power for leverage. Put 'em in a Walmart, McDonald's, or Starbuck's uniform and watch them get fired on the first day. And Willard is one of them. He needed a $10M bailout back in the 90's to keep his BS "consulting business" from going belly-up.

9/19/2012

Santorum and I . . . Agree?


After years of arguing that when Repuglicans say "elite" they mean "smart people," Rick Santorum puts his feet in his mouth and admits exactly that. Of course, his audience is exclusively moronic. So, no one got the joke(?). I was recently exposed to this double-speak when my son-in-law argued that the media is "liberal." It took a while to figure out that he meant "literate." He wasn't talking about the people who owned the media, but the people who actually have to write material for a public with a 3rd grade education to read. However, you have to read something more than large print self-help books to qualify as literate and that sort of activity poses the terrible risk that one might become liberal from exposure to knowledge. Don't worry, literacy isn't like gayness; it's not catching. You are safe.

Now, if Rick Perry, Willard Romney, Sarah Palin or one of the other Republican retards will just admit that reality has a liberal bias and that mathematics is too complicated to be used for things like budgeting, government planning, or moon shots.

9/18/2012

Does This Work?

This Garrison Keilor routine came to me via Scott Malchow/Pete Johnson. It's an excerpt from Keillor's Guy Noir and the Straight Skinny as  "Guy Noir" observes kids in a coffee shop: 

"The place was crawling with art students from St. Paul Art School, Market Street (SPASMS), also known as Simply Pray And Send Money Soon, housed in the old Great Northern warehouse on Market Street . . . Kids with baggy low-slung pants and backward baseball caps and active vocabularies of about five hundred words . . . They all had glittery metal hanging from their eyebrows, eyelids, lips, earrings all around their ears, metal plugs in their noses and tongues--it looked like they had fallen face-first into the tackle box . . . 

"Poor kids. They'd talked their parents into fronting the dough for art school so the kiddos could prolong adolescence a few more years. That's what MFA means. My Fascinating Adolescence. It's the Montessori generation, so everybody wins a blue ribbon, everyone's ideas are valid, everyone is on a journey, we're all talented, all roads lead to Art. The girls dress like streetwalkers and the boys like drug dealers, and they adopt the slang of the black underworld, which they have no firsthand knowledge of, and they're okay with that. They're okay with not knowing much of anything. I envy them that. They had Ritalin and Prozac to smooth out the rough spots, and now they sit drinking expensive warm milk and building elaborate shrines to themselves on Facebook as they try to live creative lives and be free and do good in the world, which is why we need Mexicans to sneak across the border and mow our lawns and clean our toilets- so the kids can sit around looking in a mirror and feeling like artists, though none of them can so much as draw a pink petunia in  a plaster pot . . . " What's left out of this partial quote of Keilor's book (between the " . . . 's") is as funny, relevant, sad, and accurate as the bits Johnson included. It is all very reminiscent of Joseph Heller and I mean that in every good way possible. 

I know these kids. Not that long ago, I had a kid in one of my record lab classes who seemed to be waiting for some magical insight to clue him to the fact that the point of the class was to learn something. He, occasionally, appeared to be on the edge of grasping that concept, but always fell back to his normal position of acting clueless (or cool, depending on your perspective) and asking to be shown, once again, the things the other members of the class had down pat. A moment of clarification came to me at the end of a class when he accidentally dropped a few mic cables on the floor and spilled some other equipment. He glanced, dully, at the mess he'd made and continued out of the studio. 

I stopped him, saying "______ you know you're going to have to pick that stuff up, right?"

He responded with, "But it was an accident."

"I know that, but it's your accident. You have to pick it all up and re-wrap the cables. When you're done, drop it all off at the desk." And I left the room, but not the area because I wanted to be sure he actually did it.

After some moaning, he cleaned up his mess and ended up taking all of the equipment back to the front desk. I was baffled by the whole exchange until I realized that he'd probably never had to pick up after himself in his life. His mother, most likely, followed along behind him sweeping up his trash, putting away his clothes, solving his problems, bawling out the teachers who dared expect him to accomplish the same work as other students, and spoon feeding him when he was too tired or bored to feed himself. 

My wife calls this "the old parent syndrome": people who waited until they were middle-aged before having kids or, even worse, people who restarted their family life after a first, second, or fifth failure and decided to "get it right" by smothering their last chance old-sperm-and-egg-damaged offspring with attention and protection. This is the opposite end of traditional parenting, which demanded that parents have a gaggle of kids so that at least a couple would survive and thrive. It will be interesting to see how this plays out, although I won't likely get to be around for the final analysis. 

When I was a kid, as soon as were tall enough to reach the wheel and the pedals, lots of us were plopped on to a tractor seat, shown where the controls were, and pointed in the general direction of an empty field with the instruction, "Keep your rows straight and I'll come get you at dinner time." If we wanted money, we took on a paper route and learned how hard it is to get $2 out of adults at the end of the month. If we needed to get to baseball practice on the other side of town, we got on our bicycles and started pedaling early enough to get to practice on time. If we wanted a musical instrument or a rifle or ice cream, we saved up our paper route money and bought one or took a woodshop or machine or cooking class and made what we wanted. If we couldn't figure out what we wanted to do with our lives, we dropped out of school and got a job and supported ourselves. Even hippies in communes farmed, scrounged for grocery store throw-aways and scrounged a living working and panhandling. Can't make a living with one job, get two more. That's what coffee is for, right? Moving into your parents' basement after college just wasn't an option--practically or ethically--until the current generation of glow-in-the-dark boomerang slugs. 

I'm not saying there weren't deadbeats in the Boomer crowd, but I am saying they were the Limbaugh, George W. Bush, Moonpie Gingrich exeptions. Even Mitt Romney has paid a lot of money to create an illusion of his work ethic in business school (sort of a contradiction, I know). Like our parents, most of us got jobs in retail, manufacturing, service, sales, education, local or federal government, and a very few stayed in farming. After Reagan, a lot fewer were farmers (20,000,000 family farms fewer) and that occupation and farming communities are still vanishing at an astonishing rate

There is something incredibly irrational about going deeply into debt to extend adolescence. Going to college as a social activity is astoundingly stupid and, maybe, the ultimate expression of personal incompetence. If that isn't paying to have friends, I'm unclear on the concept (also true). College isn't for everyone. Some people are simply dumb. Some people are so driven that college only slows them down. A lot of us have to experience life a bit before we know what we want to study. College is not life, just as adolescence does not exist after puberty in real life. You can pretend to be a kid all the way into senility (Just ask Little George Bush), but you're still just a spoiled, useless kid. So, pick up after yourself, you worthless little prick. 

Why Wisconsin Should be Removed from the United States




Wisconsin, the home of Paul Ryan and Joe McCarthy, blows off the US Constitution and it's own state constitution in the interests of policing the police state. 

9/15/2012

Words to Remember

"Every generation has its time to struggle. There are no green pastures." William Kunstler


9/14/2012

Watching (and feeling sorry for) the Supreme Court

What a title, right? What kind of asshole could feel sorry for John Roberts, the Soprano's Tonys (Scalia and Kennedy), Charlie Thomas, Sammy Alito, and Sandy O'Connor (retired but still despised)? According to several polls, the US Supreme court has become one of the most despised government institutions in modern times. While the Warren Court was vilified by the nation's superstitious morons, the current court is hated by practically every intelligent person in the country.

An ABC poll found that 80% of the public thought the Extreme Court got it completely wrong with the goofy Citizens United clusterfuck.  Yeah, I know Congress makes about 2% of the population happy, but the thing with the Extremes is that smart people of all political sides think this group of screwball characters in dresses are retarded and criminally corrupted. They have overthrown a popular national election, appointed the worst President in the history of the country while tossing off a state's right to control and count votes and cancelling more than a half-million citizens' votes. They overthrew a Congressional attempt to eliminate corporate control of national and state elections and blew up the remainder of our democracy in exchange for direct bribes (Thomas) and indirect employment (Scalia and Alito) and profit. It would be hard to find a citizen with an IQ over 110 who considers this Extreme Court to be anything but criminal.

So, I sort of feel sorry for 'em. They are crooks, incompetent, traitors, and the epitome of evil, but you have to feel a little sorry for them because they will go down in history as a principle reason why this nation swirled down history's toilet into a place on the long list of failed empires. Future historians will shake their heads and wonder how a nation of 300 million could have tolerated such corruption, incompetence, and outright evil. The sorry lot will take their place next to Nero fiddling in Rome's flaming ruins and Napoleon and Hitler marching into Russia's war-machine crushing winters. Historically they will be, to put it simply, remembered as America's dumbest national court and the reason why kids read about what ended the American Century with a whimper and a splat.

9/12/2012

Unproductive Waste

I spent a day with a kid who I had hoped would be specially productive in adulthood. Among a group of reasonably intelligent kids, he seemed like someone who might blossom into someone who might contribute something useful to our society. I don't see him often. In fact, I guess I have seen him less than a couple of times in the last couple of years, so I was surprised to find he'd not only dropped out of an engineering program because it was "too hard" but had a lifelong desire to be in "law enforcement." To a guy like me, that's like finding out that someone I thought I knew a little turned out to be a mafia hitman. Not that I'd be amazed that I'd misinterpreted that person's character, but I'd be amazed that someone with choices would choose to be so worthless to society.

Let's be honest, cops are a necessary evil; humans being the un-house-broken mostly-vicious animal that we are. Necessary evils, by design, tend to attract less-than-idea characters. In the case of a government so near to a police state, as our has become, the people inclined to enforce laws that are often harmful, unproductive, and unjust are usually just the sort of people who enjoy activities like the police riots at last year's Republican National Convention in St. Paul. Often exactly the kind of people you would not want to be in that sort of position. In fact, it's probably safe to say that anyone who wants the job shouldn't be allowed to have it. (Very much like politics, the military, and corporate management.)

In that pointless discussion with a mindless kid, I brought up the fact that I believe a good portion of our "law enforcement" business is about persecuting unimportant victim-less crimes and avoiding chasing down the criminals who do the most damage to society. Wikipedia lists among this group of activities: "traffic citations and violations of laws concerning public decency, and include public drunkenness, illicit drug use, vagrancy, speeding and public nudity." In fact, Wikipedia's section on victimless crime is unusually good and complete with all arguments and a good bit of history. Surprise!

Of course, the real reason most of us "hate cops" is that nobody likes a tax collector. Even tax collectors hate tax collectors. Since our governments have been disabled by Repuglican inability to figure out that taxes pay for stuff, cops have been retasked with the job of handing out as many fines as possible for insignificant "offenses" while ignoring real crime and the most vicious predators. And that's why we hate them.

9/10/2012

How Dangerous Are They?


The Teabag men and women are approaching scary. Maybe they zipped by it so fast that I missed the turning point. They carry and display guns at their rallies; and I mean big guns, automatic weapons fit for a murderous trip to the local high school or synagogue. The offer "prayers" of the sort pictured at right:
May his days be few;
may another take his place of leadership.
May his children be fatherless
and his wife a widow.
This is, of course, yet another example of how rarely the Golden Rule is obeyed in the Bible and an even stronger piece of evidence that Christians are still Jews Who Dislike Jews; in other words, Old Testament fans who like the idea of a Christ but who don’t care much for the things he was reported to have said.
This collection of unpatriotic, anti-democratic traitors could quickly pass from praying for the death of the President to making their crazy predictions come true. Since the Bushies stuffed so much of the federal bureaucracy full of similar nutballs, it's not hard to imagine another inside job like the Kennedy assassinations. The Secret Service has a terrible record of providing pitiful to non-existent protection for liberal, Democratic Presidents. You'd think they might be just a little biased. The CIA is outright traitorous, self-interested, and works against the best interests of everyone but the oil companies and other corrupt corporations. If the general population is willing to be this overt in their desire to overthrow an elected government, the chances are good that it will be done.

Before the last presidential election, Boston Legal's brilliant writers produced a farce-logical argument that might actually be the best hope the world has to resolve the mess the US has created in the world. 
Alan Shore and Denny Crane on Boston Legal:
Alan: "Okay, give me two reasons you're going to vote for McCain."

Denny: "If McCain wins, he'll help save the salmon... The wild salmon stocks in Canada are threatened by the climate change, fishing routing, sea lice... Once the salmon go, there goes half the ecosystem. I don't need to tell you."

Alan: "And... McCain will save them?"

Denny: "Not directly. But the push would. If McCain wins, it's like a third term of Bush. And a lot of Americans would immigrate to Canada. The smart ones. And the intelligence level of Canada goes up. They'll figure out how to save the salmon."

Alan: "... And the second reason?"

Denny: "Women are easier during a Republican administration. It's a fact. During Democratic regimes, volunteerism goes up, and you get a lot of women running around for this cause and that. They start to think they have something to say. Republicans tend to reinforce the idea that a woman's place is in the home, on her back. And not even taking into account all the women that would be depressed if McCain won. Sad girls are easy girls. I don't need to tell you. They're lonely. Salmon and women, in the end it's all about spawning. Drill, baby, drill."

Alan: "Salmon and Sex How did McCain miss that campaign slogan?"

9/08/2012

Obsoleting Capitalism

Bertrand Russell said, "Advocates of capitalism are very apt to appeal to the sacred principles of liberty, which are embodied in one maxim: The fortunate must not be restrained in the exercise of tyranny over the unfortunate.” The last 30 years have given us a long, painful example of this capitalist principle. Since Reagan, the "fortunate" have had their way with American democracy. The result is a decimated education system that only the children of the wealthy can afford, a vanishing middle class, a crushed economy with little hope of reversing those misfortunes, and a government that only serves the interests of the richest 1%. The followers of that crazy Russian pervert, Ayn Rand, created a greedy, selfish, cynical, faux-religious neo-con movement that has purged the country of the rule of law, fair elections, and the future. This should have been no surprise.

Adam Smith, a founder of capitalist philosophy, believed the market's "invisible hand" would magically distributed goods and services fairly and rationally. A fundamental belief of capitalism is that the wealthy deserve their good fortune, even when wealth is inherited or when it is gained through criminal or antisocial or functionally useless behavior. The problem with unrestrained capitalism is that it is a sociopathic economic system that defeats democracy, decency, and justic. The concentrating of wealth in the hands of a tiny minority of mostly idle, inbred children of past generations of capitalists is a culture-destroying concept. At the beginning of the 21st Century, more than half of the wealthiest people in the country have inherited their wealth. The richest 1% own more of the country's treasure than does the bottom 95%. One of the prime reasons the United States was created was to escape the contamination and corruption of Europe's class system. Today, we are infected by exactly the class segregation and privledge the country was created to escape. Again, no one should be surprised.

Many of the folks who trust in blind faith that "market magic" will create a just society also believe in a plethoria of superstitions. “The way to see by Faith is to shut the Eye of Reason,” so said Ben Franklin. Imagining that capitalism will, someday, reverse its greedy, destructive path is an act of faith that defies reason. John Keynes decimated that argument with sound analysis, "Capitalism is the astounding belief that the most wickedest of men will do the most wickedest of things for the greatest good of everyone." That statement stands and the primary reason that Keynesian Economics are reviled by the Faux News crowd. It highlights their innate venality and holds it to the light of reason and justice. Corporations are, by nature, psychopathic and corrosive to democracy, justice, and the social and physical environment. Corporations are a core feature of capitalism. The existence of corporations, alone, is reason to distrust capitalism. Like corporations, inherited wealth and power has a long history of contaminating the societies where inheritance determines success. The "great cultures" of history have all fallen because they decided that luck of birth rather than sweat of achievement was the better contribution to society.

In my life, the worst people I've ever met have been corporate directors, VPs, and CEO's-and-CE-whatevers. I've sat in a room with a group of these psychos while they argued about the effects of notifying patients of the possible life-threatening danger their implanted medical devices presented. No, the execs weren't worried about the patients. They were worried about the effect notification would have on their stock options. No, they weren't "a few bad apples. They were typical of the sort of person who floats to the top of the corporate toilet bowl in every corporation in the world. The "wrong side of the tracks" is a phrase that is supposed to describe the poor side of town, but if it were used to describe where the worst characters in a community live it would always point to the wealthy.

Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, Americans have fallen for the fantasy that capitalism has a moral superiority over socialism. “Under capitalism man exploits man; under socialism the reverse is true.” Fran Lebowitz summed up the great East-West battle, "In the Soviet Union, capitalism triumphed over communism. In this country, capitalism triumphed over democracy." The only thing that matters is democracy and anything that opposes democracy is the enemy of the people. Suck on that.

9/05/2012

A Wise Move

In a country where stupid is the new intellectual, it probably pays to be flexible. In Minnesota, we learned that one price of giving credibility to the right wing press is that ordinary people of good will are driven from government. Their replacements will be the usual suspects of "professional politicians" who masquerade as actual human beings; Pawlenty, for example. The chances that other actual human beings will follow Ventura into politics becomes vanishingly lower every year. The corporate media protects its own, ruthlessly.


The multiple standards the wingnut press applies to abusing government is amusing, at best, and treasonous on average. For example, in our last state election both of our corporate paper media outlets decided that picking on Tommy Emmer's history of drinking and driving and his perverted family's even worse character is out-of-line and irrelevant to the election of a governor. The fact that this candidate has a terrible personal record and that he is, apparently, not much of a parent or role model for his son was pretty obviously important information for those who expect their government's leaders to be honest, responsible, reasonably moral, and accountable. Emmer clearly had none of those qualities.

If the local media had not gone after Ventura at every opportunity for considerably fewer and less serious activities, there might be some credibility in their behavior. Since they pulled out every gun they owned to discredit our first citizen governor in decades, their bias has been easily identified. Pawlenty, who had the Minnesota version of Reagan's "Teflon coating," was a blatant corporate shill from the moment he entered politics. Hell, he lived off the income he made "on the board" for a crooked cell phone company for his two years of "unemployment" between 2003 and 2005, when he took office as the state's governor. NewTel Holdings and their subsidiary, New Access, paid Pawlenty $4,500-a-month to pretend to be a "consultant and legal adviser," although even Pawlenty couldn't remember doing anything specific for New Access and "didn't view that as my job" during the period. How many real humans can knock down $54k/year doing so little that the effort was less than inconsequential?

You can work for any number of crooked corporations, above and below the surface, and our corporate media stays in love with you, The more you know about Pawlenty, the less a working class voter should like him, so the media made sure we knew as little as possible. So, Emmer's kid gets drunk and decorates a drunken coed with penis pictures and he's off limits. A disgruntled state employee invents a tale of Ventura's son having parties in a building that Ventura closed during his term of office, and the media is all over it. Pawlenty gets a paycheck for doing nothing, by his own admission, from a corporation that was convicted of conning citizens out of hundreds of thousands of dollars in fraudulent charges and that fact literally vanishes from his public biography. Ventura used some of his spare time to be an XFL broadcaster and the media goes nuts. In his spare time, a resource a governor apparently has plenty of, Pawlenty vanished from the state after he began campaigning for President a year before he left his Minnesota office and it wasn't a blip in our media's outlook, although Pawlenty left the state massively in debt with the worst employment statistics since the last Great Depression.

Our local governments are becoming just as infested by "professional corporate politicians." The media leaves out the middle term of the proper description, because "professional politician" doesn't excite the "wrong kind of reaction" the way the full name might. In a democracy, there is no such thing as a professional politician because elected officials serve the will of the public. In our corporatocracy, there are politicians who are professional in the worst sense of the word: "participating for gain or livelihood in an activity or field of endeavor often engaged in by amateurs." These paid and captured employees of corporate America are as disinterested in the future of the country and their communities as are the big box stores that Pawlenty and his ilk believe the country should imitate; "look toward a Sam's Club approach to government by providing value at a low cost." Democracy and Wal-Mart have nothing in common, just as the corporate model and democracy have always been at odds.

In the end, it appears that real humans will disappear from politics and we'll be left with the professionals. You'd think that even someone as committed to the ideals of politics as Obama would have second thoughts after a single term. Ventura probably left us with the perfect model for citizen-politicians: win, accidentally; fight like hell with everyone inbred in the system; leave while you still have a soul; finally, any time you have an audience, remind the public of how fuckin' stupid they were to let you go. Characters like Pawlenty, who have done nothing but suck the public tit their whole lives, don't have that option. Without political life, they aren't live at all. Citizen politicians can always go back to their real life, but if they don't do it quickly they'll lose that option and become "professional politicians" or, as they should be known, full-time deadbeats. 

9/02/2012

Looking for a Perfect Market for Software?

Since the earliest days of the Rat's Eye View (#34, 2000), I argued that "The Rat's Eye Business Rule #1: No business is more than necessarily smarter than its customers." One of the best examples is in business software. I do not mean Quicken's Home and Office or Quicken Books or Microsoft Office or any one of the mass marketed programs that are intended for professional use but are sold to all of us. I mean the specialty software software designed for the biggest suckers in business: businesses. The bigger the business, the dumber the customer.

I've experienced this several times in my business career. The first time went back to the days (1967) of punchcards and hardwired business computers. That was followed by suffering with college computer systems in the 70's, Gerber and HP's godawful CAD systems in the 70's & 80's, the horrendous misery of IBM's quality management software with two medical devices companies (1990's), and most recently I'm all the way back to my own beginnings having to use the POS software that colleges buy. This past week, I heard exactly the same story from a middle manager in Minnesota's state government.

In particular, my own most resent misery has been caused by, first, the disorganized coding disaster produced by SonisWeb followed by an even bigger catastrophe misnamed CampusVue from Computer Management Corp. Both of these companies have done a fine job of targeting the function that most "educational institutions" are most concerned with: income management and customer/student tracking. However, these programs completely neglect the primary function of an educational facility; classroom management. From recording attendance to administering, scoring, and storing exams and final grades, these programs appear to have been written by a first semester, computer science student no more recently than 1975. Even worse, every "upgrade" blows away more useful features, blocks instructor access from classroom information, and adds more keystrokes to instructor's interaction with the already cumbersome and incompetent software.

You might wonder how such poorly written software can find customers? Easy. Administration buys the crap and administration has no clue what goes on in the classroom. You can't get a dumber customer than one who doesn't use the product or know what it's used for. What passes for "management" in today's dysfunctional organizations is so busy packing its pockets with "performance bonuses" for awful performance that nobody has an eye on operations or the bottom line or the future. That is pretty obviously a formula for disaster.

8/31/2012

Taking Careful Aim

I recently had a discouraging conversation with a kid, a 40-year-old kid, but still a child. He's unemployed, living off of his wife's wage, and pretending to be a stay-at-home dad but who refuses to cook, clean house, or even take care of the kid for more than 20 hours a week. He is, as you might guess, a "conservative." Even sillier, he's a "libertarian." I could probably end this rant right now, since it's obvious that this boy is one of the many clueless marching morons who overpopulate this rapidly declining empire's voting registers. At least a dozen years of education failed to make a mark on this kid and millions of self-indulgent idiots just like him. Why would I imagine that a few hours of debate would have an effect? Arrogance, blind hope, an unreasonable belief that inside the skull of every idiot pseudo-conservative lies one or two functioning brain cells, or some other pointless, irrational fantasy that I need to work on purging.

The things I "learned" while listening to this babbling brook of a Faux New's indoctrinated sheeple were along the lines of "the liberal media doesn't give real conservatives a chance." Translated: Smart people don't listen to stupid people rant nearly long enough to want to kill themselves in relief." How about the traditional "investment in business is a greater risk than just taking a job." Translated: If I get lucky with my wife's money and stumble on to employees who will work harder, smarter, and longer than me, I deserve credit for being a courageous Ayn Randian job creator.

Like a lot of fools who label themselves "libertarian," this 5'6" 180 pound couch potato practically drools at the thought of a complete national economic collapse. He imagines himself as some sort of John Galt while being someone a lot closer to a character on Seinfield. The impotent, usually unemployed, still-in-the-closet short fat guy comes to mind. He imagines himself buying a gun to "defend his family" as the hoards pound on his door to steal his wife's hard-earned money. At the best, he'd blow his dick off if he ever handled a gun. At worst, he'd freak out and murder his family and blow himself away in a panic if any threat presented itself. He is a one-man example of why guns should not be available to the average American fool. He is also evidence that we desperately need to reinstate the draft to keep idiots like this quiet and below ground.

He did, however, remind me of how much luck is required to become a successful "entrepreneur." Fools like Romney would starve without their family connections. The overwhelming majority of small business owners would spend their lives with heads barely above water if they didn't luck into a few employees who worked harder and smarter than their bosses to make the business successful. (Been there, done that. Never again.) As Elizabeth Warren and Obama have explained, the core services and infrastructure that business can not even comprehend, let alone support and design, come from taxpayers. The wars that the Cock Brothers and Bush family have made their fortunes from were paid for with the money that should have been set aside for Social Security that those same assholes now claim is an unfunded "entitlement." The real "entitlements" that are crushing the nation are the military-industrial complex, the bought-and-paid-for corporate handouts K Street is so proud of, and the preference the idle rich receive over working Americans.

His pseudo-conservative "faith" that the media is overwhelmingly liberal confused me, for a while. After a few moments, I realized that he is, sort of, right. While the majority of like-Americans are spoon fed their news-pablum by corporate shills, it's impossible to escape the fact that smart people still write more than do idiots. As much as Jimmy-boy would like to keep his head down, well under the sewer of spew and vitriol issuing forth from Newt and Glenn and Rush's assholes, every once in a while the boy has to pull his head out of his own ass just for a quick look at where the stream of effluent is taking him. When he does, some damn liberal intellectual will find a way to get through the river of shit and into our boy's tiny brain. As always, the scarce grip these characters have on sub-reality can only be maintained if no one breaks into their delusion with scraps of reality. Like religious crazies, they can not tolerate contradicting opinions because even a moment's exposure to reality blows apart the fantasy they've constructed.

Finally, he tried to put himself into a better light by reaffirming his dislike for religion, claiming to be an atheist.  I have always argued that atheism is a much harder road to travel than "faith." It requires intellectual involvement, rather than simply falling for whatever bullshit the moment's priests are spewing. Libertarians often try to claw up to atheism, hoping that no one will examine their slightly-held freedom from this one pseudo-conservative dogma. Here's a tip, boys and girls, you can't be atheist and worry about ghosts, too. Fuckin' moron.

I do agree with douchebag-boy in one area. The country is coming apart and it will be ugly. There appears to be no way that Americans are going to wise up and move away from self-destruction. It's only a matter of time before the real class war begins and the 1% have all of the weapons, the military, the police, and the ruthlessness to overthrow the shambles that are left of our democracy. It will be a short battle.

7/18/2012

"I Was Right! Damn."

The country is hotter than it has been in recorded history. Temperatures are high and rising, rainfall is dribbling to record lows in much of the nation, crops are failing, and Al Gore is hidden in media-obscurity somewhere saying, "I was right! Suck on it, you wingnut biaches."

I guess there is some justification to be had, knowing that the wingnut mainstream media got it wrong, as usual, but since wingnuts are still in charge of information everywhere, only the literate know about it. The majority of the Marching Morons are just as delusional, incoherent, and fucked up as they have always been. Nothing changes but the names on the mastheads.

In a country where "God is punishing them" is considered a rational argument, God seems to be punishing the Red States aggressively. If he/she is out there, it must be frustrating to see how the religious zombies mistake their own punishment for something done to others that happens to spill over on to the "righteous." The high price of poor design; Intelligent Designer, my ass. You forgot the brain, fool. Next time, create a bill of materials before you start playing in the mud. If God had been Japanese, he'd have had better quality control. Since he is, obviously, European he missed the entire manufacturing revolution and is more of a marketing guy than a manufacturing guy. That explains my crappy knees and hips and the entire Repuglican Party and the weird Romney genetics.

Humans have missed the boat so many times, you'd think we'd be better swimmers. The 2000 presidential election is going to be viewed, for a few years, as one of the most catastrophic events in human history. We allowed five senile assholes to overturn an election and stick us, and the rest of the planet, with a pair of characters who couldn't outsmart an inflatable Bozo the Clown doll and we wasted eight precious, unrecoverable years packing the pockets of the most corrupt people in human history while one hell of a lot more than Rome began to catch fire.

My advice, if you haven't reproduced yet, don't do it. If you have, start apologizing now. Unfortunately, being right means that we're all in for a nasty future.

7/11/2012

Who Are the Job Creators?

Wingnuts want us to think the idle rich, corporate executives, military-industrial companies and the rest of the elite corporate welfare crowd are the "job creators." I don't think so. I came up with a game to test who is really economically important in the country and world. It's called "Who Can We Live Without."

First, let's play this game with the right wing crowd. If some blessed biological catastrophe were to happen to the caviar-eating crowd, everyone Romney and Bush have ever known for instance, what effect would that have on the nation's economy? All of the little rich kids who life on Daddy, Granpa, and Great-Great-Great-Granpa's money come down with a case of the mother-of-all diarrhea. The clowns to inhabit the top floors of the nation's corporate headquarters spend their last hours in the executive bathroom, emptying their money makers. The entire investment banking circus vanishes in a bubble of oily excrement. Most of the entertainment industry does what Hollywood usually does, makes shit, but this time no careers rebound from the disaster and we're left with independent artists for out diversions. Everyone who has eaten caviar (or some other rich asshole staple) in the last month is gone in a few weeks. How does that effect the nation's gross national product?

It's not like it's hard to find another CEO, so the loss of the executive class would result in a momentary burst of business productivity, until the usual assholes filtered to the top of the corporate toilet bowl and everything businesslike returned to "normal." Nobody but the people who serve the idle rich would know the rich douchebags were missing and those servants would probably find something useful to do fairly soon. The South's slaves ended up on the Detroit production lines after a few years of assimilation. George and Ann's butlers, maids, and gardeners can probably find productive work in time. Bankers just beg cheap (free today) money from the public and sell it back to us with interest. We can live without them. The difference between major stars and everyone else who plays an instrument, pretends to be someone else, or chases a ball in clown costumes is . . . not much. They will be replaced faster than we can forget their last performance.

If the right wing elite isn't mission critical to the country, who is?

How about scientists and mathematicians? If exposure to calculus and statistics caused aneurysms, how would that effect the economy? First, all of the rich people in the previous paragraph would be broke overnight if someone didn't manage their money, do their taxes, create tricky investment portfolios to maximize profits and minimize effort, and invent the products  and services that keep the 1% in control of 95% of the country's income. Without scientists and mathematicians, the idle rich would starve and have to find work asking if we "want fries with that?" The rest of us would be in trouble, too; especially if the US was the only country to have lost its scientists and mathematicians. We would go from being a shriveling first world economy to a third world disaster zone in a few months. Most of our productive industries would have seen their last new product and many wouldn't be able to continue producing their current products. The only competent federal government agency, the General Accounting Office, would become as stupid as the military and the military would be in capable of targeting anyone but Canada and Mexico and we'd have to drive the bombs to those places. Anyone but a wingnut can see scientists and mathematicians are job creators.

If we drop down the social ladder to the fastest vanishing career in the United States, farming, how does that play out if farmers and their support industries get Mad Cow and Corn disease and spend their last hours clawing at their skulls? The US food reserves are already lower than they have been for decades and fuel costs are likely to drive them lower. Doing stupid things like converting farm land to energy production (ethanol) will push this safety margin even closer to disaster. Even without killing off farmers and the ag industry, we might see the effect of these producers going away in the near future. Disregarding reality, if the food producers of the country vanished, so would most of us. With food reserves in the near-non-existent territory, most Americans would starve in a week. Grocery stores would empty on the first day and we'd eat our way through our personal reserves in a few days, those of us who have any. The streets would be on fire and the rioting would make the Civil War look like a block party. Obviously, farmers are job creators and life sustainers.

You can, hopefully, think of a few other occupations that are actually important to the country; medical providers, fire departments (especially forestry fire fighters), teachers, and the list of underpaid, overworked, unappreciated economy-critical jobs goes on. The ruling elite are not among that group. We can get along without them under any conditions.



7/06/2012

How to Know if Your State Is an Armpit

Regardless of the wingnut slant to modern United States, there is a fairly easy and reliable way to tell if your hometown or homestate are reasonable and, at least, contains a few rational people. There is one community organization that has been a place for a "free and responsible search for truth and meaning" Since the founding of this country, this one organization has been an ethical and moral, logical and spiritual community for the best and brightest the country has produced. Political leaders such as John and Abigail Adams, John Quincy Adams, Thomas Jefferson, John Calhoun, Horace Greely, Adlai Stevenson, William Taft, Paul Douglas, Kent Conrad, Mike Gravel, Roman Hruska, and many others were and are members. More brilliant people than can be listed in a short rant are famous members. The organization I'm talking about is the Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations community. They don't even call themselves "churches."

I'm not religious, superstitious, spiritual, or slightly interested in the future of humanity, but I absolutely respect the Unitarian Universalists' congregations and organization. They are consistently on the right side of every major moral and social issue. Unlike evangelistic and traditional religion which claim to speak for (and control) the mind of gods, Unitarians Universalists talk about what they know. They work to improve their communities. They are a reality-based organization and, therefore, are progressive and liberal (as were the country's founders). They support the sick, the weak, the old and anyone who needs their help. The two churches, Unitarians and Universalists, can fairly claim to have been the original American churches. They have been on the leading edge of American independence, abolition, women's rights, civil rights, world peace, science, and world-wide human rights.

For the last 50 years, Unitarians Universalists have been on the decline; along with every other positive attribute of this country. In some states, like South Dakota, the remnants of once-substantial UU communities are relegated to senior center meeting rooms. That should be all the evidence you need to know how backwards those cities and states have become. It's not necessary that everyone in an area be intelligent, progressive, and rational. But when people with those qualities have declined to the point that the community can not support a UU organization, it is a very telling sign. It means the marching morons have driven the area's intellect below self-sustaining levels (also indicated by the usual Red State's inability to live off of the federal tit) and the place is unfit for intelligent life. 


If you want to know where to live or find out if where you live is populated by idiots, use this search: http://www.uua.org/directory/congregations/results.php?state=?? (replacing the last two question marks with your state's two letter ID). Not surprisingly, red states are just as dependent on federal welfare as they are devoid of UU organizations.

"You may notice that UU's tend to take a couple of months off during the summer with some churches completely closing. Other denomination might question this practice, saying 'God never rests.'


"The right answer is that UU's are the only ones that God trusts enough to let out of his sight for a while."

7/05/2012

Amazing Dual Standards

The coolest thing about being Repuglican is that the wingnut media can made a Democrat riding in a tank look wimpy, but a girlyman Republican clinging desperately to a parked jet ski that his wife is piloting gets no crap from anyone (except me).