Friday, July 31, 2009

Friday Pussy Blog: Liquor Kitteh Edition

There is a liquor store where I buy locally-roasted organic coffee and they now have a feline presence. She's a rather large girl, not fat, just big-boned. She's a calico with the most beautiful markings.

Unfortunately, when I finally remembered to take my camera, she was having her siesta (sleeping off a liquor binge??) and I could not get a decent pic. I'll have to try this again next time.

Back on the home front, Sissy was relaxing on the sofa arm this morning.

Tator Tot has never been one to sit on the sofa. He prefers the floor where he blends in nicely.

I see you! Totloaf!

Happy Friday!!

More Cherry-Picking in Congress

So many politicians remind me of the right-wing religious fanatics who believe the bible is the infallible word of God, and that cherry-picking from it is unacceptable, and yet, they themselves are picking a lot of cherries.

Republicans are horrified at the prospect of a public health insurance option and the level of fear-mongering is astounding, not to mention the complete and total bullshit being spewed by some. Abortion continues to be a hot potato.
The amendment said abortion could not be included in the “essential benefits package” to be defined by the government. Further, it said insurers would not be required or forbidden to cover abortion. But, it says, in every part of the country, the government must ensure that there is at least one plan that covers abortion and at least one that does not.

Under the bill, health plans would receive federal subsidies to help pay premiums for low-income people. But under the amendment, subsidies could not be used to pay for abortions.

Democrats described the amendment as a compromise. But Representative Phil Gingrey, Republican of Georgia, who opposed the amendment, said, “We don’t compromise on the use of taxpayer funds for the destruction of human life.”

Oh, really? I beg to differ.
The average cost of defending a trial in a federal death case is $620,932, about 8 times that of a federal murder case in which the death penalty is not sought.


A New Jersey Policy Perspectives report concluded that the state's death penalty has cost taxpayers $253 million since 1983, a figure that is over and above the costs that would have been incurred had the state utilized a sentence of life without parole instead of death.


Florida would save $51 million each year by punishing all first-degree murderers with life in prison without parole, according to estimates by the Palm Beach Post. Based on the 44 executions Florida has carried out since 1976, that amounts to an approximate cost of $24 million for each execution.

Representative Phil Gingrey, the absurdity of your comment is right under your nose. You and others need to lay off the cherries.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Bullshit Brainwashing

Now I lay me down to sleep
I pray the Lord my soul to keep
If I should die before I wake
I pray the Lord my soul to take.

What kind of parents would make a child say that kind of prayer at night?

I did, at the prompting of my parents, and we see where that got me, don't we?

Jesus H. Christ. Tequila, please.

Sarah Palin: Radio Vixen

I can't help but wonder if Sarah Palin really wants to be President of the United States of America (I'm sure she wouldn't turn it down) or if winning the lottery by virtue of being picked as John McCain's running mate has simply fueled an insatiable desire for being in the limelight, and making money. Tons of it if she can just get herself a damn talk show on radio.

God knows she loves to talk and tweet. And $100 million, $200 million, whatever salary she could procure, even $20 million, pays a hell of a lot better than being governor of Alaska.

I almost wish someone would hire her so we could keep Captain Kirk in a paying gig to offset the madness.

Songs From My Head: "Band on the Run"

I don't know why this song in particular has been stuck in my heads for days now. I finally decided it was time to seek out a YouTube video since I don't own any Paul McCartney & Wings. I can't believe this came out when I was 16! Good grief.

Blog note: I'm not working this week and it is screwing with my perception of time. Everyday feels like a Saturday, and since I'm not chained to my desk, blog posts will be when the spirit moves me.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Damn My Good Taste

It never fails that when I decide I need something, you can bet your ass it will be outrageously expensive. For a few months now I been having back pain and shoulder pain and finally decided it's related to a few things, namely poor posture at my desk caused by a combination of a cheap office chair, and awkward keyboard and monitor placement.

The fact that I have two keyboards and two monitors makes it worse because neither monitor is directly in front of me. I am always working at angles to the left or right. That problem will soon be addressed with a 2-port switch I've ordered which lets me plug 2 computers into it, but I work with one monitor, one mouse, and one keyboard, and simply press a button to switch from one computer to the other.

I also do a lot of leaning into my desk because my monitor for personal use was pushed so far to the back of my desk. Since I'm off from office work this week, I did a test by moving my monitor more to the center of my desk, and closer to my face, and I've noticed I'm more comfortable leaning back in my chair and I do far less leaning forward.

And that brings us to the chair in which I'm leaning back. Standard Office Depot cheapo leather "executive" chairs. I can't remember what I paid for it but I'd guess $79 low-end to about $129 high-end. And after sitting in this since about 2004 it has definitely taken a toll on me, my back and my butt.

A few days ago I popped into a local ergonomic specialty store, one of a national chain, and tried out half a dozen of their office chairs. All were pretty nice but only one spoke to me in that special way when you know you've found love. None of the chairs had prices listed (danger, Will Robinson! Danger!) and I didn't inquire.

I came home and visited their website and found what I thought was the chair and it was listed at just under $900. Wheeeeeee! That was shocking enough -- well, not really for me having seen the chair and experiencing the quality, but anyone reading this who might be unfamiliar with ergonomics might think I'm nuts.

Today I decided to go back to the store, sit in it again, and ask the price to see if is indeed the same chair. I mean, maybe it wasn't and that one was cheaper! Worth a shot!

Me to sales clerk: "How much is this chair?"
Sales clerk to me: "That one is $1,399."
Me, thinking: {Jesus H. Christ.. typical.}

Instead of completely dismissing the idea, I start trying to justify it. Well, first I came home to check the website again to see if maybe that chair was simply cheaper on the website. Then I noticed special options when you start building it on the web site. Headrest, extra. Armrests, extra. So by the time I recreated the chair in the store, it was no longer $879 or whatever, but bumping $1250-ish, and I left out the gel seat and other aesthetics which would have pushed it to $1399, or even higher.

So I started searching for discount office chairs on the internet with the intent of finding that chair or a knock-off for half as much. And I succeeded in finding a chair which looked very similar for about $600 on sale. That sounds good but I started questioning the wisdom of spending THAT much on a chair based on looks, which is sitting in a store in California. I would not have the opportunity to actually sit in it prior to ordering, and just because it looks similar does not mean it's going to caress my back and shoulders with firm support like a good lover when I lean back. That same site also offered the exact chair I'm wanting at almost twice the price of the look-alike which further led to my doubt that the $600 look-alike was going to be a feel-alike experience.

Finally I decided that might be a stupid move, a gamble with $600 vs. a safe bet for more.

Lucky me, I did find a site which has the same exact chair I saw here in Austin for considerably less. If I bought here in Austin, I'd need to tack on sales tax, and possibly a delivery fee (shipping from the local store's corporate web site is about $100) which would drive the cost even higher. So I would be saving $600 in the end. And most importantly, the discounted site I found is an authorized dealer for the Humanscale line.

I haven't ordered it yet, but as I sit here in my cheapo Office Depot chair with my lower back protesting every minute of it and remembering the exquisite feeling of the Humanscale Freedom chair, I can't imagine I'll be changing my mind. Konagod rarely does that.

Mercy, I am in love and love ain't ever been cheap. But the way I look at it, I'm getting this chair for the price of 18 one-hour massage sessions which I'm going to need if I keep sitting in this current piece of shit chair. I spend 9+ hours a day in this chair.

If that chair lasts five years (and it certainly should since my current cheap piece of shit is now 5 years old), that works out to 7-cents an hour. I'd call that a bargain.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Faucet Shopping at Homo Depot

Sorry for the light posting. Today was the first day of a week long hiatus from work and I really tried to take it easy. I've been on the prowl for a new faucet in the bathroom and I think I have found The One.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Odors in Special Places and Less Bars in More Places

This is hilarious! Spray your ass, feet, cock, tits, pits, AND stinky vaginas! I can't believe I'm in this segment of the advertising business. Makes me love the United States of America, yes it does!


I only wish I had the video editing talent of Pat Lee. Imagine the chaos I could stir up by doing work like this.


Ask Your Doctor If Fukitol Is Right For You

Finally, there are some stirrings in Congress to do something about the ridiculous number of television advertisements for pharmaceuticals, not that any of it is likely to gain traction due to the influence of Big Pharma lobbyists.
In the 1980s, Nancy Reagan told Americans to “Just Say No” to recreational drugs.

Now a handful of legislators are just saying no to TV commercials for prescription drugs. The politicians are taking aim at the 60-second spots that have made viewers familiar with maladies like male urinary urgency and deficient eyelashes — not to mention side effects like four-hour erections.

Not all of the ideas being floated have merit, and one in particular is just irritating:
Representative James P. Moran, Democrat of Virginia, is sponsoring a House bill that would ban ads for prescription sexual aids like Viagra and Levitra from prime-time television, on decency grounds.

I guess Rep. Moran can't handle hearing the word "erection" on television. And that's supposed to be worse than the plethora of other drugs being peddled via television advertisements?

As noted in the New York Times article, there are only two countries allowing
direct-to-consumer drug advertisements: the United States and New Zealand.

What is worse? Restless leg syndrome or nausea, dizziness, drowsiness, trouble sleeping, constipation, unusual weakness, stomach upset and pain, headache, dry mouth, hallucinations, difficulty moving or walking, trouble breathing, twitching, confusion, fainting, leg/foot swelling, restlessness, chest pain, unusually fast/slow heartbeat, sudden irresistible urge to sleep, muscle pain, vision problems, fever, and severe muscle stiffness?

Oh, just pop a Fukitol or two. Or take a more beneficial route outside of Big Pharma.

We had the right idea back in the late 1800s.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Friday Pussy Blog: The Whole Family Edition

Studies show that 3 out of 4 cats will be pacing around when it's time for dinner and the bowls are empty.

The Tot looks grumpy.

Sweet Pea looks and sounds cranky. That's his WTF pose.

Tiger is simply concerned.

And like me, Sissy had a busy day and is too tired to give a shit!


Konagod the Matchmaker

Remember that absurdly ridiculous "Boyfriend Replacement Arm" I got in the mail back in June?

And then in the comment thread was this:
The comedy factor seems remarkably high.

I'll pay shipping to take it off your hands.
twig | 06.30.09 - 9:39 am | #

I took twig up on that offer! I don't have a lot of things cluttering up my house and yet, what I do have is too much clutter (call me minimalist) so I wanted this promotional gimmick gone, and I would have felt some guilt throwing it in the trash.

I boxed it back up in the original box in which it was shipped to me which was literally almost as big as a coffin. txrad took it to the UPS store for shipping.

When he got home he said, "the box is still in the car." I had estimated the shipping cost at around $13 based on a visit to the UPS web site, but because the box was so large, there was a surcharge which made the shipping cost over $40! I knew twig wouldn't be too happy about that!

It was another week before I got around to locating a smaller box, stuffing the boyfriend into it, and getting it shipped off. This time the shipping cost was $13.10 which was a bit more reasonable.

Wednesday night I got an email from twig with these two photos.

This is the best part about blogging: meeting new people and doing something to bring joy in their lives! twig and The Thing seem to be hitting it off nicely!

Ummm, kona be lovin' those wood floors!

And now there's another hand around with which to pet Aramis the cat!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Is Obama Kenyan?

He has Kenyan blood. And I suppose that's enough to ignite the racists who are scrambling to find any possible way to have the guy removed from office. But personally, I could give a rat's ass whether he was born here.

konagod isn't real fond of political borders, passports, and all that shit. It's OUR planet; we should be able to move about the place as we fucking choose.

And that's why I'm a radical. And that's why I'm scratching my head, unable to comprehend all this complete and total bullshit.

And I thought the election of Obama was going to give us a breath of fresh air after 8 years of Bush. Think again, konagod, think again.

My brother has regular email exchanges (why, I'm not sure) with a crazy fanatic who was in his graduating glass. He forwarded me an email from her today which I will now present to you regarding Obama.

He may not be the reason that Dearborn is the Muslim capital of the US; however, he is turning the Gitmo guys out as fast as he can. There soon will be many Dearborn’s if he keeps going the way he is. If the auto industry started this in Dearborn, hang on, because Obama just gave General Motors to the auto unions and the Government. I detest this man and refuse to call him my president. Maybe you approve of socialized medicine and healthcare; however, I had a taste of controlled healthcare, Workers Comp, and I almost was not able to use might right arm again. I had to take matters into my own hands and work around the system to find a competent doctor and have another surgery to fix what the first incompetent doctor did.

Now, he wants Congress to pass his healthcare before they go home for their break and hear what their constituents really want, which is not what the Messiah wants. He is the most arrogant and incompetent President that we have ever had. He has lied about everything he said during the campaign except the part about CHANGE. He just lied about what that change would be. Go back and read up on Hitler and see how he got started. There are so many similarities that it hurts.

Folks have also forgotten that the democrats have had control of things for a long time (even when Bush was in office). They have caused all of this to happen. Yes, George Bush was not right to start the Stimulus Plan and Obama is wrong to continue it.

OK, how many absurdities can you find in this? Aside from the part about Democrats having control while Bush was in office. Hell, Democrats aren't even in control now!

Your Daily Veggies.... and some Freudian Incidents

Ever have one of those days where everything you see looks like a dick?

Why do I never find carrots like these at the store?

Via The Consumerist.

Anna Van Z over at Big Brass Blog has uncovered a rather odd jellyfish. If someone were to make a rubber version of that and sold it as a sex toy, I could imagine sales might be way up there. Looks... um, versatile!

And if I wasn't horny enough, my brother sent out this shot of a weiner being jammed into a tight hole. Lordy, I'll be needing me a cold shower soon. I don't even think a barrel of lube would have made that a pleasant entry.

I think I need some music to take my mind off all this stuff.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Rated "t" for Teen

Socialized medicine is nothing to be afraid of. Lots of countries have it. Effectively.

Our Water Broke

Our backyard has a new water feature.

It's called rain, I think. After a high temp of 101° and probably around 30 days of 100+ temps, we are finally getting a deluge. The satellite TV is out (damn it! NoBama speech!) and I'm hoping our power stays on long enough to finish dinner.

Oops, there went a power surge right there.

The Poor Pityful Patriarchy

Pity da menz. Because dim menz can't be havin' da wimminz all runnin' around abortin' babies and shit not havin' permissions from Da Man, ya know. How dare them bitchez actin' like they own their bods -- Da Man does, ya know! It's right 'cher da BIBLE.

If this asshole had he way, women would need to get permission from the biological father before being allowed to have an abortion.

And what if the woman isn't sure?
In cases where the identity of the father is unknown, women would be required to submit a list of possible fathers. The physician would be forced to conduct a paternity test from the provided list and then seek paternal permission to abort. Claiming to not know the father's identity is not a viable excuse, according to the proposed legislation.

How's that for being worthy of the Asshole of the Day Award?

State Rep. John Adams (R-OH)

I loved Pam's additional commentary:
So otherwise, a rape survivor would need to find her rapist and see if he's willing to sign off on the whole deal. Jesus H. Christ.

Yes, Jesus H. Fucking Christ on a cracker. How in the hell do these pricks get elected to public office?

That is not a rhetorical question.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

The Sheriff Is a Nigge...r

Contrary to popular opinion, I love my country. I really do. Minus a lot of the infuriatingly stupid people who are holding us back. Like the whacko wing of the Republican Party (and probably quite a few blue-dog Democrats way down in the land of Dixie).

The last politically-charged conversation I had with my mother started out, on her part, thusly: "It's not because he's black..."

Bits & Pieces, Odds & Ends

Distracted Driving, Part 2

In a nice follow-up to the article which prompted me to write this post about texting while driving, the New York Times ran another stunner today. Apparently saving lives on the highways takes a backseat to... not "angering Congress."

I shit you not.
In 2003, researchers at a federal agency proposed a long-term study of 10,000 drivers to assess the safety risk posed by cellphone use behind the wheel.

They sought the study based on evidence that such multitasking was a serious and growing threat on America’s roadways.

But such an ambitious study never happened. And the researchers’ agency, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, decided not to make public hundreds of pages of research and warnings about the use of phones by drivers — in part, officials say, because of concerns about angering Congress.


The former head of the highway safety agency said he was urged to withhold the research to avoid antagonizing members of Congress who had warned the agency to stick to its mission of gathering safety data but not to lobby states.

Critics say that rationale and the failure of the Transportation Department, which oversees the highway agency, to more vigorously pursue distracted driving has cost lives and allowed to blossom a culture of behind-the-wheel multitasking.

“We’re looking at a problem that could be as bad as drunk driving, and the government has covered it up,” said Clarence Ditlow, director of the Center for Auto Safety.


State Senator Joe Simitian of California, who tried from 2001 to 2005 to pass a hands-free cellphone law over objections of the cellphone industry, said the unpublished research would have helped him convince his colleagues that cellphones cause serious — deadly — distraction.

“Years went by when lives could have been saved,” said Mr. Simitian, who in 2006 finally pushed through a hands-free law that took effect last year.

What a big ol' giant bucket of fetid fail.


The Senate Shoots Down Fighter Jets

At least the Senate rightfully heeded my request to stop the F-22 now! Ahh, the power and influence of konagod!

By a vote of 58 to 40, the Senate voted to put this absurdity down.
Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), shortly before the vote, noted that national guard members from his state are not asking for more F-22s but for more body armor and boots. Continuing the program "defies common sense," he said, while health care requirements and other economic needs are more imminent.


F-22 supporters included lawmakers from many of the other states where the plane's components are manufactured, such as California, Texas, and Georgia. Senators Patty Murray (Wash.) and Christopher J. Dodd (Conn.) and other Democrats argued that killing the program would undermine the nation's defense by idling highly trained engineers and mechanics.

It might idle some Lockheed Martin lobbyists. But spending billions for fighter jets we don't need, and the Pentagon doesn't want, seems like a pretty warped approach to our national security.

| | |

Blog Sagas Won't Die

Lastly, it was noted this morning at Shakesville that His Royal Petulance has resigned as a contributor to that blog... yes, that femnist blog!

He needed a break from all the hiatusing he's been doing over there. Homo slacker! And gee, the timing of this sure puts me in an awkward position.

I would hate to think that my coincidental slipped Disqus glitch brought down his desire to continue with a pretty decent gig over there. Oh well, his world of followers will probably not be impacted by this.. all one of us.

OK, I'm done poking at things with my stick for the day. :-)

Ready For Action

Monday, July 20, 2009

And I Thought I-35 Sucked

I cannot quite grasp how a 259 car pile-up could happen, even in Germany where the autobahn is essentially a race track.

Don't they have guidelines, like we do, regarding tailgating and slowing down when the roads are wet? Or do some people ignore those rules just like in the US?

Seriously, try to imagine 259 cars piling up one after another. I try visualizing this in my head and I get rather nauseated after about ten of them.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Sometimes We Have to Do the Right Thing

[This post has been updated Monday morning.]

I de-friended a guy on Facebook tonight. Ronnie Walker, a musician from Houston with a penchant for guns, Ted Nugent, and white people.

My biggest mistake was not capturing his status update before I defriended him because you would not believe the shit. He was going on about how white people have controlled the planet from the very beginning, and bragging about it, and he was getting a little pissed off lately at how things were being called into question.

I should have defriended him when he took the pro-Ted Nugent/pro-gun stance, but I'm all about the Constitution and free speech and all that shit. But the knife in the gut was today.

Here was my reply: (the second reply; I don't have a copy of my first, about how white men were also responsible for the atomic bomb, strip malls, and perhaps, strip clubs. Damn me to hell for not saving them.)
Delete. In the name of all that is right, delete. Sorry Ronnie, get some help. TV doesn't make white people look stupid. WHITE PEOPLE make white people look stupid. I've said this all along.

And thus endeth a Facebook relationship, one which didn't have a lot of tap root to begin with. Sorry for ending a sentence in that grammatical fashion.


UPDATE: I also left a comment last night on the Facebook page of a mutual friend here in Austin. Her name is Charlotte and she is a promoter of local music here in Austin. I wanted her to be aware of the racism being spewed by Ronnie since he has played here in Austin in one or more of her events.

This morning she sent me a message and copied the additional comments which were in response to my last exiting comment on Ronnie's page. Here we go:
Ronnie Walker:Well Win,they only show really goofy fuckers on TV.Are you a goofy fucker?No you're not.Im with you on the gay issues but don't think Im a dipshit because I'm white or from the south.Us white folks better stick together or we're gonna be gone.

Charlotte Shafer:Pat Buchanan and Sarah Palin make white people look stupid on TV. Comments like this make white people look stupid on FB. Sorry Ronnie I'm with Win.

Larry Parcell:Charlotte What do you do? I can't wait to hear what state that you govern

Larry Parcell:Win you're a pethetic idiot!!!!!!!!!! What other race, you stupid fuck has done shit for humanity!!!!!! Name one ?????Blacks,Asians,Arabs You need to shut the fuck up. Go spit on a white soldier who keeps you safe at night. My blood is boiling

Larry Parcell:Please don't try to respond with some profound liberal horseshit. I think you should leave this country. By force!!!!!!!!!! And go live in some countyr where you think people are nice and smart.

Larry Parcell:And not white!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Charlotte Shafer:Ronnie, Win may have de-friended you but I am not going to de-friend you, because I want a chance to hear from you that you didn't really mean it, you were drunk and/or maybe thinking you were being funny and just parodying a racist, because up until this point it's not something I would have ever expected from you. And as for that Larry Parcell guy he can kiss my big fat white ass.

Kim Evans:Amen

On her blog, Charlotte wrote a short piece titled Honky Tonk Heroes and Racism.
This guy, Larry Parcell, is the lead guitarist and songwriter for a band in Houston named "Honky Tonk Heroes". I can tell you that MY honky-tonk heroes, some of whom are named on Mr. Parcell's MySpace page, would NOT approve of his so-called opinions. I strongly urge you to boycott him and his band, should you ever have the opportunity to see or hear them, and if you should be so inclined to let others know, feel free to spread the word.

Racism is alive and well in 21st century America, under a black American president, and plenty of people are not only willing to be openly and blatantly racist, some are even willing to stake their careers on it.

Intoxicated by Texting

Can we please do something to stop this insane practice of texting while driving? The time is way overdue to examine this phenomenon and get serious about reducing the occurrences. And even cellphone use should be mandated by law to be hands-free while driving a vehicle, at the very least.
Mr. Hill, a diligent student with a reputation for helping neighbors, also took pride in his clean driving record. “Not a speeding ticket, not a fender bender, nothing,” he said.

Until last Sept. 3. Mr. Hill, then 20, left the parking lot of a Goodwill store where he had spotted a dresser he thought might interest a neighbor. He dialed her to pass along news of the find.

Mr. Hill was so engrossed in the call that he ran a red light and didn’t notice Linda Doyle’s small sport utility vehicle until the last second. He hit her going 45 miles per hour. She was pronounced dead shortly after.

Later, a policeman asked Mr. Hill what color the light had been. “I never saw it,” he answered.

If these people who crash their cars while using a device simply smash into a tree or a concrete barrier, I probably would not be as outraged. People who do stupid things and take risks will pay the price when something goes wrong. I don't think we need a law against cellphone use or texting while jumping from a plane with a parachute, for instance. The only person likely to die in this situation is the person jumping, and it would probably have nothing to do with cellphone use. And wind noise might be a problem, but I digress.

A driver distracted by texting or other cellphone use could be as much a threat to the rest of us as an intoxicated driver. [Emphasis mine.]
Extensive research shows the dangers of distracted driving. Studies say that drivers using phones are four times as likely to cause a crash as other drivers, and the likelihood that they will crash is equal to that of someone with a .08 percent blood alcohol level, the point at which drivers are generally considered intoxicated. Research also shows that hands-free devices do not eliminate the risks, and may worsen them by suggesting that the behavior is safe.

A 2003 Harvard study estimated that cellphone distractions caused 2,600 traffic deaths every year, and 330,000 accidents that result in moderate or severe injuries.

Yet Americans have largely ignored that research. Instead, they increasingly use phones, navigation devices and even laptops to turn their cars into mobile offices, chat rooms and entertainment centers, making roads more dangerous.

So, during the time since the 9/11 attacks, we've lost possibly 20,000 or more innocent lives, and possibly 2 million+ injuries, and we've done almost nothing to prevent the carnage. By contrast, we lost a fraction of that number in the 9/11 attacks and allowed a cowboy president and Congress to basically run roughshod over the US Constitution.
Police in almost half of all states make no attempt to gather data on the problem. They are not required to ask drivers who cause accidents whether they were distracted by a phone or other device. Even when officers do ask, some drivers are not forthcoming.

The federal government warns against talking on a cellphone while driving, but no state legislature has banned it. This year, state legislators introduced about 170 bills to address distracted driving, but passed fewer than 10.

Where the hell are our priorities?

Make note of the research mentioned above regarding hands-free devices. I suspect it depends on the person, the nature of the call, and traffic conditions. But without a doubt, there are plenty of situations where that is equally unsafe.

I think about my own phone conversations while I'm sitting at my desk in my home, or on the sofa. I notice two patterns develop: either I'm observing something going on around me and the person speaking has uttered an incomprehensible sentence or two, or I'm paying close attention to the speaker and engaging in conversation myself, and the world beyond the tip of my nose becomes a blur.

Even when I'm in the car with txrad, I occasionally find conversation to be overly-distracting when I'm in heavy traffic. I often need my complete attention focused on the cars around me, being aware of the person tail-gating me, or the idiot who is about to dart across three lanes of traffic directly in front of me to make the exit.

Here's my suggestion. Before sending a text message or having a conversation while driving a vehicle, ask yourself: is this text message or call really worth the possibility of a hospital emergency room visit? Is it worth possibly killing someone or being killed? Is it even worth the possibility of a fender-bender with the resulting hassles of auto repairs and insurance issues? Are you really that hooked on it?
Scientists are grappling, too, with perhaps the broadest question hanging over the phenomenon of distracted driving: Why do people, knowing the risk, continue to talk while driving? The answer, they say, is partly the intense social pressures to stay in touch and always be available to friends and colleagues. And there also is the neurological response of multitaskers. They show signs of addiction — to their gadgets.

John Ratey, an associate professor of psychiatry at Harvard University and a specialist on the science of attention, explained that when people use digital devices, they get a quick burst of adrenaline, “a dopamine squirt.” Without it, people grow bored with simpler activities like driving. Mr. Ratey said the modern brain is being rewired to crave stimulation, a condition he calls acquired attention deficit disorder.

“We need that constant pizzazz, the reward, the intensity,” he said. He largely dismisses the argument that people need the time in the car to be productive. “The justification for doing work is just that — a justification to be engaged,” he said.

Auto accidents will continue to happen and innocent people will continue to die. But we need to move beyond categorizing as an accident the blatantly careless selfish obsession with new freedoms to "stay connected" at all times and in all situations.

In a world where one or two seconds can mean the difference between life and death, there are important questions. The person who rammed into this vehicle should have asked them. The mother who was driving this car would still be alive.

Take a look at the Patchwork of Policies compiled by the New York Times. There are only 14 states with a total ban on texting while driving!

If you feel you simply must text while being in motion, then I suggest you take a walk. At least the damage you may cause will only be to yourself.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Don't Stop Me Now

Please, Can I Touch It?

Some of you may remember when I canceled my subscription to the New York Times a few months ago. It felt strange for the first 2 or 3 days not having a reason to walk out to the street to fetch it.

The biggest adjustment has actually been walking into the office with my morning coffee, eyes still blurry from sleep, and trying to acclimate myself to a bright computer monitor as opposed to a printed page.

But in terms of having a physical printed paper in my home every morning, I honestly haven't looked back with regret. I even got a letter from the Times this week with a half-price renewal offer for six months which was printed on the outside of the envelope. I did not even open it.

This afternoon we stopped at the supermarket for a few things and I happened to walk by a rack in the store and my eyes were drawn to a copy of today's New York Times for sale. It was folded all neatly and crisply. practically begging for that virgin ink & paper to have contact with my hands. I wanted to stop and just caress it for a second, but I kept walking.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Another Icon Has Died

Walter Cronkite at 92. Beats the hell out of 50.

He was so widely known that in Sweden anchormen were once called Cronkiters.

Yet he was a reluctant star. He was genuinely perplexed when people rushed to see him rather than the politicians he was covering, and even more astonished by the repeated suggestions that he run for office himself. He saw himself as an old-fashioned newsman — his title was managing editor of the “CBS Evening News” — and so did his audience.

Those were the good ole days. Minus the racism and shit. The beginnings of the media fame curse. And Reagan should have had similar "astonishment." Not that Reagan was a "newsman," mind you.

That would have solved many of our current day problems.

Friday Pussy Blog: Loafing Around Edition

Tater Tot assumed one of the better cat loaf positions I've seen in awhile. This was last night when he had migrated into the living room prior to the evening television festivities. He usually sits there facing into the kitchen so he can monitor our dinner progress.

It's hard to supervise things though when your head is tilted to the carpet and your eyes are barely open.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Bless Pat

I had a rant building up inside me but the Field Negro stole my thunder. Typical. Because you know, you can't trust those Negores, or those Latina Puerto Ricans who busted their asses to succeed, or the Mexican day-laborers who build most of our shit. Or the slave labor which built most of our nation.

I am so filled with shame right now. Obama delivered an excellent speech before the NAACP today, and I hope they listen.
"Make no mistake: The pain of discrimination is still felt in America," said Obama, who was greeted with cheers and extended applause. "By African American women paid less for doing the same work as colleagues of a different color and gender. By Latinos made to feel unwelcome in their own country. By Muslim Americans viewed with suspicion for simply kneeling down to pray. By our gay brothers and sisters, still taunted, still attacked, still denied their rights."

Especially the white folks, because they NEED to hear it.. But then, that makes me a racist, doesn't it?

Pat definitely qualifies.

You Can Call Me Harvey

I just cancelled my Disqus account for konagod. For those of you who might not know, Disqus is a commenting system -- like Haloscan, but more powerful -- used by blogs although I've only seen it in use at Shakesville which is where I used it last night to have a discussion with Petulant in the comment thread on his post about gardening.

He had asked a week or so ago to have txrad send him the recipe for his lime bars which came up in the discussion last night. The comment exchange involved maybe four back and forth comments between us including one by me early this morning in which I asked Petulant to send me his modified recipe when he's done tweaking it for his taste.

Of course, I cannot prove any of this because if you visit the thread right now, all konagod comments have been.... umm... what's the word I'm looking for.... redacted? deleted!

What's left are some comments by Petulant in response to mine which are rendered somewhat incomprehensible now, as if he's having a conversation with his own invisible rabbit or something.

I guess I touched a nerve over there with my honest assessment of things awhile back, as well as the follow-up fucked up chafe space spoof piece. (Say that ten times really fast.)

Now I'll admit, the last thing I would have expected was a virtual hug-fest given my clearly expressed feelings here and elsewhere regarding the super-charged, razor's edge atmosphere in many comment threads related to controversial posts. Apparently, konagod discussing vegetable gardening and lime bars is enough to chafe someone's hide and cement the deal on a banning.

So I decided the Disqus account could go as it serves no purpose except to clutter up the innertubez. That does not mean I will be invisible, nor does it mean I will be silenced.

Excessive Bank Fees

The $2.7 billion second quarter profit by JPMorgan and the $3.44 billion profit at Goldman Sachs would have been pocket change for Bank of America if they had successfully pulled off this heist.
New Hampshire resident Josh Muszynski bought a pack of cigarettes at a local gas station for what he thought would be a few bucks but his bank account indicated he actually spent $23 quadrillion instead.

Expecting to see a few hundred dollars of charges when he logged online to check his debit account, Muszynski was amazed to see the 17-digit figure of $23,148,855,308,184,500.

Damn him for noticing. I would have assumed another cigarette tax went into effect.

Playing Naked

There is quite a lot of interestng stuff in this NYT article, When Do They Need a Fig Leaf? concerning young children being comfortably naked and the wide spectrum of opinions held by their family members and friends.

I was one such child who, between the age of about 3 and 7, was always stripping off every thread of fabric from my body while outside. It wasn't such a big deal for me or my parents since we lived on a farm at the end of the road. We did have farm workers passing by, and the postman who was amused.
For many parents, allowing a child to run around naked at home is perfectly natural, an expression of physical freedom that represents the essence of childhood, especially in the summer. But for others, unclad bodies are an affront to civility, a source of discomfort and a potentially dangerous attraction for pedophiles. These clashing sensibilities can create conflict, even when the nudity in question takes place at home.

It is also interesting, aside from the generational differences of opinion mentioned in the article, how different people assign an arbitrary age limit for such behavior.
Aly Mandel, 41, a school psychologist and mother of five in Highland Park, N.J., said she, too, felt ire from extended family members for allowing her daughter Ava, now 6, to roam naked in and around the house when she was younger.

“My mother, it used to drive her crazy how naked Ava was,” Ms. Mandel said, explaining that the girl abhorred clothes. “My mother-in-law also, they both felt it crossed the line of what was appropriate. My mother-in-law would come in and automatically say, ‘Ava, put on your clothes. Put on your underwear.’ ”

Gloria Schwartz, Ms. Mandel’s mother-in-law, says she didn’t have a problem with the nudity when Ava and her twin sister, Emily, were very young. But “when they got to be 3 years old, it bothered me,” said Ms. Schwartz, 65, a real estate agent. “I would pull up to the house and the girls were running around naked. It felt inappropriate for them to be standing on the street in front of their house naked.”


Robert Kohlbrenner thought nothing of it last summer when his grandchildren, two boys, ages 4 and 10, and a girl, 6, asked if they could skinny-dip by the dock on a very hot day at his home on Oneida Lake in upstate New York.

“I think it’s fun for them,” said Dr. Kohlbrenner, 58, a psychologist in private practice, who found out later that his son did not approve. “If you can’t do it when you’re a kid, when can you do it, you know?”

Dr. Kohlbrenner’s son, Justin, 30, said he and his wife felt that their oldest son was too old to be naked. “He was getting a little too big to be doing it, you know, especially in front of his brother and sister,” he said.

Inevitably, there are some who think it's fine for a boy to be naked, but not a girl.
Phyllis Halper, a fourth-grade teacher on Long Island, will not permit her 3-year-old son, Gavin, to get completely undressed at home, not because she thinks it’s inappropriate, but because she is concerned that it might influence the behavior of her daughter, Jordyn, 5. “I expect her, especially as a girl, to be more modest,” Ms. Halper said.

When I was about 6 or 7, I went with my parents to dinner at the home of another couple who had a son my age. At one point in the evening we were playing in the bedroom and I instigated a "let's get naked" situation. We were both running around the room, enjoying the feeling of total liberation I suppose, when the boy's mother walked in on us. She started laughing and told my mother what was going on. Apparently, my mother was embarrassed, and she probably knew I was the ringleader. I got my bare bottom spanked.

The article has, at the time I'm writing this, 52 readers' comments, and this one sums up my feelings about the issue:
How silly. Its amazing how confused and conflicted Americans are about the human body. The only country in the world that could be concerned about naked 6 year olds. They're kids. Leave them alone. Otherwise they'll end up making a national stink about Janet Jacksons nipple just like their screwy parents did. I agree the kid who pees in the yard needs some clear instructions about when and where that's appropriate. But the rest of the instances described?....leave them alone. They'll figure it out when they want to.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Where Would You Live?

If you could live in any other country in the world and be granted immediate citizenship assuming you would want that, where would you live? And if you are of the persuasion that you would never leave the USA, let's rephrase the question: if you HAD to leave the USA, where would you live?

This is a question I have grappled with for decades. There are so many people, places, and cultures in which I want to wallow.

I love the mountains of Switzerland, the serenity of Finland, the fjords of Norway, the warmth of the Spanish people, the west coast vibe of Australia, the nearness of Canada, which feels like a 51st state, and yet so different, and the rustic beauty of Mexico (aside from the drug-related massacres). The high altitudes of Bolivia and women in black bowler hats!

Aside from personal aesthetics, I think I'd have to go with a country where I feel I am treated as an equal. My sexual orientation isn't a factor. And that basically limits my choices, which in and of itself is fucking infuriating.

Then I have to further limit my decision based on which countries I think might be underwater within my lifetime due to global warming. That might take care of the Netherlands which would otherwise be my first choice, probably. I just like the vibe there.

I guess I'd go with Spain.

But if I had to move cats, I'd go with Canada.

Make sense?

Slurring on the Radio

The only thing that surprises me about learning of an AM radio talk show host using the word "wetback" is that it happened in Austin, Texas. Honestly, is this guy so stupid that he didn't expect a backlash in the Berkeley of Texas, ground-zero for liberal progressives in Texas? Not to mention, home to a huge wetback Hispanic population.

If I hadn't done that strike-thru it would have been funny right? Like sarcasm and satire?
"I frequently use sarcasm and satire in my humor," Pryor told listeners this morning. "The first mistake I made is using the term. It's a highly offensive and outdated term that should never be used."

I have never heard this guy's show. I'm not exactly what you'd call a fan of talk radio. But if it's like any of the other AM talk radio formats, real humor isn't even in the equation.

It would have been interesting if the article had included some lengthy quotes so we could have heard the humor, satire, and sarcasm in the proper context.
Pryor began using the word during a discussion about the terminology used to describe people who are in the country illegally.

"Whatever happened to the good old word 'wetback' "? he asked.


Later during the discussion, Pryor said he was merely trying to come up "with a more efficient way of saying it, that's all, and just bring back a little of good ol' classic Americana."

Oh, right. Like redneck Americana? Like 1950s Lynch a Negro for Jesus Americana?

I don't care if these people have issues with illegal immigration; many people do. But if you can't maintain a little self-control on the air, and behave like a mature adult without resorting to speech which fans the flames, then you really don't have much to say. Nothing at all, in fact.

Nor do you understand very much about sarcasm, satire, and humor. But thanks for reminding me why I avoid talk radio.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Stop the F-22 Now!

My three-dimensional political spectrum just got a little more bent this morning after reading about the F-22 fighter jets. President Obama has rightfully said he won't sign the military spending bill unless the $1.75 billion program to buy seven jets is removed from the bill.

Senators Edward Kennedy and John Kerry support the purchase. Senators Carl Levin and John McCain oppose it. Supporters want the program because of the high-paying jobs which will be retained. That sounds reasonable on the surface except for one small detail: The Pentagon doesn't really need these jets.
The Pentagon would rather buy unmanned aircraft to gather intelligence in Afghanistan and accelerate the testing for the F-35, a new plane designed to attack ground targets. Pentagon officials say the F-22 is hard to maintain and costs $44,000 to operate for an hour, compared with $30,000 for older planes.

But many Republicans in Congress say more F-22s, which were designed for aerial combat, are needed as a hedge against countries like China.

Holy shit! Let's break this down into bite-sized pieces. In an era when we desperately need to be spending money on things like infrastructure, education, reducing poverty, combating homelessness, health care, gaining energy independence and developing renewable energy sources to name but a few, we have senators pushing for a military expenditure which is unnecessary, simply to keep workers employed. (And keeping executives and stockholders of Lockheed Martin happy.)

It is this kind of disconnect which has me wondering how we'll ever get out of this hole. (We won't, but that's another issue.)

And that argument that the F-22s are a hedge against China? Please. If China wanted to bring us down, they already are well-positioned to cripple us via the economic system. However, Rep. John Murtha (D-Pa.), the chairman of the House Appropriations Defense subcommittee, believes China will potentially be a threat at some point, "particularly as it will compete directly with the United States for energy supplies."

All the more reason we should be addressing our energy needs now, not when we're over a barrel. No pun intended.

Consider as well, the costs to operate each of the F-22s: $44,000 is one American worker's annual salary for every hour the jets are in use. And that's on top of the $1.75 billion price tag which is another 38,636 such annual salaries.

While that may amount to a minuscule fraction of the jobs we've lost in the current recession, to squander that money unnecessarily is wrong-headed, misguided, and totally void of reasonable logic.

Let's jump back to the China statement for a moment, and John Murtha. And Japan's desire to buy F-22 fighter jets. But there's a slight problem: there's an export ban on the jets.
Rep. John Murtha (D-Pa.), the chairman of the House Appropriations Defense subcommittee, said Wednesday that he intends to meet in the coming days with Appropriations Committee Chairman David Obey (D-Wis.) and Rep. Bill Young (Fla.), Murtha’s GOP counterpart on the Defense subcommittee, to discuss lifting the export ban on the F-22.

The key player in that briefing will be Obey, who in 1998 wrote the legislation that bans the exports of the F-22 mainly to keep secret the aircraft’s radar-evading stealth technology. Obey has not budged since, and it’s unclear whether he is willing to relent.

On the surface, it sounds like a pretty good idea if we want to keep these jobs. Allow Japan to buy the jets instead of us building them for ourselves unnecessarily. A win-win situation, right? Ummm, not so fast. In the world of politics, military, and money, things are never simple.
Murtha, who is willing to work with Inouye on facilitating the sale of the F-22 to the Japanese, admitted it is an expensive proposition that also depends on whether Lockheed Martin’s Marietta, Ga., production line will stay open for several more years. That production line in turn depends on U.S. domestic orders for the plane. The Obama administration did not ask for money for the production of the fighter jet in fiscal 2010 and is adamant about halting production after the 187th airplane is delivered to the Air Force.

Murtha said that he would like to be able to purchase another 20 aircraft in 2010, but that he is uncertain whether that would be possible, considering the total price tag for those planes is $3.2 billion. Murtha also said that he is concerned about the high cost of operating and maintaining the existing planes.

Ahh, catch-22 with the F-22! We need to keep paying to keep the plant operational (i.e. churning out unneeded and expensive jets) until we can work out the details of an export to Japan, which might ultimately help with that Big Red Scare from China when they need more energy.

There are not even any guarantees at this point that this plan will even come to fruition.
For the F-22 to end up in Japan, Lockheed Martin would have to spend a considerable amount of time — several years — demilitarizing the plane. That essentially means stripping the jet of sensitive technologies employed by the U.S. military. That could be costly. By Murtha’s calculations the research and development to remove those capabilities would cost at least $1 billion and could go much higher, and it is unclear whether the Japanese would be able to pay such a steep price.

There's a lot more going on here than just "saving American jobs." I smell a big ol' stinking dead rat.

Beware of "Bargain" Foreclosures

Meth labs in homes across the US are a big problem. And the health issues are not limited to the meth users. This story came as a bit of a surprise to me -- that toxic residue from meth labs in homes can linger for years, and have very negative consequences for new owners of the home.
Federal data on meth lab seizures suggest that there are tens of thousands of contaminated residences in the United States. The victims include low-income elderly people whose homes are surreptitiously used by relatives or in-laws to make meth, and landlords whose tenants leave them with a toxic mess.

Some states have tried to fix the problem by requiring cleanup and, at the time of sale, disclosure of the house’s history. But the high cost of cleaning — $5,000 to $100,000, depending on the size of the home, the stringency of the requirements and the degree of contamination — has left hundreds of properties vacant and quarantined, particularly in Western and Southern states afflicted with meth use.

“The meth lab home problem is only going to grow,” said Dawn Turner, who started a Web site,, after her son lost thousands of dollars when he bought a foreclosed home in Sweetwater, Tenn., that turned out to be contaminated.

Because cleanup costs are so high, many families have no option but to suffer or walk away.
Meth contamination can bring financial ruin to families like that of Francisca Rodriguez. The family dog began having seizures nine days after the Rodriguezes moved into their home in Grapevine, Tex., near Dallas, and their 6-year-old son developed a breathing problem similar to asthma, said Ms. Rodriguez, 35, a stay-at-home mother of three.

After learning from neighbors that the three-bedroom ranch-style home had been a known “drug house,” the family had it tested. The air ducts had meth levels more than 100 times higher than the most commonly cited limit beyond which cleanup is typically required.

The former owner had marked “no” on a disclosure form asking whether the house had ever been a meth lab, Ms. Rodriguez said. But because he is now in prison for meth possession, among other things, the Rodriguezes decided there was nothing to gain by suing him. They moved out, throwing away most of their possessions because they could not be cleaned, and are letting the house go into foreclosure.

“It makes you crazy,” Ms. Rodriguez said. “Our credit is ruined, we won’t be able to buy another house, somebody exposed my kids to meth, and my dog died.”

There was a 14% increase in the number of home-based meth labs discovered last year. This is clearly another housing crisis, and we have a mish-mash of inadequate state laws dealing with the matter, all of which are woefully inadequate.
About 20 states have passed laws requiring meth contamination cleanup, and they use widely varied standards. Virtually all the laws hold the property owner financially responsible; Colorado appears to be the only state that allots federal grant money to help innocent property owners faced with unexpected cleanup jobs.

This is not the American dream.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Survival of the Fittest

I know this isn't funny, but I'm sorry; I'm grinning like a opossum.

Put down the gadgets before you're hit by a truck. Jesus. H. Christ.
A Staten Island teen trying to text while walking fell into an open manhole - and city officials have launched an investigation.

Alexa Longueira, 15, was walking with a friend along Victory Blvd. on Wednesday when she suddenly dropped underground.

"She's all scraped up on her back, under her arms and her shoulders," her mother, Kim Longueira, said

Apparently it tweaked Pam’s sense of humor with her post title which also cracked me up.

Maybe a lot of people are more coordinated than I am. I don't even like to walk while talking on a cell phone, must less texting. I don't text actually. I find typing on a full-sized keyboard tedious enough. And all this time I've assumed it's just me and my old age less than youthful vitality. Thankfully, I've been proven wrong by a 15-year-old.

The Bright Side to Economic Calamity

I'm glad to see prison reform and tough sentencing guidelines for low-level offenders being tossed away in favor of more sensible -- and less costly -- solutions. I'm just not sure why it takes a devastated economy to put that into place. I suspect this is indeed a reflection of the economic realities rather than a concrete change in philosophy.

Once the economy turns around it will be interesting to see if we return from whence we came -- back to ridiculously long prison sentences for mere possession.
Cash-strapped states are increasingly turning to alternative sentencing methods and to streamlined probation and parole as a way to keep low-level offenders out of prison and in their communities.


The measures include drug courts, which allow low-level drug offenders to avoid prison time through treatment and intense, personal, weekly intervention by a judge, and at least 500 courts for people arrested for driving while intoxicated. Drivers avoid jail by attending regular alcohol-treatment classes and by submitting to random tests.

States have also begun to shorten probation and to reduce the number of people sent to prison for technical violations, such as missing appointments.


These trends are showing up almost everywhere as a direct response to governors and state legislatures looking with alarm at prison costs eating up increasing shares of their budgets. According to Adam Gelb, director of the Public Safety Performance Project for the Pew Center on the States, more than half the states and the District are trying to reduce the growth in their prison populations through alternative sentencing and through new probation and parole procedures.

Surprisingly, this is happening even in Texas, although our current track record hardly qualified as progressive.
But what is striking, experts say, is how some states with reputations for being tough on crime are most rapidly embracing these policies, which might have once been dismissed as the product of liberal think tanks and soft-on-crime leniency.

Texas is a case in point. From 1978 to 2004, the inmate population rose 573 percent and the state's population increased 67 percent. With hard sentencing laws and some conservative judges, Texas built a "lock 'em up" reputation. The state has more than 155,00 inmates and leads the nation in putting prisoners to death.

But two years ago, Texas officials were faced with an alarming projection: By 2012, the state would need 17,000 more beds, which would mean building eight prisons at a cost of nearly $1 billion.

State Rep. Jerry Madden, a self-described conservative Republican, had just taken over as chairman of the Texas House committee on corrections. "I started asking questions," he said in a phone interview. To avoid building more beds for more prisoners, Madden said, "You either got to slow 'em going in, or speed 'em going out. And Texas is not a state that says, 'Speed 'em up going out.' "


The changes, implemented in the 2007 legislative session, included more funding for drug and DWI courts. New rules shortened the average probation time from 10 years to five. With about 445,000 people on probation, the system had become "the Number One feeder to the prison system," said Ana Yáñez-Correa, executive director of the Texas Criminal Justice Coalition, a progressive group.

The state also ordered the parole board to raise its parole rate to an earlier number of 31 percent; the proportion of eligible inmates granted parole had slipped to 26 percent.

With those changes in place, prison population growth slowed to a trickle. From January 2007 until December 2008, Texas added 529 inmates to its total, a tenth of what was projected.

It's enough to make me hope the economy doesn't improve. Because tough times seem to be the only time we come to our senses. And that's rather pathetic.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

My Perfect World

is where:

Everyone pays a bit of attention. Explore. Don't be spoon-fed.

People slow the fuck down. Don't be in such a rush. Don't tailgate. It will only cause you pain and discomfort in the end.

Everyone eats healthy. Three meals a day. Fresh fruits and veggies in season.

Politicians don't feel the need to lie or cover up their sexual indiscretions.

The homeless don't need to feel ostracized because, even though the homeless shelter is in an abandoned hotel, and the federal government is offering it for free, the locals fear their property values will suffer. Even if said locals live near a freeway where their property values are already up for debate.

We don't need to prove our power to the planet through wars, but rather we prove ourselves to the planet in what we say and do to promote equality, fairness, and justice.

Stopping cellphone use on the streets and highways. Unless it is a dire emergency rather than an attempt to squeeze a little more efficiency out of a busy day. Ever seen an 18-car pileup? Not pleasant.

We don't need freeways because people aren't in a hurry and we don't need to divide neighborhoods.

People stop having babies without understanding the full 18-year commitment, responsibility, and cost -- despite their desire to procreate. Or because the Pope tells them contraception is evil.

Just stop. Examine all that is around you. Contemplate it. And then continue. Slowly. At a pace you can swallow.

Read labels.


Friday, July 10, 2009

The Sexual Orientation Spectrum

Everyone likes to talk -- or brag -- about how they are x% German and x% Swedish or x% Irish and x% English, or x% Nigerian and x% Native American (OK, you don't hear that one very often but..), but the simple fact is, nobody wants to bring this to the male/female sexual orientation level.

In the Sexual Orientation Spectrum, please name me two people who anchor either side of it. The 100% male heterosexual and the 100% female heterosexual. Ann Coulter and Rush Limbaugh do NOT count. Unless you have inside information.

We are all born of males & females conjoining. Things are bound to get mixed up in the fluids. Those DNA strands are not unlike the vacuum cleaner power cord which can manage to tie itself into knots overnight.

Shit happens.

I'm waiting.

Friday Pussy Blog: Cats & (Catnip) Mice Edition

Sissy looking rather large and loafish on the sofa... waiting to be fed. The empty cat food bowls are directly behind the sofa.

The Tot assumes a more high-profile position on the kitchen table. I have to walk past him to get the cat food so, again, he won't be unaware when I'm scooping.

Witchay Woman brought him two mice stuffed with catnip (well, maybe one of them was for Sissy, but the Tot has claimed them both) and he tends to leave them in highly visible areas with plenty of foot traffic. I cringe each time I step on one because I think I've stepped in a pile of cat vomit.

Speaking of which, I did step in some at the beginning of the week, and not only was it on the bottom of my sandal, it was inside it as well. Not sure how that happened. It resulted in a haiku.

Happy Friday!

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Losing My Hope

I've been in the doldrums all week and can't seem to snap out of it. The heat might be getting to me. We've already had 15 days of temperatures at 100° or over, and 8 of those days were 105° or more. Today is likely to be the 9th day of such extreme heat. Incidentally, that is my threshold for meeting the definition "hot as fuck." Between 99.5° and 104.4° is just "damned hot." Unless there is an afternoon cloud providing some shade, I am now limiting my walking regimen to mornings until this heat subsides. But I digress.

I am also being weighed down by some very unpleasant political realities which, unlike the heat, will not fade away by mid-September. It's giving me a restless anxiety.

The fact that I built up a set of completely unrealistic expectations for change in the Obama administration is chewing the hell out of my raw nerves. And now that Barack Obama's approval rating is dropping, speculation is being fueled as to whether he will be a one-term president, and whether the Democrats will start losing seats in the 2010 mid-terms if the economy hasn't improved substantially by this time next year. In the meantime, everyone is scrambling to figure out what to do.
The looming political battle is about how to respond, and three camps are forming. The first includes the White House and most Democratic leaders in Congress, who champion a wait-and-see approach until more of the stimulus money hits the streets.

White House officials estimate that the government has committed $158 billion for spending around the country, but only about one-third of that has been spent. Temporary tax cuts have totaled about $43 billion thus far, according to White House estimates.

A second camp, consisting of nervous Democrats and some economists, argues that the government must spur the economy with another round of spending, tax cuts or a mixture of both.

The third camp is led by Republicans, many of whom argue that the spending program was wrong from the start and that the government should focus on tax cuts.

Ahh, yes, the same old tired song and dance routine. Maybe we need a fourth camp.

I keep asking myself, "why are our choices limited to center-right Democrats or far-right Republicans?" The progressive left really isn't getting much of a shot at fixing the problems if we keep becoming disillusioned with a lack of progress among the current crop and then swing wildly back to the right in 2010 and/or 2012.

Then I realize that is the only scenario because this country will probably require another century or two for us to get our shit together. Because the substantive change I am seeking is not going to be brought about by Congressional coddling, reaching across the aisle, and compromising on critically important matters.

To use a beer analogy, when I voted for change, it was not to replace Bud Light with Miller Lite, or even Heineken. I want to be knocked off my feet by a rich, dark, smoky unpasteurized brew on tap, with a thick frothy head, served in a pint glass instead of an aluminum can.

Unfortunately, that's not the American way. And this reluctance to not only embrace change, but failing to aggressively pursue it, could well be our downfall.

The level of corruption in politics is astounding, and our political system itself seems to be choking our hope, or mine at least. Here is one example which brilliantly illustrates the gross inefficiency of our federal and state governments.
According to an analysis by The New York Times of 5,274 transportation projects approved so far — the most complete look yet at how states plan to spend their stimulus money — the 100 largest metropolitan areas are getting less than half the money from the biggest pot of transportation stimulus money. In many cases, they have lost a tug of war with state lawmakers that urban advocates say could hurt the nation’s economic engines.

The stimulus law provided $26.6 billion for highways, bridges and other transportation projects, but left the decision on how to spend most of it to the states, which have a long history of giving short shrift to major metropolitan areas when it comes to dividing federal transportation money. Now that all 50 states have beat a June 30 deadline by winning approval for projects that will use more than half of that transportation money, worth $16.4 billion, it is clear that the stimulus program will continue that pattern of spending disproportionately on rural areas.

“If we’re trying to recover the nation’s economy, we should be focusing where the economy is, which is in these large areas,” said Robert Puentes, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution’s Metropolitan Policy Program, which advocates more targeted spending. “But states take this peanut-butter approach, taking the dollars and spreading them around very thinly, rather than taking the dollars and concentrating them where the most complex transportation problems are.”


Seattle found itself shut out when lawmakers in the State of Washington divided the first pot of stimulus money. Missouri has directed nearly half its money to 89 small counties which, together, make up only a quarter of the state’s population. The United States Conference of Mayors, which did its own analysis of different data last month, concluded that the nation’s metropolitan areas were being “shortchanged.”

Basically, the stimulus money, or the transportation segment of it at least, is simply being squandered with no rhyme, reason or logic.

Oh, there's a reason all right (emphasis mine):
“We have a long history of shortchanging cities and metropolitan areas and allocating transportation money to places where few people live,” said Owen D. Gutfreund, an assistant professor of urban planning at the City University of New York who wrote “20th Century Sprawl: Highways and the Reshaping of the American Landscape” (Oxford University Press, 2004).

Professor Gutfreund said that in some states the distribution was driven by statehouse politics, with money spread to the districts of as many lawmakers as possible, or given out as political favors. In others, he said, the money is distributed by formulas that favor rural areas or that give priority to state-owned roads, often found far outside of urban areas.

Here we are facing the most dire economic situation since the Great Depression and it's still all about selfish personal greed in political circles. Have no fear, this is all part of the Obama administration's master plan:
Obama administration officials, who have called for ending sprawl and making sure that federal transportation spending is cost-effective, say they are looking at how states are spending the money from the stimulus law, officially called the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, to learn about the strengths and weaknesses of the current system.

“The transparency that comes with Recovery Act funds is letting us see what’s happening in real time, and that’s a good thing,” said Roy Kienitz, an under secretary of transportation for policy. “Understanding where recovery dollars go and why will help us determine how to shape long-term transportation policies with the goal of getting the most benefit for every dollar.”

Bull-fucking-shit! Come on! This behavior is nothing new; this has been going on in some form or another through the centuries.

It is clear that states and politicians cannot be trusted to spend the stimulus money wisely, and as it was intended. Hooray for transparency so we can all be annoyed. Well, except for the millions of Americans who aren't paying attention. I know, I know, I'm being too harsh. Let them get through their Michael Jackson grief and then I'm sure they'll come around.

Aside from the economy and the recovery efforts, there's tremendous pressure to overhaul health care which, if the transportation stimulus spending provides any clues, we are likely to get screwed in the ass on that front as well. There isn't a perfect health care scenario, but you can bet we could do a whole lot better than what we'll end up with once Obama and Congress are done compromising and kissing ass with Big Pharma.
The nation's largest insurers, hospitals and medical groups have hired more than 350 former government staff members and retired members of Congress in hopes of influencing their old bosses and colleagues, according to an analysis of lobbying disclosures and other records.


The hirings are part of a record-breaking influence campaign by the health-care industry, which is spending more than $1.4 million a day on lobbying in the current fight, according to disclosure records. And even in a city where lobbying is a part of life, the scale of the effort has drawn attention. For example, the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) doubled its spending to nearly $7 million in the first quarter of 2009, followed by Pfizer, with more than $6 million.

The push has reunited many who worked together in government on health-care reform, but are now employed as advocates for pharmaceutical and insurance companies.

It is ironic that the entire health care reform movement is one giant spreading cancer. But that's politics and the American way again. Expect real substantive change and progress and ye shall be disappointed.

Outside the unpleasant realm of health care and the economy, things aren't any better on the civil rights front. We continue having to fight like hell over no-brainer issues like DADT (although hope is brewing), which makes a repeal of DOMA and full nationwide marriage equality seem hopelessly distant. At least one state has the cajones to go to battle for justice.

Even this initial breath of fresh air is already stagnated a few miles up the coast.
Barely two months after Maine became the fifth state to allow gay marriage, 55,087 assholes have now signed a petition to put that up for a public vote. Thank the Catholic Diocese of Portland and others for that effort. And people wonder why I have such issues with organized religion.

We'll now have that homophobic gem in our faces, along with a big infusion of cash from out-of-state interests to push infuriatingly obnoxious bullshit advertising for weeks leading up to the election day showdown.

Whoever first uttered the words "life is just not fair" deserves a gold brick award for overachieving in understatements.

For the record, in a battle between red and blue, this is not how a progressive country should look.

But once the summer heat subsides, I'm sure I'll calm down and realize just how irrational I'm feeling at the moment.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

I Would Gladly Give You an I.O.U. on Tuesday for a Hamburger Today

Those "registered warrants" being issued in California, aka I.O.U's, have been slow in coming for many... or yet to arrive.
“We are out of cash now,” said Carlos Flores, the executive director of the San Diego Regional Center, which provides services to Californians with developmental disabilities. The center is awaiting a $12 million warrant. “I can pay my staff next paycheck, and that’s it,” Mr. Flores said.

Other state contractors who provide services to the disabled had similar stories. Mark Berger, the chief executive of Partnerships With Industry, which offers job placement and training for the same type of clients, said he, too, had yet to get a warrant. “I haven’t heard of anybody who has received one,” Mr. Berger said.

There is also the possibility that if and when the warrants do arrive, the recipients might have to jump through hoops to turn them into cash.
The majority of banks have been clear that they will not take the warrants after July 10. Banks “do not wish to facilitate the lack of resolution of the budget deficit by basically providing this accommodation for an extended period of time,” said Rod Brown, chief executive of the California Bankers Association. “California must become more fiscally responsible.”


People expecting money from the state who do not get a warrant by Friday have three choices. They can try to find an alternative bank or credit union willing to deal with someone who is not a customer, they can hold the warrant until it matures and collect the interest, or they can try their luck in secondary markets, where some people are already seeking to buy i.o.u.’s at a discount.

What's interesting is that there are plenty of Californians who would gladly pay more taxes to help solve the deficit, under the right circumstances.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

In Memoriam

Yesterday was the worst day for American troops in Afghanistan in nearly a year as seven died in fighting.
Of seven United States soldiers killed Monday, said Capt. Jon Stock, an American military spokesman, four died along with two Afghan bystanders in a roadside bomb explosion in the northern Kunduz Province, and two American soldiers were killed in an explosion in southern Afghanistan.

One new president, two old wars, and no end in sight. Change we can believe in.

But in an uplifting sign of concern, tens of thousands turned out in Los Angeles today to pay their respects.

How sweet and fitting.