Nolite Te Bastardes Carborundorum D L T B G Y D

15Feb/090

Goldfish, cats, and tax cuts.

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My cat shares far too many traits with a goldfish. I've heard that a goldfish swims constantly around their bowl mostly because they have such short memories that by the time they have swum around their bowls, they have forgotten what they saw before, and are now again fascinated by the same things they just saw. This morning I was petting my cat, then she wandered too far off for me to reach from the breakfast table, and she got interested in something else. So I called her again and held my hand out, IMMEDIATELY she comes running back, as if this was the possibility for something great to happen. This happened about 5 times in a row, after which she got interested in a fly and chased it across the house and then I couldn't get her to come back any more. Maybe the same thing is wrong with people. Maybe tv commercials and modern TV shows and their constant refocusing of our attention has made us so dependent on being told "look at this!" over and over that we forget everything that just happened and are willing to do the same wrong thing again. After a presidential campaign where tax cuts managed to somehow get past the OMGDONTTAXME enough to actually be the bad guys in the winning candidate's campaign, here we are again with the stimulus bill. How do we fix the economy? Tax cuts. Unemployment? Tax cuts. Seriously, this approach hasn't worked on any problem since, what, JFK times? Somehow, the peeps have already forgotten that tax cuts don't help anything. I don't wonder why the republicans in congress always push for tax cuts. They aren't confused about how effective they'll be in fixing the world. They just don't care. I don't believe for a second that they are do gooders trying to make the world a better place and are just so misguided that they really believe tax cuts are going to do the job. They just want more tax cuts so they can make more money, and their donors will make more money, so they can stay in power. But how in the world do they sell that crap to their constituents? I think it's the goldfish phenomenon. They saw a flashy thing and they got distracted for a while, now you can use the same story on them you used 20 minutes ago. The failure of the last 30 years washed clean in seconds.

3Sep/070

Why is this a good thing?

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The top Democratic presidential nominees are all pledging to avoid the "rogue primaries" this year. This refers to the fact that several states are moving up their primaries to earlier dates, somewhat taking away the power of the Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina primaries. This is something that's bad for presidential candidates, it means that they can't appeal to a very small electorate during the early primaries. Somehow I don't feel really bad for them though. On the other side, we have millions of Americans whose primary votes don't mean anything because by the time it gets to them, it hardly matters who they vote for. Someone please explain to me why this is a good thing? I've had it argued that primaries in big states early on makes it so candidates with less money don't get a chance. Let me tell you a secret... CANDIDATES WITH LESS MONEY ALREADY DON'T HAVE A CHANCE! Well it seems that I'm typing in caps, so I might as well stop. I'd really like to know why this is a good thing though.

2Sep/070

I need to illegally search and seize your bag please

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I HATE those store exit illegal bag searches at every electronics store everywhere these days. I was just linked this story about a guy who denied to have his bag searched, as I always do as well, and then was physically prevented from driving away at a Circuit City store. When the store manager refused to allow him to leave and also refused to call the police, he called the police himself. When the police arrived they told him he had to allow his bag to be searched, and asked for the guy's driver's license. He was not driving a car at the time, and provided his name, but refused to give up his driver's license. The cop arrested him for refusing to give him his driver's license. He is now being charged with

ORD:525.07: Obstructing Official Business (M-2)
(a) No person, without privilege to do so and with purpose to prevent, obstruct or delay the performance by a public official of any authorized act within the public official’s offical capacity shall do any act that hampers or impedes a public official in the performance of the public official’s lawful duties.

You should read the whole thing, this guy is much less angry and confrontational than me and sounds like he handled it exactly the way you should. I hate this kind of crap. I look forward to hearing about this guy getting all charges dropped and I hope to hear in addition that Circuit City settles on his case as well. Go read the whole thing. Worth the read.

2Sep/070

We’re Not Adult Orientated

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I've read several articles lately about the biology or not biology of homosexuality. One was linked from Pharyngula, who you may or may not know, is a developmental biology associate professor at the University of Minnesota. The article he has linked( The Biology of Sexual Orientation ) is about the fact there have not been any conclusive studies linking sexual orientation in humans to biology. I had no idea this was the case before reading that article, as I have heard people say the opposite on many occasions, but trust the sources in this case. I have always felt strongly that sexual orientation was not based on biology, but on the same factors that determine personality and other things that are part of your socialization. I am obviously not a biologist. I also have much stronger feelings about socialization being responsible for almost everything a person does. Lots of people seem to see the idea that sexual preference is not biological as directly hostile to people who aren't heterosexual, and this I've also always felt, is a strange position. Because I wasn't born already interested in men and women or just women or just men, is hardly a reason that it's ok to be a jerk to me based on who you think I should or shouldn't love or want to have sex with. I do not think people have a choice. Much like most everything about love, you rarely get much say in the matter. There is another article this week in Mother Jones that is mroe of a conversation about the issue. I wouldn't start the mother jones article if you aren't going to finish it, because it talks to some people who feel very strongly on many sides of ideas about sexuality, and starts off seeming like it's going one way before eventually going nowhere. Anyway, all good articles and interesting things to talk about.

16Aug/070

John Flansburgh talking about technology in music and Mad Flava

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This is a good interview with John Flansburgh of They Might Be Giants over at a site called Gearlog that I hadn't heard of before. I didn't know Dial-A-Song wasn't working any more! I still have it saved in my cell phone! Apparently there is only dialasong.com now. My favorite quote from this interview was talking about how drum machines affected early work:

When you first started out, were you worried about making something too slick, and losing something in the music to the production?
The means to do anything in a slick way were so unavailable to us that it never really was an issue. We had very crude tools, for a very long time. We started out as a duo and used a drum machine. And something that I think we only became aware of, after we graduated to bigger studios and started working with live musicians, was how the sort of automatic, mad flava of the drum machines made our recordings exceptional-sounding.

On an almost completely unrelated note, I have always liked the symmetry of the formation of two of my favorite bands ever, They Might Be Giants, and Carter the Unstoppable Sex Machine. Despite being extremely different kinds of bands, this article kind of highlights the way they both started in similar ways. If you know the beginning of Carter that is, which I'm going to assume you probably don't. Carter USM was originally a band called Jamie Wednesday, that broke up right before a scheduled gig, for which all but two of the members didn't show up. James Morrison and Les Carter, later to be known as Jim Bob and Fruitbat of Carter, still wanted to be the same rock and roll band though, and proceeded with later shows as Carter The Unstoppable Sex Machine with a drum machine and tape recorder to try and replace lost band members, much as TMBG did. Like TMBG they also later replaced their mechanics with real band members. I think probably as a result of their lack of full bands I ended up liking both of these groups alot more easily than I otherwise might have.

3Aug/070

YK07 Part 2

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Last night we saw Howard Dean, and Ariakas asked the fairly valid question "why can't this guy run for president?" I campaigned like crazy for Howard Dean in 04, and I love him where he is right now getting Democrats elected, but... We're electing democrats who can't get together to get us out of the Iraq war, We're electing democrats who can't even consider proposing health care not run by insurance companies, Nancy Pelosi is asking Rep. Ed Markey to pull a proposal to boost vehicle mileage to 35 miles per gallon by 2019(something we probably could have easily achieved 20 years ago if we wanted to, and now we can't even try in 12 more years?). Hopefully we're here today to listen to people who are going to turn that around. Dean's speech was excellent, and this morning we listened to Gen. Wesley Clark, who was also excellent. He mostly addressed the idea that we need to engage with countries like Iran who we aren't really talking to at all. Something I'd like to hear more of! Now we're hearing from a Media Matters panel about people who have left the Republican Party about why they've left. More later!

2Aug/070

Live from Yearly Kos 2007!

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w000w000000!
Dazifudo, Rabidchild, Ariakas, and I flew in last night and visited some Chicago today to get things started. We went to the Art Institute and then ate lunch at Giordano's before heading over to the official event. Right now we're at Drinking Liberally YK07 waiting to go into the Keynote with Dick Durbin and My man Howard Dean, w000w000. Lots of peeps from just about everywhere talking and drinking and meeting each other. Very cordial atmosphere, everyone wants to meet you and tell you about where they're from. I'll try and post as often as I can as things get going, about to file in now for the keynote speech. w00w000!

22May/070

If George Bush can’t be impeached, what’s the point of impeachment?

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I have said this before, but it is more true every time and thus I feel bears repeating. This is a president who broke the law, said so on national television, is incredibly unpopular, and has probably done more damage to the US Government than any other one individual in history. This Think Progress link is talking about his COMPLETELY dodging questions about the Comey business. That's touching on his TOTALLY BREAKING THE LAW thing. It used to be he was at least very popular, which made it somewhat hard to think he could be brought down. Now he's so unpopular he doesn't even bother lying about things like this story where he's totally threatening to veto a bill if they include raises for military families. How can anyone get away with that?
Lieberman is going on about how much more "civility" we need in government today. That is exactly the opposite of what we need. Politeness cannot extend to people who are literally getting hundreds of people killed every week. Politeness cannot extend to excusing people for breaking the law to take away people's civil liberties. Can anyone offer me any viable reason this president should not be impeached?

10May/070

Correctional Billing Services

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I have been getting some sort of automated phone call every day for the last week or so, and yesterday at lunch I decided to try and figure out what it is. I called back to the number and it asked me for my name, address, last 4 of social, all kinds of stuff, before even getting to any kind of explanation of what it was. Deciding that was a bunch of horse hockey I fed it garbage info for all questions. Eventually I got through to some sort of support person by just pushing zero over and over at every request. They explained that this was a service to allow me to receive collect calls from certain jail facilities. In fact someone had been calling me from Travis County Correctional Facility in Del Valle. I checked out the website of this company while I had the guy on the phone and looked them up a little to make sure they weren't some kind of scam or illegal peeps. Sadly, they are not illegal, and they ARE a scam. I asked how much these calls cost, they said an average 15 minute call would cost about $17.30. !!!!!!!!!!!! They are the SOLE means for a prisoner in that facility(and it turns out thousands of facilities across the country) to call out and talk to anyone. What a racket. They will let you prepay to receive calls, but only in payments of a minimum of $50. I went ahead and set up an account because if there is someone trying to reach me that needs help or something, I want to be able to know about it, but have not received any calls since. It turns out there is no government body that has any oversight over the fees charged for these kinds of calls, so they charge as much as they want. It turns out that even worse, most states receive a huge commission, ranging from 25 to as much as 60% of the fees collected. Why can they get away with this? Because it only affects poor people and is tangentially related to people in jail. Who's going to defend them? If you spend any time googling this subject there arearticles about it all over the place. Virtually every state has deals with companies similar to this. Nice eh?

20Mar/071

Mom and Dad aren’t home!

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This topic for discussion over at TPM Cafe is something that I think is one of the central problems in society today. It's a discussion about the fact that a parent at home is needed. Obviously it's ludicrous to suggest that "women need to go back home," but not having any parent at home creates all kinds of potential for problems for kids growing up. It also addresses the issue that "Mommy" responsibilities need to be shared between men and women, kind of silly to assume a woman would be in charge of those things these days. Topic that needs to be addressed more in the near future methinks.

Update:

Also it appears I comepletely didn't mention that this is simply not an option for most families. Which is the part of the problem that I feel needs to be addressed most. I don't think people don't stay home with their kids because they don't want to or don't care, it's just not financially feasible any more for one parent to provide enough income to raise kids and support a family in most jobs.