Friday, August 29, 2008

As an amateur big-mouth with a keyboard, everyone is waiting with bated breath for my words of wisdom after last night's speech.

Just go read it or watch it. and cry tears of joy.


Wednesday, August 27, 2008

It's Good to Be the King

Today, Exxon agreed to pay $383,000,000 in settlement for the Exxon Valdez oil spill. Let's see--hire a drunk captain, wreck a ship, spill oil, cause $7B in damages. The original suit placed by fishermen was $2.5 B in settlement costs for lost livelihood. That was in 1989. So fishermen have waited for 21 years for money that they lost because of dead fish, lack of work, etc. In those 21 years Exxon has been able to stonewall the people until they could get a Supreme Court that would kiss their ass, ooops, I mean say that they were being charged too much. 21years to wait for lost income and interest and here Exxon-Mobil settles for 1.534451 days of profits, given their current income stream. This does not include legal costs, I am sure. These probably were in the $230M range, for a 21 year legal fight. These are rolled into their general budget and guess who pays for those? Consumers at the pump. So as they roll up record profits, we pay for them and their legal fees.

Another item--U.S. angry at Russia backing breakaway republics in Georgia. Seems to me we backed the dissolution of the USSR easily enough. What are two more countries. Even though, if Ossetia wants to be a country, why doesn't Russia offer to join North and South Ossetia? Yes, both countries foreign policies suck on this issue. Seems like Chechnya wanted independence, too and no one granted them that. Is it any wonder these smaller countries and provinces feel powerless? This can break the will of a country, ruin their creative spirit and give them the terrorist option as a means of being heard. Larger countries have determined what should be their borders for years. The Kurdish Republic was supposed to have its own country, as was Armenia after WW1. We forgot to create them. and as a result millions of Armenians were slaughtered or sent to Siberia during Stalin's reign. Always need someone to blame and fear. and we have a Kurdish problem now. Is terrorism hard to understand? Think of the creation of Israel and the Palestinian problem.

O yes, North Korea is now starting a weapons grade uranium enrichment program again because America forgot to take them off of the terrorist nations watch list as promised after they dismantled the program the first time.

and Dennis Kucinich makes me proud to be from Ohio, after last night's speech.


Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Texas and God

From today's Sacramento Bee:

Texas District lets teachers carry guns

from the Superintendent David Thweatt--
"When you let outlaws carry guns in a certain area, the only people who follow are the law-abiding citizens, and everybody else ignores it."

This is a rural high school of 110 students!? There are 50 staff, including janitors and lunch ladies, administrators and teachers. and they can't control 110 students without concealed weapons. What?

I can't comment on how stupid that is. What I want to know is the town that lawless, or has the depth of fear burned so deep into the souls of the adults that they can't help themselves. The former sounds like Deadwood. The latter sounds like demonic possession or just emotions run so out of control that counseling is necessary. How can adults be so afraid. Knowing where the town of Howard is, it is Christian country. Don't these citizens trust their God? I am appalled.


Saturday, August 23, 2008

I Love the Free Market

Here we are in the middle class being pressed by high gas prices. Anyone else ever have a problem with gas prices that in CA reached a high of about $4.75? Or organic-free range eggs at $4.59/dozen? Yes, we are being pressed by increasing costs and salaries don't keep up. So explain this one to me. Gas prices need to come down so we need offshore drilling to increase supply so we can export more oil, because Lord knows we don't need any more on the supply side to lower prices. The next time anyone ever mentions the blessings of free market economy, please kick them in the privates for me and say thanks, but no. We have a glut of oil on the supply side. The problem is that company's are making record profits at your expense. And then still get massive tax breaks and want more tax breaks. Anyone ever hear of Exxon/Mobil needing massive tax breaks to make money? Didn't think so.

Does anyone have the time to compare raw oil prices to gas prices? Oil prices are coming down to levels of February 2008, and gas prices then were $3.00/gallon. Have our prices dropped to that level yet, or is there profiteering going on now? Naomi Kline is probably correct, a crisis was created and costs went up, crisis may be lessened but price control was achieved. This is free market economy at its worst.

Speaking of free market economy, the Big Three automakers need a $50,000,000 bail out. I am really torn on this. It would be good to keep the auto industry in America. But, we're talking Ford (our business plan is to make money on gas-guzzling pickups and SUVs), GM (we proudly bring you the Nova and the Cadillac Cimarron and Hummers) and Chrysler (even Mercedes couldn't help us). These are companies so bloated and poorly run, so out of touch with labor and ways to make niche cars for profit it is amazing. It was easy when they were the only game in town. Now they have competition from others that make good products. that have better health care plans in their home countries that lower the cost of their product. You think the Big Three would be all over single-payer or socialized medicine, but they have sold their souls to Republicans. (How many progressive MBAs and business leaders do you know?) We need the jobs, but in America we need new business leaders!!! We need less Chainsaw Als, we need people who can make money, but not maximize profits by gutting the workforce, benefits and by outsourcing everything. This just drives away jobs and lowers the quality of life, the average salary, etc. This in turn lowers the purchasing power, people buy less and the spiral continues. In order to keep the standard of living close, more, cheaper products from overseas have to be bought and the spiral continues.

I can remember when Buy American was the conservative by-word. Who can afford to anymore? When was the last time you purchased an American TV? Nowadays, it is hard to find American products as American companies manufacture less here, do it overseas and then bring them back here to make money. and the American workforce gets screwed. In the long run, this cuts American purchasing power, too. And companies now need bailouts. Maybe they should be nationalized!!!!!! all I know is there are no easy solutions and bailouts prolong the process of necessary change by propping up a business system that cannot work as they exist now.


Friday, August 22, 2008

Man of the People!!!

More than 60 present and former telecom lobbyists work for McCain's campaign as staffers and volunteers, some in high-echelon posts while on leave from their firms.

Bounds said McCain "has never taken legislative action on behalf of any special interest," including the Bells.

from today's SacBee.

Okay, he never has taken legislative action on behalf of any special interest. If all your advisors come from special interest groups and you work from their advice what the hell do you think you are doing? maybe, just maybe working on behalf of special interests. Just a guess. and even better these advisors are on leave from their regular posts. You think maybe it is a paid leave? Be fun to find out.

and this from the couple who is not an elitist, but can't remember how many homes they have--

"When I bought the first one, my husband, who is not a beach person, said, 'Oh, this is such a waste of money; the kids will never go,'” she told Vogue. “Then it got to the point where they used it so much I couldn't get in the place. So I bought another one.”


The McCains increased their budget for household employees from $184,000 in 2006 to $273,000 in 2007, according to John McCain’s tax returns.

That's right. The McCains pay $270,000 per year for butlers and maids--that's $50,000 more than the median value of an American home.


Yes, a man of the people. Gotta love it.

Hey, I needed an excuse to use my new icon.


Thursday, August 21, 2008

Gene Upshaw died today. It happened suddenly:

"in a posting regarding the passing of Executive Director Gene Upshaw, the NFL Players Association discloses that Upshaw first became aware of his illness on Sunday, August 17.

It was only two days after his 63rd birthday.

Four days later, he was gone.

Upshaw had been fighting pancreatic cancer, a disease that often develops silently, producing no symptoms until the final stages of the illness.

The news has sent shock waves throughout the league, and many executives and agents are still stunned by the news."

from great website, plenty of talk on the Bengals, for those of that persuasion. Chris Henry is back. when is the next arrest. Okay, I'll shut up waiting for Marshall's next arrest in Denver.

I bring this up because he has been Gene Upshaw has been vilified for not getting the players enough, unlike baseball or basketball. Which league is healthier? and some of it is because there are no no-cut, must pay contracts in football, unlike baseball or the NBA. Sorry, I am a football junkie and was a Browns fan until Modell moved the team to Baltimore. asshole. I was a Brown's fan the whole time I lived in denver watching John Elway kill the team until his announcement. Now a Broncos fan.

Other things--

stupidest things I have heard lately:
1) McCain doesn't know how many houses he has. It must be the pain of not being able to sell all his houses. I know I own two houses (okay, the bank does, but let's not mince words) because I cannot sell one in the recession. Poor man can't sell his houses and can't admit it.

2) Gingrich telling everyone Obama is in the pocket of Big Oil because Big Oil checks your tire pressure so you have to buy more gas. Anyone have a service station jockey check your tire pressure lately? Or do I go to the wrong service stations?

books I have read while on the road over the past eight months:
1) all the Dresden Chronicles. fun, fun, fun.
2) Justine Musks' Bloodangel and Lord of Bones. These are excellent and well worth the read if you like horror/fantasy/X Files.
3) Archer's Rogue Angel series. An archeoligist who is hte reincarnation of Joan of Arc. Dude, can't beat it. It will be a graphic novel. I want to read it.
4) Iron Hunt--needed another rewrite
5) Delia Sherman's first story in Salon Fantastique.


Wednesday, August 20, 2008

I read in the paper that LeRoi Moore of the Dave Matthews Band died yesterday. It made me sad. He was too young. Under the Table and Dreaming was a magnificent album that got me listening to (new) music again, much as Joe Jackson, Elvis Costello and the Clash did in the late 70s. I was wondering who would be playing sax for the DMB on the upcoming tour and thought maybe Jeff Coffin of Bela Fleck and the Flecktones and found that sure enough he is sitting in for last night's LA show. I know Jeff Coffin plays in a lot of pick up and jam bands, but here is hoping he does not leave the Flecktones.

On the environmental side, there has been a link found between low levels of arsenic and the development of Type 2 diabetes. What is new in this study is that diabetes may be caused by lower levels of arsenic than thought possible before. I searched about 20 articles today and not one listed what the low levels of inorganic arsenic levels were that were tested. The best I could find was the urine of those with type 2 diabetes had at a minimum of 2 micrograms per liter (that is a really small amount, maybe a little less than 1/4 of an ounce in 1,000,000 gallons. ) Drinking water limits were just lowered to 5 times that amount after much discussion. I could find no listing of what levels of aqueous arsenic were tested. So there is no way of postulating the correlation to the levels of arsenic found in drinking water to urine. Public water systems have to be tested every three years for arsenic. Private wells are not tested at all. This could be a problem. Simple sampling can be done if you are on a well by contacting a well. If arsenic is present, you would have to go to reverse osmosis to get rid of it.


Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Confession time--I sit around at night to watch Keith and Rachel every night so I can hear intelligent commentary (and yes, I have been stuck on the road in hotel rooms in CA and TX where they are not on TV, and the best news is CNN). They laughed at John McCain tonight almost asking his wife to "show us your tits" at the annual biker fest in South Dakota. They said he blew up today. I am sorry to disagree, because today he won at 30,000 votes, showing he is one of the guys. Is this intellectual? Hell no, knuckle dragging to the nth degree. But I know these guys. I have worked with them all my life. McCain is now their buddy. Obama uses too many big words, speaks in measured tones (and real thoughtful sentences.) These guys want sloganeering. They want one sentence solutions whether they work or not. This is his majority and maybe a secondary base. His ads have appealed to this level of intellectual and critical thinking and it scares the hell out me he could be the worst candidate, but have a better PR firm that knows how to target the market he needs and goes after it. The electorate he is going after knows what words follow uppity and don't care if it is wrong if it gets them power. No moral dilemmas at all. This is what the campaign has devolved to.

He shows up at a nuke plant and he shows oneness with people that need gas money. They don't care or know the reactor melted down and was the basis for the movie the China Syndrome. They won't read the fine print. They will see the cultural hero at a Nuke Plant. They want relief now and a one sentence plan.

Call it dumb. Undisciplined, Immediate gratification. Whatever. This is the way more people in America are than we would care to admit. My great hope is that there will be huge bump after Denver at Mile High and from there it may be conversation about issues. The GOP has the answer if the campaign is to be one line slogans. Don't underestimate the guys who want their wife to show others her tits. They vote and would love to vote for a buddy.


Friday, August 01, 2008

More evidence the military culture is completely screwed.

A while ago I railed about men's sexual identity and politics, going so far as to question whether many instances of torture and violence were caused by sublimation of sexual insecurities. Then I read this. 41% percent of women serving in the military that were in the veteran's hospital have been sexually assaulted! Stop, take a deep breath. And then look at that again. 4 in 10 women who are in the veteran's hospital have been sexually assaulted.

These are women who are trying to defend our country. To serve it with their lives. They are betrayed by a culture that really has no concern for their well-being. I will take it as a given that 99.9% of the men in the military have not read such texts as Refusing to be a Man by John Stoltenberg, or Women's Response to the Men's Movement (compilation of essays) or The Stronger Women Get, the More Men Watch Football By I don't remember. Or even less enlightened texts of the Men's Movement such as Iron John by Robert Bly. The male enlistees are probably not college grads or trust fund kids or kids of left wing parents. Most of the military comes from male dominated cultures and the military culture is strong male, Old Testament Christian vengeful god orientation. If you want proof of that google the Air Force Academy scandals, etc.

The women came to serve, expected camaraderie and got raped. Just like the Air Force Academy young men had their medals pinned directly to their chests. Yes, that is right, to their chest muscles. Pressed through their skin. While these are not anywhere equivalent acts, it points to how twisted this culture is. Rape, torture and hazing are expected. Just like a fist fight in a buddy movie.

These are the people that are making decisions on how we spend money, how the military is run, how it interfaces with government, how paranoid we need to be and what are foreign policy is. If they do not make the decisions, they certainly have a controlling interest into the input that helps form foreign policy decisions.

and now Blackwater is taking their group of unregulated mercenaries (you know, guys who are real good at war, can't get enough of it and revel in that culture) and are forming private espionage groups for industry. Or as they are known in many speculative fiction novels as corporate states. Unregulated entities doing undercover work for self-interested multi-national corporations. Yeow! That is a recipe for disaster.

Then I hear Obama state that the generals serve at the pleasure of the President. This is correct. It makes me very afraid for his life. He is not part of the aforementioned culture. While I am certainly far left of his stances at times, he is far from the stances of the current power structure. I fear for his life. The last time I saw a candidate with this much charisma and "outside the box" appeal, their last names were Kennedy.

Blessed be, Obama. Via con dios.