Friday, April 30, 2010

Our liberal media at work

GDP rise not enough to make dent in jobless rate
What's the news?
The economy grew 3.2% in first quarter of the year.

What's the headline???
JOBLESS RATE.

If a Republican were in office, I'm betting 3.2% growth would be hailed as a triumph.
Our liberal media at work.

... and the world is still spinning on its axis!

Woods misses the cut at Quail Hollow
... tho' maybe this helps explain SNOW in Albuquerque today.

Augghhh! NO!!!

Miss him? Bush's reputation might be ready for a rebound
I don't have the stomach to read the article.

I thought this was from The Onion

... I was wrong.
Arizona Expands Its Discrimination: Teachers With Heavy Accents Can’t Teach English, Ethnic Studies Are Banned
Reminds one of a Tom Lehrer quotation:
"Political satire became obsolete when Henry Kissinger was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize."

Maybe baseball really is the All-America game!

From Think Progress:
Major League Baseball Players Association calls for ‘repeal’ or prompt modification of Arizona law.
Will this kind of not-so-good publicity have any influence on the other half dozen states that are contemplating similar laws?

Buffoon welcomes a new follower

"Mysterious Man from the Shadows".

Welcome to the neighborhood! Delighted to have you!!!

Thursday, April 29, 2010

The profit motive [a p.s. update]

OneFly over at Outta the Cornfield, on the violence in Juarez:
Outta the Cornfield: Iraq Is In The Air Of Ciudad Juárez
The Copernican theory - that the earth circles the sun - was devised to help fix the calendar... but it had a bunch of unforeseen positive consequences: it explained the seasons; it led directly to Kepler's laws of planetary motion, & to Galileo's mechanics... which led more-or-less directly to Newton's theory of gravitation.

In much the same way, legalizing drugs - in addition to pretty much stopping the deadly violence of the illegal drug trade - would doubtless have many other unforeseen positive ramifications. (... for example, Afghanistan could have a healthy, self-supporting economy!)

Recall, Al Capone's violence was fueled by, enabled by, created by Prohibition. The profit motive is strong.

update: p.s. -... and you'd think that the Repugs, with their strongly individualistic, "keep the damn government outta my life" philosophy, would be strong supporters of legalizing drugs. Go figure.

Go read someone else (a better writer than I)

Nance over at Mature Landscaping comments on the Westboro Baptist Church:
Mature Landscaping: "You! What planet is this?"

Statistical thinking in the blogosphere

Atrios, referencing the off-shore drilling platform disaster in the Gulf:
While specific events aren't predictable, what is knowable is that these types of things are inevitably going to happen.
This is one of the very few examples of "statistical thinking" to be found in the blogosphere: the specific cannot be predicted, but the long-term rate - the inevitability - is knowable.

Full disclosure: One of my favorite pictures of my dad is of him with 2 other guys on the back of a boat in the Gulf of Mexico, with a diving bell hanging off the stern. They were prospecting for oil for a big oil company.
One of my first jobs - a summer internship - was coding FORTRAN to model 100-year storms... to help that same big oil company design off-shore drilling rigs to withstand these freaks of nature.
I've nothing against Big Oil - it fed me, clothed me, sent me to school.
BUT: there are risks inherent in oil production, ... and the supply of petroleum is finite.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Know any bright, energetic students?

Do you know a smart, motivated, and enthusiastic college or high school student who is looking for something to do this summer?

Great! Heinrich for Congress is currently seeking summer interns!

We are seeking organized and motivated interns for our field and finance departments. The fast paced world of campaigns is a fun was to spend a summer and learn the inner-workings of our political system. It is also a great chance for anyone who is interested in getting into campaigning and politics to get a foot in the door.

Please pass this on to anyone you think might be interested. We are looking for a commitment of 15-25 hours per week.

For more information and instructions on how to apply please contact Molly Ritner at molly.ritner@martinheinrich.com.

Sunny in ABQ

After cloudy, chilly morning, the day turned out quite lovely.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

I agree with everything Mr. Degan says!

"The Rant" by Tom Degan: Goldman Sucks

just a cool headshot


I don't even know who this is - published on HuffPost under heading, Financial Fix.

Is it time to pull a Nixon?

Nixon, for all his faults, eventually had the sense to declare victory and leave Viet Nam.
Could Obama do the same in Afghanistan?

Yes, all hell broke loose, and it may have cost Ford the 1976 election...
BUT: today, VietNam is one of our stronger trading partners.

I may have to rethink my position

Given the GOP heavyweights who've come out against AZ's immigration law, I may have to rethink my position.

If Karl Rove, Tom Tancredo, and Joe Scarborough are agin' it, maybe it's a good thing!

Another shoe...

Europe debt crisis spreads to Portugal
Given the inter-connectedness of world economy, it's only a matter of time till EU mess starts being felt in earnest here.

V-shaped recovery? Ha!
U-shaped? If we're lucky.

Me - I'm betting on double-dip, W-shape... which seems appropriate, given the MBA genius who's responsible.

(... My only hope is that we're heading up come November... even if it's just prelude to another down)

Monday, April 26, 2010

Here's a politician I can support!

Brazil official urges more sex for better health

Looking for a silver lining

Financial reform nears test in Senate
By Kevin Drawbaugh and Andy Sullivan Kevin Drawbaugh And Andy Sullivan
– Mon Apr 26, 2010
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The most sweeping overhaul of financial regulation since the Great Depression was on track to fail its first procedural test on Monday in the Senate, where Republicans vowed to block the Democratic bill.
Okay, this is NOT good news.

BUT: if DSCC, DCCC, and DNC have their acts together (a big "IF"), GOP siding with Wall Street could be a PR boon for Dems.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Noam Chomsky: a Cunning Linguist

The Well-Armed Lamb: Chomsky (who is over 80, now) on "Liberal Disillusionment with Obama"
Apologies for this post's heading.
This was a joke when I was an undergraduate:
Noam Chomsky is a cunning linguist.
Male undergraduate humor.
... this was back when Chomsky was known as a linguist, not a political advocate.

Aside: as it turns out, long after my undergraduate years, I had occasion to study Chomsky's linguistic theories as a graduate student. His theories of syntax - "generative grammar" - led in the computer age to "computational linguistics". The only problem with this theory, from an algorithmic perspective, being that only a Turing machine could represent natural language - a Turing machine being capable of formulating ANY formal structure. Human languages appear to require more than this level of organization, but within the "Chomsky hierarchy", even the next step up from a Turing machine is too restrictive to accommodate natural language.

This is all remembered, so probably not quite right... and even when I was immersed in this stuff, I wasn't bright enough to really grasp all of it.
That said, what struck me at the time was that pure syntax was insufficient to accommodate language - semantics, meaning, is necessary to make sense of grammar. Formally syntactically correct statements can be meaningless, while "ungrammatical" statements can express thoughts perfectly well.

On the bright side: I'm no longer engaged in this pursuit, and am happy to accept Chomsky for the fiercely progressive statesman that he is today.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Somehow I missed this holiday till now

Have a Blessed Charles Krauthammer Day
by Henry on April 22, 2010

The calendar has once again rolled around to the date on which we commemorate Charles Krauthammer’s pronouncement that:
Hans Blix had five months to find weapons. He found nothing. We’ve had five weeks. Come back to me in five months. If we haven’t found any, we will have a credibility problem.
You’ve had seven years now, Charlie. How’s it looking? Hoping for a result sometime in year eight?
Just in case you don't read Krauthammer (& I wouldn't, except his column runs in the Sunday Albuquerque Journal), he's one of the very serious people on the right who proclaim that ANYTHING Obama does will bring about the end of civilization as we know it.

I'm not a class warrior... but...


I've shown this graph before.
Note 1: GDP/household used to track 80th%-ile household income. No longer.
Note 2: During W's tenure, not even the 95%-ile household saw real gain.
So - Who's getting the $$$?

Not to cast stones, but here's a cute little article (referenced on Eschaton):
Profiling CEOs and Their Sociopathic Paychecks
Published on Monday, July 27, 2009
Thom Hartmann
The Wall Street Journal reported last week that "Executives and other highly compensated employees now receive more than one-third of all pay in the US... Highly paid employees received nearly $2.1 trillion of the $6.4 trillion in total US pay in 2007, the latest figures available."

"... So why is executive pay so high?

I've examined this with both my psychotherapist hat on and my amateur economist hat on, and only one rational answer presents itself: CEOs in America make as much money as they do because there really is a shortage of people with their skill set. And it's such a serious shortage that some companies have to pay as much as $1 million a day to have somebody successfully do the job.

But what part of being a CEO could be so difficult-so impossible for mere mortals-that it would mean that there are only a few hundred individuals in the United States capable of performing it?

In my humble opinion, it's the sociopath part.

CEOs of community-based businesses are typically responsive to their communities and decent people. But the CEOs of most of the world's largest corporations daily make decisions that destroy the lives of many other human beings.

Only about 1 to 3 percent of us are sociopaths-people who don't have normal human feelings and can easily go to sleep at night after having done horrific things. And of that 1 percent of sociopaths, there's probably only a fraction of a percent with a college education. And of that tiny fraction, there's an even tinier fraction that understands how business works, particularly within any specific industry.

Thus there is such a shortage of people who can run modern monopolistic, destructive corporations that stockholders have to pay millions to get them to work. And being sociopaths, they gladly take the money without any thought to its social consequences."
A simple question: where are the Boards of Directors???

"A rising tide lifts all boats"?????
- well, not recently! - Only the yachts are benefitting!

A gentle reminder: laugh out loud

In addition to letters to various pooh-bahs suggested in previous post, I think it's time I sent letters to my Congressional delegation reminding them to LAUGH OUT LOUD whenever one of their esteemed GOP colleagues cites the miracle of the self-regulating, self-correcting free market.

It probably wouldn't hurt to send this to others besides my Congressional delegation.

Aside ("No, I have no shame" department)- Here's my post from 30 Sep 2009:
the next big hurdle...
I note that regulation of the financial sector is beginning to make news again.

Brilliant advice for those favoring increased regulation: Anticipate the crap the loyal opposition will be spewing.

... I'm betting the crap will start with paeans to the magic of the market - and how anything threatening to interfere with the magic of the market is a socialist evil!

Point 1: Laugh out loud whenever anyone mentions the magic of the market!!!
Point 2: Repeat point 1.

Point 3: Okay - regulation is socialism. So what? Socialism protects you and me and the rest of We the People from the predations of unbridled capitalists!

Recall: pure, unbridled capitalism - the unregulated financial sector - brought about the current economic & financial crisis... abetted by the demi-god of free-market efficiency, Alan Greenspan.
[It wouldn't hurt to recall that the Crash of '29 and the ensuing Great Depression was likewise brought on by pure, unbridled capitalism - an unregulated financial sector... and that St. Reagan's dismantling of Depression-era financial-sector regulation is more than just a little to blame for the current mess!]

... It's time we resurrected late 19th-century images of Capitalists as Agents of Evil!

Our priorities

From Think Progress:
Senate Budget Committee Proposes Slashing State And Foreign Aid Budgets While Increasing Pentagon Funding
What???

Please, take the time to write you Congressperson & Senators, and to members of the Senate Budget Committee, to express your views. These priorities are just NUTS!

Senate Budget Committee, Republican members:
Judd Gregg (Ranking Member) of New Hampshire

Chuck Grassley of Iowa

Michael B. Enzi of Wyoming

Jeff Sessions of Alabama

Jim Bunning of Kentucky

Mike Crapo of Idaho

John Ensign of Nevada

John Cornyn of Texas

Lindsey Graham of South Carolina

Lamar Alexander of Tennessee
Senate Budget Committee, Democratic members:
Kent Conrad (Chairman) of North Dakota

Patty Murray of Washington

Ron Wyden of Oregon

Russell D. Feingold of Wisconsin

Robert C. Byrd of West Virginia

Bill Nelson of Florida

Debbie Stabenow of Michigan

Benjamin L. Cardin of Maryland

Bernie Sanders of Vermont

Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island

Mark R. Warner of Virginia

Jeff Merkley of Oregon

Mark Begich of Alaska
Again: WRITE!

Welcome to Arizona!

Ariz. governor signs immigration enforcement bill
By PAUL DAVENPORT and JONATHAN J. COOPER, Associated Press Writers
23 April 2010
(Phoenix)... The bill, sent to the Republican governor by the GOP-led Legislature, would make it a crime under state law to be in the country illegally. It would also require local police officers to question people about their immigration status if there is reason to suspect they are illegal immigrants.
With many others, I'm curious what might lead police to have "reason to suspect" someone is undocumented.
Is "driving while brown" the basic criterion?

For all those strict constructionists among the GOP, what ever happened to
Amendment IV
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
???

Of course, I assume if you're willing to trash the 4th Amendment, you won't mind if I decide to trash the 2nd.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Water falling from the sky

The past few days have seen a lot of water falling from the sky.
I looked it up.
It's called "rain".

aside: I've often thought that a person could get a pretty good understanding of basic physical science if s/he undertook to understand clouds.
Me? I don't have a clue!

Well, at least it's not "lower taxes"!

From Think Progress:
VIDEO: The GOP’s Solution To Everything — Let’s ‘Start Over’
On the Recovery Act
“The Senate would do us all a great favor if it started again from scratch.”
– Sen. Jon Kyl (R-AZ), 2/4/09

Start over again on this bill and retarget it.”
– Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN), 2/12/09
On Health Care Reform
“How much longer do Americans have to wait before Democrat leaders will give up this partisan quest and agree to start over?”
– Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY), 3/10/10

“We should either scrap this bill completely and throw it away and forget about it. Or scrap it and start over again.”
– Rep. John Fleming (R-LA), 3/17/10
On Wall Street Reform
“Look, there’s no rush right now. We need to get it right.”
– Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK), 4/21/10

Start over please, Mr. President.”
– Fox News’ Steve Doocy, Karl Rove, 4/19/10
In a perverse way, this is a pleasant change.
At least the solution isn't cutting taxes!

Good question!

From OneFly:
Outta the Cornfield: Can You Go To Hell For Looking The Other Way
I'm still waiting for an enterprising U.S. Attorney to bring RICO charges.

The Buffoon welcomes a new follower!

I'm delighted to welcome Brion Emde as a new follower of Private Buffoon!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Back on chemotherapy

... no, not me: my wife.

Teresa was diagnosed with breast cancer in Aug 2002. By the time it was discovered, it had metastasized to bone, where it would live forever.
About 3 years ago the nasties metastasized to her liver.
The litany of her treatment protocols takes more than a minute to recite, but she's still with us - and doing pretty well, considering.

In November, 2009, the treatment protocol came close to killing her - suppressing her immune system to the point that she acquired "neutropenic fever". Her neutrophil count was 0. (Neutrophils being the infection-fighting white-blood-cells.) After a week in hospital, pumped full of IV antibiotics, and a couple of transfusions, she recovered.
She was on a "chemo holiday" till January.

On the "chemo holiday" she felt pretty good... But we figured the nasties were also feeling pretty good. It was a delightful surprise to discover via CT scan that liver lesions were shrinking, and no new lesions were discovered.
She started a hormone therapy - similar to what she was first on, 7.5 years ago. That first treatment regimen worked for about 2 years, so we were hopeful.

Last week's scans were not encouraging.
Liver lesions growing & multiplying.
She started yet another chemo routine today.

Yes, G-d presents us with these little challenges to help us build character... But still, I sometimes wish G-d took less interest in my personal development!

Yes, I'm psychic

Back in Sep, 2009:
I'm thinkin' there's a bigger story here...
... Me? I keep thinkin' the Enron collapse is the model to keep in mind, and that fraud at Fannie & Freddie ain't the end of the story.

Has anyone suggested serious fraud investigations of the Big Banks and other Wall Street giants? Citi, Wells Fargo, Goldman/Sachs???

[emphasis added]
Today?
Meltdown panel subpoenas documents from Moody's
My bet: Goldman/Sachs was only the first shoe to drop.
(... and I note that both Bulls & Bears have more than 2 feet!)

Not the metaphor I would have chosen, but...

From HuffPost:
Rendell: Democratic Party Is Soulless, 'Cowering Behind The Shower Curtains'
... BUT: Dems 'cowering behind' something surely does hit the mark.
[I'm just a bit uncomfortable with the images brought to mind by 'shower curtain': naked flabby people vaguely visible thru translucent shower curtain... Perhaps Gov. Rendell had in mind the character Jean Lundegaard from the Coen Bros. movie, Fargo.]

Full disclosure: I've enjoyed Gov. Rendell's appearances on Rachel's show, and have often wished that more national Dems were as forthright.

Update: here's a timely exemplar of Dems 'cowering', from AmericaBlog-
Dem. Sen. Carper: Dems should drop areas of disagreement from Wall St. reform bill
...Democrats should drop areas of disagreement with Republicans from their Wall Street reform bill in order to move forward, Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.) suggested Wednesday.
Oh, yes, please: give away everything BEFORE negotiations begin... then give away more later.
And how many GOP votes will this tactic buy???

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

We can hope...

From TPM:
White House: Obama Won't Make Cautious Court Pick Because GOP Will Oppose Whoever He Nominates
If true this might just signal that Obama has come to his senses: YES - Senate GOP will reflexively oppose ANY nominee, so you might as well pick someone you really want!

One can only hope that this lesson generalizes: Senate GOP will reflexively oppose ANY legislation proposed by this administration, so you might as well craft legislation you really want!
It's long past time to forsake 'bipartisanship'.
The GOP has no interest in governing, let alone in governing with YOU! - Forget 'em!

The Hydra: how many is this???

Top al-Qaida leaders killed in Iraq, US says
By DAVID RISING, Associated Press
– Mon Apr 19, 2010
BAGHDAD – The U.S. and Iraq claimed a major victory against al-Qaida on Monday, saying their forces killed the terror group's two top figures in this country in an air and ground assault on their safehouse near Saddam Hussein's hometown.
I stopped counting quite a while ago.

How many times have we killed "top al-Qaida leaders in Iraq"???

Just for fun:
Stop the madness!!!

Oops - I almost forgot!

Rage, rage against the noisy babble of morons and Luddites.

Some time ago I vowed...
In the best of all possible worlds I'll remember to use the construction,
a noisy babble of morons and Luddites
as frequently as possible in all future rants.
I've been inattentive and forgetful. Forgive me.

No, I have no shame...

... with this post I am stealing a comment from someone else's blog!
From Frank, commenting on Schemes and Memes and Circus Crowds over at Mature Landscaping:
Its a statistical fact that every time Palin shrills for more than a few seconds, somewhere a baby dies. Granted you could make the same claim about anyone, but in her case I'm almost willing to consider it causative.
... and just for fun, here's the song referenced by the post's title:

Monday, April 19, 2010

Others, too, are asking!

From David Kurtz at TPM:
Ready Or Not, Here They Come
In the end game on financial reform, Democrats figure that even if the GOP successfully filibusters reform in the Senate, they can use the issue politically to beat up on Republicans. That's why Dems see financial reform as a win-win.

So you figure the Democratic messaging, ahem, machine -- on the Hill, at the White House, within the party committees, and among outside groups -- must have a strategy for how to capitalize politically, a game plan for messaging across all platforms to all audiences ... right?

Right?
I'm still hopin' someone at DNC, DSCC, & DCCC is writin' stuff down! (Tho' to date I've seen no evidence.)

It still gives me warm-and-fuzzies to believe that there is "a strategy for how to capitalize politically, a game plan for messaging across all platforms to all audiences..."
We'll see.

Good news (small favors department)

On this, the 15th anniversary of the OKC bombing, celebrated across the nation by open-carry demonstrations, no one was assassinated.

Their religious crazies are crazier than our religious crazies! [update]

Iranian cleric: Promiscuous women cause quakes
By SCHEHEREZADE FARAMARZI, Associated Press Writer Scheherezade
– Mon Apr 19, 2010
BEIRUT – A senior Iranian cleric says women who wear immodest clothing and behave promiscuously are to blame for earthquakes.
... tho' I suspect this guy would easily find common ground with Rev. Robertson!

Update: oh, good - I'm not the only one drawing the parallel.
The Pat Robertson of Persia blames immodest, promiscuous women for earthquakes

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Gee, maybe he read my letter...

[nah... prob'ly not]:
Pope meets abuse victims, vows to protect the young
The Associated Press
VALLETTA, Malta — Pope Benedict XVI met Sunday with sex-abuse victims and told them with tears in his eyes that the Roman Catholic Church would seek justice for pedophile priests and take "effective measures" to protect young people from abuse, the Vatican and victims said.
Benedict expressed his "shame and sorrow" at the pain the men and their families suffered and prayed with them during the meeting at the Vatican Embassy in Malta, the Vatican said.

"He prayed with them and assured them that the Church is doing, and will continue to do, all in its power to investigate allegations, to bring to justice those responsible for abuse and to implement effective measures designed to safeguard young people," the Vatican said in a statement.
Well, it's a start...

... meanwhile, back at the ranch:

Someone else who writes better than I

All: please visit Nance's blog, Mature Landscaping, now added to My Blog List.

NM in the news - 75 yrs ago

From loyal reader & commenter TedTheCat:
New Mexico was in the news 75 years ago this weekend, Black Sunday. The worst dust storm of the 1930s, the storm that created the name Dust Bowl, moved across Northeast New Mexico and eventually the continent. It was during this storm that Woody Guthrie, fearing that he might choke to death, wrote "So Long It's Been Good to Know Yuh."
Just in case you hadn't noticed, comments are frequently more interesting than posts!

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Friday, April 16, 2010

Not good

Brutal attack on Republican fundraiser and boyfriend may have been politically motivated
Tit-for-tat ain't good.

Let's try to keep the discourse civil!

Rachel Maddow's interview with Bud Welch

If you missed it, check out Rachel's interview with Bud Welch - father of Julie Welch, one of the victims of the OKC bombing.

I doubt I'd find it within myself to forsake desire for vengeance, as Mr. Welch has.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Tax Day Tea Party in ABQ

My wife & I were out running errands today when we turned west onto Menaul at Wyoming... and encountered the Tea Party Tax Day protest.
Demonstrators lined the street from Wyoming to San Pedro.
"Give me liberty, not DEBT!"

"Help Heinrich Retire!"

"One Big Ass Mistake America"
It was, in fact, quite uplifting to see so many of my fellow citizens participating peacefully in the political process... it's just too bad they're delusional.

If they muster the same enthusiasm in November it could be an interesting election.

bumper sticker

Life is like a corndog.
I don't know why, it just is.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

no more excuses...

i've no excuses for my next hiatus - i'm just tired of the politics.

maybe in a couple of days i'll be rejuvenated.
till then, enjoy!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Words I'd like Dems to use more often

"Progressive." (see etymology: "PROGRESS")
"Socialism." (... just so's it stops sounding so creepy!)

... and for what it's worth - "socialism" - at least as used by the GOP - is a GOOD thing: it means my government protecting me from the abuses of unfettered, predatory, greedy capitalism!

note: this is NOT the textbook definition of socialism, which is:
Socialism refers to the various theories of economic organization which advocate either public or direct worker ownership and administration of the means of production and allocation of resources.
[Wikipedia entry, Socialism]
NOTHING this administration - or any other... or any progressive politician - has ever proposed comes close to this textbook definition of 'socialism'.
What's we're proposing is simply reining in the predatory, profit-at-all-costs capitalists.
Does anyone really want a return to Dickensian 19th-century Britain, or "Gilded Age" America???

The good old days

I grew up in Tulsa, OK, in the '60s -described by Time Magazine at the time as "the buckle of the Bible Belt".
At the time I thought it was a very weird conservative religious town - I got invited to a LOT of Baptist and Methodist Sunday Schools by Jr. High friends.
Oral Roberts' various ministries were prominent.

Looking back, Tulsa in the '60s seems almost liberal compared to what passes for mainstream today.
I mean, at least Jr. High & High School biology classes taught evolution - with nary a peep from the Fundies!

Monday, April 12, 2010

the price of appeasement!

Ukraine to give up nuke material; boost for summit
THIS is what comes of Obama's weak-kneed, limp-wristed foreign policy!

... never thought I'd miss George Wallace!

Okla. tea parties and lawmakers envision militia
By SEAN MURPHY and TIM TALLEY, Associated Press Writers
– Mon Apr 12, 2010
OKLAHOMA CITY – Frustrated by recent political setbacks, tea party leaders and some conservative members of the Oklahoma Legislature say they would like to create a new volunteer militia to help defend against what they believe are improper federal infringements on state sovereignty.
Well, now I remember why I left the state as soon as I could!

still less than well...

apologies for light/no posting.
i've spent better part of past three days a-bed.
not feeling bad enough to solicit sympathy, but not good enough to do anything.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Almost missed it (thanks, TedTheCat!)

Tom Lehrer
Born April 9, 1928 (age 82)

Happy Birthday, Mr. Lehrer!

... non-Euclidean geometry:
Nikolai Lobachevsky
... Lobachevsky really DID independently discover a non-Euclidean geometry - though long accused of plagiarism.

... and then there's Mr. Lehrer's tribute to Gilbert & Sullivan
(everyone's favorite G&S patter song):

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Cool science

Philippines dragon-sized lizard is a new species
By Deborah Zabarenko, Environment Correspondent
– Tue Apr 6, 2010
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A dragon-sized, fruit-eating lizard that lives in the trees on the northern Philippines island of Luzon has been confirmed as a new species, scientists reported on Tuesday.
Most of the time the 'new species' news involves single-celled critters, or maybe insects... every once in a while a bird.

This news is about a BIG lizard!
How'd this fella stay hidden all this time?
(Well... apparently, he didn't: the exemplar individual was rescued from a hunter who'd thought simply to eat it!)

Not sure why, but I am still hopeful

My elders keep telling me I'm naive...

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

... and this one kept me going thru basic training

Can't find the Europe '72 version I prefer.

why stop now?

i'm on a roll

just 'cuz i'm thinkin' 'bout it


"... I was so much older then. I'm younger than that now."

[blast from the past:
Dylan, McGuinn, Petty, Young, Clapton, Harrison]

+ Call-out to TedTheCat:
In a soldier's stance, I aimed my hand
At the mongrel dogs who teach
Fearing not that I'd become my enemy
In the instant that I preach.

Monday, April 5, 2010

"Why the experts believed bubbles can't exist"

Why the experts believed bubbles can't exist
Short answer: 'cuz they believed Milton Friedman.

Milton Friedman and his Chicago school proved that markets are perfect. They are efficient. They ALWAYS price things at just the right $$$. What the market says something is worth - well, you can believe it!

In this world speculative bubbles are simply impossible.

Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain:

I really like the verb!

Reid mocks Palin
Yes! Mock & ridicule: these are the the appropriate verbs!

That said, let me repeat: I'm sincerely hoping Palin remains the face of the GOP at least till 2012!

Mea culpa: the story of my life

One of these days I'll learn: the moment I declare for a team, that team is doomed.
Butler coulda pulled it out, but didn't.
I blame myself - for expressing my support not 10 minutes ago.

... this observation probably means the Red Sox don't have a prayer, either.

"The Rant" by Tom Degan: Paging Dr. King

"The Rant" by Tom Degan: Paging Dr. King

College b-ball on the tube...

+ i'm still unpacking boxes, washing dishes, generally trying to get house put back together.

light posting for a while.

[fyi: i'm cheering for butler - only because they're the underdog.]

It must be G-d's will: there's nothing we can do

White House braces unemployed for slow job rebound
Huh? What ever happened to "yes we can!"???

Meanwhile,
On jobs vs. high unemployment, Obama has political balancing act
By Dave Cook, Staff writer / April 2, 2010
Christian Science Monitor
... “The unemployment rate is still terribly high and it’s going to stay unacceptably high for a long period of time,” Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner said Thursday in an interview on NBC’s “Today” program.
So tell me, if unemployment rate is deemed "unacceptably high", why is this administration preparing to accept it????

Republicans, on the other hand, are responding with large-scale social experimentation:
Coburn blocks extension of unemployment benefits, threatens start of recess
Oklahoma's junior Senator - a Republican - took a principled stand: if we can't pay for benefits, we'll not extend 'em. Of course, this plays nicely into GOP argument that unemployment benefits are a disincentive to employment: folks are just lazy and won't look for work if they get paid for not working.

Sad thing is, if viewed as a large-scale social experiment the data may look like it supports the GOP. IF April numbers show increase in job creation, GOP could plausibly attribute the gain to folks losing unemployment benefits! (... as opposed to, for example, Obama's socialist stimulus program actually working!)

This after GOP rule pretty much destroyed the U.S. economy.

I'm having a hard time seeing a silver lining to this, no matter what happens.
Sigh.

Don't blame the troops!

McChrystal: We've Shot 'An Amazing Number' Of Innocent Afghans

... and to his credit, McChrystal DOESN'T blame the troops.

At the same time, this doesn't sound like a good way to win hearts and minds... and it doesn't help that our puppet, Karzai, seems to be deliberately courting the opposition:
Karzai's defiant stance concerns U.S., other Afghans
Tell me again: why are we there?

Go Bosox!

Youkilis, Red Sox top Yankees 9-7 in season opener

Sunday, April 4, 2010

My letter to the Pope

Prefecture of the Papal Household
00120 Vatican City State

Your Holiness:

First, I apologize for sending this c/o the Prefecture of the Papal Household. This was the only mailing address I could find on the Vatican website (http://www.vatican.va/phome_en.htm).

Second: the point of this note is to express my displeasure with your inept handling of the developing pedophilia scandal, and to suggest an alternate approach that may better serve the Church.

I note that the Vatican’s persistent denials, specious defenses, and scape-goating of the news media have not worked particularly well to defuse the developing scandal. Given the documentary evidence that the Church has dramatically failed to protect its children, what do you hope to gain by continuing to pursue a defense of denial and “letter of the law” scholastic sophistry? Recent published defenses have suggested that the Church’s position is, “We’re not the only buggerers, so it’s okay.”
Is this really the position you want to adopt?

You would be far better served to simply come clean, fully and publicly.
Yes, we – the Holy Catholic Church – made mistakes in the past.
We protected the institution, the Church, at the expense of our flock.
We are deeply and truly sorry. We confess our sins and repent.
We will strive mightily to prevent a recurrence of this shameful episode.
We will from this day forward take all allegations of child sexual abuse seriously, cooperate fully with secular authorities, and ensure that accused clergy are segregated from pastoral duties.
We beseech your forgiveness, which we do not deserve.
Consult with a professional Public Relations firm – I think the professionals will agree that the approach suggested above is far more likely to defuse the current crisis than the adversarial, belligerent stance you have adopted to date.

This is simply taking your own medicine – the path to salvation you in fact promote to your parishioners:
Confession
Contrition
Penance.
The longer you persist in denial, institutional and public, the greater the damage done to the Church. Denial and belligerent scholasticism – citing the letter of the law – only open the Church to further attack.
Bend. Confess error. Profess contrition. Do penance.

You – personally and institutionally – are NOT the victim.

Sincerely,
Okay, now that I got that outta my system, maybe I'll turn to other topics.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

... the more we learn, the more the story stays the same

Recall:
Meanwhile a consistent story is emerging: Archbishop Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger - now Pope Benedict - time and again intervened to protect sexual predators and stifle investigations of sexual abuse by the priesthood.
[We're not the only buggerers, so it's okay]
Seems I don't have to eat my words... yet:
AP: Vatican waited years to defrock Arizona priest
By MATT SEDENSKY, Associated Press Writer
– Sat Apr 3, 2010
The abuse cases of two priests in Arizona have cast further doubt on the Catholic church's insistence that Pope Benedict XVI played no role in shielding pedophiles before he became pope.

Documents reviewed by The Associated Press show that as a Vatican cardinal, the future pope took over the abuse case of the Rev. Michael Teta of Tucson, Ariz., then let it languish at the Vatican for years despite repeated pleas from the bishop for the man to be removed from the priesthood.

In another Tucson case, that of Msgr. Robert Trupia, the bishop wrote to then-Cardinal Ratzinger, who would become pope in 2005. Bishop Manuel Moreno called Trupia "a major risk factor to the children, adolescents and adults that he many have contact with." There is no indication in the case files that Ratzinger responded.

The details of the two cases come as other allegations emerge that Benedict — as a Vatican cardinal — was part of a culture of cover-up and confidentiality.

[emphasis added]
Again, the Church could help itself a lot by taking its own medicine:
Confession
Contrition
Penance
Why do they keep denying and lashing out? Surely they can afford a decent PR firm to help guide them!

Note: in general I don't obsess about the Catholic Church or about pedophilia... But the ineptitude of the Church's response to this evolving scandal is simply mind-boggling. It is this ineptitude that I find both intriguing and frustrating.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Bumper sticker

Silence is golden
But duct tape is silver
Guess it's a Zen thing.

They still just don't get it

Vatican Lashes Out At The New York Times Over Sex Abuse Coverage
The public-relations aspect of this just isn't that complicated!

What in the name of heaven does the Church hope to achieve with its repeated denials, specious 'defenses', and scape-goating of the media???

This should be a no-brainer!

[Note: I'd have titled this post, "This should be a slam-dunk", but that particular descriptor doesn't mean what it used to - Tenet implicitly redefined it for us all!]
U.S. Justice sues KBR for improper costs in Iraq
'bout time, too! Will we - the tax-payers - recover any of the $$$ these jokers stole from us?

I feel for 'em... deeply

Coupla related headlines/articles:
'Bondage-gate' spurs donor drain for RNC
Thu Apr 1, 2010 (*)
It's not bad enough that, for some time forward, the words "Republican National Committee" will be the most frequent phrase surfacing in online search terms using the words "West Hollywood bondage club." Now leaders of the RNC have to contend with the defection of key constituencies from the committee's donor base.

Tony Perkins On Steele's RNC: 'If You Can't Run A Party, You Can't Run A Country'

[(*): Yeah - this news is stale... but I didn't want to post this yesterday for fear folks would mistake it for just more April Fool's fun.]
For perhaps the first time in my life I agree with the Family Research Council's Tony Perkins, in his assessment of the RNC (and, in my mind at least, of the GOP):
"'If You Can't Run A Party, You Can't Run A Country"
On the other hand, today's GOP has absolutely no interest in running a country. If you pay close attention, you'll note that almost all their examples of failed government are in fact simply examples of failed Republican governance! - they can't tell the difference.

Gee, ya think?

Some right-wingers ignore facts as they rewrite U.S. history

New Mexico in the news (sigh)

April Fool's Day was fun.
Now it's back to real news, such as it is.
Medical waste shipments turn up heads, torsos
By SUE MAJOR HOLMES and MARIA SUDEKUM FISHER, Associated Press Writers
– Fri Apr 2, 2010
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – The first discovery was gruesome enough: a head and torso tucked inside a red biohazard tub that arrived at a Kansas company. Then it got worse.

Six more heads and torsos showed up in the next week after someone apparently dismembered the bodies with a chain saw or another cutting device, police said.

Authorities are investigating a New Mexico company that was supposed to have donated the organs in the bodies to science and had the remains cremated. The owner of the Albuquerque company, Paul Montano, was arrested Thursday.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

A path forward

McChrystal, Karzai Reach Accord
S.F. Nooffub
1 April 2010
(STMNews) General Stanley McChrystal, commander of Allied forces in Afghanistan, and Afghan President Hamid Karzai, today announced an "agreement in principle" for a path forward in the eight-year war against the Taliban.

General McChrystal spoke first. "From today, we - U.S. and Allied forces - are promoting opium production in Afghanistan. Opium is the region's only cash crop, and its only export. To promote a stable Afghanistan, we will provide every resource to encourage and support the cultivation, harvesting, and export of opium."

In return for this largesse, President Karzai pledged that, "My government shall be henceforward completely transparent and legitimate. Today I dismissed all my relatives and friends from official positions. The Afghan government assumes full responsibility for governance, not just of Kabul, but of the provinces. With the taxes on opium we will provide security, public education, and infrastructure to ensure that the Afghan state is strong against atavistic Islamists."
Who'd a-thunk?

The Vatican apologizes

Church Confesses!
S.F. Nooffub
1 April 2010
(STMNews) The Vatican newspaper, L'Osservatore Romano, today proclaimed, "We - the Holy Catholic Church -made mistakes. We are sorry. We'll do our best to see that we do not repeat our mistakes. We will from this day forward take all allegations of child sexual abuse seriously, cooperate fully with secular authorities, and ensure that accused clergy are segregated from pastoral duties. We beseech your forgiveness, which we do not deserve."
Who'd a-thunk?

Ahmadinejad renounces nukes, embraces Israel

Ahmadinejad renounces nukes, embraces Israel
S.F. Nooffub
1 April 2010
(STMNews) In a surprise turn-about, Iran's president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad today announced that Iran is renouncing all nuclear ambitions.

In addition, Mr. Ahmadinejad offered an olive branch to Israel. "We are all children of God, no matter the name by which we call Him. I invite my Israeli brothers to join me in a celebration of our shared humanity." Mr. Ahmadinejad invited Israel to send a diplomatic mission to Iran "immediately", and promised that he would send Iranian diplomats to Jerusalem within the week. "After all", Mr. Ahmadinejad said, "Jerusalem was promised by Allah to Abraham and David, and is the Jews' patrimony!"
Who'd a-thunk?

Taitz: "I just made it all up!"

Orly Taitz confesses!
S.F. Nooffub
1 April 2010
(STMNews) "Queen of the Birthers", Orly Taitz today confessed, "I just made it all up!" In a stunning announcement she went on to say, "I've had President Obama's Hawaiian birth certificate in my possession since March of 2008. He is without a doubt a natural born American citizen. In fact, I have baby pictures of President Obama which confirm that he IS circumcised - which was common practice at all American hospitals in the early 1960s. No doubt about it: Obama is MY President!"

During a press conference at her Orange County home this morning, Taitz also stated, "All those frivolous law-suits? I'm dropping them."
Who'd a-thunk!

GOP lines up behind financial reform!

McConnell pitches Financial Reform
S.F. Nooffub
1 April 2010
(STMNews) Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) today announced his whole-hearted support for sweeping reform of America's financial system. "We can't have 'too-big-too-fail banks'", Senator McConnell declared. "Without strict regulation of the financial sector, we're doomed to see another melt-down of the American economy. President Reagan was wrong. In this case, Government is the solution!"

Senator McConnell's announcement shocked Senate Democrats, but was taken in stride by his GOP colleagues. "Of course we need stricter regulation of financial markets", declared Sen. John Kyl (R-AZ). "Recent economic history proves that unregulated markets are destined to fail!"

On the House side, Minority Leader Boehner (R-OH) remarked, "I'm working closely with Speaker Pelosi to craft a strong, bipartisan bill placing strict limits on all major financial institutions in this country. We simply cannot afford to repeat the mistakes of the past."
Who'd a-thunk?

Wow!

Rush embraces Progressives
S.F. Nooffub
1 April 2010
Well-known radio personality and arch-conservative Rush Limbaugh today changed his spots, and announced that henceforth he is advocating the progressive agenda, including his full support for health-insurance reform, financial reform, and immigration reform. "I've just been wrong all these years", Mr. Limbaugh confessed on air during his 10 a.m. radio broadcast.
[STMNews.com]
Who'd a-thunk?