Early Morning Idle Talk

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It’s 6:00 am, and despite the fact that I’m on vacation I’m awake, have been since earlier than I normally get up on most work days. My wife and I just came back from the In-laws, and the cats, who boarded with our vet, we’re clearly not in the mood to let us sleep. So I’ve decided to run interference, for lack of a better term. I stay awake for a bit and they hang out with me so she can sleep. Later on, she’ll do the same for me.

Although, admittedly, she seems to now be awake and unhappy that I am awake. Do you see how decisions sometimes go awry? Lack of communication, though in this instance I think I have a legitimate excuse. She was asleep, or making the attempt to sleep well enough where I thought she was.

Which is fine.

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I love reading the news.

There’s a ton of stories out about fights breaking out all over America as retailers all across America became mosh pits for unruly shoppers. Which to me doesn’t sound like a bad thing, I’ve been known to jump in the occasional mosh pit after all. But apparently it was bad enough where in a number of cases the malls in question closed and some of the brawls may have been orchestrated in some fashion on social media. Or better put, anti-social asshole media.

And plus, you know, Capitalism. Life in America is all about the fight for the dollar, and where better to stage that fight then at your local Piggly Wiggly or Dollar General or Bed Bath and Beyond? Isn’t thirty percent off (and a lack of manners and social grace usually Wolverineassociated with feral wolverines) a reason to beat the crap out of a total stranger?

No? And you people wonder why Donald Trump won the Presidency. This is the America that we live in. Stupid, violent and prone to excess. This is what we are. As a nation. These are our future leaders.

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Wazzup wit dat, bruh?

It doesn’t bother me one bit either. Why? It points to where we are as a culture, what we deem important enough to fight over. It isn’t good government. It isn’t the rights of our brothers and sisters, regardless of what we may think of that. It’s a love of violence that is endemic to our species, even if many individuals decry the truth of that statement. It’s saving a few bucks on things that we have grown attached to. Base desires for material objects that are deemed socially desirable because of it’s cost-benefit on a personal level, despite our national dislike of math and the lack of money that goes along with that shameful dislike.

I’d prefer to have us show our true faces, so we can at least get a grip on who we are going forward, than mask it with some high minded bullshit and lie to ourselves about who and what we are. After all, a society is only as strong as it’s weakest link.

And America is filled with weak links.

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It is by its promise of a sense of power that evil often attracts the weak. ~ Eric Hoffer, The Passionate State of Mind

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It’s more than an hour later, and all the piss and vinegar seems to have left the cats, and they are now peacefully asleep, or perhaps not so peacefully awaiting  their next chance to strike and steal our ham and cheese. All I want to do is go back to sleep.

Thankfully my wife is blissfully asleep. Something is going right.

But I still have things to do. Clothes to wash, food to buy, things to get for my wife for her birthday.

I’ll give them what they want later. Not sure what’ll happen next, aside from a few more words…

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Twelve dead, forty others wounded in Chicago this weekend. Christmas weekend.

Much of this is being attributed to gang violence, and most of the dead were gang bangers.

Gangs police themselves apparently. And like the police, they miss and shoot people who didn’t have jack to do with anything they were doing.

Reminds me of the Henry Rollins lyric ” I see you say you hate Pigs so much, so why the hell you act like one? Because you’re civilized.”

It’s a short, sad, hard life, and these Darwin award winners were out to prove that this weekend.

Glad I don’t live in that shithole…Which may otherwise be a nice city but…c’mon, really? How nice can it be if that much shit happens there during Christmas?

Clean your shit up, Chicago.

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Violence, naked force, has settled more issues in history than has any other factor, and the contrary opinion is wishful thinking at its worst. ~ Robert A. Heinlein, Starship Troopers, 1959

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No Different than Yesterday

445px-Initial_s_Paulus_Frank_1601eems like forever.

I haven’t written here in nearly a year.  Three hundred and forty eight days, if you include today.    I have not been idle in all that time. Some, not all.   I have been writing a great deal, some of my best work I think.  If you want to read it it’s over on writeisland.wordpress.com;  It’s fiction, sci-fi, horror, crime noir, paranoid fiction.  Lots of short stories, serialized.

If you enjoy that kinda thing by all means head on over.

I thought it was time to come back here and again write about the real world.  The real world is a nice place that has some insanely horrible things happen in it, often because of our own hubris, or stupidity, or insanity, or … something.  Things that the best fiction writers could not come up on their best days.

Let’s get started.

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My last post, almost a year ago, was written about the fun things that occur on the Korean peninsula.  So why not start where I left off, give you some level of continuity with news coverage.

It seems that Kim Jong-un is committing crimes against humanity.  He has between eighty and one hundred and twenty thousand political prisoners held in four locations.  He uses starvation as a form of punishment in these prison camps.  The system of resource allocation that the DPRK uses causes “avoidable” starvation among the population.

Some media outlets are using the word Nazi in reference to the treatment of the people of North Korea.  The head ofUN_building the UN commission has detailed all the crimes in a downloadable document you can get directly from the U.N. here, and I must tell you it is a compelling read about a place that exactly fits every negative aspect of the word orwellian.

The worst part about this?  We know, not just presume they are doing bad things to their people along with Japanese and South Koreans, but know they are doing it.  So what happens next?

Nothing.

Not a god damned thing.

Hua Chunying, spokeswoman for the Chinese foreign ministry has called the report “Unreasonable criticism” and the reporting I have read, from the NYT  and the VOA, China will veto any action by the U.N. in this matter.  According to the NYT, She said “We believe that taking human rights violations to the International Criminal Court is not helpful in improving a country’s human rights situation.”

…Is not helpful…

If that isn’t helpful, if removing the problem by putting the people who are systematically raping and killing it’s own people and starving and torturing those they don’t do that to, what does work?  Asking nicely?  Saying “Pretty please, with sugar on top?”

Note that in nothing that I have quoted, or seen, they never say that North Korea is innocent.  They are saying that, “yes, they are guilty.”  But they are also saying “We don’t care what you think, we condone this behavior.”

They sound like criminals protecting other criminals.  Because they are.  By not helping bring the perpetrators of crimes against humanity to justice, they become guilty of aiding and abetting that criminal activity.

By protecting the North Koreans, the Chinese themselves are guilty of crimes against humanity.

And by being so weak as to not be able to do anything about it, the United Nations proves itself a useless body when it comes to the dispensation of justice on a global level against any real criminal activity.

Crying damn shame.  But at the same time I can say that I am happy that I live in a country where those kinda things don’t happen. Because of the eternal vigilance of it’s people.

At least not yet.  Today things are fine, but the road ahead is murky, as always.

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I don’t know if I’m back to doing this here every day, but I know I won’t be ignoring it for another 348 days.

I’ll write to you again soon, America.  Catch you later.

Chuck Hagel Confirmed as Secretary of State

Chuck Hagel was finally confirmed as Defense Secretary today. He was confirmed by a 58-41 vote.

All the voting Democrats voted for former Sen.  Hagel.  The only non vote was N.J. Sen. Lautenberg.  The 89 year old New Jersey Democratic Senator was at home sick.  All 41 of the votes against the Hagel nomination were Republican.  But there were a few defectors. They were the Senior Senator from Mississippi, Thad Cochran; First term Nebraska Senator, Mike Johanns; Five term Senator from Alabama, Richard Shelby; and most curiously given his abrasive questioning during the confirmation process,  The junior Senator from Kentucky, Rand Paul.

I for one am happy that Chuck finally got through.  It was a very tight vote, at least as far as votes for confirmation of a defense secretary is concerned. The tightest vote in recent history from what I have read.  It was not exactly a fait accompli that he would pass, as the Republican opposition to his nomination was fierce.

There was the insane “The democrats are worried about Hagel” false flag attack, supposedly put together by concerned democrats that after scrutiny completely disappeared.  As I recall it was a right wing group that funded that attack.  Then there was the infamous “Friends of Hamas” giggle-fest that the sleaze-bags over at Breitbart put out, despite the fact that no such organization exists.

Then there was the fun from propagandist Ted Cruz.  Ted read a story from Reuters.  That story said that an official in the Iranian government hoped that the next defense secretary would be more interested in peace and less interested in warmongering. Ted turned that into something completely other. Ted turned that into a nominee for the biggest lie of 2013 ; His claim that Iran was “cheering” the Hagel nomination.

Then there was the plain crazy crap he came up with during the Senate Armed Services committee nomination process when Ted said that he wasn’t sure that former Sen. Hagel had taken money under the table for speeches from radical groups.  People are still trying to figure out what the hell that fat glib fraud Cruz was talking about.

And do I have to speak at all about Sen. McCain’s bitching and moaning at the Conformation hearings? No?  Good.  McCain is an asshole, and the less I write about him the better. Attention of any kind only eggs the stupid bastard on.

On top of that there are the right wing outside pressure groups that tried to paint now Sec. Hagel as being weak on Iran and not being friendly enough with Israel, that he was not a good enough friend of Israel because he was soft on Iran.

Now his record does show that he has in past voted both for and against sanctions on Iran.  That does not make him soft on Iran.  That makes him smart.  His reasoning for voting against sanctions when he did vote against them was that the sanctions simply won’t do anything.

Tell me, in hindsight, how much was Iran weakened by sanctions?  How much? Not very, they are getting closer to being nuclear capable, and their work on nuclear capabilities continues unabated, despite those sanctions. The sanctions worked well, didn’t they?

Seems Sec. Hagel was right.

And now he has to try to work on negotiations with Iran to talk them off of the nuclear cliff.

Good Luck, Secretary Hagel.

Dead On Arrival? I’m Not So Sure

Marco Rubio says the Presidents “Plan B” on immigration reform will be dead on arrival.  I am not so sure.  Let’s look at it and see why the presidents backup plan, if it comes down to it, can make it through both houses.

First things first. To understand the reasoning behind having a plan b, you have to first look at where plan A is coming from.  No one in this country is living under a rock, we all know how dysfunctional the congress has been.  The debt ceiling negotiations showed America exactly what the house of representatives is about.  Gridlock and showboating for ideas that are not so much ideas as they are the whining carping noise of spoiled brats who expect to get everything they want when they want it, and that is both sides of the argument. And what they did with every other major piece of legislation over two plus years points to a level of ineffectiveness that is as startling as it is sweeping.

The filibustering that happens in the senate on every single piece of important piece of legislation, where everything is forced to a cloture vote shows a complete and utter disregard for the needs of the people of this divided nation. The senate cannot agree to a simple straight up and down vote on anything.  Mitch McConnell and his cronies have made sure that everything that runs through the senate has the taint of obstructionism attached to it.

But there are other things afoot here with immigration legislation.  The Republicans, the architects of the obstructionism listed above, know that part of the reason they got beaten in the 2012 election cycle was the fact that they lost the Latino vote by a nearly 4 to 1 margin and they want desperately to change that.  The know they need something to hang their hats on that will attract latino voters, and the best place to do that would be here.

But the obstructionists have a history of shooting themselves in the foot. Enter the President with a backup plan, just in case the obstructionists do what they do best and block sensible legislation.

Now we know Republicans don’t generally cotton to voting for democratic proposals, especially with a democrat in the White House.  But that should be mitigated somewhat with the need to try to attract Latino voters to a Republican party that is  becoming the party of old white people and rich tax dodgers.

Now I am not saying that there is going to be widespread Republican support for any plan B that comes from the Presidents desk.  I’m not even sure if it will come to that plan B.  What I am saying is this; there is a likelihood that enough Republicans, sensing nationwide losses that could occur if they do nothing on this subject, will jump on board and vote for sensible legislation, especially on a subject as high profile as this.

Especially those Republicans in blue or purple states.  And there are enough of those to turn a Democratic plan B which has in it a road to turn illegals into citizens (and voters who may well vote for them if they give them a chance to live here) and makes them pay taxes on money earned when they were illegals into a winner even in Republican circles. You would think that more voters on their roles and more money in government coffers without raising taxes would be popular with them.  Go fig.

Marco Rubio would be better served looking out for the long term interests of the nation rather than focusing on shooting Republicans in the foot with fiery rhetoric.

Again.

Nerdtastic

Pic of the day:  The Fairy of Eagle Nebula

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Don’t ever become a pessimist … a pessimist is correct oftener than an optimist, but an optimist has more fun, and neither can stop the march of events.

Robert A. Heinlein

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Sometimes when I read the news I find nothing but things that get me angry, stir me up, get my dander up.  Like the AIG story earlier in the week, which turned out better than I had expected.

And sometimes I don’t.  This is one of those times, time to look at a lighter news story, because it does a body good to take a break from the mess that is the world every once in a while.

Today’s story is a giggle worthy nerdtastic story straight from the White House.  Not normally the place you get stories like that from, but here it is.

The White House has decided against building a death star.

You read that right. Apparently a Star Wars nerd in search of…something, what exactly I don’t know, decided to put o the White house petitions site a petition whose main purpose was job creation;  i.e. building a Death Star. And it got a lot of attention, enough to warrant an actual response from the people who officially respond to this kind of thing.

If you thought that would be the end of it, and that they would simply poo-poo the whole idea, you’d be wrong.  Well, right in that in the end they obviously turned it down, but it was the creative nerdtastic way that they did it that played heavily to the Star Wars fans who clearly were the ones who voted for this thing.

It starts off by spoofing a line from the first movie by Obi-Wan Kenobi.  “This is not the petition you’re looking for.”

Just a little fun from the fine people at Robot Chicken

When I read that first line I knew I was in for a treat.  Early in the response to the petition there was a statement saying that the cost of the death star would be prohibitive, and used numbers gotten from some very creative students at Lehigh University that estimated the actual cost of building the death star.

And by the way, a death star would cost approximately Eight hundred and fifty six quadrillion dollars.  That’s eight hundred fifty six thousand billion for those who don’t know what a quadrillion is.

BTW, it’s nice to know that the administration of President Barack Obama does not condone blowing up planets. Felt good about that.  I live on one of those things. They’re kinda nice, if you can handle the local yokels that is.

But I thought the crowning touch, the piece de resistance was saying that they wouldn’t waste money on a death star with a fundamental flaw in it that could be exploited by a one-man starship.  Pictures of Luke Skywalker destroying the Death Star danced in my head when I read that.

Now the rest of the piece, while less Star Warsy, to coin a term, was nevertheless very much pro-science and had fun linking certain projects to star wars.  For example, do you know the acronym that the commercial venture between NASA and private investors?

No?  It’s the Commercial Crew and Cargo Program Office… or… wait for it…

C3PO.

Maybe this WAS the petition I was looking for. This star wars nerd who fell in love with all things space based as a kid watching the tail end of the Apollo program, and gazed in wide eyed wonder at the spectacle of the first Star Wars movie when I was but 9 years old, found a great deal that was both great and good in this happy little light piece of news that floated in from the White House today.

The main point of the piece though, beyond the obvious silliness was to promote science and science education, a worthy endeavor, truly.

Mind you I heard on twitter that Darth Vader was not pleased about this, but I could not get further comment from him on the subject.  This may not be the last you’ll hear about this.

I hope.  🙂

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Thats it from here, America.  G’night.

Stormy Weather

Pic of the day:  Travelers Surprised by a Sudden Rain, by Hiroshige Utagawa

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As far as I could ken thy chalky cliffs,
When from thy shore the tempest beat us back,
I stood upon the hatches in the storm.

William Shakespeare,  Henry VI Part ii,  act iii, scene ii

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Thar be a storm a’coming.  The press is hyping the bejesus out of it, but what it looks like is this.  From Sunday night to Tuesday morning the area I live in will get about 10 inches of rain, with the bulk of it falling on Monday.  The winds during the height of the storm will be somewhere in the 70 to 80 MPH range and that will happen Monday afternoon and evening.

It’ll shake the house, no doubt about it.

My wife is concerned about the tree in the back of the house falling on the apartment.  I at this point am not.  The tree if it falls even close to the direction in which it is leaning now will fall on the street.

Of course if it does it’ll take out the wires to the house and we’ll be dark.  But I’m not all that worried about that either, as only a few weeks ago we had no power and we have everything that we need to make it for several days without power.  Batteries, food, candles.  Ya know, the important stuff.  All the stuff that is electronic is fully charged and will be plugged and charging continuously.

The absolute worst case scenario is the tree damaging the house and leaving a gaping hole in the kitchen during the height of the storm.  And I am going to keep garbage bags and tape near the entrance to the kitchen so I can cover the entrance quick should anything happen.

I’m not worried, but at the same time, I am prepared.

For those of you looking to keep an eye out for storm news, go to:  http://www.noaa.gov/stormcentral

If you are interested in power outages in New York City go to: apps.coned.com/stormcenter_external/default.html

It’s not the end of the world or anything, it’s just weather, but it’s nasty weather.

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All this crappy weather will give me extra time to get to writing.  I am going to get a lot of writing done between now and Wednesday, when things are supposed to start clearing up.  I already have 12 chapters outlined for my Nanowrimo novel, and it looks like I’ll get the remainder of the outlining done during this storm.

Love it.

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I wonder what effect if any the storm will have on voting.  Some reports out are already saying that power in some places could be out up to 10 days, saw it on the crawl on local TV during Mike Bloomberg’s presser talking about storm prep.  Ten days would put voting in jeopardy in those places where power is still out, as the election is 8 days away from Monday.  Hope the people who put that out are wrong.

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That’s it from here, America.  G’night.

Like/Dislike

Pic of the day:  Morning in a Pine Forest, by Ivan Shishkin

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A great civilization is not conquered from without until it has destroyed itself within. The essential causes of Rome’s decline lay in her people, her morals, her class struggle, her failing trade, her bureaucratic despotism, her stifling taxes, her consuming wars.

Will Durant, Caeser and Christ

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Like:  Mitt Romney saying publicly that he likes parts of the Affordable care act.

Dislike:  Anyone actually believing that.  He still wants to toss the ACA out. Anyone who says different is crazy.

Like:  Ann Romney going on Meet the Press with her husband.

Dislike:  Ann Romney thinking that Mitt has been ‘demonized’ as being heartless.  He seems pretty heartless to me, kind of guy who would cut a company to pieces and sell the good bits and fire everyone else and not sweat making a profit off of putting thousands of people out on their asses.  Seems heartless, ya know? I don’t know that ‘demonize’ is the right word for calling someone out on being what the actually are.  In the real world that is called being observant.

Like:  Fact checkers.  The world needs’em

Dislike: Fact that fact checkers are not as obsessed with the actual facts as they should be.  A number of them are bad, and it makes every one of them look bad.  Politifact is good, as is factcheck.org, but I’ve seen others that are partisan in their fact checking from both sides of the fence.

Like: The President is leading in the polls as of this weekend.  The ‘bounce’ from the convention seems strong from where I am looking.  He’s up by 4 percent in right leaning Rasmussen polling, and 5 percent in Gallup’s latest poll numbers.

Dislike:  That really doesn’t matter all that much.  No matter how you slice it, 45% of the country will vote Republican, 45% will vote Democratic, and slightly less than 1% will vote for a third candidate, meaning the election will be moved by the 9or so percent of the population that will vote that has, up until now, not paid a shit’s worth of attention to the issues.

Like:  Many of the important issues (abortion, jobs, etc) of the day do get discussed daily by a large number of people.

Dislike:  Not enough people though.  And many times the issues are clouded by the myriad things that cloud human communication, from obfuscation, deceit and outright lies, to distractions and side issues that addle the minds of even the best of us.  I’ll write an article on that issue later this week.

Like: The President and Vice President are down to earth good people who genuinely like connecting with the people they work for, aka, Americans.

Dislike:  It leads to photos in the news and stories, like this, and this.  I don’t find it bad at all, but you can be sure that pics of some 40 something biker chick in the V.P.’s lap, surrounded by bikers will cause some level of stupid horseshit from the right wing schmuckosphere.

Like: It’s football season.

Dislike:  The Giants lost their first game and the offense sputtered.  The Jets scored 6 TD’s, after only scoring one all pre-season.  And the Redskins and the Eagles both won. Bastards.  Four teams have scored over 40 points this week, none of them my team.

Fuckers.

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That’s it from here, America.  G’night.