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Tuesday, December 29

Holiday Cheer, Right-Wing Style

Well, I sincerely hope that all of you out there in Cyberland and the great Blogiverse had a good holiday.

It almost didn't turn out good for the passengers on Northwest Flight 253, from Amsterdam to Detroit. To put things in a nutshell, a radicalized rich Nigerian kid tried to set off a bomb (liquid PETN) in his underwear. The bomb fizzled, burning him, and the other passengers beat his sorry ass until the plane landed in Detroit.

So now the cranky loser rich Nigerian kid is now a cranky loser Federal inmate. Interestingly, the usual Right-wing screeches of "endangering America by having terrorists on our soil" are strangely silent.

Instead we hear screams from complete idiots that we need to start profiling Muslims at airports.

"They do it for El Al," they say.

Well, maybe so. But we are not Israel. For an example, I don't read this blog right to left, okay?

But, the pundits argue, it's a simple matter - find anyone with a Muslim name and cut them out of the line, take them in the Green Room and have them body-searched.

Anyone with a Muslim name.

Three words, kiddo: John. Walker. Lindh.

Remember him? The "American Taliban," caught bearing arms against his country in Afghanistan, and now serving time in Federal prison? Change his skin color, and you have Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab.

And - bonus round! - here's two more words: Richard. Reid.

Al Qaeda and other terror groups are recruiting people who look just like you and me, folks. And what kind of "Muslim" name is John, or Richard? Everyone knows that airport security is a complete and total illusion, a comforting illusion to be sure. But it's all smoke and moonshine, designed to make people feel safe. As long as they have that perception, they'll submit to the vast Stanford Experiment that is the Transportation Security Administration.

As usual, the Right is knee-jerking, reacting instead of acting. All the airport officials had to do was follow the arrows on this idiot:

1. He paid at the ticket counter. In cash.
2. He had no luggage.

Those two things alone should have won him a first-class ticket to the Green Room.

And we wouldn't be having this conversation.

oh boo-effing-hoo, the television networks are feeling pinched because advertisers are not ponying up $$

Here we witness an example of where profit-seeking goes too far, one of umpteen bazillion in our culture.  I seem to remember hearing some flimsy factoid on tabloid tv eons ago; the cast members of Friends were each earning nearly a million $ per episode.  And I remember wondering who exactly was paying for that.  And where their money was coming from.  I guess it was from advertising revenues?  Just think of how many homeless families could be fed dinner for $1 million.  Just imagine how much money the average television viewer would have in their savings or in an IRA right now, had they not fallen prey to all that advertising over the past two decades.  Just imagine how much they would have saved up had they not caved in and paid for cable all that time.
 
Basically, this is a direct message that the sole purpose of any of us watching tv is for advertisers to make money on shit they hope we will want to buy after we see it on tv.  And then the networks will make money because the advertisers are making money off us.  And apparently that money will pay for programming, eventually.  Entertainment, information, news?  Ehhhhhh.  Hey look!  It's Tiger Woods and is he ever in trouble!  (And that's the 'news'...)
 
At this point, I watch a couple PBS stations, one local station that plays movies, and will be watching the olympics.  The rest of the time, it's just a time-suck and waste of banked solar energy that could be powering my computer or a kitchen appliance.  I haven't paid for cable in about three years.  The 'expanded basic' coverage by Comcast was costing me something ludicrous like $65/month.  I mean... come on.  Those were local channels and a few more PBS stations thrown in, and some cable channels I didn't watch.  I was paying for decent reception on the tv, because this was before the incompetently planned and poorly executed digital conversion, and I was still buying into the myth that television is an informational resource worth forking over money to watch.  $65 is two weeks of groceries in my household.
 
Anyway, here's the piece in the Associated Press this morning.  Take a look at the URL when you load it up, btw... 'US free broadcasters in peril'.  Sure.  Ya gotta love that Murdoch of Faux is bitching about programming being expensive.  It certainly is, when you lose advertisers by the baker's dozen because you showcase ignorant nutjobs like Glen Bleccch. 

Thursday, December 24

Health Care Reform?

The Senators are on television patting each other on the back because they passed a health care reform bill without any help from the Republicans. I'm not sure it's gonna help us. Supposedly 31 million more Americans will now be covered. If so, that's a good thing and I'm happy for them.

As of today, I still have no insurance even though the husband has money taken out of his paycheck every week to pay for it. I've shelled out over $1000 this month to pay for medications. There are medications I cannot afford and am trying to live without them although there's a chance I am going to get pretty sick if I have to go on without them.

As far as I'm concerned, if the government doesn't stop accepting blow jobs from big pharm, the health care bill can blow me. (Honestly, I can go on and on about how my family's been screwed over by corporate for-profit health care insurance, but I won't. Luckily NY State is on our side and helping us fight them... but I'll save that rant for another day. It's Xmas eve for gawd's sake.)

The Republicans suck more than the Democrats suck, but still, they both suck big time.

You Kind of Expect This

Actually, quite a fine PBS Frontline special on the birth and growth of the Great Borg Religion (that's uh, Christianity for you fundies out there).

Wednesday, December 23

yes indeed, Copenhagen was basically Nopenhagen

I doubt this is news to anyone, but figured I'd get my year-end 'we're all fucked!' post in good and early.
 
From the Irish Times last week:
 
"Six reasons why Earth won't cope for long

AS WORLD leaders arrive in Copenhagen for the crunch phase of the climate conference, the focus turns to what kind of deal is likely to emerge. Pre-eminent climate scientist Prof James Hansen of the Nasa Goddard Institute has already given the entire process the kiss of death. Any political deal cobbled together is, he believes, likely to be so profoundly flawed as to lock humanity on to "a disaster track", writes John Gibbons..."

Read the whole thing here

Merry F-ing Christmas (NOT SAFE FOR WORK!)

Merry F-ing Christmas by Mr Garrison, Southpark


Tuesday, December 22

Holiday Season

The approach of Christmas brings harassment and dread to many excellent people. They have to buy a cart-load of presents, and they never know what to buy to hit the various tastes; they put in three weeks of hard and anxious work, and when Christmas morning comes they are so dissatisfied with the result, and so disappointed that they want to sit down and cry. Then they give thanks that Christmas comes but once a year.
- Mark Twain, Following the Equator


As for me, I'm just glad that the days will be getting longer.

How's your holiday season?

Monday, December 21

Love This Article

10 Ways to Screw Over the Corporate Jackals Who've Been Screwing You

A commentary from Peter of Lone Tree

I just spoke to our old friend Peter of Lone Tree who is recovering from a stroke but sounds pretty darn good considering. He isn't on the internet but watches television. He asked me to quote him on a post at blondesense. Here goes:

"They gave the Nobel Peace Prize to a homicidal maniac. Time's Man of the Year is a jerk."



PS: I just read this story by Glenn Greenwald

Excerpt: "President Obama late last week ordered cruise missile attacks on two locations in Yemen, which "U.S. officials" say were "suspected Al Qaeda hideouts." The main target of the attacks, Al Qaeda member Qasim al Rim, was not among those killed, but: "a local Yemeni official said on Sunday that 49 civilians, among them 23 children and 17 women, were killed in air strikes against Al-Qaeda, which he said were carried out 'indiscriminately'." Media reports across the Muslim world -- though, not of course, within the U.S. -- are highlighting the dead civilians from the U.S. strike (one account from an official Iranian outlet began: "U.S. Nobel Peace Prize laureate President Barack Obama has signed the order for a recent military strike on Yemen in which scores of civilians, including children, have been killed, a report says")."

Saturday, December 19

There needs to be a revolution because nothing is going to change on its own

No One Is Going To Save You Fools
That's the title of this amazing piece at Daily Kos by thereisnospoon.

excerpt:
If you want to win, you will ORGANIZE. You will organize in the same way the Right has done for the last 40 years, and you will spend money on persuasion, where it really matters. You will, in short, make the politicians as afraid of you as they are of them. The Right has built vast networks of think tanks, newspapers, periodicals, cable news channels, and political advocacy organizations to spread their finely tuned, well-honed messages. Their politicians may fail them, and their actual policies may be deeply unpopular, but their message machine nearly always works its magic to get them what they want, even when Democrats are in power.
It's true. Can you believe all the sheeple out there protesting healthcare reform? People are soooo easily had by the powers that be, they will literally march in the bitter cold to further an agenda that will only hurt them. And what are the rest of us doing? Watching it.

Friday, December 18

Liz.......?


Researchers Say Connecticut is Second Unhappiest in Nation


Guess which state is the most unhappiest?

We need to get out of here. I knew things were a little better when we were living in Jersey.

Maine and VT made it in the happiest half. I love AZ (#5).

I'm freezing my arse off this morning and would move to Arizona tomorrow, except I couldn't take the summer heat. Well, maybe if I had to. Heck, with this mini ice age coming (I just knew all of this global warming due to CO2 emmisions & greenhouse gasses would be beneficial!!), there might not be much difference in temperatures around the country.





So, where are we gonna go my friend?

Thursday, December 17

Reality Check

A Rant, Preparatory to the Closing of the Year

"The inadequate and biased transmission of news, and the profitable dissemination of nonsense, barred the general public from any intelligent or concerted participation in politics, and made democracy impossible."

This little pearl of wisdom is from the historian-philosopher William Durant in his book The Age of Reason Begins (Simon and Schuster, 1961, p. 578). He's describing the burden faced by the newspaper-reading public ... in the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries.

That's about three hundred years ago, folks.

Proof that there is truly nothing new under the sun. The media will always skew things, and people must have the critical thinking skills to weed through the maze of stupidity and contradictions in order to arrive at an informed decision.

This was Thomas Jefferson's dream, an informed electorate.

But now we have Fox News, AM radio and stupidity-spewing websites like Drudge, New Republic and others. All are cleverly designed to stop people from thinking - how else can you see a summer filled with people who protest higher taxes ... on the rich? How else can you get otherwise sane people to believe in complete absurdities?

Sometimes I despair for my nation's future.

I recently saw a picture of the Apollo 11 landing site, taken by the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter. You can see the tracks Armstrong and Aldrin made in the lunar soil, and you realize with a swelling heart that a scant forty years ago we were giants.

Giants, I tell you.

Despite the wars we were fighting and the domestic troubles we faced, we had the vision to explore, to reach out and plant a footprint on our nearest neighbor in the Solar System. Although an American flag was planted there, we didn't do it solely for national pride. For that reason the plaque on Eagle's leg says "We came in peace for all mankind."

(I shall now speak in generalities. Anyone offended by this, well, mutato nomine, de te fabula narratur.)

We don't have that vision any longer. We don't have the will to forestall environmental catastrophe; we don't have the will to take care of our sick or our poor; a growing number of our citizens no longer have the capacity to think critically enough to look past the bright shiny things dangled before their eyes.

We have mistaken technology for science.

We have decided that our children can get along without education.

We have decided to leave our poor and sick behind.

We have decided to be ruled by Fear, rather than by Intellect, because thinking is too difficult.

That's all I have so far. I'll think of worse things to say before the New Year.

banks and TARP and repayment, oh my

How about the banks get charged interest on their TARP repayments.  Interest like the banks themselves charge you and me if we're late with a credit card payment.  Or if they do a pull on our credit reports and see that we are paying off balances on multiple cards.  I mean... well, it's not like these banks don't owe other banks, right?  Pot, meet kettle.
 
According to some balance sheet wordplay, the gov't has actually profited ($15 billion, if the linked article is to be believed - and this is due to dividends and interest) with the early repayments being made in haste in order to avoid limits on executive compensation.  So... why not ramp that up a bit?  If these guys can afford to reward mediocrity and bad business decisions handsomely, they obviously have the filthy lucre to afford it.  Come to think of it, if they're able to pay up this money to avoid gov't regulating, it begs the question did they need the freaking bailout to begin with?  Too obvious to answer, I know.
 
How about a flexible interest rate of 19.99% to 47.99% for TARP repayment, depending on the weather, depending on a bank's willingness to fund home loans at low fixed rates (eliminating ARM loans completely being one criterion), depending on a bank's willingness to put more of its 'toxic assets' (that's REO properties to you an' me) on the market priced to move and priced so that more people can afford them?  And how about with some super low-interest 'home improvement' loan options?  Many of those homes are trashed to hell and back, or in serious disrepair, and buying one of them is taking a humongoid chance in terms of serious repairs, spending time and money on un-fucking what a self-styled house-flipper did in haste, incorrectly, and on the cheap, etc. 
 
Additionally, if a bank is tattled on for abusing overdraft charges, for raising minimum balances and/or changing terms for free accounts, for changing account terms on their customers for no good reason other than to nickel and dime, their TARP repayment interest shoots up to the 47.99% until they knock it off.
 
Just thinking aloud here.
 
(I got a nice note from BofA yesterday, stating that they would no longer engage in the dirty filthy despicable practice of applying payments to lower interest debt before applying it to higher interest debt.  They also informed me that they won't be on such a hair-trigger with raising my APR if I have a late payment, but they still reserve their right to late fees.  How grand of them to do the right thing on the interest.  The only debt I have with them is my mortgage - after it passed through several lenders' hands, but I guess they were really hoping I'd do something like transfer a balance from another card, since they were so kind as to send me some 'convenience checks' the same day.
 
And then last night on the news, Citi was apparently sniveling about repayment and they're getting a tax-break?  For fuck's sake...)

Republican Obstruction AGAIN

Heard this on NPR yesterday and almost lost my mind while I was driving in the car.
Think Progress At approximately noon today, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) took to the Senate floor to introduce his single-payer amendment. The amendment is 767 pages long. In an attempt to delay and disrupt the Senate debate, Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) demanded that the Senate clerks read the entire bill.

Sanders demanded at least twice that the reading of his bill be dispensed with so that the Senate could proceed to a vote. But Coburn objected both times:

SANDERS: I would ask that the amendment be considered as read. …

PRESIDENT OF THE SENATE: Is there objection?

COBURN: There is objection.

SANDERS: …and may I ask me friend from Oklahoma why he is objecting?

COBURN: Regular order, Mr. President.

PRESIDENT: Regular order is the reading of the amendment.

I despise Sen Tom Coburn (R-Ok) (and Lieberman too). I have been going through health care battles with my son's insurance company and with mine for months. Right now we have no insurance whatsoever, we need meds and to see doctors. Can't afford it (do you believe how much a bottle of medicine costs these days? Are they kidding me?) .... and this shithead from fucking Oklahoma and the other shit from Connecticut are ruining things for the WHOLE country. I'm sorry, but it's not like either state is terribly populated and contribute so much tax revenue to the government coffers or that they represent a typical cross section of the rest of the US. How the hell dare they? I see that this form of government is not working out very well.

/rant

Tuesday, December 15

Festivities!

It's Time to Castrate Joe Lieberman

Quite literally, as well as figuratively.

Let's be honest here - the only reason the Democratic 'leadership' in the US Senate drops to their knees and licks Senator Joe Lieberman (I-can'tbelievehe'sstillhere)'s sweaty pinto bean-sized balls is that he's the Magic Number.

He makes 60 Senators who could conceivably ram any piece of legislation down the GOP's collective throat, and all Sen. Bitch - er, Mitch - McConnell (R-FrogWattles) will be able to do about is run crying to Joe Boehner for a hug.

It's the reason the 'leadership' kept him in his committee chairmanship, even though - despite - Lieberman's support for John "You Kids Get Off My Lawn!" McCain in the 2008 election.

So, what has the Connecticut Quisling gone and done this time?

Well, in the headlong rush to emasculate any whiff of meaningful health care reform in this country for at least the next twenty years, White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emmanuel applied pressure to Senator Harry Reid - probably by threatening to take away his teddy bear - to bend over at the waist, drop his trousers, and let Lieberman have his way with the Majority Leader from Nevada.

It was bad enough having to deal with the conservative wing of the Democratic Party (and yes, children, there is one). Now they have to deal with the Quisling.

So, what to do?

It is times like this that I could make a few suggestions to Reid, preceded by a Marlon Brando Godfather-esque bitch slap and the roar, "YOU CAN ACT LIKE A MAN!" I would suggest, at the start, castrating Lieberman figuratively by stripping him of his committee chairs and basically ostracizing him, then throwing all possible support to any contender he might have in the next election.

Then I'd waylay him in a dark corner of the Capitol Building, throw a bag over his head and drag him off to the basement of the White House - where Karl Rove used to keep his leather slave.

One night there ought to bring Lieberman around, or reduce him to what he should be - a gibbering eunuch.

Beatnik Christmas

Cue the bongos, please.

Tuesday, December 8

US Bishops dictate the language to be used in Nelson Amendement

The US Catholic Bishops act like most women in the US use abortion as a means of birth control. Furthermore no one was trying to get the government to fund abortions in the first place contrary to what certain congresscritters are saying. And what about separation of church and state? Why is the Catholic church tax exempt? Why are there so many evil white men making laws governing women's bodies? Why am I so filled with hatred for our legislators during the season of 'peace on earth good will to all'? In fact, I am furious at everything going on in Washington. Nice way to say thanks to the American taxpayers, shitheads in DC.

There's a great commentary by Carol Marin in the Chicago Sun Times.

Excerpt:
When bishops lobby legislators, they should be required to do what all tax-exempt 501(c)3 groups have to do. Create a parallel political organization and pay taxes on the contributions they receive. And fully disclose, like every other lobbying organization -- corporate or charitable -- what they take in and what they spend to advance positions they advocate.

As a woman and a taxpayer, I rebel against the notion that a group of men more obsessed with our wombs than other significant life-and-death issues -- war, poverty, pestilence -- are given favored tax treatment in order to reduce a woman's freedom of choice.

Nancy Keenan, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America, and Jon O'Brien, president of Catholics for Choice, argued on the Web site Politico that the bishops "distorted the facts about the health reform proposal by claiming that the proposed system would have used federal dollars to cover abortion care. They're wrong."

Wrong because the original bill "included a compromise that required all plans to separate public and private dollars in the new system."

In other words, women could access the public plan but abortion coverage would come from their private dollars.

Keenan and O'Brien said the bishops, in accepting vast federal funding for Catholic hospitals and charities, "never question their own ability to lawfully manage funds from separate sources to ensure that tax dollars don't finance religious practices. Yet they reject the idea that others could do the same. This is the very definition of hypocrisy."

Hypocrisy compounded by what the bishops are doing in Washington, D.C., when it comes to the issue of same-sex marriage, their other primary fixation.

There, the local archdiocese has threatened to shut down its extensive social service programs for the needy if the city goes ahead and legalizes same-sex marriage.

So much for the stated mission of protecting the vulnerable.

Go Barbara Boxer

From Think Progress:
Today, the Senate began debate on Sen. Ben Nelson’s (D-NE) amendment to prohibit federal funds from being used for abortions or for plans that include abortion services. Igor Volsky notes that Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) stepped up and drew a parallel to help the amendment’s male co-sponsors better understand its repercussions. Since Nelson’s measure forces women to purchase special abortion riders — which require women to plan for unplanned pregnancies — Boxer challenged “the men who have brought us this” to “single out a procedure that’s used by a man or a drug that is used by a man that involves his reproductive health care and say they have to get a special rider”:
  • BOXER: There’s nothing in this amendment that says if a man some days wants to buy Viagra, for example, that his pharmaceutical coverage cannot cover it, that he has to buy a rider. I wouldn’t support that. And they shouldn’t support going after a woman using her own private funds for her reproductive health care. Is it fair to say to a man you’re going to have to buy a rider to buy Viagra and this will be public information that could be accessed? No, I don’t support that. I support a man’s privacy, just as I support a woman’s privacy.
This blonde wonders exactly how many men use viagra strictly for the purpose of procreation? And furthermore... do the congressmen understand that if god wanted certain men to procreate, he wouldn't have made them impotent? I'm just asking....

Sunday, December 6

Flying- A growing problem


This is the image that has been making the news lately. It's clearly showing that this man is obstructing the flow of traffic in the cabin of the airliner.

Morbidly obese passengers on airplanes clearly need 2 (or even 3 seats). I'm not quite sure that they should be charged extra or not. I suppose you'd have to take it on a case by case basis and then you run into human rights issues- Is this a pleasure trip or an emergency? Is the person's size genetic or caused by medications that cause obesity or by simple gluttony? Who are we to judge? Well it seems that a lot of people do judge obese people harshly. Quite frankly, I'd be mortified to see this guy board a plane I was on. I would try not to judge him although I would hope that his trip was for an emergency and he didn't dare think that he could get away with paying for one seat and inconveniencing other passengers. (And I'm a former fat person.)

I know a lovely couple that are quite tall and quite fat- when they travel (and they like to travel) they buy 3 seats in the bulk head to accommodate themselves which I think is quite a good thing to do and very considerate. They book their flights way in advance to be sure that they will be accommodated. They are realists.

Let's face it, seating in coach is quite squishy even for regular sized Americans (and most regular sized Americans are larger than they used to be). When I was heavy, I barely fit in a seat, needed a seatbelt extension and couldn't put the arm rest down next to me or it would cut off my circulation. I'm tall and I couldn't even move my legs for the whole flight. The last time I flew, I was mortified as to who would be my seat mates. Boy was I lucky that it was a couple of very young kids. On the way home, I was lucky again that I had a whole row because the plane was underbooked. whew. (I didn't need a whole row, but it was nice to have 2 seats). Normally I wouldn't fly anywhere and didn't go anywhere unless I could drive. I would sometimes book first class because the seats were larger. Now that I am a "normal" size, I'd like to give flying a try again... but I am one of the Americans who used to be middle class, even bordering on upper middle class and is now bordering on being poor... so I can't afford to go anywhere. Figures.

How do you solve a growing (no pun intended) problem like this? Should enormous people have to give a medical reason for their obesity or an emergency reason for flying in order to avoid paying for 2 seats? Should the people at the gate allowed this guy to board the plane in the first place?

This brings up another issue near and dear to my heart... why insurance companies won't pay for gastric bypass surgeries. I asked my insurance company if they would pay for diabetic supplies or for a quadrupal bypass for me and they confirmed that those services are covered. Yet they said that they would NOT cover any services related to obesity. I explained that gastric bypass surgery cures diabetes in most cases and reduces the risk of heart disease and many other diseases associated with obesity. In fact, they would save money by paying for gastric bypass surgeries in the first place. They wouldn't hear of it. Luckily I could cash in my 401k and pay for my own surgery. I have fabulous blood pressure now, no chance of getting diabetes, my heart is great, my cholesterol is 146 and all vital signs are excellent. Before the surgery I was a walking time bomb and possibly a very expensive client for the insurance company in the future. In a mere 8 months, I was transformed... but again, I was lucky that I had the money to pay for it (even if I don't have a retirement fund). I'm also lucky that since I'm rather poor now, I don't eat very much (I can't) and I can walk for miles and miles and miles thus saving on gasoline.

Anyone out there care to comment? If you're obese, how do you deal with traveling?

Saturday, December 5

Luck of the Draw

Yesterday (Friday), the nabobs of FIFA gathered to draw lots and determine who will play who in the World Cup, to be held starting next June 11th in South Africa. Let's see where the chips fell, okay?

Group A: South Africa (host), Mexico, Uruguay, France
South Africa automatically qualified as the host side, and they do have a good chance in this group. However, Mexico is a powerhouse in the CONCACAF, and may make things difficult. I am watching to see if karma is lying in wait for France. Washing out of the first round would be sweet justice for Thierry Henry's handball against Ireland.

Group B: Argentina, Nigeria, South Korea, Greece
I watched Greece play a match or two in the last Cup, as well as in the UEFA Euro tournament. They're steady and even a bit boring. Argentina is flashy, so it'll be an interesting matchup.

Group C: England, USA, Algeria, Slovenia
Best chance we've had in years. Expect another six months of reminders that we beat England 1-0 the first time we met in the World Cup, back in 1950. An excellent chance for Team USA to advance to the second round.

Group D: Germany, Australia, Serbia, Ghana
Ouch. Not quite the Group of Death, but close enough. Germany has a good record in championship play, but Ghana is a strong side in Africa. Ought to be fun to watch (I recall watching Serbia play back in 2006, and watched the fans dancing around bonfires - in the stands).

Group E: Netherlands, Denmark, Japan, Cameroon
Netherlands is third-ranked in the FIFA standings, and has come in #2 in the Cup final. Expect good matches in this group.

Group F: Italy, Paraguay, New Zealand, Slovakia
I can only hope that Paraguay and Slovakia manage to keep the Azurri out of the second round. It's what the divers deserve, really.

Group G: Brazil, North Korea, Ivory Coast, Portugal
The Group of Death, plain and simple. Brazil's a powerhouse and a perennial contender, with Cote d'Ivoire being the strong second in the group. When these two meet, you can expect some good play. North Korea will be a bit creampuffy, and Portugal can be competitive.

Group H: Spain, Switzerland, Honduras, Chile
Spain will likely win this group, in my opinion, with Honduras hard on their heels. Honduras and Chile don't share a border, so we won't expect war to break out if either side washes out of the first round.

Team USA opens against England on June 12, 2010. It'll be fun!

Thursday, December 3

yes, the Slow Food and Localvore movements have truly failed the working poor (but we all knew that, right?)

Great piece in the SF Bay Guardian yesterday.  As much as I emphasize buying locally-grown produce (in my own case self-sufficiency has replaced some buying in general), I myself cannot afford to shop much at any of the local farmers' markets unless I go right before the market ends and buy up stuff that is slightly bruised or that the farmers want to be rid of so they don't have to haul it back.  And let's be frank, even if a market accepts WIC or EBT, there is only so much that can be purchased with a stack of $2 WIC vouchers.
 
There are some limited inroads being made in making locally-grown organic available to more people (read: even inner-city poor), but there is still this undeclared and unacknowledged class war as far as healthful food being accessible to everyone.  It isn't accessible, in a nutshell.  And, as much as the Slow Foodies like to talk about food justice, it is mostly just paying lip-service.  Which we already knew.  The insularity has always pissed me of, not to mention the willingness to turn the other way and ignore the 800 lb gorilla in the room which represents exploited farm/orchard labor, and many going hungy. 
 
Because it isn't merely about organic, or not.  Or the USDA's watered down organic standards, or not.  Food justice also encompasses the working conditions for the people who grow and harvest the food.  Anyway, enough of me gas-bagging on a topic that gets me worked up.
 
"Out of reach
How the sustainable local food movement neglects poor workers and eaters
 
On a sunny afternoon in Civic Center Plaza, a remarkable bounty covered a buffet table: coconut quinoa, organic mushroom tabouli, homemade vegan desserts, and an assortment of other yummy treats. The food and event were meant to raise awareness about public school lunches, although it was hard to imagine these dishes, brought by well-heeled food advocates, sitting under the fluorescent lights of a San Francisco public school cafeteria.

The spread was for the Slow Food USA Labor Day "eat-in," a public potluck meant to publicize the proposed reauthorization of the Child Nutrition Act, national legislation that regulates the food in public schools. The crowd was in a festive, light-hearted mood. There was a full program of speeches by sustainability experts and a plant-your-own-vegetable-seeds table set up in one corner of the plaza.

A bedraggled couple who appeared homeless made their way through the jovial crowd and started scooping up the food in a way that suggested it had been a long time since their last roasted local lamb shish kebob.


Their presence shouldn't have been a surprise; most events involving free trips down a food table are geared toward a different demographic in this park, which borders the Tenderloin.

In a flash, an event volunteer was on the case, nervous in an endearingly liberal manner. "Sir," she began. "This food is for the Child Nutrition Act." And then she paused, searching for what to say next. I imagined her thinking: "Sir, this food is to raise awareness about the availability of sustainable food to the lower classes, not to be eaten by them," or, "Sir, this good, healthy, local food is not for you."

But there was no good way to say what she meant to convey. She knew it, and delivered her final line hurriedly before walking away. "If you could just, well, just don't take like 25 things, okay?" Indifferent to the volunteer's unspoken reprimand, the couple continued to eat, ignoring the whispers and stares of the social crusaders around them, who all seemed to take issue with their participation in this carefully planned political action.

It was a telling scene from a movement that has yet to really confront its class issues. Though organic grocery stores and farmers markets have sprung up on San Francisco's street corners, it remains to be seen whether our current mania for sustainable, local food will positively affect the lower classes, be they farm workers or poor families.

Even iconic food writer Michael Pollan acknowledges the challenge the sustainability movement faces in widening its relevance for the poor, citing the high cost of local and organic food as just one of the issues that Slow Foodies and their allies must tackle before they can count the "good food" movement a success..."

Read the rest of the piece here.

I must admit -- I would not have a problem with this:

Movement under way in California to ban divorce

I've just spent the last week helping daughter with a debate paper she is trying to put together for a college writing class. The topic is gay marriage and she must debate against it (from a legal perspective). It was pretty hard for her because "I really don't see a problem with gay couples wanting to get married". So I listened to her rewrites over and over, and the other day I said to her that divorce should really be banned also. I really wouldn't have a problem with that. (assuming there were ways out in cases of abuse, etc. of course). Just put marriage under the auspices of religion (if you're catholic you can just get an annulment) and get the government out altogether.

Wednesday, December 2

Remember The Story of Stuff?

Well, Annie Leonard's just released The Story of Cap & Trade.  Faux news has been red-baiting her, calling her 'Karl Marx with a ponytail', which we all know is paranoid newspeak for 'holy shit, the facts are giving me acid-reflux and I think my brain is on fire...'.
 
The Story of Stuff Project site is here.  Check it out, share it about.
 
As for Faux News, maybe the network can be relocated to the plastic garbage patch in the Pacific.
 
 
 
 

I can't believe I fell asleep....

(hey - where's Shatner??)



When I woke up, I thought I was in the middle of a 'Star Trek Deep Space Nine' Episode



guess not.

According to Huffpo's Headline at the moment, it's a, another, um....A WAR REBORN

with NINE KEY POINTS (oh.... like a Feng Shui Bagua?)



Live Long and Prosper



"THIS WE'LL DEFEND"?

Tuesday, December 1

and this is big news?

Dubai: World lacks understanding of debt crisis

Say WHAT??????......... the fuck?

I have absolutely no fucking lack of understanding when it comes to debt. I'm in debt because I need to feed, clothe, and put a roof over my kids' heads -- oh, and educate them too. OH, and I finally just got out of car debt after 25+ years of driving around gas guzzlers -- YAY!!!

WHAT I DON'T FUCKING UNDERSTAND ARE PEOPLE WHO GO INTO DEBT BUILDING CASTLES IN THE SAND.......and then "request" a freeze on their debt because of - of - of I STILL DON'T KNOW FUCKING WHY -- I've never seen a more ridiculous story in my life


AP Dubai: World lacks understanding of debt crisis
By BARBARA SURK (AP) –
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — Dubai's ruler says the emirate's economy is "strong" and "solid" amid financial meltdown in the former Arab boomtown.
Sheik Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum told the Al Arabiya TV channel that the world did not understand Dubai's announcement on restructuring of the emirate's deeply indebted conglomerate Dubai World.
The remarks came as the Dubai debt crisis dragged down the main stock markets in the Emirates for a second day on Tuesday and also caused other markets in the Gulf to plummet.
Mohammed told the Dubai based channel that the crisis that erupted on the global markets in the aftermath of Dubai World's request to freeze its debt indicates a "lack of understanding of what is happening in Dubai."
Copyright © 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.



Is this really happening???

I love how the story broke over the Thanksgiving weekend.