Archive for July, 2012

Here’s An Interesting Blog by Jane Devin
July 29, 2012

Take a look at Jane Devin’s blog, especially this piece on the attitudes of the middle class toward the poor.

I don’t know who she is, but she writes good stuff.

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Every Goddamned Day…
July 29, 2012

Here’s the start of two stories from the AP site this morning:

DA: Mass. dad shoots 2 kids, 1 fatally, kills self
OXFORD, Mass. (AP) — A man who had recently separated from his wife shot his two children, killing his 7-year-old daughter, before committing suicide, prosecutors said….

3 shot dead in Pa.; girl taken, found safe in Ohio
QUINCY, Pa. (AP) — A Pennsylvania man confronting his estranged wife about custody arrangements for their daughter shot the woman to death and killed her boyfriend and his mother, then fled with the 4-year-old girl before the two were found about 250 miles away in Ohio, authorities said….

Yeah, let’s arm everybody like the Republicans and their whoremaster NRA want to do. That’ll make the country safe for women and children.

James Holmes doesn’t look so bad in light of the everyday slaughter in the United States. At least Holmes has the excuse of suffering a legitimate mental disease, if current reports are true.

But these stupid bastards who kill their wives and children? They’re inadequate assholes who haven’t got the guts to man up and face reality and deal with their problems like a man. Nope, they’ve got to have a gun to feel like they’re worth anything. They’ve got to kill something so they can feel they’re ‘a real man’. In fact, they’re pathetic and weak, the products of a culture of ignorance that worships celebrity, violence, and money while mouthing pieties about ‘family values’ and ‘God’.

That’s America, where guns substitute for brains, and bullets substitute for emotional intelligence.

Maybe the NRA needs a new motto. Instead of ‘Guns don’t kill people, people kill people’ they might want to consider ‘Guns don’t kill people, men with guns kill women and children’.

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Reprise: Stopping The Noise
July 28, 2012

[I wrote this last Fall, in 2011. I just stumbled on it while looking for something else. I’ve added a few annotations.]

The television is gone. Literally. I threw out the television with a lot of other stuff when I had the junkman come and load his truck. But before that I cut the cable. Not literally, but I told the cable company, "No more! Cease! Basta! Stop!" That got rid of most of the telecrap, and a month later even the dregs were gone. I’ve been without the stuff since September 20.

I think my blood pressure dropped a few points.

It has, though I don’t know if I can attribute it to being TVless.

I was addicted to the stream of images, yes. My brain wanted them, wanted that flow of motion and noise. And some sick part of my psyche reinforced the addiction because my social life barely exists and television characters had become my social life. Between those two forces I was letting myself wreck on the reefs of triviavision.

I still have no social life, but it concerns me less. There’s no flow of fictional characters to remind me that my real social life mostly consists of Facebook, this blog, Starbucks baristas, and an occasional real person.

But a long time ago I quit smoking, almost thirty years ago, having my last two cigarettes on the day I went to divorce court. And I was a heavy smoker. If I could do that, I could certainly quit television.

Turns out television wasn’t so tough. After a couple of days I barely missed it, and now I have no interest in reviving it in my home or watching it elsewhere.

Which still rather amazes me. But it’s true. I don’t want it. And anyway it would take up room I need for books.

I do miss a couple of things. English soccer. The occasional professional rugby game from the far corners of the world. And that’s about it. There’s nothing else to miss on that misbegotten box. Maybe The Daily Show with Jon Stewart.

I do still miss soccer and the occasional rugby match, but hey, not so much. Nor do I really miss Jon Stewart.

The news programs have continued their descent into trivia and hysteria, delivered by people who barely qualify to appear in a still photograph, much less to deliver the news on television. All that can be said of a news program that tells you there is something incredibly important happening, something you absolutely must know, something that affects your health or your welfare, and then says they’ll tell you at the end of the show, or in an upcoming segment which doesn’t come up until ‘later’, all that can be said of such news programs is that selling you their advertisers’ products is way more important than giving you that piece of information.

I get all the news I want from either NPR or the Web or borrowed newspapers, with none of the aggravation. Well, okay, NPR can be aggravating at times. A big improvement over TV news.

I won’t even go into the fraud that televised American professional sports commit every week. But just one little example, one serious peeve… The NFL broadcasts run three hours. Official game time is one hour. But actual play consumes about twelve minutes. Twelve minutes of the ball in play, twelve minutes out of three hours. Sorry, fans, that’s fraud. They’re telling you your time will buy you three hours of football, but they’re only giving you twelve minutes. That’s television. I gave up on the NFL some years ago, except for an occasional game, but I could barely stand watching because of the constant insult. The game that really turned me off had Cincinnati playing someone, and the game opened with five straight penalty calls from the horde of officials on the field. Game over!

I’ve taken to listening to baseball on the radio, and also the Patriots games, but mostly for the soporific value at night. It doesn’t take long for a Red Sox game to put me to sleep.

Later…

I wrote all that exactly one month ago, on September 30 [2011]. The only television I’ve seen since then was in a restaurant where it was impossible to sit anywhere without seeing a television running sports programming (NFL replays, if I recall correctly).

But here’s the interesting thing. I feel calmer, more collected, more connected to myself. I suspect my blood pressure is down because I’m not constantly aggravated by television programming.

And here’s something a little more interesting. I don’t really care what happens in Libya or Somalia or Thailand. I don’t really care that Rick Perry is an arrogant, egotistical, ignorant Texas loudmouth. I’m neither excited nor worried about the Occupy Wall Street movement.

It’s not that I’m not aware of the human element in all these dramas on the world stage. It’s not that I no longer appreciate human suffering or human triumph. But I am no longer assaulted by breathless reporters and concerned anchorpeople telling me by word and action that I should be concerned, that everything that is happening everywhere should demand my attention, should capture my emotions, [that I] should stay tuned in order to hear the latest developments in the next hour, developments which are exactly the same as in this hour, and whose subtext is ‘Watch our commercials!’ And of course the sub-subtext: ‘Isn’t my hair pretty!’

I see television now as an assault on emotions, an affront to intellect, a waste of airwaves. Its trivialization of everything down to the level of a child’s mind demeans the viewers. And what isn’t trivialized is generally dumbed down.

Apologists for television will say that it does some good things, that it is not all a Minowian wasteland. And that is true. Television covers live events pretty well. Freeway chases where cops race after felons on California highways for two hours or more, for example. Some battle scenes in various wars, as long as American television blurs out or simply refuses to show the devastating results of a child hit by bullets or shrapnel. They don’t want to upset the viewers, who might turn to another channel and watch those other commercials. So they lie. Here’s the war correspondent and his cameraman hunkering down behind a wall while bullets whiz around them. Wow! It’s as exciting as an NFL game and even less truthful. You don’t get real war on television. You get pretend war, you get prettified war that lets you go on cheering for your side because, after all, nobody really gets hurt. Not on American television.

Television almost never tells the truth. The truth hurts sales. Children turned to red paste and shattered bone by American arms just don’t sell McDonalds’ burgers or Chevrolet cars or Nike shoes. And anyway you can see all the gore you want at the movies or on the premium movie channels.

But yes, once in a while something worth watching shows up, but because it is surrounded by the rest of television, by triviavision, by pretendvision, by lievision, can you really trust that one good thing to be the real thing? And with outfits like Fox News imitating Pravda, can you trust any news channel?

So, my television is gone, and I’m doing fine without it. The noise in the air is gone and the tumult of noise in my head is gone. I’ve got reality settling in all around me now, and it’s a little banal and it’s pleasant and I think I’ll stick with it. And there’s no commercials to screw it up.

And there’s a couple of more real benefits of having tossed the tubes out of the house:

I don’t have to watch the crappy, commercial-laden, manipulative programming the networks use at the Olympics.

And as the year winds down to the November elections, I won’t have to watch a single political commercial. None. Not one. Ever. My blood pressure drops about ten points just on that realization alone.

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The Fallacies of James Holmes
July 23, 2012

Just in case you don’t recognize the name, James Holmes is the guy who shot up the movie theater in Colorado Friday. His act goes a way toward revealing a couple of American fallacies.

One of the results of his murderous spree  is the howling from the juvenile fantasists comprising the gun culture in the United States, particularly those like Russell Pearce, the state Senator in Arizona, who claim that a) it was the victims’ fault for not stopping Holmes, and b) if everybody were armed in society this sort of thing wouldn’t happen.

As for a) Russell Pearce would probably have crapped his pants if he’d been in the theater. He’s a loudmouthed, ignorant bigot who authored Arizona’s Latino Bigotry Act.

As for b) if everyone in that theater had been armed, including of course the little six-year-old who was killed, then James Holmes would not have had to shoot anybody. All he would have had to do was pop a couple of smoke bombs, fire a few shots into the ceiling, and walk away. Then all the armed jackasses could have committed a greater slaughter than Holmes did by himself. The upside is that there would then be fewer armed jackasses walking around.

Of course the NRA nutcases claim that gun owners are properly trained, take safety courses, and understand when it’s appropriate to use a gun, and so on and so forth ad nauseam. Which is pure bullshit. The only people ‘properly trained’ for high stress panic situations are a few elements of the military, and a few elements of big city police forces. A few hours of NRA bullshit won’t get you through an Aurora situation. More likely you’ll shoot yourself in the foot or you’ll kill innocent people.

Another aspect of the Holmes shootings is that it was frankly a waste of a psychopathic or diseased mind. Holmes planned his attack for months, if the current information circulating in the media is true. He took months to purchase his weapons, his explosives, his armor, and to plan the attack. He put a lot of thought into it, and apparently a lot of skill and planning. But why waste all that intellectual power on a theater full of people who didn’t matter outside their sphere of family and friends? With some more work and planning he could have done the world some good: he could have taken out some dangerous politicians in the Senate or House, or even in some state legislatures, some sellout Supreme Court justices, the Pope, or at least some archbishops, or some of those fundogelical bigot preachers, or at the very least some known animal or child abusers. But no, he had to waste all that effort on powerless people who were only out to have a good time at the movies. Hell, if you’re going to commit some serious killings, at least make it matter. But what can you expect from a crazy person? (Crazy in this instance defined by the act, since we don’t know if Holmes is in fact insane.)

And speaking of fallacy and crazy, how about all the religious nonsense surrounding this event? All those people out there whose piety and love of some god or other that the media is showcasing. Right now the ‘public’ is wallowing in religion, many thanking god or whoever that so many were spared from the ‘evil’. God is good, god is great, blah blah blah. Well where the fuck was god during the several months that his creature James Holmes was assembling his arsenal, buying his ammunition and explosives, buying his body armor, and making his plans for the murders? The only answer the religious zombies can come up with is ‘It’s part of god’s plan’ or something similarly vapid and mindless. Religious people are delusional or stupid or both, often both. But that’s all we hear and read now about the incident. All the religious hokey pokey from a citizenry that worships celebrity, prefers mind-numbing television to active mental pursuits, bows down to money in the belief that it confers special powers, and ignores the facts of reality. Some twenty percent of Americans believe the sun revolves around the earth. Over half believe a god created the world and that evolution is false. These morons put plenty of energy into protesting gay marriage and virtually zero energy into understanding and doing something about the global warming that is killing them.

But now we’ll be inundated with religious crap, with preachers going on about ‘evil’ and all the usual religishit about god’s plans as they try to understand why Holmes did what he did. All of that is utter nonsense. Holmes cracked, whether from some emotional pressure or from a psychotic break or physical brain disease. There’s no ‘evil’. There’s just a kid living in a culture that glorifies violence, that worships fame and celebrity, that wallows in ignorance and superstition and is proud of it, that thinks money is the highest value, and that rich and powerful people are demigods and should be given deference. There’s no ‘evil’ here. There’s simply the inevitable effect of a purulent society on unstable minds.

And what are the two most common solutions being passed around society today to deal with the problems of society that lead to the Aurora or to Columbine or the other mass killings?

More guns.

More religion.

Holmes is the logical result of a sick society.

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Why Your Life Sucks As Your Country Goes Down The Tubes
July 6, 2012

Wanna see the truth about your politicians? One of the truths anyway. The truth about why you have no voice, why they don’t hear your voice, why your life/job/finances/economy pretty much sucks. Take a look at the Upworthy site.

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Kindergarten Creates Criminals, Says New Hampshire Republican
July 4, 2012

No, really, it’s true. The story’s in the Huffington Post. Read the interview.  Bob Kingsbury is a representative in the New Hampshire legislature.

But here’s the interesting part:

Kingsbury’s comments, which came during a meeting of the county’s state lawmakers, have caused a stir, leading both Democratic gubernatorial candidates to say they believe in kindergarten. The Republican candidate for governor, Ovide Lamontagne, declined to address Kingsbury’s comments during a radio interview last week.

No one called this jackass out on his ludicrous comments. Candidates for governor ‘believe in kindergarten’. That’s the best they can come up with. Not ‘Kingsbury’s a loon’. Not ‘Children in those towns drink milk. Therefore milk turns them into criminals.’ Not ‘Kingsbury needs to be removed from office and replaced with someone whose brain still works’.

This assumption that people who make these incredibly stupid remarks shouldn’t be criticized is one of the things that underlies the resurgence of the right wing lunatic fringe that has infested and rotted American politics.

Kingsbury, 86, did acknowledge that other factors can contribute to higher rates of crime and kindergarten classes are just one of them. But he mentioned having read an article showing the impact of moving young children out of London during World War I. "In World War I, London was being bombed by the Germans and they sent the children out of the city," Kingsbury said. "That was a disaster for England."

Right. Better the children should have stayed in London and been blown to bits or exposed to the sight of people being blown to bits. Or spent the whole time cowering in fear of being blown to bits. Of course that would have been better for their development.

"Children go to kindergarten at the point of a gun," Kingsbury said. "Children go to day care and it’s not the same; there is no point of a gun." Kingsbury said he believes that teachers are partially to blame but the rise in crime is not the fault of teachers. Instead he blamed attorneys and the courts for what he called a lack of discipline and rules in schools and for prohibiting teachers from disciplining students as in previous decades.

Awww, all those poor little kids being marched off to school by gun-toting educators. Poor babies.

So state law mandating that children go to school is apparently evil. Perhaps Kingsbury is just pissed because the little tots aren’t available to work in factories?

The old loon may have a point in that discipline is weaker in schools than in the past, but that hardly points to kindergarten as being a breeding ground for rapists and hit men. Or hit tots. But to proclaim that kindergarten causes crime, that’s more than a reach – that’s probably about to become Tea Party dogma.

All this guy has is a possible correlation, not a proven cause and effect. He’s given no consideration to other possible causes, and in fact can’t even state that there is any legitimate cause for the crime rates. He hasn’t asked if crime rate reporting is consistent from county to county, from town to town. He hasn’t asked qualified statisticians to look at the data. He hasn’t examined any other data. He didn’t look for other research. All he’s done is collect some numbers and proclaimed that kindergarten creates criminals. His conclusion is ridiculous on its face and remains ridiculous the more you think about it.

And yet he remains a member of the New Hampshire legislature, giving the Southern loon legislators of places like Tennessee, Alabama, and Texas a run for their money.

Kingsbury represents the kind of shallow, illogical, thoughtless, careless blithering that passes for thinking among todays Republican Tea Party. They don’t believe in science or logic or evidence. They believe what they want to believe, or what they are told to believe by loudmouth ignoramuses like Limbaugh and Hannity and Ingraham et al.

That’s criminal.

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The Crazies Who Want To Rule Us And Why They’re Not Qualified
July 3, 2012

Here’s the transcript of an interview by conservative radio jock Laura Ingraham. Your assignment, should you choose to accept it, is to write an essay explaining why Ingraham and the other Conservacrazies, including those already in government, are not fit to be involved in governance at any level, including washing toilets in the local State House. This post will self-destruct in five seconds.

LI: Welcome to our show.

RT: Thank you for inviting me.

LI: You are a minister so I take it you follow the teachings of Jesus.

RT: Yes, that’s true.

LI: If Jesus were here today do you think he would counsel a woman to have an abortion?

RT: Jesus always showed compassion to women. He acted with respect even to the ones who were accused of sexual impropriety. I’m sure Jesus would do the same thing today, and that’s my model.

LI: [Angrily] You didn’t answer my question. So you think Jesus would applaud the murder of millions of innocent children, in the first, second, and third trimester?

RT: We know that abortion existed during the time Jesus was on earth, and for thousands of years before that. If he were opposed to abortion he would have said something about it.

LI: [More angrily] Where do you get the idea that Jesus knew about abortion?

RT: We know that abortion has existed for thousands of years, so I’m confident that Jesus would have been aware. There were many plants used as medicinal abortifacients in that part of the world. And yet his concern was for the way women were being treated.

LI: [Nearly screaming] What part of “Thou shalt not kill” don’t you understand?

RT: The Bible actually says “Thou shalt not murder.” I’m sure you would agree that every ending of a life is not murder.

LI: [Frustrated] Well you have your 40 prayers. I’ll pray for you and this interview is over!

LI: [Hangs up.]

The full story at Religion Dispatches. The comments there are interesting too.

This is a sample of why the Founders insisted on separating religion from the state. And it is a sample of why none of the current crop of Republicans should be allowed anywhere near the White House.

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Texas Republicans Choose To Make Texas Children Stupid
July 1, 2012

 

From Common Dreams:

Here is the actual language from a position statement in the 2012 Texas Republican Party Platform:

Knowledge-Based Education – We oppose the teaching of Higher Order Thinking Skills (HOTS) (values clarification), critical thinking skills and similar programs that are simply a relabeling of Outcome-Based Education (OBE) (mastery learning) which focus on behavior modification and have the purpose of challenging the student’s fixed beliefs and undermining parental authority.

The heart of Republicanism:

1) Fear intelligence

2) Fear intelligent people

3) Promote and praise stupidity

4) Keep people ignorant and uninformed

5) Eschew thinking and reason

6) Cripple schools and education

7) Keep our boots on the necks of the peons by denying them a decent education – that would be the niggers, the spics, the slants, the gooks, the redskins, and all the mud races

8) Get that damned nigger out of our White House

That about sums it up. Or as another famous Southerner said, “Stupid is as stupid does.”

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