Thursday, March 24, 2011

rainy days and thursdays...

when the rain comes
they run and hide their heads
they might as well be dead
when the rain comes
when the rain comes

--john, paul, george and ringo

it's a rainy day in washington state.

not the usual kind, but rather, the kind that soaks working people.

it seems the state's budget crisis is worse than previously advertised, and the usual list of hapless targets is again being set up to pay for the shortfall.

hand it over, state employees. you too, school kids. hey, you poor people--ante up.

new taxes, taxes on the wealthy, closing corporate loopholes? don't be ridiculous. we've got this bunch of saps we can throw overboard first.

state employee unions, see, are monoliths made of money, from which chunks can be chipped away endlessly. and oooh, look at the sculptures created in the process...

it's a teacher scratching her nails on a chalkboard!

no, it's a state trooper with his hands up like he's being robbed!

wait, now it's a librarian hanging a "closed" sign on the dewey decimal system!

isn't fine art great? every time you look at it, you can see something new and teeth-grindingly different!

but, you know, whatever. if we can't afford to pay state employees, we'll just have to find other things for them to do.

like, maybe, making torches and pitchforks.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

port, meet storm

the crisis in japan is still dire, but at least it's not deteriorating as quickly as it was a few days ago.

but what would you expect after an unprecedented magnitude 9.0 earthquake, a horrific tsunami, and an ensuing nuclear disaster?

you might reasonably expect the united states to learn from japan's tragic experience.

but, you know, ha.

california, the epicenter of instability (geology-wise and otherwise), is home to two nuclear plants in areas of "severe seismic risk."

there is significant concern about the safety of those facilities in the event of a "larger than expected" earthquake. probably for good reason:

"...the Diablo Canyon nuclear plant, which sits less than a mile from an offshore fault line, was not required to include earthquakes in its emergency response plan as a condition of being granted its license more than a quarter of a century ago. Though experts warned from the beginning that the plant would be vulnerable to an earthquake, asserting 25 years ago that it required an emergency plan as a condition of its license, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission fought against making such a provision mandatory as it allowed the facility to be built."

no earthquake plan. that's nice. isn't that nice? but mitch mcconnell (R-corporate whore) says we shouldn't get all worked up about nukes and earthquakes. "I don't think right after a major environmental catastrophe is a very good time to be making American domestic policy," he said. “My thought is we ought not to make American domestic policy based on an event that happened in Japan.”

excellent points. we should wait a couple weeks, until the story is out of the news and americans have forgotten all about the major environmental catastrophe. that's a much better time. and it happened in japan, after all! that's, like, another planet! it has nothing to do with anything here.

but enough earthquake-precipitated nuclear talk. let's ignore tsunamis for awhile, instead.

the 2011 budget proposed by the house gop cuts funding to NOAA, effectively leaving the u.s. coast vulnerable to approaching tsunamis. "I think we often over-react to emergencies, especially natural disasters, before we assess the limit of the damage, and particularly with the nuclear part of this," said rep. steve king (R-far-from-any-coast).

yes, of course. no need to get all in a tizzy over emergencies and disasters. instead, let's step back, take a deep breath, and undercut our ability to respond to them at all.

it almost makes you long for the days of gop fear-mongering during the bush administration, getting all frothy about threats to "the homeland" and national security. back then billions could disappear into the sand and deficits didn't matter, because the safety of americans was job #1.

now, apparently, the opposite is true. the deficit is the only thing that matters.

and in the face of disasters of every kind--from unemployment to foreclosures and earthquakes to oil spills--americans are on their own.

Monday, March 21, 2011

an apple a day cures teh gay

Apple under fire for 'gay conversion' app

"The 'gay cure' app was created by Exodus International, a religious organisation which believes in teaching 'freedom from homosexuality through prayer and practicing conversion therapy.'"

"The app is offered free on Apple's iTunes online shop and was given a '4+' rating by the company, meaning it is not considered to contain objectionable content. Apple was criticized earlier this year for approving an app that encouraged users to take a stand against gay marriage."

i don't know why everyone is getting so upset.

this is great news. i mean, if an itunes app can convert gays to straighthood, imagine what else might be possible.

for one, it should be equally possible to convert straight people to gayness. maybe even without their consent. wouldn't that be a hoot? imagine your favorite hate-monger and homophobe as a flamboyant, out-of-the-closet gay person.

then imagine throwing them to the wolves, in amongst their fellow haters, just for a little while. whoa, the manolo blahniks are on the other feet now, ain't they bubba? how's that feel?

while we're at it, how much dev time would be required to convert faux christians into real christians? whoo, would that be awkward for them, or what? i mean, to suddenly have to actually, you know, practice all that jesus stuff? for the government to spend all those trillions (trillions!) on peace and health and children instead of death and devastation? for wall streeters to have to stop stealing? for focus on the family folks to focus on actual families? crazy!

how about an energy policy app? one that would require a committment to sustainability in lieu of turning the planet into an irradiated tar pit.

a jobs app that would put people to work rebuilding this country instead of watching it fall down around us.

an education app that teaches people that being smart actually does make one elite...and that's a good thing.

a time travel app that shows you how your life is going turn out if you don't stop acting like an idiot all the time. this one could be bundled with the education app, and linked to the job app, with screen captures of the many happy alternatives available to those who embrace the possibilities.

when those apps become available, of course.

in the meantime, though, we'll apparently have to settle for the funny little gay cure app which does nothing but point out the need for many other apps that might actually be worth a damn, and might actually exist if so many idiots weren't wasting so much time on this kind of idiocity.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

utah! for multiple gunshot wounds, this is the place!

Utah! With its focus on family,
Utah! Helps each child to succeed.
People care how they live.
Each has so much to give.
This is the place!

Utah! Getting bigger and better.
Utah! Always leading the way.
New technology's here...
Growing faster each year.
This is the place!

-- from the utah state song

utah is a conservative place.

the majority of its residents don't approve of alcohol, or caffeine, or premarital canoodling.

they like their dogma rigid and their politicians far to the right (farther. no, farther. keep're still not there).

so it probably should surprise no one that utah is out there on the leading edge in the all-american celebration of guns.

did you know:

the utah state insect is the honey bee (busy little pollenizer, honey for my decaf tea...this is the bee!)

the state folk dance is the square dance (lots of awkward white people, moving in a trance...this is the dance!)

the state rock is coal (pointed at our climate, loaded bituminous glock...this is the rock!)

and now the great state of utah is the first in the nation to have its own official handgun (30,000 deaths a year, second amendment fun...this is the gun!)

60% of utahns identify themselves as mormons. 80% of the utah legislature is mormon. that's a lot of alleged jesus admirers. how do you suppose they reconcile his message of peace with their new state weapon?
Before approving the bill, the Utah State Senate added language to acknowledge that the Legislature does not condone acts of violence.

interesting technical notes:

the M1911 semiautomatic pistol is designed for use at close range. it fires a .45 caliber round capable of blowing large holes in soft tissue. available high-capacity magazines allow the user to fire up to 14 rounds in about 10 seconds. yay, stopping power!

the sponsor of utah's new symbol, rep. carl wimmer, (R-bloodlust), said the gun symbolizes "freedom and empowerment." does it really, carl? or is a gun more about weakness and fear and a small penis?

whoops! we digress.

and anyhoo, it's done. like the song says, utah is always leading the way, helping each child succeed. but you have to wonder, which of utah's most pious family-focused legislators asked: who would jesus shoot, and what kind of ordnance would he use?

Sunday, March 13, 2011

past tense

she was young and beautiful and buxom.

i had no trouble believing she was once a playboy centerfold.

that was the rumor, see, about my seventh grade teacher. i had no idea if it was true--there was no internet, no viral video, no google image search. there was only adolescent imagination.

and, you know, woof.

in today's digital, new media, 24/7 world, however, proof of the past is never more than a few clicks away. every indiscretion is catalogued for future reference. on the Web or in it? there's no escaping, denying, or justifying.

this is true whether you're a pitching prospect with a rape problem, an amusive gop president-wannabe, or a teacher who once starred in porn films.

of the three, whom do you suppose was flash-fried by the spotlight?


josh lueke, a minor league pitcher with major league potential, was charged with a couple disturbing crimes in 2008. a plea bargain and felony probation later, he was acquired via trade by the seattle mariners. despite the fact that the case was all over the internet, the mariners insisted they knew nothing of it.

newt gingrich famously cheated on two wives on his way to a third. he pressured one to sign divorce papers while she was in the hospital recovering from cancer surgery. these facts are important only because gingrich reportedly is on the cusp of a run for president.

then there's tera myers. sixteen years ago, a homeless mother of two, myers featured prominently in film productions of ill repute. she starred in some porn flicks. dissatisfied with the direction of her career, she joined the army, and eventually was honorably discharged. she went to school on the GI bill, and became a teacher. for awhile.

current events:

lueke is on his way to the seattle mariners. his invaluable ability to throw a ball fast apparently has spared him significant consequences, putting him in position for a big league payoff.

in a recent interview with the christian broadcast network, gingrich blamed in part "his passion for america" for "things that happened" in his life that "were not appropriate." despite being a toxic drip in america's bloodstream for many years, newt has become fabulously wealthy feeding on media exposure like a black hole sucks up light.

tera myers currently is out of a job. yes, what she did was totally legal, and sure she was homeless and trying to support herself and two children, but was porn! she should never be able to join the military, go to school, get a degree, and get a job doing something other than porn, ever. i mean, obviously.

the takeaway:

always in america, follow the money.

sometimes an athlete with the potential to sell tickets and help win games for a major sports franchise can commit ugly crimes and not do the time.

sometimes low-quality people become wealthy celebrity politicians, thriving on the low-quality goals of their benefactors.

and always, always...low-paid porn stars and low-paid teachers are equally likely to get screwed.

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

one ticket to paradise

the missus is going to hawaii.

without me.

hypothetically, if one of us is obliged to travel someplace fabulous on business, the other should be able to tag along without breaking the bank.

the hotel, after all, is paid for. as is one airfare.

business dinners dramatically reduce the cost of meals, so all that's left to cover is round-trip airfare for one.

well, that and the cost of leaving the children behind.

they're too young to stay home alone, and too high-maintenance to pawn off on neighbors. flying the grandparents in for a few days adds significantly to the bottom line. and we haven't yet mentioned the current cost of flights to hawaii, which is enough to make your ears bleed.

bla bla bla. i'm not going.

instead, i'm considering this great alternative, which is totally within the budget.

so, make it one ticket to paradise, please, and three tickets to tornado alley...

Saturday, March 05, 2011

give 'til it hurts

cut them to the bone. then keep on cutting.

it's nice, isn't it, that so many americans are sacrificing in these difficult times? what's not so nice is that the people doing the sacrificing are the ones who can afford it least.

here's a fun story that poses the not-rhetorical question, "have washington public employees given enough?"

the premise being, if you work for the state of washington you owe it to everyone to work for free. if you object, you're an overpaid union thug who's unfit to work for the state.

Since the recession hit, the Legislature has suspended cost-of-living increases for state workers. In addition, more than a third of state workers in the past year took unpaid days off. The number of furlough days varied by agency and job, but some workers have taken at least seven unpaid days since last year, with more coming.

(Gov.) Gregoire has proposed an additional 3 percent cut in pay through unpaid time off during the next two years...
teachers? you expect to be paid? isn't the privilege of teaching our children reward enough?

please note that the vast majority of state workers make between $30,000 and $60,000 a year. so by definition, they are not driving expensive cars, taking fabulous vacations, or living in posh neighborhoods.

rather, they are barely getting by. they live paycheck to paycheck. and they are one financial setback away from ruin.

but that instability is not enough for some.

State Sen. Joe Zarelli, R-Ridgefield, Clark County, argues even more needs to be done to reduce state worker costs, either by lowering wages and benefits, or cutting the size of the general government work force.

State Sen. Rodney Tom, D-Bellevue, agrees. "We can't have a world where public employees are the haves and the taxpayers are the have-nots," Tom said.
interestingly, tom's "haves and have-nots" phrase is identical to the language used by wisconsin governor scott walker during a dec. 7 press conference. walker is currently engaged in ambitious plan to break wisconsin's public employee unions, eviscerate its public schools, return women's health standards to the middle ages, and beat on baby animals with rusty-nail two-by-fours.

he's not a quality individual.

zarelli, it should be noted, introduced a strangely wisconsin-esque bill to gut collective bargaining for washington public employees. his bill was killed, eliciting howls of rage from hell.

like wooden dummies, walker, zarelli and toms are reciting the exact same lines--and it begs the question: who's yanking their strings/giving them their talking-orders? and how much have they been paid to be so pliable?

additional point of order: in what world does $30-60K make you one of the "haves"? and just for the the sake of discussion, aren't public employees taxpayers as well? if so, this would make them haves and have-nots simultaneously, creating a vacuum that nature abhors--almost as much as it hates legislators who hate government.

and really, isn't this where the corporatist, antigovernment rat-hole leads? "public employees cost too much. we should eliminate their pensions! we should bust their unions! we should privatize public services and give sweetheart contracts to our donor-cronies!"

thanks, corporatist antigovernment rats.

have you noticed? right-wingers no longer wrap themselves in christianity and family values. which is a good thing, strategically, because good luck selling any of that jesus stuff now.

in the revised gospel of right wing america, we disdain the poor and the sick and the children. sacrifices must be made. and the cutting will begin on the least among us.

* * * * *

update: the divide as observed by jon stewart...