Fear-mongering at its finest.

The TSA really doesn’t like that Apple and Google both have products they can’t just hack remotely. As in, they are trying desperately to make them stop it. Poor babies may actually have to get search warrants. Oh, and here’s a nice article on some of the NSA’s computing issues and an item on how this mess got started.

In Closing: our rising police state; bankers gone wild; be afraid!!!; don’t you have anything better to do?; and adorable kittens.

A year later, new stuff continues to trickle out

So here we are.

Edward Snowden has been in Russia long enough that his visa has been extended. You can actually buy t-shirts with his face on them. There are people who consider him a traitor and people who consider him a hero. He’s got a huge spread in the current issue of Wired. The list of things we know about the NSA and America’s electronic spy infrastructure thanks to Mr. Snowden just keeps getting longer! Just this week we learned that the NSA has cyberwarfare capabilities and is responsible for a country-wide internet blackout in Syria.

Yet, to paraphrase Yoda, There Is Another. Maybe more than just one other.

And since The Powers That Be can’t seem to stop the obvious violations of what most of us understand to be our rights under the 1st, 4th, and 5th Amendments, no wonder Millennials are not enthusiastic about politics.

How deep does the NSA Rabbit Hole go?

In Closing: Challenging civil forfeiture; yoga can be manly; cartel profits are going to pot; the economy; banks; I hate that he’s right; politics and you; the real consensus turns out to be further along the curve; math is a harsh reality; damned if you work, damned if you don’t; and the cat that rides the bus.

Yo, Brian Williams “Raps”


In Closing: Ok, we got us a whole bunch of NSA stuff, including some items courtesy of Comrade Misfit; college graduation season is a nice time for life lessons, such as “it’s a bad idea to hide the fact that you’ve dropped out, and a worse idea to hide that fact by calling in a bomb threat to graduation”; the American worker is still screwed, more so if they are of color, and that’s partly because certain people in government thought it was more important to bail out the banks and businesses; I don’t even know what to make of this (EDIT!!); read the labels, people; oops, maybe appealing to science was a bad idea; I clearly don’t link Dave Johnson enough; the real reason for the War on Teachers?; introducing Naia; and Godzilla is growing.

No Shortie Lives

Ok, just so you know, air quality in Vegas is absolutely awful today because of the massive fire on Mount Charleston. This also means that Vegas’s favorite get-out-of-the-heat spot is closed. So on with the Shorties.

A Few Words on Abortion: Don’t want one? Don’t have one. Don’t think others should have them? Support birth control or admit that what you’re really against is sluts having sex.

Insurance Companies Fixing Things: Heh, Kansas’s plan to let teachers carry guns has effectively been nixed by the insurance company. It makes me wonder if SWAT team tactics might not be fixed by enough insurance claims. Turns out Allstate and those guys have lots of lawyers on the payroll….

Always Low Wages: Walmart threatens to leave DC if they are forced to pay a living wage. Don’t let the door hit you on the way out.

Speaking of Wages and the Mood of the American People: liberty vs security, where’s the outrage, I’m not sure it’s capitalism to blame.

On Health Insurance Reform: “The politicians’ consensus is that health care reform shouldn’t alter or disrupt the way the majority of Americans get their insurance today…. The policy consensus, though, is that the status quo is actually the problem and that it deserves to be threatened, undermined and replaced as expeditiously as possible.” Further, it turns out that when real people are forced to hold their noses and select coverage, they choose the plan that costs the least every paycheck and still pray they don’t get sick because the coverage sucks. I concede that means I was wrong about where cash-pay clinics are headed; we’re gonna need more, not less.

How about Lowering the Danger, then?: Pentagon wants to cut danger pay.

On the Millenials: Matt Bors. Thank heaven we have a better name for them than “Generation Y”.

Miscellany: Banks, Choirs, Sinners, Poor Little Pageant QueenCats, Planes, and freakin hipsters.


A Few Words about Taxes and the IRS

Forbidden Fruit. Apple has been getting grilled for following the law in a manner that reduces their taxes. Frankly, most of us choose to do legal things to minimize our tax liability. Give a charitable donation? Buy a house with a mortgage? You could be guilty of following the law! I’m with the CEO of Google and Bill Gates on this one: Don’t like it? Change the law!

The Scandal That Wasn’t: So thanks to Karoli of Crooks and Liars for actually digging up some facts to go with our conspiracy theory witch hunt on the IRS allegedly investigating too many conservative groups. When roughly 80% of applicants are conservative groups, you should be shocked if roughly 80% of those investigated aren’t conservative groups! But hey, let’s not let reality get in the way of a good rant.

That’s it for now.

In Closing: a small example of manmade climate change; cats at sea; so that’s why; supply and demand; an interesting man; inequality; duh; they deserve better; dumb idea; about time; even handed reporting on immigration reform; family leavecrack babies; and I hardly consider it “freak” when something crashes into it.

America Knows Best

Sorry for the little hiatus. Finals are coming Real Soon Now and my writing has been monopolized by a paper on Henrietta Lacks and HeLa cells. Fascinating stuff. For a minimally sciencey version, check out this biography.

Depending what day it is, the world news front is likely to say something about Iran, North Korea, and/or Syria. Iran is developing nuclear technology, and probably weapons. North Korea is more open about their weapon development. The US is warning Russia that they had better not send Syria better missiles, particularly since Syria is accused of using chemical weapons.

Now make no mistake. I don’t think anybody really wants Iran or North Korea having nukes. I don’t think most people think a better armed Syria is a good thing. But here’s the thing: who gave us the right to enforce our opinion?

Who is the United States to tell another sovereign nation what weaponry it can or cannot have? Under what authority? What if some other country decided that the United States shouldn’t have nukes? Or aircraft carriers? Or [insert fancy piece of military technology here]?

I know a lot of people in the West don’t think much of Al Jazeera as a news source, but they are right to point out that the American bargaining position regarding Iran — and truly, all 3 nations — is a lot like trying to negotiate with Republicans: the only possible option is “do it our way or else.” Or, if you prefer to be more patronizing if not outright racist, “everything would run so much better if you brown people would do it our way like civilized people!”

Maybe, just maybe, international issues could be resolved more smoothly if we treated other sovereign nations like big boys and girls rather than little children who need our guidance.

In Closing: soda; I suspected as much; Jesus is coming, look busy; the Borgias are coming, look busy; um yeah, you can’t do that; student loan debt is officially bad for the economy; consumer spending is up and late mortgages are down (good news!); eVerify; Too Big To Fail must be Too Big To Exist; side effect; don’t forget that Federal law always trumps state law; and riiiiight, exactly where I want to go on Mother’s Day. Not.

5150 Shorties Way

Let’s clean up some tabs here…. It’s supposed to be cold in Vegas tonight. First person to say that disproves global warning gets smacked upside the head.

It’s called “math”:  Someone notices that rent can be more than a mortgage these days. Funny thing, your landlord is entitled to a profit over paying his own mortgage!

Go ahead, opt out. They dare you: The TSA. And be sure you have an ID with your age on it if you look young.

Drink Up: Red wine seemingly increases testosterone, and reduces the amount peed away.

Musique Concrete: How Dr. Who changed music.

That leaves 1-3 hours for eating, pooping, demanding attention, and running around like a fuzzy maniac: Cats spend the rest of the time sleeping and grooming.

Defused: The latest school shooting rampage was not stopped by “a good guy with a gun.” It was stopped by a teacher talking him into laying down the weapon. Hmm.

Free Gift!: You can now play CDs you bought from Amazon from the cloud in many cases. Even if you bought them 15 years ago. Surprise!

Dave Johnson: He tends to be a bit long winded, but he’s correct.

Too Big To Fail must be Too Big To Exist: Robert Reich.

Didn’t anybody else think the headline didn’t make sense?: It turns out there was a lot more to the story of the woman fired for being too attractive.

And now back to their usual silliness: The American Academy of Pediatrics thinks it would be wonderful to have a doctor in every school. Well sure it would, particularly since I’m sure they would want that doctor to be one of their members! I’m not sure where they think these doctors are going to come from, since there is a shortage which will only get worse as Baby Boomers retire. And I’m certainly not sure where they think school districts will come up with the money. After all, average (median?) pay for a pediatrician is $156,000, and that’s one of the low salary specialties. That kind of money could pay for at least 3 teachers. Which do you think will give the district the most bang for the buck in this age of budget cuts?

Last but not least: The best time to buy almost anything.

Oh Boo Hoo

Fortune Magazine tells us that “For banks, it’s getting harder and harder to earn a buck.” That’s because interest rates are so low. Or at least that’s what “conventional wisdom” would tell us. Please cry for the banks and demand higher interest rates!

Not so fast. If banks are having such a hard time making an “honest” buck, then how come “U.S. bank earnings rose 21% in the April-June quarter and lending to consumers increased, adding to evidence that the industry is strengthening four years after the financial crisis.” Turns out there’s actually a good reason the banks are doing so well:

That’s because most of them have increased the historic spread between the interest they charge for mortgages and the interest they have to pay for their own borrowing and, of course, the now minuscule rates they pay to folks with savings accounts. As a result, according to a recent news story in the New York Times, bankers are enjoying ballooning profits from their mortgage business.

If the banks were using the formula that was in effect up until a couple of years ago, the 3.55 percent rate for a 30-year mortgage would be close to 3.05 percent. Or, they could increase the rates they pay savers by about a half percent.

So yeah, the gap between “what they pay you” and “what we pay them” got bigger despite mortgage rates near record lows.

I hope Fortune Magazine isn’t hoping for a subscription fee from me anytime soon.

In Closing:  you might want to disable Java; trying to change the law without bothering to involve lawmakers; 14.8% of Americans are on food stamps; and Boehner admits that the easiest way to win is for poor people to stay home on election day.

Compare and Contrast

Alright. I’ve been trying real hard to stay away from talking about Paul Ryan. Every newsman, blogger, and their dog have been on about Paul Ryan for the last 36 hours. That being said, I would like to point something out.

One of the core things that Mr. Ryan wants to do is replace Medicare with a “voucher system” where seniors can pick out and pay for their own private medical insurance. That’s the number one thing CNN has to say about him! Of course anybody who actually understands math and insurance knows that a premium that would actually cover a typical Medicare patient’s medical expenses would be unaffordable for most seniors, even with a voucher (just like with private schools). Therefore, it would be most accurate to say that Mr. Ryan wants to abolish Medicare.

Now then, please consider this second item. The Head of the RNC says that it’s Obama that wants to destroy Medicare. Even the NBC interviewer had to step back and ask but what about Paul Ryan’s voucher plan.

Listen. It’s pretty simple. Obama is no saint, but he’ll do less damage to Medicare than the Rolls-Royce Romney/Ryan ticket.

In Closing: I hate to say it –and I’ll probably never say it again! — but Insane Clown Posse has a good point; by contrast, Chris Rock will probably have another good point in the future; how much of high food commodity prices are the drought and how much is banker speculation?; there’s got to be a way to legally troll this system; on White Terrorists; what? you mean housing and unemployment are related issues??; and your brain.

So, which one is it?

Was Mitt Romney lying to the SEC about leaving Bain Capital in 1999? Because that would be a felony.

Or was he lying under oath in 2002 about being there? Because that’s perjury.

Sorry, this is kind of important. But hey, I guess Wall Street types think you have to break a few laws.

In closing: Let the banks fail; made in America; concrete; borrowed words; and no such thing as too old.