Happy NSAmas!

The Feds took advantage of the fact that nobody was expecting anything newsworthy to happen on Christmas Eve to quietly release a treasure trove of documents (links to source material here!) showing that they have been very very bad stewards of our private information.

And all of you who bought the Elf on the Shelf? You’re teaching your kids to submit to constant surveillance. Hope you’re proud.

In Closing: A few items on the police; air travel; on screwing the nonrich; because clearly the race of fictional characters is newsworthy; what if the terror threats were in fact a brilliant publicity stunt to puff up what is by all accounts a not-very-good comedy?; and wolves are better at math than dogs.

Shorties Untold

Appetizers: Let’s start with the NSA poppers, and perhaps a beer flight to wash it down?

Soup or salad: The soup du jour is puree of police violence and race issues with a hint of civil forfeiture, topped with prison visit data. Perhaps the lady would prefer our Cosmo-inspired salad with cranberry vinaigrette?

The main course: Make sure it has enough protein! It’s good for you.

A few quick words about your server: Don’t forget that he or she works for a living.

Can I interest you in dessert?: My local news is excited about a study that says we are relatively safe city compared to, say, any major city in Oklahoma. Among the data collected was crime (both violent and property), cops, and traffic fatalities per capita — seems legit. Also included was the number of sex offenders per capita. A quick look at their data table without breaking out the stats tools would tend to make me think that the number of sex offenders has little to do with much of any other data they collected. It’s as if they put it in because they thought it would be important, or thought it made their data look more complete. What makes several California cities, Scottsdale, Augusta, Mesquite, and Chicago more safe than Tulsa despite having at least ten times the number of sex offenders per capita? Could it be that the risk sex offenders will re-offend is overrated?

Oh, need a doggie bag?: Here you go, tips for dealing with strange dogs.

“Don’t Worry Little Lady, I Won’t Let the Democrats Kill Your Cat!”

A couple years ago, I mentioned the Sea Stone wait I mean Hotel Baja California Restaurant. Guess what? It closed.

The rather expensive building sat vacant for a while before displaying a new banner: “Coming Soon! Boca Park Animal Hospital.” Another expensive build ensued. I found this rather curious. Repurposing serially failed restaurant space with a veterinary clinic? Who had deep enough pockets for this to be a good idea? The other day we found out.

His name is John Ensign.

Remember Nevada Senator John Ensign? He’s the one that was having an affair with his administrative aide’s wife and then had to cover it up by seeing to his future employment? The one whose replies to emails told me not to worry because he wouldn’t vote with the Democrats (scroll down)? Well, before he went to the Senate, he was a veterinarian who owned the West Flamingo Animal Hospital. It’s the kind of place that will try to talk you into hundreds of dollars of tests to determine that the reason your elderly cat has lost a quarter of her body weight in the last 2 months is that she’s elderly (in the interest of disclosure, they did send me a card upon that cat’s passing). He was forced to sell, but I understand from multiple sources that they were happy to have him back after he was forced to resign his Senate seat.

Now, Sen. Dr. Ensign is not a man without money. His step/adoptive father is a gaming executive, and Dr. Ensign has done well with his own ventures — to say nothing of his Congressional pension. So it’s no problem for him to put lots of money into a swank new animal hospital “with luxury suites for pets and treadmills for hefty canines,” and a “four or five star resort” feel.

He sounds very happy about this new business, and I do wish him well. Nevertheless, I think I’ll stick with the nice vet lady on the corner who squealed with joy when she saw my kittens.

In Closing: Your latest dose of NSA, government spying, Ed Snowden, and encryption links (make no mistake, this means anything sent over the internet for any reason must be assumed to be insecure); a nice healthy set of links about the Syria situation; unemployment is only going down because the labor participation rate is going down (that is, fewer people working) and by the way most of the new jobs are low wage; I love this minifigure; how exactly is it cost effective to ship chicken to China for processing and then ship it back again??; it pays to shop around; the gluten free fad; unpaid internship; and one man’s forest.

Welcome COM 101-3050!

Image by Peter Steiner, courtesy of Wikipedia.

How to get started blogging.

Notice that my online name reflects me rather than my content.

To the right, you will see an ad. Below that is a list of websites I like, grouped by category. Many of these have links back to me. At the end of this post is a set of “keywords” that search engines can use to find content like this.

This site uses WordPress software on a Hostmonster server.

Never put anything on the internet that you wouldn’t want to read out loud to your mother, your boss, and a judge!

Little Dogs with Big Boobs

Yes, Of course I know they mean “Teacup“. It’s still funny, particularly in Pink.

Follow up on Yesterday: Ron Paul ended up with 22 of Nevada’s 28 delegates, even though he was only “supposed to” get 8; no word on whether the RNC will have a hissy fit “challenge” the results.

In Closing: It’s International No Diet Day, and I won’t be celebrating it yet again; and the reality of illegal immigration.

Paint It Black

Since most of your favorite sites may be down tomorrow, here’s some things to keep you busy.

Why I Won’t Hire You.

Be Grateful to Your Wall Street Overlords.

Cop or Soldier? Take the quiz. I didn’t do very well.

35 Tips in One Infographic.

The Truth About Math.

About Paula Deen.

Dog Shames Shelter into Accepting Dogs.

And Modern Neanderthals Victorians Puritans Witch-Burning Hypocrites Slut-Shaming.

News from the Future!!

Just in case you had any doubt that a) the debt “crisis” is phony as can be and that b) a deal would be reached at the last minute, Reuters is already reporting on tomorrow’s events! Here’s a quote, emphasis mine:

President Barack Obama announced on Monday that Democrats and Republicans leaders have reached an agreement to reduce the U.S. deficit and avoid default.

For the Calendar-challenged, it’s still Sunday. As in Sunday, Sunday, Sunday! Monster Trucks, Trucks, Trucks!

The one thing I can tell you about this deal that apparently will have been announced on Monday in some version of our current timeline is that it will screw normal everyday people. It’s almost not worth “voting the bums out” because there will just be a new, less experienced group of bums.

Edit: Yes, I am aware that it was an error by Reuters, corrected within an hour of my post. That doesn’t mean it wasn’t amusing, or change the fact that the debt deal will still be something less than sunshine and roses for most people.

In Closing: long term unemployment; maybe Apple can buy some bonds?; more plots for CSI if they would stop with the serial killer shark tank extravaganzas; taxes; Pell Grants; it’s the economy, stupid; and glow-in-the-dark dogs.

Mulholland Shorties

Was I Wrong About Rahm?: He’s not even sworn in yet, and he’s announced that something he wants to do is enlarge a good old-fashioned public works project! Granted, it’s just bike lanes, but it will put people to work and help other people get around when it’s done.

Food Insecurity is just a fancy word for Going Hungry: Here’s a viewpoint from somebody who once had to endure it. It turns out there are a lot of issues in play.

So You Want to be a Revolutionary: This man wrote a book about non-violent revolution. There’s a link to the PDF, which is credited with change around the world.

Income Inequality: When people in other nations notice it, it’s bad. If that has too many words, this one has lots of pretty pictures. Here’s more.

Release the Hounds: An Indiana Deputy Attorney General suggested using live ammunition on protesters in Wisconsin. Thankfully, he didn’t have the authority to order such a thing. But sanity did prevail: he is now unemployed on the grounds that a man in his position must demonstrate civility.

Speaking of Shafting the People who Teach Your Kids: Providence just sent lay-off notices to each and every teacher. They will decide later who actually gets the axe. Way to promote morale! And just a reminder, the average teacher in Wisconsin makes less than the Wisconsin median income.

Your Insurance Company Believes in Global Climate Change: Because 2010 was one of the worst years for climate disasters ever! That would include things like storms. Oh, and I sure hope those of you in San Francisco enjoy the expected snow.

Too Big to Fail is Too Big to Exist: Seriously, even people from the Fed say so.

Making the Situation Worse: Banks are moving branches from poor neighborhoods to wealthy ones — despite laws requiring them to serve the entire community. In this vacuum, payday lenders and check cashing businesses spring up out of need. And did you know that one in nine banks is in danger of collapse?

Some People Have Never Heard of the First Amendment: Some people think you can outlaw “shariah.”

Who Knew: It turns out Americans like having clean air and water.

Priceless: It turns out you can download sheet music of the classics for free. Mozart’s copyright rights are long since expired.

Truth in Comics: Drew and Bors.

Can we Stop Calling it the Party of Lincoln?: It turns out President Lincoln would disagree with almost everything the current Republican party stands for.

They Really Would Prefer All Women were Pregnant: No word on whether they think we should be allowed to wear shoes.

Plastic Tubes and Pots and Pans, Bits and Pieces: Kids need to do more science.

Batshit Crazy: Qaddafi.

The Only Evidence that I am “Moderate”: I’m clearly somewhere between these two crazy extremes. Honestly, I think of myself as left of center. You know I think that the banks are the root cause of much of our current economic woes, but it would be childish to assert that “Wall Street causes all bad things.”

Placebo: Dogs just want to please their masters. That’s why drug sniffing dogs only have an accuracy rate of 44%. That rate drops to 27% when the person in question is Hispanic.

Lily the Pink: Or, Who Knew Moldovans Drank So Much?

Advice for Democrats: Stop using the Republican’s terminology! I want to scream every time i hear one of you talk about the “death tax” or “tax reform” or “Obamacare” or “Social Security reform.” For pity sake, all these things have names that don’t admit that their way of looking at it is correct!

What Happens When This One Pops?: College textbook price bubble.

New Years Health Resolutions?

Alright, I do know that it’s not exactly the 1st. But by now, some of you who had health, weight, or fitness resolutions for the New Year are starting to wonder if it’s really worth the effort. For you, I present these items.

Maybe your resolution was just to “eat healthier.” Well, one of the few things just about every health and nutrition expert can agree on is that fruits and vegetables are healthy — and most of us eat too few of them. And by “most of us,” I mean everybody from vegans (who often eat lots of grains) to paleo eaters (who are likely to eat handfuls of nuts and lots of meat). If you were unimpressed by the thought that eating more of them could make you “prettier,” perhaps you would like to know that it is also linked to a lower risk of dying from ischemic heart disease.

I’ve been an advocate of weight bearing exercise for years, and I like this article from BlogHer. I admit, I hate the picture. I know it was selected to be all non-threatening and get ladies used to the idea that they can lift without looking like, oh, I dunno, Gladys.* But as the article says, emphasis mine:

I lost inches everywhere – my thighs went down an inch each, my waist an inch and a half – and I lost 7% body fat. The jeans I am wearing today are a full two sizes smaller than the ones I was wearing 2 months ago. And I’m pretty sure I don’t look like any of those muscle-bound gals in the bodybuilding competitions. At least, no one has said the word “bulky” in my presence. This combination of heavy lifting and high-intensity intervals is the closest thing to a fitness miracle I’ve ever found.

If you aren’t ready to buy weights, there’s always body weight exercises like push-ups and squats. In fact, there are many regimens designed for use without any equipment more complicated than a chair.

Maybe instead of lifting weight, you want to lose weight. There’s this L.A. Times item on whether we can blame the obesity epidemic on excessive carbohydrate consumption. Nobody could blame you for wanting to lose weight; after all obesity is blamed for 16,000 extra deaths annually and $7000 in lost productivity and medical costs. Want to be horrified? Check out this infographic from Men’s Fitness:

Via: Medicalcoding.org

Seriously, don’t give up on the New Years Resolution right now.

In closing: pre-existing conditions; a horrifying read; even more amusing given the source; bubble; science, or future made for TV movie; damn straight; overwhelming support for a handful of sensible “gun control” laws (including enforcing the ones on the books); they laughed at me when I suggested China could foreclose; banks can’t even follow the law when dealing with one another; I’ve known people who weren’t this bright; and shrimp farming.

*Make no mistake. This woman worked very, very hard for hours every day to get this look. I can’t say I know whether she uses any hormones or not. She is to be admired for her dedication. However, most women I know don’t want to look quite so muscular. And trust me, even working at my level means just forget woven shirts.