Double Down

The Freakin NSA

The Executive Director of Google says that the NSA is going to break trust in the internet, and thereby break the very internet itself. I don’t think the government cares. The NSA will do whatever it likes, thankyouverymuch. Further, it will do what it likes in whatever country it chooses! Ed Snowden still believes that the whole thing will be found unconstitutional by the Supreme Court. Only problem with that is that by his own admission, none of the felonies uncovered have been prosecuted. A case has to get to the Supremes before it can be heard there. Chalk it up to terror-phobia.

The Freakin Economy

This is why I like Elizabeth Warren: she knows what she’s talking about and she’s not afraid to say it loudly. In this case, she’s willing to say the system is rigged against Joe and Jane Average, in favor Wall Street — a group of institutions almost as untouchable as the freakin NSA. Gee, maybe that’s why Americans are flat-out broke. And for African-American or Hispanic-American families, median assets are worth less than a decent used car. By the way, notice that infographic doesn’t say net assets, just assets. Oversight, or does that not reflect debt owed on assets?

In Closing:  a couple of TSA items; Can we please have more cops like this guy and fewer cops that see the public as a bunch of incipient criminals, please?; “shut the whole thing down“; fight to the death and reap the profits thereof; please be sure to take this quick ebola quiz courtesy of Southern Beale — you’re much more likely to encounter Enterovirus D68; two items on diabetes; and I didn’t get the memo either.


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.

Point, Counter-Point

Remember when we were told that only a good guy with a gun could stop a bad guy with a gun?

Last week, a good guy with a grain of common sense but no gun stopped a bad guy with a gun.

Yesterday, a good guy with a concealed carry license was killed by two cop-killing bad guys with guns. Instead of saving the day, he lost his life. Unfortunately this was local news for me. Oh and it’s off topic, but by the way? If you are ever trying to describe a northern section of Las Vegas, do not simply call it North Las Vegas. That’s someplace else.

Now that we’ve debunked that, what’s the real argument for carrying guns everywhere you go?

In Closing: Sure, we can serve up some more fun and interesting NSA, spying, and Snowden, and related links for you; can your smart TV be hacked?; a big leap for genetic engineering; another missive from the Duhpartment of Research; times have changed (or at least prices have); question everything; hope and change; and can anybody explain how these numbers are cost effective?

Honeysuckle in Bloom



In Closing: let the mental health circular firing squad of mostly half-baked ideas begin (but too many people my age and better remember these asshats for any real reform that involves hospitalizing more people); A few stray NSA and Snowden items for you; slipping away; real median household income; “choose between Satan and Lucifer”; yeah, maybe your doctor knows more than Wikipedia; the crushing weight of sex offender registries may force California to consider sensible changes; a startling video; an amusing video.

I’m not actually an optimist, but I play one on the Internet

The problem with the unexpected is that, well, it’s unexpected.

A decade ago, some guy was running for Senate in Illinois as a Democrat. I’m not sure anybody thought he had a chance — after all, he’d already lost in a bid for a seat in the House — until the unexpected happened. In this case, details about the divorce of the front running Republican from his very pretty actress wife happened to be disclosed by the courts to the Chicago Tribune. And the details regarding his sex life were absolutely devastating.

The end result of this *ahem* unfortunate turn of events is that the Republican candidate was replaced by someone deemed “more electable,” and the underdog Democrat went on to win a seat in the Senate. Just a few years later, that man went on to become President of the United States.

So, when Serious People say that a Democrat’s only shot at winning is “a Republican screwup“, remember that stranger things have happened.

A quick break: To bring you a metric ton of NSA and NSAreform” and Ed Snowden and NSA related items.

And, In Closing: on the Class of 2014; someone noticed; given up; most popular Google searches by state; and ironic photos.

Double Feature

I don’t normally talk about the so-called “rape culture”.

However, if what I am reading about what happens on our college campuses is even halfway true, we should all be outraged. All students — regardless of their gender — have a right to attend school without fear of assault, sexual or otherwise. The idea that some colleges want to cover up these assaults rather than make sure that criminals are prosecuted is absolutely outrageous. It is a travesty that some students feel that the only thing they can do is take matters into their own hands.

Of course, not all rapes happen on campus. It is a sad fact that all too many women have to deal with these issues, and sometimes little is actually done to help them.

More on the freaking NSA.

Glenn Greenwald has been been making the interview circuit, both bringing attention to how little has changed when it comes to the NSA and hyping his new book on the topic. Let’s not forget that he wouldn’t have the story without this guy. In the meantime, remember how we were told that it would be harder to catch terrorists with this information out there? That might not be quite true.

In Closing: on Net Neutrality; what a 10′ sea level rise means to the United States; on nutrition information; Oktoberfest was originally a wedding festival; and you are a great leader.

It’s all in the Execution

Some things never change, I suppose. We’re still trying to find a “humane” way to kill another human being, and not doing so well.

There are really two valid arguments against the death penalty that most sensible people should agree have merit: first, it’s more expensive than life in prison (stick that in your conservative pipe and smoke it); second, mistakes happen. The spectre of racism is just icing on the unjust cake.

In Closing: alternate headlines; science fact; cause of death; creepy; the freakin NSA; Joe and Jane Average are getting the shaft, and some want to make it worse; and transitions.

Talking out both sides of their mouths.

The White House says they have a plan to end NSA collection of data, by which they mean they are going to make phone companies keep the data and see to it that the courts issue subpoenas when anybody with a badge asks have overview. Snowden says well hey, that’s better than nothing!

And of course, the new proposal only covers American’s phone records, and doesn’t even address the internet, so the rest of the world had better be careful what they say (or follow Mr. Carter’s lead and use good old fashioned snail mail).

Meanwhile, most of the Congress-critters critical of the NSA are quietly being removed from places where they might cause trouble.

Yeah, that sounds like tossing some glitter on “business as usual” and calling it “new and improved” to me.

In Closing: minimum wage; tuberculosis and diabetes.

Comics and Fun Stuff

Let’s start with the CDC: “If you are generally well equipped to deal with a zombie apocalypse you will be prepared for a hurricane, pandemic, earthquake, or terrorist attack.”

A History Lesson or two.

Is Sovereignty right for you?

Enjoy Juanita’s potpourri.

Oh yeah, and you gotta get your Snowden, Snowden, Snowden, yet more Snowden, privacy, and NSA links someplace! Have a bonus NSA comic.

Just starting to come up for air. Hopefully back to more normal posting next week.

The Last Will and Shorties of Rosalind Leigh

On Education: Children living in poverty are everywhere, and standardized tests are not ready for them. For pity sake, we’re wasting time teaching kids who are still figuring out how to hold a pencil how to fill in little bubbles on scantrons. All hail the holy power of earning a completion certificate degree.

On Spying on American Citizens: Hilary says we need an adult conversation. Good luck in a world where we are all apparently afraid there’s a terrorist under the bed. But if they can track all Americans (illegally), how are they going to sort through enough information to find anything useful? Unless the goal is to be able to blackmail every single one of us? No wonder Snowden doesn’t think the internal reporting system works. There’s hope for reform, but it still looks like whitewashing to me.

Fat People with Thin Skins: Apparently don’t understand how the Unfollow button works.

Coolest Pope since Ever: Sold Harley, gave proceeds to charity.

On the working poor: It’s more than possible to work full time and still live in poverty. Some argue that the low wages paid to fast food workers turns into high profits for companies and high taxes for the rest of us who must subsidize their food stamps, Medicaid, and housing assistance. Then the poor have to put up with food stamp systems that go down, and risk losing their job for helping a fellow human being.

Whatever Happened to Vanilla Ice?: He cleaned himself up, realized he owned a bunch of property, fixed it up, and started hanging out with the Amish.

On Republicans: When Pat Robertson says your too extreme, it might be time to revisit your views. I’m still a little worried that the current “dialog” on a budget is going to turn into “dialog” on how we “have to” cut Social Security, Medicare, and anything else that doesn’t directly help rich people and/or influential Congresscritters.

Common Misconceptions: Enjoy.

Bankrupt, yet record profits?: How does that work, American Airlines??

Yeah, we could use some good news: Iran appears to want to talk like sensible people about nukes.

Human Rights: the comic.

And now for something adorable: 4 new cubs at a Vegas lion habitat.