America the Beautiful

So, I got an email from “the White House” titled “Protecting one of America’s most beautiful places”. It included a link to this item on protecting the Arctic Refuge.

I immediately thought of another beautiful thing in America I’d like to see protected: The Bill of Rights, specifically the Fourth and Fifth Amendments. That is, our right to make phone calls and drive around and carry cash and use computers and read library books without being tracked as potential criminals by our own government.

A Follow Up: Heh yeah, like Uber cares about the law!

In Closing: At least “that librul commie Muslim Kenyan” has brought down the deficit!; changes how I see dating websites; heh; polls are funny; getting nervous.

R.I.S.D: Rest In Shorties Department

I Would Watch That!: I have been given permission to share my son’s brilliant idea for a new TV show: he calls it “Law and Order and Batman.”

Dumbasses: There are plenty of vegan parents out there who manage not to starve their babies to death.

Leia: 20 facts, 20 pictures, one princess.

Startling: The amount of data that cell phone companies might have.

Pope Francis: I could like this Pope.

Coincidence, I’m Sure: The Feds cut off Vegas’s counter-terrorism funds (whatever) the same day a “suspicious package” forced evacuation of Nellis AFB’s hospital and the day after a suspected pipe bomb was left by the side of the freeway.

Sheila Bair Sounds the Alarm: the banks are getting ready to screw the economy again.

On Expanding War: “[Our leaders] should not casually initiate conflict with only limited understanding of complex situations. It’s past time for greater caution in commitments of U.S. military forces, particularly in the Middle East.”

Here Comes the Sun: Sunshine turns out to be good for humans.

Let’s Get Physical: So is exercise.

Imagine: Today and here are the important things.

What?: A man and his bike and his cat.

What Would Bryan Boitano Do?: Bacon restaurant and bacon cocktails (check the slide show).

Extremism and Understanding: Turns out they don’t go together well.

Yuck: Margarine.

About Time: Costa Concordia captain finally facing a trial. Hey, let’s not rush into anything, it’s only been a year and a half.

Dave is Right: Let’s fix the real problems.

German Efficiency: Not always a good thing.

Valjean’s Confession: Right, because preventing desperate people from feeding their families will totally solve the problem of crime. I’ve said this about Megan’s Laws and I’ll say it about this: if we have decided that some people will always be criminals, they should be put in prison for the rest of their lives, but then we need to have a serious discussion about what that means.

Well, that tears it.

I like bourbon.

I’m not a particular fan of Jim Beam, unless it’s the hard-to-get Green Label. Under normal circumstances, one of my favorites has been Maker’s Mark. However, I rarely have it at home. To be blunt, it costs twice as much as Evan Williams and just isn’t twice as good.  That’s why Evan is the house bourbon around here: adequate quality at a good price.

However, on those occasions in the future when I have extra money to spend on a higher quality bourbon, The Mark is unlikely to be my bottle of choice anymore. It seems that due to “shortages,” they will be watering the stuff down. Oh rest assured, they say, it will taste the same. Right.

Congratulations guys, I do believe you’ve lost a customer. In the words of Matt Bors:

Maker’s Mark is dead to me.

So maybe there is some Knob Creek or Woodford Reserve or even Bulleit in my future. And don’t think I’ve forgotten that Evan Williams has a very nice single barrel offering….

In Closing: probably a good idea; sequester inbound.

Hansel & Gretel: Warriors of Shorties

I haven’t been as posty as I’d like lately. As some of you know, I have recently gone back to school. That means I have a lot of reading, and a bit of getting used to classmates who occasionally make me feel like this:


I remind myself that I am old enough to be mommies to some of them. So without further ago, shorties.

Social Media: It’s embarrassing that social media is now little more than yet another way to send me ads.

Social Security: There’s only a crisis if you want there to be one.

Too much Social, too little work: Up to 80% of a worker’s internet time might be spend “cyberloafing.” It’s easier to hide that you’re doing nothing at the computer than at the water cooler.

Bad Association: Turns out that Countrywide kept doing “business as usual” after B of A took over. I hope this surprises none of you.

Social Promotions for Educational Reforms?: I still like Kevin Drum.

Social Studies: The Avengers and The Breakfast Club.

Fitting in to Society: On immigration reform.

Vegas: Visitors are at a record high despite reduced convention traffic.

Reducing the deficit without slashing our own throats: From the progressives. But it won’t happen because the conservatives really want to make the majority of us into modern serfs by slashing the safety net instead.

Speaking of modern serfs: A third of student loans are subprime. They can’t be discharged through bankruptcy. They are creating a generation that may always be in debt.

Obesity is bad for you: even if you are the Governor.

On Republicans: From a Republican woman (endangered species, I know).

Gee, you don’t say!: Global climate change might adversely effect agriculture. Who knew?!?

Diet Research? It must be January.

Yes indeed, it’s the first week of the year, and that means millions of Americans are trying to shed between 5 and 500 pounds. Some scientists were even willing to stick their necks out there and say fructose is a culprit in weight gain (a culprit not the culprit). Check the archives and you will find me many times saying that every weight loss diet that works requires drastically reducing if not altogether eliminating added sugars.

So Loyola University wants to help you out. They’ve got what they think are the top 4 reasons diets fail. Let me save you some reading:

  1. Underestimating calorie intake (e.g. eating too damn much)
  2. Overestimating activity and calories burned (e.g. imagining that an amble around the mall is just like a 5 mile run)
  3. Poor timing of meals (the dreaded “starvation mode“)
  4. Inadequate sleep (having a job and other responsibilities)

Really? I’m on board with reasons 1 and 2, although I see them as two sides of one coin. But do they really think that sleep is a bigger issue than unrealistic expectations in the first place, or diet plans that are for whatever reason unsustainable? Do they think that eating at the wrong time is truly a bigger issue than unsupportive friends and family who –subtly or openly — undermine the dieter’s efforts?

Want to lose weight without torturing yourself? Try eating reasonable portions of real food: plenty of veggies; adequate protein; no sweets, no crap that comes out of a box, no food-like chemistry sets. Hey, it’s no dumber than the other diets you’ve tried over the years.

In Closing: free classes; Downtown Vegas and F15; maybe now somebody will ask banks to follow the law pretty please?; Onnabugeisha; ha!; conform or be called a terrorist; Malala; why oh why did Texas give him a second term?; more employment data than you probably want; somebody inform Scalia that 24 is not a documentary; the estate tax is not a wealth tax, it’s a wealth moving into the hands of someone who didn’t actually earn it tax; it turns out you need facts before you can figure out what to think about them; well that’s gonna have conservative panties in a wad; the Romney Loophole; is anybody surprised by this?; and I think Brent may have been playing Black Ops 2.

Dodged a Bullet

I was traveling last week — which explains the two picture posts — but did not have the *ahem* pleasure of doing nudie shots in the full body scanner or the full grope floor show. More on my trip another day, if I both feel like it and remember.

Of course by now everybody has heard about these special “x-ray” machines that leave nothing to the imagination. In fact, I think it’s a little misleading to call these things “x-ray machines” because they don’t do what the unit in your doctor’s office does; they are a virtual strip search. And yes, it has been demonstrated over and over again that they can and do save favorite pictures. These things being true, I hope some overzealous Attorney General decides to prosecute the TSA for producing kiddy porn.

Even if you are comfortable enough with your body that this does not concern you, there is the matter of radiation. Although the TSA insists that everything is fine and it’s all perfectly safe, actual scientists who aren’t being paid to tow the party line disagree strongly. Pilots of at least one airline have decided that just maybe the scientists are right.

Oh, and did you know that That Asshat Michael Chertoff* is making money off the damned things?

So fine, you can opt out. Sort of. You can choose to have your private parts fondled instead, in a manner that in any other circumstance would be called sexual assault. Again I must ask whether it is legal at all to touch minors in this way. And the kicker? None of this would have stopped 9/11, the Shoe Bomber, or even the Underpants Bomber.

This doesn’t even address the 4th Amendment issues that the TSA and Federal Government would like to pretend you’ve waived by trying to get home for Thanksgiving.

But thankfully, Joe and Jane Average are waking up and just starting to say “No!” And Congress is even saying “Now just wait a minute here.”

It’s time to object to this treatment, consider abolishing the TSA, and look at how they do security in countries where the risk from a bomb is greater than the risk of somebody saying no.

In Closing: Shadow Scholar; millionaires don’t need tax cuts; a plane affair; how not to kill roaches; Congress prepared to screw homeowners to hide fraud by too-big-to-fail banks; ten times as many people care about jobs and the economy than the federal deficit, but I’m clearly only pointing that out because I’m a liberal; call a waaaahmbulance; insurance erosion; goin hungry; at least we’re “pay[ing] off debt” (even if it’s by letting the bank take the house, and just letting the credit cards go); and Shatner sings.

* It is a sign of respect for me to address him by his full and complete title! There aren’t many guys I’d do that for.

Shorties’ Ladder

San Bruno: Admittedly, before this tragic explosion, San Bruno was mostly a BART stop to me. But one thing is very clear to me: we have got to stop waiting until bridges collapse and pipelines explode to make sure our infrastructure is in adequate condition! And here’s a little hint to politicians: You actually have to hire people to build and repair things like pipelines, roads, and bridges. Better yet, quality infrastructure makes it easier for the private sector to create jobs when these projects are completed! By the way, did anybody notice that PG&E are only committing to paying up if it is found to be their fault? Um yeah, I think Allstate and State Farm will see to it that they pay. Here’s video of the explosion taken at a nearby gas station.

Health Insurance Reform isn’t over yet: Premiums are still rising quite a lot faster than inflation, and insurers claim that this is because they are paying out more money (probably because certain shady practices had to be stopped). Meanwhile, there is one provision that must get changed. However, the Senate failed twice today to get it passed. Under an obscure provision — that has nothing whatsoever to do with health care — small businesses would be forced to issue 1099 forms to any vendor with whom they purchased more than $600 worth of goods. Somehow it is claimed that this would raise $17,000,000,000 in taxes. I just can’t see how that works. After all, I get receipts from my brokerage and local NAR chapter documenting how much I paid them; why is my sending them notice that I indeed paid what they admit I paid going to generate money for anybody but my accountant?

On the Federal Budget and the Deficit thereof: So those bad old Tax-And-Spend Liberals managed to reduce the deficit 13%, with control of Congress (although their “control” of the Senate is a strange thing). At least Tax-And-Spend Liberals know you ought to have money before spending it. But do you think any Democrats are going to point this out on the campaign trail? Probably not. By the way, I can’t understand why CNN thinks it’s newsworthy that the Federal Budget isn’t done yet. This has happened pretty much every year for as long as I can remember. Of course the budget deficit would shrink quite a bit if we just let the Tax Cuts For People Who Don’t Need More Money expire. Even Moody’s says that giving the rick a tax break doesn’t do jack for the economy, and they’re paid to figure this stuff out. Frankly, if the only way to make that happen is to accept higher taxes myself next year, so be it. Let me get my damn checkbook.

A Few Items on Education: School breakfasts are the coming trend (couldn’t they eat something more healthy than sugary cereal and whole wheat donuts? Sorry it’s still deep fried cake). David Sirota on the educational bait and switch that has left our students unfit to do much more than putter on computers and pour lattes. Why college grads can’t write despite employers begging for literate employees that can write a freaking memo. And more than you really wanted to know about student loans.

A Few Items on Banking and Financial Reform: It looks like the international community is telling us that we will tighten up regs whether banks and Congress and Bernanke likes it or not. However, the holes in the regs look remarkably like cheese from the region where the rules are even now being hammered out. Meanwhile, the SEC is trying to prevent financial firms from hiding their debt. Funny, we’re still having this issue how many years after Enron? Meanwhile, it looks like President Obama is actually going to do the right thing and put in a recess appointment for Elizabeth Warren as head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. That means there is a chance things will be done that favor Joe Average above the Banksters. Oh and one more thing: if banks are failing to pay the feds back, why exactly aren’t the feds foreclosing on their worthless hides?

Cops Hate Dogs: It amazes me that someone who is sworn to protect the people can have such a low regard for living beings. One must wonder if they even respect human life.

“But that’s a nose in the middle of your face!”: Even CNN is pointing out that simply assuming people are physically able to work until they are 70 is an unrealistic plan for “saving” Social Security.

Silver Lining on the Economy is just Aluminum Foil: The wage gap between men and women is shrinking. My take is that the bean-counters figure it’s more cost effective to lay off the high-wage man than the underpaid woman, with the long term effect being that wages in general are lower when it comes time to hire again.

It’s still Sugar: High Fructose Corn Syrup is being re-branded as “corn sugar.” That doesn’t change the fact that most research says it’s not good for you.

If you build it, they might come: It turns out that Fiats may be returning to the states. That is, if certain Chrysler dealers build special showrooms for them.

America’s Joyous Future

Courtesy of FailBlog

It’s the Jobs, Stupid.

You can’t swing your arms on the internet these days without hearing talk about jobs, and with good reason. We’ve got fewer job openings* and high unemployment, particularly high long term unemployment. It’s all about the jobs, and in many ways its about the fact that despite the law, people much over 40 are having a hard time getting them. And if you’re a new grad? You’ll be taking less pay* than you would have in recent years (and be delighted to have anything, alas). Meanwhile, the income gap is growing and our credit scores are getting worse — a polite way of saying we’re collectively having trouble paying our bills.

However, instead of talking about works programs that would put people to work now and create infrastructure that would create more jobs later, we have Hundreds of Hoovers looking to slash spending anywhere they can — but Heaven Forbid they should slash the Wars Without End, or turn thousands of criminal jobs into decent jobs, or slash actual waste, or make the people (and corporations!) who can most afford to pay taxes pay just a little more! Oh no, we can’t have any of those things.

Nope. They’re saying that tax cuts don’t result in the government getting less money, everything is Obama’s fault, that somehow cutting taxes creates jobs (I suspect the underpants gnomes are integral to that working), and — get this! — we little people are just going to have to get used to the idea that Social Security is going to be gutted.

We may also have to get used to the coming food riots.

I can’t think of the last time I linked Atrios, but he’s right. They don’t care about cutting the deficit, they care about making things better for the people at top and worse for the people at bottom.

Somewhere, Baby Boomers got the idea that there was never gonna be any Social Security money for them, so they set about destroying the system, insuring that prediction came to pass. Now those selfish young adults are getting on towards retirement age, and some of them have been forcibly retired. Talk about raising the retirement age to 70? Fine, but when was the last time you saw a 70 year old bricklayer, truck driver, computer programmer, barrista, or waitress?

So in the end, this is what we’ve got:
Lisa Benson

In Closing: nuclear explosions (a worthwhile way to spend 14 minutes); malaria; useless fliers; alert the media, the FDIC wants to do it’s job; factory farming means our produce isn’t as healthy as it was 30 years ago; why Johnnie doesn’t know his colors; super-extra polite phrases in Japanese.

*Somewhere along the line, USA Today turned into a proper news source! Kudos to them.