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.

Just What We Don’t Need

Back in February, I said this:

Recently, people have been having a lot of success losing weight on a gluten free diet. It worked because people on these diets knew they couldn’t eat cookies, candies and cakes. They know that they have to look carefully in ingredient lists for things that might contain gluten, and for some of them this is a matter of life and death. Now I see “gluten free bakeries” and all kinds of chemistry lab crap labeled “gluten free” and I see the end of gluten free dieting on the horizon.

Now, Domino’s Pizza wants a slice of the action: Gluten Free Pizza.

Well, sort of.

First and foremost, even the CEO points out that they will be baked right alongside the gluten-containing pizzas. For pity sakes, there’s gluten all over a pizza shop. There is no guaranty that these pizzas will in fact be gluten free by the time they reach your home. I find it unlikely they will be. So right off the bat, we know that this product is not aimed at people with a genuine gluten sensitivity or Celiac Disease. If you really must avoid gluten, you really must still avoid these pizzas.

Second — and of great importance to the kind of people who think they are eating healthier by avoiding gluten — I can’t find a word about what this gluten free crust is made of. Not wheat, obviously. What kind of flour is involved: soy, almond, tapioca? Sawdust? The fact that they won’t come out and say “made from wholesome [insert foodstuff here] flour” makes me suspect that this is just another chemistry lab experiment, for which they will charge an additional $3.


If you really are craving pizza and really don’t want to (or can’t!) eat gluten, you really need to check out this review of alternative homemade pizza crusts. Many are vegetarian. A few are vegan.

Follow Up: The Benevolent Beastie.

In Closing: public banking?; Body by Marilyn; black holes; Empire State Building goes green (and saves money); Buffett says to pay attention to more than the news; losing weight can prevent and sometimes even cure diabetestruth; and interest rates.

It’s “Seriously??” Week!

I present 3 items that should make you say “Seriously??”

Reuters even adds “seriously” when they point out that Stephen Colbert is leading Jon Hunstman in South Carolina polls. They want to make sure you understand that Reuters is not prone to printing jokes.

The New York Times on the other hand, maybe. One of their editors actually wondered in print if readers wanted journalists to call people out on false statements. Seriously?? Well, normally one reads the news to find out what is happening, and that implies a certain level of truth. How silly of me to think that fact checking was part of the job. Makes me glad I don’t give the NYT a dime for their content. I also don’t read it.

And for our last brain-bender, someone wants Mitt Romney to release his tax returns and substantiate a claim he made in public that he created 100,000 jobs while working at Bain Capital. That’s reasonable enough, right? The weird part is that this demand did not come from the left or any Democrat, and these days I must say not even from one of the people running against him for the Republican nomination. Nope: this came from Sarah Palin. Seriously??

In Closing: yes; check your settings; it still stinks; and not-quite-immaculate conception.

Follow-Up Thursday

HR3: “Ok ok, we’ll take that word out if you’re going to get pissy about it. Damn feminists and liberals! We’d better get some concessions in return!” It’s still a bad bill that should not become law.

Banking Corruption: Oh yeah, JP Morgan knew Madoff wasn’t quite legit, problem? Elizabeth Warren still needs to head the CFFB, and to hell with Timmy Geithner. Did you know that the highest paid guy at Bank of America is still Angel Mozilo? The same guy whose business practices cost B of A billions of dollars last quarter alone?? It sure would be nice if someone would enforce the law regarding foreclosure fraud.

I felt a disturbance in the Force, as if a million wingnuts’ heads exploded and were suddenly silenced: The Obama administration is investigating whether the Health Insurance Reform bill can be used to require insurers to provide — not just cover, but provide freecontraceptives and family planning services!

On the Tea Party: Excuse me, I seem to have fallen into some alternate universe where George W. Bush is talking sense, and more or less agreeing with Howard Dean. Does the letter J exist in this universe?

On the Economy: Google got 75,000 job applications in one week because the economy is soooo good, right? At least demand for temps is up (pro tip: I’ve gotten job offers working at temp agencies; they’re a good way to earn a little money, get your feet wet, and maybe end up in a working interview!). On the whole, the employment situation is still “a lighter shade of gray.” The number of people using food stamps is up 14% from last year. So yeah, there’s a teensy disconnect between Wall Street and Your Street.

Will of the People: We want alternative energy, and the jobs we hope will be created by it, and the lower power/fuel bills, and just maybe the cleaner world. This is one of those “excuse me, the center is way off there to the left” moments.

On Education: You know, maybe teachers would do a better job if they had a decent curriculum to work from! Oh, now that’s crazy talk; everybody knows a really good teacher re-invents the wheel every semester…..

In Closing: Republicans hate puppies; they hate the environment too (Nixon was a dirty hippie!!) homeless shelters sometimes break up families; anchor babies; Weird Al; China; and VW is trying to win me back after making the Jetta look like ass:

Stupid Government Tricks

It’s hard to know where to begin.

Yesterday, Joe Biden announced the White House’s attempt to slam the barn door after the horse is gone. Or rather, “try again” to end tax cuts for the rich. Mr. Obama already had that opportunity: it’s called a veto.

Let’s not forget Joe LIEberman and the so-called “Internet Kill Switch” that has been getting a lot of press coverage lately — especially since it turns out Egypt can and did turn of the Internet this week. Senator LIEberman of course denies that his bill contains any such provision, but with bills being multi-hundred page monstrosities often partly written by corporate interests, who can tell. Of course the truth is that this is old news, recycled for the new year (how very environmentally friendly). More truth, it would be difficult to implement in the United States, to say nothing of probably unconstitutional. Not that this matters to the current crew in Washington.

Speaking of “who cares about whether it’s constitutional,” the PATRIOT Act is up for renewal. Further, it looks very much like it’s going to be quietly rubber-stamped while everybody is busy arguing about gun control, the National Debt, Social Security, austerity, and tweaks to last year’s health insurance “reform” bill. If you think that sucks scissors, click here and voice your objections. Look everybody from MoveOn to the Cato Institute thinks it stinks; let’s get rid of it.

Once we’re done with the PATRIOT Act, perhaps we can have some meaningful reform (or abolition) of the TSA, who decided this week that they aren’t going to let any airport exercise their legal right to opt out of having TSA grope their passengers. This despite the fact that “”Nearly every positive security innovation since the beginning of TSA has come from the contractor screening program….”

While we’re on the topic of unilateral decisions by government agencies that fly in the face of public opinion, the USDA has decided that not only can farmers plant genetically engineered alfalfa, it won’t even keep track of how much is out there or where it is. Since alfalfa is bee-pollinated, the genetic material from these plants cannot help but to spread wildly. This means, in the words of Alternet, that “you can now kiss organic beef, dairy, and many vegetables goodbye.” It also puts every farmer at risk of owing Monsanto a royalty for foolishly allowing bees to deposit proprietary genes on their land. (Yes, it has been a long time since I quoted Alternet).

But back to Congress. Is there anybody here who thinks it’s a good idea for girls 10, 12, or 14 years old to be having babies? Anybody? Bueller? Well, John Boehner and 173 co-sponsors think that’s just fine. At least, they don’t want any of their precious tax dollars or even your dollars in your own tax-exempt Health Savings Account to be used for an abortion if it turns out your daughter is molested. They have proposed that “rape” be redefined as “forcible.” So, drugged at a party and wake up with no underwear and find out you’re pregnant a couple months later? Pony up your own abortion funds or live with the “consequences”, sweetie. Your sister who was left quadriplegic in a car crash and was subsequently molested by somebody at the rehab hospital? Hope you’ve got cash. But clearly, I’m just being “emotional.”

Maybe John Boner is one of the few people to whom I should ascribe a special nickname. He’d be in rarefied company with Joe LIEberman, Pat “Go f*** yourself” Leahy, and That Asshat Michael Chertoff.

In closing: at this rate we’re on target for another record year of bank closures (and even bigger “too big to fail” institutions); too young not to work, too old to get a job; compare and contrast; HealthSouth; more VW; and 8 wacky jobs at great companies. Sorry, these positions are all filled.

2001 Maniacs: Field of Shorties

The Truth About Cattle Grazing: done correctly, it can help restore the land.

Two Funny Things and a Lot of Unfunny Ones about Racism: Let’s get rid of the Mexicans, and Who translated this for you? There’s a movement afoot to pass laws that violate the 14th Amendment on the grounds that not everyone born here has parents that are really not American enough. By not American enough, they generally mean “brown.” There are a number of problems with this, aside from Constitutional issues (funny how some people only like the Constitution some of the time). First, you might end up with people who can’t prove they were born anywhere because the law denies them a birth certificate. Second, you might end up with people who are effectively not citizens of any nation, because they weren’t born in the country of their parent’s citizenship. Third and finally, who gets to decide what constitutes “American enough”? At least “born in U.S.” is a simple to apply measure.

More on Friday’s lousy employment report: Good, bad, and ugly. Really ugly.

Obligatory Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill Items: Woo, recapturing a whole 10,500 barrels a day. Really interesting that a BP exec managed to dump a third of his company stock a month before the disaster. You would think they could find a cable tie to keep stuff out of the way on the equipment BP is using a mile below the surface. Harry Reid thinks BP should pay for the clean-up (more on Harry come Tuesday with the Nevada Primaries, probably over on TMV). And on BP’s spill “plan”.

Civil Forfeiture Must Go: Guy sells truck on a payment plan. Truck gets seized by the cops. Cops don’t care that guy still has title and is owed money on said truck. Somehow I bet GMAC doesn’t have this problem.

And it’s only June 6: 22% of states have passed new abortion restrictions and 81 bank failures so far this year.

Speaking of the Banks: 6 made $51,000,000,000 last year; the other 980 lost money.

While we’re on the topic of making money: Just the threat of Federal enforcement makes companies want to restate their earnings.

How Laws are Really Made: Most people of my generation were taught that it works something like this, but the truth is a bit more complicated.

Run Sarah Run!: Ten reasons she should just keep doing the speaking circuit and stay the heck off the ballots.

Two Medical Items: Did you know that if enough doctors decide “No, that isn’t enough money for that procedure and we won’t take that insurance anymore,” the Government can decide they are in violation of anti-trust laws? And scroll down for a breakdown of infant mortality rates in developed nations, compared to health care spending per capita and military spending as a percentage of GDP. The United States has a shameful showing.

And Finally, Japanfilter: Fireflies.