Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Why pro-lifers must support "socialized" healthcare

It's been a long time since I've felt like blogging about anything here - basically life has been good to me for almost a year now, which I know is probably contrary to what most people are experiencing right now. However that's the way it is and hence my tea-times are more often than not bright happy affairs these days.

But there is one thing since America put on its "O" face that is really getting my goat up right now and that is health care reform. It just boggles my mind that here we are with the greatest opportunity since Independence just about to put free into freedom again and really get this nation back to something respectable again, and oh look, seems like we're gonna blow it. There is just no way that opposition to sweeping reform would stand even a cats chance in hell, were it not for the oodles of corporate money sloshing around in Washington and turning everyone's heads to mush and pockets to green.

Anyway it occurred to me today that there is one huge voting group that should be coming out en-mass in favor of radical health care reform and that's the religious right and every pro-lifer there is out there. Why? Well I'll tell you why...

America supposedly has the best health care in the world but the problem is almost no one has access to it. When you look at the average level of care it is, well just that, average. And when you look at what most people get then then it is decidedly below par. This shows up in many, many ways but one of them is our infant mortality rate. Look at any list and Team USA is way below the top, bringing up the rear behind a whole slew of pesky countries with "socialized" medicine. Wikipedia cites two sources (UN and the good old CIA) that put our infant mortality rate at 6.3 deaths per 1,000 live births - that's the number that die in the first year - and the New York times reported 2006 CDC figures of 6.8 deaths per 1,000 placing us at 29th in the world. According to that article there are no fewer than 22 countries with rates below 5.0% and many countries below 3.5%. So think about it, if America had one of these "best in the world" (in reality, not in our dreams) health care systems we could easily have 3% fewer deaths per 1,000 infants.

But what does that mean?

Well in 2008 the US recorded 4,247,000 births so our 29th-in-class infant mortality rate will cause about 289,000 infant deaths within the first year. That's a tragic number but we can do better. If our health care system could yield the results of those allegedly awful socialized medical systems the Europeans have and our mortality rate was more like 3.8% (which only puts us in 9th place ahead of France but behind the Czech Republic) then we'd see "only" 161,000 infant deaths. So improving our health care system could save 127,000 babies lives a year.

Isn't that staggering?

Every pro-lifer should be out campaning now. Screw Roe Vs Wade, this is an easy one to win if they put just 10% of the effort into it they do trying to stop abortions. And corporations are soul-less entities that are easy to target, there's no guilt or shame in shooting down a few mega-rich insurance and health-care companies. So what is keeping them?

But wait, there is more...

While it is true that the potential saving in infant lives is far, far fewer than the number of abortions per year, currently around 1.2 million, according the pro-lifer's very own statistics about 21% of all abortions are performed for financial reasons - because they cannot afford to have a baby. So guess what the number one cause of bankruptcy is in this country? Yes, medical bills. Do you think maybe more people could afford to have a baby if they weren't crippled with medical costs, or too afraid of being plunged into debt for the rest of their lives raising one? With average health-care coverage costs in the US of $4,700 per single person just who the heck do you think can afford healthcare even for themselves, let alone more kids. Its no wonder that over 50 million are un-insured now, and that US mortality rate to year 5 is more like 8 per 1,000 (sorry I lost the link).

So if pro-lifers really want to reduce abortion rates perhaps they should focus on making health-care more affordable. If 20% of those abortions didn't happen any more that would be, wow, another 240,000 babies... wow it would be a positive baby boom with an extra 260,000 or so new kids on the block each year. Think of all those souls they could save... and without the burden of health-care costs on their minds they might even grow up to be happy well adjusted souls that are less tempted by crime and drugs. Oh, the evil they could avert if only they would rally behind health-care reform.

But oh, I'm sorry, I forgot. It's "socialized", whatever that means, so it must be bad. Shudder the thought of anyone else telling them how to live their lives. That would be a completely alien concept to them that would be impossible to adopt, if anyone is going to do any healing or bossing around it can only be the big J-C and he wasn't a socialist at all was he.

Or was he... huh, what do you know, seems like he was dishing out free health care and healing all the frickin' time, never collected a dime of insurance premiums. Never denied any treatments, even foot massages were a-okay as I recall...

So, do you get why I'm p*ssed off by the whole thing and the lack of indignation, protestation and action by the whole "moral majority"

Grrrrr. Don't make me drink my tea in the dark again people!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Racketeering by any other name

As the popular media (60 Minutes etc.) continue to publicize the whole credit default swap (CDS) scam that lead to our housing boom and bust I'm lead to wonder - if the federal government had to pass a law to prevent States from prosecuting these kinds of shenanigans as gambling, then isn't it time we went after those who conspired to create this whole house of cards (appropriate for gambling eh?) under racketeering laws? They worked for the mob so why not for the CEOs and executive branch?

As a word of caution to future generations - when government passes any law exempting themselves and businesses from prosecution you can tell they are up to no good. No part of government should be beyond the reach of the long arm of law - if it is good enough for the people it is good enough for them.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Shop to vote!

After 9/11 George Bush told us to go shopping, but that was 7 years BGG (Before GoodGuide). Shopping is the great leveler since unlike voting we all have to shop to eat ( unless you live in Alaska and know how to hunt, kill and dress a moose - or in Berkeley and know how to plant, grow and chop a vegetable) so it is important that shoppers have all the information possible to make informed choices before they buy.

Lucky for consumers GoodGuide has just launched their really cool app to let them find out how companies and their employees donate to the Democratic and Republican parties. If everyone had this information to hand when they shop we could all shop to vote each and every day - and maybe a Republican president would never again implore us to go shopping?

GoodGuide has produced a great visualization of the data and it contains quite a few surprises, so check out the simplified version below, or even better the full version with much more data and search features on their website.

GoodGuide.com political contribution data for over 100 companies View data for other companies at GoodGuide.com

Saturday, September 20, 2008

The Omnivore's Hundred.

This sounds like fun... thanks to Firefly for the suggestion:

  1. Copy this list into your blog or journal, including these instructions.
  2. Bold all the items you’ve eaten.
  3. Cross out any items that you would never consider eating.
  4. Optional extra: Post a comment here at www.verygoodtaste.co.uk linking to your results.

The VGT Omnivore’s Hundred:

1. Venison 2. Nettle tea 3. Huevos rancheros 4. Steak tartare 5. Crocodile 6. Black pudding 7. Cheese fondue 8. Carp 9. Borscht 10. Baba ghanoush 11. Calamari 12. Pho 13. PB&J sandwich 14. Aloo gobi 15. Hot dog from a street cart 16. Epoisses 17. Black truffle 18. Fruit wine made from something other than grapes 19. Steamed pork buns 20. Pistachio ice cream 21. Heirloom tomatoes 22. Fresh wild berries 23. Foie gras 24. Rice and beans 25. Brawn, or head cheese 26. Raw Scotch Bonnet pepper 27. Dulce de leche 28. Oysters 29. Baklava 30. Bagna cauda 31. Wasabi peas 32. Clam chowder in a sourdough bowl 33. Salted lassi 34. Sauerkraut 35. Root beer float 36. Cognac with a fat cigar 37. Clotted cream tea 38. Vodka jelly/Jell-O 39. Gumbo 40. Oxtail 41. Curried goat 42. Whole insects 43. Phaal 44. Goat’s milk 45. Malt whisky from a bottle worth £60/$120 or more 46. Fugu 47. Chicken tikka masala 48. Eel 49. Krispy Kreme original glazed doughnut 50. Sea urchin 51. Prickly pear 52. Umeboshi 53. Abalone 54. Paneer 55. McDonald’s Big Mac Meal 56. Spaetzle 57. Dirty gin martini 58. Beer above 8% ABV 59. Poutine 60. Carob chips 61. S’mores 62. Sweetbreads 63. Kaolin 64. Currywurst 65. Durian 66. Frogs’ legs 67. Beignets, churros, elephant ears or funnel cake 68. Haggis 69. Fried plantain 70. Chitterlings, or andouillette 71. Gazpacho 72. Caviar and blini 73. Louche absinthe 74. Gjetost, or brunost 75. Roadkill 76. Baijiu 77. Hostess Fruit Pie 78. Snail 79. Lapsang souchong 80. Bellini 81. Tom yum 82. Eggs Benedict 83. Pocky 84. Tasting menu at a three-Michelin-star restaurant. 85. Kobe beef 86. Hare 87. Goulash 88. Flowers 89. Horse 90. Criollo chocolate 91. Spam 92. Soft shell crab 93. Rose harissa 94. Catfish 95. Mole poblano 96. Bagel and lox 97. Lobster Thermidor 98. Polenta 99. Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee 100. Snake

In my case I don't think there is anything I'd never consider eating - I'd have to hold my nose and think of England but even crab, roadkill (not rancid), haggis and brawn could probably be forced down (although they are definitely on the bottom of my list!).

Monday, July 28, 2008

It's not just the war that caused the deficit

I couldn't help noticing this news article about the 1/2 trillion dollar deficit the Bush regime will leave us with...

What occurred to me was that no where in the article does it mention the cost of all the corporate bail outs, and the damage to the economy that Bush has inflicted that caused a big fall off in tax revenue. Not to mention all the trillions of tax cuts. Every penny of that deficit can be aimed fairly and squarely at the Bush regime and its corporate handouts (yes the war on Iraq was just another corporate handout) and direct to the wealthy tax cuts.

It's time this nation got over its object fixation with Iraq and terrorists, the real threat lies firmly and squarely at home and those running, or not as the case may be, the nation (and running it into the ground I might add).

Monday, April 28, 2008

Cities and Development

It seems to me that cities, by and large just have it all wrong when they are doing development deals - or at leas the city I live in has it all wrong. If you are selling something you have one of then you are usually looking to maximize your gain in a one shot deal which means pick the highest price you can while ensuring there is still a least on customer. But if you are buying something then you are usually looking to minimize your outlay which means paying the lowest amount possible. How do you do that? Well by ensuring there are multiple sellers with product and let them compete.

But it seems to me that my City, and possibly others, always treat their real-estate like they are selling something (land) instead of buying something (development investment within their City walls). As such they are too often happy to enter into deals where there is only one developer involved. When others drop out because the cost is too high to make the deal that seems to be favorable. In the end they are left dealing with just one developer who can screw them over any number of ways because they are the only one at the table.

If they instead approach it as buying something they will have a vested interest in getting as many sellers out there and have them all compete to produce the best project for the least cost. This would also seem to indicate that development projects should have City investment involved - it is not a bad thing - and that community should have strong buy in to evaluate the best development proposal and what it brings the City. A developer who says "I don't need your investment" is saying "just give me the damn land already" and "I don't need your investment to help me figure out how to make the most money from your land". I.e. City's should find developers who will be partners in developing a city and have a vested interest in its improvement and the happiness of its people.

Furthermore I think that if a development project only gets one bid, or qualified bid, then it probably means the project was badly defined, or that the economic conditions are not suitable for pursuing that development. If either of those is the case then you probably shouldn't proceed - just wait. When there are multiple developers lining up to bid for your land and grants then that is when you'll get the highest and finest developments, and that is when you'll be able to extract the maximum leverage for improvements in the interests of we the people and not corporate profit making.

Remember that monocultures are almost always bad so a City that can only do a deal with a single developer is doing itself and its people a grave disservice. Free markets only work when there is an actual "market" - if there is only one seller then caveat emptor!

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Growing middle class?

This article from the NYT asserts that increasing food prices are at least in part due to "a growing middle class". I'd love to know where they got that idea from, everyone knows the middle class is shrinking - the rich get rich and the poor get poorer - so don't you go blaming high food prices on a growing middle class.

Monique Davis named "Worst person of the world"

No sooner did I jump on my high horse to bitch about Assembly woman Monique Davis (see previous post) than Keith Olbermann of MSNBC came to the rescue with some righteous retribution - naming her today's "worst person of the world". Would it be too ironic of me to say "Ahmen brother!" ???

Why Church and State need to stay separate

Listen to this sound bite (mp3 audio file) as Rep. Monique Davis, a Chicago Democrat and member of the Illinois legislature goes off the rails. She just can't help herself from a religious tirade tearing into atheist Rob Sherman who dared to point out that maybe spending $1 million in tax dollars on a Pilgrim Baptist Church might be unconstitutional.

The context is unclear from the sound bite so I've no idea if the argument was valid or not. It sounded like the church may actually no longer be a church any more, and hence perhaps just an historic building - in which case spending money may be just a pure historic preservation issue and I don't know if there is anything against preserving a building that is no longer used as a Church. Maybe they would just keep the exterior and put in a library or a restaurant or convert it to lofts...

Anyway what is more interesting is how Davis just goes completely off the rails spewing such venomous hatred and crap while Sherman keeps his cool with "thank you for sharing your point of view". Note how the chair never makes an attempt to shut down Davis as she screams at him to leave but then tells Sherman he must keep his response on subject. Just who was out of order here? To paraphrase what Austin Dacey likes to say: a religious fundamentalist says "I'm right you're wrong so go to hell" but if there was such a thing as an atheist fundamentalist they'd say "I'm right, you're wrong - can't we just talk about it some more?" That seems to be exactly the attitude Sherman is following but really he never gets a chance.

This illustrates beautifully the modus operandi of the religious fundamentalists - eliminate all competition to your memes by eliminating those who might question you and labeling everything they say a blasphemy and outlawing such speech. Austin Dacey points out that this is now a big problem because the secular world has fallen into the trap of labeling all beliefs - religious, secular, whatever as "private" and hence not only not to be part of government, but also beyond public criticism. To keep church out of state they lost the ability to critique any aspect of religion, or any "private" belief on even the most obvious ethical and moral principles. In fact we are rapidly losing any chance of holding anyone, even government to such principles or even talking about them.

It is my belief - and I am happy to make that a public belief - that Davis couldn't justify any of her beliefs against any objective moral or ethical basis, and that Sherman could probably demolish her rationale blow by blow. That is what is feared most and the easiest way is to literally remove all critical speech from public life because, as Davis so eloquently puts it, it is "dangerous for our children to even know that your philosophy exists". Ms Davis - if atheism, secularism and the rest of our non-god fearing philosophies are just unfounded rubbish what have you to fear from a little spirited (no pun intended) debate? Never mind that the proposed expenditure that you are defending might actually be illegal, and that your proposed banning of someone from government for being an atheist is also illegal.

See RichardDawkins.net for more information about Davis' meltdown.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

When the going gets tough, corporations get....

So this is exactly what happens when the going gets tough - people cut back, cut corners and corporations being "people" (well the Supreme Court says so!) they cut corners too. The problem is there really are no consequences for corporations to cut corners - the worst thing that can happen is their share holders loose a buck. Big deal - who does that hurt in the corporation? The employees, shareholders and in the case of Southwest Airlines some customers maybe - the executives and the corporate body itself bail out with a big fat parachute and live on to another, more lucrative day. This is exactly why we need government regulation - to keep corporations honest. Government puts bad people jail and it should be putting bad corporations in jail - but, thanks to George Bush, it doesn't. Because regulations "are bad for the economy". Oh, oh, hurt me people! Someone should tell those people that there are only two kinds of Republicans - billionaires and suckers. Which are you?

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Here we go again with the corporate welfare?

So here were go again, another big bank facing huge loan write offs, anyone want to guess how long it will be before Bank of America or perhaps Wells Fargo will be at the Fed with cap in hand asking for a big bail out like Bear Stearns? My guess is there will be at least one more big bank headed that way, if not several more. We are always told that the consequences of letting on of these banks go under would be catastrophic - apparently because it will spark off a bank run where everyone rushes to their own bank and asks for their money. At this point people will realize that dirty little secret that banks only have 10% or thereabouts of their deposits in hand as cash and can't possibly give everyone their money. Then there is mass panic, markets crash, economies take a dump and bad times are here again. This kind of thing used to happen all the time when there was much less control about how much cash banks had to have on hand and before the government was in the business of bailing out banks.

Of course it is not actually a secret that banks don't have everyone's money - anyone who has done Economics 101 should remember that - it's quite a revelation. But then again while it is not a secret it is not someone banks, economists or the government every shout out about. They all hide behind the FDIC insurance that you'll always get your first $100,000 bank come what may (assuming your account has that insurance, not all do), even if the bank pisses it all away on a big new downtown HQ and goes belly up in the night after a particular bad binge drinking session.

But despite the alleged consequences (and no one has seen a bank run in decades) I still see this stuff as corporate welfare, because on the face of it it just encourages bankers to keep on with their bad behavior - it is exactly the wrong kind of feedback to give them and will cause the opposite of evolution in business practices. Even if Bear Stearns was sold off for a song at the end of the day someone took the benefit of that huge infusion of cash from the Fed - prior profits and many benefits from soaring stock prices were creamed off for years while they cashed in on sub-prime mortgages. Also there's a whole raft of bankers and executives who will just cruise to the next cushy job - probably taking fat payoffs from Bear Stearns at the same time. Just where is the incentive for them to do anything differently next time a chance to slash and burn our economy comes along?

Those who are continually asking for more deregulation and getting government out of everything but killing people must be crazy - or they are stinking rich and know that actually boom and bust cycles like the old times are bad for everyone except them. I mean at what time were all those vast fortunes of the Rockefellers, Stanfords, Hearst and the like made? Yes, while we had little or no banking regulation - open season on everyone's money, winner take it all time - just like the good ol' wild west!

If I had my way I'd shut these corporations down completely - revoke their charter, ban all the exec from running a corporation for a number of years and bail out *only* the investors, to their FDIC amount. People would get used to the idea they shouldn't be more than $100,000 in any one bank, there would be more banks more competition, and banks themselves would be more careful about screwing up. Then again what do I know, I'm not an economist and I don't have more than $100,000 anywhere to loose.

Perhaps it is time for people on the street to start voting about their disgust of how this is all panning out. They can do it voluntarily with their money, no need to wait for a bank run - if everyone withdrew just 10% of their cash from banks it would really send a message. Or if just 10% of people took out all of their money that would do the trick and you can pick pretty much any reasonably small demographic and mobilize them to do something. Probably just the threat of it happening would cause a panic. So this year perhaps, instead of "buy nothing day" we'd have "withdraw everything day". Now wouldn't that be interesting - I have a feeling I know which would get more publicity.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

We are not alone!

Great news - we are not alone! No, it isn't a message from the stars decoded by SETI, or a monolith dug up on the moon - just the latest U.S. Religious Landscape Survey by the Pew Forum. Their massive survey has concluded that a full 16.1% of adult Americans are either atheists, agnostic or believe "nothing in particular". That's a huge result and well inline with other recent surveys that conclude a very significant percentage of American's could care less about religion. And that is without any consideration of those who are quick to label themselves as one thing or another if only out of habit or just to fit in, but actually know, practice or care less about that particular religion. I mean we all know of have heard of people who profess to some religion or other just for "tradition" or because their parents raised them that way or just because its a gamble that has no downside after death.

But let me tell you, 16% of adult Americans is a huge number of people and most likely they are all plenty sick and tired of hearing about religion and seeing it dictate the misdirection of our countries forces, resources and future at the expense of humanity as a whole. I just hope some people in Washington finally take note and decide that maybe, just maybe, it is time they stopped pandering to the some elite band of Christians or other that excepting Catholics, all number fewer than the "none of the above" crowd. I mean just look at all the myriad categories of Evangelicals and Protestants, let alone the rest, can anyone say "Factions" or "Splinter cells"??? Why would anyone ever believe that given their own way and opportunity at the helm each one of these factions would denounce all others as the wrong kind of religion and seek to stamp out and destroy them while at the same time as they themselves go off and faction even more as they race backwards to Old Testament values (think stoning, slavery and stuff that make even hardcore Sharia laws look civilized).

Obama get some balls!

Hopefully that title got your attention. I'll be the first to admit I'm an Obama supporter - I wish somehow Edwards had got the nomination but given the current field my choice is Obama. I actually think it is high time this country had a female President, a break in the long history of old white men running the world is clearly long overdue. But I just don't think Hillary is the woman for the job, I have a strong feeling she would be a bad president for future female candidates. So I just hope I live long enough to see some future woman candidate get the support of the nation, become President and do a great job.

Oh well, want I really wanted to blog about was Obama and this whole "scandal" about him being photographed in Muslim clothing. I was getting somewhat irritated that Obama in denying he was a Muslim never took the opportunity to denounce the idea that being a Muslim is a problem, and even being a Muslim President is a problem. But then I came across a column by Naomi Klein from The Nation that said exactly the same thing and I felt vindicated, I'm not the only person thinking Obama is copping out and treading a dangerous path towards sucking up to "special interests". Sure he's probably thinking this is a really bad time to be pissing off all those Christians and making Hillary happy, but face it - is there ever a good time to be controversial in American politics? Isn't it just a huge game of who can suck up to the most demographics the most, and piss off the fewest demographics the least? Never mind about "doing the right thing" any more...

Lets not forget that at one time the country was apparently having a hard time contemplating even a Catholic President (Kennedy), and that back then a black President would have been unthinkable. And not too much before that a woman president would also be unthinkable - long after they were actually allowed to vote. If someone were to fault Obama for being black would he not run to the bully pulpit to level their preposterous racist hate speech? And wouldn't Hillary or any right thinking Democrat do the same thing?

So why do a turnaround and tacitly accept vilification of Muslims or the notion that a Muslim might ever been President of this country? Surely it is only the severe erosion of the church and state separation by out current President that would ever make the religion of the President an issue - ever. Period. When religion, racism, sexism, hatred, bribes, corruption, money are all kept out of government then these things are just not a problem - any honest hardworking person is a potential candidate who can be weighed entirely on valid merits and not bogus ones dreamed up by FUD mongerers with nothing better to do than spend their lives pandering to their own favorite special interest - themselves.

So come on Obama, this is your chance to label racial, religious and other intolerance exactly that - intolerable! Tell those bigots that if they want to label religion a problem then they are part of the problem that is bringing this country down. You either accept all religions or you have to throw out all religions - even (and especially) in government. Otherwise one day we'll have Christians arguing about which particular brand of Christianity is the right one for a President (which arguably what they are doing already hence no President Romney)

If Obama can speak out about religious intolerance towards Muslims then where's he going to stand when the come for the blacks, the gays, and the atheists?

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Sub-prime vs. Consumer The Resurrection

And I thought the banks were supposed to be repentant, and had learned their sub-prime lesson. Cash handouts were made by the government to keep the ol' he-con-o-me [economy] going and they were going to be good.

So is it any surprise I find myself deluged with even more 0% interest teaser credit cards with super-prime rates of 15% or more after the sting is in. And unlike the "good times" every single one comes with a transfer fee so its really 3% interest. Nope, you can't fool me, but I'm sure there are many in-debt mortgage payers going for broke in these babies only to get sub-primed all over again.

I mean what gives? First its the energy crisis, then its the stock market collapse, then its housing market collapse (forgive me if I skipped a few there). Has the entire US economy finally simplified itself down to some perpetual tag-team pyramid scheme not unlike Orwell's perpetual war against Oceania, no scratch that East Asia, no scratch that. Anyway, you get the picture...

I would be a little less bitter but last night I watched, well listened to, Zeitgeist, that well known training flick for neo-conspiracists. It was nothing I hadn't seen already in separate pieces and from different sources but as a whole it certainly either beats you down or sends you away laughing at people's stupidity.

The one striking claim that I took from it was that the Federal Reserve bank at one time manufactured a collapse by pumping cash into the economy causing a spate of lending by small banks. Then a little while later they deliberately tightened the drawstrings causing thousands of small banks to fail and end up getting bought up at a bargain by the big guys - which was the intended purpose. I mean you really can't have just anybody loaning out money...

So as I hear about the billions being pumped into the economy by the central banks of the world, a rash of credit card offers to consumers, I keep wondering how long it will be before fiscal policy is tightened and the next boatload of banks will go tits up. Oh well, as the Captain of the Exxon Valdez said as he swigged on his tenth beer for the night and parked his vessel into the side of Alaska for the night - "It's all good for the economy!".

(Yeah, I know he didn't actualy say that, but it is - as government paid economists currently measure "good").

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Another solution to the fuel/carbon/resource crisis

This is one solution to the fuel/carbon/resource crisis that few people are talking about - taxing production, human production. It's pretty clear a sure fire way to half consumption is to halve the number of consumers, it will just take 100 years to have full effect.

I guess China tried a variant on this a while back with their one child policy and it wasn't very popular or successful. The Australian proposal has the interesting twist that it makes procreation a luxury the rich can afford easily which surely has some unpleasant eugenic implications.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

The next "big thing" and the next anti-"big thing"

So first it was the dot com crash - everyone saw that coming right? Well they should have done - people were predicting it for years. My friend the Tin Man started bugging me about it before most even realized the dot com era was here, let alone on its way out. There was never really any "if" about it, it was just a question of when the merry-go-round would stop sending everyone flying off into economic disarray.

Then there was 9/11. Of course most of us never saw the planes coming, either actually or metaphorically (apparently the CIA/FBI/NSA and Bush government did the latter), but some of us wondered just how long the government could keep the FUD masquerade up. They made it easier by pumping over a $1,000,000,000,000 of borrowed cash into the national economy while simultaneously pulling cash out of the local economies. It was kind of like sitting in foamy bath tub of bubbles with air coming in an bubbles getting bigger and fewer, rising over our head, popping here and there, their connections getting more and more strung out (like local economies and our bank balances) until we are all sitting under this single tenuous shiny impossibly thin veil of something not quite sure of what is holding the bubble up there. Then one day along comes a butterfly called "sub-prime" that flaps its wings and brings it all crashing down. Pooh - no more bubble and we're sitting cold, wet and alone in the tube crying for mother to bring us a warm blankey.

There, there, America, Mama will keep baby cosy and warm, Ooooh Babe Ooooh Babe Ooooh Babe, Of course Mama's gonna help build the wall...

So I ask you - what will be the next big thing and what will be next anti-"big thing" to bring it all crashing down. I mean I'm only 40 and I've already experienced a whole bunch of these - oil crisis, 1987 stock market crash, dot com crash, and now the sub-prime implosion (it's an implosion because Uncle Sam doesn't like to talk about banks crashing any more).

Be my guest - post your best guesses as a comment and let's see who gets it right!

Monday, October 15, 2007


This article got me thinking - what is worse: a President who protest his innocence of lying by arguing about what the definition of "is" is, or one who wants to protest his innocence of torture by arguing about what the definition of "torture" is?

Read the second to last paragraph and you'll realize that times really have changed, and when brute force is substituted for intelligence it is definitely a change for the worse.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Dog mauling

Analogy - if cars randomly went crazy and killed people. Find dog mauling statistics.

How to arrest 2,000 people a day

I guess I'm going to have to read the book to get the real facts, but this Alternet article reveals more staggering figures on how the USA wastes staggering resources busting people for petty drug charges. Over 600,000 arrests a year for simple possession of pot - not dealing or trafficking, just possession. That's one an a half times the population of Oakland getting a criminal record every year. Okay, I'm ignoring the possibility of multiple arrests of the same person but even so. And the combined figure for all pot (not other drugs, just pot) arrests at over 800,000 per year exceeds all violent crime arrests.

Isn't that just mind numbingly crazy? Does anyone see the huge problem with this? Never mind the economic arguments - that legalizing pot could add $30-odd billion in tax revenue to the governments coffers, and remove a $100+ billion source of revenue from the criminal underworld.

This country has...

This country has jumped the shark.

Yes, that's right - I'm saying "The United States of America aka Team USA has JUMPED THE SHARK". I hear that phrase applied almost every day to some thing or other and a few weeks ago I started realizing it applied most appropriately to the USA. The signs are everywhere and if you don't see them you have jumped they shark with Team USA too.