Oct 31, 2010

Coming Out to the Congregation

Conyers, GA megachurch pastor Jim Swilley came out to his congregation this week, saying he made the potentially career-ruining decision in light of recent gay teen suicides.

“As a father, thinking about your 16-, 17-year-old killing themselves, I thought somebody needed to say something,” Swilley said in an interview with Atlanta’s WSB-TV. “I know all the hateful stuff that’s being written about me online, whatever. To think about saving a teenager, yeah, I’ll risk my reputation for that.”

To be fair, Blasphemes never ran an article on this guy when the allegations came up a couple weeks ago, because, really, gay pastor - come on? Even we don't run those stories anymore they're so casually common now. Hiding or preaching anti-gay at the pulpit probably would have gotten a mention -- but we didn't hear or discover anyone saying that about him.

Coming out to save gay teens really is awesome and inspiring and all... but before I give him a free pass --

He felt that he needed to lie for 21 years with the mother of his children, and to have a wife to keep the lie to his congregation to give the impression of a good pastor? What kind of example is that? To anyone?

And is this his well crafted opportunity to come out, and come out in a bright shinny light, rather than in the internet fed scandal? I mean, he pulled this PR stunt off so well, he might even try to attract the gay community to worship with him - and tithe with his congregation? That's not gay, that's skill, showmanship and a stunt worthy of praise. And career boosting - not ending.

Sunday Comics: Week in Review

We made it. Finish line. The end of the week. The power is still on, and the Zombie Apocalypse is on AMC and not on my street -- that's a half truth, as it's Halloween. We can still ward off the zombies and Batmen, and the Princess Fairy Ballerinas with small packets of High Fructose Corn Syrup rather than Remington lead.
Meantime, on the Mall of America - the one in DC, not Minnesota, two comedian political commentators are holding a rally. Jon Stewart's Speech Today

Full text HTML -

Best reaction from YouTube comments:

"This is the kind of speech you want to see quoted in future history books.

And these beautiful words were not given by a world leader, president, or congressman. They were given by a stand-up comedian who has a comedy show on TV.

We are at a strange time in the kingdom, when the wisest, sanest, most rational voice of them all is that of the court jester."

Meantime - here's your digital button to display on 4 square, facebook, or what have - you.

Meantime Linus sits in his pumpkin patch waiting for real reason to rise out of there and give him presents. Or is The Great Pumpkin supposed to be a deity? Either way, rational Linus gets duped every year. And they call Charlie Brown a loser. Maybe Peanuts are deeper than we give them credit?
Still doesn't change the fact the Democrats are in for a bloodbath on Tuesday.
But, hilariously, it's not the Democrats who are going to lose - it's ALL of US! I particularly like this cartoon, and I would even say it's one of my favorites of the year.Finally, this was found on a wall.
Thank good peer reviewed science we made it. Hope to see you at the end of next week.

PS - Back in the day, the Halloween Hours were posted. It was After Dinner (5:30 to 7:30) Before Bed.
Now, I've heard of people taking the kiddies out as early as 2:00 PM? WTF? Come on! I'm not answering the door at 2 PM unless you have a warrant. And, look, teenagers, you can come and have my small packet of M&M's - that's fine. Respect the light on - I'm playing, Light off - I'm not. We cool?

But you know what pisses me off the most? It's parents Trick-or-Treating with babies. Not that I don't want to see your little angel dressed up as the Bride of Frankenstein -- it's that you're asking me to give you candy... for the baby? Seriously?

No. Because you, the parent are going to eat it, or much worse, you'll give it to that child.

Oct 30, 2010

A Peak at Peak Oil?

The U.S. Geological Survey says a revised estimate for the amount of conventional, undiscovered oil in the National Petroleum Reserve in Alaska is a fraction of a previous estimate.

The group estimates about 896 million barrels of such oil are in the reserve, about 90 percent less than a 2002 estimate of 10.6 billion barrels.

ooohh oh.

Saturday Morning Cartoons

For Halloween, from 1954, it's Bugs Bunny and Witch Hazel in Bewitched Bunny.

Oct 29, 2010

Yep, They Still Hate Us

Authorities on three continents thwarted multiple terrorist attacks aimed at the United States from Yemen on Friday, seizing two explosive packages addressed to Chicago-area synagogues and packed aboard cargo jets. The plot triggered worldwide fears that al-Qaida was launching a major new terror campaign.

President Barack Obama called the coordinated attacks a "credible terrorist threat," and U.S. officials said they were increasingly confident that al-Qaida's Yemen branch, the group responsible for the failed Detroit airliner bombing last Christmas, was responsible.

Parts of the plot might remain undetected, Obama's counterterror chief warned. "The United States is not assuming that the attacks were disrupted and is remaining vigilant," John Brennan said at the White House.

-- but if this had happened to Bush, four days before the Mid-Term Elections, oh yeah, it did... and we know what everyone was screaming that he was manipulating our fears. Wait, no, he was - at least I think that's what Tom Ridge said in his book? I don't know, I didn't read it - but someone else read it and told me that was totally in there.

But, no hold on here, I thought Mr. Obama was going to make the terrorists love us so that they wouldn't send bombs in ink toner cartridges to synagogues in FedEx packages? Man! Maybe it's our breath. That must be it. It's our breath. America, please, brush your teeth to avoid being hated and bombed by the bad guys. Boy, I hope that works!

Guess Who Didn't Pay Their Taxes?

DNC and Dems’ Private Club Delinquent on Taxes 16 Times in 7 Years (PJM Exclusive)

Wait, Joe Biden said that paying higher taxes is patriotic? The Democratic National Committee and their private dining establishment in D.C., the National Democratic Club, are serious tax scofflaws.

Apparently, the DNC was having trouble running their events as a business, and even after they turned a corner after raising fees and drink prices - they still didn't pay their back taxes.

The Democratic National Committee and the party’s private club in the nation’s capitol have been delinquent with tax payments on sixteen separate occasions over the last seven years, Pajamas Media has learned - and can't wait to tell everyone.

According to District of Columbia government records, since 2004 the Democrats’ main political committee and its National Democratic Club — an exclusive restaurant and hideaway on Capitol Hill where prominent Democrats and their guests dine — have been hit with fines and interest penalties in excess of $115,000 for failure to pay their property taxes on time. But, but - they're Democrats! Democrats don't pay taxes!

In all fairness, it's because Ted Kennedy's estate still hasn't paid his bar tab.

And Pajamas Media sent "Joe" "the Plumber" to Israel as a war correspondent - which I think needs to be mentioned pretty much everytime someone says Pajamas Media.

GOP Courts New Voters

A Houston based group called Raging Elephants is looking to change their dynamic with their new billboard, "GOP Is The New Black" campaign. The new billboard depicts a number of well-heeled African-American actors while trumpeting the new slogan. Its also likely to spark a debate that may include allegations of race-baiting, as well as a certain inquiry into where the funds initially came from...

And no word on who decided that this was a good idea, or not the lamest thing anyone has ever seen.

Thank you for your candy, goodnight

Jim @ Sweet Juniper constructed a homemade RoboCop costume for his son out of empty plastic containers and a bike helmet, and took him for a walk around Detroit.

Check out the entire photo set over here.

Where is Clarence Boddiger's house?

I hear he's giving out snow caps - whatever that is.

Oct 28, 2010

The Delusion

If were to actually ask a conservative, a real one, about the Bush years, you might be surprised and get an honest answer - that the Republicans f*cked everything up. They will blame Bush for spending recklessly, and expanding the wars - and TARP. Occasionally you'll even get an ear full about the Patriot Act. Some will bitch about Cheney opening up the treasury for all his buddies, others will complain about McCain. The real conservatives will explain it's all these things why they got their ass handed to them in 2006 and 2008. They did a lousy job when it was their job.

However, listening to the stories and the narrative being written right now, the Democrats have not owed up or even contemplated why they're about to get slaughtered. And this as their aids are laying out the plastic sheeting in anticipation of their bloodbath.

Which, seemingly, shouldn't make any sense at all. The Republicans were (practically) unable to stop the Pelosi/Reed/Obama agendas and projects. They passed: The stimulus, expanded bailouts, financial reform, Cash for Clunkers, the student loan takeover, and Health Insurance Reform.

Obama pulled the reckless reigns of foreign policy from the idiot cowboy and won the Nobel Prize for his amazing turn around in policy -- or something like that. Mr. Obama handled a major disaster in Louisiana completely differently than the Fortunate Son, and now the Democrats are so powerful they can get bills that haven’t even been read, they've appointed numerous czars that are above recall and oversight, oh, and they can spend like there’s no tomorrow - with zero consequences.

Guess who’s been running on this agenda? Yeah, the displaced and rebuked un-electable Republicans. And isn't it strange that the Democrats aren't even mentioning their records, or even running away from them at this point?
"My name may not be on the ballot, but our agenda for moving forward is on the ballot, and I need everybody to turn out." -- Barack Obama
Last night Jon Stewart should have told him to quit saying this, as it's a rally cry for his enemies.

My point is, rather than realizing that their Rahming of a slipshod agenda through America's oversized gut was their undoing, they're too busy blaming everything and everyone else - from foreign money, to Bush (still), and that Obama being too nice, or the laziest - that the American people are irrational and racist....

And now they're already bullsh*tting themselves that the Republican landslide is going to be a GOOD thing for Obama and his agenda.
“Delusion arises from anger. The mind is bewildered by delusion. Reasoning is destroyed when the mind is bewildered. One falls down when reasoning is destroyed.” ~Bhagavad Gita
The real fun will be when the n00b Republicans announce, casually, on week six that they, "...had no idea the enormity of the problem..." and snuggle into the lobbyists and the backslapping backroom deals that all that came before them ALL fell into. THAT's when things are going to get really funny.

Web of GoOP

NPR is attacked by the right hand fringe of the political carpet. NPR decides to run a story about the "independent" groups that are funding all the ads this cycle... I'll save you the trip and show you the money.
It sounds like a tit-for-tat attack right up Fox News's cycle - except for one problem... NPR did this number on the Democrats in 2008.

But with the Democrats, theirs was much larger and more interesting.

Link to one from 2008

Action Figure

The website Herobuilders.com offers an assortment of action figures, including politically themed figures. In addition to featuring a disproportionate amount of Sarah Palin figures, the site also has a talking Jimmy McMillan doll, otherwise known as "the rent is too damn high" guy.

What does Jimmy McMillan the action figure say? We'll give you one guess.

If you're thinking of Christmas gifts early, or know someone who really gets into the spirit of midterms, the talking McMillan will run you $49.95. Or you could save and get the non-talking McMillan figure ($39.95) but then you'd really be missing out on the best part of the action figure. (via Herobuilders.com)

Of course, we know that Sam Jackson is already growing his facial hair to star in the movie version of the New York Debate.

Oct 27, 2010

Silencing Joe Buck And Tim McCarver

Silencing Joe Buck And Tim McCarver: Some Simple Tech Solutions To Our Crappy World Series Announcers...

Joe Buck and Tim McCarver, Fox's World Series broadcast team, will begin inflicting themselves on a national television audience tonight.

Thankfully, technology offers recourse that doesn't involve throwing something heavy at the TV: just synch up the broadcast with radio commentary. [via Deadspin]

Squash the Rebellion

That's No Moon!"Do not be too proud of your vegetative terror. The ability to destroy a pumpkin is insignificant when compared with the power of the force."

Documentary Review: The Spill

Expecting a play-by-play review of the Deep Water Horizon last night's FRONTLINE: The Spill | PBS [Watch streaming online] was instead a deep dive into the events and corporate culture that created the environment in which the Gulf Oil spill was just one of many disasters ready to pop.

Apparently, the investors and the Board of Directors were pence wise and pound foolish by cutting, across the board 25% of their operating cost. While this was great for pentioners depending on BP's stock dividends - the men on the ground and the antiquated equipment suffered. They suffered with safety failures that lead to death. Their systematic attitude that comes across is, "Why spend hard dollars on silly things like updating safety gear? It's not like there's been an accident!?"

The documentary uses Deep Water as the cherry pit on the moldy banana split that BP had created. I had the expectation of a play-by-play of a failed blow-out preventer, and instead the journalists got into the DNA of BP and the failure of a culture. I was pleasantly surprised, and then horrified by the misconduct of BP management and employees, let alone their complete disregard for overall safety of human life and consequences be damned... the plan was to just get the checkbook out after it happens... and then lowball it.

A dollar saved is a dollar on the balance sheet.

One of the episode’s strengths is footage found in BP’s own film library. In one sequence, newly-minted BP boss Hayward, speaking to business-school students, pretty much confesses to all of the company’s extant flaws and errors.

“He comes in and pledges that he’s going to correct all this,” Smith said. “He analyzed it correctly and had good intentions, and was by all accounts trying to do the right thing, but you essentially have a guy who’s trying to turn around the Titanic when it’s too late.”

Expecting to see Hayward come off as the media comic book villain - I was disappointed. They actually were able to show his, if not human, at least pragmatic sense of course correction. It's a study in his Public Relation's department that should show the failure of the image of the man -- that's a whole other doc, if you were to ask me.

I should also note that the documentary doesn't shy away from pointing out that the failure of the United States government to connect the dots also contributed to the Gulf spill.

Do give this a watch, it's worthy of your hour of attention.

Oct 26, 2010

Influence Tracker

  1. Build your own Influence Tracker by selecting a senator or representative by clicking on .
  2. See the lawmaker's corporate logos of top contributors, displayed in a NASCAR-style sponsor silhouette
  3. Click on the to see the lawmaker's top contributors.
  4. Then copy and paste the embed code into your own site. Read more on Wired.com.

Don't Tread on Me?

Rand Paul Supporter Stomps Head Of Protester Outside Debate [Click to see the video...]

Do you wonder if this was staged? This is politics, so the only thing that matters is the illusion if legitimacy. The Paul campaign put out a statement. The facts are there are multiple events of apparent violence by both sides. It was reported (reading from the same posting about this incident on Huffington Post) that a Rand Paul supporter (also a woman) was assaulted, but who has times for facts?

Also reported was the fact that the woman was a paid instigator. An actor in the theater of politics.

It's admitted that she was paid to attend multiple events trying to insert herself next to Rand Paul for the purpose of getting some kind of embarrassing photo taken.

It's not all all out of the question that she and others around her were attempting to goad someone into overreacting to her premeditated attempts at creating a controversy. And it's still unclear who the male was - he could just as easily been a provocateur (if they fail to identify him given all the cameras at the event I'll be even more suspicious that that is the case).

The updates had her pressing charges, then later reporting that she was "leaning towards pressing charges".

At least the headline to the Huffington Post has the decency to say "apparent" supporter... but immediate guilt upon Rand Paul directly for a series of events that are as of yet not fully known.

Cui Bono? -The clear beneficiary of the immediate narrative put forth is for the establishment favored incumbent, that just so happens to have been trailing in the polls and faces an anti-incumbent political landscape.

Here's the Huffington post on it. - It's been updated a few times. The protester had a concussion but was okay and released. The police still haven't identified the boot.

However, staged or not, smashing someone's head with one's boot is deplorable and should be prosecuted to the highest extent of the law.

WMD in Iraq Was True, but Only Because Wikileaks Said So

One surprising development with the newest WikiLeaks information dump has been how many liberals are now willing to admit that Gulf War era WMDs were found in Iraq. For years, many folks not only denied that WMDs had been found in Iraq, they openly mocked people who said otherwise.

So now that WikiLeaks has released the information, they finally believe it and are producing articles like this...

WikiLeaks Show WMD Hunt Continued in Iraq With Surprising Results

By late 2003, even the Bush White House’s staunchest defenders were starting to give up on the idea that there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.

But for years afterward, WikiLeaks’ newly-released Iraq war documents reveal, U.S. troops continued to find chemical weapons labs, encounter insurgent specialists in toxins, and uncover weapons of mass destruction.

An initial glance at the WikiLeaks war logs doesn’t reveal evidence of some massive WMD program by the Saddam Hussein regime — the Bush administration’s most (in)famous rationale for invading Iraq. But chemical weapons, especially, did not vanish from the Iraqi battlefield. Remnants of Saddam’s toxic arsenal, largely destroyed after the Gulf War, remained. Jihadists, insurgents and foreign (possibly Iranian) agitators turned to these stockpiles during the Iraq conflict — and may have brewed up their own deadly agents.

Oh, and the Iranian involvement in Iraq and also Afghanistan has been substantial... even the NY Times ran an article on that today. Afghan Leader Admits His Office Gets Cash from Iran

Oct 25, 2010

140 Million Dollars to the wind

Watch carefully, with one sentence - you can actually see 140 million dollars blow away.

Sure, Governor Moonbeam helped pass the collective bargaining bill that created public employee unions that have contributed to the bankrupting of the State of California... but this is about positive advertising, and how nice it was to be in California 30 years ago... before Meg Whitman lived there.

Seems to be working: Brown Opens Up Lead in California.


This was spotted at last night’s Packers-Vikings game.

[thanks joel!]

3 Trillion

(CNSNews.com) - It's official: The Obama administration has now borrowed $3 trillion, according to the U.S. Treasury Department.

It took from 1776, when the United States became an independent country, until 1990, the year after the Berlin Wall fell signaling victory in the Cold War, for the federal government to accumulate a total of $3 trillion in debt, according to the Treasury Department. It only took from Jan. 20, 2009, the day President Barack Obama was inaugurated, until Oct. 15, 2010, for the Obama administration to add $3 trillion to the federal debt.

The overall debt of the federal government, according to the Treasury Department, is now $13.666 trillion.

Yep, started with Bush, and was accelerated downhill with no breaks by Pelosi/Reed and Mr. Obama.

Now here's an illustration that compares the built of an average human being against a stack of $100 currency notes bundles.

dollar currency notes

A bundle of $100 notes is equivalent to $10,000 and that can easily fit in your pocket. 1 million dollars will probably fit inside a standard shopping bag while a billion dollars would occupy a small room of your house.

With this background in mind, 1 trillion (1,000,000,000,000) is 1000 times bigger than 1 billion and would therefore take up an entire football field – the man is still standing in the bottom-left corner.

trillion dollars

Related: Visualize Units of Measurement

The United States has borrowed three of these.

Oct 24, 2010

The Week In Review - Sunday Comics

Here's the end of the week round up...
First, NPR - meet FOX. What did everyone expect to have happen?
The bed bug craze is getting kind of nuts... which is hilarious, until you see one.
Foreclosures continue to be about as controversial as the loans themselves.
Taliban 'leadership' are sitting down to 'talk'. Who the hell knows what that means?
Obama's thrown out Hope and Change and is changing lanes to spew Fear. I've been saying since he picked Biden as his Veep he was going to get his ass handed back to him in 2010.
Puppet masters...
Corporate influence in this campaign is a little more, er -transparent, perhaps - obvious this cycle?
And when Mr. Obama lashed out upon the Chamber of Commerce for spending against him- it rang a just a tad hollow and hypocritical. It was definitely not presidential.
Well gang, we made it through another week. Hope to see you again next week!

Oct 23, 2010

Fear The Boom and Bust

Filed under Saturday morning cartoons: bonus time... here's the EconStories guys are back with three video lectures about "Fear The Boom And Bust"

Saturday Morning Cartoons

From 1960, here's Bugs Bunny and Yosemite Sam in Horse Hare.

Wikileaks other Shoe Drops

A close analysis of the 391,832 documents helps illuminate several important aspects of this war:

The deaths of Iraqi civilians — at the hands mainly of other Iraqis, but also of the American military — appear to be greater than the numbers made public by the United States during the Bush administration.

¶ While the abuse of Iraqi prisoners by Americans, particularly at the Abu Ghraib prison, shocked the American public and much of the world, the documents paint an even more lurid picture of abuse by America’s Iraqi allies — a brutality from which the Americans at times averted their eyes.

¶ Iran’s military, more than has been generally understood, intervened aggressively in support of Shiite combatants, offering weapons, training and sanctuary and in a few instances directly engaging American troops.

¶ The war in Iraq spawned a reliance on private contractors on a scale not well recognized at the time and previously unknown in American wars. The documents describe an outsourcing of combat and other duties once performed by soldiers that grew and spread to Afghanistan to the point that there are more contractors there than soldiers.

The Iraqi documents were made available to The Times, the British newspaper The Guardian, the French newspaper Le Monde and the German magazine Der Spiegel on the condition that they be embargoed until now.

Geoff Morrell, the Defense Department press secretary, strongly condemned both WikiLeaks and the release of the Iraq documents. “We know terrorist organizations have been mining the leaked Afghan documents for information to use against us and this Iraq leak is more than four times as large. By disclosing such sensitive information, WikiLeaks continues to put at risk the lives of our troops, their coalition partners and those Iraqis and Afghans working with us.”

Read the full Pentagon response »

Oct 22, 2010

Synergy Failure

ESPN is owned by The Walt Disney Company, which also happens to own Marvel Entertainment, so it’s only right to combine the two — right? Yeah, great idea...

Because comic books and jock cultures meld SO well in real life? Perhaps because you CAN do a thing, doesn't necessarily mean you SHOULD do a thing?

And if we're really going to nitpick - why would heroes be fighting each other on the court? They're all Avengers... which means they're all on the same team fighting the bad guys. Shouldn't Kobe be Dr. Doom or some nonsense?

You think you're a Vegan?

Pilot Tells TSA: No Naked Photos

He says this protest is about protecting everyone's civil liberties.

Here is HIS account of the incident:
October 15, 2010 – My name is Michael Roberts, and I am a pilot for ExpressJet Airlines, Inc., based in Houston (that is, I still am for the time being). This morning as I attempted to pass through the security line for my commute to work I was denied access to the secured area of the terminal building at Memphis International Airport. I have passed through the same line roughly once per week for the past four and a half years without incident. Today, however, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) agents at this checkpoint were using one of the new Advanced Imaging Technology (AIT) systems that are currently being deployed at airports across the nation. These are the controversial devices featured by the media in recent months, albeit sparingly, which enable screeners to see beneath people's clothing to an extremely graphic and intrusive level of detail (virtual strip searching). Travelers refusing this indignity may instead be physically frisked by a government security agent until the agent is satisfied to release them on their way in what is being touted as an "alternative option" to AIT. The following is a somewhat hastily drafted account of my experience this morning.

As I loaded my bags onto the X-ray scanner belt, an agent told me to remove my shoes and send them through as well, which I've not normally been required to do when passing through the standard metal detectors in uniform. When I questioned her, she said it was necessary to remove my shoes for the AIT scanner. I explained that I did not wish to participate in the AIT program, so she told me I could keep my shoes and directed me through the metal detector that had been roped off. She then called somewhat urgently to the agents on the other side: "We got an opt-out!" and also reported the "opt-out" into her handheld radio. On the other side I was stopped by another agent and informed that because I had "opted out" of AIT screening, I would have to go through secondary screening. I asked for clarification to be sure he was talking about frisking me, which he confirmed, and I declined. At this point he and another agent explained the TSA's latest decree, saying I would not be permitted to pass without showing them my naked body, and how my refusal to do so had now given them cause to put their hands on me as I evidently posed a threat to air transportation security (this, of course, is my nutshell synopsis of the exchange). I asked whether they did in fact suspect I was concealing something after I had passed through the metal detector, or whether they believed that I had made any threats or given other indications of malicious designs to warrant treating me, a law-abiding fellow citizen, so rudely. None of that was relevant, I was told. They were just doing their job.

Eventually the airport police were summoned. Several officers showed up and we essentially repeated the conversation above. When it became clear that we had reached an impasse, one of the more sensible officers and I agreed that any further conversation would be pointless at this time. I then asked whether I was free to go. I was not. Another officer wanted to see my driver's license. When I asked why, he said they needed information for their report on this "incident" – my name, address, phone number, etc. I recited my information for him, until he asked for my supervisor's name and number at the airline. Why did he need that, I asked. For the report, he answered. I had already given him the primary phone number at my company's headquarters. When I asked him what the Chief Pilot in Houston had to do with any of this, he either refused or was simply unable to provide a meaningful explanation. I chose not to divulge my supervisor's name as I preferred to be the first to inform him of the situation myself. In any event, after a brief huddle with several other officers, my interrogator told me I was free to go.

As I approached the airport exit, however, I was stopped again by a man whom I believe to be the airport police chief, though I can't say for sure. He said I still needed to speak with an investigator who was on his way over. I asked what sort of investigator. A TSA investigator, he said. As I was by this time looking eagerly forward to leaving the airport, I had little patience for the additional vexation. I'd been denied access to my workplace and had no other business keeping me there.

"Am I under arrest?" I asked.

"No, he just needs to ask you some more questions."

"But I was told I'm free to go. So… am I being detained now, or what?"

"We just need to hold you here so he can…"

"Hold me in what capacity?" I insisted.

"Detain you while we…"

Okay, so now they were detaining me as I was leaving the airport facility.

We stood there awkwardly, waiting for the investigator while he kept an eye on me. Being chatty by nature, I asked his opinion of what new procedures might be implemented if someday someone were to smuggle an explosive device in his or her rectum or a similar orifice. Ever since would-be terrorist Richard Reid set his shoes on fire, travelers have been required to remove their footwear in the security line. And the TSA has repeatedly attempted to justify these latest measures by citing Northwest flight 253, on which Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab scorched his genitalia. Where, then, would the evolution of these policies lead next?

"Do you want them to board your plane?" he asked.

"No, but I understand there are other, better ways to keep them off. Besides, at this point I'm more concerned with the greater threat to our rights and liberties as a free society."

"Yeah, I know," he said. And then, to my amazement, he continued, "But somebody's already taken those away."

"Maybe they have," I conceded, watching the throng of passengers waiting their turn to get virtually naked for the federal security guards.

As a side note, I cannot refrain here from expressing my dismay and heartbreak over a civil servant's personal resignation to the loss of civil liberty among the people by whom he is employed to protect and serve. If he no longer affirms the rights and freedom of his fellow citizens, one can only wonder exactly what he has in view as the purpose of his profession.

The TSA investigator arrived and asked for my account of the situation. I explained that the agents weren't allowing me to pass through the checkpoint. He told me he had been advised that I was refusing security screening, to which I replied that I had willingly walked through the metal detector with no alarms, the same way I always do when commuting to work. He then briefed me on the recent screening policy changes and, apparently confused, asked whether they would be a problem for me. I stated that I did indeed have a problem with the infringement of my civil rights and liberty.

His reply: "That's irrelevant."

It wasn't irrelevant to me. We continued briefly in the conversation until I recognized that we were essentially repeating the same discussion I'd already had with the other officers and agents standing by. With that realization, I told him I did not wish to keep going around and around with them and asked whether he had anything else to say to me. Yes, he said he did, marching indignantly over to a table nearby with an air as though he were about to do something drastic.

"I need to get your information for my report," he demanded.

"The officer over there just took my information for his report. I'm sure you could just get it from him."

"No, I have to document everything separately and send it to TSOC. That's the Transportation Security Operations Center where we report…"

"I'm familiar with TSOC," I assured him. "In fact, I've actually taught the TSA mandated security portion of our training program at the airline."

"Well, if you're an instructor, then you should know better," he barked.

"Really? What do you mean I 'should know better'? Are you scolding me? Have I done something wrong?"

"I'm not saying you've done something wrong. But you have to go through security screening if you want to enter the facility."

"Understood. I've been going through security screening right here in this line for five years and never blown up an airplane, broken any laws, made any threats, or had a government agent call my boss in Houston. And you guys have never tried to touch me or see me naked that whole time. But, if that's what it's come to now, I don't want to enter the facility that badly."

Finishing up, he asked me to confirm that I had been offered secondary screening as an alternative "option" to ATS, and that I had refused it. I confirmed. Then he asked whether I'd "had words" with any of the agents. I asked what he meant by that and he said he wanted to know whether there had been "any exchange of words." I told him that yes, we spoke. He then turned to the crowd of officers and asked whether I had been abusive toward any of them when they wanted to create images of my naked body and touch me in an unwelcome manner. I didn't hear what they said in reply, but he returned and finally told me I was free to leave the airport.

As it turned out, they did reach the chief pilot's office in Houston before I was able to. Shortly after I got home, my boss called and said they had been contacted by the TSA. I suppose my employment status at this point can best be described as on hold.

It's probably fairly obvious here that I am outraged. This took place today (now yesterday, when I wrote all this down), 15 October 2010. Anyone who reads this is welcome to contact me for confirmation of the details or any additional information I can provide. The dialog above is quoted according to my best recollection, without embellishment or significant alteration except for the sake of clarity. I would greatly appreciate any recommendations for legal counsel – preferably a firm with a libertarian bent and experience resisting this kind of tyrannical madness. This is not a left or right, red or blue state issue. The very bedrock of our way of life in this country is under attack from within. Please don't let it be taken from us without a fight.

Malo Periculosam Libertatem Quam Quietum Servitium

Michael S. Roberts
Unfortunately, since people would rather give up their liberties for the "sense" of security -- Mr. Roberts may have lost his job in vain. Now if he had pulled the escape hatch and grabbed some beers on the way out, more people would be aware of the pilot's heroics and potential sacrifice for the rest of us.

Oct 21, 2010

Well Duuuuhhhh!

In the 'Breaking News' section - I just got this bulletin...

Top Corporations Helping U.S. Chamber of Commerce Influence Campaigns

OMG Stop the Presses!

Prudential Financial sent in a $2 million donation last year as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce launched a national advertising campaign to weaken the historic rewrite of the nation's financial regulations.

Dow Chemical delivered $1.7 million to the chamber last year as the group took a leading role in aggressively fighting proposed new rules to tighten security requirements on chemical facilities. [the shock!]

And Goldman Sachs, Chevron Texaco, and Aegon, a multinational insurance company based in the Netherlands, donated more than $8 million in recent years to a chamber foundation seeking to limit the ability of trial lawyers to sue businesses. [the horror!]

The SCOTUS Citizens United v. Federal Elections Commission put the final period to the end of the sentence on which power indeed runs the Democracy - nay - the business climate that is the North American sphere of influence once called the United States of America.

These large donations -- none of which were publicly disclosed by the chamber -- offer a glimpse of the chamber's money-raising efforts, which it has ramped up recently in an orchestrated campaign to become one of the most well-financed critics of the Obama administration and an influential player in this fall's Congressional elections. Frankly, I'm surprised they haven't had their employees in Congress get rid of these 'transparency' rules of disclosure.

Okay - folks, here it is - there isn't a Democrat or Republican party. Okay. Really, get off your chairs. It's the Business Party. Has been for, oh, 200 some odd years now.

Let's stop pretending this is a news flash.

No Mormons in THIS Cub Scout Den

Church Bans Mormons from Cub Scouts: Not Christian

A Cub Scout troop chartered in North Carolina church has asked a couple to step down as troop leaders because they are Mormon. Jeremy and Jodi Stokes say they were told they are not "real Christians."

The couple's sons were members of the Cub Scout troop at the Christ Covenant Church, a Presbyterian Church, near Charlotte. The Stokes said they were happily accepted when they volunteered to be troop leaders. But that all changed when church leaders found out they were Mormon.

But, they said they'd let the kids say in Scouts -- but it's the parents that aren't fit for leadership positions in the den.

The Stokes kids are now in a scout troop at the local LDS church, and their parents are troop leaders. As far as the Boy Scouts are concerned, you can be a Boy Scout, but you can't always be a Boy Scout where you want to be one.

Oh, or gay. Or atheist. And before you threaten to sue, the Supreme Court agrees that the Scouts can keep you out of their club house.

What's interesting for me is that there's discrimination for believing in the wrong invisible ghost man in the sky, but they'll still take your kids. And you can still play - but you can't come play at the Presbyterian troop/den - you'll have to take your tent over somewhere else.


Double Standard in Gun Raid

Louisiana man gets five years for shooting two deputies during no-knock drug raid. He says he thought they were burglars, and actually called 911 during the raid.

“That’s something you have in Vietnam, not inside your house,’’ the judge told Henry. “We’re not in a war here. Seems like we are.’’

Your honor - it was the police that didn't follow the rules in the Constitution - not the accused.

Also, your honor - a Mosin Nagant isn't exactly a 'rare' weapon...

Snowball Planet Hoth

A recent admission from Star Wars actress Carrie Fisher reveals Hoth, site of the doomed rebel base in the first act of The Empire Strikes Back, to be home to more than one kind of snow.

“We did cocaine on the set of ‘Empire,’ in the ice planet,” she said in an interview while promoting her one-woman show in Australia. “I didn’t even like the coke that much, it was just a case of getting on whatever train I needed to take to get high.”

No, Carrie, you were supposed to get on the last transport... not the Falcon.

MORE, - including juicy bits about being on the set of the Blues Brothers

How come the only thing I can think of is... "Do you have any idea what the street value of this planet is?"

Oct 20, 2010

End of Times Postponed

A new critique, published as a chapter in the new textbook "Calendars and Years II: Astronomy and Time in the Ancient and Medieval World" (Oxbow Books, 2010), argues that the accepted conversions of dates from Mayan to the modern calendar may be off by as much as 50 or 100 years. That would throw the supposed and overhyped 2012 apocalypse off by decades and cast into doubt the dates of historical Mayan events. (The doomsday worries are based on the fact that the Mayan Calendar ends in 2012, much as our year ends on Dec. 31.) -- you know that pesky Solstice and all that rot.

Bummer. I wonder if I can get a refund from my cult leader who's been cashing all my paychecks?

The Next Economy and America's Future

"The perfect storm: An unprecedented concentration of income and wealth at the top; a record amount of secret money flooding our democracy; and a public becoming increasingly angry and cynical about a gov't that's raising its taxes, reducing its services, and unable to get it back to work. We're losing our democracy to a different system. It's called plutocracy." ~ Robert Reich

Everybody knows the dice are loaded.

ClimateFaith™ Loses a Physicist

In my ongoing questioning of all things unquestionable and taboo to question - and having few friends because of it - I continue to simply ask questions. One of those most taboo of subjects is ClimateFaith™ - the blind obsession with the idea that mankind has single-handedly ruined the earth and the thin bubble of oxygen that contains all of our stuff. Sure, we're messing it up faster than Gia Earth can clean up after us -- but our obsession with ruining all society and economic systems and also promoting eugenics to "save the planet" seems a tad bit extreme to me... and the blind faith that mimics organized religion. There's also a lot of money in this religion. It seems there is a new voice speaking up over the question of the blind ClimateFaith™ movement.

"The following is a letter to the American Physical Society released to the public by Professor Emiritus of physics Hal Lewis of the University of California at Santa Barbara.

Sent: Friday, 08 October 2010 17:19 Hal Lewis

From: Hal Lewis, University of California, Santa Barbara
To: Curtis G. Callan, Jr., Princeton University, President of the American Physical Society
For reasons that will soon become clear my former pride at being an APS Fellow all these years has been turned into shame, and I am forced, with no pleasure at all, to offer you my resignation from the Society.

It is of course, the global warming scam, with the (literally) trillions of dollars driving it, that has corrupted so many scientists, and has carried APS before it like a rogue wave. It is the greatest and most successful pseudoscientific fraud I have seen in my long life as a physicist. Anyone who has the faintest doubt that this is so should force himself to read the ClimateGate documents, which lay it bare. (Montford’s book organizes the facts very well.) I don’t believe that any real physicist, nay scientist, can read that stuff without revulsion. I would almost make that revulsion a definition of the word scientist.

Read the rest for his reasons. And then there’s a reply of sorts. On the other hand, there's this one...

[thanks D for the article]

Terrorist Hero

Whether someone other than Army Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan had a guiding hand in an attack that killed 13 soldiers at Fort Hood in Texas last year remains an open question, as military proceedings against Hasan get under way in Texas.

But that's not stopping AlQa-Duh from turning him into a superhero - worthy of emulation. While not 9/11 in spectacle - it served its purpose - to terrify. Al Qaeda spokesman.

"Hasan has become almost everything they've been hoping … he's legendary now within their movement," says Jarret Brachman, an expert on international terrorist groups and author of "Global Jihadism: Theory and Practice."

Read more....

PS - the Pentagon shooting yesterday was listed as "nothing", just a "random incident" by a guy with mental illness and a gun. Read more on that one...

Maybe we should let our soldiers carry weapons or something so they can shoot back?

French Riots

Rioters Rampage, Protesters Block French Airports
PARIS (AP) - Workers opposed to a higher retirement age blocked access to airports in Paris and around the country on Wednesday as hooded youths smashed store windows amid clouds of tear gas outside the capital.

Riot police in black body armor forced striking workers away from blocked fuel depots in western France, restoring gasoline to areas where pumps were dry after weeks of protests over the government proposal raising the age from 60 to 62.

Read more ....

60 to 62? Hey France - go to hell. Many workers feel the change would be a first step in eroding France's social benefits - which include long vacations, contracts that make it hard for employers to lay off workers and a state-subsidized health care system - in favor of "American-style capitalism." Really? Well you got the bitching about everything right - that's American. But 62? Really, seriously, go to hell.

UPDATE: Okay, after thinking this over more, and having a discussion with some folks - I think I understand it a little more. There is a breakdown of the social contract the French people made with their government. They pay 50% of their earned income, while they earn, to have the society that supports them past age 60.

USA - Personal taxes ~28-29% France - Personal taxes ~50% source

The government has failed them, and the social contract has been broken. The government needs two more years of labor to support the incredible cost to support the non-earners in their society.

Maybe I'd be more impressed that the workers are standing up for themselves if "Europeans on Strike" wasn't a cliché.

Oct 19, 2010

My New Hobby

Tear up whatever junk mail you get and send it back to them in their prepaid envelopes!


It's a new hobby - it's environmental - it's passive aggressive - and all the money goes to the US Postal Service! Everybody is a winner!

Found Here - they have a nice FAQ too, like how you shouldn't send underwear or Anthrax.

Constitution Test Failure

Christine O’Donnell ask where in the Constitution it says church should be kept separate from state. (@ 2:37.)

Either she really doesn’t know, which - you know - very bad, or she is quibbling over semantics (it doesn’t actually say “the separation of church and state”) because she doesn’t think church should be separate from state... which is much, much worse.


Soldier Refused to Leave Fallen Fort Hood Comrade

A wounded soldier with a clear path to the exit refused to leave his fallen comrade behind even as a gunman fired off shots near them during last year's deadly rampage at the Fort Hood Army post, a military court heard Thursday.

Spc. Alan Carroll said he had been shot in the arm but that as soon as he realized the chaos unfolding around him wasn't a training exercise he had to concentrate on helping a more seriously wounded fellow soldier.

"The only person I could see from ground was Pfc. [Aaron Thomas] Nemelka," Spc. Carroll said to the Article 32 hearing via a live video link from Kandahar, Afghanistan. "I told him it was not training and to get down."

Spc. Carroll was subsequently shot in the back and leg, but said he could have reached the door. Nevertheless, his training prevented him from escaping the bloodshed without Pfc. Nemelka.

"I'd been told never leave a fallen comrade. That's what was going through my mind. I needed to get out, but I needed to get him out with me," said Spc. Carroll, who was deployed to Afghanistan 10 months ago.

Read more ....

This is what bravery is. This is what good soldiering is. It's not drones and satellite tech - it's comradeship. He doesn't need a medal - he needs to be teaching our armed forces what it's all about.

All the best to Spc. Carroll!

And to anyone who reads this account still believes it was just a random act of violence, I'd love to hear your explanation.