Mar 31, 2009

Blasphemes Fail

Awesome: Star Wars/Dallas

What the Star Wars would look like if it was the Dallas TV series. My only gripe is that they didn't incorporate any of the John Williams score, but I'll look past that just for the editing.

Chicago Tax Revolt

It has begun.
“After more than 20 years here I’m done, just done. Our condo is for sale and when it does, we’re outta here. In one last act of defiance, my wife is going to drive our car and intentionally get a red light ticket with photo/video - we’ll have the plates disguised. When the video/photo is viewed, they’ll see my bare ass pressed against the back window accompanied a couple middle fingers. We’ll then drive out of town for the last time.” - Chicago Tom
When I lived on Clark and Belmont, there was a spot on Clark Street that had no parking meter. It had been ripped off or something. That was the aptly named “coveted spot.” When I was able to get that spot, usually on a Sunday morning at 6:00 AM, I’d find any way to not move that car. I'd walk more, turn down work, whatever it took to keep that spot. It was the proverbial “Free Parking” spot on the Monopoly board that is the City of Chicago. That was in 1996. It's gotten a whole lot worse.

Today, my friends in Chicago are faced with an increasing burden to fill the coffers of a perpetual budget shortfall. The tax burden is taking Chicago from a remarkably fun and livable city into a hostile battleground for wallets.

  • Between the unjustified 10.25% County Sales Tax - which is the highest in the country.
  • The privitization of parking meters - where the fines and fees were in place before the infrastructure to accommodate those changes.
  • There's a proliferation of Robo-Camera-Cops who's aim went from red light runners to insurance checks to speeder cams in the course of a half a week.
  • The streets are a sea of unfilled holes - a result of scaled back snow removal, unless, that street will be on the path of a visiting Olympic Official. Of course.
  • All in a State that is increasing income taxes and fees faster than they railroaded Rod out of office.
Why? Well somebody has to pay for all the cousins and cronies running the city, right? Clout, graft and corruption doesn't pay for itself you know? Hey, Just last week Streets and Sanitation chief Al Sanchez was found guilty of four of seven counts of mail fraud, having been accused of reinventing hiring rules to reward political allies.

There's a swell of backlash that's building.

It's not "vote with your feet" which, since the housing situation, has been harder to accomplish. Vote with your feet has been the historic American response.

This backlash is more violent this time. And it's only just begun.

By handing over municipal parking meters to a private company, the City of Chicago has given its citizens a colossal case of sticker shock. The cost of most meters will quadruple by 2013.

By playing by the rules, a driver in Chicago who inserts a quarter to their meter will find that it now only buys seven minutes. A single meter might require 28 quarters to park for two hours. (Sun Times). That meter might have been a single quarter for an hour a week or two ago.

In the deal, Pharaoh Mayor Daley II rammed through his pliable City Council in 48 hours allows the foreign company, LAZ Parking, to keep all revenue from the meters while the city keeps all cash from parking tickets when meters expire.

Parking tickets reap six, seven, even eight times more than what meters bring in. But - what if people start refusing to park at meters, or boycott them, how will they get ticketed? And how can the city hope to rake in that revenue?

And what about those folks who are forced to park at meters? At first, it seemed just random or coincidence when a broken meter was spotted. There’s no big surprise in finding a broken meter in Chicago–they’re everywhere, just like when I lived in the city.

But the number of broken meters seem to be increasing. Websites and Facebook updates are littered with folks advocating everything from a simple boycott, to using pennies or nickels to fill up the meters to capacity and render them inoperable–at least temporarily.

But then it shifted. That's when it went into another direction.

Spray paint.

An entire block of parking meters, numbering nearly 20, were spotted along west Irving Park in the Albany Park neighborhood, that had both the front and back of their heads spray painted black. Once spray painted, these meters are unreadable by Parking Enforcement Aides and therefore, vehicles can’t be ticketed as it’s impossible to see if the meters were fed or not.

Defacing, or Decal Removal

LAZ Parking’s new decals have been removed in a concerted effort along Lincoln Ave. and other streets in the Lakeview neighborhood, leaving long stretches of meters without any instructions on how and when to feed the meters. This leaves the meter without the proper information required by law to be an operational parking meter. A motorist could easily contest any expired meter ticket on these meters because it doesn’t exhibit the proper information.
“In some cases, these decals just peel right off the front of the meter with little or no effort. When these stickers were originally applied, the weather was very cold and it seems the adhesive didn’t adhere correctly. These stickers just come right off. They also appear to be too big to fit into the recessed area they are being placed in. Yet another case of someone in charge not knowing what they are doing.” - Brian
Super glue, Meters broken or damaged, overfed with pennies

One individual calling his or her self “Illinois Patriot,” is calling for direct vandalism attacks to disable parking meters.

“WE, the people, need to start fighting back! Here are some ideas to fight back:,” states Illinois Patriot in a communique to The Expired “A good shot of expanding foam should feed the meter’s coin slot nicely. Don’t get caught… Epoxy putties and VHB sided foam tapes show additional promise for field expedient mayhem and merriment.”

Now, we at Blasphemes NEVER condone the destruction of property or vandalisim. However, we seem to have not the beginning of a boycott... it looks more like the beginning of - dare I say -


Rock on.

Hey, wasn't someone in Chicago talking about a tea party the other day?

Mar 30, 2009

Napoleon 2

The world needs more of this, and less Nick Cage films okay? Thank you.
Can someone please make this now please?

Cheep Smokes? Not any more.

Anyone still smoking cigarettes, or any other tobacco product, probably won't be soon.

The major cigarette makers raised prices a couple of weeks ago, partly to offset any drop in profits once the per-pack tax climbs from 39 cents to $1.01. That's on top of a cigarette price increase from the tobacco companies, adding .71 to .80 cents per pack to offset future losses.

Why? Tobacco taxes are soaring to finance a major expansion of health insurance for children. On February 4, 2009, Congress enacted, and President Obama signed into law, a 62-cent increase in the federal cigarette tax, along with increases in other tobacco taxes, to fund expansion of the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP). The federal cigarette tax will increase to $1.01 per pack on March 31, 2009.

Advocates against smoking will see nothing but WIN in this...(link here)

And other states, like the Great Corrupt State of Illinois is viewing this as an opportunity to tack on another DOLLAR of tax on top of the already steep increase. (link here)

Of course, the obvious unintended consequence of raising cigarette, and other tobacco product's taxes, is that they are tying funding to a source of fluctuating income. In other words, if you tax it too much, the smokers will go away. Now your funding is gone.

Another thought is that black market cigarettes, or even funneling cigarettes through Duty-Free stores will sky rocket. And if you think rolling your own is a solution around it? Guess again. The tax on RYO tobacco goes from $1.10 per pound to $24.78 per pound. That's more than 2,100 percent! Tuesday, a sack of RYO tobacco will cost $15; Wednesday it will be $40.

So how many of you will be smoking on April Fools Day?
Got plans to quit, or will you just pay... oh, 10 or 11 bucks a pack in Chicago or New York?


Rick Wagoner to Step down as GM CEO, at Obama's Request.
He could be heard shouting in the parking lot, "A sedan, a sedan, my kingdom for a well built, fuel efficient sedan!"

One day before unveiling his rescue plan for GM and Chrysler, President Obama asked Wagoner to step down.
"Mr. Wagoner was asked, and agreed to, step down as part of G.M.'s restructuring agreement with the Obama administration, according to an administration official who spoke on condition of anonymity because a formal announcement has not been made yet.
The unexpected move by Mr. Wagoner, who has been at the helm of G.M. for eight years, was not confirmed by the company. A statement about Mr. Wagoner's future will be issued after the president's comments, which is expected to be Monday morning."
No word, yet, on the color of Mr. Wagoner's parachute. My guess it'll require another bailout on top of the second bailout they were asking for.

My take on all this
- It's time for GM to be carefully spun off and sold to their competitors. I'm sure that Ford wouldn't mind taking Jeep, and I'm sure that Kia would love all the empty GM dealerships. Perhaps Dodge and Cadillac could survive on their own?

Oh, GM where did you go wrong? Let me count the ways.

Among GM's many problems, I think their worst failure was losing the Gen X and the following Gen Y (whatever you want to call them) crowd. There was never the kind of dialog or loyalty given to these customers, nor was it returned the way it was with previous generations of Americans.

Second largest mistake was to practically concede the sedan to their competition in favor of the more profitable truck and SUV, and GM luxury vehicles. Citation? Ford isn't asking for bail out money, are they?

Third, their business model assumes you're going to purchase another vehicle in three years. Seeing the repair bills and number of recalls a typical GM car gets, this seems to be designed - not a great strategy when your competitors even "seems" or pulls off the Quality issue to the consumer.

Four, their designs focused more on exterior than interior... really, have you been in a GM vehicle - there are gaps and strange things going inside because the engineers took cost cutting inside, not the exterior...

and Five, they were too big to change the ship back to sedans when gas went to $4.

What's your take on this America?

Mar 29, 2009

Quick Question

Just got this in the mail bag. Perfect for Blasphemes:

First Lady Michelle Obama showed up as a surprise and welcome volunteer at Miriam's Kitchen, a soup kitchen for homeless poor people not far from the White House.

She brought with her some food donated by White House staff. The first lady served up mushroom risotto and broccoli to a long line of homeless men and women during part of her lunch hour and in these photos poses for a picture by one homeless diner obviously excited to be in the first lady's presence.

It doesn't detract from the first lady's generous gesture or the real needs she seeks to highlight to ask two bothersome journalistic questions about these news photos:

1. If this unidentified meal recipient is too poor to buy his own food, how does he afford a cell phone?

2. And if this gentleman is homeless, where do they send the cell phone bills?

Thanks from Kim

Mar 27, 2009

I work for the most hated company in America...

Just got this in the mail, folks:

I am an employee of AIG. Well, actually, now I am an employee of AIU Holdings Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of AIG. To answer questions that I am repeatedly asked by everyone, I work 9 to 5 everyday, I am not in the Financial Products division, and no, I didn't get a bonus.

From the very beginning of the initial bailout, we, as employees, really questioned the future of the company. There was talk of bankruptcy along with talk of being purchased by a company headed by our former CEO, Hank Greenberg. We were glued to the television and Internet like everyone else. Communication was poor within the company.

We looked in disbelief as our stock — which was as high as almost $60 in the last few years — tumbled below $2. We were all in shock. The phones became silent as many of our clients refrained from contacting us, either out of respect, or out of fear that they would be told something awful.

One day in late September, I was on my way home and two people were discussing what they would do if they ever saw "an AIG employee." I couldn't believe that two civil-looking men in suits could talk with such disdain and vulgarity toward people they didn't know.

Over the past couple weeks and after the bonuses became an issue, it's been reported that several threats were being made directly against the company and its employees. I even overheard talk of someone getting spit on while leaving work. We received a memo advising us that we should refrain from wearing anything with an AIG logo, and we should keep our AIG ID concealed. This is getting out of hand. How come I, a regular employee of AIG, underpaid by industry standards, who works 9-5, did not work for the Financial Products division and did not get a bonus, have to be on the lookout for threatening figures outside our building?

Employed, but embarrassed
Every Sunday I wake up, eat breakfast, and watch the Sunday morning news programs. Listening to those discussions used to be tolerable, but it now has begun to take its toll. The majority of us regular employees have either left for better job security or involuntarily separated from the company. Others continue to be employed with the embarrassment that they probably work for the most hated company in America. It's definitely been a challenge, to say the least.

Today we're the same department we were before September 2008 (except now we are allowed casual Fridays to boost morale). The phone rings, we answer, and we continue to work on behalf of our clients.

We watch the stock go up and down on a daily basis. We changed the signage on our building and switched the logo on our ID cards from AIG to AIU Holdings.

Most importantly, however, we are hard-working employees who take the same trains and buses you do. We work 9-5, we don't work in the Financial Products division, and no, we did not get a bonus.

American Jesus

The story "American Jesus" centers on the return of Christ in the modern world, leading to a final confrontation with the Antichrist in a bid to save humanity.

"Jesus," with its hot-button Christ-in-sneakers angle, seems like a candidate to benefit similarly from less interference.

Frankie Say Relax?! Either they're crucifying him in poor thrift shop fashion as some kind of statement -- or the artist is totally taking the piss.

And, if memory serves, was in a Friends episode, so it's lazy to boot.

Gatchaman Movie

Imagi Studio's next big undertaking is the CG anime epic, Gatchaman. The first poster of hero Joe Asakura was revealed at the 2009 Tokyo Anime Fair, and he's lookin' mighty sharp.

The feature film focusing on the Science Ninja Team Gatchaman is supposed to come out in 2010. The group is made up of 5 smart characters, with equally stunning bird-like suits and helmets, based on the fantastic 1970s Anime series.

You may know it as Battle of the Planets?

Maybe G-Force?

I eagerly await this release, because it looks smooth as hell based on the concept art.

White Devil's Mistakes

Brazil’s President Luiz InĂ¡cio Lula da Silva on Thursday blamed the global economic crisis on “white people with blue eyes” and said it was wrong that black and indigenous people should pay for white people’s mistakes. (Financial Times Link)

Well, he's only half right. It's white, blue-eyed Congress:
(From NYTimes Nov 5, 1999)
''Today Congress voted to update the rules that have governed financial services since the Great Depression and replace them with a system for the 21st century,'' Treasury Secretary Lawrence H. Summers said. ''This historic legislation will better enable American companies to compete in the new economy.''

The decision to repeal the Glass-Steagall Act of 1933 provoked dire warnings from a handful of dissenters that the deregulation of Wall Street would someday wreak havoc on the nation's financial system. The original idea behind Glass-Steagall was that separation between bankers and brokers would reduce the potential conflicts of interest that were thought to have contributed to the speculative stock frenzy before the Depression.
I thought we were better than this. Really. When will the endless racism against the powerless light skinned and uncolored eyed people of this planet EVER end?

Remember, racism is always an acceptable way for a head of state to express his views, as long as it's directed against whitey.

Allow a quick, second rebuttal...
Meet Vikram Pandit:

Citigroup's CEO Vikram Pandit has cemented his reputation as the worst CEO of the new breed of men who replaced the remarkably careless and callous executives who ran Citi, Merrill Lynch , AIG, and other financial colossi during the first part of the decade.

Pandit's tenure has been marked by tens of billion of dollars in losses and bumbling in his attempts to decide which business units the bank should keep and which should go. He said at one point that he would cut Citi's expense base by 20%. There is not much evidence to show that Pandit is even close to that goal.

Pandit was also the engineer of Citi's failed bid to buy Wachovia, more evidence of his very modest competence. Full Story here...
See, Luiz? It's not a matter of skin color - it's a matter of greed and incompetence! And greed and incompetence crosses gender, race, and creed!

Mar 26, 2009

Cobra Commander

We've shown you the face of Cobra Commander from the kids' toy line of the new live action G.I. Joe movie. But the previous plastic cherub face could not prepare us for the real thing.

The folks over at Topless Robot pointed us in the direction of this monstrosity. This, gang, is the face of the live action Cobra Commander:
Keee-rist. How hard is it to put a hood on a character? I'm almost waiting for them to chant Cobra lalalalaallaallaaah at the end of this disaster.

Inactive Wear

You Blew It - South Side Irish Parade is Over

You drunken idiots.
All 300,000 of you.
The party is over.
The organizers of the South Side Irish St. Patrick's Day Parade on Western Avenue, in Chicago IL, said they would no longer hold the event "in its present form."
Mary Beth Sheehan, a spokeswoman for the parade, said the decision was not the result of any specific incident. She said, "It's a cumulative thing. We have a small, wonderful neighborhood here. Mashing 300,000 people in here is a little too much for this neighborhood."

The parade is a "victim of its own success."

Okay look, I probably agree that this parade has gotten 'a wee bit' out of hand. Seeing 500 people run behind a building to pee on it at any one given moment was kind of surreal. Yeah, I was number 42 in that crowd.

Having your friends park a car on the parade route a couple days in advance, loaded to the gills with beer... yeah, but that's part of the experience.

Having to dry out for about ten hours after a twenty minute parade - yeah, that's awesome.

Now it's gone.

Makers of Oui Oui Port-a-potties and the nice folks who own pubs on Western are going to need city bail out money or something.

On the positive note, there's a little baby-kid's Irish parade on Northwest Highway...
(which, is already twenty times as large as when the South Side parade started in 1979. The original was seventeen kids and a red wagon with one of the kids dressed up as St. Pat.)

Feel free to share your favorite South Side Irish Parade memories -- however few of them you have.

Mar 25, 2009

Dear AIG - I Quit!

The following is a letter sent on Tuesday by Jake DeSantis, an executive vice president of the American International Group’s financial products unit, to Edward M. Liddy, the chief executive of A.I.G.

DEAR Mr. Liddy,

It is with deep regret that I submit my notice of resignation from A.I.G. Financial Products. I hope you take the time to read this entire letter. Before describing the details of my decision, I want to offer some context:

I am proud of everything I have done for the commodity and equity divisions of A.I.G.-F.P. I was in no way involved in — or responsible for — the credit default swap transactions that have hamstrung A.I.G. Nor were more than a handful of the 400 current employees of A.I.G.-F.P. Most of those responsible have left the company and have conspicuously escaped the public outrage.

After 12 months of hard work dismantling the company — during which A.I.G. reassured us many times we would be rewarded in March 2009 — we in the financial products unit have been betrayed by A.I.G. and are being unfairly persecuted by elected officials. In response to this, I will now leave the company and donate my entire post-tax retention payment to those suffering from the global economic downturn. My intent is to keep none of the money myself.

I take this action after 11 years of dedicated, honorable service to A.I.G. I can no longer effectively perform my duties in this dysfunctional environment, nor am I being paid to do so. Like you, I was asked to work for an annual salary of $1, and I agreed out of a sense of duty to the company and to the public officials who have come to its aid. Having now been let down by both, I can no longer justify spending 10, 12, 14 hours a day away from my family for the benefit of those who have let me down.

You and I have never met or spoken to each other, so I’d like to tell you about myself. I was raised by schoolteachers working multiple jobs in a world of closing steel mills. My hard work earned me acceptance to M.I.T., and the institute’s generous financial aid enabled me to attend. I had fulfilled my American dream.

I started at this company in 1998 as an equity trader, became the head of equity and commodity trading and, a couple of years before A.I.G.’s meltdown last September, was named the head of business development for commodities. Over this period the equity and commodity units were consistently profitable — in most years generating net profits of well over $100 million. Most recently, during the dismantling of A.I.G.-F.P., I was an integral player in the pending sale of its well-regarded commodity index business to UBS. As you know, business unit sales like this are crucial to A.I.G.’s effort to repay the American taxpayer.

The profitability of the businesses with which I was associated clearly supported my compensation. I never received any pay resulting from the credit default swaps that are now losing so much money. I did, however, like many others here, lose a significant portion of my life savings in the form of deferred compensation invested in the capital of A.I.G.-F.P. because of those losses. In this way I have personally suffered from this controversial activity — directly as well as indirectly with the rest of the taxpayers.

I have the utmost respect for the civic duty that you are now performing at A.I.G. You are as blameless for these credit default swap losses as I am. You answered your country’s call and you are taking a tremendous beating for it.

But you also are aware that most of the employees of your financial products unit had nothing to do with the large losses. And I am disappointed and frustrated over your lack of support for us. I and many others in the unit feel betrayed that you failed to stand up for us in the face of untrue and unfair accusations from certain members of Congress last Wednesday and from the press over our retention payments, and that you didn’t defend us against the baseless and reckless comments made by the attorneys general of New York and Connecticut.

My guess is that in October, when you learned of these retention contracts, you realized that the employees of the financial products unit needed some incentive to stay and that the contracts, being both ethical and useful, should be left to stand. That’s probably why A.I.G. management assured us on three occasions during that month that the company would “live up to its commitment” to honor the contract guarantees.

That may be why you decided to accelerate by three months more than a quarter of the amounts due under the contracts. That action signified to us your support, and was hardly something that one would do if he truly found the contracts “distasteful.”

That may also be why you authorized the balance of the payments on March 13.

At no time during the past six months that you have been leading A.I.G. did you ask us to revise, renegotiate or break these contracts — until several hours before your appearance last week before Congress.

I think your initial decision to honor the contracts was both ethical and financially astute, but it seems to have been politically unwise. It’s now apparent that you either misunderstood the agreements that you had made — tacit or otherwise — with the Federal Reserve, the Treasury, various members of Congress and Attorney General Andrew Cuomo of New York, or were not strong enough to withstand the shifting political winds.

You’ve now asked the current employees of A.I.G.-F.P. to repay these earnings. As you can imagine, there has been a tremendous amount of serious thought and heated discussion about how we should respond to this breach of trust.

As most of us have done nothing wrong, guilt is not a motivation to surrender our earnings. We have worked 12 long months under these contracts and now deserve to be paid as promised. None of us should be cheated of our payments any more than a plumber should be cheated after he has fixed the pipes but a careless electrician causes a fire that burns down the house.

Many of the employees have, in the past six months, turned down job offers from more stable employers, based on A.I.G.’s assurances that the contracts would be honored. They are now angry about having been misled by A.I.G.’s promises and are not inclined to return the money as a favor to you.

The only real motivation that anyone at A.I.G.-F.P. now has is fear. Mr. Cuomo has threatened to “name and shame,” and his counterpart in Connecticut, Richard Blumenthal, has made similar threats — even though attorneys general are supposed to stand for due process, to conduct trials in courts and not the press.

So what am I to do? There’s no easy answer. I know that because of hard work I have benefited more than most during the economic boom and have saved enough that my family is unlikely to suffer devastating losses during the current bust. Some might argue that members of my profession have been overpaid, and I wouldn’t disagree.

That is why I have decided to donate 100 percent of the effective after-tax proceeds of my retention payment directly to organizations that are helping people who are suffering from the global downturn. This is not a tax-deduction gimmick; I simply believe that I at least deserve to dictate how my earnings are spent, and do not want to see them disappear back into the obscurity of A.I.G.’s or the federal government’s budget. Our earnings have caused such a distraction for so many from the more pressing issues our country faces, and I would like to see my share of it benefit those truly in need.

On March 16 I received a payment from A.I.G. amounting to $742,006.40, after taxes. In light of the uncertainty over the ultimate taxation and legal status of this payment, the actual amount I donate may be less — in fact, it may end up being far less if the recent House bill raising the tax on the retention payments to 90 percent stands. Once all the money is donated, you will immediately receive a list of all recipients.

This choice is right for me. I wish others at A.I.G.-F.P. luck finding peace with their difficult decision, and only hope their judgment is not clouded by fear.

Mr. Liddy, I wish you success in your commitment to return the money extended by the American government, and luck with the continued unwinding of the company’s diverse businesses — especially those remaining credit default swaps. I’ll continue over the short term to help make sure no balls are dropped, but after what’s happened this past week I can’t remain much longer — there is too much bad blood. I’m not sure how you will greet my resignation, but at least Attorney General Blumenthal should be relieved that I’ll leave under my own power and will not need to be “shoved out the door.”

Jake DeSantis

I'll have a Jr. Whopper- and aw hell no!

Robber fatally shot in Miami Burger King holdup

An afternoon shootout at a busy Burger King restaurant in Miami left a potential robber dead and the customer who shot him seriously wounded.

The bloody event unfolded about 4 p.m. Tuesday at the restaurant at Northeast 54th Street and Biscayne Boulevard. It was a time, employees said, when it is usually crowded with schoolchildren and people getting out of work early.

The robber entered wearing a ski mask. He approached a clerk, showed his gun and demanded money, said Miami police spokesman Jeff Giordano.

A customer eyed him and the two started arguing. The customer had a concealed-weapons permit and his gun -- and the two exchanged gunfire.

The robber crumpled to the floor and was pronounced dead at the scene.

The customer, with several gunshot wounds, was in serious but stable condition at Jackson Memorial Hospital's Ryder Trauma Center.

Officers divided witnesses into several groups outside the restaurant to gather information about the incident. Employees waiting to start their shift called friends and family members on their cellphones to pass the time because they were not allowed through the police tape.

''I just hope all my people are OK inside,'' said Cynthia Thomas, who has worked at the Burger King for five years. "It is scary.''

(Reporting by ROBERT SAMUELS)


No thanks, maybe you have some Gayoff cologne? I have some friends who could use that.

Mar 24, 2009

Contaminated Colonoscopies Exposes Vets

CNN is reporting a possible contamination at VA - thats our Veterans - facilities!

Contaminated colonoscopy gear may have exposed THOUSANDS of Florida veterans to hepatitis, and HIV!

Florida lawmakers are seeking inquiry, and are raising concerns about other facilities.

The VA sent letters to people who may have had colonoscopies May 2004 to this month. Five YEARS, this has been going on!

Officials say tubing was rinsed but not disinfected, but say the risk of infection minimal.

This is how we treat our veterans?

You hosed it off a little?
"President Obama has listened to the concerns expressed by veterans' leaders and veterans' service organizations," Nancy Pelosi said. "We will leave no veteran behind."
But apparently we'll leave hepatitis and HIV IN our veterans behinds?

This is unacceptable!

I have always looked at how a society treats its soldiers and veterans as a reflection of that society. Too much emphasis or none at all tells a story. God help those men and women who are getting such unspeakable treatment.

Also, I will be tossing this story around to share with you my thoughts on Socialized Medicine -- the practice of medicine run by the state. THIS is exactly how I expect "care" to be administered once the profit is taken away - you get goddamn idiots who reuse the colonoscopy gear on people who served our country.

(okay, I took the Nancy Pelosi quote out of context, that was in reference to the Obama Administration trying to charge insurance companies for Veteran care - trying to pass the buck... but it just worked too damned well there)

Fear and Loathing in Consumer Land

I left the bunker and I was out on a trek to pick up the new Venture Bros. Season Three today. I contemplated also purchasing Quantum of Solice as well, but decided that it would be a perfect movie to try out a shinny new Red Box coupon. I hadn’t been excited enough about Quantum for a full all-out investment.

First stop, OK Purchase. Typically, greeted at the door by the yellow shirt guy. He pretends to welcome me to the store, while I know that this same guy will hassle me in about a half an hour. He’ll just assume that I have shoplifted half the store, and then using his crack security skills, he’ll be able to scan my items and my receipt and analyze both to see that I have - in fact - purchased what is in my bag. Incredible ninja skills, these yellow shirts have, no?

Meantime, I pinpoint exactly where my Venture Bros. Season Three is being held – the sticker is a shocking $26.00, which I can only assume is what they’ll be charging for this treasure next week. This is why when I do purchase, I always make sure I go the first week it is out, before the following Tuesday. Either that, or wait about six months for it to go on sale again.

There’s a goonish looking fellow blocking my way. I wait patiently, and even back off and scan the isle to see what else is out this week. How many Kung Fu Pandas are there now? What’s taking this guy so long? I realize that he’s trying to buy Twilight, but can’t do it in front of me. He’s pretending to look at other things, and then he eventually grabs a copy of Twilight and runs away. Look, I want to tell you goon, this isn’t the “behind the curtain” area of the VHS rental store. I don’t care in there what you’re looking at. Really. I care even less what you’re buying here. I DO care that you’re taking my time. Finally I grab the copy of what I’m looking for.

By some act of kindness, I had a left over gift card, AND a coupon from a bag of chips I ate once about a year ago. The total came out to $1.35. I had assumed it would have come out ahead, but the tax man got me. Time to get hassled by Mr. Yellow Shirt.

I’m in the parking lot. There are a strange, disproportionate number of men sitting in their running cars. It’s not yet lunchtime. It’s a little creepy. They can’t all be listening to something on NPR, or finishing a phone call. What’s going on? Time to get out of here.

I’m kind of hungry. Oooh, time to whip out that Costco card for a cheep ass lunch!

The parking lot of Costco is a game of Grand Theft Auto where you aren’t supposed to hit the people or the cars coming out of no where. Insanity has begun.

I still can’t believe the insanity surrounding a free tasting at the Costco. People will do the most ridiculous jumps and elbow moves to get a taste of an oil dripped corner of a ravioli.

I decide that what I went in there for was just coffee. I give up on my cart – which is a near fatal mistake! The cart is protection from imbeciles wandering the store staring at all the stuff. Everyone is hypnotized inside a Costco, and only the giant carts keep people from getting run over.

I make my way to the lines, which are gigantic for 11:30 AM. There are only three lanes open. In front of me are the two old ladies who have “Split” their cart, are trying to figure out who’s buying what, and of course they’re both writing checks. I haven’t written a check in so long, let alone by being a complete dick and do it in a store… a store where there’s fifty people waiting behind me. There are fifteen Indian people, all sharing carts kind of "hanging out" next to the line, without being "In the line" = I have a thing of coffee. No cart. Fugg'em I'm asserting that I'm ahead of them. For an instant I feel that I'm cutting. I find the one of the fifteen who is speaking English. "Sorry, I didn't realize that you were actually in line. I'll be quick." I show him my one item. I might be a dick, but I owed up to it.

I buy a Polish for a $1.50. There aren’t any picnic tables so I just ate it on one of the multiple empty cash register areas. Now it’s time to wait in line for ten minutes while security lady counts the items and slashes the receipt. Of course I’m behind my two ladies again. And the fifteen Indian folks who have already split up all their items. That means they just got finished at my register. And there’s a boxer/military kind of guy getting a cart of eggs – like millions of eggs – and fake coffee creamer in front of me. I’m sure if they sold ammo, this would have been his one stop shop. He looks very angry. Maybe he didn't get a corner of the oily pasta kind of thing?

A little Chinese guy starts creeping around me! Look, he could be Korean. I don’t know, I didn’t ask him. But he was determined to either shove that cart up my ass, or to sneak around me and my good friend from the compound in front of me.

Realizing that the little queue jumper was going to get stabbed if insane guy caught wind of what was about to happen, I opened my mouth.

“Excuse me, Sir? There’s a bit of a LINE we’ve got here…”
I just saved this little man’s life.

Time to get back into the demolition derby of SUV’s and silly people running around aimlessly in the Costco parking lot. I spot a couple more dudes sitting in idling cars. That still doesn’t make sense to me.

Time to get back into the bunker and tell you all about my fun! I gotta get back to being unemployed and watching Venture Brothers Season Three with the commentary on.

Iron Man vs Bruce Lee

What a great resume reel. Must be trying to get a job with Robot Chicken?

Outsourcing Cops

A reader has sent in an article for me to share with everyone:
Dear Cappy
Chicago wants to out-source some of its police to a private contractor. Yeah, Blackwater did such a bang up job in Iraq too.
How could Chicago outsourcing it's police force be a bad idea? I mean, what could POSSIBLY go wrong?

On the best of days, a private security or Mall-Cop, or Rent-a-Cop has far less training than a member of the Fraternal Order of Police, which means they're dangerously under prepared to preserve and protect - and their jobs aren't to protect the public, so there's potential to push their perceived authority too far. On the worst of days, their lives and the lives of others are more likely to be in danger.

Oh, and to boot, the firm under consideration? Yeah, they're foreigners. That's right, a Canadian firm is being outfitted as the "Special Patrol" which cruises the commercial strips of lower South Michigan Ave.

Hold on a second! A Canadian private security guy? Isn't that John Candy in Armed and Dangerous?
Now the idea isn't that they don't replace Chicago's Finest, its' that they perform minutia that the Chicago Cops don't do - like moving violations and handing out citations for loitering.
That's all fine and good until, well, you know, an illegal handgun is drawn? (You'll note that handguns are illegal in the city of Chicago)
The J. Carolina Hosiery store, for example, was robbed 14 times in the last year. 

"The stores are being robbed, and then they're getting extorted, and you have the little gangbangers running in and out of stores trying to rob people," said store supervisor Larry McCullough. 

Since the private security patrols arrived, the robberies have continued, "but it's slowing down, because it seems like more of the stores have to have their own guns and their own security." 
Let me get this straight, the crime has gone down because the store owners are packing illegal heat? So what do we need a bunch of expensive Mounties-for-rent trollin' the South Side? Why not go the other end of the extreme, and just hire Blackwater to take on crime on the South Side. Or go totally nuts and let a corporation just run the city, like OCP in Robocop? An ED-209 would surly end that little graffiti problem lickity split.

Am I nuts? Sure, I am... what're your thoughts on this?

Retro Awesome

For anyone who was around in 1978/79 and played with Star Wars figures, you probably remember this artwork. It graced the very first Kenner Star Wars figure "collector's case".

In order to get a nice scan of this piece though, I bought a beat-up case off Ebay and tore it apart, removing the paper insert from the sealed vinyl cover.

What I learned from this operation was that Kenner had used a piece of double-sided tape to keep the insert in place before the vinyl was sealed around it. Over the years, the glue on the tape began to bleed into the paper, staining it through a bit.

I was able to remove most of the stain, though some of it might remain.

But here it is -- for all to enjoy. A piece of early Kenner Star Wars artwork, that is rarely seen "off the case".

Thanks to Jason

PS - Click on the picture to make it huge, and then download it. Make it your awesome new Star Wars Desktop picture!

Mar 23, 2009

Cubs Questions

Why is it that Milton Bradley playing 120+ games in Right field is assumed and not questioned?

Only the most blindly optimistic Cubs fans with no concept of reality would expect that. Of course, I would guess about a third to half of the bleachers won't even know they have a new right fielder and will wonder what happened to that Japanese guy. Who am I kidding. What happened to that Sosa cat?

I know it's nearly impossible to guess how long Bradley will last out there. I have to think the Cubs will give him some days off when they play on old turf, but when he gets hurt, the key is whether it's for 3 weeks or 3 months, and there's just no way to know. If he can play 80 games or more AND be ready in late September and October, the Cubs will probably be happy. His production in those 80, 90 games will probably be better than what the Phils get out of Raul Ibanez even if he plays 162.

And another thing, don't tell me that Rich Harden is the key to the Cubs making the playoffs. Yes, he's a great pitcher. When he shows up. There's Harden plus relying on Dempster actually being as good as he was last year is an awful combination. Remember that Dempster from the previous 5 or 6 years? Yes, a decent reliever, but a fairly awful starter. Plus Zambrano has been breaking down - his K/9 has fallen each of the last two years and he still walks a ton of guys- and if he falls much further he's going to run into real trouble. Is anyone going to debate that their bullpen is better than last year?

Fortunately for the Cubs they can still have a whole lot go wrong and probably still win the division... unless a whole ton of things also go right for someone else. Brewers, maybe?

Authentic IPA to be Brewed

A Scottish brewery claims to have produced the first authentic India pale ale (IPA) in almost 200 years by ageing the beer aboard a trawler in the North Sea.

BrewDog, a Scottish micro-brewery based in Fraserburgh, has used an original recipe to produce the ale, which was traditionally matured during the 100-day sea journey from Britain to India.

While many brewers still produce IPA on land, BrewDog’s owners James Watt and Martin Dickie decided to make the beer the old-fashioned way.

The pair prepared eight oak barrels which spent seven-and-a-half weeks aboard the Ocean Quest, a mackerel trawler captained by Watt, who is also a fisherman.

During the journey the casks were lashed by towering waves and covered in snow. One barrel had to be salvaged from the sea after it was washed overboard. (gasp!)

Dickie said that the traditional India pale ale contained higher than normal levels of hops and alcohol, which acted as preservatives. He added that the beer was given its distinctive taste by the way it aged in the barrels, which were tossed around and subjected to large fluctuations in temperature during the journey.

“It had to be drinkable by the time it reached India, which is why it was very strong and high in hops,” Dickie said. “Ours were at sea for seven-and-a-half weeks, so it’s not exactly historically correct, but it was the best we could recreate.

“With all the motion of the sea, the oxidation in the barrel would have been brought on quicker than if they were sitting in a warehouse. Some interesting flavours were also introduced, like the wood of the barrel, but also the fruity flavours brought on by the oxidation.”

Dickie said he discovered the 200-year-old recipe among his collection of books on beer.

He added that he had already received a number of orders for the beer, which is 8% alcohol and will be bottled next month.

“There isn’t another beer like that made commercially,” Dickie said. “It gives beer enthusiasts a chance to taste what a beer like that would have tasted all those years ago.”

If anyone has the chance to get their hands on this - please write me a review. Perhaps we can swing an official BLASPHEMES T-Shirt your way.

Mar 20, 2009

Balloon Jesus

So did Balloon Jesus pop for our sins?

When he re-appeared to the Apostles, did he show them where the pins pricked his arms?
I really wanted to save this for Easter, but, eh, I couldn't wait.

Is she talking about football?

The fact that the people of Florida elected Corinne Brown (D - FL) to their legislature is why I'm not going to be moving to their state anytime soon.

Mark Your Calendar

That sure sounds like a lot of fun...

Mar 19, 2009

Obama: Rolls like a Retard

President Barack Obama said on Jay Leno that his poor bowling skills are “like the Special Olympics or something,” a athletic competition for people with disabilities.

His spokesman quickly said Obama hadn’t intended any offense.

"He rolls like a retard, Dude."

"Who rolls like a retard, Walter?"

"Donny! You're out of your element"

"Illinois Workers Suck"

PEORIA, IL. -- U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood is disputing claims by the president of an energy company that the former Illinois congressman (of Peoria, a UAW compound) is the source of comments claiming Illinois workers have an "awful" work ethic.

Globe Energy LLC president David Jones said LaHood told him a few years ago that Illinois has a bad reputation when it comes to work ethic. Jones said he has found it true that Illinoisans' have a questionable work ethic.

LaHood said Wednesday that Jones' claim he made the comment was "baloney."

LaHood said he met with Jones several years ago when Jones was attempting to establish Globe Energy, an English company, in Peoria. The company provides energy saving technology to commercial firms.

The controversy comes as Jones tries to expand Globe Energy's staff in Peoria by 50 people.

You'll also remember that last time LaHood made national news was when he wanted to tax everyone by the mile, not the gallon of fuel consumed.

My immediate reaction to this comment is that Obama is following Warren G Harding's Presidency over Lincoln or Cater. Remember, Harding is reputed to have said: “I have no trouble with my enemies, but my damn friends, my God-damned friends… they’re the ones that keep me walking the floor nights!”


Here's Conan riding My Little Pony, while chopping off Destro's head. That is all.

Need a Villan on AIG, Look No Further

In a complete reversal, Sen. Chris Dodd admitted he inserted language into the stimulus bill allowing $165 million in bonuses to those AIG executives. But he's crying that the President made him do it!

Dodd, chairman of the senate banking committee, finally admitted to CNN (see clip) that his stimulus amendment allowed the universally-reviled bonuses, which went to the very AIG executives responsible for tanking the company.

The Obama administration asked him to put the bonus language in, and Dodd was afraid all other executive compensation limits would be stripped from the stimulus package if he didn't comply. He didn't do it because, you know, AIG executives and political action committees donated all that money to the Connecticut Democrat.

It looks like there's some actual truth behind this buck passing; following Dodd's admission, the president said at a town hall meeting in California, "I'll take responsibilty. I'm the president."

Also, "a Treasury Department official told CNN the administration pushed for the language."

Which points another finger at Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner as the one who pushed Dodd to allow the bonuses. That would make sense; at the New York Federal Reserve, Geithner served as a bridge between Wall Street and federal monetary regulators. Top finance executives like Jamie Dimon of JP Morgan Chase sat on his board.

Geithner was also said to be instrumental in arranging the bailout of Bear Stearns — and of AIG.

Geithner has been an embarrassment to Obama. You'll remember he's a tax cheat. Then there was his disastrous bailout press conference, lacking the rich details promised by no less than the president himself the day before.

Now comes evidence Geithner was instrumental in allowing most outrage-stirring act of corporate greed in some times. It seems likely Obama's "complete confidence" in Geithner will be transformed into the Treasury Secretary's inevitable firing even sooner rather than later?

Cap'n's Bottom Line: Remember, being pissed about the government ALLOWING bonuses to be paid after a failed company has been nationalized is one thing. Thinking that the government can tear up a contract just because it feels like it is another thing all together. Focus your resentment and anger at those who wrote the bill, not the folks got the cash.

Doesn't matter anyway. We're all going back to subsistence farming in a few years anyhow. Enjoy all this "stuff" while you can.

Confirmed Kosher Nukes

It is official. The US Army has outed Israel. Israel is estimated to have 200 to 400 nuclear warheads.

After years of ignoring the Israeli nuclear program, the United States' Department of Defense has acknowledged Israel nuclear power status for the first time.

Israel has neither confirmed nor denied the existence of its own nuclear arsenal, but page 37 of the US Joint Forces Command report recognizes the fact, putting it in the same group as Pakistan, India, China, North Korea, Russia, along with an "emerging Iran," Taiwan, and Japan having "the capability to develop nuclear weapons quickly."

According to "The Samson Option" report—an investigative article written by reporter Seymour Hersh—Israel may have 200 to 400 atomic warheads, ready to use as the last resort in case of a massive attack that may put in danger the existence of the country.

Why does this matter? I mean, we already knew, right? Well, first, because the subject has been dodged forever by the US government, including President Barack Obama, who recently ignored the question when asked by zombie White House correspondent Helen Thomas. Second, because to the Symington Amendment—which bans support to countries developing nuclear weapons—this may mean the end of US help to Israel. Well, it never stopped us from pouring billions into Pakistan and India, right?

Probably some poor schmuck at the DOD will get fired and the report will be corrected with a big black marker. Or, it's the Obama Administration's signal flare that we're getting out of the helping Israel business. Have a nice day!

Mar 18, 2009

Golbal Racists Against Obama?

"The Flavor of the Week! Black in White! Chocolate in Vanilla." This Russian ice cream ad starring a cartoon Obama is...what? Racist? Delicious? Sickening? Creamy?

Actually, it's quite telling what our Russian comrades think of America right now. Peace signs and rainbows, which would imply that they're not taking Obama seriously. Like Jimmy Carter. Bonus, the White House is the Capital - which is kind of telling, actually.

Well, all that's better than what the Japanese think of him.

"He's bananas!"

Last week we had the Germans making Obama fingers... Is everyone racist? Or is this a simple case of lost in translation?


St. Pats Hangover

Long night?

Not working today?


Well, me neither. 

So here's just a couple St. Pat's hangover items that I couldn't get to yesterday.

Maybe tomorrow we'll all be back up to speed?

Mar 17, 2009

Anatomy of a Hangover

I wish someone had shown this to me a long time ago. The multi-vitamin and a huge glass of water before passing out would have saved me countless hours of recovery. The sports drink isn't a bad idea either, however, there's also a lot of crap in there too.

Give this to someone in college and you will have done not only a good deed for the day, but also performed a "taught him how to fish" level of duty.

St. Patricks Rules

Dear Faithful Readers,

Today is amature hour in the realm of professional alcoholism. Please allow me to lay down some ground rules for you so that you don't come off as a complete tosser if, in fact, you plan on spending your day throwing Guinness down your throat until it comes back up in a city gutter.

1. Don't put all that promotional "Irish" shiat all over yourself.
This isn't Halloween, so leave the ridiculous costumes at home. Showing up at a bar in a plastic green bowler hat, six pounds of green beads and a "F*ckme I'm Irish" shirt - not only does this scream, I'm a tool - it does not make you look more 'authentic'. If you must, add a subtle touch of green to your regular wardrobe and hit the bar. Or go the distance and dress up like Bono.

2. Stop saying "I'm actually Irish"
Just because your great-great-great Grandmother's second cousin was from Donegal does not make you Irish. You are an American. This is not "your holiday." You've never even been to Ireland.

3. Don't Get As Drunk As You Possibly Can
I know this is difficult to grasp, but it's important. While today is about drinking, it's not a free pass to get shiat-your-pants-wasted. No one wants to see you puke 13 green beers all over the sidewalk. And if you're not a professional alcoholic, why pick today to try to go beer-for-beer with your mates who are? Instead, have 1.5 beers/drinks every hour, and a green water chaser. I know it sounds like a pain in the ass to keep track, but by midnight you will be at peak drunkenness and thanking me for it. Don't want to look like a pussy? Have a Shamrock Shake and don't go out.

Another Pro Tip: Paddy's Day is a great opportunity to hook up. Girls might pass a bloke that's puking or just crapped their pants. (Usually. I'm just going on statistical averages here.)

2. Only Drink Irish Booze.
Don't have one Guinness and then go back to drinking Amstel Light all evening. Show some respect! Jameson, Guinness and Harp. And just because you dyed the Bud Light Green does not make it Irish all the sudden.

1. Stop Speaking In The World's Worst Fake Irish Accent
It wasn't funny the first time you said, "Let go of me Lucky Charms!" It also wasn't funny when you yelled, "Erin Go Bra-less!" or "Aye, you weee lass!" 50 times in a row. Your Irish accent sounds more like Corky from Life Goes On than Colin Farrell. So just stop that right now.

One last pro tip... don't drive tonight. If there's ever a night where cops are looking to fill the city's 'budget crisis' coffers it's going to tonight and your DUI driving ass.