Friday, June 30, 2017

Flashback Friday -- Shonen Knife

Three perfectly harmless-looking young ladies from Japan, Shonen Knife has been churning out perfect garage-punk/power-pop records since the early 1980's.
We saw them at Slim's in San Francisco in the mid-90's. The main thing I remember was a man in the audience yelling out "I want to have your baby," and one of the Shonens replying, as if this were a perfectly normal thing to say, "Oh, thank you very much," and launching into the next song without missing a beat.
Anyway, here they are, enjoy!

Thursday, June 29, 2017

How to speak Conservative

FOX's Abby Huntsman and Morgan Ortagus just put on a master class in how to speak Conservative:

Fox’s Huntsman ‘Asks’ If Democrats’ Criticisms Of Trumpcare ‘Risk Inciting’ Violence

C'mon, guys. You heard those criticisms of Trumpcare! Let's get violent!

Huntsman kicked off the propaganda by saying, “Lawmakers promised to clean up the fiery rhetoric on Capitol Hill but it didn’t last very long.”
As the banner on the screen read, “DEMS RETURN TO INFLAMMATORY RHETORIC,” clips were played of various Democrats, plus independent Bernie Sanders, blasting the bill:

Oh, this should be good. If there's one group known for their fiery rhetoric, it's Congressional Democrats!

Woah, woah, dial it down a notch, fellas!

  • Sen. Sanders: This is a barbaric and immoral piece of legislation.
  • Rep. Steve Cohen: It’s kind of like a death part two.
  • Schumer: The Senate Republican Healthcare bill is a wolf in sheep’s clothing.
  • Warren: These cuts are blood money. People will die.

  • Huntsman gave a melodramatic “whooooo” to suggest an answer to her “question”: “But do Democrats, with their latest attacks on health care risk inciting further violence?”

    Okay, you obviously have no idea how to do "inflamatory rhetoric" re: healthcare. Let's see how the experts do it:

    See, there's no Trump as Hitler, or Trump as the Joker, or Trump as a racist caricature.

    Also, if you want your rhetoric to incite violence, you're probably gonna want something like this:*ZUKv5flWLYSe79pS.jpg

    So, that's lesson number one in how to speak Conservative. Always accuse your opponent of doing whatever your side has done and/or is still doing while never once acknowledging the fact that your side has done the thing in question. In this case, pretend that Democrats are engaging in dangerously violent rhetoric, AND act as if this is some new thing that they invented that has never been seen before, certainly not from conservatives anyway!

    Huntsman turned to conservative Morgan Ortagus. .  . “What do you make of the most recent rhetoric coming from the left?” Huntsman asked.

    “It’s actually quite disturbing… If you’re a child in the 4th grade and you’re watching the nightly news, you’re seeing Kathy Griffin hold a picture of the president’s severed head.

    Lesson #2:
    It's always about the children! The children's delicate ears and eyes must be protected while they're sitting in the living room watching the evening news because that's a thing that children do.
    Whether it's a fear that they will hear about Bill Clinton getting a bj and be scarred for life, or see a report about Donald Trump boasting about grabbing women by the p**sy, the important thing is not that Bill Clinton should never have been impeached over his gross personal life or that the current President is an admitted sexual assaulter, the point is that children are being exposed to bad things and it's the Democrats' fault, or the liberal media's fault, or anyone's fault other than the sexual predator in the White House.

    You’re seeing crazed liberals literally shoot congressmen at a baseball practice

    Lesson # 3. Find an example, a single example. of something outrageous and pretend that the person doing the outrageous thing represents the left as a whole.

    Back in the old days, before podcasts were invented, I used to sometimes catch bits of the Rush Limbaugh while flipping through the radio channels. I would usually listen for a few minutes for the same reason it's hard to look away from a car crash, and I remember one time he had a report about a professor of philosophy in some college in Florida, I think, who had postulated the exisrence of the "male lesbian." Well, every time I ran across Limbaugh for the next couple weeks at least, I would hear him referencing the "male lesbian" as if it was somehow emblematic of the foolishness of liberal academe or something, like it wasn't one guy in one school and not knowing the context, Hell, he might even be right.

    In this case, there was ONE crazed person (liberal? Maybe) who shot a Congressman. So, to a Conservative, that one deranged person can be  made to represent the entire democratic party, and having seen one shooter morphs into "you're seeing crazed liberals literally shoot congressmen."

    and you’re hearing major leaders of the Democrat Party  tell young children and tell the whole United States that Republicans want people do die. This is irresponsible!

    Lesson #4:  Criticize vaguely.
     Your opponents warn that your healthcare bill will cause needless deaths? Complain that they are saying you want people to die. Don't attribute the statement to anyone in particular, just say "Major leaders" of the Party. Or "many on the left are saying. . ." That way, you can never be held accountable. If an actual leader of the Democratic Party, like Nancy Pelosi for instance, challenges you saying "I never said that Republicans want people to die!" You can simply smile and say "I never said that YOU said that, Congresswoman. But some of your party's leaders have!" Bingo, you're libel-suit-proof!

    “The leaders of the Democrat Party need to stand up and criticize Hillary Clinton, criticize Johnny Depp and all these people that are calling for the death of our president

    Lesson #5: The Lump-in

    Did Johnny Depp call for the death of the president? Maybe. I know he said something along those lines, I don't care enough about what a wife-beater has to say about a p**sy-grabber to look it up. But Hillary Clinton certainly didn't. And technically, Ortagus never said she did, but by lumping her in with Depp and "all these people" calling for the President's death, it definitely sounds that way. And when your audience consists of people who think it's plausible that Hillary ran a child sex ring out of a DC pizzeria, that's going to register.

    Watch the masters at work.

    Monday, June 26, 2017

    Things I saw om Twitter

    As someone once said "oh, the things you see when you haven't got a gun!"

    First up, Twenty-First Century Cotton Mathers and man who has never pooped without feeling guilty Vice President Mike Pence:

    "Personal responsibility." That's Republican talk for "if you're sick, it's your own damn fault. Shoulda been healthier!" Which is an argument you could, if you were fairly heartless, make about someone who has lung cancer from smoking, or cirrhosis of the liver from drinking too much, or an std because they don't like the way condoms feel or whatever. But most folks don't get to choose their illnesses. Many are born with them. I know a couple whose son was born with MS. I guess that was pretty irresponsible of him.

    Second: The guy who replied to this perfectly reasonable, factual tweet:

    with this bullshit:

    Okay, first of all, the only part of a hospital that is required to treat you whether or not you can pay is the Emergency Room. Now I'm no expert, and maybe it differs from hospital to hospital, but I don't think you can get open-heart surgery in the E.R. unless you're currently dying of a heat attack, and even then they would probably just stabilize you and then you'd go into the regular hospital procedure? I don't know, maybe you could try getting shot in the heart?

    Second, let's say she had no insurance and she did take her son to the ER and they did do open-heart surgery on him even though she had no insurance so, ya know, "he good." Let's say she did that. Then what? Then she gets charged the entire $200,000 fee, and I'm guessing it would be more if it happened in the ER, but let's stay with 200k. If she can't afford insurance, you think she has $200,000 in her bank account? You think she has $200,000 equity in her home? If she did have that kind of money, she would probably already have spent it on her son's previous surgery/ies. So it's bankruptcy court and a life of poverty for her! But yeah, our healthcare system is the greatest in the world!

    Third: Republican who used to be considered the far right of the party until the party went so far off the rails that he is sometimes considered a "moderate," and winner of the greater DC-area Jeff Sessions look-alike contest, Utah's Orrin Hatch:

    Oh, and that was in response to this Tweet from Senator Bernie Sanders:

    So, I'm not really sure that ol' Orrin understands what an accusation of murder is. If I say, "hey, don't put the barbecue so close to the house, you could start a fire and kill us all!" That's not an accusation of murder. It's advice. It's how-to-not-kill-a-bunch-of-people advice. Same as saying "hey, don't pass this horrible healthcare bill, it will result in the deaths of thousands of people" isn't an accusation. It's a statement of hope that you are a decent and intelligent enough person to avoid doing something which will cause many many deaths. Is that confidence misplaced? Obviously. But Bernie is an eternal optimist and hope springs eternal. The rest of us know that you're a cold, soulless, un-dead entity that feeds upon the misery of innocents. Which is why you fit in so well with the rest of the GOP ghouls.

    Also, where was your phony umbrage when your entire party was howling about "death panels?"

     Last up: Author of much of our nation's collapse into third-world status and anthropomorphized rodent dropping Grover Norquist:

    Well, to be fair, he's right in a way. This is how Republicans are born. They are born when their parents are too stupid, too ignorant, or just too plain shitty to explain to them the connection between taxes and government services. Any sane, rational parent would tell his daughter something along the lines of  "yeah, I know, it's no fun paying taxes, but you know how we had to drive on some roads to get to the guitar store? Well, it's our taxes that payed to build those roads and to fix them when there are potholes or broken pavement or whatever. And you know how we got here without your $35 being stolen from you? That's because we pay a little bit of tax and that allows the city to hire policemen and put the bad guys in jails and hire people to guard the jails so the bad guys don't get out! So maybe it's not so bad that your $35 guitar is going to cost about $39 instead, right? What do you think, sweetie?"

    But no, someone with the infantile mindset of a Grover Norquist either can't make that connection himself, or is willingly leaving his daughter ignorant of the basic facts if how societies work so that she too can grow up to be another angry, ill-informed teabagger who thinks it's just totally unfair that the government gets to take some of her money.

    I am reminded of an episode of Parks & Rec in which Ron Swanson somehow gets the assignment of teaching a child about how government works for some homework project she had. He illustrates this by taking a bite of her sandwich and saying that he represents the government. "that's not fair, it's my sandwich," says the girl,and Swanson says something about how that's just how government is, they just take some of your stuff as if they were the mafia or something.
    Never does it occur to him that without the government there would be no sandwich.
    Without government, there is no road to get to the grocery store.
    With no government, as you're walking to the store, there's no reason to think you won't be robbed, because there are no cops, no courts, no jails, so criminals just roam free.
    In fact, the grocery store is probably out of business because it was getting robbed every day.
    And if there is no government, there is no money, no legal tender, so you're having to barter at the store, hopefully the grocer will want some of the apples from your tree enough to trade them for bread, meat, cheese, etc.
    Without the FDA and the CDC, you have no reason to think that you won't get salmonella from the mayo, or E. coli from the lunchmeat or listeria from the lettuce.
    You get the idea.
    Because you're not a 61-year-old Libertarrian man-baby who doesn't understand how life works.

    Thursday, June 22, 2017

    Horrors in the News

    I don't know what's going on with the universe today, but there seem to be more horrors than usual in the news.

    Horror #1:

    Federal court rules Mississippi businesses can discriminate against LGBTQ people

    Bil Browning · Thursday, June 22, 2017

    A federal appeals court says Mississippi can start enforcing a law that will let merchants and government employees cite religious beliefs to deny services to same-sex couples.

    Because, you know, equal protection under the law sounds nice om paper, but in real life. . .meh?

    U.S. District Judge Carlton Reeves had ruled that the law unconstitutionally establishes preferred beliefs and creates unequal treatment for LGBT people.

    Yeah, I think that's a feature, not a bug.

    Republican Gov. Phil Bryant and other supporters say the law protects beliefs that marriage can be between only a man and a woman, and that a person’s gender is determined at birth and cannot be changed.

    A: No it doesn't. You are free to believe whatever you want. Having to issue a marriage license or bake a weeding cake for a same-sex couple doesn't prevent you from believing whatever awful shit you want to believe.

    B: Those are false beliefs. The Supreme Court has ruled on what marriage is in the United States and marriage is NOT only for hetero couples.

    Horror # 2:

    Men Legally Allowed to Finish Sex Even If Woman Revokes Consent, NC Law States

    North Carolina is the one state where the law explicitly says you cannot revoke consent once it's given. A bill that would remove this "unacceptable loophole" has little traction.

    I don't have any smart-alecky comments to make about this truly horrifying piece of news.

    The state Supreme Court, however, disagreed with the lower court's interpretation of withdrawn consent. "If the actual penetration is accomplished with the woman's consent, the accused is not guilty of rape, although he may be guilty of another crime because of his subsequent actions," the High Court wrote.
    As a result, for the past 38 years, women in North Carolina—like 19-year-old Aaliyah Palmer, who allegedly agreed to have sex with a man at a party but changed her mind when he got violent—have been unable to legally revoke consent after sexual intercourse begins. "It's really stupid," Palmer recently told the Fayetteville Observer. "If I tell you no and you kept going, that's rape."

    Yeah, I got nothing. It's really just too horrible for words.

    Horror # 3:

    Using Birth Control or Getting an Abortion Could Disqualify You From Jobs in Missouri

    Reproductive rights have been taking a hit left and right, and now folks living in Missouri may be facing another setback. Their state Senate has just voted to pass a bill this past Wednesday night after 10 hours of closed-door meetings that, if fully approved, could legally allow hiring managers to discriminate against those who have gotten abortions in the past, as well as applicants who use birth control.

    The legislation. . . would repeal a St. Louis ordinance that bans employers and landlords from discriminating against women who have had an abortion, use contraceptives or are pregnant.

    Read more here:

    You know, when I saw the movie The Handmaid's Tale back in the 90s and I read an interview with Margaret Atwood in which she warned that this could be the future, I thought she was a bit nutty. Obviously I owe Ms Atwood an apology. Also Susan Faludi, whom as a naive young college boy I thought was way off base about the Backlash..
    Also, I owe an apology to the English language for the structure of that last sentence.

    Horror # 4:

    One of the fathers from this Slate article was arrested on charges of child molestation. (Link to arrest record in the comments.)…/david_magnusson_purity_is_an_examina…


    Striking Portraits of Fathers and the Daughters Whose Virginity They’ve Pledged to Protect


     The shocking thing is that only one of them has been arrested for child molestation.

    After all these horrors, I feel like we should close on some good news. And as an indication of how horrible everything is right now, the "good news" has to do with a man being stabbed by an alleged terrorist.

    Suspect in Michigan airport stabbing attempted to buy gun before attack

    The man charged with stabbing an airport police officer in Michigan unsuccessfully attempted to purchase a gun before the attack, which is being investigated as an act of terrorism, federal officials said on Thursday.

    That's right. He attempted to purchase a gun, was unsuccessful, and instead turned to another handy murder weapon, a hunting knoife, which is what the NRA degenerates always say will happen if the bad people are not allowed to get guns. They'll just commit murders with knives and rocks and pointed sticks instead, right? Guns don't kill people etcetera etcetera etcetera.

    Oh, that's not the good news. This is:

    The suspect, Amor Ftouhi, 49, of Quebec, Canada, has been charged in federal court with violence at an international airport for stabbing Jeff Neville, an officer at the Bishop International Airport in Flint, in the neck on Wednesday. Neville underwent surgery and is expected to recover.

    IS EXPECTED TO RECOVER! Hmm, how about that? The bad guy couldn't get a gun, used a knife instead, and the victim SURVIVED! This asshole's inability to get his hands on a gun saved a life today. Gun control works.

    Wednesday, June 21, 2017

    David Brooks Continues to be the Worst

    Oh my Gawd, he gets paid to write this. Paid a lot to write this drivel!

    Let’s Not Get Carried Away

    I was the op-ed editor at The Wall Street Journal at the peak of the Whitewater scandal. We ran a series of investigative pieces “raising serious questions” (as we say in the scandal business) about the nefarious things the Clintons were thought to have done back in Arkansas.
    Now I confess I couldn’t follow all the actual allegations made in those essays.

    But that didn't stop me from gleefully printing each and every one, no matter how far-fetched!

    Now I confess I couldn’t follow all the actual allegations made in those essays. They were six jungles deep in the weeds. But I do remember the intense atmosphere that the scandal created. A series of bombshell revelations came out in the media, which seemed monumental at the time. A special prosecutor was appointed and indictments were expected. Speculation became the national sport.

    And op-ed page editors continued using the passive voice as if they had no culpability in the matter at all!

    I mean, you do realize you're confessing to journalistic malpractice, right? Publishing allegations for which you have no evidence and which you do not even understand. "These accusations are incomprehensible, I can't make heads or tails of what is even alleged to have happened. Well, I guess I'd better publish them in a major national newspaper!"

    In retrospect Whitewater seems overblown.

    Really? You think Whitewater might have been "overblown?" A manufactured pseudo-scandal which never produced any evidence of wrongdoing (other than a BJ), you think that might have been "overblown?" You know, most of us didn't need the help of retrospect to see that. But, you know, most of us don't have cushy jobs with major media outlets. To land that kind of gig, you have to be dead wrong in public over and over again, especially when it comes to the Clintons and whatever phony scandal Richard Mellon Scaife can dream up to feed to Matt Drudge.

    In retrospect Whitewater seems overblown. And yet it has to be confessed that, at least so far, the Whitewater scandal was far more substantive than the Russia-collusion scandal now gripping Washington.

    Yeah, you can tell that this Russia thing has no substance by the number of people having to recuse themselves and how many administration members are lawyering up.

    There may be a giant revelation still to come. But as the Trump-Russia story has evolved, it is striking how little evidence there is that any underlying crime occurred — that there was any actual collusion between the Donald Trump campaign and the Russians. Everything seems to be leaking out of this administration, but so far the leaks about actual collusion are meager.

    Jeezus, do you hear yourself? When a Democrat was in office, no scandal was too ridiculous to be given credence and trotted out on to the national stage. But when it's a Republican, even an incompetent, deranged Republican like Trump, suddenly all this smoke surely doesn't indicate a fire!

    I'm hearing echoes of Iran-Contra. "Sure, the Reagan Administration directly violated the law, but come on. What harm was done? Surely his intentions were good!"
    Or the Iraq Invasion: "Well, sure they lied, manipulated intelligence, cherry-picked any bullshit from any unreliable kook that seemed to support their story and ignored all the relevant experts, but obviously, this was a failure of the intelligence community!"

    There were some meetings between Trump officials and some Russians, but so far no more than you’d expect from a campaign that was publicly and proudly pro-Putin.

    Well, maybe my standards are a bit different, but I would expect ZERO meetings between a candidate and the KGB! Especially when that candidate is not a part of government, not involved with foreign policy and has no earthly god damn clue what the hell he's doing.

    Second, there is something disturbingly meta about this whole affair. This is, as Yuval Levin put it, an investigation about itself. Trump skeptics within the administration laid a legal minefield all around the president, and then Trump — being Trump — stomped all over it, blowing himself up six ways from Sunday.

    Wait, there are Trump skeptics within the administration? The Trump administration? The administration who gave us this sickening display of obsequious devotion?

    Now of course Trump shouldn’t have tweeted about Oval Office tape recordings. Of course he shouldn’t have fired James Comey
    But even if you took a paragon of modern presidents — a contemporary Abraham Lincoln — and you directed a democratically unsupervised, infinitely financed team of prosecutors at him and gave them power to subpoena his staff and look under any related or unrelated rock in an attempt to bring him down, there’s a pretty good chance you could spur even this modern paragon to want to fight back. You could spur even him to do something that had the whiff of obstruction.

    Okay, first of all there was no special prosecutor until AFTER Trump fired James Comey. How are you gonna sit there and pretend that firing Comey is some sort of pushback against a special prosecutor?

    And secondly, Bill Clinton is hardly a paragon of presidently virtue, hardly a modern-day Lincoln, but an unsupervised, infinitely financed team of prosecutors with subpoena power and direction to look under every unrelated rock in order to bring him down is EXACTLY what happened to Bill Clinton, and you didn't see him firing the guy investigating him or implying blackmail against Ken Starr. It's one thing to say that Trump can't be expected to live up to the standards of Imaginary Lincoln, but shouldn't he at least be held to the standard of Slick Willie?

    And third, firing the director of the FBI when the FBI is investigating you is hardly a "whiff of obstruction." It's pretty much textbook obstruction.

    There’s just something worrisome every time we find ourselves replacing politics of democracy with the politics of scandal.

    Yes, and I'm sure you said the same about "Fast and Furious," the IRS "scandal," birtherism and Benghazi, right? Haha, I'm kidding. Of course you didn't, you disingenuous piece of shit.

    In democracy, the issues count, and you try to win by persuasion. You recognize that your opponents are legitimate, that they will always be there and that some form of compromise is inevitable.

    Related image

    My God, it's as if he's completely unaware of Mitch McConnell, John Boehner, Paul Ryan and the entire Freedom Fucking Caucus!
    And how do you reconcile "recognizing your opponents are legitimate" with  King Birther himself, the Oaf in the Oval Office? What the fuck was birtherism if not an attempt to delegitimize the Presdient?

    Donald Trump rose peddling the politics of scandal — oblivious to policy, spreading insane allegations about birth certificates and other things — so maybe it’s just that he gets swallowed by it.

    Oh my GAWD! So he is aware of Trump's "politics of scandal," or as it's known in the real world "racist conspiracy-mongering. But somehow there's always an excuse for a Republican - in this case, that he's gotten "swallowed" by the culture of Washington scandal or something.

    The people who hype the politics of scandal don’t make American government purer. They deserve some of the blame for an administration and government too distracted to do its job,

     Good! The best possible outcome of all this is an administration too distracted to do its job! Although, to be fair, it is already distracted by petty Twitter feuds, golfing, insulting foreign leaders, and shiny objects.
    Image result for up dug squirrel gif

    Also, when you say "the people who hype the politics of scandal," I assume that includes former op-ed editors of the Wall Street Journal?

    Things are so bad that I’m going to have to give Trump the last word. On June 15 he tweeted, “They made up a phony collusion with the Russians story, found zero proof, so now they go for obstruction of justice on the phony story.” Unless there is some new revelation, that may turn out to be pretty accurate commentary.

     Oh, yes. Very accurate. Right up there with "I did not have sex with that woman," "I am not a crook," and "there is no doubt that Sadam Hussein has weapons of mass destruction."

    You know, if there's one type of statement that can be relied upon for truthfulness, it's a statement from the accused that he didn't do it. I mean, if he says he's innocent, he must be, right?


    Monday, June 19, 2017

    This is really how they think, isn't it?

    Apparently, this is really how conservatives think. Or at least how one Megan McArdle thinks.

    Beware of Blaming Government for London Tower Fire

    Perhaps safety rules could have saved some residents. But at what cost to others' lives? There's always a trade-off. Oh, fuck you! Lives could have been saved, but at what cost? What kind of inhuman monster asks a question like that?
    A few days ago fire swept through Grenfell Tower, a large apartment building in London. It’s not yet known what caused the fire, and we aren’t conclusively sure how it spread so quickly, consuming the entire 24-story building. Nor is it known how many died in the fire; as of Friday, the count is at least 30.
    What we do know is that there are ways to help control the spread of fire in apartment buildings, such as sprinkler systems. This has the makings of a scandal for Prime Minister Theresa May’s beleaguered government. Her immigration minister, Brandon Lewis, was formerly the housing minister. He declined to require developers to install sprinklers. The Independent quotes him as telling Parliament in 2014: “We believe that it is the responsibility of the fire industry, rather than the Government, to market fire sprinkler systems effectively and to encourage their wider installation. … The cost of fitting a fire sprinkler system may affect house building -- something we want to encourage -- so we must wait to see what impact that regulation has.”

    Now at this point, any sane, reasonable person would conclude the column with a call for the ouster of May and Lewis and an appeal to make fire safety systems mandatory in all housing developments.

    But no. This is not a sane, rational person. This is a conservative.

    People who died in the Grenfell fire might be alive today if regulators had required sprinkler systems. This does not play well for the Tories.

    How this plays for the Tories, or any other political party, should hardly be relevant when you are talking about the deaths of dozens of innocent people.

    But before we start hanging them in effigy, there are a couple of things we should consider. The first is that, even if the regulation had passed, and required existing developers to retrofit sprinklers into older buildings, Grenfell Tower might not have gotten a sprinkler system before the fire occurred. Regulations are not implemented like instant coffee; they take time to formulate, and further time for businesses to comply. All the political will in the world cannot conjure up enough sprinkler systems, and sprinkler-system installers, to instantly transform a nation’s housing stock.

    Really? You don't think they could have complied between 2014 and now? You think three years is not enough time to install life-saving sprinkler systems?

    This, however, is only a quibble; even if Grenfell Tower could not have been saved, there are surely other buildings where fires will soon occur that would benefit from sprinklers. Must we wait for those deaths before we can say that his was a bad calculation?
    Well, no. But we should wait until we can establish that it was actually a bad calculation.

    Well, let's see. . .

    . . .  They chose to not do a thing. People died because they didn't do that thing. . .
    Yup, you got yourself a bad calculation there.

    It may sound heartless to discuss life-saving measures as a calculation. But the fact is that we all make these sorts of calculations every day, about ourselves and others. We just don’t like to admit that we’re doing it.

    Consider the speed at which many of you drove to work this morning. I’m sure you’re all splendid, careful drivers. Nonetheless, when a vehicle is being piloted at 50 or 60 miles an hour, the margin of error for avoiding an accident is pretty small. To drive a car even at 5 miles per hour is to accept a small risk of killing oneself and others. To drive at 50 miles per hour is to accept a much higher risk of doing so. It’s a calculation: risk versus reward.

    Yes, and that is why our government, back when it was sane, put in rules requiring safety belts, air bags, bumpers, etc so as to minimize the risk.  Also we have speed limits, licensing requirements, and police and highway patrol to enforce safety by ticketing those who drive in an unsafe manner. Does this eliminate risk? Of course not. But at least we're trying. At least we're not saying "I think the seat belt manufacturers should just try to encourage automakers to install their product. and convince motorists to use them." Or "the auto insurers should just encourage drivers to maintain a safe speed."  We don't let the car companies decide whether or not they want to spend the extra few bucks to include safety features.

    In the U.S., tens of thousands of people were killed in auto accidents last year. We could probably eliminate most of those deaths if we simply made sure that no one ever piloted their personal vehicle above some prudent speed -- say, 25 mph -- which would reduce both the likelihood of crashes occurring, and the damage any crashes would do.

    Are you willing to make that trade-off? To avert 40,000 deaths a year, all you have to do is move closer to work, take public transportation (where available), or spend a lot more time in the car.
    Americans have made that choice: Nope, not worth it. We are manifestly not willing to exchange personal convenience for lower auto fatalities. Nor, as far as I am aware, is anyone anywhere else. Government sets much higher speed limits -- speeds that are still quite deadly! -- and most drivers opt for even deadlier speeds. Every speeding driver knows, at some level, that what they’re doing is dangerous; they simply care more about what the boss will say when they’re late than they do about the increased risk of killing other people.

    Which is why those decisions should not be left up to individuals. That's why we have traffic laws. Are they enough to keep us safe? No. Of course not. But they do a hell of a lot better job than letting every motorist decide for himself what his speed should be or how closely he should be allowed to follow the car in front of him, or whether to use turn signals, etc.

    Now, I won’t defend the folks who go 90 in a 50 mph zone.  But in less extreme cases, the broader calculation is probably correct. Auto accidents cost lives. But automobile transport has also saved a lot of lives, by enabling the economic growth that has made us richer and healthier.

    Um, source?
    On what are you basing that claim?
    And would our economy be hurt in some way by lowering speed limits?  Or if more people started taking trains and buses to work?
    And how does economic growth make us healthier? Especially if that growth is tied to CO-spewing automobiles?

    When the cost is as personal, as glaring and obvious, as restricting every car to a snail’s pace, we can see that not all safety trade-offs are worth it. However, when the cost seems to be borne by someone else, we suddenly become safety absolutists: no price is too great to pay.

    Ah, the straw man argument. Classic conservative "technique." If people want builders to have to install sprinkler systems, that's the same as wanting them to spend untold zillions of dollars on any ludicrous over-the-top safety measure that could be imagined.

    Unfortunately, “other peoples’ money” has a way of ultimately coming out of our own pockets. If it costs more to build buildings, then rents will rise.

    Yes. No one is unaware of this. Just like the price of a car is slightly increased by the inclusion of airbags and safety belts. Everyone knows this.

    People will be forced to live in smaller spaces, perhaps farther away. Some of them, in fact, may be forced to commute by automobile, and then die in a car accident. We don’t see those costs in the same way as we see a fire’s victims; we will never know the name of the guy who was killed in a car accident because he had to live far from work because rents rose because regulators required sprinkler systems. But that is a distinction for public opinion, not for good policy making. Good regulations would take into account the proximate and distant effects.

    Yes, we certainly shouldn't have a common-sense safety rule because of the off chance of a butterfly effect rippling outward and resulting in the death of an unnamed hypothetical motorist! Because if safety measures are required, obviously, the rent would just skyrocket, forcing people to move far away and drive to work, because it's not as if the cost of the sprinkler system would be borne by a large number of tenants over the course of many many months!

    Back to the case at hand: Maybe sprinkler systems should be required in multifamily dwellings. It’s completely possible that the former housing minister made the wrong call. But his comment indicates he was thinking about the question in the right way -- taking seriously the fact that safety regulations come at a cost, which may exceed their benefit. Such calculations have to be made, no matter how horrified the tut-tutting after the fact.


    That's the "right way" to think about things? Worrying about the price tag for saving human lives? You're seriously going to sit there and say putting a price on the lives of human beings is the "right way" to think?

    And what you call the  the "tut-tuttimg" after the fact is the sobs of people who have lost parents, sons, daughters, friends that were apparently just dollar amounts on a spreadsheet and not worth the cost of saving in your sick conservative logic.

    Yes, "tut-tut" indeed.

    And he is certainly right about one thing: When it comes to many regulations, it is best to leave such calculations of benefit and cost to the market, rather than the government.

    Seriously? Because they did that and now at least 80 people are dead.  People. Dead. Not embryos, people. Actual living, breathing people with families and friends and hopes and dreams are dead because your goddammned market didn't think the cost of protecting them made sense for the bottom line. 

    A hand appearing to stick a poster beneath two missing persons posters picturing a young woman and girl.

    Heck of a job, Free Market!

    It’s possible that by allowing large residential buildings to operate without sprinkler systems, the British government has prevented untold thousands of people from being driven into homelessness by higher housing costs.

    Sure, and it's possible that the vomiting caused by reading this column might cause me to lose weight and avoid a heart attack! Anything is possible. Why not deal with what we actually know to have actually happened? People died for the cause of saving money.

    And how much do you think that rents would have been driven up by requiring safety measures anyway? According to the Guardian UK:

    Some estimates suggest that the additional cost of fitting the fire-resistant product would have been as little as £5,000.
    . . . in 2012 the British Automatic Fire Sprinkler Association (BAFSA) commissioned a report on the economics of fire sprinkler retrofit in residential apartment blocks of this type. The study concluded that fire sprinklers could be retrofitted with tenants in place at a cost of about £1150 per flat. (source)

     At a cost of £1150 per flat, the sprinklers could be completely paid off in one year by raising rent £96 per month. Or rent could go up a mere £48 per month and the sprinklers would be paid for in two years. If you paid them off over 5 years, you're looking at less than £20 per month increase in rent. Who is being "driven into homelessness" by that?

    Grenfell Tower, of course, was public housing, which changes the calculation somewhat. And yet, even there, trade-offs have to be made. The government spends money on a great number of things, many of which save lives. Every dollar it spends on installing sprinkler systems cannot be spent on the health service, or national defense, or pollution control. Would more lives be saved by those measures or by sprinkler systems in public housing? It’s hard to say.

    Ah, the false choice. More classic conservative argument.

    Because we all know that there is no way for the government to increase the amount of revenue it has to spend. No, hard choices must be made, whether to spend money on public safety, or to continue following the US into disastrous, pointless wars that cost millions of pounds. I mean, they both save lives, right? Fire sprinklers and fire-retardent panels save lives in apartment buildings, invading and bombing Muslim countries saves, um . . . lives. . . uh, somehow, I think? Right?

    Regulatory decisions are never without costs, and sometimes their benefits are invisible.

    Yes, invisible. Like you don't actually see buildings not burning down, people not being killed. That's how it works. When regulations are effective, you don't see anything. It's like they say about offensive linemen in American football: If they're doing a good job, you don't notice them. They only get mentioned when they miss a block and allow the quarterback to be crushed or a runner to lose yardage. That's how regulations are. When they work, you don't notice anything. You just eat a meal and don't get food poisoning.

    Or you go fishing and you don't catch any three-eyed mutant fish. 

    I'm not sure you're making the strong anti-regulation  case you think you are.

    Wednesday, June 14, 2017

    Weirdo is weird, totally not gay, though!

    So my new favorite podcast Chapo Trap House ran an episode last week in which writer Alex Nichols discussed his survey of conservative media outlets ranked by insufferability. 

    One of these outlets I had never heard of is called The Federalist. According to Nichols:

     The Federalist is a strange beast. Rather than the usual red-faced louts or country-club fodder, its masthead is overflowing with young women. Even though the ‘list remains ~95 percent white, women actually outnumber men 24 to 15, a rare occurrence in conservative (and non-conservative, let’s be real) media. . . The Federalist is almost singularly paranoid about threats to the nuclear family and “traditional values.” What are those threats? Well, the marginal practice of identifying as a “dog mom,” for one

    Sp I had the masochistic urge to check this site out even though the only thing worse than conservative men is conservative women. And yes, that probably sounds a bit sexist, but I stand by it. It's, if not forgivable, at least understandable when men insist on traditional gender roles and "family values" that place them at the top of the social hierarchy, but when women argue for pre-feminist  social norms, it's as inexplicable as it is sad. Also, Ann Coulter. Eewww!

    So anyway, I took a look at the "dog mom" article. I was not disappointed. This was the actual, honest-to God headline:

    Having Pets Instead Of Kids Should Be Considered A Psychiatric Disorder

    I was a bit disappointed, however to see that this article was not written by a lady-type person, but just a regular dumb ol' man!

    G. Shane Morris

     Now judging by his picture, I would imagine G. Shane probably doesn't have a lot of experience with parenting.

    G. Shane MorrisG. Shane Morris is a senior writer at BreakPoint, a program of the Colson Center for Christian Worldview. He’s also written for Summit Ministries and The Christian Post, and blogs regularly at Patheos
    Shane lives with his wife and three children in Leesburg, Virginia.

    "His wife and three children?" His WIFE? and three children?

    All right, whatever. It's none of my beezwax.

    If you grew up with dogs (as I did), you know that something bizarre and sad often happens when a mother dog loses her puppies. With hormones and maternal instinct coursing through her, she will frequently adopt inanimate objects as “replacement-puppies.”

    I don't know why that's "bizarre" to you. Let her grieve in her own way.

    Anyway, I thought this was supposed to be about human people being the "parents" of dogs, not dog ladies being the parents of  non-dog objects.

    Something in her brain is soothed by the non-living replacement, but ironically, this replacement-puppy can prevent the mother from trying again to bear actual young.

    Um, I'm sorry,are you under the impression that dogs "try" to have puppies? Like lady dogs decide to stop the pill and "try" for puppies? You think there's alot of family planning that goes on in the lives of dogs?

    I don't know, Rex. Do you really think we're ready?

     Anyway, I assume next up is the part where human women are totally analogous to female dogs, right?

    Even sadder is when humans do the same thing. I’m not talking about mothers who have lost their babies. I’m talking about men and women, especially from the millennial generation, who have chosen to indefinitely postpone having children, yet still feel the unshakeable urge to parent.

    People who have made a conscious decision to not have kids (at least not yet) but are feeling an "unshakable urge" to parent? Why there must be literally dozens of those people!

    This urge is natural. It’s good. It was placed in us to let us know that our reproductive systems are in prime shape to marry, build a home, and raise children. As the father of three, I can also say what a joy it is to feel the tug of those parental instincts and fulfill them as God intended.

    You just made it creepy.

    Image result for shudder gif

    But for many in my generation who are also approaching 30, children (and the ideal prerequisite for children, marriage), are still out of the question because they’re too expensive, too time-consuming, and might cramp their style. Those nurturing instincts don’t go anywhere, though. A disturbing number of young adults are directing them toward substitutes—not boots or stuffed toys, but dogs and cats.

     What? Is that what you think is happening? People are buying dogs and cats because they really really want to have babies but for some reason decide not to do the thing they want to do because it might "cramp their style?" (By the way, it's 2017. No one has said "cramp their style" in about 40 years.)
     And why is this disturbing? You know what I find disturbing? People who think about the prospect of making children and think "Naw, it's too much trouble," but end up having kids anyway because of societal pressures. You think those folks are going to be good parents?

     I’m convinced that psychology manuals 200 years from now will identify “replacement-baby syndrome” as a diagnosable epidemic in my generation.

     I'm convinced that psychology manuals will diagnose "listening to G. Shane Morris and taking him seriously syndrome" as a diagnosable illness. Not an epidemic, though, because that would require more than your parents and your poor poor wife being infected with this illness.

     It is now commonplace to hear young people my age unironically refer to their pooches and kitties (I’m horrified to even write this) as “children,” “fur-babies,” “kids,” “girls,” “boys,” or “sons and daughters.” Likewise, it’s not at all unusual to hear pet-owners refer to themselves as “pooch parents,” or “mommies and daddies.”
     Yes, that is really annoying. So is the practice of ladies referring to themselves as "soccer moms" or "hockey moms" or "Georgia Tech moms." (or insert the name of whatever college your dumb kids go to.) Mom Die-Cut Decal Car Window Wall Bumper Phone Laptop
     You're a person! You probably have many fine qualities. Why must you define yourself by the activities of your children?

    But I'm not sure why any of that would horrify you.

    Christian musician Nicole Nordeman recently posted an account on Facebook of a couple she overheard at the airport holding a FaceTime call with their “baby” and his “grandparents.”
    “They are cooing and gushing and exclaiming ‘well look at YOU, big boy! So big! So handsome! Are you being so good for Nana???’” These “parents” pester their own parents with questions about baby’s feeding, pooping, and playtime, and “nearly collapse with joy” when “baby” comes back on screen for a last goodbye. “Mommy and Daddy love you,” the couple squeal. “You are the best boy! We’re coming home so soon!”
    Nordeman says she turned around to sneak a look at this sweet baby who’s so beloved by his parents, only to find…a yellow Labrador retriever.
     Ugh, so annoying! Not really a big deal, but annoying.

    How much embarrassment must it bring those “grandparents” to participate in such a call? How badly must they want real grandchildren, instead of pet-sitting an attention-smothered dog? How much grief must they feel watching their child waste her parental instincts on an animal while they’re forced to play along in the couple’s sick and disturbing charade?

     Well, first of all, the "grandparents" seem to be willing participants. Being an annoying dork is not the sole province of millennials, you know. Older generations also have people who take their love of pets a bit too far for comfort.

     And sure, it's an obnoxious display, no one wants to witness that conversation. (although, to be fair, it would be nearly as obnoxious had they been referring to an actual baby. Have that conversation in private, freaks!) But in what way is it "sick and disturbing?"

    Well, he never answers that question, it's just taken as a given that people with an overabundance of love for their pets are somehow "sick" and "disturbing." 

    I can't read any more of this. I skimmed through the rest, but I still have no idea why he thinks this is a serious issue. I'm sure it has something to do with God wanting averyone to have as many babies as possible, even if you are an obviously gay man who has to trick a woman into marrying him in order to reproduce.

    Thursday, June 8, 2017

    Bad Ads -- AT&T

    First of all, are we all just going to pretend that Mark Wahlberg hasn't done some terrible things?
    (from Wikipedia: Commenting in 2006 on his past crimes, Wahlberg stated: "I did a lot of things that I regret, and I have certainly paid for my mistakes." He said the right thing to do would be to try to find the blinded man and make amends, and admitted he has not done so, but added that he was no longer burdened by guilt:)

    But putting aside for the moment that AT&T decided they wanted a violent racist felon to represemt their brand, these ads are a tribute to Wahlberg's fragile masculinity.

    So, even though he already would seemingly have proven his macho bona fides by punching out a bunch of robots when he gets to the lovers on the beach and says somehting about "unlimited romance," he has to toss in the line "if you're into that." Like it's important to him that the viewers understand that he does not go in for any of that mushy lovey-dovey girl stuff.  Like he's afraid that his old townie friends are going to see him endorsing "unlimited romance" and say "hey, Mahky, what are you, quee-ah?" I would bet money that the "if you're into that" line was not in the original script but Marky Mark insisted on adding it.

    And then he has to make sure that everyone understands that he does NOT know who the "little cartoon thing" is.  The guy has four kids, no one would think it was strange that he would recognize a character from a cartoon. I have zero kids and I know that the cartoon character is named Gumball. I don't have to pretend like "I'm a grown man. I don't know anything about some dumb kids' show. I'm not a baby!"

    Really kinda pathetic.

    This is just sad

    Whatever problems I have with Senator John McCain, and they are legion, this is just sad. His mind is just gone. He seems dazed and confused and unable to understand why one person could be cleared by an investigation and another person not cleared.  It's time to retire, Senator.

    Tuesday, June 6, 2017

    Why I hate the "Greatest Generation."

    I mean, I don't hate those people.I don't hate the people who were alive in the 30s and 40s. I just hate how on days like this, the anniversary of D-Day, or Memorial Day, or the Fourth of July, we're supposed to venerate and worship this particular group of people just because Tom Brokaw decided they were the best people who ever lived. I guess what I really hate is the term "Greatest Generation."

    For starters, they get a lot of credit for having lived through the Great Depression. Well what choice did they have? The only other choice was suicide. Ad, FYI, suicide rates hit an all-time high during the Depression, for what it's worth.

    And it's not as if they chose to live through the Depression. It's not like they purposely took it upon themselves so that future generations wouldn't have to. They just had bad luck.
    And a lot of people will say that us modern folk would never be able to make it through a 1930's-style depression, that we're too soft, but I would bet any money that if you had asked Americans during the Roaring Twenties whether they thought they and their friends and neighbors were tough enough to survive a great depression, they'd have said the same thing. "No, we're too soft nowadays, all hopped up on jazz and bootleg liquor, dancing the Charleston with flappers and whatnot." But survive it they did because they had no choice. You couldn't opt out except by suicide.

    And they won World War Two. And thank God they did. But do you mean to tell me that they fought any more valiantly, any more courageously than the young men and women who fought and are still fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan? Do you think that today's armed forces lack the valor of the WWII soldiers? To even imply that is an insult to our troops.

    And after living through the horrors of war, this great generation turned around and sent the next generation into the maw of Vietnam for no earthly good goddamm reason other than their pathetic fear of communists.

    And after having been saved by FDR's New Deal and after having come home from war to attend college and buy houses on the GI Bill, the second they were comfortably ensconced in the middle class, these fine Americans starting voting for right-wing Repuiblicans to make sure no one else could ever get a hand up from Uncle Sam.

    And this esteemed generation fought tooth and nail against integration. They voted in scumbags like George Wallace and Lester Maddox and terrorized children of color who just wanted to go to school.

    It was this generation that defeated the Equal Rights Amendment and fought every other attempt by women to claim their rightful place in society.

    This generation opposed any rights for LGBT people and still does.

    This generation knew first-hand the benefits of strong unions and turned around and voted for Ronald Reagan and every other anti-labor Ayn Rand-inspired creep that came down the pike because those damn liberals were giving minorities too many rights or something, I don't know what the fuck the logic was, these were not logical people. These are people who bought into the idea that giving more and more money to the already wealthy would somehow benefit regular Joes like them, or would at least stick it to the lazy welfare recipients or the pinkos or whoever they were afraid of/angry at that day.

    And they've learned nothing. They have seen first-hand the destructive results of this right-wing stupidity and they have learned nothing. Now they're retired and they have nothing better to do than ingest a steady stream of Hannity and O'Reilly and whatever other hateful pricks are on TV and radio and vote for a monstrous imbecile like Trump because they think that Mexicans are the reason their no-good son-in-law can't get a job and that Muslims are forcing eveyone to bow to Mecca and wear a burqa and the black people are sucking off the government teat and ny God no one better take away thier Social Security and Medicare!

    So fuck this "Greatest Generation" bullshit. And fuck Tom Brokaw.

    Friday, June 2, 2017

    I have no words

    So I am 99.9% sure that the column that was making its way across the Twitterverse yesterday about the woman envying the lives of the Handmaids on The Handmaid's Tale is satire.

    This, sadly, is not:

    Jesse Lee Peterson: Trump Is A White Savior Sent By God To Save America

    via GIPHY

    And what makes this especially stunning, is that this is Jesse Lee Peterson:

    via GIPHY

    Right-wing radio host Jesse Lee Peterson spent a portion of his show yesterday again praising President Trump as a white savior sent by God to save America.
    Peterson heaped praised on Trump for shoving aside the prime minister of Montenegro at a recent NATO summit so that he could stand in front of the group of assembled leaders.

    via GIPHY

    “He goes overseas and those little weak ones try to get in front of him during a photo shoot, he pushed them out of the way,” Peterson rejoiced. “White power. White power! I’m loving it.

    via GIPHY

    “We are so fortunate to have President Trump. It looked like God had given up on us with Obama,” Peterson continued. “I had to get on my knees and God heard my prayer … And then the Lord said, ‘Be cool, Trump is coming. I will send my son and he will save you.'”

    Okay, now I have some words. His son? HIS SON? You do know who his son is, right? I mean, you're a reverend, you  have to know who God's son is, right? It's this guy:
    It sure as Hell isn't this guy:

    via GIPHY

    Also, the Lord said "be Cool?" Not "fear not" or "peace be with you" but "be cool?" God's up on his 20th Century slang is he?

    And I know I've said this before, but I'll say it again - if you talk to God, that's prayer. If God talks to you, that's schizophrenia.

    “Isn’t it beautiful to see white men and women finally standing up?” he said. “It’s so refreshing, because if white people give up completely, it’s over for the country. It’s the whites who make things happen. Blacks and Mexicans don’t make things happen.”

    via GIPHY

    And I'm back to being speechless. I have no words.