#ImpeachTrump? #ExpelMcConnell!

To: Senator John Cornyn
517 Hart Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510
(202) 224-2934
Contact: www.cornyn.senate.gov/contact

To: Senator Ted Cruz
127A Russell Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510
(202) 224-5922
Contact: www.cruz.senate.gov/?p=form&id=16

I’m writing you to inform you of my knowledge concerning your dereliction of duty, and what I see as your one chance to save yourselves from the coming storm that is rising against Donald Trump and the Republican party that he has remade in his image. To save yourselves from the fate that awaits both him and his accomplices in the high crimes and misdemeanors that he will soon be accused of. Including his accomplice in the Senate, Mitch McConnell.

In 2010, Mitch McConnell informed Republican contributors that he intended to not do his job for the next two years in order to make Barack Obama a one term president. When President Obama was reelected in 2012, Mitch McConnell proceeded to not do his job, and to encourage his fellow Senators to not do their jobs, including both of you, for the next four years as well. As a result of his and your efforts to derail the US government under Barack Obama, the migrant crisis on the Southern border was never adequately addressed. Because of his and your negligence, the opioid epidemic was never addressed at all. Because of his and your negligence, the student debt crisis has continued to spiral into a catastrophe. Because of his and your negligence, thousands and millions of Americans, thousands of Texans, have suffered and died without adequate healthcare. Continue to suffer and die to this very day. Not satisfied to see them suffer and die at the current rates, your caucus in the Senate has attempted to throw more people off of the ACA at the behest of your corporate and wealthy funders. Because of his and your negligence, the impacts of climate change have never been acknowledged and no attempts to offset CO2 emissions have even been begun at the federal level.

I could continue this litany of negligence, disrespect and outright lies on his and your parts, but I will be here all day writing this if I was to attempt to enumerate every single thing McConnell’s willingness to be derelict in his duties, his encouragement to you to be derelict in your official duties to serve and protect the constitution of the United States, and through that document the people you represent. I don’t consider you to be worth that kind of outlay of my time. No, both of you are beneath my notice. I wrote you both off years ago because of things you said and did both before and after you entered office. I know both of you are wholly owned by corporate donors and wealthy benefactors. I know that neither of you care about the suffering of average Texans, not in the slightest. I know that neither of you care about anything but being re-elected and being able to continue to take sweet campaign contributions from dark money sources. Therein lies both of your problems. I will spell this dilemma out for you.

You will lose your next elections. Both of you. It’s true, I won’t and never have voted for either of you. So there is no need to try to prove to me that you aren’t the things I describe above. I know that I will get no return correspondence that will address any of the points that I make in this letter. You will dismiss this letter, as you have all the other letters I have sent you, as being from someone who does not represent the majority of Texans. Your current problem is larger than me, larger than Austin where I live, a place on the map that won’t vote for you either.

A city you Republicans have sought to punish for our unwillingness to support your previous pro-corporate agendas, along with most of the metropolitan areas across the state of Texas. We will not swear allegiance to you and your corporate owners, we see ourselves as citizens of the city we live in, not the state of Texas that our cities are unable to escape the control of. Your governor and the Republican controlled Texas legislature have all shown how much disdain they hold city dwellers in by forcing us to abandon rules that we deemed necessary for city life. Forcing us to abide by the whims of your corporate masters. We do not forget your disregard for our desire to go our own way, make our own rules. But your problem only starts in the cities that will not vote for you.

Nor will we support your leadership’s current white supremacist agenda. The targeting of racial and religious minorities. The demands that the US establish a legal preference for the christian religion and its god. This is contrary to the constitution of the United States and all of the founding documents that have come down to us through the ages. It is there in black and white for anyone to discover. The racism that lies at the center of the Confederacy that your schools lie to our children about. The Jim Crow laws that your white supremacist forebears forced the federal government to accept in violation of the spirit of the fourteenth amendment. All of it, there for anyone to stumble across if they simply have the curiosity to go look.

Your problem is that all of Texas can see that you serve Mitch McConnell and Republican corporate funders. You do not serve the state of Texas, the state you were sent to Washington DC to represent. This can be seen in your willingness to watch Texans suffer and die without healthcare, as I mentioned previously. No, you don’t serve Texas; you serve Mitch McConnell, a man who violated his oath of office most recently in 2015 by not at least holding a vote for or against Merrick Garland, an act that was required by law, by the very constitution you swore to uphold. Mitch McConnell who is personally profiting from his wife’s job in the cabinet, also in violation of the constitution. You serve this man, and this man is not worthy of being a member of the Senate.

Mitch McConnell serves Donald Trump. Not the office of the president, an office that has sat essentially vacant since Barack Obama left office three years ago. No, he serves the man Donald Trump, a man who has never obeyed the law, a man who lied when he took his oath of office and even now openly conspires with our enemies in an attempt to retain political power. He serves Donald Trump, a man who is doing his dead level best to start a war with Iran that isn’t necessary. Donald Trump, the man that is starving and killing climate refugees on our Southern border in an attempt to prove that we in the US are even more heartless than the MS-13 gang members that he scares his voting block with. Donald Trump, and through him Mitch McConnell, wants to be more cruel than the gang members that are killing these people in the places they escaped from.

Now, all of this might not be a problem for you if only you could control the press like dictators do in places that Donald Trump loves. Places like Russia and North Korea. But this isn’t one of those poor, information starved places. This is the United States, where anyone can get on the internet almost anywhere and find out what the truth is by simply looking for it. By reading a newspaper or going to a library or just turning on their TV sets. And they are finding out about the things that I describe above. They know of your negligence. They know of your dereliction of duty. They, the majority of Texans who can and will vote, will not be voting for you in 2020 or 2024 because they will have a choice other than you to vote for. You may not be worried about this. You may think you have a fix in that will make sure you appear to win your elections anyway. The people who know what I know? Those people will not be fooled by your chicanery.

You have one chance and one chance only now to save your hides and your good standing, if not your offices. Begin hearings today to have Mitch McConnell removed from the Senate. Join with the leadership of the House of Representatives in their attempts to find out just how much criminality that Donald Trump has conducted under the guise of being president of the United States. Call for impeachment hearings for Donald Trump, a man who was never worthy of the office of the President in the first place based on his own rhetoric and his own lawless business practices. Do these things and we will not be forced to convict you along with your leadership when we finally take power from you again. The choice is yours. The writing is on the wall for anyone to see now. Choose.

Accessible?

Support groups for the disabled are frequently a lifesaver for people who have limited access to humans with sympathy/empathy for what they are going through. I participate in several online support groups for Meniere’s, the invisible disability that I am cursed with. The image above/right was posted in one of the private groups I’m part of; and when I went looking for the image I discovered it was all over the web in various forms, many of them heartlessly defaced by trolls who think that all the disabled people should get out and get a job, you lazy bums!

In the Meniere’s group where the image was posted one of the commenters asked why the third guy from the right is leaning on an upside down dildo. He made me laugh with his question, and we riffed on that back and forth for awhile. But the question got me thinking, which is why I went online looking for the origin of the image and stumbled across all the troll variations of it and the casual cruelty of the unafflicted that comes with that territory.

International symbology is one of those things that, having once been an architect, I have an inside track on understanding. Here’s what the symbology means, officially:

  • Arm missing
  • Blind (universal symbol for services for the blind)
  • Crutches (injured get preferential access. Hospital signage)
  • Wheelchair (universal symbol of accessibility)
  • Walker (Accessibility, limited walking capability)
  • Elderly (Not a disability, dammit!)
  • Leg missing
  • Invisible Disability (You’re disabled? You look normal)

I had a hand in documenting signage for Austin-Bergstrom International Airport back in the day. I know the symbology; or rather, I know where to go looking for the official definitions for the symbols. The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) has over 6k images in their online database now. Here is a link to the symbol for priority access for elderly people. The American Institute of Graphic Arts (AIGA) has a list of fifty symbols commonly used in transit hubs, the kinds of places where symbolic communication is essential since communication in a common language may not be possible.

Most of the symbols in the invisible disability image are not standard, but crafted in the helvetica style adopted by international symbology. There is no ISO symbol for missing limbs because that disability is too specific to a particular person not a generalizable disability requiring recognizable symbols that give directions. Well, maybe at the Veterans Administration where they have amputees waiting for years to get care. They probably have queue signage and queues that go on for blocks.

However, the illustrator that created the invisible disability image left off one of the most common disability symbols, the symbol for services for the deaf. It doesn’t fit the theme, but deafness is a pretty common disability and just leaving them out of the image sells their disability short. This is something I’m sensitive to since I’ll probably be deaf one day myself.

While looking for the origins of the illustration, I stumbled across the dildo dude, who can be seen in this Shutterstock image, as well as a couple of the other symbols. I also discovered a movement afoot to update the accessibility symbol with something that looks like it was designed this century, instead of last century, Accessibleicon.org. I can’t say I’m promoting their defacement of standard signage because I have an uncontrollable twitch when it comes to graffiti, an urge to reach out and snap off the arm of the person defacing public property. But I do like the updated symbology. I was never very fond of the old symbol in the first place.

Moneyland

Ordinary people wouldn’t want to live there. Because if you went there, there is no social life, there’s no… there’s no nothing. These… it’s almost dead environments. So what this is, it has turned parts of our major cities, places like London and New York, it’s turned them now into essentially bank accounts. Bank accounts in the form of bricks and mortar.

Oliver Bullough, author of Moneyland
Fresh Air – How Oligarchs, Kleptocrats & Crooks Stash Fortunes – May 1, 2019

Trump properties have over 700 units that are held by untraceable shell companies. Tell me again how he isn’t a crook. Caveat Emptor.

Daily Beef: Where is my Phone?

When I bought my latest phone and paired it with my Aftershokz bluetooth headset, a bone-conduction headset that allows me to hear sounds my ears no longer pick up, the nearly pure Android OS on the phone worked beautifully. Now that I had a phone that was something near current in technology, I discovered that the tech allowed me to do things that I had never thought to try doing before.

Things like telling my phone to find itself for me. It’s a bluetooth headset, it is securely linked to the phone, all you have to do is trigger the voice dialer on the headset and ask the headset “where is my phone?” then the helpful Google assistant speaks again and offers to ring the phone for you. Or rather, it did until sometime in the last few weeks.

The brain fog that is a side-effect of Meniere’s symptoms leaves me pretty much a basket case for days at a time. I spend a lot of time looking for things that I’ve set down somewhere, but I can’t remember where. As I’m standing there looking for my phone I remember I can ask the headset to find the phone for me. So I ask the question. This is the response I got.

An app? Why the fuck should I download an app? Why would Google seperate out the functions that were available right from the headset, and put them in an app? When I finally found the phone, conveniently located exactly where I last left it, I downloaded the app and then tried to use it to find my device. The app helpfully told me that the phone was in my hand. Well, duh. There was no function at all within the app to allow it to do the thing I used to do by triggering voice dial on the headset. Or as I said to Google in my feedback,

This app is fucking useless. If I had two phones, maybe not. But now when I ask Google “where is my phone” it unhelpfully directs me to get this app rather than offering to ring my phone as it has done for me for the last couple of years. Why in the hell would you take that functionality out of the OS? Now I have to own two phones or use a desktop computer to access the device connected to my Bluetooth headset? Why in the hell should I have to do that, when the two devices are securely connected?

Feedback that Google promptly deleted, probably because I violated their feedback standards by cursing at them. What do they expect when they break shit that works? It’s not like this is the first time. I doubt that it will be the last time, either.

For the last week Android has unhelpfully directed me to download this useless app, the app that only tells me when the phone is in my hand, the app that cannot possibly locate the phone’s precise location using current technology even if I had two phones so that when I lose one I can find it with the other, that app was what Google wanted me to go use. Until today. Today, on a whim, I asked the headset “where is my phone” and it responded “I can ring your Motorola phone for you. Would you like me to do that?” as if the last week of hopeless irritation had been a bad dream. I nearly cheered, but instead just told the voice “no”, which it quite typically didn’t understand and unhelpfully informed me that it could only ring the last two phones I had, to which I responded with what it could go do with itself for all its troubles…

…but at least that one useful function has been restored. I would prefer not to lose the phone in the first place, but at least I haven’t driven down the road with my phone sitting on top of my car. Driving along wondering where I had put the thing but confident it was in the car since my audio kept playing on the bluetooth connection. At least I’m not that forgetful. Yet. Who does that? Did someone do that? How would I know?

A Vaccine Eliminating Cervical Cancer

The World Health Organization’s calls to eliminate cervical cancer “may be possible in many countries if sufficient vaccination coverage can be achieved,” said Marc Brisson, a biostatistician at Laval University in Quebec and one of the study’s authors.

NYT Science

Don’t Bomb Iran

You’re the president? What are you gonna do about Iran?

He misheard me. I said I’m present when he asked how was I? My usual conversational smartassery causes a miscommunication again. But the question was asked and so I proceeded to dwell on the question What would you do about Iran? for the next few hours. My immediate response was to say I’d apologize for saddling them with the Shah, but he didn’t hear me and it wasn’t important enough to belabor the answer to the question that he flippantly asked in response to my smartassed non-answer.

The story of the US’s relationship with the region is a long history of pain and grievance, so the question of what to do is equally long and painful to answer. The nation of Iran was made up out of whole cloth like the country of Iraq was, lines drawn on a map by the colonial powers in an agreement they made to mutually release the region from their direct control following World War one. Before the area we in the West call Iran was under colonial control, the civilization that occupied that space referred to itself as Persia.

Well, that was one of the names that the natives of Iran used. Iran has always been on the road from wherever conquerors came from to wherever they were ultimately going to head next. The natives of the region have always been headstrong, surpassing their occupiers ability to cope with their insistence on going their own way, seperate from the empire they were currently part of, unless that empire was lead by a Persian. That is, until they were almost destroyed by the Mongols. But even the Mongols themselves took up Persian ways after settling in Persia, holding power there until the time we term the modern age. Which is where we modern people meet up with world powers whose names we recognize.

Any attempt on my part to tell a history of Iran and the people of that region will be criticized as being an oversimplification. If the paragraph above doesn’t do justice to the millenia of conflict, discovery and advancement in your eyes, feel free to expand your own knowledge by reading further on the subject. There are links throughout this article for just that reason, feel free to click on them. However, the modern age is where the conflict between the US and Iran originates, so let’s just proceed into the modern era, because this is a single blog article and not a multi-volume history of the region and its peoples.

IranGeoHistory of Iran in 5 minutes (3200 BCE – 2013 CE) – Mar 19, 2013

Tehran is first used as the capital city of Iran/Persia during the Qajar dynasty in the Sublime State of Persia. It was the capital of the Pahlavi dynasty and the Imperial State of Persia. The Pahlavi who founded the dynasty was a member of the Russian military who deposed the Qajar Shah in 1925. The Shah that America and Great Britain put into power, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, was a continuation of the Pahlavi dynasty in their eyes. Someone who would continue to allow the removal of Iran’s natural resources by the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company if also, conveniently, being the Shah of Iran.

The Resource Curse

To put the Shah into a position where he could do the US and Britain this favor they wanted from him, MI-6 and the CIA toppled the government of Mohammad Mosaddegh. Mosaddegh had nationalized the oil industry in Iran in an effort to bring control of the country’s national resources back into the hands of the natives of the region. A situation enjoyed by all of the first world countries, but denied to third world countries. He had won leadership of the country of Iran in popular election in 1951. He had been appointed prime minister by the Shah himself. As the wiki article on him notes,

The new administration introduced a wide range of social reforms: unemployment compensation was introduced, factory owners were ordered to pay benefits to sick and injured workers, and peasants were freed from forced labor in their landlords’ estates. In 1952, Mossadegh passed the Land Reform Act which forced landlords to turn over 20% of their revenues to their tenants. These revenues could be placed in a fund to pay for development projects such as public baths, rural housing, and pest control.

Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

His actions as prime minister seem quite rational, in hindsight. If only he hadn’t pissed off the multinational corporations that really ran his country, he probably would have been celebrated by more than just the people of the region who want the benefits of liberal democracy enjoyed by first world countries. But that isn’t how it worked out. Britain and the US forced him out of office and restored the monarchy of the Shah. Restored the Pahlavi dynasty to Iran, setting up the next twenty-plus years of military rule, with all the terrorism, torture and suffering that the phrase military rule implies.

It was after the people of Iran were denied liberal democracy by a coup carried out by foreign powers that they turned to the Mullahs for leadership. Can you blame them for this, were you in their place? I can’t. But Republicans do blame them, largely because the current Republican party is dominated by fundamentalist/evangelical christians who see Islam as their competitor in the religion markets of the world. They see Iran as the target they want to take down, have seen Iran as their prime target since the Islamic Revolution occurred and Iran once again nationalized their oil production (the real reason that US corporate leaders are pissed) as well as invaded the US embassy and took Americans hostage.

We got our people back, but Britain didn’t get back its oil production machinery, so we remain pissed and Britain remains pissed. In the intervening 40 years between the revolution (1979) and now (2019) there has been a lot of water under that bridge of hatred between the US and Iran. There was the Iran/Iraq war that we funded through Saddam Hussein. The one where he gassed parts of Iran as well as his own people who were in rebellion. We paid for a lot of that. There was the shoot down of Iran Air Flight 655, much like the shoot-down of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 that Vladimir Putin deems fake news. We did that and then made up stories for how we didn’t do that, just like Putin is doing now. But we killed nearly 300 Iranian citizens on a routine flight.

Then there was the the US invasion of Iraq. An invasion founded on a lie. That invasion opened pandora’s box in the entire Middle Eastern region, creating the opportunity for political change that the populations of a good portion of the region eventually took advantage of. Iran’s Mullahs took advantage of their neighbor’s instability and have created what Washington sees as an Iranian puppet state where there once was a government installed by the second Bush administration. Iran has taken advantage of the chaos that Bush II created, advancing its influence across the region. Influence which its main competitor, Saudi Arabia, sees as a direct threat. Not surprisingly Saudi Arabia seeing Iran as a threat means that their paid stooge, Donald Trump, sees Iran as a threat.

So here we are in 2019. The tit for tat behavior has been going on for decades. The US and Britain want their assets back, the Iranians want to be in control of their own country, and the idiot that the idiot Stormtrumpers put into the office of the presidency is doing his dead-level best to get us into war with Iran. What would I do now, in his place? I’d recapitulate to the agreement that the Obama administration negotiated in good faith. I’d stop antagonizing Iran with sanctions. I’d apologize, officially, for the coup in 1951. I’d apologize for shooting down their civilian airliner in 1988. I’d apologize for helping Saddam Hussein kill hundreds of thousands of their people. I’d try that just for starters, see how far that gets us. Not that I think it’s likely that the Orange Hate-Monkey or his Secretary of War will do any of that. What I wouldn’t do is bomb Iran.

I will never apologize for the United States of America. Ever. I don’t care what the facts are.

George H.W. Bush

NPR’s Throughline re-released their first episode last week. It reminded me that they had done a primer on the real history of the US and Iran.

Throughline – Four Days In August – July 11, 2019

“The only difference between me and these people is my place of birth, and this is not a big difference.”

Howard Conklin Baskerville

By 1979 Mosaddegh is long dead, but his legacy is not. So while he himself was completely axed by the clerical powers of the time, his narrative, his legacy, became very useful to the regime.

Roya Hakanian

This week Throughline issued a follow-up episode on the subject, one that covers the history between the US and Iran after that initial triumph and betrayal all the way to the present day.

Throughline – Rules of Engagement – July 18, 2019

Iran deserves a real apology for its treatment at the hands of the US government, especially in the here and now of the Orange Hate-Monkey‘s racist/Christianist war on targets of convenience.

A Draft vs. Mandatory Civil Service

It looks like the Orange Hate-Monkey (OHM) is trying to get us into a war. If he isn’t trying to get us into a war, he’s stupidly making a future war inevitable, as Jim notes in the image above/right. In my opinion, this is just more Republican policy boilerplate, the part of the standard corporatist MICC approach to the world that echoes with the novel 1984 more frighteningly than the phrase alternative facts does. We are on a permanent war footing. We will be eternally at war with Eurasia or Eastasia.

It will probably be a war with Iran. They (the Republicans) have wanted to be at war with Iran since 1979. Their memories of historical intransigence on Iran’s part are more than slightly skewed towards seeing the US as the good guys in that relationship.

A good portion of this post was written in response to the OHM’s provocation of Iran two years ago, back when Jim posted the above images to Facebook. Here we are two years later, and the exact same shit is still going on. We will be at war soon if we do not remove this festering wound on the ass of America that is the entire Trump administration. These crises that have plagued the OHM since he lied his way into office will only get worse until we remove him from office.

I wanted Trump impeached the day he took the oath of office because I knew that his criminal business methods would take us to places like the one we find ourselves in now with Iran. They won’t pay him to say nice things about them, so they get punished. This article is an example of my understanding of who Trump is and where his kind of criminality would lead us to, in that I started the damn thing two years ago and it is still topical. Trump and his advisors are still trying to get us into war, a war with Iran, and Americans as a rule do not want to be forced to go to war. Can you imagine being drafted to go to war against Iran right now? This guy can,

I am in favor of a military draft with no deferments for any reason. If the risk were spread equally I think Vietnam, 16 years in Afghanistan and Iraq wouldn’t have happened. A draft is one of the few, easily observable times most of the citizenry can draw a straight line from federal government policy to their daily lives.

Facebook comment

A simple lack of knowledge about his own country’s history appears to be the fault in his thinking. He goes on to rage at great length in the comment that I replied to on Facebook two years ago, about the injustice of being forced to go fight wars he doesn’t want to fight in. The reason that the Vietnam war (known as the US war in the country of Vietnam) had such a high body counts is because the army had troops to burn. The army had troops to burn, the President and the Congress had troops to burn, because there was a draft. There had been a draft in force since the beginning of WWII, and the end of the draft in 1973, an outcome demanded by young men in response to the body counts of the Vietnam war, is probably why our leaders found other ways than war to solve international political issues for the last few generations.

Other ways? Arms reduction treaties for one. Using the populations of client states to do our dirty work was another way. Creating a mercenary, private army was also an outgrowth of the end of the draft. Jim put it this way,

Rich people don’t get drafted (see Trump et al). Connected people, even if they are drafted don’t go to war (see Bush Jr. et al). Drafts are NEVER EVER fairly and uniformly administered. In every single case, conscription become a way for the government to force the poorer part of the population to fight unpopular conflicts for the benefit of corporations.

Stonekettle Station

In all the times there have been mandatory conscription there has never been one where the wealthy cannot buy their way out, where the powerful cannot exempt themselves and their children. That simply isn’t how a draft is done. Conscription is just like slavery, and the sons and daughters of the powerful will not be allowed to be slaughtered like slaves, their parents will see to that. There is a reason conscription is not allowed any longer in civilized countries. As Jim alludes to, Old Bone Spurs himself managed to evade the draft. His personal unwillingness to die for his country doesn’t stop him from appointing people who want to take us into war and let others die in his place. After all, someone went to war in his place in Vietnam, why should this be any different? The poor are more suited to the task of living and dying violently. Let them go to war, or so the hateful bastards who currently lead this country think.

The draft will not stop the repetition of senseless wars. Even without the example of Old Bone Spurs there is plenty of other evidence to represent this fact. Napoleon proved this handily by being able to draw up conscripts time and time again for his military adventures. The reason that the USSR had such astronomical losses on the Nazi Eastern front is because Stalin had millions upon millions of starving peasants to throw at the better equipped, mechanized Nazi army. They sent unarmed, untrained civilians straight into battle, telling them to take the arms of their fallen comrades and take the fight to the huns with them. When you live in a country that is organized on social equality, every person is a number. An expendable part in a greater machine that must be kept running.

Aside from all of that. Aside from the meat grinder that is the modern military. Aside from the problems of military conscription giving the modern military more meat to grind, there is the further problem of disconnect between the average citizen and the government that works so well that it allows him to believe that he can get by without government’s help. There is something we can do to remedy these delusions and it isn’t a military draft.

Mandatory civil service.

A requirement that every young person spend two years as part of their continuing education in the civil service of the United States. As an alternative they could join the military, but only if that is their freely selected choice. Either before or after college, take your pick or let them take their pick; but there would be no exemptions from this service except for permanent mental or physical incapacity. Permanent wards of the state, in other words. With all of the menacing overtones that condition entails.

As part of their required civil service they could help out as interns in D.C. or they could go overseas as part of the Peace Corps (A thing that I was surprised to discover still exists) or they could join government outreach programs (poverty relief, healthcare, education, etc) within the US as well. This kind of not killing and blowing things up service would foment an understanding in our population of the real nature of government and the human condition as other people experience it, and it would also not require them to give up their lives for their country. They would be bound by the same code as all the other civil servants in US government employment not the UCMJ like military conscripts. It is the proverbial win-win situation.

Requiring civil service as part of being a citizen of the United States would overturn the political norm, and that is a good thing. Right now the average American citizen thinks they can get through their lives without government making plans for them, no matter how many times you point out that everything they use on a day to day basis has to be planned out and constructed by somebody. I know because until I was disabled, I was one of those clueless rubes myself.

How do you think the Tea Party started? It started because people who think they currently live without government oversight and intervention believe that ending all government would be a good thing. My former libertarian friends tried to convince me to go with them and subvert the Republican party in 2006. Back then it was part of Ron Paul’s movement. They were going to change the world. They have succeeded in getting Trump into the White House. Congratulations? Never have I been so happy as I am right now, knowing that I never contributed a minute towards the Tea Party.

But the belief that what is needed is a reformation of the political norm is well-founded if poorly understood by anarchists, libertarians and the MAGA that support the OHM. We need to change the political and social norms to the point where we all understand that voting is the absolute least that can be expected of us as citizens. We have to get to the point where we thank everyone for their service, not just the soldiers who are lucky enough to return from war. Everyone who does their part is worthy of our respect, in peacetime as well as in wartime, and everyone needs government whether they are conscious of it on a daily basis, or not.

But war is as old as humanity. You won’t end it.

That is a cop out as old as humanity. It was probably mouthed by the same people who frequented the first purveyors of the oldest profession. As I said previously, starting with the Napoleonic wars and going straight on through Vietnam, You can see how modern democracy and modern warfare exact greater and greater tolls on the humans caught in this increasingly mechanized business. All of those wars were fed by conscription that kings could never manage prior to the benefits of a popular mandate. But a dictatorship of the proletariat? The meat to grind never ends in one of those places. The OHM’s dictatorship would grind meat just like Hitler’s did, with zealots guarding his corpse at the end as whatever city he was hiding in last is reduced to rubble around them. That way lies death.

If my antagonist in that thread two years ago had read and understood the article on the end of the US draft, he would have seen how Nixon ended conscription to end the war protests. The nation would have come apart at the seams if he hadn’t ended it. And that strategy combined with his drug war allowed him to destroy the burgeoning political movements towards equality and democracy that were present in the late 1960’s. Locking us back in the same repeating domestic struggle that we’ve been in since 1865, the same one that has lasted until the present day.

Reinstating conscription like he proposed will simply drive up body counts in wars that shouldn’t even occur. Wars that wouldn’t occur if there was a world government with the ability to enforce an end to war. Something that gives nationalists like the OHM and his supporters nightmares that they wake screaming from. I hope their nightmares come true. More than that, I think that revealing the true interconnectedness that lies at the heart of human society will strip away the disguise that allows the wealthy to set the poor and middle class at each other’s throats over the scraps they leave on the table. We are all in this together whether we like it or not, and the only exit from this existence is non-existence.

How about we change the beat and see if we like the new music before checking out for the last time? Sounds like a plan to me.

Compiled and expanded from several Facebook comments.

The Great Level Squish?

World of Warcraft studio Blizzard has apparently announced that WoW is going to reduce its level cap – a so-called ‘level squish’ – at some point in the future, and it has done so via a customer survey asking if you knew about that.

PC Games

Wow. An idea that I’ve been pushing for awhile now, and I didn’t even have to write them about doing it. I really don’t know why they ever increased character levels beyond 100 in the first place. It just doesn’t make any sense. I’m not even sure why leveling is still part of the game, at this point. It just serves as a gateway that players have to get through before being able to be free to do what they want in the game.

Blizzard has conducted a stat squish already. The player base got over that. They take away in-game flight routinely with every release of new content. The player base puts up with that. I can’t see why reducing levels to 100 from the current 120 makes any difference at all, or should make a difference to anyone playing the game. Max level is max level, no matter what number is attached to it. You can’t get more max than max.

I’ve been of the opinion that levels should be reduced and capped at 100 for quite some time now. If Blizzard insists on leveling-gating new content, they should just reset the level of existing maxxed toons to 99 and be done with it. As I outlined above, I don’t understand why this warrants a lot of wishy washy, hand wringing bullshit. Just do the thing and be done with it. The players will probably not even notice. I’m convinced they won’t notice much of anything unless you went back to making them walk everywhere in game. That suggestion seems to piss most players off the way I get pissed off about not being able to fly in game.

The Amazon/Ubik Conundrum

I was aghast to discover that I had missed a Philip K. Dick novel the other day. I had shared an image on Facebook that discussed the dangers of pissing off a redhead (or ginger. This image.) something I do every day with the Wife, especially when I point out that her temper proves she is a ginger. That woman can punch hard when she thinks she’s being insulted. However, I’ve seen the carpet a few times in our thirty years of marriage. She’s a ginger. The sun lightens the hair on her head, as it does for most strawberry blondes. But the long-running argument between Red and I wasn’t the subject I wanted to discuss here. Missing from the image was one of my favorite examples of redheads that you really don’t want to piss off, and that is the potentially causality destroying character from the movie Prince of Darkness.

You Are Receiving This Broadcast As A Dream | Prince of Darkness (1987)

Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned

The Mourning Bride, by William Congreve

…and she was pretty pissed at the end of that film. With good reason. So anyway, another friend and fan of the ginger set said that the clip reminded him of the novel Ubik by Philip K. Dick. Having never read the book I felt I had to remedy my lack of knowledge and went directly to Amazon.com to see if the book was available on Audible. Then I could read the book and find out what it was that he thought was similar between the book and the movie.

Ever since I started getting vertigo I’ve had a problem with the repetitive back and forth motion of the eyes while reading making me tired and dizzy and potentially bringing on vertigo, So I get books on audio now. I listen to so many books that it pays off to have an Audible account. Aside from having a regular supply of books to have read to me, if I feel like I want to access the text of the book I can get whispersync from Amazon to synchronize between the audiobook and the Kindle book, and that makes the experience a win-win for me no matter how I want to learn something new.

This was one of those instances where I was tempted to get both the Kindle book and the audiobook, especially since the page on Amazon offered me the Kindle book for $3.62 as shown in the header image for this article. Less than four bucks more and I could have the book to read for myself if I felt like reading it! So I bought the book and downloaded both versions to my phone. Then I noticed something odd. The Kindle book was not in English, it was in Romansh. I don’t even know what region of the world Romansh is spoken in, much less speak it myself.

Well, that’s weird. The Ubik page on Amazon’s website is written in English and it doesn’t say anything about the other versions of the book that are listed as being in other languages. Feel free to click the link under the image and see for yourself. There is no way to find the English Kindle book short of looking specifically for the book as a Kindle book and that book is not $3.62 it’s $9.99 (free with kindleunlimited! Another fucking subscription service. Just what I need.) more than twice the price of the Kindle book I was first offered. I know what this is, even though I’ve not seen it too many times before. This is false advertising, and I’ve been taken in by it.

So I started the refund on the Kindle book in a language I can’t read and opened a chat dialog with someone at Amazon so that I could resolve the problem of being sold something that I didn’t want. What I wanted was the book in English, the language the book was originally written in, and I wanted it at the advertised price on the Ubik page on Amazon. I mean, it takes less work to port over the exact type script of the original work than it does to pay someone to translate the book into another language, edit, copyedit, format, etc. the new manuscript into another language. Why was the Kindle book twice the price?

Well, I know why the Kindle book was twice the price, as does every person who deals with the frustration of getting any book in this day and age. Amazon and Apple and just about every other digital book publisher rigs the prices of books through contractual obligations at artificially high prices where they can get away with them, and then offers bargain prices where they cannot gouge the unsuspecting customer. And after an hour or so of arguing with the representative in the Amazon chat service, they conceded I had a legitimate complaint but that they were not contractually able to offer the digital books at the same prices that they offer them at in other countries and for other languages. However, I could get a credit for the difference in price between the two books, and that was the best that they could do for me. So I took the only route available to me and accepted the credit offer. Not that it really made me happy.


Today on Facebook I was offered a memory I may have missed from June 11th, 2018. Hey, it’s been a year and four days since the Amazon/Ubik conundrum. I’ve listened to/read the book now. More than once. I know why the dream sequence reminded my friend of that book. The one unresolved conundrum here is that the webpage for Ubik on Amazon still takes you to the Romansh Kindle version even when you type “Ubik” in a fresh instance on the Amazon store. Even though I returned that book and bought the English version for a final price of $3.62 when the store credit was applied. Even though I helpfully reiterated the potential legal liability that Amazon was opening itself up to by putting a price and no stated language waiver on the combined Ubik page that you land on when you type in Ubik on their home screen.

One whole year later, still not fixed. I saved the chat session logs. I saved the page images. It’s a simple thing to reassemble the entire conundrum, so I figured I’d do that. I mean, I’ve given them a year to fix their programming and they still haven’t done it. I wonder how many Kindle books there are out there that are offered at a lower price in a language other than English, versions that are offered on landing pages when you go looking for a book by its title? Books that are not the books that the shopper is looking for, even though they are tempted to buy the books for the lower price stated, later to have to go through the exact same process I have had to go through? There’s a class action lawsuit in there somewhere for the savvy lawyer to take advantage of. Just send my children the finders fee twenty years from now when the lawsuit settles, would you?