Buying Elections

In their (and the current systems) defense, they spent the money and failed; but the problem is that Romney was the candidate because that’s what the moneyed elite wanted. The base would have probably nominated Santorum in the end. Who knows? Do you really believe the base of the Democratic party wanted John Kerry as their nominee? The money speaks louder than the voices of millions.

Facebook status backdated to the blog.

TxTag; It’s Not Very Friendly.

The Wife has been driving to Lockhart for the last three days, using the toll roads. So TXtag, in their infinite wisdom, disabled online access to our account because the increased activity drained the account down into a negative balance. No emails saying “account suspended”, or more wisely, no email saying “here’s how to pay, pay now”.

Even better, when I finally get to talk to someone at TXtag (the first operator hung up on me, she apparently had virgin ears) manage to figure out what the toll charge was per day, and got the account back open, there isn’t any way to check usage and see what the current charges are. Most annoyingly, while waiting on hold, I’m told every 30 seconds about how I can go online and pay, when I wouldn’t have been hearing the message if that were true.

I don’t know which petty little modo thought it was a good idea to disabled online access when accounts go negative, making it harder for people to actually pay their tolls, but I don’t think that person is qualified to sweep floors, much less make important decisions of this nature. Yes, I’m looking at you Governor Perry.


I scalded both sets of ears of the people I talked to. I got the account reopened and all additional charges dropped, but I have a real problem with the way they’re doing this stuff. The State should be handling this themselves if they want to charge us for the roads, or at least have the contractors answer to the state (which they don’t do know. They only answer to the gov) it has to change and the only way to change it is change who is running the state.

Facebook status and comment backdated to the blog. I still don’t like TxTag, and it is getting harder to avoid toll roads.

Residents Who Are Not Citizens Should Be Citizens

“I think the president wants to campaign on immigration reform in 2014 and 2016 and I think the reason the White House is insisting on a path to citizenship for those who are here illegally is because the White House knows that insisting on that is very likely to scuttle the bill.”

CBS this morning profile on Ted Cruz

No, Senator Cruz. The President is insisting on a path to citizenship because that’s the only way to deal with the problem of residents who are not documented. The way to prevent future undocumented residents is to craft a guest worker program that will work in the real world, not the paranoid delusions of the average Republican.

…You and your kind are on your way out, Mr. Cruz. Enjoy your 6 years, because it’s all you will have as Senator unless the GOP wises up.

Facebook Status backdated to the blog. The Austin American Statesman moved their blogs. Archive.org has a First Reading summary here. Beto O’Rourke almost got Cruz’s seat in 2018.

Our Hearts Weep for You West, Texas

Being Liberal on Facebook

Yes, I KNOW that this is a cheap shot, but I simply cannot resist. On April 17th, 2013, a fertilizer storage facility exploded, killing fifteen people and injuring more than 160. The people of West deserve more than to be remembered as the point of a political meme, but this example of corporate largesse begs to be stated as bluntly as possible.

For the last 40 years, corporations have successfully brainwashed the voters, most of whom now believe “regulation” is a bad word, and believe that governments who want to prevent corporations from maximizing their own profits, regardless of consequences, are evil. How many times have you heard the mantra that OSHA interfered with my business? Staffing and funding OSHA has been demonstrably reduced because of calls for deregulation.

Corporations are not evil any more than government is evil. However, they do exist to make profit, for themselves and for their stockholders, and they exist for no other purpose. It is up to government to ensure that corporations function within the parameters of protecting the environment and ensuring the safety of innocents who just happen to live nearby. It is long past time that we stop viewing government regulation as a bad thing. What the current US and Texas state governments needs to embrace is the notion of smart regulation, regulation that serves the higher purposes embraced by the majority of humanity. This includes protecting the environment and public safety, something wholly lacking in current Texas regulations.

The Senator from Canada and the congressional rep for West, Texas and the surrounding area have made the issue a political football because of their stands against Hurricane Sandy relief, while simultaneously asking for aid for this. This hypocrisy cries out to be corrected.

Facebook Status and related edited comments backdated to the blog. A h/t to a Facebook friend is also in order here. As of this posting (04/23/2018) changes to the regulations that lead to this disaster in West have been completely inadequate to keep another such tragedy from occurring. The state government still doesn’t know where these kinds of storage hazards exist. Roger Williams remains the representative for West, Texas and my representative here in Austin. Here’s hoping both he and Ted Cruz are replaced in the upcoming midterms. Changes made to the US regulatory codes by the Obama administration following this disaster have been weakened by the administration of the Orange Hate-Monkey.


Texas Standard, Five Years After the Explosion in West, Texas, Very Little has been Done to Prevent Another One

Downfall

Downfall (2005)

Downfall trailer

The documentary Downfall was based on Until the Final Hour: Hitler’s Last Secretary with secondary information taken from Inside Hitler’s Bunker: The Last Days of the Third Reich. This is a claustrophobic journey into the madness that gripped Nazi Germany in her final days.

Specific pieces of Traudl Junge‘s memories of her time in the bunkers, as documented in her book and in the film Blind Spot: Hitler’s Secretary were incorporated into the film, giving it a feeling of eerie realism. Highly recommended.

TVTAG/Facebook

Tiangong 1?

China announced Thursday (Feb. 28) that it will send three astronauts to space this summer on a docking mission to its orbiting lab, according to news reports.

Carrying three Chinese astronauts the Shenzhou 10 capsule will launch into space atop a Long March-2F rocket sometime between June and August, the Xinhua news agency reported. Once in orbit, the Shenzhou 10 spacecraft will link up with China’s space station prototype, the Tiangong 1 laboratory module.

The new space mission will mark China’s second manned docking of two spacecraft in orbit, and the fifth Chinese manned spaceflight. The country’s space program achieved its first manned orbital docking 2012, when the three-person crew of Shenzhou 9 linked up with Tiangong 1.

Space.com

Raise your hands, anyone who knew the Chinese built their own space station? Have sent manned missions to it before? and the media claims to report “the news”. Apparently this isn’t newsworthy in the US.

Facebook Status update backdated to the blog.


Editor’s note 2018. This status update was backdated to the blog when it was, because this event was happening soon,

The European Space Agency (ESA) has issued a new re-entry forecast for China’s Tiangong-1 space lab.

The 8.5-ton spacecraft is now expected to fall into Earth’s atmosphere between March 24 and April 19, though ESA officials stressed that this is a rough estimate.

“Re-entry will take place anywhere between 43 degrees north and 43 degrees south (e.g. Spain, France, Portugal, Greece, etc.)” latitude, officials with the Space Debris Office at ESA’s European Space Operations Center in Darmstadt, Germany, wrote in an update last week. “Areas outside of these latitudes can be excluded. At no time will a precise time/location prediction from ESA be possible.”

Space.com

In all honesty, I thought that this space station had already suffered re-entry. Apparently I had read the story projecting the re-entry data, and never took into account how far into the future this event would occur.

…Also? I loved the comment by someone of Asian descent on my Facebook status who thinks that because Chinese spaceflight is important to him, it should be important to everybody. I was simply marveling that as a voracious news consumer I had never encountered this story in two years of listening to and watching the news almost constantly. Space is simply not something that the mainstream media reports on, and when they do, they do it badly.

The Chinese space station re-entered without much notice on April 1-2 2018.

Redefining Piracy

Huffington Post Tech artcile

I know I’m wasting my time here, because the entertainment giants have all stacked the decks in their favor and defined piracy as any activity that they don’t approve of, but just how many of these legally defined ‘pirates’ profit from their activity? Would have the money to pay for the entertainment that they share for free? How many people will have their abilities to function in today’s world hampered by these bumbling attempts to stop something that wouldn’t exist were the content simply made available when desired at a reasonable price?

Aren’t these media conglomerates simply shooting themselves in the foot, alienating potential future customers with harassment? The music industry has been forced to the table, and the low per-song price through iTunes and Amazon is the result of their capitulation to the new information reality we live in. The instantaneous access to information that the average user demands. The savviest of new bands now offer their music directly from their websites, and even offer free songs to draw people in. They do this because they know that their audiences want more access, more music, and they want it right now, not after they visit a store and make a purchase. Get your music from the source, cut out the middleman.

What piracy remains (musically) is the corporate properties that haven’t learned to play ball, want to charge more, won’t put their libraries online. Study after study has shown this; that if the content is available, people will pay for it. I balk at being forced to buy music libraries a third time (once on tape, once on disc, and again on unprotected mp3) I will still go to torrent sites to pick up copies of music that I’ve already paid for. However, with the emergence of remastered music that is of superior quality to CD, even I am admitting that I may have to buy the music again, for a fourth time.

No, the yelling and screaming about PIRACY! comes from the MPAA and corporate television entities these days. They just haven’t figured out that the game has changed yet. When the average movie goer starts boycotting corporate films and embraces independent content (something that is already beginning to occur) maybe they’ll figure it out.

If I download a song, never listen to it, and then delete it, have I profited? If I download a movie or television show, if I pay for a subscriber service, can’t access it, and then download a torrent copy of the exact show I already paid for, but then don’t watch or listen to any of it, have I stolen anything?The corporate property owners say you have, and you are a pirate. I’d simply like them to prove how the temporary existence of a file on a computer system represents anything other than a cost, not a benefit. If I can’t be shown to have even watched or listened to the files in question, but the files belong to the corporation that objects to their existence, I’d say they owe me storage fees for holding the information for me. But I’ll happily wave the fees and simply delete the files. Let’s see how many checks show up in the meantime.

Facebook status and comments added, edited and backdated to the blog. Summary paragraph added.

How Many Stars, Amazon? You Mean Write 150 Words.

Amazon sends me eMail asking me (again) how many stars I would give a streamed purchase I’ve made. However, when I click on the link, it doesn’t just want me to give the movie a number of stars, it wants me to wax loquacious about the merits of the film, and then summarize the entirety of my thoughts into a title for the post.

This time it was Dead Poets Society, a film that I could actually write quite a few words about, if it wasn’t 20 years old. The previous film was Blind Date, which I only purchased because

a) it had Bruce Willis in the cast and

b) we had never seen the film, with a possible

c) we were drunk and shopping online. Considering the factors involved, I’d give it a 3 out of 5 stars, but what do you say review-wise about that?

Facebook

#Benghazi, The Original Dumpster Fire

I said I really have nothing else to add to this when I posted this image on Facebook, but then I got pushback from a friend on it. Not just any friend, but someone I’ve shared dinner and drinks with, a real life (RL) friend. Yes, I actually have a life that isn’t on the ‘net. He didn’t like that I put up a meme that he didn’t agree with, and then didn’t add my two cents worth to top it off. I didn’t make him feel better for my having posted an image that he disagreed with.

There’s no point in embroidering on a concise thought, which is what the pictured meme image represents. Concise thinking on a specific subject. Either the snippet or image speaks for itself (and if I pass it on, it does for me) or it fails to pass the ‘concise’ test. If I’m expected to write a ten page essay on every subject that comes across my wall that I agree with, I would wear my fingers down typing and would very shortly following have no friends.

Obama is bringing all the heat on himself with his usual lack of transparency.

my RL friend

When I repost an image or a quote, it is not passing on “talking points” in my estimation; unless you are going to chalk up all political action to being transparent efforts to control the conversation on any given subject, from some central office somewhere that sets an agenda. If anything, using the phrase ‘lack of transparency’ marks someone as a FOX news watcher, someone absorbing ‘talking points’. I’ve never heard that phrase uttered in relation to Obama in any real sense outside of Republicans claiming that amongst the various other crazy characterizations like “socialist”, etc.

Obama is as transparent as any other president has been. He is as centrist as every president who served before him has been. His centrist nature is why liberals don’t like him very much.

I’m loathe to accept the accusation that I am “taking a side” (especially on the subject at hand) It’s pretty cut and dried what is or isn’t legal, in a general sense. I will say Obama has committed crimes. It’s a near impossibility for a modern sitting President to not do so, considering just how far outside the Constitutional parameters our current government is. The fact is, and I’ve said this since Obama took office, that his performance as President has been exceptional in comparison to the last three Presidents; better than all of them combined, in my estimation.

Which is why the bullshit thrown up over Benghazi rings even more false than most of the accusations thrown at the man. It was trumped up from the beginning, and the likeliest reason for his silence is because Benghazi was a secret CIA location and he cannot speak about it. Something that the leadership in the House and Senate would know he has to be silent about, so they know they can whale away on him over it, and not fear retaliation. A CIA rendition site, something that the Republican leadership would actually be in favor of were he a Republican president, thereby making it hypocrisy.

If anything Obama is too passive, too willing to compromise, domestically. He’s too close to being right of center as is to be able to make anything other than a step to the left a betrayal of his own base. And yet he steps to the right time and time again, and is rewarded for that with even more vitriol from his political opponents on the right.

Lack of transparency? How about the three times Bush was warned that attacks were planned using domestic airliners, but got left out of the 911 report? The WMD that they never admitted was a complete shell game? The torture that they still won’t admit was torture? There was never an accounting that matches what the President has been put through over the one embassy attack he had to deal with. How many hearings were held dealing with the multiple embassy attacks on Bushes watch? Why aren’t they all serving long jail sentences, as they should be?

…Well I guess we can blame that last one on Obama. I’d put him in jail right next to the others, but they get to go first. I resent the casting of #Benghazi as if there are multiple truths, as if there are two versions of fact. As if the deaths of thousands of people amounts to nothing more than another sports event with a contested outcome. As if the Iraq war (not 9/11) W’s real crime, in any way, shape or form resembles a single embassy attack on Obama’s watch.

Specifically I resent the insinuation that I am so lax in my thinking as to use Fahrenheit 9/11 as a reference for news and fact. There is a detailed timeline before and after the events of 9-11 in Deadly Decisions: How False Knowledge Sank the Titanic, Blew Up the Shuttle, and Led America into War, a book I’ve recommended countless times already, outlining the number of times that the President, his staff, and congress were advised that there were credible threats to the US, including attacks from the air using our own aircraft. They ignored all of them, and it was stated at the time that it would take an event similar to what happened on 9-11 to wake them up to the threat.

What I am suggesting by sharing the image is that this outpouring of rage at Obama over #Benghazi is nothing more than another FOX-lead,conservative-backed hatchet job on the President. That if suspicions are born out, what we will discover was that there was a secret CIA black site there, and that CIA bungled the security. That the pretense that one man can juggle all the information concerning the running of a beast the size of the federal government is itself a fantasy.

The outrage is false, because the motivation is false. It started with the conservatives hypocritically opposing the President first on doing nothing while the Libyan revolution (and the Arab spring) started, then opposing his move to protect the civilians there, then opposing the move to let NATO handle it and remove ourselves from control of the situation (as if we could control it) and when the embassy attack occurred, the conservatives pounced on that horse and rode it to town, convinced they finally had the vehicle to take Obama down. False, from beginning to end.

My willingness to see Obama imprisoned (mentioned above) relates directly to his negligence of duty to the laws of the US which he pledged to uphold and defend; his failure to prosecute the Bush administration for war crimes, his failure to prosecute Wall Street for their frauds and money laundering, his failure to end the Bush era war crimes and in fact increase the level of criminality by using the military under the guidance of the CIA to attack citizens within nations that we are not at war with.

Real crimes, in other words, not make believe incidents fabricated in the minds of Conservative/Republican leaders who simply want their power back so that they can continue to do what Obama is doing now. Do what he’s doing and do more of it to boot. That is the falsity and hypocrisy at the heart of #Benghazi. And I’m almost ashamed to call someone who falls for this kind of crap a friend.

An argument I had on Facebook during the #Benghazi dumpster fire reposted to the blog.
BTW, GOP House Intel Committee Report – No Obama Benghazi Wrongdoing
.

ZAP Doesn’t Include Firearms and Killer Pets

This one is for Dylan Boswell, the shortest term facebook friend I’ve had so far. 


I find it interesting that someone promoting the Zero Aggression Principle would have need of a weapon designed to kill people.  It takes professional grade tolerance for contradiction to not see the hypocrisy in those two positions held together. How can you not be the aggressor while killing someone?  You can wave your hands in any flim-flam manner you wish, but no amount of hand waving will change the fact that you are alive and the other person is dead at your hand.  That is aggression, plain and simple.  It’s excusable in certain circumstances, but you don’t get to kill people (outside of war) just because you want to.

So yes, owning a gun that carries the appearance of one designed to kill people signals the potential of aggression (openly carrying any weapon signals this to some extent) Ask the Somalis, the Afghanis, the Iraqis if they felt threatened when approached by people carrying those weapons.

…and yes, you are stupid for owning a Pit Bull. That breed of dog was carefully bred for aggression against other dogs, a stronger bite and stronger physic.  As a dog owner whose dogs have been attacked by free-wandering Pit Bulls, more than once, I have very little sympathy for the cries of how gentle Pit Bulls are. They were made into weapons, to fight in a sport that mercifully (soon will) no longer exist. I’m not certain that the breed has a reason to continue to exist.

Facebook Status backdated to the blog. 


A bit of housecleaning here. Pit Bulls do not have stronger bites, nor are they physically stronger. They are more aggressive with other dogs and this is especially true if they have had training to be aggressive with other dogs; AKA, being trained to fight. The extent that any dog is aggressive is quite probably correlated to the history of that dogs lineage. In other words, if your dog is the direct descendant of dogs that were bred to guard and/or fight, you will have a dog that is aggressive with other dogs and sometimes people.

Having a dog that you want to threaten others with is having a liability on the end of the leash you are holding. You should picture dollars flying out of your pocket. You don’t want a dog that bites. What you do want is a dog that follows instruction. A subtle but important difference.