Thursday, December 31, 2009
On a personal note, my loss of employment, and growing atrophy of whatever social skills I have left.
On a broader scale, the entire Bush the Lesser era should be viewed by historians as one of the greatest debacles - two quagmire wars, prolific spending and massive deficits, cultural warfare, an entire political/media culture without accountability - in American history. Forget any nostalgic feeling for the 1970s, of which there are actually few (Star Wars, the advent of punk). The 2000s were horrifying.
See ya all in 2010.
Sunday, December 27, 2009
There's blood in the streets it's up to my ankles/
Blood in the streets it's up to my knee/
Blood in the streets in the town of
Blood on the rise, it's following me...
-- The Doors "Peace Frog"
The rioting in Iran is getting worse. People are dying in the streets again, rumors and unconfirmed stories flying everywhere. The regime might have killed Mousavi's nephew. Mousavi himself may be in a hospital.
Additional reports that there are some police refusing to fire on protesters. The scary thing is still the same as from June: whether or not the regular Iranian army gets involved. The Revolutionary Guard is clearly with Khamenei, but the army is still on the fence...
If you've got friends and family over there, I pray they stay safe. I've said in earlier posts that this kind of violence was still possible, and truly it can get worse. If only, if only... If only Khamenei realizes he's not going to win no matter how many bodies pile up at his feet...
Wednesday, December 23, 2009
- Hadn't posted recently about events in Iran, where things have taken a turn. An ayatollah, a major player from the 1970s revolution named Montazeri who was a well-known moderating figure and who could have been the grand ayatollah (thus the current grand poohbah Khamenei's most prominent opposition threat)... well he recently passed away. Just on the eve of a grand national period in Iran, a week of national mourning, meaning the chance to grieve his passing is going to give the corrupt regime nightmares and give the Green uprising the opportunity they need to take once more to the streets with legitimacy. Sullivan again is posting updates as often as possible. This is going to be a scary, unsettling, and God willing a hopeful week the nation of Iran is entering...
- I didn't pass the A+ Essentials exam I took yesterday. I need to take it again very soon.
- MightyGodKing recently posted probably the best short story I've read in years. It tells a "What If" historical revision where the Beatles take up SNL's infamous offer to re-unite on the show for $3000, starting off humorous but then as the tale unfolds enters into darker themes. At first reading, it ends on an odd note, but it forces you to loop back, as the hero of the story loops back and you read it again and pick up on things you missed in the first telling... as supplement, read MGK's answer to how he came up with the story ideas...
- The more I watch the craziness unfold in Congress the more I want to join the Modern Whigs and see about running for office myself. I swear I couldn't make things worse than they are...
Saturday, December 19, 2009
This article from the St. Pete Times might help as a wake-up call (highlights are mine):
Even as the national unemployment picture slightly improved, the job front in Florida — and Tampa Bay in particular — took a turn for the worse in November.
Among lowlights revealed Friday:
• In shedding 16,700 more jobs last month, Florida not only lost more jobs than any other state, it exceeded the net loss of jobs for the entire country (11,000 jobs).
• Florida's unemployment rate rose to a 34-year high of 11.5 percent, up from a revised 11.3 percent in October. The state rate is now running a full 1.5 percentage points higher than the national unemployment rate. For much of the recession, the gap had been one percentage point or less.
• The Tampa Bay area's jobless rate jumped half a percentage point to 12.3 percent, making it the most job-challenged major metropolitan area in Florida. The region's most sluggish county remained Hernando, which saw its unemployment rate rocket to 14.7 percent, up from 14.0 percent the prior month.
At Career Central, a job resource center in Spring Hill (NOTE: I've been to that office! Hi guys!), Tara Romano, 24, was eager to replace a job she had lost at McDonald's just after Thanksgiving. Her boyfriend, who had been laid off from Wendy's, was searching job prospects at a nearby computer terminal.
"We're looking at retail," Romano said. "Kind of like everyone else, we'll take whatever we can get just to survive."
Lucy Diaz said she has never seen the job market this bad in her five years managing the Hernando County career center.
"We try to give people hope. We tell them this is just a transition," Diaz said. "It's hard, especially now with this season. People want to be able to buy presents for their kids."
Rebecca Rust, chief economist with the Florida Agency for Workforce Innovation, which coordinates the unemployment report, offered little hope of a fast turnaround.
As one of the states at the epicenter of the housing bust, Florida is expected to lag behind much of the country in creating new jobs.
November's rate is the highest posted in Florida since May 1975, when unemployment peaked at 11.9 percent. Several economists predict the state will break the 12 percent mark early next year before gradually retreating.
It could take until 2019 (NOTE: SONOFA... HEEEELPPPP!!), state economists project, before unemployment in Florida gets back to a more palatable 6 percent range.
With more than 1 million jobless out of a statewide labor force of 9.2 million, Florida was singled out by the Labor Department as the only state in the country to post a statistically significant increase in unemployment in November. Seven other states that posted significant changes in unemployment all saw their rates go down. In fact, 36 states and the District of Columbia all saw a dip in unemployment last month.-Snippage-
Rust cited numerous factors hampering recovery: small businesses are still struggling to get credit; there's a mismatch between many of the unemployed and job openings; big budget deficits are holding down spending; and the housing market remains sluggish despite a recent increase in prices.
Durr, 27, was laid off at Weeki Wachee Springs a year ago when the attraction became a state park. Since then, he has postponed his wedding and taken courses in the medical field to bolster his technology background.
And he has become more philosophical. "Being unemployed has been an eye-opener," Durr said. "I learned so many things about myself. You find you have friends in the strangest places. A lot of people say it builds character.
"I wouldn't trade it."
Um, I would. I'd trade it for a F-CKING JOB THAT PAYS WELL!
Dear Obama: There are 30 million Americans AND GROWING who need your help more than the F-CKING CEOS of the F-CKING BANKS. HEEEEEEELLPPPP! OVER HERE! HEY! HEEEEEELLPPPPPPPPppppppp...
Friday, December 18, 2009
Each decade comes to be known for a particular theme: 1930s = Depression/pre-War years; 1940s = The War Effort; 1950s = Rise of the Boomer teens, Rock music, The Atomic Age; 1960s = New Frontier/The Nam/Woodstock Nation; 1970s = Nixon, Disco, Urban Blight, National Malaise (in short, the 70s Sucked); 1980s = Reagan Era of Good Feelings; 1990s = Post-Cold War/Dawn of the Internet; 2000s = ?
This came to me when I posted a comment to Flick Filosopher's post asking which film defined this decade. After giving it serious thought, I came to realize that a lot of the movies - even the good movies - seemed bereft of passion, of any amount of dedication to craft on the part of film-makers. It was just... throwing mass spectacle up on the screen and trying to see what sticks. I realized the films of this decade all suffered - and for the ones that tried to enjoy themselves - from a form of numbness.
This got me looking at the decade itself. And indeed, there was a kind of "God, Please, just let this go and not bother me anymore" feeling encompassing all. The era of scandal-plagued Clinton years finally awashed with Clinton Fatigue (just stop yelling about the BLOWJOBS, you wingnuts!). We got as a result one of the most dull, predictable Presidential campaigns in 2000 that ended up with a jaw-dropping questionable vote count (the Butterfly Ballot doomed us all) in my home state of Florida (I was in Broward - Ground Zero 2000 - for the insane recount) that ended with a questionable result (Bush wins in a 5-4 vote). By the end of all that, people just wanted to move on...
And then 2001. No space odyssey for humanity. Just a coordinated terrorist attack that killed thousands and drove the United States into the GWOT.
Everything in the political arena was pretty much consumed by the War on Terror, which mutated into a War on Iraq, which mutated further into an Occupation of Iraq and a growing schzoid madness in our Mainstream Media (half obsessed with justifying an increasingly unjustifable invasion and occupation, the other half terrified of being label unpatriotic). In the meanwhile, a GOP majority in control of Congress and the White House went on a spending spree that would have made LBJ blush, disregarding ethics and regulatory concerns (even in the wake of a massive corporate scandal involving Enron, WorldCom, criminal accounting tricks and more). All concerns for reform: none, and that lack of concern fed down into the whole of society, to where everyone is just shell-shocked at the large unemployment, the growing corpulence of the financial industry even in the wake of a global recession they caused, and pretty much everything else.
We're at 10 percent unemployment, and despite the Media talking heads trying to convince themselves the worst is over, there's good signs the worst ISN'T over. And yet, no one's marching in the streets about that. We've got more unemployed people since the 1930s and the streets are not crammed with protestors screaming for jobs, for job security, for ANYTHING from the government to help us.
The only ones marching? Teabaggers. And *they're* obsessed over SOCIALISM ZOMG, or Obama's BIRF CERTIFICATION ZOMG, or DEATH PANELS THAT DON'T EXIST ZOMG. In short, they're obsessed over b-llsh-t stuff that ain't true.
We're facing massive economic collapse with our current health care system, but the bill is close to death in the Senate all because of egotistical morans wanting their pretty pony presents. And past the outrage on the progressive blogs and on Olbermann's show, what else? Again, the streets are empty of people FOR the health care reform. Even though there's good evidence there's a lot of people out there who WANT AND NEED it.
It's like there's a kind of numbness in us. A refusal to work ourselves out of our homes, our cubicles. Not entirely fear of losing our homes or jobs, even though that can (and will) happen (if nothing gets fixed). Not enough anger, perhaps. Definitely not enough passion to see it done.
I dunno if it was the Clinton Fatigue from the 1990s that led to this kind of political apathy of letting the loudest idiots win the arguments just to let it end, even when those loudmouths are criminally wrong. I dunno if it was 9/11. I dunno if it was the Bush administration letting its ignorance and toadying permeate into our cultural consciousness. All I know is, we've been numbed into a lull. As a nation. We're just sitting here, waiting for the end. Of what, we all know. But we're at the point we don't care.
And that doesn't even terrify me. It did, once... See?
Tuesday, December 15, 2009
- The Democrats are led by spineless self-serving wimps who couldn't enforce discipline if their lives depended on it (and it does);
- The Republicans are batsh-t insane sociopaths obsessed with tax cuts, killing abortion doctors, and insulting or degrading anything they deem 'foreign' or 'Socialist', and willing to purge their party of anyone who doesn't toe the line 100 percent.
The pity of Third Party attempts is that the system is rigged: the two established parties (R and D) may hate the sh-t out of each other, but they're terrified of voters getting pulled to other choices. I still believe Pat Buchanan's takeover of the Reform Party in 2000 was an attempt by the GOP to sabotage Ross Perot's pet project of shaking up the status quo. By making the Reform Party a top-down system, where they focused on the Presidency and failed to push local, state and congressional candidates, Perot made that party vulnerable to a takeover by a name candidate who could then run it into the dirt. You don't see the Reform Party mentioned much anymore anywhere. Pretty much any other Third Party program out there - Greens, noticeably - tend to be single-issue parties obsessed with far-wingnut (left and right) issues, nothing that would attract moderate and centrist voters disgusted with the ideological calcification of the existing Bigs...
An interesting article on Slate's website by Andrew Dubbins, that I saw earlier this morning, offered something promising: The Modern Whigs. Formed by returning war vets, but opening themselves to non-vet voters, the Whigs seem promising. While their platform is as vague on some topics as you'd expect, they don't come across as batsh-t insane (which is a big criteria for me right now). They also seem to be going about this party construction the right way: they're fielding candidates at local and state levels, rather than gambling on a big-name run at the biggest target (the White House) out there.
I'm intrigued. They've got Congressional candidates lined up in my home state of Florida. I'm going to give them a closer look.
Sunday, December 13, 2009
Anywho. As part of tradition, I'm posting my wishlist to The Roman Lord of Time (hi there!) in the mad hopes that the pagan gods will once again after thousands of years notice us tiny insignificant lifeforms and smite our enemies. It's pretty much the only way Goldman Sachs and Dick Cheney will answer for their crimes since the secular forces on this planet won't do a g-dd-mn thing.
The wishlist is as follows:
1) The Tampa Bay Bucs get the first overall draft pick in next April's NFL Rookie Draft. 'Cause buddy, they need it.
2) Tell us just what exactly happened over Norway just now. I mean, seriously, there's NO WAY that was a malfunctioning rocket. That spiral pattern: A) Stayed in roughly the same place overhead for over 10 minutes, long enough for people to get their cameras out and document that thing. ROCKETS DON'T HOVER; B) While the large white spiral pattern could be explained away by misaligned or damaged rocket boosters, that blue-green haze-like thing emanating from the center of that spiral doesn't make sense. It's not normal rocket exhaust, for one. Eyewitness reports claim that blue-green light (and it's not smoke, it would disseminate differently if it was) CAME AFTER THE SPIRAL APPEARED: if it were rocket exhaust it would have been simultaneously happening.
Personally, I don't think the Russians were testing a rocket: I think they were testing a hyperspace gateway! (shh, don't me otherwise! Hey, being an X-Phile all these years is finally paying off!)
3) That the citizens of Conneticut and Nebraska take good long looks at Lieberman and Nelson, at how they are sabotaging every health care reform attempt being made in the Senate, and then find out which health care companies have contributed to their campaign warchest, and then file bribery charges against those health care companies. There is way too much evidence of quid pro quod deals going on here. This isn't a democracy or a republic when our elected officials answer to the greedhead deep pockets and not the actual majority.
4) That Tom Harkin's effort to reform the filibuster gets somewhere: personally, dude, keep the filibuster ONLY for judicial lifetime nominations that do require some form of supermajority requirement. Everything else should be simple majority vote like in the House. And get rid of those damn SECRET HOLDS while you're at it.
5) A passing grade on the upcoming A+ Certification exam I'm trying to line up. If that doesn't succeed, then...
6) A frickin' Jobs Bill that would give an unemployed Mensa idiot like me something that's full-time and over minimum wage! Dear Obama: your polling numbers wouldn't be tanking IF YOU'D ONLY GOTTEN AROUND TO GETTING US JOBS THREE MONTHS AGO. HURRY UP DAMMIT.
7) That the Democrats push for an immigration reform bill during summer 2010 so that the Republicans will commit mass suicide opposing it and drawing the ire of Hispanic voters across the nation.
8) That you pagan gods need to do more to remind my fellow short-term-memory American citizens that it's the REPUBLICAN Party that had wrecked the economy, weakened our military, ruined our international clout, and lost us our jobs. Stop giving them better polling numbers, America, BECAUSE THE GOP IDIOTS HAVEN'T CHANGED. Put them back in power AND IT'S GONNA GET WORSE.
So that's what I'm working with right now, O Lord of Time And Planetary Rings. That and finishing up my NaNoWriMo rough draft... and that A+ Exam is serious business... and please see about getting Cheney in jail before the Super Bowl, okay? 'Kay.
And don't forget to send the bill for the Mithras bull sacrifice over to Bill O'Reilly's place, will you?
Monday, December 07, 2009
This was a day of remembrance of sorts - 16 Azar by the calendar, known as Student Day - and the Khamenei dictatorship was well prepared for it (thousands of Basiji brutes, riot police in force, etc.). The students and others in the Green movement still went for it.
It was bloody, and violent, and yet still the Iranian people will not stay quiet.
Pray for them. Hope they make it through the night... and the month... and the coming year.
This won't end quickly. But it will end with the bullies gone. Just a matter of time...
Friday, December 04, 2009
- It's been pretty much one year... and it's been pretty much SIXTY YEARS of the Democrats trying for something even close to universal health care to pass through Congress, and here we STILL ARE DEBATING THE DAMN THING. In a more sane political system - no filibusters, no Holds, no bullsh-tting Senators with egos the size of Jupiter - this would have passed MONTHS AGO.
- It's been one full year of unemployment for me this month. Job hunting has been full of fits and starts, I'm finishing up my A+ Cert studies at PHCC this week, I've got the CompTIA exam in two weeks, and my brain still can't warp itself around TCP/IP stuff. Grrr Argh.
- Sarah Palin's 'biography' is so full of lies, half-truths, and non-researched crap that someone (not me, as I haven't wasted money on it) ought to sue the publisher for fraud. As a librarian, I don't trust any supposed non-fiction book that does NOT have a bibliography (sign of research) or an index (sign of subject checking: lack of an index also shows the book was rushed to print). I'm surprised as hell that NO ONE mentioned in her book in an unfavorable way - which is basically anyone outside her family circle - hasn't started rounding up lawyers for a libel or slander case.
- Obama's recent announcements to quickly send 30,000 more troops to Afghanistan in a Surge-esque attempt to push back the Taliban / Al Qaeda forces to justify a 2011 staged withdrawal is, once you take a longer look at it, the least worst choice out of a set of really bad choices. After all, what else could he do?
Obvious choice: full and complete withdrawal from Afghanistan. Begin a six-month phased exit of troops from the ground, finishing up around key cities and transit points to try and ensure the nation doesn't fall into complete chaos. The problem there isn't so much the far right wingnuts screaming for impeachment (they'd do that anyways), but the reasonable fact that the current regime - corrupt and unable to handle infrastructural needs - would be immediately overrun with the Taliban claiming victory (they'd do that anyways), reclaiming the nation and returning it to a massive hellhole.
Other obvious choice: keep up the current situation, try to force the Afghani government to fix itself, and just hope to outlast the Taliban's insurgency efforts. The problem there is, without a deadline of sorts, there's little incentive for the Afghani government to steady itself: it'll just keep relying on us and our allies to keep them propped up. We'll also be unable to establish any kind of excuse or reason to force an exit strategy ourselves, meaning we'll be tied down for as long as the Taliban remains a threat. And the Taliban and Al Qaeda jerks want that to be forever (to justify their argument that we're empire building, a Western Christian nation yet again beating up on poor faithful Muslims). Oh, the far right wingnuts will continue to claim that Obama's not doing enough for the troops, he doesn't want victory, yadda yadda.
That left this choice: commit more troops to "flood the zone" and push the Taliban out of key locations. Commit to a deadline to show other Muslim nations we're not in it for the empire building. That deadline also pressures the military to create results (hopefully not sloppy bloody results, but tangible ones that don't involve hundreds of dead civilians). And while critics complain that deadline gives the Taliban an objective to keep messing with us to where we'd have to break said deadline, that overlooks the fact the Taliban would have kept messing with us anyway. The argument that the Taliban can just lay low until the deadline and we leave to strike back is also faulty: if the Taliban lays low, it gives Karzai's government a chance to stabilize well enough to stand on their own.
This is, of course, all academic. We can only know for sure after 2011 if this all works out right. It REALLY depends on if everyone involved - The U.S., our allies, Karzai's government, et al - makes good faith efforts to fix things well enough that we can bring the troops home...
- The big news for the Republicans - other than Palin being a bane to her own fans - has been the recent tragic shooting of four police officers in Washington State... in that the cop killer was a violent parolee from Arkansas who had his long sentence commuted to a shorter time. That shorter time allowed for an early parole, which the guy violated, but his second stint was quickly annulled because of a screw-up with the prosecutors' office not pursuing the matter properly. The governor who commuted the sentence? Mike Huckabee. That noise you just heard was the air let out of his 2012 Primary balloon.
See, here's the problem: it's not that Huckabee could have forseen the guy was going to become a cop killer. It's not even Huckabee's fault that the prosecutors' didn't handle the guy's parole violation. But this is the second time that a Huckabee parolee had gone violent after release: there are questions now about how many other prisoners that were granted leniency through his office returned to lives of violence (for what I know, there's a third one that's lesser known. So far).
This incident brings to question Huckabee's decision making. Which has been proven elsewhere, but highlighted by this case, to be a faith-based system. The stories are getting around now of how Huckabee listened to ministers and preachers - instead of prosecutors and victims - regarding whom to show mercy. Stories about how prisoners in Arkansas quickly expressed conversions to faith as a means to lessen their jail times. And while it's great for a man, any person, to have a solid faith system in their personal lives, this is just one more proof that religion and secular matters - the law, politics, people's lives - should not mix.
If Dukakis got derailed by Willie Horton, having a cop killer like Clemmons as your personal albatross should guarantee you won't even start a Presidential campaign... so who does that leave for the Republicans in 2012? Palin. Romney. Pawlenty from Minnesota has to be drooling right about now.
- I need 25,000 - 50,000 more words for a decent book to come out of the NaNoWriMo effort. Hence the need to keep writing elsewhere than this blog. Sorry. I'll probably post a Io Saturnalia request before the Pagan Eggnog and Gift-Sharing and Tree-Decorating Day, but that's about it. Unless Congress does something really stupid before then. Sigh.