Yet another blog for spewing. This one may end up with a lot of religious and social content.



I have been reading articles about CA Prop (H)8, the rule allowing religious bigots to refuse medical services, and now Obama picking Warren to give his invocation. I'm getting really, really pissed, especially when reading the small minded, nasty "Christian" reader comments.

Will the fucking so-called Christians please realize that:
A) Christianity is not the only religion in this country,
B) Neither is the JCI monotheist religion set an absolute monopoly with the right to govern,
C) The United States has a mother fucking SECULAR government,
D) People here have the right not to be ruled by the fucking Christian bible,
E) The "Old Testament" advocates things which are abhorrent to a civilized society,
F) People who aren't enslaved to their nasty book are sick and fucking tired of being abused in its name,
G) People who don't buy into Christianity don't want to be fucking "saved" or any of that claptrap, and
H) People who aren't Christians have "heard the Word™" and want no fucking part of it!

Does this make it fucking clear??
Do you get the message now?
We don't want your shit!
We don't want your rules, your book, or your bigotry!!

If you don't believe in gay marriage, don't marry a gay! Otherwise, butt the fuck out, assholes! Take your preacher propaganda prejudices and shove them up your Gawd-fearing asses. The rest of us neither need or want your childish, fear driven, rules to govern our lives.

Freedom of religion means freedom from religion, including yours. Go away!

Enjoy your religion and its strictures. It's your right. Wallow in it to your heart's content, but don't try to impose it on others, don't try to justify implementing your prejudices as law via your religion. It's really that simple.

Go ahead and link to this - I want people to get the fucking point.


Calling My Relatives

Yes, you. You know who you are (yes, Stan and Chris, I'm talking to you). Will you please, please set up an Amazon Wish List with what the kids want for Xmas and birthdays?! You don't need to give them any financial info, just an email address, a password to get into it, and a shipping address so I can ship gifts directly to you!! Oh, Mom, this goes for you too. The fun is, it doesn't show your address, just the City and State.

You see, I am a Prime™ member, I pay $79 a year for all you can eat shipping. If I get you guys something from Amazon, I don't have to pack it, wrestle it to the shipper, or worry about it getting there. For example, my Wish List is here.

So, seriously, if you want me to be able to remember your birthdays and holidays, let me know what you want, and where I can have my vendor drop-ship your goodies to. You won't have to go to the Post Office, or any other stuff. Just make a wish list, make it public, and I can see what you are wanting.


Anyone Home?

So, I wonder, does anyone read this blog? Should I pimp it more? Post more? Go away?

I usually only post here when I have something real to say, rather than blither away about the mundanities of everyday life. I figure if people wanted that kind of stuff, they'd go read a soap opera synopsis or something. Unlike paid pundits, I am not always full of profound and meaningful prose, and even if I was, I wouldn't have time after my paid work to spew them out for the consumption of the blogosphere. But does anyone care about what I have to say at all?

I suppose I could just do link spam, without exposition, but I find that rather dull, and still just as time consuming (search, cut, and paste) as writing my thoughts and all. In fact, articles with quotes and references take about twice as long to write for some reason.

How about requests? I do a lot of stuff that I've never mentioned here because it's plain boring. Throw me a curve, spice up your life. Or not.

Bye for now.


The Next Phase of Conservative Hate

Ever loving canon-mouths like Ann Coulter, Bill O'Reilly, and Rush Limbaugh who blame "liberals" and liberal causes for ever problem in our society have managed to crank up another demented wingnut to the point of violence.

How long will people who believe in personal freedom and responsibility let the right wing yammerheads blame "liberals" for stuff that is their doing? The guy was pissed off that he couldn't find work (thank you corporate off shoring, a conservative 'accomplishment'). Also, his food stamps were being cut (thank you, conservative belt tightening and reduction of 'entitlement' programs.)

The shooter's grievances were all the result of disastrous conservative actions. But the spin-meister talking heads had convinced this poor, deluded, driven to the edge, fool that "liberals" did it. They blamed it all on gays, abortion and godlessness. They blather about responsibility, but they can't take responsibility for their own lies and distortions, or the violence they whip up among the less than stable.

So Mr. Wingnut goes and shoots up a liberal church. Buy 76 shells, plans to use them all. Nice - such a responsible, loving, Christian thing to do. Yet I'm sure that the right-wing dittoheads at Christianity Today (Stan, I'm talking to you) and other bastions of conservative 'Christianity' are secretly pleased that there are now fewer liberals in the world to thwart their kingdom of heaven on earth fantasies.

Thank the gods that liberal doesn't mean gutless, like conservative seems to. Several of those liberal churchgoers tackled the wingnut before he killed very many. Before that, another heroic liberal put his body between the gunman and his fellow congregationalists. I bet the likes of Coulter, Limbaugh and O'Reilly wouldn't have done that. They'd be whimpering into their cell phones for the police department whose budget they had cut the week before to come save them.

I am saddened by the loss of life and glad that it wasn't more. But I'm not surprised.

Oh, and for those of you right wing types who might still be reading? Look these up, read them, and think - Matthew 25:35-46. What is welfare, food stamps, AFDC, universal health care, and prison rehabilitation? Your savior's commands. There's nothing in the words of Jesus about corporate tax cuts or hating homosexuals (well, except for general admonitions about hate...)

See also Of Madmen and Martyrs


The Rule of Law, and The Constitution

Yesterday, the Supreme Court got it right, albeit by a very slim margin. From here
"The laws and Constitution are designed to survive, and remain in force, in extraordinary times," Justice Anthony Kennedy said, writing for the majority in Boumediene v. Bush. "Liberty and security can be reconciled; and in our system they are reconciled within the framework of the law. The Framers decided that habeas corpus, a right of first importance, must be a part of that framework, a part of that law."
Indeed, as Justice Kennedy wrote in the decision, "the Constitution grants Congress and the President the power to acquire, dispose of, and govern territory, not the power to decide when and where its terms apply." What's more, "the political branches," he said do not "have the power to switch the Constitution on or off at will."

From the ACLU:
The following can be attributed to Steven R. Shapiro, Legal Director of the American Civil Liberties Union:

"Today's decision forcefully repudiates the essential lawlessness of the Bush administration's failed Guantánamo policy. It should also mark the beginning of the end of the military commission process, which permits the use of coerced evidence and hearsay and thus cannot survive the constitutional scrutiny that today's decision demands. It is time to close Guantánamo, end indefinite detention without charge and restore the rule of law."

McCain, being Bush Lite, and watching his prospective power to shitcan the Constitution slip away, said
"It obviously concerns me," he said. "These are unlawful combatants, they are not American citizens." He said it was important to "pay attention to Justice Roberts" who also dissented.

Yeah, right, John-boy. Even non-citizens have rights when under American jurisdiction. You can't just say "Oh, they aren't citizens, the Constitution doesn't apply." Not with GitMo internees, not with legal and illegal aliens. Not by presidential "Signing Statement" or "Executive Order".

NO ONE is above the law of the land. The neocons and the theocrats need to remember that. We have the rule of law here, not the rule of men or holy book.

Support the Constitution and the Rule of Law - Vote for Barack Obama this fall.

EDIT: More excretia from John "Bush Lite" McCain:
“But we made it very clear that these are enemy combatants; these are people who are not citizens. They do not and never have been given the rights that citizens in this country have.”

Idiot - they are either criminals, with rights under the Constitution, or POWs, with rights under the Geneva Convention. One or the other, asshole.


Food, Stash and Stuff

A friend of mine wrote a little piece on What Are You Going To Do With 20 Pounds Of Flour? Well, I commented, and then I realized that I have more to say.

I have been on of those semi-survivalist nuts for a while. I buy food in bulk, and try to maintain a backstock. It isn't always easy, especially when the roomies would rather eat TV dinners and junk food. Still, I have been doing it for over 10 years, and it has actually helped me and others out.

The key to buying in bulk and storing food is rotation. You have to buy what you eat, and eat what you buy. I don't buy those funky "ration bars" unless I like them as snack food, too. You won't catch me storing soybean oil - unless I plan to make soap with it.

Rotation involves access, labeling, and containment. This means you need to have it stored in watertight hard sided containers, labeled with what it is and when you bought it, and you have to have the oldest storage unit available in the kitchen. Yes, the newer ones can be stuck in a closet, but the one you are using has to be where you cook.

Stuff people stash tends to be staples like rice, beans, flour, pasta and powdered milk. I add oatmeal, because we go through a lot. We don't actually stock powdered milk - because my roomies won't drink it. I try to keep a little on hand for baking, but I'm ambiguous on how much to keep. We don't have kids, so it's not like we need it for them. Also, we store canned meats like tuna, chicken and turkey. This makes fat balancing (for IBS and gallstones) in recipes easier, because they are in pre-measured labelled quantities.

Now, I could point to recipes and stuff. But there are a lot of sites for that.

I am, though, going to point to storage resources. Emergency Essentials. They (among others) sell "Gamma Seal" lids for 5 gallon buckets (they also sell buckets, but those are better bought locally). These turn a hard to open bucket into a useable pantry container. This is how we store rice and flour. It is air and vermin tight, yet is easy enough to open and scoup a couple cups out for a meal. We prefer to use plastic liners for stuff like flour, because it makes stuff easier to clean, and is food safe (not all buckets that you find in stores are intended for food use.) Yes, it makes it a little tricky to get the Gamma Seal on, but once it's on you have a great pantry item.

You can also stuff the bags you get stuf in into buckets, but some don't fit well. Still, they do keep the food away from the plastic.

Now, if you are asking why I do this, and have for years, you aren't alone. Many people have. But there have been time when I dipped into my storage to help feed friends whose money didn't reach the end of the month.

Me and my roomies ate our backstock when we were all unemployed, and barely had enough to make the rent and utilities. Remember the dot bomb? 20 months unemployed for me alone. We weren't hurting for food, just fresh food. But we ate, unlike the first time that I was long term unemployed and only had $20 a month to eat with after my rent was paid. I lost a ton of weight that time, and was not healthy.

Then there's that pesky earthquake thing. A continual system of storing and rotating food means that I seldom worry about starving in a post-earthquake situation. Since the house I live in survived the 1906 earthquake, I'm not too worried about it being uninhabitable. We have a nice grill for outdoor cooking, so that's good.

I have a little trouble getting my roomies to keep the water bottles full - we have a filter unit downstairs, and use that water for drinking and cooking. Unfortunately, they tend to let all the bottles get empty before filling them again. Still, a filter is cheaper than buying a lot of bottled water, and gets most of the sediment and hardness out of the city water.

The real reaon I like to shop in bulk, though, is twofold:
1) Bulk food is cheaper, you pay less for packaging and advertising on plain, bulk food.
2) I have to go shopping less often, and can combine trips easier, thus saving on gas.

If you have the space, cash, and cooking ability to make use of bulk food storage, go for it. It's actually healthier than most of the single serving prepared crap, and will save money and time in the long run. Getting started can seem pricey, but once you start reusing your storage units, you'll wonder how you ever lived without them.


Transit's Cold Equations

Many people whine that Americans are "too attached to their cars". We put in bus lines, and then wonder why they don't a) make money, or b) get ridden at all. They wail "but it's cheaper than driving!". The problem is, it isn't - when you use the real rider's calculations.

The true cost of transportation isn't just gas or fares - it's time, gas, and fares. Now, some say "but time is free, it doesn't have a cost!". These people need to try hiring a lawyer - they charge by the minute. And just as legal services have a dollar value, so does transit time, when it comes to the total cost of transportation.

Buses are slow. Transfers often involve long waiting. For a low income individual, the "value" of their time spent waiting and riding, plus the fares, are far less than a driving a car would cost them. Same with people who are on disability, social security or a retirement pension.

Now look at an urban professional. Suddenly, spending an hour to go 5 miles for a $2.50 fare is ridiculous, compared to 30 minutes and $5.00 in gas, insurance and upkeep (GIU). Note: the current federal mileage reimbursement rate is only $0.505/mile, so I'm actually putting it higher, $1/mile, than the feds, for realism. Sure the apparent cost of $5.00 is twice that of transit, but the time is 1/2! To figure the real cost, take the following equation:
   $Total_cost = $fare(s) + $GIU + ($rate/hour x time_hours)

For the first case - base level wage
   $2.50 + $0 + ($10.00 x 1.0) = $12.50 by transit
   $0 + $5.00 + ($10.00 x 0.5) = $15.00 by car

For the second case - low level professional
   $2.50 + $0 + ($40.00 x 1.0) = $42.50 by transit
   $0 + $5.00 + ($40.00 x 0.5) = $25.00 by car

That's bad. Now, make the trip longer: 20 miles, 2.5 hours by bus, 1 hour by car
For the first case - base level wage
   $2.50 + $0 + ($10.00 x 2.5) = $27.50 by transit
   $0 + $20.00 + ($10.00 x 1.0) = $30.00 by car

For the second case - low level professional
   $2.50 + $0 + ($40.00 x 2.5) = $102.50 by transit
   $0 + $20.00 + ($40.00 x 1.0) = $60.00 by car

Now, take a fast train system - dedicated right of way, well spaced stops. Both subjects drive to the station 2 miles away and park (15 min), the destination is 20 miles away - 30 minutes train time. Fare is $10.
For the first case - base level wage
   $10 + $2 + ($10.00 x 0.75) = $19.50 by transit
   $0 + $22.00 + ($10.00 x 1.25) = $34.50 by car

For the second case - low level professional
   $10 + $2 + ($40.00 x 0.75) = $42.00 by transit
   $0 + $22.00 + ($40.00 x 1.25) = $72.00 by car

See where the tipping point is? The plain fact shown by this type of analysis is that unless transit is time competitive with driving, the only people who will use it are those whose time is of low value.


Race, Identity

OK, I'll throw out some thoughts on the whole race, religion and Obama thing. BTW, I'm white.

When I see a black person on the street, no matter how "dark", I think "American". When I see oriental, east Indian, or hispanic, I think "immigrant", or "child of immigrant". Yep, profiling. But I live in Silicon Valley, California, and these stereotypes have a root in fact, unfortunately.

Now, when I look at that person, I notice how they're dressed. My judgement breaks along the lines of "trash" or "ordinary folks" when looking at a black person. Now, when I look at a white person, I tend to have the same type of classifications: "trash", "ordinary" or "snooty". When either opens their mouth and speaks, it further classifies them.

So, when I look at Obama, and listen, essentially I see/hear "ordinary American professional". When I hear his pastor, Rev. Wright, I hear "trash", not "ordinary American". Too bad. When I hear Rush Limbaugh or Anne Coulter, I think "trash", not "ordinary American".

Just as you can't judge all whites by Limbaugh and Coulter, we can't judge all blacks by Rev Wright. Because they aren't ordinary Americans.


Bottom Feeders

What would you think if a guy came to you and said "Hey, I've got a great idea for a business! Let's go to Vegas, drop max bet into a row of slot machines, and sue the machine for contract violation if it doesn't pay out 100:1! It's a sure thing! After all, they are supposed to pay out!"

You'd probably show him the door, at least, or request a sanity hearing if he was your investment advisor. Any sane person would.

Yet there are businesses, backed by the banks and the stock market, that do essentially that. It's called the secondary collections industry. These bottom-feeding companies buy known bad debts, and then harrass, using every legal and dubious technique in the book, and sue the original debtor - often for debts that have been re-aged or otherwise monkeyed with by a series of secondary account owners. They sue to recover the original amount, plus some farcical interest, in spite of the fact that the original debt was written off years before and that they only spend pennies on the dollar for the bad paper.

Now, 90% of the time, the debt was written off because the debtor didn't have the money to pay it! Why do these people assume that adding fees and interest will make it more likely to be paid?? Stupid, but they drive people into depression, drinking, suicide or panic attacks with their constant harassment. "Oh, it's just business" they say - the business of ruining already shaky lives.

I know someone who is going through this. A bottom feeder, LVNH, and their scum-sucking lawyers, Wolpoff and Abramson, are suing her over a long dead account - original value of less than $2000 - in full civil court. She had to do full financial disclosure (yet another humiliation) in order to have her filing fees waived by the court. Her finances already suck, and she has no work. Now she can't get any work because of the depression and anxiety. When she says to me "I want to curl up and die!", I want to commit mayhem on these bottom feeding scum. Don't say "Oh, file bankruptcy" - she can't afford the fees for that either, or for a lawyer.

Yes these scum have shareholders, and people who invest in the stock of companies like them. People are making money on other people's humiliation and misery. Great example of the American spirit ... NOT! Why don't they just invest in a betting pool on whether a person will get sick or not - oh, wait, that's the "for profit", stockholder driven health insurance industry, where the stockholder profits trump the customner's need for life and health (another rant forthcoming...)! Maybe they should all be honest and put bets on who cries out first when whipped with a cat-of-nine tails, it would be more honest!

These creeps' "business model" should be illegal - it's institutionalized gambling of the nastiest sort.


Hope, Future, and True Progressive Ideals

This country has been twisted long enough by the "every man for himself, his small-minded church, and his stock portfolio" attitude of the "movement" conservatives. They've taken our basic assumptions about what it means to be an American, and distorted them into a mean, selfish, "I've got mine, kiss my ass or do without" malaise.

Let's take a look at the real American ethic:
  • Hard Work - You get where you are going by working for it. Not by going into debt, not by giving up your basic rights in favor of some faceless, unethical, corporation, not by getting a free ride from our infrastructure - but by work a fair days work for a fair wage, contributing your effort and ingenuity to our great dream.

  • Helping Others - You help those who need a hand up, giving when they need it, helping them find when you can. You take care of those whose working life is over, through age or illness, or those who are just starting out in life.

  • Respect - You respect individuals for who they are, not who you want to force them to be. You respect the old, and the young. You respect a person's faith, without giving up yours, or selling out your reason to some snake oil salesman.

  • Stewardship - You are a steward of planet earth. You tread lightly on the earth, leaving it ready for future generations. You turn your ingenuity and creativity toward solving problems caused by the "me, me, me" movement.

  • Faith - Whatever you believe in, or nothing at all, you see that as a very personal, precious thing that should never be shoved down someone else's throat, or dragged through the mud of politics or the public square.

  • Independence - This country was founded on the principles of religious, civil, and personal independence. Independence of thought, independence of action, but respect for the independence of others. You question the dictates of those who would set themselves above you as authorities, and be ready to ask "why", rather than obeying blindly.

  • Reason - You think things through, and aren't danced around by advertisers, preachers, and others who want you to follow without question and give them your hard earned money. You apply your brains to creative solution to problems, and use the scientific method to test your ideas against reality, and refine them as needed.

  • Cooperation - You help your friends, family, neighbors, and community. You know the value of teamwork, and remember that the community barn raising is an American icon, symbolising the ability of Americans to work together toward a common good. You know that our country rose to its peak by the work of many, on infrastructure and education, and we still benefit from those thing today, and need to strengthen and maintain them for the future.

So, are there any more true American values that you can think of?


Prophets, Teachers and our Society

Throughout the years, there have been true prophets - people who really tried to teach and help theirfellow human beings. They usually die young and violently.

If we are lucky, their teachings live on, uncorrupted. Sadly, establishment types like to "embrace and extinguish" the real message. Jesus' teachings being twisted by Paul is a classic example.

So, I will take a mishmash of wise words, bring them into now, and present them as advice in their stead.

* Pay down debt, reduce spending. If it's being advertised heavily, don't buy it - the ads tend to point to stuff you don't need. Being careful with your money is a virtue, it will help you to think about what you do.
* Go green and local, spend your hard earned cash in your community. The community is where you live, and the economy that affects you most. Nurture it.
* Buy what you need first, not what you merely want. Remember, there are levels of need and want. Conspicuous consumption is the path to ruin.
* Develop "at home" skills and hobbies. Give homemade gifts this year, if you can. For the things made with heart and hands are more real that sweatshop schlock.
* Increase your savings. To plan for possible needs and upheavals as a habit also means that you think about the future, insterad of just "now".
* Take charge of your own health. The insurance companies will not advocate for *you*, only their profits. They make money killing you. You must live in your body, not some soulless corporation.
* Energy saving technologies are a good buy. The bills you reduce are your own. While we are not the servants of the earth, neither are we its master. We need it more than it needs us.
* Offer a helping hand within your own community. Large religious based charities are tending toward corruption, scandal and ulterior motives. Charity begins at home, and even a simple hand up can help. This doesn't mean letting people leech off of you, but rather showing them how to escape the pit, and lending them a ladder.
* Vote your conscience, beware the wolf in sheep's clothing. But vote! Make waves, do not be silent in your dissent. But, pick your battles wisely, don't just rebel for rebellion's sake. Act as a lever, not a crude battering ram.
* Try to be an example for the young. The fact that many worship sports and entertainment icons as "heroes" is a sad commentary on our society. Be a quiet hero, and show how by your actions, not your words.
* Celebrate your accomplishments, if only to show others that it is possible to aspire and achieve. Encourage others in the same things. The success of another is not a threat to the truly successful.
* Advocate for, and try to do, what is right. Not according to some book of rules written by men or some god, but what is right by the principles of fairness and justice. Don't screw others over, in word or deed.
* The net is everywhere. Remember that there are real people on the other side of the screen. Treat them as if they were next door, or in front of you.
* The world about with rude, ill mannered people. Don't be one of them. Be the genteel exception, not the nasty rule. Teach your children the same, they'll go farther in life.
* The written word is underrated. Culture a beauty and complexity in your language and writings. Think, and help others to think. For it is the creators and the thinkers that will assure our future.
* Play! Live, not just exist. Find joy where you can, and spread it. Play with heads, make someone's day brighter, just because you can. Share the stories of the fun.
* Trust everyone... to do what they believe is in their own best interest. Whether it actually is in their best interest or not, if they think it is, they will tend to do it. The path may be shared by many, but each of us walks alone - no one else lifts our feet for us.
* Learn to be comfortable in your own skin. Chuck out all the advertising driven junk about diets and health. Accept you as you are, not yearn for what some advertising hacks tell you you "should" be. Hell, chuck all that "should" crap out of your self talk. It is a waste of energy and metal angst.
* Shitcan the guilt thing. Not obeying the talking heads on the boob tube when they tell you to spend, diet, or obey some dead guy is liberating. Acknowledge your regrets, and move on.

There may be more, but that'll do for a start.


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I've attempted to set up a feed of this blog to Live Journal. Syndicate me!