Flimsy Sanity: July 2007

Flimsy Sanity

In individuals, insanity is rare; but in groups, parties, nations and epochs, it is the rule. - Friedrich Nietzsche

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Amusing Rebellion

Biologists Helping Bookstores is a blog about a guy (or it might be a woman) who goes to bookstores and moves books into their proper places on the shelves such as reshelving Intelligent Design books to the religious section rather than the science section. I think we should all help him right this wrong and I am heading to our chain bookstore tomorrow morning.

By the way, libraries are plagued by losses of their books on liberal topics because right wingers check them out and "lose" them. Although the patron will pay to replace them, they know it takes quite awhile to reorder and process the books and they are thus kept out of free circulation for a good portion of the books usually short window of popularity.

Musicians with a Message

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Another Good Point about Medical Care

The Waiting Game by Paul Krugman

A cross-national survey conducted by the Commonwealth Fund found that America ranks near the bottom among advanced countries in terms of how hard it is to get medical attention on short notice (although Canada was slightly worse), and that America is the worst place in the advanced world if you need care after hours or on a weekend.
We look better when it comes to seeing a specialist or receiving elective surgery. But Germany outperforms us even on those measures — and I suspect that France, which wasn’t included in the study, matches Germany’s performance.
Besides, not all medical delays are created equal. In Canada and Britain, delays are caused by doctors trying to devote limited medical resources to the most urgent cases. In the United States, they’re often caused by insurance companies trying to save money.
On the other hand, it’s true that Americans get hip replacements faster than Canadians. But there’s a funny thing about that example, which is used constantly as an argument for the superiority of private health insurance over a government-run system: the large majority of hip replacements in the United States are paid for by, um, Medicare.
That’s right: the hip-replacement gap is actually a comparison of two government health insurance systems. American Medicare has shorter waits than Canadian Medicare (yes, that’s what they call their system) because it has more lavish funding — end of story. The alleged virtues of private insurance have nothing to do with it.

Friday, July 27, 2007


I don't know which is the most irritating:
*listening to other people's loud cell phone conversations in public places (which are NEVER interesting by the way)

*being put on hold because of call waiting (how is this different than walking away from someone in the middle of a conversation?) If the other person gets a busy signal, perhaps they will call back and just how damn important are you anyway?

*listening to loud canned music while waiting for a business to look up an order or make an appointment. Is silence offensive?

*blasting car horns in the middle of the night because of incoming phone calls

*waiting patiently (after you make the effort to go someplace so that you can talk face-to-face) while the person takes a phone call- that is what an answering machine is for.

*talking when there is a poor connection that fades in and out.

*Assuming you own a touch tone phone and the only way you can get answers is to press the right button to get to the right department - impossible with VOIP.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Those Tricky Conservatives

Google "conservatives and Hillary" and you will see a swell of love for her from the far right - even O'Reilly says she is the best candidate. It is a well-known political tactic to register to vote in the opposition's primaries in order to vote for the weakest candidate. The Republicans know that the only chance they have of winning 2008 is if Hillary wins the nomination because the "Anybody but Hillary" vote would carry the day. No name is more capable of energizing the Republicans.

As one commentor said:
Republicans have been rooting for Hillary for over a decade, but not because they liked her, but because they always viewed her as uniting the GOP. They have been using the fear of Hillary to raise millions and millions of dollars

And this from a Mother Jones article:
Hillary-hating is such a national pastime, for both Democrats and Republicans, that it should be its own verb: "Hillarating." Typically, even her supporters make the case for her only after plowing through a lot of caveats, lessons learned, and after muttered contempt for some aspect of her person. Hillarating is not like normal political hating—opposing someone's ideology, for example. Loathing Hillary happens on multiple levels, ranging from her marital choices and fashion sense to her ambivalence on torture or support for a flag-burning amendment. And liberal feminists are as comfortable Hillarating as anyone else, perhaps more so.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Misplaced Ads

Life and Music

Time for some positive Atonement

I found this comment on a blog and thought it especially good:
Time for some positive atonement.

1. Public demand for the appointment of a special prosecutor to investigate the origins of the war. What Congress did under deLay et al was a whitewash.

2. Public apology to the families of the 3500 US soldiers who have died, the 20,000 or so who are blind, maimed, brain damaged, or otherwise wounded, whose lives will never ever be the same.

3. Public acknowledgment of our responsibility for the "excess deaths" of some 200,000 to 700,000 Iraqis. These are the results of the Lancet study, which was conducted by eminent social scientists who used accepted techniques and rigorous statistics. And while you are at it, apology to those scientists too, for the smoke and smear job conducted by the WSJ and other neo con organs. They basically said that it isn't so. Just like W.

3. Public apology to those that you helped the Bushies smear as traitors. Valerie Plame and Joseph Wilson. The Democratic Party. (and pronounce it right, with the "ic"). Remember W's speech before the 2006 election "If the Democrats win, the terrorists win, and America loses." France, the oldest friend the US has (as many or more French died at Yorktown as did Americans) whose publicly stated objections to the war (insufficient intelligence regarding WMD and absence of a clear plan for the inevitable occupation).

Oh yeah, and denounce Ann Coulter, Bill Kristol and most of the staff of National Review for being what they are. Brownshirts. And apologize to Wm F Buckley for helping ruin the conservative movement.

4. Public demand for the resignation of Bush, Cheney, Gonzales, and Rice, with impeachment proceedings to follow if they won't. Depending on the outcome of the investigation in #1, prosecution for war crimes (one of the counts at Nuremberg was initiation by Germany of an aggressive war against Poland without any reasonable casus belli).

And those are just a start.

As for deeper meanings, I think it is a lot simpler than you think. The US uber nationalists were frustrated that they could not find clear enemies to blame for 9/11, and they did not want to look into the depths of the relationship of petro colonialism to Jihadism. All that they could find was a ragtag band of crazies, most of them Saudi (and they are oil rich friends of the Bush family, so we cannot go after them).

So, like the Nazis (who could not understand how their technologically superior nation had lost WWI), they invented some enemies. Instead of the Jews and the Communists, it's Moslems and the Democrats.

It can happen here. Face it.

Jeffrey Harris

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Could it be Possible?

Someone sent a joke about Clinton and Monica and I got to thinking about Iran Contra and how that hardly ever gets mentioned when treason was so much worse than a blowjob. After all it was our government supporting both sides of the war between Iran and Iraq and even using the illegal drug trade to fund it. Now we are arming the Iraq police and army that have turned into execution squads. Is it just possible that our real purpose is to continually find new ways to assist that whole region to kill each other off?

This is amazing

Among Republicans (30% of adults registered to vote in the survey), 68% approve of the way Bush is handling his job and 26% disapprove. Among Democrats (37% of adults registered to vote in the survey), 1% approve and 97% disapprove of the way Bush is handling his job. Among independents (33% of adults registered to vote in the survey), 18% approve and 79% disapprove of the way Bush is handling his job as president.

For some reason, I believed that the Republicans were tired of Bush but 68% support is rather amazing considering how bad a President he is. I suppose it is like supporting the home team no matter how many games they lose. John's Blog had an interesting and funny video of the attitudes of Young College Republicans who support the war but don't really want to go and fight it. They are willing to join the fight against liberals however.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Little Town Life

It is almost a rarity anymore, but the town of Albert Lea has a locally owned radio station. It is wonderful. In the morning from 9 to 10:30 there is a show called Party Line (it is only we old people that know about the old days when people could listen in on other landline phone calls on the thing called a party line, although rich people could pay more and get a private line). People call in to give things away, advertise their rummage sales, try and find their lost pets. Sometimes people will call in to complain about things, but usually just local problems, not the national scene. If things get slow, the announcer gives recipes and invariably someone calls in to get it repeated because they missed an ingredient.

Today it must have been desperation time at the studio. The announcer annouced the new game: Quess what is in my lunch? The first clue was "bread" and people started calling up to list sandwiches. Laughed my ass off (where did that saying ever come from - physically impossible).

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Why I Like Blogs So Much

Everything old is new again. When I was very very young, it was the vogue to have penpals. Schoolkids would get the names of someone in the same grade in another town (or even another country) and sometimes friendships would evolve. So it is with blogs. In most cases those blogs with a political angle are people just preaching to the choir. Sometimes a troll enters the scene and tries to argue, but lets face it, no one will probably be changing their political affiliation very soon because someone was confrontational.

People want to be friends with people who think the same as they do. Republicans have blogs too, but I do not go to them just like I would not go to a American Legion dinner or a Knights of Columbus fund raiser. Some blogs I read leave me speechless with their creativity, some just make so much common sense I want to visit over coffee, some make me laugh because they can make the everyday hilarious, some are accurate word-choosers that paint a perfect picture. I am amazed at how many ways there are to hate Bush and his Vice-Dick (sexual innuendo). I like the ability to acknowledge I have read their efforts by leaving a comment even though most are usually pretty lame.

I have added Stayin Alive to my reading list today because it is one that seems so common sense to me. This is what he/she had to say about universal health care:
And so, turning to the news of the day, George W. Bush, who I no longer irrationally hate, has vowed to veto reauthorization of the Supplemental Children's Health Insurance Program (S-CHIP) on "philosophical grounds," specifically, "when you expand eligibility . . . you're really beginning to open up an avenue for people to switch from private insurance to the government." Now, I'm not sure which philosophy that is. It doesn't really sound like transcendentalism, or logical positivism, or empiricism . . . hmm.

I know! It's the philosphy that insurance companies give money to Republicans.

If you're going to say that it is bad for people to have government-run insurance instead of private insurance, you probably ought to tell us why you think that is bad. As you know if you've been reading, we spend about 25% of our health insurance dollar on the administrative costs of private insurance -- marketing, profits, and paying rooms full of drudges to figure out ways to deny people coverage. Our largest publicly funded program, Medicare, has administrative costs under 3%, and has simple rules about what is and is not covered that are largely based on whether drugs and procedures are approved as safe and effective. (Long term care is not covered, which is a separate issue, along with the doughnut hole in drug coverage. But few people see these omissions as virtuous on philosophical grounds.)

Veterans in this country have not just public insurance, but actual socialized medicine. It's inadequately funded right now because Mr. Bush pretended their wouldn't be any casualties from his splendid little war, but the public is demanding that it be fixed, not privatized. Does a public insurance system mean "rationing" and cost controls? Yes it does. Mr. Bush invokes those terms to scare us, but why are they supposed to be scary?

We have rationing right now -- 45 million people who have no insurance and who don't get preventive care and basic services, and people with private insurance whose insurers ration their care in order to pump up profits. What we need is rational rationing, where we allocate services based on their expected benefits vs. their costs. That's what they do in all the civilized countries of the world.

And the civilized countries have cost controls, which we don't. That means they save money -- lots and lots of money. They spend, typically, half as much on medical services as we do, and they get more for it. Mr. Bush is opposed to that, it seems, on philosophical grounds.

So I would really like to learn more about this philosophy. Is it the philosophy his Economics 101 professor taught him? Maybe he'll explain it to us some day.

Friday, July 20, 2007

War Is A Racket

WAR is a racket. It always has been.
It is possibly the oldest, easily the most profitable, surely the most vicious. It is the only one international in scope. It is the only one in which the profits are reckoned in dollars and the losses in lives.
A racket is best described, I believe, as something that is not what it seems to the majority of the people. Only a small "inside" group knows what it is about. It is conducted for the benefit of the very few, at the expense of the very many. Out of war a few people make huge fortunes.
In the World War [I] a mere handful garnered the profits of the conflict. At least 21,000 new millionaires and billionaires were made in the United States during the World War. That many admitted their huge blood gains in their income tax returns. How many other war millionaires falsified their tax returns no one knows.
How many of these war millionaires shouldered a rifle? How many of them dug a trench? How many of them knew what it meant to go hungry in a rat-infested dug-out? How many of them spent sleepless, frightened nights, ducking shells and shrapnel and machine gun bullets? How many of them parried a bayonet thrust of an enemy? How many of them were wounded or killed in battle?
Out of war nations acquire additional territory, if they are victorious. They just take it. This newly acquired territory promptly is exploited by the few – the selfsame few who wrung dollars out of blood in the war. The general public shoulders the bill.
And what is this bill?
This bill renders a horrible accounting. Newly placed gravestones. Mangled bodies. Shattered minds. Broken hearts and homes. Economic instability. Depression and all its attendant miseries. Back-breaking taxation for generations and generations.
For a great many years, as a soldier, I had a suspicion that war was a racket; not until I retired to civil life did I fully realize it. Now that I see the international war clouds gathering, as they are today, I must face it and speak out...The normal profits of a business concern in the United States are six, eight, ten, and sometimes twelve percent. But war-time profits – ah! that is another matter – twenty, sixty, one hundred, three hundred, and even eighteen hundred per cent – the sky is the limit. All that traffic will bear. Uncle Sam has the money. Let's get it.
Of course, it isn't put that crudely in war time. It is dressed into speeches about patriotism, love of country, and "we must all put our shoulders to the wheel," but the profits jump and leap and skyrocket – and are safely pocketed.
- Excerpts from War Is a Racket by Major General Smedley D. Butler written shortly after World War I.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Bush prepares to become dictator

The voice and picture don't align on this CSpan interview, but it explains the presidential directives Bush has signed that enable him to take over EVERYTHING in case of disaster. Notice how the administration is warning about an attack of late? This is one stupid, dangerous SOB.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

A business opportunity

This town has two malls. One is rather upscale and attracts teens and the other is low key and near the retirement centers. The first is bustling and the other has a senior center, the radio station, a fabric store, some offices and is populated by a few older people getting their exercise in air conditioned comfort. At one time, there used to be a food court but all that remains is the plastic tables and chairs and empty fast food booths. All the old guys gather here. I think this would be the perfect place to open a Prune Julius and play polka music to lure customers.

EBay Support: Two approaches to mathematics

This is what I wrote:
I think feedback would be more fair if you carried the rating to a further decimal point. For example, I have had only 1 negative feedback in 950 transactions but I have the same feedback as someone who has almost ten per thousand negative. A 99.99 would be more accurate and much more descriptive than a 99.9. Also, I think letting anyone remove bad feedback for any reason is wrong and defeats the purpose of the whole program. I paid for a couple hive tools over a month ago and still have not received them. The seller has a pretty good feedback but when you check on their negative feedback through Toolhaus, you see they have had several removed - this defeats the whole purpose of the system - to inform the buyer of frauds. Thanks for your consideration of these two matters.

This is their reply:
Thank you for writing eBay in regard to making your feedback 100 percent. I would like to take this opportunity to clarify how the math works with your feedback score. Essentially, we round the feedback percentage to the nearest tenth of a percent. Therefore, if the feedback percentage ends up being 99.95% or greater, then it will round up to 100%. However, the ratio required to maintain a 100% rating is 1999 unique positive comments for each unique negative comment. This would allow you to keep your feedback percentage at 100% in the feedback forum, even though in reality it is 99.95% or greater. It is my pleasure to assist you. Thank you for choosing eBay.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Letter of application

Dear Board of Directors:

Please consider me an applicant for the position of CEO. I think I have all the qualification you are looking for in this position.

My philosophy is that a viable business (huge profit) is dependent on prudent expenditures (cheap labor and shoddy materials) and competitive pricing (collusion and price fixing). I feel that an optimal business location (offshore headquarters), a current knowledge of tax laws (written specifically for your business in exchange for major campaign funds), a modern consumer product (planned obsolescence) and a strong American work ethic (African slave, Chinese factory worker, creative accountant) is what makes a business a success. I have devoted my life to public service as a legislator(got rich through kickbacks and incidentally lost election) and I am now anxious to contribute to the private sector (for really big money and so I can call in favors). If you are interested in an interview, please send a Lear jet to my personal airfield and don't run over my Mexican gardener who is hand-picking ants off the runway. Sincerely, F. Sanity

Friday, July 13, 2007

The Market Economy

Many people believe that competition is a wonderful thing and will lead to the perfect economy. It might work for products (although quality continually goes down to compete with cheaper produced goods) but I don't think it works for services. If there is a lot of competition, people providing services charge more because they get fewer customers.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Demetri Martin

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Something I Always Wondered

People in the military take an oath to defend the Constitution. I wonder if they are required to actually read it. If so, why haven't they organized a coup against Bush/Cheney?

Please listen to or read

An Iraqi Rhapsody: Poet & Novelist Sinan Antoon on the U.S. Destruction of the Iraqi State, His Latest Novel and the Sad Statement that Iraq Was Better Under Saddam Hussein

I was not going to mention the war again, but this transcript from a Democracy Now interview on Friday pretty much says it all. Here is just some small snippets:

SINAN ANTOON: But the reality is, for average citizens and human beings, most of us would want to live under, you know -- when we have electricity, we have the basic services, we have water, there is police, there is order on the street. Most people, if they have this choice of living under dictatorship, while having electricity and water and knowing what the red lines are -- under Saddam, people knew what to do to stay alive. You don’t organize politically, of course. You don’t say anything against the regime. You can have a relatively safe life, that is, if you have no political ambitions and don’t say anything.

But now, it’s a complete collapse and chaos. You could be just walking down the street and be killed. So, of course, life was better under Saddam Hussein. Also, that does not mean that Saddam was better, but under Saddam Hussein there was something called the Iraqi state. I want to emphasize that what the US did is not only overthrow Saddam -- that’s a byproduct -- it destroyed the Iraqi state, which is something that took eighty-five years to build, all of its institutions and everything. That was not all the product of Saddam. Saddam was a latecomer. What the United States did is destroy an entire state, entire infrastructure, all of the institutions, so that there, you know -- so, of course, life was better when you had a system that was functioning.

AMY GOODMAN: I wanted to ask you about President Bush's July 4 speech. He gave it in West Virginia to the Air National Guard. He said, “Our first Independence Day celebration took place in the midst of war, a bloody and difficult struggle that would not end for six more years before America finally secured her freedom. More than two centuries later, it’s hard to imagine the Revolutionary War coming out any other way, but at the time America's victory was far from certain.”

SINAN ANTOON: It’s ludicrous. And, you know, not that presidents are necessarily always more intelligent, but it’s amazing, because it’s -- the analogy is flawed, because as, you know, a letter pointed out in the New York Times, it was the insurgents who won the war -- right? -- against British occupation. So this is the wrong example to use.

SINAN ANTOON: Even if there is withdrawal, it’s going to be withdrawal Israeli style, from urban centers to the military bases. Most people, Democrats and Republicans, are saying we are staying there for ten or fifty or sixty years. So all this talk about withdrawal is just to fool the American people. It’s withdrawal from the urban centers to the military bases that have been built there with millions and millions of dollars, and to let the natives kill each other. This is old colonial style: when it’s too costly, you let the natives kill each other, let the natives police each other.

Friday, July 06, 2007

The Far and the Near

Thomas Wolfe wrote a short story, The Far and the Near about how things can be idealized from afar and when you meet them up close, you are disappointed so at the risk of boring you, Michael Greenwell tagged me to tell eight things about myself:

When I get a good meal in a restaurant, I tip the cook. The waitress sets it in front of you, but the cook does the real work.

I once hitchhiked around Mexico and Central America for three months. I always defend Mexicans because in general, I found them to be the warmest, kindest people I ever met. I think a hostile environment changes them.

I was blamed for organizing a strike in the sixth grade but I only spread the word, I did not originate it. I was forced to copy the entry for Abraham Lincoln from the encyclopedia and all I remember is that Lincoln spent some time hunting Indians.

For one session, I was a lobbyist for Common Cause in the South Dakota legislature.

I was once lost in the Riding Mountain Park wilderness in Canada for two days. I was really scared about running into a bear as I stumbled around the downed timber and crashed around in the brush, completely clueless to my direction.

I have a teaching degree but quit teaching because I knew I was not good at it. I am too shy to stand in front of a group and the time I spent in this occupation was pure agony for me. I like change and I have lived in Hawaii, California, Colorado, Montana, several places in North Dakota, Texas, several places in South Dakota and just recently moved to Minnesota.

I am not a handy person but I try and do things for myself. Most times I have to do most things more than once but it is seldom that I ask anyone for help. I enjoy fixing up houses and know the wonders of trim.

I have an antipathy to professions that make large incomes from troubled people - doctors, lawyers, morticians, psychiatrists, drug companies, self-help gurus, diet inventors, etc. I don't resent movie stars or sports people because they get paid for providing pleasure and you have the option to contribute - it is the people that make big money from pain that I hate.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Read Any Good Books Lately?

I think this is the next book I want to read - Armed Madhouse: From Baghdad to New Orleans--Sordid Secrets and Strange Tales of a White House Gone Wild by Greg Palast because of this review by Robert Steele:
There is a great deal of substance in this book, but it is irritatingly cavalier, desperately trying to be "hip" and often coming across as glib. This book is not nearly as serious as "Best Democracy Money Can Buy," and that is a pity because it could have been a better book with less of the breathless banter.

Here are my notes from the flyleaf:

Usefully reviews US obsession with Iran and US special relations with Iraq under Reagan (then Secretary Rumsfeld being the bearer of bio-chemical weapons and satellite imagery--a photo of Rumsfeld shaking hands with Hussein and smiling very broadly on the web).

After investigation, finds that most of the US "global war on terror" is focused on regimes in Latin America that are anti-Bush.

Explores the idiocy of repurposing Virginia class submarines from anti-Soviet missions to being able to shoot nine Marines in a large torpedo on to a beach--notes that Israeli's use much less expensive canvas kayaks.

Notes that right before the war on Iraq Bush passed into law a drop in corporate taxes on "war profits" from 21% to 7%.

Notes that Bush's most important first public announcement to the Iraqi people as the war began was not about "welcome our troops" but rather "don't destroy the oil wells."

Points out that General Garner was fired as the first pro consul in Iraq because he ignored orders to delay elections until the oil fields could be sold off to "friends of the family."

Provides a rather extraordinary list of idiot laws and astonishing looting under new pro-consul Bremer, who was given $8.8B to spend and cannot account for $8B of it--cites specific examples of people taking $25M and coming back with no receipts or receipts for a fraction, zero accountability.

Notes that invasion (remember, Exxon met with Cheney very early on) boosted the value of Exxon oil reserves by $666B.

Devastatingly critical of IMB and World Bank for seeking to destroy third world economies (see my review of Jeffrey Sachs "The End of Poverty," where he develops a new theory of developmental economics.

Admiring of a CIA study that says that by 2020 China will be short-handed due to its one child per family policy, and discusses the possibility that Latin America and its cheap young labor will be to China then as China is to the US now.

Defends Chavez as a "Norwegianist" rather than a Marxist or socialist and notes that as the price of light oil skyrockets, it is Chavez, sitting on the world's greatest reserves of heavy oil and tar oil, who benefits.

Examines Ohio where Bush stole the 2004 election (with a little help from matched thievery in New Mexico). 153,237 votes in Ohio were literally discarded and not counted, more than Bush's margin of victory there. In Ohio, 14.4% of black votes were not counted, only 1.5% of white votes.

Provides a superb discussion of Republican "caging lists" which could be used to challenge predominantly black voters and move their votes into an alternative voting system. Notes that of the 3,107,400 "provisional" votes that the Republicans were able to force, 1,090,739 were discarded--not counted. Also notes that the Republicans sent expensive lawyers everywhere to focus on this, and the Democrats, with $51M in the bank, chose not to confront the Republicans.

This book makes it clear the Republicans have mastered the art and science of stealing elections by manipulating the assignment of old machines to anti-Bush districts, and new machines, where Hispanics will almost always be able to understand, to pro-Bush districts. He also discussed how the number of machines per capita is manipulated to make it easy to vote in pro-Bush areas, and cause seven hour lines in anti-Bush areas.

He goes further and has actual copies of tallys in which Kerry's name was simply not included. This is out and out criminality, and I have to ask myself, has this country gone nuts to allow these documented crimes to go unpunished as an encouragement to others in 2006 and 2008?

Bill Richardson in New Mexico is "outed" as a Kissinger associate who made nice with energy and oil while serving as Clinton's Secretary of Energy, and the author believes that this explains why Richardson's state sold out to Bush and failed to count many many Navajo votes and many Hispanic votes. The author's account calls Richardson's integrity--or his intelligence--into question.

The author concludes that the election system is now the front for a class war rather than a race war, with the 8% that are wealthy manipulating the system so that everyone else loses.

The author ends by pointing out that 59 million Americans (he calls them pinheads) voted for Bush because they felt comfortable with a fellow pinhead, and he pointedly notes that the Democratic party is dead in the water and completely incapable of rising to the challenge posed by smart, wealthy, motivated unethical extremist Republicans (as a moderate Republican who has lost his party to thieves, it pains me to have these many pejorative worlds associated with the Grand Old Party).

This is a thought-provoking book, a fast read, it could have been better had it had less of a gossip and tabloid nature.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Blog Against Theocracy

The Parade

Yesterday evening our town had an Independence Day parade. If I were an arsonist, last night would have been my Christmas. I think every firetruck from 50 miles around was in the lineup. First there were the veterans groups, then the firetrucks, a homecoming royalty float in which the guy had an actual tinfoil hat (thought that was a cliche that never really happens), and it was finally getting interesting when the tornado alarm went off. People stayed at the curb as the sirens sounded and probably would have taken their chances except someone cancelled the parade. When the storm hit, the winds were not that great but the rain came down in a torrent.

I do actually have a personal parade story. When I was in college I volunteered to drive this neat old convertible with a 60 year old former homecoming queen in the parade. I was so busy waving (with the back of my hand like the queen does) at my friends that I ran into the car ahead of me. Of course we were only traveling at 5 miles an hour so nothing was hurt. It was my 15 minutes of fame as many people said, "Who is that idiot anyway?"

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Independence Day Proposal

Some people love traditional ways but progress is a fact. Cameras using film are almost a rarity. Analog TV's will be phased out in two years making millions of sets so much trash. Unmanned drones can bomb brown people and not endanger our own. Who would have ever thought people could phone others without being attached to a wire? Telephone operators, door to door delivery people, and bloodletting basin manufacturers are gone.

The one place progress is stymied is in our government. When transportation was by horse and letters took months to reach their destination, an electoral college made sense. When communication was slow, representative government was probably the only option for anything close to a one man, one vote type of democracy. Times have changed a great deal in nearly 300 years.

The technology for a one man, one vote on every issue is available with computers and data banks. Majority rule is technically possible. Sure it would be hard to sneak in earmarks in bills the whole nation voted on and it would be difficult to write 600 page bills because the populace would grow tired of reading and automatically vote "no", but I don't see the downside here. You say it wouldn't be fair to the poor people who don't have computers? That's what libraries are for. Perhaps only the people interested in government would take the trouble to vote, but I bet the numbers would increase over the percentage that vote now on the rare occasion anyone asks for our opinion between bad and worse. Hell, we could even have a vote of confidence every 6 months for the President and two consecutive "nays" would mean dismissal. Laws would be passed by the people who made the most persuasive arguments not the ones with the most money and we could eliminate the expenses of housing, insuring, and paying for huge retirements for 500 plus parasites and the K street "johns" who fatten them.

People spend so much money seeking public office for a reason. I really laugh when they call themselves public servants when nearly all are self-serving. Let's see some creative approaches to a real democracy here at home before we force it on others. Dave Away From Home had a post about improving our government elections. I say screw electing a government. Let the people be the government.

For those who believe in tradition I hope I have the title right but Gertrude Stein wrote a short story called Tradition in which a man is pulling an old man by a rope. The old man falls but the young man keeps dragging him over rocks and thistles. Finally the old man shouts, "I never pulled my father beyond this tree."

Monday, July 02, 2007

Why Is It?

Food processers are supposed to list ingredients in the order of their volume, I believe. So why is this not called "Beans and Piece of Fat"?