Thursday, May 26, 2016

People are weird

Carol and I were driving the other day and someone being interviewed on the radio was asked if they were superstitious. They said something like, "Oh, I'm incredibly superstitious."

Of course, people admit being superstitious all the time, but I'd never really given that admission much thought before. The other day it struck me as a really odd thing to admit.

"Yes, I believe in a causal relationship between two events that are completely unconnected."

"Yes, I'm a dumbass."

These two thoughts are functionally equivalent.

Why would you be proud to admit that you're superstitious? You should be embarrassed to be such a sloppy thinker.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

The Religious Right

Here's Samantha Bee with a brilliant history lesson on how the Religious Right was consumed by the Republican party. Tens of millions of American Christians are now more Conservative than they are Christian. And that is not an accident.

I mean, come on, when allowing unfettered access to guns and keeping the death penalty are some of your top issues, you really aren't being very Christian, are you?

Thanks to Eric.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Trump's very bad week

Donald Trump had a bad week. Not that he'd notice, since, as he said, he could "shoot a guy in the street" and his followers wouldn't care.

But let's recap.

First, Trump's long time butler had a few nasty, racist things to say about the President.
To all my friends on FB, just a short note to you on our pus headed "president" !!!! This character who I refer to as zero (0) should have been taken out by our military and shot as an enemy agent in his first term !!!!! Instead he still remains in office doing every thing he can to gut the America we all know and love !!!!! Now comes Donald J Trump to put an end to the corruption in government !!!! The so called elite, who are nothing but common dog turds from your front lawn are shaking in their boots because there is a new Sheriff coming to town, and the end to their corruption of the American people (YOU) is at hand !!!! I cannot believe that a common murder is even allowed to run (killery clinton) OR that a commie like bernie is a also allowed to also run !!!! Come on America put your big boy pants on---this election you have a choice---GET YOUR ASS OUT AND VOTE !!!! Thank you !!!!  Link
President Obama should be killed.

To be fair, Trump himself didn't say it, but the guy he paid for seventeen years to be his personal butler did. Now imagine if someone close to President Obama said something controversial or objectionable. Let's say, his minister. Would Republicans attribute those statements to the President?

You don't have to guess, Republicans have been going on about Rev. Jeremiah Wright for eight years now.

Also this week, it was revealed that in the 1970s, 80s and 90s, during telephone interviews, Trump would pretend to be Trump spokesmen, John Miller and John Barron. Of course both spokesmen are really impressed by Trump.
Discussing Trump's divorce and his prospects with women, "John Miller" said Trump is "somebody that has a lot of options, and, frankly, he gets called by everybody. He gets called by everybody in the book, in terms of women," according to the audio recording obtained by The Washington Post.
Hilariously, on the Today Show, Trump finally had enough of the questioning about this and said,
"You're going so low to talk about something that took place 25 years ago whether or not I made a phone call?" Trump said. "Let's get on to more current subjects."  Link
This from the man who has repeatedly blamed Hillary Clinton for Bill Clinton's affair, oh, about 25 years ago. So Trump is a hypocrite. Big shock, I know.

Of course, on Friday, Trump denied pretending to be his own spokesmen, which once again proves that he's a flat out liar.

Then there was the New York Times. The Times detailed interviews with dozens of women who spoke of Trump's sexist, misogynistic advances on women he worked with.
Their accounts — many relayed here in their own words — reveal unwelcome romantic advances, unending commentary on the female form, a shrewd reliance on ambitious women, and unsettling workplace conduct, according to the interviews, as well as court records and written recollections.
If you think the apple fell far from the tree, here's something about Trump's father, Fred, from Trump's ex-wife Ivana.
Fred would order steak. Then Donald would order steak. … Everybody order steak. I told the waiter, “I would like to have fish.” O.K., so I could have the fish. And Fred would say to the waiter: “No, Ivana is not going to have a fish. She is going to have a steak.” I said, “No, I’m going to have my fish.” And Donald would come home and say, “Ivana, why would you have a fish instead of a steak?” I say, “Because I’m not going to be told by somebody to have something which I don’t want.”
Here's Donald's behavior at one of the Miss USA pageants, which he owned at the time.
His level of involvement in the pageants was unexpected, and his judgments, the contestants said, could be harsh. Carrie Prejean, who was 21 when she participated in the Miss USA contest in 2009 as Miss California, was surprised to find Mr. Trump personally evaluating the women at rehearsal. “We were told to put on our opening number outfits — they were nearly as revealing as our swimsuits — and line up for him onstage,” she wrote in her memoir, “Still Standing.”

Donald Trump walked out with his entourage and inspected us closer than any general ever inspected a platoon. He would stop in front of a girl, look her up and down, and say, “Hmmm.” Then he would go on and do the same thing to the next girl. He took notes on a little pad as he went along. After he did this, Trump said: “O.K. I want all the girls to come forward.” …
Donald Trump looked at Miss Alabama.
“Come here,” he said.
She took one more step forward.
“Tell me, who’s the most beautiful woman here?”
Miss Alabama’s eyes swam around.
“Besides me?” she said. “Uh, I like Arkansas. She’s sweet.”
“I don’t care if she’s sweet,” Donald Trump said. “Is she hot?” …
It became clear that the point of the whole exercise was for him to divide the room between girls he personally found attractive and those he did not. Many of the girls found the exercise humiliating. Some of the girls were sobbing backstage after he left, devastated to have failed even before the competition really began to impress “The Donald.”

So how has he handled this very bad week? Trump basically denied every single thing said about him. When confronted about Trump's recent flip-flops on policy, one of his senior advisors had an interesting take.
When a fellow panelist pointed out in response, “Typically, words matter,” Bennett had a strange response.
“Oh please, this words matter stuff. This is ridiculous,” he said. “You are looking desperately for a reason not to vote for him.”  Link
And when asked if all this lying, misogynistic, hypocritical behavior would hurt Trump, Republican National Committee Chairman, Reince Priebus said,
“All these stories that come out — and they come out every couple weeks — people just don’t care,” Priebus said when questioned about the NYT report on “Fox News Sunday.” “I think people look at Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton and say, ‘Who’s going to bring an earthquake to D.C.?’”  Link
So here's the question for you, potential Republican voter.

Do you care?

Thursday, May 12, 2016

You can't fix ignorance if it doesn't want to be fixed

There continues to be a lot of misinformation about what has happened during Obama's time in office. 43% of voters think the unemployment rate has increased while Obama has been President, to only 49% who correctly recognize that it has decreased. And 32% of voters think the stock market has gone down during the Obama administration, to only 52% who correctly recognize that it has gone up. In both cases Democrats and independents are correct in their understanding of how things have changed since Obama became President, but Republicans claim by a 64/27 spread that unemployment has increased and by a 57/27 spread that the stock market has gone down. Link

For the record, unemployment is WAY down and the stock market is WAY up.

This explains some of the disconnect with Republicans for whom Obama can't do anything right. It's not opinion based in reality, but it makes sense knowing that they just don't care about facts. 

But then, we already knew that.

Thursday, May 05, 2016

Ladies and Gentlemen, your 2016 Republican Presidential Candidate


And lest we forget.

Monday, May 02, 2016

George Takei is absolutely right

Well said. If we don't stand together, no progress will, or even can, be made.

Sunday, May 01, 2016

Okay, maybe this is piling on. So be it.

Look, I'm not a big fan of making fun of people in a mean way. But when the target is such a hate-filled, hypocritical, terrible douchebag, I'll make an exception.

This guy sat in an office down the hall from me for nearly two years and I have no memory of him. I guess that's a very good thing.

(For more proof of Cruz' calculated douchery, check out this article detailing an email from Cruz to supporters, whining about how hard it is to run for President of the United States, and see Sen. Elizabeth Warren's epic Twitter response. It's a quick read and great.)

Vaccines work

The next time someone says that vaccines don't work, show them these. [click to embiggen]

The colors indicate the number of cases per 100,000 people in the United States. The dark line is where a vaccine was introduced.

Thanks to the Wall Street Journal. See more charts and details here.

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Now innocents are getting hurt

When specifically asked his opinions on Ted Cruz, Boehner made a face, drawing laughter from the crowd.
“Lucifer in the flesh,” the former Speaker said. “I have Democrat friends and Republican friends. I get along with almost everyone, but I have never worked with a more miserable son of a bitch in my life.”  Link

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Alabama - We Dare Defend our Rights . . . to own you!

Monday in Alabama was Confederate Memorial Day because apparently in the twenty-first century, celebrating long-dead traitors and racists from 150 years ago is a thing they like to do in the South. Of course, ever since Dylann Roof, inspired by Confederate lore and swag, walked into a church in Charleston and slaughtered nine black Americans, Confederate adoration has taken a bit of a hit in the polls. And that makes the Alabama Secretary of State, John Merrill, sad.
“The next question that has to be asked is so what’s the next thing you are going to do,” he asked, “are you going to take a bulldozer to the monument and forget what people fought for to preserve a way of life that makes us special and unique?”
Not content with the point that owning people and committing treason against the United States is something unique and special to be celebrated, Merrill also touted the awesome character of his state.
“When we have things happen in our state, we don’t rely on the federal government to come take care of us,” he said. “We take care of ourselves. For example, after the tornadoes in 2011, or after the massive flooding we had. That’s who we are. That’s who these people were. I’m proud of that.”
That's an excellent point and something to be proud of. After all, Alabama ONLY gets 36.5% of its annual revenue from the federal government, putting it ninth out of fifty states for the percentage of federal help it gets. In fact, Alabama gets more than $3 back from the federal government for every dollar it spends in federal taxes. And let's not forget Alabama's special and unique history that's being celebrated, where they built their state through UNPAID SLAVE LABOR.

But in case you were wondering that all this would paint Merrill as a potentially racist idiot, don't worry. Why, he knows some black people!
“We’ve got two African Americans that work in the lobby area of our office here,” he said. “None of them are working here because they’re black, but because they’re highly-qualified, trained professionals. I judge people by the content of their character, not the color of their skin.”

One of the awesome things about idiots is that they never know when to shut the hell up.

Sunday, April 24, 2016


Sorry for the lack of recent posts. We have a deck on the back of our house and it's been years since it's been stained. So Carol and I have spent some evenings and the last couple of weekends getting it ready to be stained. This included cleaning it and then sanding, which takes up a huge amount of time. Plus we've been delayed by rain.

Our original schedule was to have it stained this weekend. Then that changed to just finishing the sanding. Sadly, although we've made a lot of progress, some sanding remains. We'll have to stain it next weekend. We hope.

It will be really nice once it's done, hopefully in time for our family to visit in a couple of weeks for Rachel's graduation from college.

But next time, I'm paying someone to do it.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Autopsy, I mean biopsy, results!

I received an email from my colonoscopy doctor with the results of the biopsy on the two polyps they removed. Here's what he said.
Your biopsies showed that you had 2 different types of polyps. One was a tubular adenoma. ​ ​An adenoma is a benign polyp, but has potential to become cancerous over time. ​ ​Fortunately, your polyp was found and removed at an early stage. ​ ​Because you could form more of those type of polyps in the future, another routine colonoscopy is recommended in 5 years.
​ ​
The other polyp was completely benign type (call hyperplastic polyp). That type never grows into colon cancer, and can therefore be essentially ignored.
​So I have to get another colonoscopy in five years rather than ten. Not the end of the world, but I was really hoping for ten.

The results really show the value of getting this procedure. If I hadn't gotten it done, I'd have a potentially cancerous polyp in my colon today.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Procedure Update - Final

That was fun.

No, seriously, it was fine. The 5AM dose of Draino did its job, so I was ready for the procedure this morning. I had to keep getting up from bed, but I actually did get some sleep.

When we arrived at the clinic at 10:10, there were quite a few people already waiting, so I had to wait about 45 minutes. Once back in the very busy patient area, I changed into the standard hospital gown in the bathroom, answered a bunch of medical questions to make sure I was ready, and was taken to my bed. Along the wall were at least ten occupied beds with curtains on each side for privacy, but nothing in the front. So most patients in bed were facing a host of nurses and other patients who were walking by. You were always completely covered in a blanket, so it wasn't too undignified. Really, though, it kind of felt like a medical assembly line, much moreso than I expected.

Fortunately, I was lead to the last bed in the far corner and so was out of the traffic lane. I was also next to the window; I clearly got the best bed in the place. The nurse came by and prepped me, inserting an IV into my wrist (easily the worst part of the entire procedure and not too bad), and hooking me up to the machines to check my vitals. After a little while, the anesthetist came by and asked me more questions and explained what was going to happen.

She wheeled straightaway me into a procedure room and reconnected me to the monitors. My doctor was there as well as an assistant who introduced himself. After some banter (I'm good at patient/doctor banter), the anesthetist injected the sedative into the IV line and about a minute later my head started feeling fuzzy, which I noted to the doctor. I don't even remember falling asleep, it was that fast.

Some time later the anesthetist woke me up and gave me some juice. I felt a little groggy but fine. After a few minutes, I got dressed and sat down with the doctor. There were two small polyps which he removed and will be sent to biopsy. If they're benign, I'll return in ten years. If they're cancerous, I'll return in five years. I'll know in about two weeks. Carol was waiting to drive me home.

My meal of choice after not having eaten for 43 hours? Checkers meal #3, Champ Burger, no cheese, medium fries, and a medium banana shake. Mmmmm. I got home and slept for three hours.

Tomorrow it's back to work.

If you're 50 years old, get a colonoscopy. It's not a big deal and really important for heading off colon cancer. Modern medicine can do amazing things. It's stupid not to take advantage of it.

Procedure Update 3

It's 5:22AM.  I just took my second dose. I mixed it with water instead of ginger ale this time. Yeech. Should have stuck with ginger ale.

Last evening was fine. I watched TV and cleaned the bedroom while taking the occasional break. I never felt compelled to go (I had images of THAT scene from Dumb and Dumber running through my head (Google Dumb, Harry and toilet), but it never came to that). Really, it was much easier than I anticipated. I think eating less in the couple of days before helped.

Now I'm about to start my second bottle of water which is the last thing I can ingest before my procedure at 11AM.

See you on the other side.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Procedure Update 2

The laxative was a mix of sodium sulfate, potassium sulfate, and magnesium sulfate. Per my doctor's instructions, I diluted it with ginger ale. The result was just a little syrupy but didn't taste horrible. I drank the 16 ounces (6 medicine, 10 ginger ale) quickly and without problem. Now I have to drink 32 ounces of water over the next hour.

And I wait . . .

Procedure Update 1!

Okay, I realize this may be in the realm of "too much information".

I am about to start the "bowel prep" for my colonoscopy. That's where you take some industrial strength laxative and spend the next several hours cleaning out your, er, guts. That's not the worst of it. Even worse, I have to repeat the procedure six hours before the procedure, which is 5AM. Augh.

I'm sure this won't be too bad. I ate lightly all weekend and yesterday and haven't eaten at all since 7PM last night, 23 hours ago. I have drunk a ton of apple and grape juice.

Wish me luck.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Old Person Update

A couple of weeks ago was my paternal grandmother's 93rd birthday. She's my last grandparent still alive and lives in a nursing home in Indiana where she's pretty unhappy. There's not much going on there but watching television and the occasional visit from a relative, so she's bored and wants to get the whole thing over with. I don't blame her. It's tragic that most places in our squeamish society don't let people choose when to end their life.

Meanwhile, my 69 year old mother had knee-replacement surgery this week and is recovering well. She has had a lot of mobility problems and we're hoping this will resolve many of them.

And then there's me. I'm 51 years old and getting my first colonoscopy on Wednesday. I am starting with the dietary restrictions today, building up to a full fast on Tuesday to Wednesday while I take the medicine to flush out the system. Awesome. On the plus side, while fasting I can drink all the white grape juice I want. I like white grape juice.

Getting old sucks, but modern medicine makes it a lot more tolerable (in most cases).

A Star Wars Story

If you haven't seen the preview for Rogue One yet, you should.

I think this looks fantastic. It takes place just before Episode IV, A New Hope, (or the original Star Wars for those who are casual fans) so it seems retro and new at the same time. Plus, no Skywalkers. Bonus!

We just watched The Force Awakens on Blu-Ray and none of the problems I had with it have faded with time. But I am really excited about Rogue One.

Sunday, April 03, 2016

The Walking Dead have walked too far

The Walking Dead season finale is on tonight, with the survivors meeting their arch-nemesis, Negan, for the first time. After 6 seasons of our heroes encountering zombies, cannibal humans, and other violent survivors, I'm not really looking forward to it.

I've watched The Walking Dead since the beginning and have really enjoyed the depth to which the show has examined a zombie apocalypse. They do a great job of developing interesting characters and showing the dehumanizing effects that living in such a world would have. The characters have ups and downs in morale, meet new friends and often enemies, lose people constantly, and even sometimes manage to find stable homes for months at a time. But inevitably, some outside force (zombies, other humans) manages to drive them out onto the even more dangerous road. The show is intensely nihilistic, as there is no happily ever after possible for these characters. The show's creators and showrunners have said as much.

Last season, the heroes of the show arrived in Alexandria, Virginia, just outside of DC. You wouldn't know it since they still film the series in Georgia and the setting looks nothing like any of the modern cities around DC. (In fact, pretending they're in Alexandria is kind of laughable at this point.) By now, the characters have had a home in a fenced in community for several months, although still in daily danger.

For the last several episodes, they've come into contact with small groups of other survivors who are led by a man named Negan. Their encounters with these groups have been uniformly deadly for Negan's people, up to an episode where the heroes of the show preemptively attacked a building filled with Negan's people. They went into the building at night and killed all of Negan's folk without a single casualty on their side. The show tried to make it very clear that the people they were murdering in their sleep were bad, evil people. Okay. But they killed them in their sleep.

In The Dark Knight, Harvey Dent says of the Batman, "You either die a hero or you live long enough to see yourself become the villain."

The Walking Dead has reached that point. The good guys have become the villains.

I'm not sure I want to watch that any more.

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Trump spoke the truth

Everyone, even some Republicans, were shocked by Donald Trump's recent statements endorsing punishment for women who have abortions, if Republicans ever manage to get the procedure banned.
“There has to be some form of punishment,” Trump said. “For the woman?” Matthews asked. “Yeah,” Trump said, nodding.
Typically, even the most ardent pro-lifers don't say that women should be punished if they have illegal abortions; they say that the doctors who perform abortions should be punished.

Two things.

One, all the Republicans getting verklempt over Trump's statements are really only outraged because he said out loud what their position really is. For political reasons, they know they can't say they want to throw women in jail. But that's the end result of their policies. Because banning abortion won't stop women from having abortions. Abortions happen in countries where abortion is really, really illegal with a conviction bringing hard and long jail time. Banning abortion just makes women have risky, unsafe abortions. So, if Republicans want to stop abortion totally, eventually they'll have to start throwing women in jail. In fact, some women in America have ALREADY been thrown in jail for terminating a pregnancy.
Multiple U.S. women -- with few options to get themselves to one of their state's dwindling legal clinics -- have been arrested for illegal abortions after they bought abortion-inducing medication online. And thanks to the growing number of laws aimed at protecting “fetal rights,” other women have been punished for doing activities that allegedly harmed their pregnancies. Americans have been charged with murder for allegedly seeking to harm their fetuses by attempting suicide, using illicit drugs, or even falling down the stairs.  Link
Second, the idea that women aren't already being punished is ludicrous. Laws making women travel hundreds of miles, spend time and money to stay overnight in a strange city, have a forced ultrasound, be forced to hear anti-abortion propaganda, and making women walk through a gauntlet of anti-abortion zealots, are all intended to punish (and thus discourage) women who are having an abortion. They are being deliberately punished for exercising a CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHT.

What Trump said was chilling and terrible politics. But what he said was absolutely the Republican position. He just wasn't supposed to say it out loud.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Batman v. Superman

Here are a few random thoughts on BvS which we saw Sunday night. Some spoilerish discussion below, although nothing that you haven't seen in trailers.

I enjoyed parts of it, hated parts of it and thought a lot of the film was a complete mess. To start with, angsty Superman is a huge bummer. Director Zach Snyder doesn't seem to understand the appeal of the big blue boy scout and so in both this and Man of Steel runs Superman through the emotional wringer. It doesn't work and Henry Cavill isn't charismatic enough to make you care about a character that Christopher Reeve and to a lesser extent Brandon Routh just nailed. Then add in the always agnsty, and now inexplicably murdery, Batman, and you've got a grim, joyless film.

I mean, the only way that Batman would actually want to fight Superman is if he's a complete idiot. The movie tries REALLY HARD to make the fight inevitable and Batman's motivations understandable. The movie fails. Batman is a complete idiot.

There are at least three long, surreal dream sequences in the movie which you know are a dream when they start, so you're just waiting for them to end so you can get back to the story. And, holy crap, I DO NOT EVER WANT TO SEE ANOTHER SCENE OF BRUCE WAYNE'S PARENTS BEING MURDERED. Geez, every fricking movie.

The key to the success of Marvel Studios superhero films is that even the ones that aren't that great (Thor 2, Iron Man 2, Age of Ultron) are still loads of FUN. The characters are alive, have interesting relations and ideas and exude charm and FUN. But DC's cinematic universe is dour and dark.

The one exception in this movie is a big one. One character was fantastic and despite only a few minutes of screen time, should serve as an example to DC what they need to in future films.

Wonder Woman.

Wonder Woman absolutely rocked. She seemed to be having a great time, wasn't riddled with self-doubt and self-loathing, and almost seemed like she flew in from another, better, movie. When she appears a few minutes before the image above, it's a great moment. I am really looking forward to her solo movie next year.

DC continues to not have their act together while Marvel knocks it out of the park on a regular basis. However, I am really looking forward to DC's Suicide Squad later this year because it looks like, oh what's the word? It's what every superhero movie should be. Oh yeah, FUN.

And it has one of the greatest superhero movie trailers of all time. Really.

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Low expectations - Superhero edition

We're sitting in the theatre waiting for the start of Batman v. Superman. I do not have high expectations because DC can't get their act together. 

I'll report on the other side. 

Sunday, March 20, 2016

What a team he's put together!

Relax, everyone. Relax.

Sure, Republican frontrunner and all but certain nominee may be a know-nothing, proto-fascist who encourages violence at his rallies, but he's got this foreign affairs thing DOWN. Take it from him.

I’m speaking with myself, number one, because I have a very good brain and I’ve said a lot of things. I know what I’m doing, and I listen to a lot of people, I talk to a lot of people, and at the appropriate time I’ll tell you who the people are. But my primary consultant is myself and I have, you know, a good instinct for this stuff.  Link
See? He's got a good brain. You don't need actual knowledge, experience or social skills to be President. Just a good brain and a good instinct for foreign affairs. Trump is basically a one-man State Department all on his own. So stop worrying that he'll embarrass the United States and set us back fifty years, while possibly causing WWIII along the way. He's. Got. A. Good. Brain.

You can tell he's got a good brain because it keeps his hair so well nourished.

Friday, March 18, 2016

Old School Promos Rock

Gizmodo posted an article about Star Wars today and someone in the comments mentioned the Burger Chef Star Wars promotional posters from 1977. I had the entire collection (I may still have them somewhere) and they were frigging GLORIOUS.

I haven't seen or even thought about these posters in years. Thanks to the Internet, here they are.