Friday, September 19, 2014
Regarding the recent outing of several "spankers" in the NFL, and the resulting controversy, the only thing I have to say about it is this.
It is NEVER okay to hit a child. Whether with your hand, a belt, or a "switch". Whether you yourself were spanked as a child and "turned out all right".
If you hit another adult, it's assault. Why then is it suddenly okay for you to hit a small child?
If you are using violence against a child, you have failed as a parent and a human being.
There is NO excuse.
And if you're defending this bullcrap, you also have failed as a human being.
Wednesday, September 17, 2014
After the fun that was "Penguins!", last week I went with something directional. People liked it and the other day I heard someone marveling at how perfect an imitation it was. (Yes, it bothers me that the paper is darker).
This morning, when I arrived at work, I found that my copycat prankster had struck again.
This is, of course, reasonably odd, since it has nothing to do with the signs I'm posting, unlike the earlier Thermal Exhaust Port references. Plus, whoever it was put different Indiana Jones pictures on several different walls throughout the floor (see below). All were low resolution and many were of Lego Indiana Jones. It's like they're trying to compensate for being a copycat by emphasizing quantity over quality.
In a pathetic attempt to distance myself from this lame effort, I mentioned to a couple of people that I think the person doing the sign changes is different from the person putting up the movie pictures. Subtle!
It's time for me to change things up again. I'll try to get something new up tomorrow.
Monday, September 15, 2014
So you know how on Labor Day the Republican National Committee tweeted out a graphic that said, "All Republicans Support Equal Pay" and that "the White House & Democrats believe that paying women less than men is an acceptable practice"?
Well, today they had a chance to prove it.
Senate Republicans on Monday blocked for the fourth time a bill that would strengthen federal equal pay laws for women.
The Paycheck Fairness Act would ban employers from retaliating against employees who share salary information with each other, impose harsher penalties for pay discrimination and require employers to be able to show that wage gaps between men and women are based on factors other than gender.
The bill needed 60 votes to overcome a Republican filibuster and advance to a final vote on passage, but it fell short Monday by a vote of 52 to 40. Senate Democrats have brought the bill to the floor four times since 2011, and each time Republicans have rejected it. LinkMaybe when you tweet out something that's not just a lie but the actual opposite of reality, you should wait at least a few weeks before contradicting it.
“To destroy ISIL, you have to kill or capture their leaders, take back their territory, cut off the finances and destroy the capability to regenerate. This is a war we’re fights [sic] not a counter terrorism operation,” Graham continued. “This president needs to rise to the occasion before we all get killed back here at home.” Lindsey Graham on FOX News Sunday.Idiot.
Lying, war-mongering, immoral, evil, cowardly, idiot.
Sunday, September 14, 2014
I'm an atheist. Duh.
I also believe in progressive values like feeding hungry people, making healthcare a universal right, doing everything possible to not hurt other people, and educating children. You know, hippy stuff.
I also believe that in America (and certainly all over the world) we treat minorities, especially blacks, and women appallingly. We have made progress over the last few decades, and there are those who want to declare the equality battle won (mostly white males), but given the rape culture, pay inequality, and frequent racial profiling by police, I think it's abundantly clear that the battle is far from over. (Really, people who think that blacks and women "play the race card" and constantly lie about sexual assault and harassment, respectively, have their heads up their asses).
Being an atheist, and having arrived there by rational consideration of religion, I tend to think that atheists are somewhat ahead of the curve when it comes to progressive values. Unfortunately, as we've seen in every other human endeavor, bad behavior is universal. Atheism is, after all, a big tent, and there are plenty of racists and misogynists to be found. Sadly, many of them are leaders of the atheist movement.
Mark Oppenheimer posted an article on Buzzfeed about the current misogyny battles wracking the atheist movement. It's long but worth a read.
The reality of sexism in freethought is not limited to a few famous leaders; it has implications throughout the small but quickly growing movement. Thanks to the internet, and to popular authors like Dawkins, Hitchens, and Sam Harris, atheism has greater visibility than at any time since the 18th-century Enlightenment. Yet it is now cannibalizing itself. For the past several years, Twitter, Facebook, Reddit, and online forums have become hostile places for women who identify as feminists or express concern about widely circulated tales of sexism in the movement. Some women say they are now harassed or mocked at conventions, and the online attacks — which include Jew-baiting, threats of anal rape, and other pleasantries — are so vicious that two activists I spoke with have been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder. One of these women has been bedridden for two years.
I'm not a leader in the movement, nor really a follower. Atheist follower is something of an oxymoron, as the only thing that all atheists have in common is that they don't believe in deities. But I am against Misogyny in all its forms. I am against sexism and racism in all their forms. I support those who call for social justice and I reject the Men's Rights Associations who think that men are the real victims because they're being called on their crappy behavior.
Consequently, in the right sidebar, I'm replacing my atheist "Scarlet A", which was created by the Richard Dawkins Foundation for the Out Campaign, with the "A+" of the Atheism Plus movement.
Let the rape threats begin.
Monday, September 08, 2014
THIS is why you don’t put limits on the fundamental Constitutional right of our democracy.
In the Texas suit, testimony has shown that about 1.2 million eligible voters—including disproportionate numbers of lower-income, black and Latino voters, who tend to vote Democratic—lack a photo ID that would allow them to cast a ballot. Some never had the necessary underlying documents, such as a birth certificate; others cannot afford the time or money it takes to track them down.
The lawmakers who insist that this law is needed never bothered to come up with evidence of any voter fraud. One former election official testified that in-person fraud is “almost impossible to do.”
Texas says it has made it easier to get a photo ID by providing for a free “Election Identification Certificate.” Apparently, Texans haven’t gotten the memo: as of Friday, fewer than 300 people statewide had managed to obtain a certificate.Voter fraud is non-existent in the United States. I was reading some comments on-line last week and some guy referred to those against voter ID as the “vote early, vote often” crowd. Of course he has no evidence that such a crowd even exists.
But just for argument’s sake, how would that work? It takes me at best thirty minutes to vote. If I were to go around from precinct to precinct, and manage to come up with the name of someone who was actually on the voting rolls in each precinct and hadn’t yet voted, I could vote at best, ten to fifteen times on one election day. What would that accomplish other than being tiresome and pointless? Certainly if thousands of like-minded voters did the same thing, it could sway an election, but wouldn’t that be easily discoverable? Wouldn’t lots of people get caught?
Those are rhetorical questions. The only reasons for voter ID laws are to disenfranchise voters and elect Republicans.
Saturday, September 06, 2014
On Labor Day, the Republican National Committee posted the Tweet below.
This is so mind-blowingly dishonest, so contrary to reality, I can barely wrap my mind around it. Republicans have made it clear forever that they have no interest in equal pay for women. Even recently they have opposed legislation ::cough:: Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act ::cough:: to make equal pay a reality. And the Democrats (and the current White House) have been championing this issue for years.
Maybe Labor Day was also Opposite Day or something.
This burger represents the biggest disparity between how the burger looks and how it tastes, for the burgers at Jack Brown's Beer and Burger Joint are incredible.
A couple of weeks ago we returned Rachel to James Madison University. Jack Brown's is a local bar/burger place that's very good and very popular. Unfortunately, we weren't able to get seating so we got burgers to go. That resulted in the smushed burger you see below.
The reason the burger is good is that the beef is All Natural Wagyu beef. That's kind of the American version of Kobe beef (Kobe is also Wagyu). The basic hamburger is served without veggies, just condiments and their special Jack's sauce.
This was an excellent hamburger. Jack Brown's also has a variety of specialty burgers which is what everyone else in the family gets. They also serve excellent fried Oreos.
Thursday, September 04, 2014
The following are not currently, or in the near future, threats to the United States of America.
You are not going to get Ebola. Infection requires direct exposure to bodily fluids and the virus is not present in this country. Ebola is a significant problem and causing great misery, but that’s in Africa, not here.
ISIS cannot attack the United States. Sure, individual members of ISIS might be able to get into the country, though that would be difficult, and commit a terrorist attack, but then that’s not especially difficult for Al Qaeda or any other terrorist group and they haven’t managed it. As for an actual military attack, the odds of ISIS, which has no actual country, air force or navy, attacking us are exactly 0%. Sheesh, the NAZIS couldn’t attack the US and you’re worried that ISIS can?
Get a grip, Americans.
I'm not a Union member and I never have been. In fact, I've never really been exposed to unions. There's a federal employee union at my Agency, but it's not for attorney staff (I think). In any event, I've never really had a strong opinion on them one way or another. I think it's obvious that there have been good unions, and some corrupt unions, just like there have been good and corrupt corporations.
However, it seems pretty clear here in 2014 that union power has diminished significantly, that conservatives have been trying to kill unions for decades, they've mostly succeeded, and American workers are worse off.
Here's some evidence on the benefit of unions and the harm in their diminishing.
A powerful voice for labor is a benefit to American workers, the middle class, and works against income inequality.
Tip of the Hat to Dailykos.
Wednesday, September 03, 2014
After the Supreme Court struck down the Defense of Marriage Act in 2013, federal court after court has invalidated state bans against same-sex marriage. Eventually, some judge was going to rule the other way and it’s finally happened in, what a shock, Louisiana. Of course the reasons the Judge gives for finding the state ban Constitutional are (1) long-invalidated, irrational nonsense, and (2) legally suspect, including an obvious misquote of the Fourteenth Amendment.
Political operatives seeking to cast aspersions on Feldman’s approach to gay rights will find a lot to work with in his opinion. At one point, he describes being gay as one of several “lifestyle choices” a person can make. At another point in his opinion, he compares same-sex marriage to marriage between “aunt and niece,” “aunt and nephew,” or “father and child.” He also likens marriage equality to polygamous marriages.
Judge Feldman’s opinion also misuses common legal phrases in ways that suggest he may be unfamiliar with, or, at least, unaccustomed to working with, rudimentary concepts of American constitutional law. …Feldman is a really old Reagan appointee, which may explain why he’s made such a bonehead, obviously political, decision. This all but assures that the Supreme Court will have to make the final decision on the issue. Not that we haven’t expected that anyway.
Sunday, August 31, 2014
As I posted before, my "Thermal Exhaust Port" sign created a copycat. The copycat struck again on Friday when I found pictures posted on the pantry door.
Yes, that's the Millennium Falcon and Serenity from Firefly. And, yes, they are upside down. WTF?
Anyway, I finally had a chance to put up a new sign on Friday and since everyone now understands it's a joke, I went with something a little more whacky.
I'll find out Tuesday what people think.
We don't get HBO but sometimes I wish we did. Fortunately, there is the Internet.
John Oliver's weekly show, Last Week Tonight, is just incredible and a welcome addition to the serious political commentary being broadcast nightly from The Daily Show and The Colbert Report. Oliver doesn't cover a whole range of stories but gives more focus to one or two important issues.
This is from a June show, but here's Oliver's take on Uganda's American-exported anti-gay laws.
Thursday, August 28, 2014
The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals heard arguments yesterday from Wisconsin and my home state of Indiana, defending their same-sex marriage bans. One of the three judges on the panel was conservative judge Richard Posner. Mark Joseph Stern of Slate put together several audio clips of Judge Posner questioning the hapless state lawyers, who were unable to defend their state’s position against same-sex marriage in any way that made sense.
If you still think that banning same-sex marriage is right because it’s better for the children, or because only heterosexual couples can procreate, please check out the article linked below. If you support equality for all Americans, check out the article because it’s fricking awesome.
Posner kicks total ass.
Posner kicks total ass.
Tuesday, August 26, 2014
Someone from another shop on my floor came by today to ask about the hallway signs. He went through the history of the changes (indicating that they had figured out that Room 237 referred to The Shining by Googling it) and then suggested that, since the sign was closest to my office, I might be behind it or know who was. I denied it and I think he believed me.
But then he surprised me. He said that two more "signs" had been posted on the floor referencing the thermal exhaust port.
It looks like I have a copy cat, or more accurately, someone glomming on to my prank. Down the hall from me, someone taped up two *laminated* signs on other people's walls.
They're very low quality, but clearly a reference to my hall sign and I DIDN'T DO THESE. Kind of cool, but very odd.
We'll see what happens when I change my sign tomorrow night to a non-Star Wars reference.
Friday, August 22, 2014
For six years now, conservative commentators have been harping on President Obama’s “excessive” taking of vacations. I remember them even doing this during the first year of his Presidency. This ridiculous criticism has been debunked time and again, but they won’t let it go. Of course, we WANT Presidents to take some vacation time as it helps them to recharge and relax from what is actually a pretty brutal job.
But this talking point should be laid to rest forever, especially from hypocritical conservatives who NOT ONCE criticized their guy for taking too many vacations.
As of August 25, 2014:
During his eight-year presidency, Bush did take 879 days of vacation, including 77 trips to his Texas ranch. So far, Obama has taken about 150 days off. LinkThere’s a couple of charts here that you should look at. They’re from 2013 but show the amount of days and numbers of vacations taken by Obama, Clinton, Bush and Reagan. They are illuminating.
Now can we please stop?
Wednesday, August 20, 2014
In April, my shop moved to a new building to consolidate with the rest of our Bureau. My shop had been in the headquarters building on Pennsylvania Ave. for decades, but they wanted to move us and so we moved to the new satellite building.
A couple of weeks ago, wall signs suddenly appeared to direct folk to various features on the floor. I immediately noticed (that's the kind of person I am) that there were two empty slots on the one nearest my office. So, after some experimentation with font and font size, I mocked up a new entry.
Obviously, I didn't quite get the spacing right. Getting the sign apart, sliding the piece out, taking it into my office, putting the new sign in, and putting the whole thing together takes time and I'm trying to do this without anyone seeing. So, the result wasn't optimal.
Still, over the next few days, I could hear people in the hall noticing and talking about it, wondering if we had an aviary and where it was.
The next week, I struck again, and nailed the spacing and font. I didn't want to give up the game yet, so I was subtle with my choice of sign.
Again, people were talking in the hall. They seemed to conclude that the Aviary sign was a mistake, but wondered about Room 237 not having enough digits. I don't think anyone actually got the movie reference.
After being away from work last Friday, I waited until Tuesday evening to change the sign. Infuriatingly, the font seems wrong again. It's too dark. (Maybe someone changed the toner).
I went with a more obvious movie reference this time, figuring that the jig would be up once the sign changed three times. It wasn't until late afternoon that people started to notice. They think someone involved with the building is doing it and "having fun". They're half right.
I have about a dozen more of these, increasingly silly, ready to go.
While in Indiana, after our experience at the Flippin' Cow, the next burgers I had were for lunch at Wings Etc. Yeah, I wasn't in the mood for wings.
This is their "Hangar Full of Burgers", aka three mini-hamburger sliders. They look pretty good, actually, and are festooned with ketchup, mustard, mayo and pickle.
These were decent, but not great, burgers. When the meat is so thin and small, it's tough not to overcook. These were a little bit dry as a result.
Tuesday, August 19, 2014
From the American Family Association:
On his radio program today, [Bryan Fischer] sought to bolster this narrative by citing a few new bits of recently released information, such as the report that Brown was shot six times in his front and had marijuana in his system, claiming that this proves that Brown was "tanked up" on pot, which made him go berserk and attack the police officer.
"We know now he did have marijuana in his system," Fischer explained, "and we've had stories, remember, we've had stories from Colorado, people going berserk on marijuana and killing people, hyped up on marijuana. So it's more dangerous than people think"
I have no personal experience with marijuana at all, but I am smart enough to know that marijuana does not make you violent or hyper. You'll also notice that those on the side of gunning down an unarmed teenager are all conservatives. What with the family values and all.
This article is spot on. We’ve seen it time and time again, from Trayvon Martin to Michael Brown to the next victim. As soon as someone kills a black man, the police and media start the character assassination – he’s violent, on drugs, a thief - to make the death seem not only justified, but desirable. It’s a horrible thing to do to a victim, his family and entire communities, tarnishing a life cut tragically short, but it happens all the time in America.
The niggerization of Michael Brown has begun in earnest. The police and the Right-wing media have decided that like all other black people who have been killed by the police and white (identified) vigilantes, Brown is guilty of causing his own execution-style murder.
Writing about the behavior of the police department in Ferguson, Missouri and their efforts to derail, obfuscate, lie, and dissemble about the murder of Michael Brown is an experience akin to Bill Murray's in the movie Groundhog Day. It is a cultural script that plays out repeatedly in the United States--the events of which are only a surprise to the naive, willfully ignorant, dishonest, and/or stupid.…Black people who have had violence visited upon them by the white racial state and its agents are forced into a type of bizarro world. Like women who are the victims of sexual assault, black victims are forced to defend their right to exist; rapine logic as applied to women is a neat analogy for white racial logic as it applies to black victims of white police (and other) abuse. In this framework, Michael Brown, Renisha McBride, and Trayvon Martin were somehow asking to be killed.
So long as this practice continues in America, we will not have justice. We will not have peace. We will continue to victimize those who are already victims. And to millions of Americans it won’t matter at all, because of the color of the victim’s skin.
This must change.
Sunday, August 17, 2014
Electing a black President did not end racism. We do not live in a "post-racial" society. As the events in Ferguson, Missouri, have shown over the past week, we still have loads of segregation and institutional racism in twenty-first century America.
I am a white male and I've never been confronted by a cop for walking down my street. I've never been followed through a store because they thought I might steal something. I've never been pulled over for driving while white. I've never been turned down for a job for my skin color. I've never had anyone curse at me for being white.
I really don't have any idea of the amount of crap the average black American goes through week after week, year after year. But I have ears and I can read. Too many people say Black Americans are being "too sensitive" and "whiny" about having to put up with this daily abuse. (They say the same things about women as well). But I believe people when they say these things happen. How can you not? Frequent incidents like those in Ferguson confirm it.
So here's a tip. If you happen to find yourself having the types of thoughts that have been rampant on Facebook and comments in news stories about the tragic killing of an unarmed teen, how he was "asking for it" or that "those people are animals" or that black parents should "teach their children how to behave", just STFU.
If you were constantly hassled by the police, you'd be pissed off too.
If your son was shot dead by police for jaywalking, you'd be pissed off too.
If the police responded to an injustice by ignoring Constitutional freedoms and acting like a freaking army of occupation, you'd be pissed off too.
Until you've walked a mile in their shoes, you don't get to condescend.
Until we extend economic opportunity and equal rights to everyone, and while we continue to militarize our police, we will continue to create these types of situations.
Ferguson is our fault, not Michael Brown's. He's the victim.
Friday, August 15, 2014
It's been cloudy for the past week, so, to my unhappiness, I missed both the "Super Moon" and the Perseid meteor shower. Tonight was the first clear night in some time and when I looked out my bathroom window a few minutes ago I could see a very bright, but normal sized, moon.
"That's no super moon," I said out loud to myself.
Before, almost involuntarily, following up with, "It's a super space station."
I'm such a geek.
Thursday, August 14, 2014
At the Bundy ranch, white anti-government militia wanna-bes pointed loaded firearms at federal employees and law enforcement officers in the support of a criminal, and nothing happened.
In Ferguson, MO, a young African American was killed by a police officer for jaywalking, and the city and county police have attacked the mostly African American citizens with baton rounds, tear gas, armored vehicles, and riot gear while threatening them with automatic rifles.
Where are all the 2nd Amendment open carry zealots to defend people who are actually under attack by an out of control government?Exactly. Where’s the outrage on the right for jackbooted thugs taking away freedoms? Isn’t this what they’ve been talking about since 2008?
Wednesday, August 13, 2014
While we were in Indiana a couple of weeks ago, we went to a recently opened hamburger place in Elkhart, right on Simonton lake, called Flippin' Cow. See? Because they flip hamburgers on the grill? Flippin' cow?
Anyway, one of their burgers won the Best Burger in Elkhart County contest so it seemed like a no brainer to visit.
By the way, here's the award winning burger in Carol's hands, the Stella Moo:
That's a double steak burger with brisket, bacon, jack cheese and a bunch of other stuff.
And because it was also amazing, here's Ben's burger, the Cheesy Uncle, which has mac and cheese and bacon.
Here's my regular hamburger. I got the usual: ketchup, mustard, mayo, lettuce, pickle, onion. It doesn't look nearly as impressive as the specialty burgers.
Even though it was not as pretty as the other burgers, the taste was great. We will be returning on future visits.