Friday, September 03, 2010

Nobody Asked Me, But...

1) The good news rollout by the Obama administration is beginning in earnest, and none too soon. When an Op-Ed in the Wall Street Journal agrees in substance with a tax hike on millionaires, you have a pretty good piece of PR.
2) Hawking may be right. He may not be. Who cares? There's evidence to support either contention, and I suspect the human mind is too limited to wrap itself around the truth of the matter.
3) Exhibit A for the existence of God: This Vancouver, WA know, the place it rains 367 days out of the year?... didn't own a pair of sunglasses, didn't even like wearing them, until she purchased a pair "on a whim" just 20 minutes before a crazed woman threw acid in her face, thus saving her eyesight, and possibly her life.
4) Possible terror attack in the Miami airport. A seventy year old man carrying four metal canisters in his luggage. Right wing claims of an "Ocotober Surprise" in
5) It's Labor Day weekend. Spare a moment to remember the men and women who made your life possible. The unions who fought to form, and then to obtain things we take for granted like overtime, vacation and sick days, disability insurance, coffee breaks, keeping our children in schools and out of the factories, 40 hour work week, fair wages, minimum wages, safety inspections, worker arbitration, dental and health insurances, job security, and so on. For this, they were beaten and killed, slandered and libeled, thrown into jail and beaten some more.
We've given a lot of things back out of fear of losing our jobs in tough economic times. We should look to our ancestors and remember the fight they put up for us, and honor that fight by fighting for what we had and more. It may be earnings to our employers, but these jobs are our lives. Loyalty works both ways.
6) Check her identity card! She can't speak English! Karma's a bitch, Governor Brewer.
7) Cuba. It looks like I won't have to sneak into Cuba under my European passport soon.
8) Someone could make a fair amount of money opening a Motel 6 on the Beijing-Mongolia highway.
9) BOOBIES! Um, "for a good cause," I mean.

Thursday, September 02, 2010

The Wilding

Weather is really strange.
There are five named storms roaming the Atlantic right now. The biggest, hurricane Earl, is about to scrape the Outer Banks of North Caolina and could even pose a threat to New York City by Friday afternoon.
Tropical storm Fiona looks destined to strike Bermuda. Tropical storm Gaston is foaming up the central Atlantic and a new depression that should get its name by the end of the day is beginning to percolate off Cape Verde in Africa.
And then there's Danielle, which has been wandering the Atlantic around Bermuda like a drunk hooker. First a tropical storm, then a hurricane, then a tropical storm and now again, a hurricane. Danielle and Fiona have both been kept away from the coast of the US by a Bermuda high that's been sitting over the northeast, which has brought its own troubles to cities like New York, Boston, and DC.
Earl groped his way along the edge and found a backdoor to the coast. Gaston may have an easier time of it. Soon-to-be tropical depression Hermine will be hot on the heels of Gaston.
The potential for a sort-of perfect storm, where Danielle, Earl, and Fiona combine, is small, but not impossible. A small shift north in the high that's deflecting Danielle would be required to squirt her westward and Fiona is already beginning to catch up to Earl. The string of low pressure areas...well, imagine three ball bearings on a sheet of rubber. The closer they get, the more likely it is they'll collide.
Keep in mind, September 1 is the tradition mark of the beginning of the heart of hurricane season. It gets worse before it gets better.
Only once in recorded weather history has the Atlantic gone clear thru the alphabet (there are no Q, X, Y, or Z names) and into Greek letters: 2005, when 28 named storms, and fifteen hurricanes including Katrina and Wilma, formed. The last tropical storm, Zeta, formed on December 30. It was not the latest storm to ever form, by six hours. 1954's Alice2 (the second hurricane with the name that season) holds that distinction.
Forecasts made before the hurricane season started predicted unusually heavy activity: at least 15 named storms, up to 14 of them hurricanes, with up to seven Cat3 or higher. After the start of the season, predictions were bumped up, and even then, the projectors made it clear they were understating the case.
Fasten your seatbelts, it looks like a bumpy night!    

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Could You Imagine?

Imagine a nation where a business owner apologizes to his employees for harming them?
Contrast that with the ham-handed way Massey Energy handled the West Virginia mine collapse in April of this year. Or the International Coal Groups' handling of 2006's Sago Mine Disaster. Or Murray Energy, the Crandall Mine collapse in 2007. And those are just in the past five years.
I understand the United States is a litigious society, and that business owners are prudent to protect their defenses in a lawsuit: "admit nothing, deflect everything" is  standard operating procedures taught in business schools across the country (also rendered as "never complain, never explain".)
But you'll note something in the statement the Chilean mine owner made before a federal investigation by that nation:
"The pain caused by this unwanted, unforeseen situation warrants we ask they forgive us for the anxiety they have suffered these days. It has been a terrible situation and we hope it ends very soon."
No admission of guilt is easily extracted there, yet the human factor, that 33 employees who provide a valuable service which enriches his pockets, is acknowledged.
It means something. American business owners would ruffle their feathers and pick at the downy bits underneath and explain how an apology is unnecessary at this time, that we should focus on getting the miners out, and they knew what they were getting themselves into anyway.
In West Virginia, it's true, coal miner is a legacy industry. It still requires men to risk their lives each and every day, and to take a little slice off their lifespans inhaling toxins you wouldn't subject a machine to. They know the risks. They also know no other industry there. The coal mines have seen to that, basically enslaving the entire state and region with the jobs that tether them to one company for life.
Why else do you suppose the people of that region have allowed themselves to be subjected to all kinds of environmental and workplace insults, from mountaintopping to mine collapses? They really have no choice, except to move out of the area to look for similar-paying work, not easy when you have little to no education.
Why else would they allow themselves to be so abused by such graceless men?
It's like having a Wal-Mart in your area: they can throw their weight around because, really, where else are you going to shop once the local pharmacy and supermarket and hardware, housewares and clothing stores have closed? Yes, maybe they'll act like responsible community members, but only when that spirit and the spirit of profitabilty coincide.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Glenn Beck, Religious Nut

At Saturday's rally, attended by dozens of people, Glenn Beck claimed the mantle of "religious leader".
Behind the scenes, he has worked to form what he calls the "Black Robe Regiment," a coalition of Christian leaders to foster Christian values in American society. Sounds kinda icky, almost like the KKK in a photo negative.
Or Hitler's Sturmabteilung, the Brownshirts or volunteer stormtroopers of the Nazi party.
The weird projection behind all this is Beck is nominally a Mormon (yes, I checked to make sure I put that second "m" in there). Mormons are to Christianity what the "Real Housewives" are to American families: unrelated and an exaggerated overly dramatized example.
Goodness knows, this nation could stand a little moral fibre in its national diet: Bankers ripping off the poor by charging high interest rates and then pulling the rug out from under them, megamall insurance companies charging too much to heal the sick (if they can manage to dock their yachts long enough to sign a form or two), entire industries making a mockery of God's decree that we should steward the earth, society as a whole beating up on two people who merely want to express the love that Jesus himself said was the Golden Rule.
What we don't need is a hypocritical scam artist wearing funny underwear to dictate our morality. Societies evolve, and the first rule of evolution is evolve or die off. Beck's wasted effort promoting a religion he himself does not support or profess will drain energy from true moral progress in this country. While this might seem like a good thing, you know, thinning the herd, it's not. 
We are at a critical stage in human development. We have the chance, the opportunity and the means to move forward to our destiny: to explore and to create. We as a species have an opportunity no other species on this planet has every had. We have the chance to ensure our immortality.
This requires an expansion of our horizons, not a contraction. This demands the ability to take ourselves out of ourselves and to see the bigger picture. 
An unintelligible intellectual slut like Beck will try to prevent that. He can't, but he can hamper the effort and the beauty of what could be, which are the saddest words in the human language. His hatred of humanity manifests itself daily and his yeoman efforts to recruit others to his cause, as feeble as the rally numbers were (according to AirPhotosLive which has no dog in this hunt, some 75,000 people made it, even tho millions listen to him and watch him on the TeeVee), suggests there's a ready audience of Brownshirts, I mean, Beckites, ready to hate right alongside him.
That could be a problem. As Beck himself would try to (feebly) point out, a tyranny of the minority is a dangerous thing. Only in the progressive case, the "minority" is only trying to secure the blessings and bounties of freedom our Creator endowed us with and has made strides in that direction because it's the right thing. In Beck's case, the minority is a rabid know-nothing mob hellbent on destroying society and ultimately doomed to failure because it's the wrong thing.
The good news, of course, is that hate as a driving force is short term, like a hurricane. Ask Ann Coulter, who's relevancy has put her almost permanently on freakshow status. It blows itself out, as the primaries this season indicate. And without a plan to administrate and govern afterwards, leaves an angry population turning on itself and its leaders. Again, history in the form of Robespierre gives us guidance.
And Beck is a history "fan," altho I suspect his history education was as idiotic and narrowminded as his "Christianity". I doubt the name Robespierre holds much meaning for him. Maybe Oliver Cromwell would be a better example. Or Leon Trotsky, since he claims such familiarity with socialism. 
He is a scam artist who has grabbed hold of the mane of a raging lion and is riding it for all its worth. But the lion will soon realize the rider is there.