Friday, August 26, 2011

Yet More Union Thuggery in Wisconsin

Why do I detest unions? Let me count the ways.
Locks superglued prior to protests of Governor Walker at local school

MILWAUKEE - Protesters crowded the street outside Messmer Preparatory School in Milwaukee's Riverwest neighborhood as Governor Walker visited the school Friday to read to children.

The protests came just hours after someone vandalized the school ahead of the Governor's visit. 

"Some of these folks super glued our front doors at the prep school," said Br. Bob Smith, OFM, the president of Messmer Catholic Schools, about the school on the corner of North Fratney and East Burleigh Streets.

He told Newsradio 620 WTMJ that a woman was walking in front of the school Thursday, asking people to protest.

According to Br. Smith, one protester said " 'Get ready for a riot,' because they were going to disrupt the visit."

Maybe They Could Play "On the Good Ship Lollipop"

There's a song that would be emblematic of their world view. I couldn't care less whether they play the National Anthem or not; they're free to do what they want. I do think the public pronouncement indicates less an adherence to pacifist policy and more a profound need for attention.

Indiana College Bans "Too Violent" National Anthem

Tiny Goshen College in Indiana has banned the "The Star Spangled Banner: at all sporting events because the Mennonite school's president considers the National Anthem's words to be too violent.

The 1,000-student school had already banned the words last year, but the band could still play the music for patriots in attendance. Now, the school has banned the song entirely, according to NBC Sports.

How is lyric-free music deemed "too violent"? It appears that their original stance to play the anthem lyric-free didn't piss off enough people and didn't make themselves a big enough spectacle.

Doesn't He Do This Every Week?

Alas, it seems that the more these threats are made, the less the West listens. Iran has made their intentions quite clear and have consistently moved forward with their nuclear program while we, in he West, have done nothing. They're clearly quite serious about fulfilling their goals regarding the nuclear program; they've made better progress than the "experts" had feared. Why would we think they're less serious about "eradicating" Israel?

Ahmadinejad: Iran is determined to eradicate Israel

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said that Iran was determined to eradicate Israel, ISNA news agency reported Thursday.

"Iran believes that whoever is for humanity should also be for eradicating the Zionist regime (Israel) as symbol of suppression and discrimination," Ahmadinejad said in an interview with a Lebanese television network, carried by ISNA.

And it goes on as nauseum.

Will we believe them when there's a mushroom cloud over Tel Aviv?

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Don't Ask, Don't Smell

The title doesn't make sense, but I just had to use it for this story: Marines in Afghanistan Advised Not to Fart in Front of Afghans

Yeah, it's a real story. We've reached the point where parody should sue reality for plagiarism.

I hate to state the obvious, but don't farts offend pretty much everyone?

Is French.......Toast?

Don't you just love that title? But seriously, this is a pretty interesting piece on a development about which I was totally unaware. The piece is about the decline in usage of the French language, and the corresponding rise in the usage of English.

My suspicion is that English has a certain universality due to it's bastardization; many English words and phrases are derived from other languages. English is truly a living language. One the other hand, the French have jealously protected the "purity" of their language, even to the point of forbidding the absorption of foreign words.

But that's just my take.


It's been indisputable for some time that English is becoming the ‘universal language’. As the number of living languages has steadily decreased, the use of English has expanded on every continent. And though English has not — despite predictions — crushed all other languages (German, Russian, and Spanish, to cite the prime examples, all remain strong), one language does seem to be undergoing the predicted cataclysmic collapse. English may not yet have won the globe, but French has definitely lost it.

The reasons for the decline of French are many, including geography. Francophone regions are spread out: think of France, Vietnam, Quebec, and Guadeloupe, to start. Many of these regions are without direct connections to other French-speaking countries. The result is that many of the people choose to abandon French for more useful languages within the region. In contrast, German, Russian and Spanish speakers are based in numerous adjacent countries, each supporting the others.

French has been most visibly hurt in the last few decades in Africa. In North Africa, French has had to compete with Arabic, a language which Arabs are now clinging to as proudly as the French have traditionally clung to French. South of the Sahara, countries which formerly had large French-speaking populations are making the switch to English due to its relevance in Southern Africa, as well as internationally.

Do read the whole thing, as they say.

The French have been so nasty about the sanctity of their culture, and their language, that it's hard to lament this news. On the other hand, we shouldn't be as nasty as they, should we? Color me magnanimous on this one.

Where Will Young People and Liberals Go for Opinions?

Is Late Night TV Going the Way of the Dodo Bird?

Johnny Carson was once America’s unrivaled king of late night television. But in 2011, not only is there a question as to who has assumed his throne, but some wonder whether with TiVo, cable television, and the Internet, the title even exists.

“The concept of the 'Late Night King' is over. There are too many players spreading the viewership even thinner,” Tim Young, comedian and Chair of the Young Members Committee of the National Press Club, told FOX411’s Pop Tarts column. “After Carson, it was a toss-up between Leno and Letterman. Their writing never really changed with time, and the late night slots got stale.”

Ratings for Jay Leno's "Tonight Show" sharply declined last year in the wake of the Conan timeslot scandal. By October 2010, Nielsen viewership statistics showed Leno losing 21 percent of overall audience compared with 2008, and 25 percent of his viewers in the advertiser-friendly 18 to 49 bracket. At one point, David Letterman’s rival "Late Show" beat Leno in the ratings for the first time in years. And even Comedy Central's low budget "The Daily Show" is now neck-and-neck with Leno in the key 18 to 49 demographic. For 2011's second quarter, Comedy Central claims Stewart's show drew 1.295 million compared to a “Tonight Show'’ total of 1.292 million.

Oh well, I guess they'll always have Jon Stewart.

More Tehran than Yorktown

Get a grip, folks, or you may find yourself a sad puddle of disappointment. It's highly possible, some say probable, that Libya will turn out to be far different than the nascent democratic utopia that's being sold.

Am I the only who smells a very bad odor emanating from libya? Am I the only one who hears these happy stories of liberation and feels there is something not quite right about the narrative, and the universality thereof?

Maybe not.

Steve Harrigan, live from Tripoli, on Fox, is my hero – he actually told the truth about the rebels and threw cold water on the swooning Shep Smith. When asked about the “transitional government” in Libya, he said:

“I’m extremely pessimistic about their ability to rule, I think they’re in way over their head. I think they’ve proven themselves inept in managing the military, they’ve done a lot of infighting and already proved themselves to be liars to the media, so I think it’s going to be very bad”

Oops. Shep immediately moved to the next story.

I wish these people all of the best, but I've seen this movie before. We were told that the Shah of Iran was an enemy of "the people" and the Ayatollah would, at least, be a step in the right direction...until his minions took over the U.S. Embassy. Then we figured it out, finally. Yes, I know that Libya is a different situation. Iran's revolutionaries were religious in nature, Libya's are not. What concerns me, however, is that the Iranian revolution gave birth to the very brand of Islamic fascism that could very well fill the vacuum that is now exists in Libya.

Pessimistic? Maybe, but there is every reason for pessimism when dealing with Islamic states. Many were agog over the recent Egyptian revolution and that country's situation is tenuous, at best. New hostilities have erupted across the Egyptian-Israeli border which indicates that a new attitude may exist in Cairo regarding relations with Israel. They're the only Arab country with a peace treaty with Israel - for the moment.

This Libyan revolution may well be more Tehran than Yorktown; to expect otherwise is unrealistic. I'm expecting for this thing to end very badly, even while hoping that I'll be wrong.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

You Would Think I Would Have Notced an Apocalypse.....

An Obama apologist on Fox just said that he inherited “post-apocalyptic America”.

When you begin at that level of hyperbole, it makes you wonder where this discussion will be a year from now, doesn't it?

Too Much Information, Richard

Virgin tycoon Richard Branson in naked encounter with a cactus after fire

BILLIONAIRE Sir Richard Branson had a naked encounter with a cactus bush as he raced towards the early-morning fire that ravaged his private island retreat, he wrote on his blog today

Now, there's a mental image I could have lived without.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

The Neighbor From Hell

So, you think you have a problem neighbor?  Count your blessings.

What attracted me to this story was the headline. They don't get much better than this!

New Port Richey, Florida - Residents of a Pasco County neighborhood say they're living in fear and frustration because of a violent neighbor who they feel has a drinking problem.

They say 52-year-old Dale McDaniel has chased neighbors down with a chainsaw and even assaulted a disabled man confined to a wheelchair by slapping him in the face with a fish.

"He's a scary person, especially when he gets violent," said neighbor Victoria Breitfeller. "He's grabbed me by the throat in the past. That's not something you forget."

Neighbors say not only does McDaniel have an overgrown, trash-filled yard, but he can often be seen urinating in it. He's also known to shout profanities at those who walk past his house.

McDaniel admits he's been arrested 34 times in Pasco County. Deputies were called out to his home Thursday after receiving more complaints from neighbors.

"They've had problems with me for years and I ain't worried about it," said McDaniel Friday afternoon. "I'm not a menace. They just don't know how to deal with me."

But many neighbors are convinced McDaniel has a severe drinking problem. Some of them are working to get restraining orders against their neighbor, convinced he is a danger.

You Say You Want a Revolution? Well, You Know........

Revolutions are tricky things. On one hand, they can give you places like the United States, and on the other hand, they can give you states like Cuba and Iran. The latter two were hailed by liberals in this country as positive developments – the deposing of evil dictators, and all. (Castro even appeared on the Ed Sullivan show where he was wished “good luck” by Ed, himself.)

Now, the left is positively agog over the events in Libya. Color me skeptical.

Nature abhors a vacuum. On the other hand, radical groups absolutely adore them and, in recent times, have used them to advance their cause farther than they could have ever hoped, otherwise. I sincerely hope I'm wrong, but libya's smelling like another Iran.

You know, there are those who "never let a good crisis go to waste".

Monday, August 22, 2011

The Wisdom of Youth?

I heard a guy on Fox singing the praises of the Libyan revolution saying that it’s going to be different because they’re “young people” and they’re social media savvy. Yeah, right. The thugs in London were young, social media savvy little monsters too, weren’t they? As for they being young; the Iranian revolution was spearheaded by young people – the American embassy was taken over by college students.

This constant reliance on he wisdom of young people has always mystified me. I can’t speak for anyone else, but I’ve become more wise with age. When I was young, I did some pretty stupid crap and I see some pretty stupid crap being done now by young people all over the world.

Please spare me this fascination with the wisdom of youth.

No Positive Societal Harbingers in Chicago

Man Threw Molotov Cocktail into Crowd: Report

No, not exactly a car, or suicide bombing, but also not something one would expect within the borders of the U.S. One can envision a version of the London riots in this country and that's deeply troubling, to say the least.

I heard a blurb on Fox that stated that one in ten retailers had experienced "flash mob" looting and an even larger percentage had experienced organized criminal action, utilizing "social media".

No, I don't want restrictions on our free speech paradise, but at some level, we must understand that rights have responsibilities. As an advanced civilization, we must be cognizant of the fact that it can all be lost in a generation. Technology won't stop a civilizational devolution; if current events tell us anything, they tell us that our technology can actually hasten our decline.

We take a great deal for granted, particularly in these United States; generations of prosperity and relative calm will have that deleterious effect. I oft wonder how we Americans would deal with major social upheaval. Barbarity is always at our gates; civilization is fragile. Events such as these should be instructional, they should be seen as a microcosm of the dark possibilities of chaos. After all, we're not immune.

The Libyan Devil You Know........

Well, Qaddafi appears to be on the run and Tripoli is in the hands of the rebels. Sorry, I'm not joining the rejoicers. Fox just said that the new government represents "Arab nationalists, Islamists, and businessmen".

Does anyone see this as all that positive? I remember when the Shah of Iran was considered the devil incarnate and the Ayatollah as some sort of "positive change". Yeah, that didn't work out so well, did it? Revolutions are tricky; their results can vary as much as the United States varies from Cuba. I wish Libya luck, even as I have a very, very bad feeling that all is not as it seems.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

A Sunday Reflection

It’s a damned shame when you have to pray that your leaders are dangerously, box-of-rocks clueless and not actively, and knowingly, undermining our country. Alas, that’s precisely where we are.

Biden Does the Kowtow in China

Biden going to China, selling the US like a used car is humiliating.

We really need another "Morning in America" campaign in '12. Our national depression is as much emotional as it is financial and we'll not remedy the latter until we remedy the former. The specter of our VP groveling to the Chinese is so repulsive that we should all recoil in horror; it should be our " bottom of the barrel" moment.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Breathtaking Arrogance

NEW GM says they're not responsible for cars manufactured by OLD GM

I can't see how they'll be allowed to get away with this, but "New" GM's callous position in this matter should be duly noted by the American people, the ones who bailed their sorry asses out in the first place. If you want an American car, buy a Ford.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Off to the State Fair!

We’re going to the State Fair for the first time in decades. Why, you ask? First, I like to see the type of yahoo that actually attends the State Fair and, secondly, I like to provide another subject for others who like to do the same thing.

I guess I could have found better ways to spend the afternoon; now I remember why I haven't been to a State Fair in recent memory. On the other hand, there were a lot of people there who seemed to be enjoying themselves, and it was certainly different from my usual activities, but I doubt if I'll return any time soon...or maybe I will.

I do think it's a good cultural education for city folk like me to attend these events. Those FFA and 4H kids make one positively optimistic about the future, and there's a quality to the people who come in from "out in the state" that's refreshing. In the end, I think we city folk benefit more from the encounter than do the country folk.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Really, Does The Man TRY to Look Like a Dork?

I like to avoid cheap shots and keep this about policy, but I'm actually humiliated for him.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

We've Got Mail!

I received a rather weird reply From "peace" to my A
Representation of Modern Islam
post, written back in January, that I simply had to share:


Take it for what it's worth. I'm not going to spend part of my Saturday dissecting a disjointed missive from an individual who communicates in uppercase.

I'll give "peace" credit for one thing; he didn't threaten me, so he's living up to his moniker.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

British Riots as "A Clockwork Orange"?

A thought provoking opinion piece from the Financial Times:

Britain burns the colour of ‘A Clockwork Orange’

The speed of the disintegration said everything. It took less than 48 hours for London to descend from self-styled capital of the world into a circuit of burning dystopian hells. The speed of BlackBerry messaging; the speed of kids on BMXs; the speed of Molotovs and petrol. Never mind the police, even the media couldn’t keep up.

In a country that takes order for granted, the speed meant a free-fall back to fundamentals, not just in an obvious Hobbesian sense, but in a way that made events feel more real. If you wanted to know if your neighbourhood was next, there was no point watching the riots on television, it was quicker to listen out for breaking glass and burglar alarms; sirens if you were lucky. There wasn’t much time for disbelief.

Crucially, life was more real for the looters. That much was clear to anyone on a sofa at home, switching on their flatscreen TV to watch footage of people stealing flatscreen TVs. And as that footage was beamed around the world, the images had their own kind of psychic velocity: a short-cut to viewers’ unconsciousness provided by Britain’s rich tradition of fictional visions of dystopia, from George Orwell’s 1984 to Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World, William Golding’s Lord of the Flies and of course anything by JG Ballard.

But following a week in which buildings and communities burnt the colour of A Clockwork Orange, this year’s prize for late literary prophet clearly belongs to author Anthony Burgess. With its depiction of a lawless Britain, where the police command neither confidence nor deference and residents live in fear of feral youth empowered by their own vernacular, the parallels in Burgess’s novel are instructive.

While the speed of this week’s events gave Britain’s urban descent the feel of inevitability, commentators grappled with contradictory pop-socioeconomic theories over its origins. The shooting of a black man by the police sparked the original protest, but it morphed into something that had little to do with multicultural meltdown. When the looters were finally unmasked, their social diversity made it even more difficult to decipher motivations. The only certainty was that politicians would credit the perpetrators with whatever agenda most conveniently suited their own ideological programmes – from the left’s concerns about an economic underclass, to the right’s focus on plain and simple criminality.

In A Clockwork Orange, by contrast, Burgess captures his delinquent protagonists’ complete lack of political motivation, but without dismissing their actions as simple opportunism. Numbed by the dullness of their existence, Alex and his gang of “droogs” revel in demonic violence to stave off the demon of boredom. The only way for them to feel alive is to be literally “alive and kicking”. For Burgess there is nothing paradoxical about an apathetic rampage.

Likewise, many rioters in London and other cities were laughing as they looted. The speed of the destruction was partly a function, then, of their sheer exuberance – the opposite of stereotypical listlessness more commonly known as “chillaxing”. Like football hooliganism, the violence was recreational – a day out in a Nietzschean theme park. This was a key difference between this week and previous flashpoints in Britain’s potted history of public disorder.

Another much-discussed difference was the role of consumerism. In place of the traditionally anti-capitalist stance of previous youth counter-cultures came reports of rioters in low-end fashion retailers, engaged in the new practice of “trying before you loot”. This form of extreme consumerism meant that, by the end of the week, the biggest bogeyman was our culture of rampant materialism and instant gratification. In a consumer society, identities are constructed from owning things. But the widespread sense of self-entitlement revealed by the riots also betrays a broader fetishism of objects. Some of Britain’s urban centres are so atomised that it is now easier to connect with things than with people. Likewise, digitally reduced attention spans have also contributed to a culture of superficial “bling”.

Despite being published in 1962, A Clockwork Orange is uncannily critical of these trends. Unlike today’s youth, Alex has no love of bourgeois comforts. Perhaps more revealingly, some critics suggest his ultra-violent campaign is an elaborate form of self-harm. He knows his actions will have consequences and is subconsciously seeking castigation. Certainly his parents won’t rein him in.

Even if this does not apply to this week’s looters – who appeared to believe that they could not and would not be punished – the argument still leaves us with a parallel. As with the disaffected youth who set the suburbs of Paris alight in 2005, the first buildings and cars to burn in London were not in the resented districts of the rich, but those in the perpetrators’ own communities. So not only was there no discernible political agenda to improve their lot (save for a few fleeting material possessions), the rioters were actually destroying their own. David Cameron, the prime minister, acknowledged as much when he warned them that they were wrecking their own lives.

Self-destruction is more dystopian even than nihilism. Not only does it imply hopelessness, it suggests this week’s rioters are cut off not just from society, but also from themselves. In A Clockwork Orange, Burgess illustrates this by naming one of Alex’s victims “Alexander”. The idea is taken further in the film Taxi Driver, when the protagonist Travis Bickle utters the immortal “Are you talkin’ to me?” monologue while pointing his gun at his own reflection in the mirror.

As in fiction, so in reality: just because the violence across Britain’s streets seemed to have no meaningful target, it doesn’t follow that it wasn’t directed at anything.

Anyone who is familiar with Burgess' novel and Kubrick's later film adaptation can see the eerie similarity.

Monday, August 08, 2011

A Little Economic Perspective, Please?

I realize that terms like “recession” are technical in nature and are, thus, quantifiable. In practical terms, however, not only did the recession never end, the economy has worsened for the American People ever since Obama took office. Some may wish to cloak themselves in statistics while claiming that the economy has improved, but we all know differently.

Bottom line, in terms of economics, would I like to go back to the summer of ’08? Hell yeah. I’m sure I’m not alone.

Where's the reset button when you need it?

Friday, August 05, 2011

What is Vogue Magazine Thinking?

This is so wrong, on so many levels, that writing a long post would be to belabor the least it's obvious to those of us that still retain a scintilla of decency and decorum.

The point is that the sexualization of children is well on it's way and this is merely an example. In Vogue's pursuit of the avant garde, they have clearly crossed the line of good taste and turned "edgy" into something cringe-worthy.

Thursday, August 04, 2011

No Good News Here

US borrowing tops 100% of GDP: Treasury

We can't say that we didn't see this one coming. We can argue all we want about different presidents that have raised the debt ceiling and how many times that they did so, but the fact is that debt as a percentage of GDP has not been this high since the post World War II years. That's pretty staggering. That's what you might call a "grim milestone".

There are those who will tell you that this is nothing to worry about and doing so is tantamount to "fear mongering". It is worth worrying about, and it's not fear mongering.

In my view, the problem isn't that we're here; it's that there's no clear way out. The economy is growing at an anemic rate, so we're not going to grow our way out any time soon. The vaunted "debt deal" really does little in the long term, especially when the administration's answer to everything is to spend more.

Will it get worse? Likely.

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Headline of the Morning

Quadriplegic man dies in Mont. skydiving accident

Yeah, there's more to this tragic story; the guy's chute didn't open, but one has to assume that his condition as a quadriplegic at least contributed to this incident (there's an emergency chute, right?)

"Living life to the fullest" does have it's downside.