Monday, June 10, 2013

Dear NSA: Nothing to See Here

One of my very closest friends asked me to post my views on PRISM, the phone records sweep, Edward Snowden, and our modern surveillance state. I should be feeling more outrage, as the Fourth Amendment is now quite obviously dead and gone. Actually, it was killed with the passage of the Patriot Act but we now have official confirmation of the death. "American Freedom" was a grand experiment, but it's no longer practical due to "terrorism", you know. "Civil Liberties" are fine, as long as they remain within the bounds of what is considered "civil", and it's all helping to keep you "safe" from the boogeymen.
Actually, this all should come as no surprise to anyone who's been paying attention. Corporate America figured out long ago that data mining is an effective tool in manipulating the masses in the digital age. The government is now a wholly owned subsidy of Corporate America, which never really respected privacy anyway, so any and all information has now been made accessible (note: Snowden worked for a corporation as a contractor to the government). Nothing to see here, citizen; just keep consuming.
The only thing that is being revealed is that the surveillance is no longer hidden. Anybody with any sense knew that there was no privacy on the internet (duh), but we liked to think that our phone calls, texts, and emails were private. And in reality, almost all of them are really boring. We're not criminals, right? So, 'nothing to hide', right? Well, that "sex chat" with the mistress or the pic of the pubes sent to a lover might be a bit embarrassing...imagine the poor, bored NSA watcher sifting through millions of messages. I'm guessing that the sexy communications are the only thing that keeps them from sleeping on the job. After a few billion messages, I doubt they'd notice a terrorist communique unless it included a crotch shot. Which is why computers are doing the actual monitoring, sifting for "keywords" and such. Good luck with that when it comes to text messages, which are making "words" a thing of the past. And any attempt to make sense of Twitter is doomed to failure.
"Slavery" was ended in America, but over time in the quest for cheap, controllable labor the rich elite developed a subtle system of "wage slavery" to harness the labor of the masses. When you own the media, the market, and the government, you can sell "freedom" to the populace in the form of "consumer choice" at a massive profit. Keep the public poor and uninformed, but afford them enough of the modern version of bread and circuses to keep them pacified.
And Corporate America has already shown that they know how to handle dissent. Remember the "Occupy" movement? Remember how the media portrayed it? "Look at the 'occupy' freaks with their drum circles!" for a 45 second spot, then take the microphone away. Mock, marginalize, and ignore; the 'public' wasn't interested anyway. "American Idol" (or whatever show is popular on TV now; I don't pay attention anymore) will keep everyone distracted from their poverty. A few corporations did cash in by selling "occupy" t-shirts, obviously. Bradley Manning? The main thing the media will tell you about him is that he's gay, and then move on to a story about a missing white woman or a murder trial full of soap opera sexiness. Mock, marginalize, and ignore. While Edward Snowden (and/or Glenn Greenwald) may be prosecuted, it is far more likely that some embarrassing fact from the past will be exposed, and then the media focus will move on to another story. Within a couple of months, very few will remember their names.
Despite all the dystopian fiction ever written, this is our modern dystopia. Anything you say can and will be used by your corporate overlords to sell you the velvet chains that bind you. The one percent have built a system which keeps them virtually invulnerable, and we masses of drones will be kept powerless to change it. The revolution will be mocked, marginalized, and ignored, and the general populace will be too distracted to notice.
Yeah, I should feel outrage. But, and perhaps this is just a symptom of my depression, I only feel a cynical resignation to a reality beyond my control. It's not like I was using that "freedom", anyway.

Saturday, April 20, 2013


Over the past week the news has been dominated by things blowing up. In Boston, explosions at the Marathon killed three. In Texas a fertilizer plant exploded, killing at least twelve (maybe more). Both are tragedies.
America will react quite differently to the two explosions. One is terrorism, so the government will spend billions in hope of preventing such a thing from happening again. The other is called an "industrial accident", and will most likely have absolutely no impact on the federal budget. Can't be spending money on that evil 'government regulation' that 'kills jobs' when we have a deficit.
As a society, we have odd priorities. Terrorism is hard to predict, and therefore hard to prevent. Whereas the risks involved in producing fertilizer are quite well known. Actually, the regulations already exist. But due to a lack of funding, there's almost no enforcement. The plant in West, Texas, was last inspected in 1985, and violations lead to a fine of $300. No word on if they fixed any of the problems. This explosion could have, and should have, been prevented.
Yeah, public safety funding could be spent a lot more effectively.
Added: Go read  More Texas-Sized Hyprocrisy, Disaster Edition over at Zandar Versus The Stupid . It's worse than I made it sound.

Monday, April 1, 2013


I'm a fan of a good April Fool's Day prank, so here's the best one I've read this year:
1: grab some nuts and bolts (preferably large ones).
2: go to an amusement park and ride a roller coaster.
3: as the ride starts, hand the nuts and bolts to the person seated in front of you, saying "hey, these just fell out of your seat!".
4: enjoy their expression for the rest of the ride.
Cruel, but amusing.

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Happy Opening Day

(Easter Bunny ran into trouble this year. Thanks, Fearguth.)
'Tis my second favorite holiday - Opening Day of baseball season. Go Giants!
Oh, and Happy Easter to those who celebrate.

Monday, February 25, 2013

When Drugs in Sports Go Too Far

I can only say that the use of 'performance enhancing drugs' in sports must be much more widespread than I had ever suspected. Of course, the term "sports" has expanded beyond my comprehension. For example, we now have drug testing for "competitive ice fishing":
WAUSAU, Wis. — The ice fishermen spent a week on the frozen lake, and on the last day, after emptying perch and bluegill from their buckets and scrubbing bait from their hands, several winners of the World Ice Fishing Championship were ushered into their rooms in the Plaza Hotel.
There, an official from the United States Anti-Doping Agency ordered them to provide urine samples for a surprise test to detect steroids and growth hormones — drugs not normally associated with the quiet solitude of ice fishing. “We do not test for beer, because then everybody would fail,” said Joel McDearmon, chairman of the United States Freshwater Fishing Federation.
(really; read the whole thing.)
I've been ice fishing (once, which is one more time than any sane person really needs) and I assure you that whiskey is by far the drug of choice when engaging in the "sport". While it may not enhance your performance, it will help you accept the fact that you are sitting on ice trying to catch a fish, rather than enjoying the benefit of a civilization that has heat and stores that sell fish. Anyone who "competes" at "ice fishing" as a "sport" is probably on the wrong drugs anyway.

Monday, February 18, 2013

President's Day

Long time readers may know that I usually use President's Day to honor Millard Fillmore (pictured in the post below) for being the only president named "Millard", which is still true. But my sister felt the need to honor William Henry Harrison, our 9th president, who is best known for being the first to die in office about a month after inauguration. With his short tenure, Harrison most likely holds the record for "fewest mistakes while president", which is an honorable record to hold.
So, which President are you honoring today?
(and if anybody says "Nixon" I will kick them in the gonads.)

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

State of my Union

                                        (In honor of Presidents Day, here's Millard)
Watched the SOTU with my sister (whom I'm currently living with; long story) and she says "with all your political opinions, you should start a blog."
Ah, sis, if you only knew.

Friday, February 8, 2013


According to this calendar I've got, today is officially "International Kite Flying Day."
I bet you didn't celebrate it.
But that's OK. Neither did I.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Still Here (Sort Of)

Sorry about the paucity of posts. Life has been rather weird lately, and changes are happening (which is a very vague thing to say, but true). Since I really don't want to tell the whole story, I will instead give you a story of burning cheese:
This is the cheesiest story you'll read all day. And we mean that literally. That's because 27 metric tons of flaming goat cheese burned inside a Norwegian road tunnel, closing nearly two miles of the road for six days.

The Brunost, a Norwegian delicacy, was being shipped in a truck that caught fire. No one was hurt in the incident, which firefighters were finally able to put out on Monday.

As the website Nordic Nibbler explains, Brunost is technically not a traditional cheese. It is made from the whey of goat's milk and can contain up to 30 percent fat. It is described as having a "slightly salty and surprisingly sweet flavour with a hint of goat about it."

The BBC reported that the truck's driver noticed the cheese had caught fire and was forced to abandon the truck about 300 feet from the tunnel's exit. Toxic fumes emanating from the smoldering, brown cheese kept firefighters at bay for several days before they could attempt to extinguish the flames.

Which is much more amusing than what is my current life...

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Scandal Fodder for Wingnuts

Perhaps congress will investigate...

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas

Here's a four dollar christmas tree. It's all I can affor. Be merry!

Friday, December 21, 2012

As The Solstice Arrives

If you're reading this, that most likely proves that another apocalypse has failed to occur. I've lost count of how many apocalypses, raptures, and ends of the world I've survived in my lifetime, but after this many I gave up on worrying about them long ago. Heck, climate change is the thing that's most likely to destroy civilization, but that is a slow process without a dramatic end date. So our society will continue to ignore it.
Any way, it's another Winter Solstice (6:12am, EST), which is always something to celebrate. Days will now start getting longer, and that's a good thing.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Happy "Three Dozen Day"

I do like when we have days with interesting numbers, and today is 12/12/12. Since many cool things come in dozens, today is a triple good day.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Happy Repeal Day!

Happy Repeal Day! On Dec. 5th, 1933 prohibition was repealed. So I suggest that we have a drink to celebrate.