Tuesday, August 3, 2010
Thursday, May 27, 2010
The real story is that the USDOJ has for months been exerting pressure on the Jamaican prime minister to arrest and extradite a Jamaican "drug lord" wanted in New York on drugs and weapons charges. The prime minister, finally bowing to this pressure, went into his stronghold in a Kingston slum with guns blazing. Results were predictable: at least 60 killed so far, most of which appear to be innocent bystanders.
"The violence shows no signs of abating and has spread to adjoining neighborhoods." The linked article, of course, contains no word of criticism or analysis regarding the wisdom of provoking a massive gun battle in the streets of a densely populated neighborhood for the purpose of (slightly) inhibiting the supply of cocaine and marijuana to the United States, where, needless to say, there is a rather high demand for this product.
Jamaica, of course, does not appear to have much of a drug problem, per se, except insofar as its neighboring country, a wealthy and powerful global hegemon (that would be us), is apparently rather insistently forcing its own "drug problem" onto Jamaica (and into its streets, with maximum deadly violence, accompanied by the inevitable social and economic disruption).
A policy with these results is clearly sociopathic, and begins to approach my own personal definition of "evil".
Tuesday, May 25, 2010
Any doubt that this will happen sooner or later? Why not just skip the half-measures and deploy B-52s dropping cluster bombs? Or better yet, just salt the entire border with anti-personnel mines. But I guess that might be a bridge too far for our Peace Prize Winner -- at least until the crazies scream loud enough so that not doing it becomes a "political liability" or some such.
President Barack Obama is ordering up to 1,200 additional National Guard troops to the border area and requesting an additional $500 million from Congress to slow the flow of migrants.
In addition to the troops, the funding will be used to increase Justice Department and Department of Homeland Security activities at the border with Mexico “to include increased agents, investigators, and prosecutors, as part of a multi-layered effort to target illicit networks trafficking in people, drugs, illegal weapons, and money,” an administration official said Tuesday.
Sunday, May 23, 2010
Two points here: (1) You're going to find out "what worked"? That will be a very short list indeed. (2) The "oversight of the oil and gas industry", if there is such a thing, is in a state of breaking down, right now, as we speak, with every passing moment. Whatever BP is doing to ameliorate the situation -- and I assume they are doing quite a lot (out of self interest, of course, not out of any kind of concern about the damage itself) -- they are expending even more of their resources in an effort to obfuscate the true extent of the disaster and to protect themselves against the resulting damage to themselves.
Thursday, May 20, 2010
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A Senate committee on Thursday approved another $33.5 billion for the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq this year, although some members said they did so reluctantly.
Chairman Daniel Inouye said he hoped the Senate would act on the legislation by the end of May. The money comes on top of about $130 billion that Congress already approved for the Afghanistan and Iraq wars through September 30 of this year.
Armstrong implicated in cheating scandal
Disgraced fellow cyclist alleges Armstrong cheated death through the use of scientifically advanced techniques such as drug injections, irradiation of body parts, blood transfusions, other cutting edge medical technology.
Armstrong denies charges; says: "I beat cancer through hard work and determination alone."
Monday, May 17, 2010
Greatest episode of 24 ever? The beady shit-scared Nixon Face of President Charles Logan as Jack Bauer dramatically closes in.
Ok, maybe not the greatest episode ever. But definitely the best 24 scene ever. (The one in the auto-tunnel (obviously).)
By the way: Blog Note: I'm thinking I'm going to post some stuff here from time to time. Probably not any long form commentary, just links and some snark, on occasion.
Wednesday, December 30, 2009
Really? Because he banished an entitled, malcontented slacker to a dark room for a couple of hours? How fucking stupid. He is simply the best football coach the school has ever had -- or ever will have.
Bobby Knight did for the Texas Tech basketball program maybe a tenth of what Leach has done for its football program. And yet Knight was allowed to get away with all manner of chicanery while there.
And remember, this is the school that hired a professor with a track record of perjuring himself to the U.S. Congress, working behind the scenes to make torture a pillar of official U.S. policy, and generally being a toadie in the service of egregious violations of the United States Constitution.
Not exactly an institution bound to high standards, in other words. What a fucking joke. I wish only abject FAIL on this school forevermore.
Tuesday, November 10, 2009
(1) bet a certain amount X on a 50/50 proposition (red/black, odd/even);
(2) if you win, pocket your winnings and go back to step (1);
(3) if you lose, bet amount X again;
(4) if you win, you're back even and can go back to step (1);
(5) if you lose, bet amount 2X;
(6) if you win, you're back at even and can go back to step (1);
(7) if you lose, bet amount 4X;
(8) etc. keep doubling your bet each time you lose.
This works reasonably well... for a while. But of course if you do it enough you'll eventually bust out (lose your entire bankroll) or run up against the table limit.
But the odds are pretty decent. Say your starting bankroll is $1,600. Your bets would be $100, $100, $200, $400, $800, so you could lose a 50/50 bet 5 straight times before you busted out. I'm too lazy to figure out the exact probability, but this is a relatively rare occurence, and in all likelihood, before it happens, you will have doubled your original bankroll, in which case the next time you'll have to lose an even-more-unlikely 6 straight times before busting out. But my suggestion is that, upon doubling your bankroll, you grab your chips and head off to get a double vodka at the bar (you'll need it -- this type of gambling is tough on the nerves!).
2. Played softball. Our team is awful. I play third base. I'm probably one of the best fielders on the team, even though I tend to make a sub-par amount of throwing errors (I'm old, and my arm tends to start hurting on about the 4th throw during warm-ups). I'm a poor hitter. I tend to hit the ball hard, but 8 times out of ten it's a fly-out. Hitting a line drive on a pitch that's coming in at a downward angle is harder than it looks. Of course, when batting against our team, a fly ball has about a 75% chance of being a multi-base error instead of a fly-out. So it goes.
3. Went and saw U2 at Jerry Jones' Death Star. The show was awesome, I'm told. Our seats, unfortunately, were terrible. Our view was blocked by a leg of the set's giant spider thing. The seats were also approximately 1/4 mile above the floor. And the acoustics at that altitude, inside the giant reverberating dome, were amazingly bad. We could barely tell what song was being performed. But on the whole, it was quite a scene. The Death Star is a gaudy, monstrous abomination, unparalleled in its enormity (yes, enormity) among such venues. In other words: Great!
4. Fought the law and won. A few months ago I received a citation for "Obstruction of a Fire Lane". This occurred during a night out at a semi-local bar. The parking lot was filled beyond capacity when we arrived, but luckily we found a single parking space around the back. There were cars parked solid on either side of the space. When we returned after leaving the bar, we saw a ticket under the windshield wiper. Sure enough, we had parked in a fire lane, as had approximately 3 dozen other vehicles. I wasn't keen on paying $250 behind this bullshit, so I made the 55 minute drive down to the pissant suburban court two weeks later to plead not guilty (they don't allow you to plead not guilty by mail, though of course you are more than welcome to send them a check for your fine). On the way, I stopped by the bar and took this photo of the place we parked:
Notice that this is the visibility of the fire lane marking during broad daylight. When we parked of course it was pitch black back behind the building. So, after killing the greater part of an afternoon listening to teenagers and immigrants and teen-aged immigrants mindlessly waiving their rights to counsel and pleading guilty and asking for extensions to pay fines levied against them for a whole bunch of really trumped up sounding bullshit charges (ignorance of the system is apparently a huge (and depressing) factor in filling municipal coffers these days), I was called before the judge, pled guilty, and was assigned what they referred to as a "trial date". I found out later that this was not, in fact, a trial date (I never actually believed it was), but rather my one and only opportunity to speak with the prosecutor assigned to my case. So I was then forced to spend another whole afternoon driving down to this podunk court, sitting and watching downtrodden folks (this time, a few of them were actually represented by counsel), be called one by one into a small room to discuss their cases. I went armed with several photographs and a couple of Google Maps, but the nice young attractive prosecutor wasn't interested in my evidence, but rather distractedly cut off my story and explained, in a very rote fashion as if this was the dozenth or so time she had said it, how they had discussed this matter with the fire marshal and the property owners and believed that they had, now, erected, at this particular location, some very obvious indicators of the "No Parking" nature of these specific areas of the parking surface, and that therefore, to the best of her actual knowledge, this type of "mishap" or "misunderstanding" was not at all likely to ever occur again. When I began to relate findings from my most recent trip to this location, which had occurred only within the last few hours, and to impart to her my first-hand observation that, in fact, the condition of the fire lane was exactly as it had been several weeks ago, if not worse, she sort of half-rose out of her seat and immediately interrupted me to say that these observations were not at all relevant to my case, and that the bottom line of the whole situation was that the charges against me were being dismissed and that I was therefore free to go.
And so while there are probably a lot of implications of this story worth delving into, my main takeaway was to wonder, out of all the dozens of people ticketed that night at the bar, and other nights at the bar -- out of all the hundreds of people likely to have fallen prey this municipal con game, this kafkaesque government racket -- how many of those people simply bit the bullet and wrote out a check to the City of Watauga, TX, in the amount of $250, and mailed it in?
Friday, September 11, 2009
Turing (also a character in one of my favorite books) was the inventor of computer science and played a crucial role in breaking the Nazi Enigma codes during WWII. A genius and a war hero. England repaid Turing by prosecuting him for homosexuality, subjecting him to "chemical castration", and driving him to suicide.
As awful as this may seem, here in America, in these the Aughts, the 21st fucking century, there are still plenty of folks who would not hesitate to advocate for subjecting gays to this kind of treatment if they thought they could get away with it. And even Obama -- Hero and Saint of the Left -- continues, to this very day, to kick homosexuals out of this country's armed forces, and apparently will continue to do so for the foreseeable future.
Anyway. Gordon Brown:
It is thanks to men and women who were totally committed to fighting fascism, people like Alan Turing, that the horrors of the Holocaust and of total war are part of Europe's history and not Europe's present. So on behalf of the British government, and all those who live freely thanks to Alan's work, I am very proud to say: we're sorry. You deserved so much better.
Thursday, August 27, 2009
Similarly, when the federal government pours billions worth of military resources into a podunk South American country ostensibly for purposes of assisting "drug interdiction efforts", it isn't about drugs. It is about projecting American military power into that country and intimidating its neighbors. In this case, the federal government is completing an agreement to base troops and military aircraft in Colombia "in a battle alongside Colombian forces against Marxist guerrillas and drug traffickers".
First, I don't know exactly who these "Marxist guerrillas" are supposed to be, or whether they actually exist outside the imaginations of politicians and journalists, but assuming there are such people, this appears to signal U.S. intervention in a Colombian civil war. And all I have to say to that is: WTF?
But back to the point: I do actually know who is referred to by the term "drug traffickers". These are farmers and the middlemen who transport their crops to market. Since 2000, the federal government has spent $6 billion -- in Colombia alone -- to inundate their farmland with herbicides and to shoot at them from helicopters. The result? Colombia's share of the cocaine production market has fallen from 74% to 54%. Great. Of course, the overall production of cocaine in Latin America has risen by 16% over roughly the same time period. Oops.
It might surprise many of the folks in the various sectors of our Anti-Drug Industrial Complex here in the U.S.A., but South America is a big fucking place. It has lots and lots of remote areas, many many many square miles of which are perfectly suited for growing coca. South America is furthermore full of many thousands and millions of poor people, many of which are suited for becoming (relatively) wealthy coca farmers. Quite simply: if, tomorrow, you withdrew all American forces from Afghanistan, Iraq, Germany, South Korea, and all the other dozens of countries in which our far-flung military might be stationed on any given day of the week, and then you instituted a draft and conscripted about a million more soldiers, and then transported the entire sum of all American soldiers and military hardware down to South American and ordered them to "assist in drug interdiction efforts", you would still barely make the smallest dent in the amount of cocaine available on the streets of the United States. You would make a small dent, that is, for just as long as it took for some enterprising Africans to learn how to farm coca.
But notice I said it might surprise many of the folks in the anti-drug industry. Most of them, up to and including our Drug Warrior In Chief, President Obama, know this quite well. Why, then, would they embark on the pointless project outlined above (i.e., stationing soldiers and military aircraft in Colombia for purposes of drug interdiction)? Because it's not about the drugs. As in the hundreds or thousands of neighborhood drug raids conducted each day across America, drugs are merely the excuse.
And perhaps if Hugo Chavez wasn't such a loon, and hadn't become known as the Leftist Kook Who Cries Wolf, someone might pay attention when he says he "sees the base plan as U.S. 'imperialist' aggression".