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Archive for September, 2008

September 28th, 2008

Loving The Sinner…(continued)

From Pam’s House Blend

Pizza To Go at the North Carolina 2008 Pride parade.  Well that sure makes me want to start going to church again…



by Bruce | Link | React! (1)

Cross-Cultural Friendships…

Reader Chris left a comment to This Post the other day, about his own experiences making friends of German visitors.  I can relate.  The landscape is full of landmines…but its rewarding.

I made friends, briefly, with a British kid some years back.  We were both working in a custom plastic shop, and he knew a family in the apartment complex I lived in, so we had some points of contact between us.  The kid, Paul, who was so goddamned cute, first told me the joke about how England and America were two nations separated by a common language.  And it’s true.  You really couldn’t assume that even words we both shared in our language meant the same things.  Once, when he cut himself at the shop, and asked for a ‘patch’, all the good old boys at the shop laughed their butts off.  ‘Patch’ is the word they use for what we referred to as a ‘bandage’ over on this side of the Big Pond.  And ‘torch’ for ‘flashlight’.  And so on.  But beyond the meaning of words, there were dozens of little cultural differences all the good old boys could not have cared less about, when they weren’t laughing at them, but which I tried hard to pay attention to, because he was cute, and because he was decent and good-hearted, and I really wanted to be his friend.

You have to work at it.  But it’s worthwhile.  There are landmines and you have to be careful.  Even if you speak the same language.  Especially if.  Where the language barrier exists you kind of know you they’re there.  But even where you’re both speaking the same tongue you have to take care to reach across the fence.  The key is trust.  You have to hold it like a precious thing, and always take the extra step to keep it.  Paul and I lost touch after he went back to England.  But I hope he still thinks of me from time to time.  He opened my eyes a tad to some of the British stereotypes I grew up with.  Swear to God I can’t even watch Dick Van Dyke in Mary Poppins anymore since I knew Paul.  It’s so…embarrassing. 

I so very much want to be the friend to my crush from my high school days that I was too shy to be back then.  I think its coming along.  I hope it is.  Maybe I’ll get a chance to see him later next month.  Maybe not.  But I’ll keep trying.  He means a lot to me.  So I try to learn this and that of his culture and background.  It’s worthwhile, even if we remain mostly apart.  It’s opened my eyes to a bit more of the world, and that’s always a good thing.

I ordered some books on German history and culture from Amazon.  I’m going to read through them when they come.  Even if it doesn’t bring us closer together, it’s having a broadening effect on me.  This poor angry world could use more of that in all of us.  If I could change one thing about the American educational system it would be this: every kid would have to spend a year abroad…somewhere…before graduating.  My countrymen are a bit too insular.  We need to see more of the world first hand while we’re still young.  Maybe we’d be better neighbors if we did.

Actually…I tried mayonnaise on my fries just the other day.  They were…delicious.


by Bruce | Link | React! (1)

No. Just…No…

A friend calls…and during the conversation we discuss our working lives, and how it is good to have a job that engages you completely…thoroughly.  A couple friends of mine are taking the Big Detour off their career paths after years, because they aren’t sure they want to spend the rest of their lives in them.  Some friends have been laid off.  Some don’t know what they are going to do with their lives.

Fine.  But that’s not my issue.  Career isn’t crap.  It isn’t.  Neither is money.  Some time ago I did one of those cute little MySpace surveys…and one of the questions was…

28. Would you rather be rich and smart or young and beautiful?
(sigh) Whatever comes with smart. Stupid is not worth being beautiful for. Or rich either.

Okay…  I have another question.  Would you rather have the job of your dreams and be single, or wash dishes at some cheap dive and have your soulmate.

But it’s not rocket science.  Not at all.  Whatever comes with the soulmate, that’s what I want.  That’s all that matters.  That’s it.   That’s everything.  Everything.   I work on the Hubble Space Telescope project.  I make good money.  I own my own house now…and a Mercedes-Benz.  I get five weeks of paid vacation every year.  I make really good money.  I should be counting my blessings.  I should be relishing the good life fate has given me.  And I am miserable.  I’d trade it all…in a heartbeat…for the minimum wage dishwasher job and the soulmate.  In a heartbeat.   In a heartbeat.  And think myself so goddamned lucky.  So very very goddamned lucky…  But life hasn’t given me that choice.  I don’t think it ever will.

I feel like a failure.  I feel like a leftover part.  My friends…they just don’t understand that.  They think I’m making a big deal over nothing.  Some of them have found their other half.  Others have loved and lost, and loved again, and maybe lost again, and are bored with the whole dating and mating thing.  They think I should be so glad to have a good job, and be making good money, and be able to do whatever I want with my free time…because I’m single…

And it’s all the worse when you begin to realize that your friends are telling you all this, because they figure you’re really not boyfriend material, and so they’re trying to be kind to the love cripple.  Just accept being single Bruce…it’s for the best…  You’re not really all that good looking…and let’s face it…you’re getting old…

I hate my life.  I just…hate it.  Thank you god for Tequila..

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on No. Just…No…

Today’s Weather: Dreary, With Brief Intervals Of Sunshine Followed By Holy Crap Which Way To The Ark??!!

I don’t think I’ve ever seen the sky over Maryland open up like it did just now.  For a moment it felt like a waterfall had perched over Casa del Garrett.  I’ve never heard rain pound my roof like it did just now.  And half the sky is bright with sunshine.

I was laying in bed…my energy levels have been really weak lately…and I heard what I thought was hail smacking down on my aluminum window awnings.  I rolled over and looked out and it wasn’t hail but those big fat raindrops that sometimes portend a sudden tropical downpour.  Lots of them.  And sure enough, what followed was a torrent of rain.  No kidding…my neighborhood street had almost dried out from the past couple days of rain, rain, rain, and in under a minute it was soaked again with a fast moving stream of water rushing toward the Jones Falls creek bed.  Then it stopped. 

The sky to my east is dark as slate.  To my west it’s all sun-shiny.  Everything is soaked again.  My poor front yard is a swamp.  I’d been thinking about a certain someone who lives in Florida when I laid down and then I suddenly get a downpour that reminds me of the weather down there.  I wish I could believe in that omen.  But here’s what my logical analytical brain is telling me: If this is going to be a wet winter, better hope it’s a warm one or I could be digging out of three or four feet of snow every few weeks. 

Every November I make a point to stock my basement supply shelves with things to last me through the winter so I don’t have to be going to the store all the time when the weather’s bad, and especially when it snows, because the people here in Maryland just dogpile on the stores whenever the forecast so much as breaths the word ‘snow’.  I buy my entire November through March supply of non-perisable items and pick through it until winter goes away.  I also make sure I have plenty of things on hand like batteries and over the counter remedies, soaps and cleaners and things for doing ad-hoc repairs.  I’m not a survivalist, I just hate going outside when the streets are all snowed up and iced over, and everyone is dog piling on the stores because ohmygodit’sgoingtosnoweekeekeek…  Winter is what bulk warehouse shopping was made for.

Oh look…the sun is out again…daring me to go for a walk…

by Bruce | Link | React! (1)

The Rise Of The American Gutter

Your gay and lesbian neighbors have been watching this for decades.  Decades. 

Lies, half-truths and contradictions: the significance of McCain blowing off Letterman

The recap: McCain was supposed to stop by Letterman’s show Wednesday. But Dave explained to his audience that McCain "was nice enough to call me on the phone and said that he was racing back to Washington." But part of the way through his late-afternoon taping, Dave learned that Johnny Mac was still a few blocks away in New York — taping an "excloo" with Katie Couric.

Dave’s anger gradually built through the show. He got truly incensed when he showed his audience the internal CBS News feed of McCain getting his makeup dabbed on before his Couric interview. "He doesn’t seem to be racing to the airport, does he?" Letterman said. Then he shouted at the television monitor: "Hey, John, I got a question! You need a ride to the airport?"

Okay…so he blows off a late night talk show host.  Big deal…right?  On the other hand, Mr. Straight Talk Express could have given Letterman a little…you know…straight talk.  Something like, "I’m sorry to have to do this to you Dave, but with this terrible economic crisis developing I can’t really be doing late night comedy shows now.  I’m going to be talking with Couric on CBS news instead…

Straight talk.  Letterman would have accepted that.  He might not have liked it, but he would have accepted it.  But that’s not what he got, and if you think the busting he gave McCain that night was pique you are sadly mistaken. In her novel The Charioteer, Mary Renault wrote that "some events are crucial from their very slightness; because circumstances have used no force on them, they are unequivocally what they are, test-tube reactions of personality."  McCain just flat out lied to him and the casually unnecessary nature of it shocked him. 

You get the feeling that the sight of this…indifference…to telling lies…on the part of so many conservative moralists is starting, finally, to shock a lot of people…

McCain Lies: "I’ve Bought American Literally All My Life"

Yesterday, we learned that not only does McCain own thirteen cars, but that the McCain fleet includes imports, a VW from Germany and a Honda from Japan. (His wife drives a Lexus, but that car is owned by her beer distributorship.)

And now it turns out that earlier this month he lied to Michigan voters about his car purchases, telling them "I’ve bought American literally all my life" during a September 7 interview with Detroit’s WXYZ-TV. Earlier in the interview, he had told the interviewer "Cindy and I own an automobile that’s American-made" which was about best an extremely misleading statement.

McCain Lies About Social Security Privatization

In March, after ThinkProgress caught Sen. Joe Lieberman lying to cover up Sen. John McCain’s support for Social Security privatization, I posted video (with the help of reader Tom M.) from 2004 of McCain, in response to an audience question, explicitly backing Social Security privatization by name.

Q: Will privatizing Social Security be a priority for you going forward?

McCAIN: Without privatization, I don’t see how you can possibly, over time, make sure that young Americans are able to receive Social Security benefits.

Today at a Nashua town hall (his best forum!), McCain himself lied about his position, saying:

I’m not for, quote, privatizing Social Security. I never have been. I never will be.

As Nixon press secretary Ron Ziegler once tersely said, "This is the operative statement.  The others are inoperative."

Your gay and lesbian neighbors have been witnessing this behavior on the part of the kook pews for decades.  Decades.  We’ve watched them grow in power from the backwater gutters to the heights of power.  And they’ve never changed their spots.  What’s happened is that the republican party has been utterly corrupted by them, by their holy war, by their Kulturkampf.  It got them votes.  It won them elections.  But the price was their souls…

Conservative "Christians" Misrepresent Scientist’s Beliefs

Bob Sith, the Southern Baptist Convention’s (SBC’s) National Strategist for Gender Issues, has recently misrepresented the scientific conclusions of Dr. Francis Collins (of the Human Genome Project) in the Baptist Press‘s Did God create Ray Boltz gay?. Here’s how he described Dr. Francis Collins’ conclusions:

…For example, in 2003, the International Human Genome Consortium announced the successful completion of the Human Genome Project, which, among other things, identified each of the approximately 20,000-25,000 genes in human DNA. The press release read: "The human genome is complete and the Human Genome Project is over."

While this accomplishment was widely reported, almost no one reported the words of Dr. Francis Collins, the head of the project. Collins, arguably the nation’s most influential geneticist, said, "Homosexuality is not hardwired. There is no gay gene. We mapped the human genome. We now know there is no genetic cause for homosexuality."

Somehow the major media missed that little tidbit. Collins and others acknowledge that genetics can predispose but not predetermine. This supports other studies that clearly document the possibility of change for people who struggle with unwanted homosexual desire.

Dr. Collins apparently never actually said this; this quote is taken from a OneNewsNow article by Jim Brown — Brown quoted self-identifed former homosexual Greg Quinlan, who appears to have made up the statement whole cloth. Bob Sith apparently quoted the statement verbatim — putting quotation marks around the statement that Jim Brown hadn’t put around the statement — without checking to see if the quote had any veracity. Apparently, it didn’t have any verasity at all.

David Roberts of the Ex-Gay Watch has been following the repeated twisting of Dr. Collins’ words for awhile. As Roberts documented in his post Major Geneticist Francis Collins Responds to NARTH Article, this isn’t the first time Dr. Collins words have been twisted by conservative Christians…

It would hardly be the first time the religious right has built carefully crafted deceptions with the material provided to it by science.  Some weeks ago Jim Burroway debunked a beaut from the Family Research Council , purporting to show that statistics gathered by the CDC on domestic violence proved that same sex relationships were much more violent then heterosexual ones…

The third point the brochure is built on is this:

Intimate partner violence: homosexual and lesbian couples experience by far the highest levels of intimate partner violence compared with married couples as well as cohabiting heterosexual couples. Lesbians, for example, suffer a much higher level of violence than do married women

They base this claim on the U.S. Department of Justice’s National Violence Against Women Survey (PDF: 62 pages/1,475 KB) If you want to see how they construct this particular distortion, I encourage you to download the report yourself and we’ll go through it step by step. Believe me, it’s worth it because this is a classic example.

On page 29, you will find that when you only look at victims with a history of same-sex cohabitation and compare them with those with a history of opposite-sex cohabitation, then it’s true, gays and lesbians experience higher levels of intimate parter violence. But that’s not true for gay and lesbian couples.

To see this, go to the next page. Among women with a history of same-sex partnership:

  • 30.4% were raped, assaulted or stalked by their husband/male partner
  • 11.4% were raped, assaulted or stalked by their wife/female partner.

And among men with a history of same-sex partnership:

  • 10.8% were raped, assaulted, or stalked by their wife/female partner.
  • 15.4% were raped, assaulted, or stalked by their husband/male partner.

So here is what it all means. Many women with a history of same-sex partnership also have a history of opposite-sex partnership. Because of that, they are far more likely to report being raped, assaulted or stalked because it is the men in their lives who are doing the raping, assaulting or stalking, not the women. Same-sex cohabiting women were nearly three times more likely to report being victimized by a male partner than a female partner.

And here is where the statistic gets really interesting: 20.5% of women in opposite sex relationships were raped, assaulted or stalked by their husband or male partner. That compares to 15.4% of men who were raped, assaulted, or stalked by their male partners. In other words, gay men are safer around their same-sex partners than straight women are around their husbands or opposite-sex partner.

For decades now…decades…your gay and lesbian neighbors have watched the moralists of the religious right, in the name of virtue, in the name of fighting amoral secularism, in the name of decency and family values, in the name of the man on the cross who they claim to venerate as their holy savior, lie through their teeth every chance they get, and then lie again, and then lie again, and then lie again, Amen.  We have watched their hatred of ecumenicism, their hatred of secularism, their hatred of the American Dream of liberty and justice for all and especially their vitriolic hatred of gay and lesbian people, eat everything within them that could ever have been good and decent and noble, rot every moral fiber that was ever inside of them, that might once have kept them from looking their neighbor in the face, and lying through their teeth.  All that’s left of them now, are the slogans, and the bellicose religiosity.  And the hate.  If you ever need to know what hate will do to you, to your soul, and why you need to fight it more then any other enemy you will ever face, behold Sarah Palin.  If you ever need to know why you have to look hate in the face directly, unflinchingly, and see it for what it is, and never, Never, grant it any excuse or pity, behold John McCain and the party that is now owned by America’s multitude of Sarah Palins.

These are not moral warriors.  They say they are, but they are not.  They are runts.  Cowards.  Not even rising to the level of gangsters, because a gangster knows what he is, and embraces it with a smirk.  The culture warriors are hollow shells, who discarded virtue and morality long, long ago, at the first touch of shame.  And the last thing on earth they want now is for the rest of us to embrace morality, reach for the higher purpose, be virtue.  Because that would mean we’d have to hold them accountable for all their pathetic lies, all their squalid cheats, all the damage they’ve done to America all these years.

For decades we’ve watched this movement of cheats grow into a political powerhouse, and take the republican party down into its gutter.  And we’ve been speaking out, trying to warn the rest of America what was happening.  But in the end, people really can’t be expected to believe a betrayal of this magnitude without seeing it for themselves. 

"Hey, John, I got a question! You need a ride to the airport?"

Morality.  Values.  The soul of a nation isn’t in its leaders, but in its grassroots.  The soul is in the millions and millions of us who wake up every day and choose whether to cheat our way to tomorrow or try and make the best of it, as best as we can, as best as we can understand what the good is, and how to get ourselves there.  It’s not making the grand gesture for Truth, Justice and the American Way.  It’s not declaring your devotion to God.  It’s flinching away from the easy lie, because for better or worse you still need to look at yourself in the mirror the next day.  It’s not wearing your moral values on your sleeve, or putting a little halo around your head.  It’s keeping a little nugget of pride deep down in your heart, that simply won’t let you cheat a friend or a neighbor, because the trust in their eyes matters to you.

Picture someone for whom cheating a friend is less important then winning an election and you have what the religious right has done to the republican party in a nutshell.  They fought for the soul of the party.  They got it.  Look at what they did with it.  Look at it.  They have said for decades that they are fighting for the soul of America.  Think of what they did to John McCain, the man who wouldn’t leave Vietnam without his brother soldiers, as an example of what they think winning means.

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on The Rise Of The American Gutter

September 27th, 2008

You’re Not A Looser Eddie…

Paul Newman died yesterday…

Fast Eddie: Cause, ya see, twice, Sarah… once at Ames with Minnesota Fats and then again at Arthur’s, in that cheap, crummy pool room, now why’d I do it, Sarah? Why’d I do it? I coulda beat that guy, coulda beat ‘im cold, he never woulda known. But I just hadda show ‘im. Just hadda show those creeps and those punks what the game is like when it’s great, when it’s REALLY great. You know, like anything can be great, anything can be great. I don’t care, BRICKLAYING can be great, if a guy knows. If he knows what he’s doing and why and if he can make it come off. When I’m goin’, I mean, when I’m REALLY goin’ I feel like a… like a jockey must feel. He’s sittin’ on his horse, he’s got all that speed and that power underneath him… he’s comin’ into the stretch, the pressure’s on ‘im, and he KNOWS… just feels… when to let it go and how much. Cause he’s got everything workin’ for ‘im: timing, touch. It’s a great feeling, boy, it’s a real great feeling when you’re right and you KNOW you’re right. It’s like all of a sudden I got oil in my arm. The pool cue’s part of me. You know, it’s uh – pool cue, it’s got nerves in it. It’s a piece of wood, it’s got nerves in it. Feel the roll of those balls, you don’t have to look, you just KNOW. You make shots that nobody’s ever made before. I can play that game the way… NOBODY’S ever played it before.

Sarah Packard: You’re not a loser, Eddie, you’re a winner. Some men never get to feel that way about anything. 

It’s not so much the great actors are all going now…though that’s sad enough.  It’s that good films with good writing take second place to cheap thrills anymore.  When I was a kid, the cheap thrills were the ‘B’ movies.  Now they’re the ‘A’ list productions that get millions spent on them and the flicks with good stories and great characters are the ‘B’ movies.  Sigh.

People remember Newman and Redford in Butch Cassedy and the Sundance Kid.  But for me it’s The Sting.  And what I really liked about The Sting is that it snookered the audience as thoroughly as Newman and Redford did crime boss Doyle Lonnegan.  And they even give you a glimpse of the sting they’re about to play on you.  There’s a scene right before the big finale where Newman’s character is getting dressed up in front of a mirror, and he puts something in his mouth.  A small capsule of something.  I was sitting in the audience and I saw it and I wondered what it was.  Well, I found out.  Swear to god…I was completely taken in.  It was fun.

When asked why he stayed married to the same woman for 50 years, he said "I have steak at home, why go out for a burger."   I really envy folks like him.  You’re a winner Eddie…

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on You’re Not A Looser Eddie…

September 26th, 2008

Adventures In Home Ownership…(continued)

Some of you may be old enough to remember how defrosting the refrigerator was a regular chore.  If you have one of those small office cube refrigerators you might still be doing it.  But near as I can tell these days they’re all the so-called "frost-free" style.  Actually, frost still accumulates, it just gets melted off the freezer coils periodically so it never builds up. 

Casa del Garrett came with a nice frost-free GE fridge.  It’s actually bigger then I need, but I won’t bother getting a smaller one until this one dies.  And it has an ice maker, which I’ve found handy.  But I’ve never lived with a frost-free fridge before, so not having to defrost every now and then has been a new experience.  These frost-free models hide the freezer coils behind a panel at the back of the freezer compartment, and just blow cold air into it via a fan.  So if frost starts building up back there you won’t know it right away.  Let me tell you how I know this.

Earlier in the week I noticed my ice maker had stopped filling the tray below it with ice.  So I pulled it out to examine it, and found a nice web site that explained step-by step how to diagnose a problem with it.  Many of the test required a multi-meter to check resistance across various switches and the motor…and being a geek of course I had one handy.  So I went through all the tests and came up empty.  Everything was working.  The problem was it wasn’t working.

I didn’t want to replace a perfectly good ice maker, but I didn’t want to call out a repairman just for that either.  I figured for the price of a service visit I could just buy a new one.  And ice makers are in the category of things I consider luxury items anyway.  As long as the fridge worked it wasn’t an emergency matter.  So I left the ice machine out and got some ice trays and began making ice the old fashioned way until I could figure out what was up with the ice maker.  In the meantime I noticed frost was starting to form at the back of the freezer compartment.

I checked to see if there was a defrost switch somewhere and of course there wasn’t because frost isn’t supposed to form on one of these kinds of refrigerators.  So I let it slide, thinking it was just a little spurious frost that had accumulated because I’d had the door open so much while debugging the ice maker.  This morning when I checked it, the little patch of frost had grown to cover almost the entire back of the freezer. 

Uhm…that wasn’t supposed to happen…  So I go dig out the owners manual.  The prior owner of the house was cool enough to save every bit of documentation on all the major appliances in the house and gave all that to me on settlement day in a big plastic pouch.  The manual for the fridge didn’t even have a section on frost in the troubleshooting guide.

Okay, thinks I, never having owned a frost-free fridge in my life…obviously frost build up inside the freezer is something so beyond normal that the manual doesn’t even cover it.  And this is happening at the same time the ice maker quit on me.  Maybe there’s a connection and I need to call a repairman.  I’m thinking at this point that maybe frost had gotten inside the water inlet line to the ice maker or a control somewhere.  But before I called for service, I began checking prices of new refrigerators. 

The one here at Casa del Garrett was at least 20 years old, judging from the service records the prior owner left with the owner’s manual.  And there were at least a half-dozen service calls made on that fridge by the prior owner.  I hadn’t really looked over all the things he’d left me in detail, just this and that as needed.  This was the first time I’d looked at the packet for the fridge.  Seeing all those service tickets concerned me.  But I’ve owned the house since June of 2001 and haven’t had any trouble with the fridge.  On the other hand, it was at least 20 years old, if not older, and it had needed a lot of work in the past.  Mostly for minor things though.  The thermostats seemed to be the biggest trouble makers.

I could get a good, state of the art energy saver fridge, sized just right for a single guy, for around 850 to a thousand bucks.  Or I could get a decent low tech smaller one for about 300-400.  I figured if I was going to replace the fridge I might as well buy a good one, but money for one of the good ones wasn’t in the budget.  But do I want to call a repairman and spend almost what a new low tech fridge would cost anyway?

I gave it some thought.  I figured since it couldn’t be the compressor it wouldn’t be hugely expensive.  And the thought of just tossing a fridge in the landfill when it could be repaired and kept in service bothered me.  So I called for a GE service tech and luckily one was available to come this afternoon.  When he arrived I told him about the ice maker, and the frost.  When he saw the frost on the back of the freezer compartment I could tell from his expression that it was a bigger problem then I’d taken it for.

Boy was it.  He had me empty the freezer and then he removed the ice maker and the back panel.  Here’s what it looked like…

Holy Crap…!!!  Look at that…the freezer coils are almost solidly bricked in.  I had no idea the frost problem was that bad.  I couldn’t see it.  It was all happening out of sight.  The tech said frost was all under the freezer floor panel too, and he asked me if I’d noticed the fridge wasn’t keeping things cold anymore.  But I don’t keep things in there for very long so I hadn’t really noticed.  Then he told me that the frost build up would keep the ice maker from working, because it depends on its own thermostat switch and won’t turn on unless the freezer is at 16 degrees or colder.  So that explained why the ice maker could pass all the tests I’d given it and still not be making any ice.  It was behaving the way it was supposed to.  The freezer just wasn’t getting cold enough.

The tech removed the ice with a stream of warm water from a small pump bucket he’d brought along.  Then he tested this and that and determined the problem was the defroster thermostat. The way it works is this: a timer periodically turns on a heating coil by the freezer coils to melt off any accumulated frost.  A thermostat shuts the heat coil off when it detects the temperature near the freezer coils is above freezing.  Wash-rinse-repeat.  This keeps the frost off the freezer coils.  Apparently the thermostat on this model fridge fails in such a way that it keeps the heat coil turned off all the time.  So then frost…happens.  And here’s the thing…you can’t see it happening because all that stuff is hidden from view in a frost-free fridge.

The tech replaced the thermostat and tested everything again, and before he left he told me it would take about four hours for the temperatures to stabilize to the dial settings.  So now my fridge is busy getting cold again and I reckon I have to toss out most of what was in the freezer since it’ll have been out long enough to thaw, even in the ice chest I stashed it all in.  The total bill for the service was just under $200.  Not so bad considering, and he was thorough. 

I have a fridge thermometer and I monitor that occasionally.  I’m buying a freezer thermometer tonight so hopefully I can see this failure mode happening sooner rather then later in the future.  I suppose the new fridges have some sort of self diagnostics built-in now.  If they don’t they should.  Some little indicator panel that displays an error code that tells you somethings wrong and what it is.  They should have temperature displays too so you can see that things are nominal.  A good geek fridge should have all of that.


by Bruce | Link | React! (3)

September 25th, 2008

You Just Wondered What They Saw In Each Other

I hate it when couples break up.  But not this couple…


Daimler wants to sell remaining Chrysler stake to Cerberus

German automaker Daimler has said it wants to sell its remaining 19.9-percent interest in its former US subsidiary Chrysler to private equity firm Cerberus, which last year acquired a majority stake in Chrysler from Daimler.

Yes.  Please.  I remember vividly the sinking feeling I got when I heard the news in 1998 that Daimler was merging with Chrysler.  Ever since I was a teenager I’d dreamed of owning a Mercedes and right around the time of the merger, by equal parts luck and persistence, I’d almost worked my way into a place where I could almost barely afford one.  The dream was almost within my grasp.  And then this. 

I couldn’t think of any American car company I’d have wanted Daimler to join forces with, but out of all of them Chrysler was just about the worst.  My mom’s first car was a 1968 Plymouth Valiant and even though it was a clumsy American mass produced rattle box it was almost as reliable as anything produced by Mercedes.  It couldn’t do the track like a Mercedes, it wasn’t anything as solid, but at least it kept running and running.  That 225 slant six engine is still legendary in some circles to this day.  But mom didn’t take proper care of it, and after it died she suffered through a series of horrible 1970s-1980s Chrysler products that convinced me never to touch a Chrysler product again.  I wouldn’t trust one of their motors any further then I could throw it.

So when I heard Daimler and Chrysler were merging I felt a breath of dread.  And sure enough, the quality of the Mercedes product took a turn for the worse around then.  When I bought the Honda Accord back in 2005, I was in a position to have afforded a C240.  But the C240 back then (the W203 to us Mercedes fanboys) not only seemed to be too little car for the money, compared to the previous model (the W202), it just felt cheap.  I felt cheated.

After years of hearing other Mercedes fans bitterly complaining about the downturn in quality, I was overjoyed to hear that Daimler had finally come to its senses and was dumping Chrysler, and refocusing on product quality.  When I paid off the Accord I took a wander through my local Mercedes dealership and laid eyes on the new C300, and fell back in love.  This October 12th will mark my first year with the car, and I am still in love with it.  It’s the most solid thing on four wheels I’ve ever owned.

When I bought mine, Daimler had just voted to rename the company from Daimler-Chrysler, to just Daimler.  Some of us think they should have returned the name back to Daimler-Benz, but at least the Chrysler part is gone now.  Alas, my car was built before the name change so it still has the Daimler-Chrysler name on the door frame sticker.  But you sit down in it and you know it’s a Mercedes.  It’s not as sumptuous as a Lexus costing about the same.  It’s not as flashy as a Cadillac.  It has its luxury touches but it’s a ‘C’ not an ‘E’, let alone an ‘S’.  This may sound ridiculous to some of you, but It’s basic transportation with a few nice extras.  That’s really all.  I could have bought it without a lot of the nice extras, like the Harmon-Kardon stereo, the Nav system and the wood trim, and still had the most solid thing on four wheels I’d ever owned.  Its soul is in the basics.  But, and here’s the thing, it’s the basics done as well as they can be done.  It gets everything a car needs to be absolutely right. Every luxury touch they add to that, they add such that those fundamental basics stay absolutely right.  It does the city streets very well.  It’s great on the highway.  It can also do the Autobahn.  It was made for the Autobahn.  Driving a car made for the Autobahn is…a whole new experince for me.  Normal has changed.

That’s why I’d dreamed of owning one for so long.  And…why I got so pissed off when they merged with Chrysler.  I walked out on my porch the other evening, and noticed a beautiful brilliant red sunset happening, and so I walked down to the street to watch it for a while.  I stood next to my car and after a moment, gently leaned against the fender.   I’m allowed…it’s my car.  It felt like I was leaning up against a smooth metal brick.  I noticed right away how different it felt.  Unlike every other car I’ve ever owned, there wasn’t the slightest bit of give in the body.  Yet it doesn’t swagger.  It is the exact opposite of Hummer.  The appearance of strength, is not strength.


by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on You Just Wondered What They Saw In Each Other

September 24th, 2008

Storm Out Of Nowhere

So I check the weather before heading off to bed, and see that a tropical storm may form right off the Carolina coast and be blasting Baltimore tomorrow and Friday with high winds and rain.  Wait…what..???

Damn.  I thought these things were supposed to form in the tropics and then get a name or something before they bounce up the east coast…

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Storm Out Of Nowhere

My 1996 McDonald’s Hamburger…Let Me Show You It…

Via SLOG…  Ever wonder what a McDonald’s hamburger would look like after sitting for 12 years in a plastic container at room temperature?  See it Here.

Don’t be afraid to look.  It actually won’t gross you out until you think about it for a while.  Because…see…it looks perfectly normal.  Not the slightest hint of rancidness.  None.  No sign of mold.  Not on the meat, and even more alarmingly, not on the bun either, which according to the author of that blog post, is getting a tad crumbly.  But…no mold. 

I’m a single guy…just in case my occasional public bouts of loneliness here on the blog haven’t clued anyone in to that fact.  I buy food for one, and often that’s a hassle because it’s hard to find food in single guy portions, or packaged such that I can use just a part of it and keep the rest for later.  So I buy, for example, a loaf of bread, and if it’s good bread, meaning it’s fresh baked locally and not loaded with preservatives and other additives, it starts getting stale before I finish it off more often then not.  I can’t finish a whole loaf of bread by myself in under a week, and by the end of the week more often then not I see the first few specs of mold on it before it’s halfway finished and then I have to give the rest to the birds. 

And here’s this friggin’ McDonald’s bun after twelve years and not a spec of mold on it anywhere.  Wow…  Just…wow…

by Bruce | Link | React! (3)

A Hopefull Sign

There’s a scene in the American TV mini series, The Winds of War, where Pug Henry tells Pamala, the English woman he’s busy falling in love with, that Goering’s decision to terror bomb London, while horrible, meant he knew he’d lost the air war.  He couldn’t defeat the RAF, so he turned to bombing civilian targets as a way of breaking British moral.  So while seeing London in flames made it look like Hitler had control of the air, and was winning, in fact Pug told her, it was a sign of desperation.  It meant he knew he’d lost the battle for Britain. 

That’s the way it is with thugs.  It’s when they know they’re loosing that the fight really turns ugly.  I’m thinking about that this morning as I’m reading about John McCain shoving dirt in the face of the corporate news media.  Nobody in recent years has had such a sweetheart relationship with the press as McCain.  The alternative media has written story after story of the corporate press sucking up to McCain.  And now he’s rubbing their faces in dogshit.  What gives here?

One theory is that they just know they can get away with it.  The Republican Noise Machine has been so successful at gaming the press and demonizing democrats that the McCain camp knows it can do whatever it damn well pleases and the base won’t give a good goddamn what the press says about it.  They all get their news from FOX, and even if FOX turned against McCain the base understands that Obama is the Antichrist, is related to Osama bin Laden and/or Saddam Hussein, and anyway is a Muslim and all Muslims belong to al Qaeda and anyway Obama is the Antichrist.  John McCain can spit in Brent Hume’s face and Rupert Murdoch could endorse Obama and FOX news could run nothing but Obama campaign ads and the base will vote for McCain.  The economy could crash in flames and the base loose their homes and their life savings and they’ll vote for McCain.  Better sleep on the streets with a republican in the white house then the Antichrist.

So much, so obvious.  But what of the swing vote?  Without that swing vote the republicans can’t win, and they’re not winning that vote by playing so hard to the base.  If anything, they’re turning it away. 

Here’s my thinking: they know they’ve lost.  McCain wouldn’t be antagonising the press, he wouldn’t have picked a fundamentalist nutcase for his VP, if the party insiders knew they had a chance in hell with the swing vote.  And without the swing they loose.  So they’re goosing the base.  Again, so much, so obvious.  But look at it.  They can’t win with only the base on board.  But what they can do, is whip it up into such a hysterical fit of passion that, hopefully, the democrats won’t be able to govern at all for the next four years.

I think what we may well be seeing now, in the choice of Sarah Palin, and in McCain’s openly spitting on the press that has been faithfully sucking up to him for the past decade or so, is the start of the next four years of scorched earth fighting.  They know they’ve lost this election and they’re laying the groundword for the next four years of destroying the Obama presidency and taking back congress. They’re laying the ground work for the "McCain was stabbed in the back by the news media" propaganda they’ll be dispensing for the next four years, to keep the press cowed and submissive.  And they’re poisoning the well to prevent any shred of common ground and common purpose developing in the next four years among Americans.  They don’t want the wounds to heal…they want them open and raw. 

So by the time election night 2008 is over, the base will hate the rest of the nation so deeply, the only thing they’ll want for the next four years is blood.  Every time President Obama appears on their TV screens, they’ll see the Antichrist.  Every time a democrat opens their mouths to say anything for the next four years, the base will know they’re hearing a servant of the Antichrist.  If the democrats don’t get a big enough majority in both houses to govern, it’s going to be absolute poisonous ugly vindictive gridlock.  

What the rest of us have to know is winning the election is only the start of the fight.  If you thought Newt Gingrich’s war on congress back in the early 1990s was ugly, trust me you haven’t ugly yet.  Ask your gay and lesbian neighbors how ugly they can get.  I’ve said this before…things don’t start getting really bad until the republicans begin loosing power.  That’s when it hits the fan.

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on A Hopefull Sign

September 23rd, 2008

Right…And Nazi Is The New Jew…

Oh…those poor persecuted…republicans…

Zucker: Republican is ‘the new gay’

LOS ANGELES, Sept. 22 (UPI) — Film director David Zucker says conservatives are so uncomfortable in Hollywood that being a Republican is "the new gay."

"You sort of feel like you have to hide it," Zucker — director of "Airplane!," "Top Secret" and "The Naked Gun" — told "When you meet, you give each other a secret look, ‘Are you a Republican, too?’ It’s the new gay."

Hey…Mr. New Gay…  Meet the Old Gay…



Walk up and shake their hand…

Inhofe on attack again in Senate race, Rice disputes claims

OKLAHOMA CITY — Democrat Andrew Rice has a divinity degree and has worked as a missionary, but he is being called to account over social values in his Senate race against Republican incumbent Jim Inhofe, who is known for tough campaign tactics.

An Inhofe ad being carried on Oklahoma television stations contains anti-gay overtones, showing a wedding cake topped by two plastic grooms and a photo of Rice as a young man, curly haired and wearing a leather jacket. 

Inhofe said the ad is accurate. He pointed to news stories that Rice, before he became a state senator in 2006, founded a group that opposed a constitutional amendment to bar same-sex marriages. 

Ask the Old Gay to show you around the place Zucker…  You might recognize the brand name on some of the furnishings…


Preserving Traditional Marriage

Because our children’s future is best preserved within the traditional understanding of marriage, we call for a constitutional amendment that fully protects marriage as a union of a man and a woman, so that judges cannot make other arrangements equivalent to it. In the absence of a national amendment, we support the right of the people of the various states to affirm traditional marriage through state initiatives.

Republicans recognize the importance of having in the home a father and a mother who are married. The two-parent family still provides the best environment of stability, discipline, responsibility, and character. Children in homes without fathers are more likely to commit a crime, drop out of school, become violent, become teen parents, use illegal drugs, become mired in poverty, or have emotional or behavioral problems. We support the courageous efforts of single-parent families to provide a stable home for their children. Children are our nation’s most precious resource. We also salute and support the efforts of foster and adoptive families.

Republicans have been at the forefront of protecting traditional marriage laws, both in the states and in Congress. A Republican Congress enacted the Defense of Marriage Act, affirming the right of states not to recognize same-sex “marriages” licensed in other states. Unbelievably, the Democratic Party has now pledged to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act, which would subject every state to the redefinition of marriage by a judge without ever allowing the people to vote on the matter. We also urge Congress to use its Article III, Section 2 power to prevent activist federal judges from imposing upon the rest of the nation the judicial activism in Massachusetts and California. We also encourage states to review their marriage and divorce laws in order to strengthen marriage.

As the family is our basic unit of society, we oppose initiatives to erode parental rights.

– From the 2008 Republican Party Platform


Esprit and cohesion are necessary for military effectiveness and success on the battlefield.  To protect our servicemen and women and ensure that America’s Armed Forces remain the best in the world, we affirm the timelessness of those values, the benefits of traditional military culture, and the incompatibility of homosexuality with military service.

– From the 2008 Republican Party Platform


Homosexuality – We believe that the practice of homosexuality tears at the fabric of society, contributes to the breakdown of the family unit, and leads to the spread of dangerous, communicable diseases. Homosexual behavior is contrary to the fundamental, unchanging truths that have been ordained by God, recognized by our country’s founders, and shared by the majority of Texans. Homosexuality must not be presented as an acceptable “alternative” lifestyle in our public education and policy, nor should “family” be redefined to include homosexual “couples.” We are opposed to any granting of special legal entitlements, refuse to recognize, or grant special privileges including, but not limited to: marriage between persons of the same sex (regardless of state of origin), custody of children by homosexuals, homosexual partner insurance or retirement benefits. We oppose any criminal or civil penalties against those who oppose homosexuality out of faith, conviction, or belief in traditional values

Texas Sodomy Statutes – We oppose the legalization of sodomy. We demand that Congress exercise its authority granted by the U.S. Constitution to withhold jurisdiction from the federal courts from cases involving sodomy.

– From the 2008 Texas Republican Party Platform.


The New Gay is it?  The New Gay?  Rot in Hell Zucker.  Go fuck yourself with a Big Tent.  Republicans have turned the lives of gay Americans into a scorched earth battleground.  They pushed anti same sex marriage amendments in swing states, turning gay Americans into second class citizens because they knew voting for president Nice Job Brownie might not be enough to drive their grassroots to the polls.  They’ve been using the lives of gay Americans as a baseball bat to smack democrats over the head with ever since Antia Bryant showed them how well the issue played at the polls.  So you and your fellow republicans are…uncomfortable…in the glamorous Hollywood social scene are you?  How painful that must be sometimes…

Teen Beaten Over Gay Rumors

Allegations of a sixteen-year-old high-school student beating another because he was perceived as gay have shaken up a small Kansas town.

Police officers in the small town of Tribune, Kansas – population 800 – responded to a report of an intruder at the home of a sixteen-year-old student. When they arrived they found the teen was badly beaten and his attacker had fled.

Dustin Myers was arrested Sunday and charged with attempted murder, aggravated burglary, aggravated assault and carrying a concealed explosive, reports the Hutchinson News Online.

Authorities say that after hearing rumors that his classmate was gay, Myers went to his home with a small explosive device with the intention of killing the teenager.


No more arrests in alleged gay bash

Jenna, one of the victims who requested that South End News withhold her name for safety reasons, said that she and her friends heard a group of men shouting at them from a parked white sedan. The four friends, who were walking home from a night of clubbing at the Roxy, kept walking, but before long, the four men got out of their car and started coming towards them.

According to Jenna, the perpetrators said, "Fuck you, your fucking friends are faggots," before punching her in the face. When two of her friends came to her aid, two the attackers began beating and kicking them in the face, repeatedly yelling, "Fuck you, faggots."


 NYC fugitive convicted of murder

NEW YORK – A fugitive has been convicted of second-degree murder in the beating death of a gay man on a New York City street in 2001.

Queens District Attorney Richard Brown says John McGhee was convicted Wednesday. He says McGhee fled to London after 35-year-old Edgar Garzon died on Sept. 4, 2001, of injuries suffered in a street assault.

Garzon was attacked after leaving a gay bar in Queens on Aug. 15, 2001. Trial testimony showed the victim and McGhee had exchanged words before the assault.


Colorado judge unsympathetic to ‘transgender panic’ argument

On Thursday, a judge upheld the first-degree murder charge against the man accused in the July 16 bludgeoning death of 18-year-old transgender woman Angie Zapata, née Justin.

Allen Ray Andrade, 31, faces various felony charges in Zapata’s death. Public defender Annette Kundelius argued that the murder charge should be reduced to second-degree, saying that Andrade was driven to kill Zapata after she smiled at him, saying "I’m all woman," after he discovered her male genitals.

"At best, this is a case about passion," Kundelius said. "When [Zapata] smiled at him, this was a highly provoking act, and it would cause someone to have an aggressive reaction."

Phone calls between Andrade and his girlfriend show anti-gay bias and disregard, though he did acknowledge making "a mistake." "All gay things need to die," Andrade said in one conversation, adding that there was "no use crying over spilled milk" in trying to put the murder behind him.


All gay things need to die…   Sorry to hear that it’s hard to be a republican in Hollywood Zucker.  Try being a gay teenager in Kansas during an election year you gutter crawling maggot.

Damn…and I used to like some of your comedies too.  Especially Airplane.  But you just stopped being funny.  You’re really just an asswipe aren’t you?  And asswipe comedy has its own special flavor…

Zucker and some of his fellow Hollywood Republicans — including Jon Voight, Kelsey Grammer and Dennis Hopper — collaborated on the upcoming movie, "An American Carol" characterized the movie as "Hollywood’s first unabashedly right-wing comedy."

"An American Carol" — written by Zucker, Myrna Sokoloff and Lewis Friedman — is the story of an anti-American filmmaker who tries to abolish the July Fourth holiday, and is visited by the ghosts of famous Americans who try to get him to drop his plan.

Dickens would have ripped you and your republican fat cats a new one Zucker.   Oh…wait…he did…in that story of his you’re plagiarizing for laughs…

"At this festive season of the year, Mr Scrooge," said the gentleman, taking up a pen, "it is more than usually desirable that we should make some slight provision for the Poor and destitute, who suffer greatly at the present time. Many thousands are in want of common necessaries; hundreds of thousands are in want of common comforts, sir."

"Are there no prisons?" asked Scrooge.

"Plenty of prisons," said the gentleman, laying down the pen again.

"And the Union workhouses." demanded Scrooge. "Are they still in operation?"

"They are. Still," returned the gentleman, "I wish I could say they were not."

"The Treadmill and the Poor Law are in full vigour, then?" said Scrooge.

"Both very busy, sir."

"Oh. I was afraid, from what you said at first, that something had occurred to stop them in their useful course," said Scrooge. "I’m very glad to hear it."

"Under the impression that they scarcely furnish Christian cheer of mind or body to the multitude," returned the gentleman, "a few of us are endeavouring to raise a fund to buy the Poor some meat and drink, and means of warmth. We choose this time, because it is a time, of all others, when Want is keenly felt, and Abundance rejoices. What shall I put you down for?"

"Nothing!" Scrooge replied.

"You wish to be anonymous?"

"I wish to be left alone," said Scrooge. "Since you ask me what I wish, gentlemen, that is my answer. I don’t make merry myself at Christmas and I can’t afford to make idle people merry. I help to support the establishments I have mentioned-they cost enough; and those who are badly off must go there."

"Many can’t go there; and many would rather die."

"If they would rather die,’ said Scrooge, ‘they had better do it, and decrease the surplus population. Besides-excuse me-I don’t know that."

"But you might know it," observed the gentleman.

"It’s not my business," Scrooge returned. "It’s enough for a man to understand his own business, and not to interfere with other people’s. Mine occupies me constantly. Good afternoon, gentlemen!"

And a bit more emphatically…

"I see a vacant seat," replied the Ghost, "in the poor chimney-corner, and a crutch without an owner, carefully preserved. If these shadows remain unaltered by the Future, the child will die."

"No, no," said Scrooge. "Oh, no, kind Spirit! say he will be spared."

"If these shadows remain unaltered by the Future, none other of my race," returned the Ghost, "will find him here. What then? If he be like to die, he had better do it, and decrease the surplus population."

Scrooge hung his head to hear his wn words quoted by the Spirit, and was overcome with penitence and grief.

"Man," said the Ghost, "if man you be in heart, not adamant, forbear that wicked cant until you have discovered What the surplus is, and Where it is. Will you decide what men shall live, what men shall die? It may be, that in the sight of Heaven, you are more worthless and less fit to live than millions like this poor man’s child."

"Forgive me if I am not justified in what I ask," said Scrooge, looking intently at the Spirit’s robe, "but I see something strange, and not belonging to yourself, protruding from your skirts. Is it a foot or a claw!"

"It might be a claw, for the flesh there is upon it," was the Spirit’s sorrowful reply. "Look here."

From the foldings of its robe, it brought two children; wretched, abject, frightful, hideous, miserable. They knelt down at its feet, and clung upon the outside of its garment.

"Oh, Man! look here. Look, look, down here!" exclaimed the Ghost.

They were a boy and girl. Yellow, meagre, ragged, scowling, wolfish; but prostrate, too, in their humility. Where graceful youth should have filled their features out, and touched them with its freshest tints, a stale and shrivelled hand, like that of age, had pinched, and twisted them, and pulled them into shreds. Where angels might have sat enthroned, devils lurked, and glared out menacing. No change, no degradation, no perversion of humanity, in any grade, through all the mysteries of wonderful creation, has monsters half so horrible and dread.

Scrooge started back, appalled. Having them shown to him in this way, he tried to say they were fine children, but the words choked themselves, rather than be parties to a lie of such enormous magnitude.

"Spirit! are they yours?" Scrooge could say no more.

"They are Man’s," said the Spirit, looking down upon them. "And they cling to me, appealing from their fathers. This boy is Ignorance. This girl is Want. Beware them both, and all of their degree, but most of all beware this boy, for on his brow I see that written which is Doom, unless the writing be erased. Deny it!" cried the Spirit, stretching out its hand towards the city. "Slander those who tell it ye! Admit it for your factious purposes, and make it worse! And bide the end!"

"Have they no refuge or resource?" cried Scrooge.

"Are there no prisons?" said the Spirit, turning on him for the last time with his own words. "Are there no workhouses?"

So let me get this straight Zucker…  You’re going to take A Christmas Carol and turn it into a right wing comedy.  About an "anti American" (that would be a liberal and/or democrat…right Zucker?) film maker who wants to abolish the Forth of July.   Oh Ha ha ha…  And Republican is the new Gay.  They say that all comedy holds within it a nugget of pain.  But watching a man rot away from the inside isn’t funny.

by Bruce | Link | React! (2)

September 22nd, 2008


Brad DeLong points to William Blackstone…

Economic Regulation

William Blackstone speaketh:

Article 1, Section 8, Clause 5: William Blackstone, Commentaries 1:264–68: [T]he regulation of weights and measures… for the advantage of the public, ought to be universally the same throughout the kingdom…. [N]o man can, by words only, give another an adequate idea of a foot-rule, or a pound-weight. It is therefore necessary to have recourse to some visible, palpable, material standard; by forming a comparison with which, all weights and measures may be reduced to one uniform size: and the prerogative of fixing this standard, our antient law vested in the crown…. This standard was originally kept at Winchester: and we find in the laws of king Edgar, near a century before the conquest, an injunction that the one measure… should be observed throughout the realm….

[U]pon these principles the first standards were made; which, being originally so fixed by the crown, their subsequent regulations have been generally made by the king in parliament. Thus, under king Richard I, in his parliament holden at Westminster, A.D. 1197, it was ordained that there shall be only one weight and one measure throughout the kingdom, and that the custody of the assise or standard of weights and measures shall be committed to certain persons in every city and borough; from whence the antient office of the king’s aulnager seems to have been derived, whose duty it was, for a certain fee, to measure all cloths made for sale…

Government is the problem, not the solution.  Government regulation is evil.  In a truly free market, all businesses would have the right to set their own standards as to what length a foot is and how much a pound weighs…

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Deregulation…

They Got Rich Didn’t They?

Brad DeLong points to Chris Carrol…

Why Are Republicans so Awful for the Economy?

Chris Carroll speculates:

RGE – Capitalism and Skepticism: Why does the economy perform so badly under Republican Presidents?

The facts are hard to dispute; indeed, the historical record is now so stark that diehard Republicans are probably starting to wonder if there is a curse…. Democrats have outperformed Republicans by almost any measure of economic achievement (GDP growth per capita, unemployment, inflation, budget deficits)…. Thanks to the profligacy of the current administration… average Federal spending as a fraction of GDP… under Republican Presidents now exceeds that under Democrats over the measured period…. The pattern holds up when the span of historical analysis is extended farther back in time… using stock returns to measure economic performance…. (Data are available on my web page, at

An economist’s natural inclination is to say that there’s no point in pondering why Republican performance has been so dismal, because the question cannot be answered with the rigor demanded by professional respectability. But as the tenure of George Herbert Hoover Walker Bush shudders to a calamitous close, history seems to require that we try to give an answer.

That answer can’t be found by drilling down (so to speak) into the specific policy proposals of the two parties, which over the years have evolved in ways too arbitrary to permit any meaningful generalization. Nor are there any clearly identifiable differences in doctrine that should translate into a reasonable expectation of better economic performance under one party or the other….

Maybe capitalism works better when its excesses are restrained by skeptics than when true-believers are writing, interpreting, judging, and executing the rules…. Maybe… capitalism works better when it is being held accountable to some external standard…. [F]or better or worse, the defining manifesto of the latter part of the age was Milton Friedman’s Capitalism And Freedom. But that book’s power derived partly from its fierce independence from the orthodoxies of its time…. The book for the new epoch has not been written yet, but I have a proposed title: Capitalism and Skepticism…

I think what needs to be understood here is that the true-believers are merely the useful idiots.  Yes, the republicans are awful for the economy.  But so what.  But they’re great for the billionaires.  Look at it this way: under democrats blue collar workers and the middle class grow and prosper.  Big business does well, but its CEOs don’t generally become super rich.  They still get rich, just not buy entire third world countries rich.  Under republicans, unions are busted, the middle class shrinks and many businesses, large and small, suffer.  However, many other folks become fabulously wealthy. Even as the companies they once ran go belly up, and their investors loose their shirts, these people shoot into the ranks of the fabulously wealthy.  You have to figure that from their perspective, things worked out just fine.

Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result, and the fabulously wealthy may be a lot of things, but they’re not crazy.  If they keep supporting the republican party despite its pretty consistant track record of wreaking the economy, there’s probably a reason for that.  A healthy economy really only benefits the blue collar and middle classes.  The uber rich need neither a healthy economy nor a healthy democracy to get even richer.  In point of fact, healthy economies and healthy democracies usually get in their way.

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on They Got Rich Didn’t They?

It’s Not That You’re A PC…It’s That You’re A Thug

Via PC World…

Several digital images that Microsoft Corp. has posted on its Web site to trumpet its new "I’m a PC" ad campaign were actually created on Macs, according to the files’ originating-software stamp.

Four of the images that Microsoft made available on its PressPass site Thursday display the designation "Adobe Photoshop C3 Macintosh" when their file properties are examined. The images appear to be frames from the television ads that Microsoft will launch later Thursday.

One of the images is of a real Microsoft engineer, identified only as "Sean," who resembles John Hodgman, the actor who plays the PC character in Apple Inc.’s iconic ads. Reportedly, Microsoft will play off Apple’s own campaign — during which Hodgman introduces himself with the line, "Hello, I’m a PC" — with its engineer saying "Hello, I’m a PC, and I’ve been made into a stereotype."

I’ve always thought that the PC in those Apple commercials should look less like an office geek and more like a gangster.  Seriously…they should get Joe Pesci to play the PC…

I’m a PC.  Listen to me. I got your head in a fuckin’ vise. I’ll squash your head like a fuckin’ grapefruit if you don’t give me your fuckin’ money…  What?  What?  My licenses confuse you?  You fuckin’ piece of shit…Maybe if I stick your head through that window over there you’ll get unconfused. Give me the fuckin money…


by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on It’s Not That You’re A PC…It’s That You’re A Thug

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