pyesetz: (woof)
This article by Anis Shivani is very good, but perhaps overlong.  He thinks Trump is more like Mussolini than Hitler; I would like to have also seen some mention of Silvio Berlusconi as an analogue for Trump.

Shivani correctly notes that Donald's policies are not really that much different from W.'s or Barack's, because both (D) and (R) parties subscribe to the neoliberal ideology.  Only the rhetorical flourishes are different, but otherwise the new boss is the same as the old boss.  Obama said he loved DREAMers, but deported 2.5 million of them.  Trump says he hates Mexicans, but deported fewer of them in his first month than Obama did in his.  It is always a mistake to believe what a politician says.

Ralph Nader is mentioned once, but only as an avatar for the uselessness of protest against the neoliberal agenda.  If you're a millennial American, Mr. Shivani says you should move to Canada or Europe (but says that he himself is too old to move).  I disagree slightly, since it seems that Trump is markedly more willing to listen to protests than Bush Jr or Obama were.  Still, the point stands that the rise of American Fascism over the last 30 years will probably continue until the USA loses a war in a big way — and surely you don't want to be drafted for that, so what's the point of hanging around to protest?  Like the Jews from Germany, young liberal Americans should get out while you still can.

"Anis Shivani" is an Muslim name, but Mr. Shivani's bio does not talk about his ethnicity.  He assumes without evidence that Trump will surely start a new war in the Middle East, but this is based on historical trends and possibly unconnected with any personal interest that Shivani might have in that area.  He idly fantasizes about Trump nuking Iran, which I think is mistaking style for substance — but who knows?
pyesetz: (mr_peabody)
Because every visit to Massachusetts should include a trip to the MoS!

Museum of Science exhibit halls (Boston MA, 11:51am).  Finally, we’re doing something during this trip that Kid #2 can actually enjoy!  $92 for a family of four.  The overly-geeky ticket machine announced that it would be printing five tickets, but one of them was just a ticket-shaped receipt.  Oddly enough, I can’t find that receipt now, just my own ticket-stub.
      Kid #1 spent much of her time at the museum off with some online friends she had never met before but who live in this area.  We were supposed to meet up with them near the giant T. Rex statue, but the statue has been replaced with a less-imposing one that shows a more realistic stance for the animal.  Later, I found that the old statue (which Wifey and I remember from when we were kids) had been moved outside to the station where you can take an amphibious bus tour of Boston.  Even later, I learned that Hammacher Schlemmer is selling a T. Rex model that has been cleverly designed so you can pose it either way (“15' tall as if surveying the landscape or 12' tall as if lunging for prey”).
      I did not speak directly to Kid #1’s friends.  The two things they have in common with her are ⑴ nonstandard sexuality and ⑵ fondness for Star Trek.  As the friends were preparing to leave the museum, I asked Kid #1 whether she had told them about Star Trek Continues.  She had not, so she then launched into a description of the video that her uncle had found, which they thought was interesting.  So we were all united by the love of geeky old TV shows!
      My kids remember from previous trips the exhibit where you pedal a bicycle to energize a lightbulb — and a skeleton on another bicycle keeps pace with you.  That exhibit is gone now.  Instead, they now have wristbands where you can try out various health exhibits and then go to their website to see how you did.  I did not like that you are forbidden to do the same exhibit more than once on the same wristband, although I can imagine crowd-control reasons why they wanted it to work that way.  But the website’s behaviour is less excusable: you have to clear cookies in order to enter a different wristband ID number.  You know, there’s such a thing as “trying too hard” to remember something the user once typed in!  And there is no reason not to display the ID number that goes with the data you are currently showing.  Anyway, to see my results, go to exhibits.mos.org/view-your-data and type in my ID number 01564722.
      The 500 kilovolt Tesla coils and the 5 megavolt Van de Graaf generator are still just as sparky and noisy as ever!  I am not sure whether they taught the Tesla coils some new songs to sing since last time.
      For me, the worst exhibit was the live talk about Love Canal, which contained politically-correct lies designed to make Americans feel better about their country than it deserves.  First off, the Superfund was not a “law passed by the EPA” because the EPA does not pass laws.  Only Congress can do that, and the Constitution prohibits them from delegating that responsibility although they are constantly trying to.  Second, the point of Superfund is not to “make those responsible pay for the cleanup”.  Just the opposite, in fact: Superfund is a way of getting these things cleaned up *without* making those responsible pay for it, because otherwise nothing would ever happen except motion practice for lawyers.  But the museum didn’t want to tell the kids that (perhaps in fear of losing some of their funding), so a science museum lied to children about the politics behind the science.  This sort of thing used to happen all the time in the Soviet Union, and apparently still happens today in North Korea.  I remember a time when the USA was better than that.




Museum of Science cafeteria “Wolfgang Puck catering” (3:20pm).  $27.55 for crappy museum food.  Chef Puck should be ashamed to have his name on this restaurant.  I mean, it’s actually pretty good food for a museum cafeteria, and maybe the entrées are well-made on Donors’ Nights, but you can’t turn hamburgers and French fries into gourmet cuisine by slapping some famous chef’s name on your fast-food stand.

Museum of Science gift shop.  $7.42 for a “Boston” fridge magnet and also some rocks for Kid #2’s collection.

Museum of Science parking garage (5:23pm).  $17.75 for six hours’ rent of a parking space.  Not bad for Boston!

Outback Steakhouse (Bellingham MA, 8:55pm).  $79.28 for dinner.

Market Basket (Bellingham MA).  $50 for a Christmas gift-card for BIL #3 and his family.

pyesetz: (flag-over-sunrise)
  • Item: Health Canada says no one should take more than 2,000 IU of Vitamin D per day, but one study says the average vitamin D researcher personally takes 5,000 IU.  A day of sunbathing is like taking 10,000 IU.
  • Item: Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq (under orders from Prime Minister Harper) refuses to sign the Vienna Declaration ("criminalization of drug use is fuelling the HIV/AIDS epidemic") because it clashes with Canada's national drug policy.  It isn't news that when facts and policy clash, the Harper govenment doubles down for policy.  Is there a policy regarding Vitamin D supplements?  Why or why not?
  • Item: In a move that shouldn't have been as surprising as it was, the Supreme Court of Canada has ruled unanimously that Nuremberg Principle V is still the law of the land in Canada.  "I was just following orders" does not excuse a Charter violation by a police officer!  The stupid cop chose a high-profile lawyer to pick on and now his department has to pay $5,000 for violating the guy's rights (in addition to a $5,000 payment for false arrest, which was not contested).
  • Item: In Toronto London UK, a cop hid his ID, walked up to a newspaper salesman (note: not a high-profile lawyer), and whacked him with a baton for no visible reason as shown by amateur video.  After the salesman died, a physician already threatened with losing his licence due to poor autopsy work did the autopsy—and exonerated the police officer.  Two other physicians did autopsies on the same corpse and said the death was the cop's fault.  Although the officer's homicidal act was caught on video, no charges will be laid against him because "experts disagree".
  • Item: Joyce Murray, a member of Parliament for Vancouver and a Liberal, exaggerated a little when discussing the mandatory national census (which Harper recently eliminated over the objections of the arm's-length government agency that, you know, is actually supposed to decide such things).  She said the independence of such agencies is "what separates a government from a tyranny."  Never slow to seize such an opportunity, the Conservative Party struck back, saying they "understand what ‘tyranny’ means”.  Yes, I think they do.
pyesetz: (Default)
Globe & Mail: "Even an Ontario winery is displaying the rainbow, on a new wine it calls Chardonngay ($1 from every $19.95 bottle sold goes to AIDS research)."

Homosexuality: First it was normal but undiscussed.  Then it was a evil monster hunting your children and forcing them to leave the church against their wills.  It spent some time as one of the Fascist hate-objets du jour.  Now it's a source of cheap puns and marketing gimmicks.  Next it will be normal again—don't know about the "undiscussed" part.

Capitalism beats Fascism!  If you can make money from it, that's more important than using it to instigate fear-of-the-unknown.
pyesetz: (flag-over-sunrise)
Two articles showed up on SlashDot today:

Story 1: US Citizens leaving the country via Detroit or Atlanta will have their fingerprints taken.  In the quoted article, there is no statement about what the government will do to US citizens who decline to be fingerprinted, but the two obvious choices are (a) prohibit them from leaving the country or (b) arrest them as presumed illegals, since surely any legitimate citizen would be only too willing to undergo this procedure.

Story 2: Cancer patient held at airport for four hours because he has no fingerprints.  The man is taking capecitabine, which causes fingerprint ridges to peel off the fingers.  Without fingerprints, he was presumed to be a security risk, although the putative correlation between having fingerprints and being aligned with American Corporatist interests is only poorly demonstrated in the literature.
pyesetz: (Default)
In this week's episode, Obama has dropped "fuel-efficient cars" from his make-work program.  This might have something to do with Bush's insistance that the Big Three bailout must be funded from the "fuel-efficient car research" budget already passed, or it may have been that bloggers such as myself were misinterpreting what he meant in previous speeches.

He repeats here (from his Thanksgiving speech) that the make-work program will "save or create 2½ million jobs".  Previously it was just "create 2½ million jobs" and before that "create 2 million jobs".  This new rhetoric sounds nice, but does Obama really believe that "saved jobs" will contribute a significant fraction to the total?  The two million American jobs already lost during this recession are no longer eligible to be saved.

I like the new details on his "fix up the schools" program.  Current American schooling is designed to churn out factory workers, who are expected to "do as they're told" and "don't make waves".  Americans do not do as well at that kind of work as the Southeast Asians do, so really the US ought to break out of the factory-worker mold and train our kids to develop the next generation of gosh-wow computer software—that's something we're actually good at!  Of course, many school administrators will treat their new computers as tools for indoctrination and as traps for detecting "bad kids" who need to be branded as deviants and ejected.  No word from Obama on how he is going to get rid of the evil "Zero Tolerance" people.

Is it just me, or does Obama's "wire up all the doctor's offices for electronic medical records" sound a whole lot like HillaryCare?  Revenge is a dish best served cold...

So my last Obama-speech post on LJ got zero comments, but I thought it deserved better so I reposted it to DailyKos.  68 comments!  A spot on the most impactful diary of the day list!  I'm not sure what it means that my post was the 112th most important of the day.  It was a weekend so standards were lower.


* * * * *

So, Я did come back to Company 𝔾 for another week, but he never did manage to finish that initial project.  Apparently there was some personality conflict with "Mr. Bear".  So I'm back to looking for another assistant.  Does anyone know anyone who can do PHP applications development in a work-at-home setting?  Even during a recession?
pyesetz: (Default)
Some three dozen workers at a telemarketing call center in Indiana walked off the job rather than read an incendiary McCain campaign script attacking Barack Obama, according to two workers at the center and one of their parents.

Nina Williams, a stay-at-home mom in Lake County, Indiana, tells us that her daughter recently called her from her job at the center, upset that she had been asked to read a script attacking Obama for being "dangerously weak on crime," "coddling criminals," and for voting against "protecting children from danger."

Williams' daughter told her that up to 40 of her co-workers had refused to read the script, and had left the call center after supervisors told them that they would have to either read the call or leave, Williams says. The call center is called Americall, and it's located in Hobart, IN.

link

That's just how the Soviet Union ended: the line soldiers decided that their orders were evil and refused to obey them—and the régime collapsed.

On a related note: this video (about Liberal Americans responding to a McCain win by moving North) is a joke, of course, but I didn't think the final bit was all that funny.  "Canada... not as cold as you think".  Well, actually, YES IT IS!  Current windchill is -3°, going down to -7 overnight.  And now, if you'll excuse me, I have to go walk the dog...
pyesetz: (Default)

Thursday, August 7th

Got out of bed, got started on getting rid of those US Savings Bonds.  Went to the Federal Reserve’s website: you can’t sell back treasury bonds direct to the treasury!  Googled for banks near Franklin MA.  Bank of America sounds good.  Called them up to ask how to get rid of large quantities of bonds when I don’t have an account at any bank in the commonwealth.  They said I could just open an account with the bonds as the initial deposit.  Well, it’s a plan, anyway.

[Aside: 25 years ago, when I was still working at Company ℳ (my original job title was “baby-sitter”; final job title “senior systems programmer”), the Bank of America was one of the customers for our securities-DBMS product.  The joke around the office then was that Bank of America was one of our smallest customers, followed by Bank of New England and then Bank of New York.  The customer’s actual size was inversely proportional to the geographic area they claimed to serve!  Bank of New England later became BayBank, which bought up many area banks including the Newton-Waltham Bank where I had a "youth account".  BayBank merged with the Bank of Boston and then with Fleet Bank (two more of our customers).  It was later assimilated by the Bank of America (= "the Borg").  Meanwhile, the Bank of New York (which was America’s first bank, founded by Alexander Hamilton) got heavily into money-laundering and was bought out by Mellon.  Bank of America was originally the North Carolina National Bank and is now the largest bank in the country.  Resistance is futile!  All this bank-merger activity is indicative (despite what this guy says) of robber-baron capitalism which does not serve the public interest.  Oh noes!  I’ve linked to a Communist Party website—the McCarthyites will get me!]

So we drove back to that same plaza with the Longhorn Steakhouse.  At Bank of America we were told that there were only two employees, “Beth” and “Seth”, who could open the accounts for us, but they were both busy.  So we waited.  Wifey and the kidlets went back to Bath & Body Works for more vanilla stench-emitters.  Still no Beth or Seth by the time they returned, so we waited some more.  After half an hour, we celebrated American capitalism by rejecting BofA for poor service and going over to Strata Bank at the other end of the plaza.  The bank manager there immediately led us into her office and formulated an action plan: we would cash ¼ of the bonds at Strata today, ¼ of the bonds at BofA today (avoiding the need to open an account there), then do the same thing again tomorrow for the other ½ of the bonds.

Both banks had little signs showing today’s date to help you fill out your forms.  Both banks showed yesterday’s date on their signs.  As far as I know, this is always wrong: bank dates must be either today or the next business day.  Being surrounded by signs that were lying about the date seemed to bother Kid #1 rather a lot, so I told her about my experience as a baby-sitter for one of the founders of Company ℳ.  In his house was a clock that chimed the hours.  It always displayed the wrong time, so I fixed it whenever I went over there.  Later it was always stopped, so I wound it during my visits.  Eventually I found out that the founder and his wife hated the noise that the clock made—the wife was starting to think that a ghost was winding it up just to annoy her!

After converting the bonds to cash (non-customers can’t get bank cheques!), we went to Stop & Shop for yet more food, then to the sign “Franklin: Home of the Nation's First Public Library” to take pictures of Kid #1 holding a copy of Superior Saturday.  She was supposed to be wearing her banned-books bracelet but it had been forgotten at the hotel room this morning.  Finally we got to leave that plaza!

Then we drove to Arlington MA.  Have I mentioned how sick I was getting of all this driving?  Oh yeah, it was supposed to be mentioned in the entry for August 6th that I skipped.  Anyway, our computer-generated route had us driving by the synogogue in Lexington where I had chanted my Bar Mitzvah, so I got off the highway and went to look at my childhood house nearby.  It’s still about the same, except that it now has pink vinyl siding and the shrubs I remember have been restored (the next owners after my family had yanked them out).  We also drove by my elementary school, which looks awful due to extensive grass infiltration of the asphalt ball courts, but apparently there are plans afoot to remodel the place.

In Arlington we visited Penzey’s Spice Shop, because they don’t deliver to Canada at a reasonable price.  Wifey spent $65 on a year’s supply of spices, plus $5 for an ounce (that's a lot!) of dried chives for my aunt.  Penzey’s has a “kids’ drawing area” where both of my kidlets drew OPEN signs and then taped them to the window.  Sometimes "they're all together ooky", if you catch my drift.

Then we drove to my aunt’s house in Brookline.  It was the usual chit-chat.  My aunt used to travel a lot during her retirement, but recently she (like [livejournal.com profile] ozarque) has decided not to fly anymore.  Apparently the problem is that she is a little old lady in a wheelchair, which is exactly the demographic that the TSA goons like to pick on.  (I wouldn’t doubt that many of those creeps had tried the duct-tape-on-a-cat experiment when they were kids.)  There was a bit of a disagreement over dinner, which had been scheduled to be home-delivered Chinese.  Usually we buy dinner at her house and she buys for us when she flies to Philadelphia for a conference.  But we don’t live near Philadelphia anymore.  And we’re a little tight on funds right now.  So my aunt bought the dinner.

Brookline is no longer the sleepy bedroom community for Boston that my aunt grew up in.  The city has swallowed it now.  After the USSR broke up, Brookline became a Mecca for successful Jewish immigrants from Russia and Israel, who continue to speak their native languages on its streets.  After visiting my aunt, we went to a local Stop & Shop (which was originally a Jewish-owned supermarket chain).  We bought traditional Kosher foods like pigs-in-a-blanket, crumbled Communion wafers, and some delicious US patent #3,108,882 which didn’t exist yet when I was born.  Also purchased was some APS film and 3 more items for the Iraq care package.

Finally got back to our hotel room at 10 PM.

[Meanwhile, back in Canada, Kitchener-Wilmot Hydro took $122.71 out of my chequing account today to pay for the electricity used by our now-unoccupied house.  I still don’t understand what the business situation was that induced Wilmot Hydro—and not the electric companies of the other six Waterloo County townships?—to merge with Kitchener, whose laconic corporate history page is just the history of Kitchener (née “Berlin”) with nothing about Wilmot.]

pyesetz: (Default)
A Certain Bear sent me this link.  Of course, it's mainly aimed at Americans, the only people on this continent who are willing to drink soda pop that contains high-fructose corn syrup.  Still, honour must be defended with a good Fisking!  And making fun of snake-oil salesmen is about as easy as doing it to Creationists.

Consuming soft drinks is bad for so many reasons that science cannot even state all the consequences.
    Really?  This is saying that soda pop is *supernaturally* evil?

sugar. It’s an evil that the processed food industry and sugar growers don’t want people to know about.
    This is actually true, but phrased in dog-whistle religious terms.  Because Coke is "evil", the people selling it are demons working for Satan.
    The phrase "don't want people to know about" is commonly seen in advertisements for snake oil.

When somebody drinks a Coke watch what happens…  In The First 10 minutes: 10 teaspoons of sugar hit your system.
    This assumes that you down the entire can in an instant.  That is not usually what I see when I watch somebody drink a Coke.

You don’t immediately vomit from the overwhelming sweetness because phosphoric acid cuts the flavor
    There is no medical basis for this statement.  Sugar is antiemetic, something people eat when they're trying to *avoid* vomiting.  Phosphoric acid makes the product bubbly, which cuts the flavour, but drinking flat soda doesn't cause vomiting.

20 minutes: Your blood sugar spikes, causing an insulin burst.
    Again assuming that you downed the whole thing in an instant.

Your liver responds to this by turning any sugar it can get its hands on into fat.
    He only says this because everyone knows that fat is "evil".  Actually the liver turns sugar into glycogen, which is a starch.  The liver's response to high sugar levels is a measured attempt to restore calm to the blood, not a frenzy of fat-production that will make you gain 10 pounds (5 kilos) in an instant.

40 minutes: Caffeine absorption is complete. Your pupils dilate, your blood pressure rises, as a response your livers dumps more sugar into your bloodstream
    As if caffeine has no effect during minutes 1-39, then suddenly hits you during minute 40.

The adenosine receptors in your brain are now blocked preventing drowsiness.
    More black-and-white thinking.  Only *some* of the receptors are blocked, which only *reduces* drowsiness.

Your body ups your dopamine production stimulating the pleasure centers of your brain.  This is physically the same way heroin works, by the way.
    No, it's not.  Heroin works by simulating the effect of endorphin, not dopamine.  But everybody knows that heroin is "evil", so let's slime Coke via random word-association.  The author of this document is obviously a Republican.


* * * * *

Well, let's wash our mouths of that horrid taste.  Here's a Slashvertisement for command-line dating.  And here's CATO's map of botched SWAT raids.  And here's a little paranoia piece about how the Bush presidency is like General Pompey's Rome (which paved the way for the collapse of the Republic into Empire).
pyesetz: (Default)


According to some authoritarians, it is a crime to have looked at that picture without the express written consent of The Walt Disney Corporation.  However, downloading it is not a crime in Canada and it appears the latest attempt to criminalize this behaviour has been beaten back once again by the Forces of Goodness (Cory Doctorow, Michael Geist, and their 15,000 Facebook friends all emailing Minister Prentice simultaneously).
pyesetz: (Default)
Go ahead!  Flag it!  I dare ya!  If I get banned, I'll just move to GreatestJournal.  You can't build a wall around free software!  (Thank you [livejournal.com profile] brad.)
Explicit Adult Content:If you are a female furry, there is a greater than average chance that your body has PolyCystic Ovary Syndrome.  This syndrome causes insulin resistance (which makes you fat).  It also increases androgen levels, causing masculinization of the brain (e.g., an interest in games like D&D).  Worst of all, your ovaries have difficulty releasing eggs.  In order to make a baby, you might need to take noxious drugs like Clomid and have your boyfriend copulate with you on a strict schedule dictated by your doctor.  And if you want to know more about my sex life, just ask.
Offensive ContentFundagelical Christians are worshipping Satan, whom they call "Jesus".
Hate SpeechEveryone who voted for GW Bush in 2004 is an enemy of the free world.  On an unrelated note, Death to Infidels!
Illegal ActivityI would like to buy a lockpick, which is illegal in Canada.  Will anyone sell me one?  Also, I'd like some instruction on how to use them.
Nude Images of MinorsMy icon photo is of an unclothed dog.  All dogs are legally minors.
pyesetz: (Default)
He died.  But before that, in 2003, he predicted the future of the United States:
The dire prospect that opens, therefore, is that America is going to become a mega-banana republic where the army will have more and more importance in Americans' lives.  It will be an ever greater and greater overlay on the American system.  And before it is all over, democracy, noble and delicate as it is, may give way.  My long experience with human nature - I'm 80 years old now - suggests that it is possible that fascism, not democracy, is the natural state.

In other news, the Supreme Court of New Jersey (a 'blue state') recently ruled that it is "objectively reasonable" for a police officer to cause you permanent injury during a traffic stop while forcibly removing blood from your body for a test to confirm suspected drunkenness.

In Washington DC, they've noticed that ⅓ of people who contest parking tickets are successful.  In a reasonable country, that would be cause for re-examination of the ticketing process in order to reduce ticketing of people who will later be judged as innocent.  In the USA, the response is to prohibit people from contesting parking tickets.  You see, the problem with contested parking tickets is that they amount to an untenable claim that an authority figure (the cop) might possibly have been wrong.  And since tickets do not carry the threat of jail time (unless you don't pay them), there is no constitutional right to a speedy and fair trial.  Or perhaps I should say that there *had been* no constitutional right, back when the USA had a Constitution that was actually enforced by those sworn to uphold it.

In Massachusetts (where they pride themselves on being so left-wing, they actually voted against Nixon's reëlection), the City of Boston also has effectively banned the contesting of parking tickets, by imposing a non-refundable fee which is higher than the fine being contested.  Once you have been (perhaps randomly) selected for a ticket, you must pay—if you're not actually guilty, well, you *should have beeen* to avoid embarrassing the police officer.  Plus the income from the tickets is good money for the cities.
pyesetz: (mr_peabody)
Generations: The History of America's Future, 1584 to 2069 by William Strauss & Neil HoweAmazon is an attempt to begin constructing the "Science of Psychohistory" that Isaac Asimov imagined for his Foundation Trilogy.  Strauss & Howe stare into the "noise" of our culture (the stuff that we're taught to ignore while looking at the "signal") and find an oscillation in our social values that has been repeating, roughly every 88 years, for more than four centuries.

I think they're basically right that the cyclic instability actually exists, but they fuzz out many "irrelevant" details in order to bring the oscillation into sharp relief.  The book's tone is academic and its structure is quite repetitive, sounding at times like a raw compendium of every paper they're ever written on the topic.

Spoiler: the social-values oscillation is caused by an oscillation in child-rearing practices, which is caused by the relatively low ratio between childhood-length and elderhood-length for our species.  Children tend to repeat the same mistakes that their great-grandparents made because information about those mistakes is not passed on to them.  People live longer nowadays, but they also delay child-bearing more, so the four-generation cycle continues.  Overbearing parents produce children who are less overbearing, producing grandchildren who are allowed to run wild, producing great-grandchildren who are a little stricter, producing great-great-grandchildren who are just as overbearing as their ancestors were 90 years earlier.

Strauss & Howe's viewpoint is almost entirely nationalist—these are the "Generations of America", although the process that causes the oscillation seems to be part of the design of our species and should show up in every culture.  They mention that the American oscillation was originally synchronized to the oscillation in Europe during the founding.  Is Canada's oscillation synchronized to America's because their French and English populations also came from Europe?  Is a "nation" a group of people that oscillate together, but separately from their neighbours?  These cultural-anthropology questions seem to be of no interest to Strauss & Howe, who are apparently sociologists.

I think this is what they have to say about the Global War on Terrorism (bolding is mine):
The Crisis of 2020

When will this crisis come?  The climactic event may not arrive exactly in the year 2020, but it won't arrive much sooner or later.  A cycle is the length of four generations, or roughly 88 years.  If we plot a half cycle head from the Boom Awakening (and find the 44th anniversaries of Woodstock and the Reagan Revolution), we project a criss lasting from 2013 to 2024.  If we plot a full cycle ahead from the last secular crisis (and find the 88th anniversaries of the FDR landslide and Pearl Harbor Day), we project a crisis lasting from 2020 to 2029.  By either measure, the early 2020s appear fateful.

What will precipitate this crisis?  It could be almost anything, including incidents trumped up by a generation of elderly warrior-priests, gripped with visions of moral triumph.  The spark that catches fire may seem accidental, but—as with many past examples (the overthrow of Andros, the Boston Tea Party, Lincoln's election, and Pearl Harbor)—the old Idealists may have a hand in stirring events to maximum political effect, mobilizing younger generations into action.

How significant will this crisis be?  Recall the parallel eras: the Glorious Revolution, the American Revolution, the Civil War, and the years spanning the Great Depression and World War II.  The Crisis of 2020 will be a major turning point in American history and an adrenaline-filled moment of trial.  At its climax, Americans will feel that the fate of posterity—for generations to come—hangs in the balance.

What will the national mood be like?  This crisis will be a pivotal moment in the lifecycles of all generations alive at the time.  The sense of community will be omnipresent.  Moral order will be unquestioned, with "rights" and "wrongs" crisply defined and obeyed.  Sacrifices will be asked, and given.  America will be implacably resolved to do what needs doing, and fix what needs fixing.

How will this crisis end?  Three of the four antecedents ended in triumph, the fourth (the Civil War) in a mixture of moral fatigue, vast human tragedy, and a weak and vengeful sense of victory.  We can foresee a full range of possible outcomes, from stirring achievement to apocalyptic tragedy.

What happens if the crisis comes early?  What if the Millennium—the year 2000 or soon thereafter—provides Boomers with the occasion to impose their "millennial" visions on the nation and world?  The generational cycle suggests that the risk of cataclysm would be very high.  During the 2000‒2009 decade, Boomers will be squarely in midlife and nearing the peak of their political and institutional power.  From a lifecycle perspective, they will be exactly where the Transcendentals were when John Brown was planning his raid on Harper's Ferry.  Boomers can best serve civilization by restraining themselves (or by letting themselves be restrained by others) until their twilight years, when their spiritual energy would find expression not in midlife leadership, but in elder stewardship.

Not bad for a couple of guys writing in 1990!  The main thing they got wrong was the idea that Boomer warrior-priests would actually care about whether their actions are bad for the civilization.
pyesetz: (Default)


According to a recent online poll by PollingPoint, over half of all people who go to church frequently think President Bush's moral values are just like theirs.  This is the best evidence I've ever seen for why organized religions should be banned!

*Grumble* Why can't PollingPoint use decent permalink URL's for their results?  And why don't they say *anything* about how recent the "recent polls" are?
Edit: Duh!  The footnote at the bottom says "February 2005 to July 2005".  Thanks, PZ!
pyesetz: (Default)
Some people used to say that the United States was sort of like Rome and would someday be overrun by barbarians.  Ever wonder what the US would be like after the barbarians took over?

The FluWiki is the best source of info on avian flu.  It's written by anonymous experts, who can't identify themselves because "they fear losing federal money for giving opinions that clash with the Bush administration".

Here is a study showing that glucosamine and condroitin are not more effective than their BigPharma equivalents.  The study was funded by the US government, but run by researchers who also receive grants from the makers of Celebrex, Vioxx, and Tylenol.  It shows an excessive "placebo effect", which suggests that they grabbed homeless people and offered them free medical care in exchange for taking part in this study.  Because America is so stingy with its healthcare, there is a large pool of available test subjects who need medical care but can't afford it.  Anyway the "general healthcare" caused 60% of placebo patients to say their joints improved, while 67% of herbal-remedy patients reported improvement.  The utility of glucosamine and condroitin is therefore disproved because the 7% difference is not statistically significant.

But there's still something to be said for good ole' American heroism and brinksmanship.  Based on this article (by NASA's chief climatologist, whom Dumbya has been trying to muzzle), I predict that the US will continue to do nothing about gobal warming for another 10-15 years, until the sea level rises about ten feet, then embark on a crash Y2K-style five-year program to switch over to hydrogen power. There is a good chance that this approach will actually work and my current location will not end up twenty feet below the surface of the Atlantic Ocean.

* * * * *

"Boiled Rice" is a nice photo of our next Preznit.

Elsewhere in the world: anti-semitic cartoons drawn by Jews.

Cute baby animals: some quail that are not being shot at by the Vice President.  ("Vice" isn't his middle name, it's his first name!)
pyesetz: (Default)
In my travels around the web to avoid doing any real work at the office, I often come across links I want to share with someone.  Generally I send them to my wife, who finds the political ones depressing.  So who wants to be depressed?  Come and get it!

Those of you who read BoingBoing have probably already seen many of these.  Hopefully your browser will show the already-seen links in a different color.

Yeah, I know: this is long and has no connecting theme.

anti-Bush: click here for more links to click on )
pyesetz: (Default)
One of the things that distinguishes us liberals (the 20%-40% of the US population that Karl Rove said were all traitors) is that we think admitting our mistakes makes us stronger.  I was wrong about US law 109-13.

For more info, see my diary entry over on dailyKos.com.
pyesetz: (flag-over-sunrise)
I have selected Abrams & Krochak as my immigration lawyers, based in part on this recommendation (which I'm considering changing to friends-only) and online searches in which I found A&K's successful customers talking about they just get the job done.

I faxed them legal-retainer paperwork and gave them money through their online credit-card system.  I filled out their online versions of the immigration forms (holding my tongue about the infelicities on their PHP coding--remember they're just lawyers).  They sent back an evaluation of my paperwork, recommending that I say more in some areas, less in others.

Progress is happening!

* * * * * * * * * *

All Americans should read US law 109-13, signed by president Bush a month ago.  Especially this part:
SEC. 102.  WAIVER OF LAWS NECESSARY FOR IMPROVEMENT OF BARRIERS AT BORDERS.

Section 102(c) of the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996 (8 U.S.C. 1103 note) is amended to read as follows:
``(c) WAIVER.--
   ``(1) IN GENERAL.--Notwithstanding any other provision of law, the Secretary of Homeland Security shall have the authority to waive, and shall waive, all laws such Secretary, in such Secretary's sole discretion, determines necessary to ensure expeditious construction of the barriers and roads under this section.
   ``(2) NO JUDICIAL REVIEW.--Notwithstanding any other provision of law (statutory or nonstatutory), no court, administrative agency, or other entity shall have jurisdiction--
      ``(A) to hear any cause or claim arising from any action undertaken, or any decision made, by the Secretary of Homeland Security pursuant to paragraph (1); or
      ``(B) to order compensatory, declaratory, injunctive, equitable, or any other relief for damage alleged to arise from any such action or decision.''.


Actually this is Karzai, not ChertoffI know it's an instant cliché, but "This is how liberty dies".  This law grants dictatorial powers to Secretary Michael Chertoff, who can do anything whatsoever merely by chanting the magic words "I need it for building that wall to keep out the Wetbacks."  Suppose Chertoff accidentally gets bumped on the head, suffers personality changes, and announces that Islamic saboteurs are interfering with the construction of his Mexican wall, so all Americans of Arab ancestry must now be placed in concentration camps.  Congress cannot stop him because he can waive any law they pass.  The courts cannot stop him because his actions are immune to judicial review.  He is answerable to no one except his boss George Bush, the Überführer.

What we see here is naked Fascism, no longer afraid to speak its name.  So why did 99% of Senators and 89% of Representatives vote for this?  I don't quite know.  In Germany 1933 the Social Democrats voted against the Ermächtigungsgesetz, even knowing that the Brownshirts would kill anyone who voted against transferring all law-making power to Hitler.  Those guys had core beliefs and the guts to vote for them, which most American congresscritters of today seem to be lacking (John McCain and John Conyers being notable exceptions, although both of them voted for the Chertoff dictatorship).

Others have written similar things about the new PATRIOT act.


* * * * * * * * * *

I just hope I can get out of here in time.  Billmon thinks there may be only "another year or two" before the US dollar plunges in value to its rightful place in the world (next to the Argentinian peso).  Then in a later post he says "3-5 years" until the US economy collapses as Asian investors get tired of supporting our deficit-spending binge.  My plans call for me to arrive in Canada with lots of money, to live on while I get myself a doctorate.  Most of my net worth is currently tied up in real estate, which I can't sell until I'm ready to move out of it.  Hopefully the housing bubble will continue for awhile longer.  Some ridiculous reports suggest that my current house has doubled in value over the last 10 years!

Here is it mid-June and New Jersey already has day after day of temperatures near 100°F.  When will the Weather service update their "seasonal averages" to match the new reality?  How far from the Canadian coast do I need to stay so my new house won't be under water when the polar ice caps melt?
pyesetz: (flag-over-sunrise)
([livejournal.com profile] danruk sort of asked for posts on this topic.  This is friends-only to keep it away from search engines, because If you're not with us, you're a terrorist.  But feel free to discuss this text with other furs.)

For 2½ years I have been "a refusenik in a free country".  The USA would neither allow me to leave nor explain their refusal.  Well, no longer!  After five mailings, three cashier's cheques, and two complete sets of clawprints, they have acquiesced.  At left is the arrangement of ink molecules they finally sent me.  I am a free dog!  With this stamped clawprint card in paw, I can now apply to Immigration Canada for permanent residence.  So my next action should be... to hire an immigration lawyer.  Aroooo!  But it can't be helped.  I've taken as much of this bullshit as I can stand—the rest will have to be outsourced.  The road to Canada is long but I shall press on.  Nobody will be conscripting *my* pups for a war whose rationale changes with the winds!

If you follow such things, you've probably already heard that the US Gestapo (= "TSA") has admitted lying to Congress in the past and apparently plans to do so again in August, when they implement their new "Safe Flight" domestic spying regime despite Congress' direct order to them not to.  My boycott of US air travel (haven't flown since 9/11) will be continuing for the foreseeable future.  Not flying makes it hard to attend FurCons and such, but I refuse to enter any area where the police believe that article I, section 9, clause 3 of the Constitution does not apply to them.  A TSA screener may declare any item whatsoever to be contraband; there is no appeal; you can then be arrested for illegal possession of an item that wasn't illegal when you arrived at the airport; this has happened.

* * * * * * * * * *

From Robert Paxton via Billmon via [livejournal.com profile] porsupah, a definition of Fascism:
Fascism may be defined as a form of political behavior marked by obsessive preoccupation with community decline, humiliation, or victimhood and by compensatory cults of unity, energy and purity, in which a mass-based party of committed nationalist militants, working in uneasy but effective collaboration with traditional elites, abandons democratic liberties and pursues with redemptive violence and without ethical or legal restraints goals of internal cleansing and external expansion.

* * * * *

On a lighter note, I heard some new music on the radio today.  The singer is no kid, but he nails that teenager-angst sound.
I almost got popped for a fight with a thug
Cuz he almost made off with a buncha the drugs
That I almost got hooked on cuz you ran away
And I wished I woulda had the nerve to ask you to stay

And I almost had you
But I guess that doesn't cut it
Almost had you
And I didn't even know it

Here I go thinkin' about all the things I could have done
I'm gonna need a forklift cuz all the baggage weighs a ton
I know we've had our problems. I can't remember one.

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