pyesetz: (woof)
On Thursday, President Trump announced that if the Republicans did not pass the replacement healthcare system by Friday, then he would drop the matter and stay with ObamaCare (which remember is basically the same as RomneyCare, which was a Republican initiative to begin with).  On Friday, as expected, the replacement plan did not pass because it wasn't mean enough to poor people.  Here we are on Monday night and apparently the TrumpCare plan remains dead.

This is the correct outcome!  The Repubs have been saying for seven years that they would "repair or replace" ObamaCare, which they hated because Barack Obama has black skin.  (It couldn't have been because of anything *in* the plan, because Obama had copied it from the Repubs to begin with.)  For seven years they fundraised off racist donors who hated a plan that helps Black people more than Whites.  The (R)'s won the 2016 election, in part, by promising to get rid of ObamaCare and make Black people die in the gutter as God intended.  But of course they can't actually do that.  ObamaCare, like MediCare, is now a permanent entitlement.  Too many voters are getting benefits from it and it would cost too many votes to get rid of it.

So how did Trump get out of this unimplementable campaign promise, this "pre-existing condition" signature issue of the Republican party?  He made a big show of *trying* to pass a lame attempt at replacement, which of course failed, and then he dusted off his hands, declared failure, and moved on.  End of campaign promise!  ObamaCare is now the law of the Republican land — which is the right answer for America.  Of course, ObamaCare is a stinking pile of rotting garbage compared to what Canadians get, or what most every well-off country on the planet offers to their citizens (except Andorra — what is wrong with those people?).  But Americans can't have nice things, so ObamaCare is the best they can do.  And Trump has now announced what amounts to bipartisan support for it.  Such a nice president!

I sometimes wonder whether the ban-on-some-Muslims is a similar trick.  Trump repeated that promise over and over during the campaign because it got such big roars from the crowd, but banning Muslims will not Make America Great Again.  We've tried that before.  Banning Chinese people did not MAGA.  Putting quotas on Catholic immigrants did not MAGA.  Throwing all the Japanese-looking people into concentration camps did not MAGA.  We know this approach doesn't actually help with anything except generating applause at election rallies.  So Trump has twice now issued an "executive proclamation" in which he appears to be trying to keep his campaign promise to ban Muslims, only to be shut down by Conservative judges appointed by President W.  Did Trump know that would happen?  Was the whole Muslim-ban just a feint to get out of a inadvisable campaign promise?

And how about "Mexico will pay for the wall"?  What a great applause line that was!  But it seems pretty clear that Donald has no idea how to make it actually happen.  Somehow he will need to make an attempt, declare failure, and move on.  Might I suggest that the USA buy something for Canada, which then buys something for Mexico, which then buys the wall for the USA?  It's a three amigos gift exchange!  I can't imagine anything else that could possibly work.
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: (woof)
(Brown text = post-election edits.)

It’s been almost six years(!) since the last time I linked to the blog of my American friend and colleague, Dr. J.  Gotta cross-link to your homies to keep our Google rankings up!  Anyway, Dr. J works for the US gov’t, so he may be obligated to write political tracts in support of the incoming Stalinist dictator Constitutionally-limited president.  He published this tract on a Sunday, perhaps to hide the fact (if it is one) that he was required to write it on paid government time.  There is a law against that, but it’s widely ignored like most good-government laws in the USA.

The didactic form that Dr. J chose is the “in an alternate universe, Hillary is actually guilty of something” meme, which isn’t bad as propaganda styles go.  Certainly it is less objectionable than the style chosen by Dr. Phil Plait, who basically starts from the reasonable “Global Warming is the most important issue” and the unreasonable ”politicians do not lie” and somehow manages to conclude that Hillary is the best candidate — even though she is pro-WWIII and Donald is against it and the world wars show up as spikes on the historical temperature chart.  So I guess I could perhaps join in on this fun, although personally I endorse Jill Stein because she tells the fewest lies.

Before we begin, I should note that Dr. J’s piece is actually funny, which is probably more than I can hope to achieve with my own work.  His Churchillian grammar reference is excellent and I found myself agreeing with the imaginary crowd furious at Hillary’s misquote.  It’s “shall not”, I say!  Yet even in an alternate universe, it is still the anti-Hillary forces that are correct.

 
Alternate Universe № ❰∞,∞,∞,26,∞,0,19,∞̅…❱ (see supernatural numbers, which I don’t actually believe in because ∞ is a figment of the mathematical imagination; Objective Reality probably doesn’t contain any numbers larger than around 10⁸⁵ or so).
      Conceit: In this universe (which we can never locate because its ID number is transfinite), Hillary actually had a legitimate reason to operate her honeypot email server that provided live feeds to Russia and Al Qaeda and Goldman Sachs containing the classified info that she received.
      Resulting difference: Not much, really.  The Espionage Act of 1917 says it applies to everyone, including the president.  It does not offer any exemption for politicians who possess a legitimate national-security reason to burn an agent’s cover; if that action results in another agent’s death then the politician is supposed to get the electric chair.  So Hillary Clinton is basically in the same category as Dick Cheney.
 
Alternate Universe № 5.2761 (but keeping in mind that fractional numbers which are not ratios might not actually exist; they might instead be mere measurement conveniences arising from the enormous gap between human-sized units and physics-sized ones).
      Conceit: In this universe, Hillary actually still has a shred of decency left in her, so she does not make a big deal of Donald’s misogynistic ways.  Because, you know, her husband Bill has done most of the same things — except only Donald dared to talk about it when he knew the mic was on, thus showing that Donald is an idiot.  And Hillary has insisted all along that absolutely nothing Bill has ever done was actually wrong, so therefore (for her) those same things should also not have been wrong when Donald did them.  Donald's contemptible attitude toward women could certainly be criticized by other Democrats (such as Huma Abedin, who divorced her own husband for less) but this would lead to questions about Bill that Hillary doesn't want to hear.
      Resulting difference: None.  It doesn’t matter which acts of muck-raking Hillary decides are beneath her (if any).  Barack Obama has already announced that the winner of the election shall be Hillary.  He has also hinted that if for any reason the vote-counting machines ring up “Donald” as their answer, that could only mean that the machines were hacked by the Russians because the American people do not have permission from their president to vote for Donald.  HeilHillary!  It outta be a crime not to love her!
 
Alternate Universe № 3141592653589793238462643383279502884197169399375110⁴⁹.  (This ratio *might* be the true value of π, if transcendental numbers do not actually exist.  In any event, because our home universe is quantized, there is probably no physical experiment that could ever be performed which would prove that this *isn’t* the true value of π.)
      Conceit: In this universe, Hillary is openly working for Goldman Sachs, the vampire squid that wants to RULE THE WORLD by installing its Manchurian candidates as the leaders of all major governments.  None of the policies she espouses on the campaign trail have anything to do with her actual plans for her presidency, which consist of transferring all remaining wealth from Main St to Wall St while waging a causeless war against Russia in order to bring about the Nuclear Apocalypse, thus ensuring the Second Coming of Jesus Christ among the poor bedraggled survivors on a burnt-out planet.
      Resulting difference: Um, there seems to be a technical glitch in our Inter-Universal Counterfactuality gizmo.  Apparently the ID number for this “alternate universe” is actually a synonym of our own.  Anyway, by the Reflexive Property, there cannot be any difference between two universes that differ only in name and not in character.
pyesetz: (spirograph)
"Fox News offered former anchor Gretchen Carlson 20 million dollars and an apology after she spent years being sexually harassed by Roger Ailes, who looks like they tried to clone Alfred Hitchcock but the DNA was incomplete so they just filled it in with genetic material from a Basset hound, mashed potatoes, and the mumps, which they then stirred around in a Waffle House toilet after the toilet had just looked at the Ark of the Covenant."

---Chris Hardwick, host of @Midnight

(via)

Politics

Jul. 30th, 2016 11:47 am
pyesetz: (flag-over-sunrise)
I don't believe the polls that say Donald is leading.  The media need to create the illusion of a close race in order to sell their ads.  Actually, a vote for anyone other than Donald (or no vote at all) is a vote for Hillary because she has convinced everyone that the election is rigged in her favour and her coronation is now assured unless something catastrophic happens (such as Hillary spending 100× as much as Donald on TV ads, causing everyone to become sick to death of her and voting for him just as a protest).

But protest votes can be dangerous, as England and Wales discovered recently.  It was widely believed that the Brexit was rigged and the "Leave the EU" side would not be permitted to win, so there was no harm in voting for it as a protest against rigged elections.  But there were so many protest votes that "Leave" actually won — and then, unexpectedly, the government accepted the will of the people.  Something like that seems like the only way Donald could win.

I might be willing to vote for Jill Stein as a protest vote (she's pro-Bernie and not actually anti-vax but just anti-FDA/CDC corruption; also she lives in my boyhood hometown).  But Jill is not on the ballot in New Jersey and probably can't get on it by November because NJ is a party-machine state and the Greens have never won more than a schoolboard seat there.  So I guess I'll let Hillary win by not voting for anyone.

Here in Canada, the Liberals are using the American election as a fund-raiser.  This is perhaps typically-Canadian passive-aggressive behaviour in that if you don't know what's going on, it's not even clear that they're dissing the Yanks with this ad.  I would summarize this as, "You should donate to the Liberals because they don't make Canadians feel embarrassed about their country, unlike *some* parties on this continent!"

The improper use of the "success baby" meme is just icing on the cake.
pyesetz: (flag-over-sunrise)
Last weekend, both the Liberals and the Conservatives held party conventions in Canada.  Former Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced his retirement, so current Prime Minister Justin Trudeau gave him some bon mots:

“We need to remember that even though [the Conservatives] may be our opponents, they’re not our enemies. They’re our neighbours and our friends.”

“I can tell you, even if you weren’t a fan of his politics, there can be no doubting Stephen Harper’s commitment to our country.”

Of course, party rivalry being what it is, the main news item from this event was former Liberal leader Bob Rae pretending to throw up at the idea of praising Harper.

Years ago, people used to compare Stephen Harper with George W. Bush, but really this was hyperbole.  Harper wanted his country to do well.  Bush wanted his country to be weak enough to drown in a bathtub.  They sometimes agreed on means, but never on ends.

I joined the Liberal Party of Canada about a month ago, thinking maybe it could help me get a job.  The constant barrage of fund-raising emails has been disheartening, including the ones from the P.M.  But then sometimes Justin puts on his "statesman" hat and I wish everyone else in his party were just like him.
pyesetz: (woof)

Thank you for your words.  It's great that you have found a candidate to believe in.  Please enjoy the feeling that there is a candidate out there who actually *deserves* your vote.  But please also do keep in mind the fact that your preferred candidate has feet of clay.

> Please explain to me just one single possible fraudulent criminal act that you think Hillary is guilty of.

Hillary personally accepted a bribe of $675,000 from Goldman Sachs, an enemy of the Free World that some call the vampire squid because of its desire to install Manchurian candidates in most every national government.  The money was supposed to be for “speeches” but Hillary is unable to produce even redacted transcripts for those speeches, nor has anyone come forward to say they attended, likely because the speeches never actually happened.  Of course, Hillary is quite capable of giving actual speeches, so she didn’t *need* to lie about what the money was for, but she lied anyway.  This “cheating for its own sake” seems to be a repeating pattern with her.  Anyway, selling speeches and then not delivering them is fraud, and it is a crime to take a bribe in exchange for protecting banksters from the jail-time that they deserve.

Hillary did not *need* to cheat in order to win Nevada.  She certainly didn’t need to have “her” people, supposedly-neutral party apparachiks, blatantly treat the delegates differently based on whom they were pledged to.  There was no need to bring in police to protect her cronies from the nonexistent violence of those whom they had just wronged.  There was no need for the police to all be dressed in brownshirts, as if the Democratic Party were comprised of Nazis.  There was no actual need for any of this; it was all for show.  “Vote for me because I’m a corrupt politician who cheats and gets away with it.”  There are apparently Republicans who find this behaviour attractive, but I don’t.

Voting in Phoenix was so bad, we cannot know how many delegates Hillary truly deserves.  Hillary could have made a show of tut-tutting the people who did this, insisting that everyone should have the right to get their vote counted in this free country.  Al Gore might have refused to accept the votes of tainted delegates, but Hillary is not Al.

The City of New York is auditing the Board of Elections because it deleted 126,000 people, overweighted with college students, from the party rolls at the last minute, without notice or explanation or reason, apparently for fear that some of them might possibly vote for Bernie.  This is not what one might call “a free and fair election”.  This is just as wrong as when Republicans delete Blacks from the voter rolls for fear that some of them might vote for a Democrat.  Again, Hillary could have made a statement that what happened in NYC was wrong.  She did not.  How many delegates from New York does Hillary actually deserve?  We don’t know, and Hillary seems perfectly okay with that.  I’m not.  This is election-tampering.  It doesn’t matter that Republicans do it too; I expect better of Democrats.  It doesn’t matter that nobody ever goes to jail for it.  Interfering with elections is still a crime.  Did Hillary give the order to delete those voters?  What did she know and when did she know it?  If the USA were a free country, we would have the right to expect an investigation.  Maybe it was the local office acting on their own initiative, hoping to curry favour with the Clinton-leaning national party establishment; or maybe she’s guilty as sin.  I don’t know.

> Trump beat his wife, grabbed her hair and forcibly raped her.  And Hillary is worse?

Why no, actually.  Donald is a racist sexist pig and I certainly wouldn’t want to be a member of his household.  There are reports that Hillary’s mean streak is a mile wide, so maybe her household isn’t a nice place to be, either.  I don’t think I would want to have a beer with either of them.  But we were talking about which person would make better decisions as president.

> E-mail server? No crime there. If it were, Colin Powell would be under investiation.

You cannot conclude that something isn’t a crime just because a Republican is observed to get away with it.  Hillary’s private server was illegal, just like Colin’s.  But no one is claiming that Colin ran a deliberately-insecure server that allowed foreign governments to steal classified information.  Hillary’s two excuses for this behaviour are basically that she’s ”often confused” (≈ McCain’s “senior moment”?) and also she ”doesn’t know much about computers”.  Either of these excuses would explain why the server was insecure when originally set up, but neither explains why it stayed that way for four years.  Lots of people tried to get her to fix it, but she told them to never speak of the Secretary’s personal email server again.  This is not the behaviour of a person who doesn’t know much about computers and becomes concerned when someone tells her she’s using them wrong.  This is not a person having a brief senior moment and then coming to her senses when the next person brings up the same issue.  This is a Manchurian candidate who *wanted* the server to be insecure.  So who is she working for?  Maybe I’m naïve, but I just can’t imagine Hillary as a secret agent for Russia or China.  Maybe Saudi Arabia, but most likely Goldman Sachs.

Read more... )
pyesetz: (woof)

TD/Allianz Insurance (via telephone; 10:15am - 10:45am).  Kid #2 still can’t hear much with his right ear, so I call the insurance company to find out which clinic around here will work with them.  They call Lake Buena Vista CentraCare, confirm that it is willing to direct-bill them, and then fax over a pre-authorization form for us.  The insurance company says that the clinic is expecting us and we should proceed there immediately.

CentraCare (Lake Buena Vista FL, 11:00am - 2:30pm).  They received the fax and are expecting us, but still there are hours of waiting during which people who arrive after us are seen first; later I learn that you are supposed to go to their website and make an “appointment” (even though it is an urgent-care clinic) in order to obtain a “significantly” reduced wait-time.
      Of course, the first thing to do is fill out medical-history forms.  The most bizarrely-American item on the forms is the requirement that the patient must identify his “race” and whether he is “hispanic”.  Kid #2 has no idea what his race is (the concept is not much used in Canada).  I tell him that I generally say my race is either “White” or “Other” (because “Jewish” used to be a separate race, but was combined with “White” in the 1930s for political reasons; when I hear “White race” I think of what Sarah Palin calls “real Americans”, who are not my people and have no common ancestry with me in the last 1,000 years); Kid #2 writes ”White” on the form.  There is another Canadian seeking medical care at the clinic, who loudly complains about the absurdity of the race question.  “Everyone’s the same in Canada,” she says.  I elect not to mention to her the situation of the Québécois (or the Aboriginals, for that matter — Canada gives them special ID cards which exempt them from sales tax, but that really doesn’t compensate them for the crap they put up with).
      A person’s declared race is of little medical value.  For example, about 10% of black people have G6PD deficiency which causes certain drugs to be unsuitable for them, but most Blacks don’t have this problem and some Whites do (especially Jews and other Mediterranean people).  Anyway, there is absolutely no medical reason to ask for the race of the guarantor who will be paying for the service!  But yes, the form wants to know my race, too.  I think this is because of US government regulations requiring medical practitioners to collect such data and which obligate them, for patients who refuse to participate in this inanity, to use their own prejudices to guess which race the person providing the money seems to be a member of.
      Another bizarrely-American feature of this medical clinic is the inspirational quote that is painted on the wall over the restroom doors.  It says something like, “Faith in Christ improves wellness of mind, body, and spirit”.  Later I learn that CentraCare is part of Florida Hospital, which is owned by Adventist Health System, which is an arm of the Seventh-day Adventist Church.
      The city of Lake Buena Vista is a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Walt Disney Corporation, so Florida Hospital must be paying them rent in order to run a business here.  While we were waiting, someone came in claiming to be a Disney employee; he was refused treatment and was told that he must go to DisneyCorp’s own medical facilities.  Lake Buena Vista is basically the implementation of Walt’s EPCOT concept for the corporatist ”city of tomorrow“, where your citizenship class determines which medical facilities you may use.  (In Ontario, anyone can be treated anywhere, although you’ll usually get quicker service in a clinic than at an emergency room and more personalized service if you set up a continuing relationship with a physician’s private practice.)
      * * * * *
      Eventually a doctor examines Kid #2 for (just about) two minutes.  Based on her bedside manner, I think she is a pediatrician.  Kid #2 is 17 years old, which now makes him an ”adult” as far as Canadian healthcare is concerned, but in the American system he is still a “child” and must be seen by a kid-doctor rather than an ear-doctor.  She says his earwax is impacted, prescribes an irrigation of both ear canals using diluted H₂O₂, announces that the clinic will provide this service, then leaves.  After some more waiting, a nurse(?) comes in and performs the procedure, which is effective in restoring Kid #2’s hearing.  Then more waiting.  Then the doctor returns for another few minutes to examine the cleaned ear canals.  The right one is red, so she prescribes ofloxacin drops twice a day for five days.  More waiting.  An orderly(?) announces that the clinic will sell us this medication for $27.  I agree to pay.  More waiting.  The orderly comes back to say that this particular CentraCare clinic is out of stock on that medication; he gives me an scrip and suggests I drive down the street to Walgreens to get the drug.
      And then, a wondrous thing happens: we are let out of the building without having to pay anything!  Thank you, TD Canada Trust bank, for selling us this foreign-travel health insurance that ACTUALLY WORKS!  The insurance cost $80 for two weeks’ coverage of four people; Allianz said on the phone that the estimated cost of an exam for “ear infection” is about $250.

Landscape of Flavors (1:50pm).  Meanwhile, back at the hotel, Wifey and Kid #1 eat lunch in the cafeteria.

Walgreens pharmacy (Lake Buena Vista FL, 2:35pm - 2:45pm).  The pharmacist says that the drug costs $113!  I don’t know why the price is so different, nor whether Allianz would reimburse me so much.  The antibiotic treatment doesn’t seem so important now that the canal is clean, so I decide to put this problem off until tomorrow.

Art of Animation parking lot (2:55pm).  Our first FastPass™ of the day is scheduled for 3:55pm (already rejiggered from 2:50pm because there’s no way we can make that), so the plan is for Wifey and Kid #1 to take the bus to Epcot if we don’t get back to the hotel by 2:55pm.  The bus shows up at the same time we do, so the womenfolk skip the bus and hitch a ride in our rental car to the amusement park.

Epcot®.  The Experimental Prototype City of Tomorrow, brought to you by various corporate sponsors who control which facts each ride may present.  Attractions visited today: Electric Umbrella (lunch, 3:34pm; snack, 4:11pm), Spaceship Earth, Ellen’s Energy Adventure, Mission: SPACE (except Wifey), Test Track (except Wifey), The Seas with Nemo & Friends, Sunshine Seasons (dinner, 7:56pm), Soarin (Kid #1 & I), and The Circle of Life (Wifey & Kid #2).
      Kid #2 and I catch up on lunch at the Electric Umbrella, since we didn’t have time after the medical stuff.  I get a bottle of water for Wifey to use up another snack credit.
      Spaceship Earth is now sponsored by Siemens instead of AT&T; the dioramas have been completely redone to emphasize “communication technology” instead of “connecting people across the world”.
      Ellen’s Energy Adventure has not been redone in 20 years (perhaps because Exxon stopped sponsoring it in 2004); it is now quite dated.  Bill Nye has aged considerably since this presentation was recorded.  He is the co-star with Ms. DeGeneres and his career is currently doing very well (with multiple honorary doctorates received in recent years), so why doesn’t he get billing?  The emphasis on compact fluorescent lightbulbs and wind power as “the future” now seems ridiculous.
      The Seas is a new ride.  It is similar to It’s a Small World, except with an undersea theme rather than toys/Christmas, and is sponsored by Disney’s Finding Nemo rather than Mattel.
      Of the restaurants on our dining plan, Sunshine Seasons seems to have the best selection so far.  My dinner is tuna salad on a croissant, strawberry shortcake, and orange juice (my throat is scratchy).
      Soarin is new.  It is a motion-simulator ride in front of an iMAX-type giant movie screen, where you pretend to be flying with the birds.  On our way out of this ride, I remark to Kid #1 that there was a dirt-spot on the screen that was visible when a pale color was displayed there; some random other park guest walking by says, “Oh, you noticed that, too?”
      The park is open an extra two hours tonight, for Disney resort guests only, but we are too tired to utilize this feature and go back to our hotel at the regular closing time.  Six hours of amusement is enough!  Wifey’s schedule had called for us to visit Club Cool, Journey Into Imagination, Turtle Talk, and Innoventions, but we decide to put those off until our next visit to Epcot later in this vacation.

A pun

Jan. 5th, 2015 02:01 pm
pyesetz: (woof)
"Senator Harry Reid is resting in pieces this morning as he recovers from broken ribs and facial bones he suffered while he was using a piece of exercise equipment that broke.  But the good news is he didn't break his lower leg bone, thus avoiding a protracted fibulabuster."

--Bill in Portland, Maine
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: (arctic-fox)

Cousins’ house (Attleboro MA).  Visit my brother-in-law (BIL #3), his wife (SIL #2), and their three kids.  Also BIL #2 stopped by during the visit, but without his wife SIL #3.  I wish the BIL and SIL numbering weren’t so silly, but that’s pseudonymous life for you.
      Cousin #1 is now 13 and a fairly-stereotypical Asperger’s kid, given to loud self-centered speeches followed by storming off to play by himself.  I kept looking at this kid and thinking, “I wasn’t that bad, was I?” but it is impossible to know.  Anyway, I think he’s going to turn out just fine.
      Although there had never been any mention of it by email, BIL #3’s household has been vegan for over a year now, so our cheesecake was rejected (but the cookies were okay as a special-occasion treat).  Once again, SIL #2 served spaghetti, meatballs, salad, and garlic bread — this time the meatballs were faux, yet still tasty enough.
      BIL #3 showed us his most excellent find: Star Trek Continues.  It is amazing that one guy (Vic) built the sets, wrote the script, and cast himself as the chief BAD guy!  Pretty much everything that is wrong with this show (implausible motivations, convenient mistakes by bad guys so the good guys can always win, etc.) is a faithful copy of things that were wrong with the original series.  Too bad they couldn’t get funding for more episodes.
      I played Apples to Apples: Disney with Kid #1, Wifey, Cousin #2, and Cousin #3.  Some of the cousins’ moves were poorly thought out, such as playing an Evil Mommy card when my wife was the judge!  But they’re only 11 and 9 years old and it takes a lot of experience to predict how others will feel about moves that seem right to you.
      We spent some time discussing what a great place Canada is.  They did not mention how much they hate living in the USA (because you do not say such things out loud while living in a non-free country).  At one point, Cousin #1 announced that he was moving to Canada when he turns 18, causing his father to say, “No you’re not”.  So then Wifey and I went into our usual spiel about how it took five years to get permission to cross the border, and 12 years in total to go from “we should move to Canada” to “we have Canadian passports”.  And I *still* have never held a local job!
      There was some discussion about the pending settlement of my mother-in-law’s estate, but really there was nothing to say.
      Wifey picked up some purchases that had been mailed to the cousins’ house to avoid Canadian-import difficulties.  The Amazon.com package came with a nicely-itemized packing list, but the packages from Rainbow Resource Center did not specify how much they cost, which could have led to difficulties with sales tax at the Canadian border.
      BIL #2 said that he and his wife were thinking of visiting Toronto next year to see a sports game.  My house is “only” 90 minutes west of Toronto, so he might stop by for a visit.  Hopefully he won’t get lost on the way.





A maze of twisty residential streets, all alike (Attleboro MA).  We missed a turn leaving the cousins’ house and spent some time going in circles trying to get out of their housing development.

Panera Bread (Plainville MA, 7:00pm).  $44.83 for dinner.  I had read recently that Panera is now considered a better value than McDonald’s, which seemed odd because I used to think of them as overpriced.  Well, times change!  For only $7 I got a tuna sandwich, a bowl of chicken noodle soup, and a piece of tasty French baguette.  We would never have found this place if we hadn’t missed the turn onto US route 1 in order to get back to Interstate 495 towards our hotel.

pyesetz: (woof)
"You know how much threat ISIS represents to the United States?  None.  That's how much.  Exactly none.  If there was a value less than none, then it would be that, but there's not, so none is the answer.

"You know what does represent a threat to the the United States, a bona fide danger to our continued existence as the land of the semi-free and occasionally bravish?  Acting as if every person who says they want to turn the United States into dictatorial hell hole, is capable of making the United States their bitch.  ISIS is a ragtag organization on the far side of the world, armed mostly with the discards we either sold to the last set of thugs (note: proper use of the term) who used the gear to cow their relatives, or the stuff we left sitting around because bringing the old stuff back threatened all those contracts for building new stuff.  ISIS could no more threaten the United States than Lindsey Graham could punch God in the nose.  The existential threat level is green. Or at least, it should be."

(source)
pyesetz: (flag-over-sunrise)

(Advance voting has already begun but my family *still* hasn't received our voter-registration cards.)

Parties: LIB = Liberal, PC = Progressive Conservative, NDP = New Democratic, GRN = Green

Source: CBC’s vote compass

Strongly disagree/
Much less
Somewhat disagree/
Somewhat less
Neutral/
Same as now
Somewhat agree/
Somewhat more
Strongly Agree/
Much more
When businesses make a lot of money everyone benefits, even the poor.
  me  NDP   LIB  PC  GRN  
Government should provide bail-outs to large corporations that are struggling.
PC me  LIB  GRN   NDP  
How much regulation should there be on business?
PC me  LIB GRN NDP    
How much should college and university students pay for their education?
  LIB  NDP me  PC  GRN    
Catholic schools should no longer receive funding from the government.
LIB  PC me NDP GRN  
Full-day kindergarten should be available in all schools.
  me  PC   LIB  NDP  GRN  
Teachers' salaries should be tied to their performance, rather than seniority.
  me  LIB  NDP  GRN   PC  
How much of Ontario's energy should come from nuclear power?
  me  LIB  NDP  GRN   PC  
Ontario should build more wind farms.
  PC me LIB  NDP  GRN  
No new oil pipelines should be built in Ontario.
  LIB  PC me  NDP   GRN
Environmental regulations should be stricter, even if it means consumers pay higher prices.
  PC me  LIB NDP GRN
People should be able to pay for faster access to medical treatment.
LIB  NDP  GRN PC   me  
People should have the choice to receive private or public health care.
LIB  NDP  GRN     PC me
Government should increase funding for health care, even if it means higher taxes.
  PC me LIB  NDP  GRN  
There should be no government funding for abortion.
me  LIB  NDP  GRN   PC    
Prostitution should be treated like any other commercial activity.
LIB  PC   NDP me  GRN  
Terminally ill patients should be able to legally end their own lives with medical assistance.
    LIB  PC  NDP  GRN me  
Marijuana should be legalized.
  PC LIB NDP  GRN me
How much should be done to accommodate religious minorities in Ontario?
    me  LIB  PC  NDP  GRN    
How many immigrants should Ontario admit?
    me  PC  GRN LIB  NDP  
Drivers should be taxed more in order to pay for public transit.
PC  NDP me  LIB     GRN
How much money should welfare recipients get?
    me  PC LIB  NDP  GRN  
How much should government do to reduce the gap between rich and poor?
    PC me  LIB  NDP  GRN  
Social assistance should be provided by private charities, not government.
me  LIB  NDP  GRN     PC  
How much tax should corporations pay?
  PC me  LIB NDP  GRN  
How much should wealthier people pay in taxes?
  PC me  GRN NDP  LIB  
Workers should be able to opt-out of their workplace union.
LIB  NDP GRN PC me  
Ontario should require workers to save more for retirement.
  PC  GRN me NDP LIB
The minimum wage should be tied to inflation.
  PC   GRN me  LIB  NDP
Public sector unions should not be allowed to strike.
NDP me  LIB  GRN   PC  
pyesetz: (woof)
Most macros using this coon photo are lame, but this one seems better than many:


From what little I've heard about South Africa in recent years, the New Black Boss is just as corrupt as the Old White Boss.

Cyprus

Mar. 17th, 2013 09:20 pm
pyesetz: (flag-over-sunrise)
Hey, Americans!  Did you know that the country of Cyprus went bankrupt yesterday?  I thought not.  Did you know that tomorrow just happens to be a regularly-scheduled bank holiday in that country?  After banks closed on Friday for a three-day weekend, the people of Cyprus were told that their deposit insurance was ineffective and they will lose 7¢ of every euro they thought they had — and the cabinet politicians assured them that they had negotiated this great deal because the ECB's original offer would have confiscated 40¢ of every Cypriot euro!  As you can imagine, the citizenry are a wee bit unhappy after hearing this news, with some minor-league rioting, so the back-bench politicians are making a show of not voting for the deal today like they were told to — so the cabinet declared that Tuesday will now be an unplanned bank holiday, as will every day from now until the government of Cyprus obeys its orders from Europe, because Cypriot banks actually failed last June and have been living ever since on borrowed time and ECB handouts, which have now come to an end.

Did you know that the people of Iceland were in a similar situation in 2007, and they refused to bail out the banksters, despite the dire warnings that their world would end if they didn't?  Well, things were bad for a few years, but Iceland's world didn't end, and they're doing sort of okay these days.  So it is not yet clear whether Cyprus will actually bend over as instructed.  The obvious alternative is to refund 100% of depositors' money for Cypriot citizens and make the foreign depositors take the loss.  Problem: the foreign depositors in Cyprus are widely believed to be Russian mobsters, who do not take kindly to losses — and Cyprus owes a whole lot of money to the government of Russia, from whom they took a bridge loan last year.  Did you know any of this?  Because American media have all collectively decided that you don't need to know.  But (for now) we still have the Internet.

Meanwhile, anyone who is paying attention will realize that "FDIC insured" doesn't mean anything any more.  There is not enough money in the world to make all depositors whole.  Eventually the USA will finish flooding the world with worthless government bonds that can never be repaid, and there will be no one left still dumb enough to buy them, so the government will run out of money, so it will no longer be able to make good on "FDIC insured" promises (because that's where the money has been coming from, folks).

Welcome to the Brave New World, where your news media are censored for your protection.  Because surely you wouldn't have wanted to hear about Cyprus if it would be upsetting and maybe put you off of your next shopping spree?  The world needs you to keep shopping, because God knows your money isn't safe in banks.  But that's such a downer.  Wouldn't you rather hear about two high-school football players who were convicted of rape because they tweeted about it?  The poor girl!  Those poor strapping young men whose athletic careers are now RUINED!  Let's not worry our pretty little heads about some boring "money" thing.  Change the channel, Edith!
pyesetz: (stock)
"China owns so much US debt that the INTEREST INCOME they receive from the Treasury Department is nearly enough to fund their entire military budget."

"In just 11-years, the Ottoman central government went from spending 17% of its tax revenue on interest payments, to spending over 52% of its tax revenue on interest payments. Then came default. Eleven years. The US is at 15% right now. How long will it take for the interest burden to become unbearable?"

Zero Hedge

On another note: The favourite song of zombies? Supercalifragibrainsaretotallydelicious
pyesetz: (flag-over-sunrise)
In the Globe & Mail:
Police raids on two downtown Toronto addresses Sunday, including an apartment on trendy Yorkville Avenue, led to the seizure of eight firearms along with a giant haul of drugs that may have included a quantity of the synthetic drug known as "bath salts."  If so, it would be one of the first Canadian seizures of the drug, which drew bizarre headlines last month when a man allegedly high on it was arrested in Miami and charged after eating a portion of another man's face.

Um, no.  The Miami zombie was shot twelve times and died at the scene.  He was not "arrested".  I'm glad that they used the word "allegedly", because there has never been any evidence connecting the Miami assault to any of the three street drugs—it was just some cop's wild guess, which the media picked up because "there has to be *some* explanation".  Note that the police aren't even saying that there was *any* MPDV found in those raids, so this entire article has no foundation and is just trying to keep the Miami zombie attack in people's minds to prevent the fear from wearing off.

Here are the "related stories" provided by the G&M for this article:
  • Face-eating stories trigger questions about mysterious ‘bath salts’ drug
  • Tories seek ban on ‘bath salts’ drug after grisly U.S. face-eating attack
  • These zombies are really scary
Well, you've got to hand it to the Tories: they are masters of fear-mongering.  And the G&M are masters of sucking up to the politicians—whoever happens to be in power today.
pyesetz: (rabbit)
If people would just return to the 'two sleeps' pattern of their ancestors, that would save energy (we'd go to bed earlier), increase the birth rate (nothing else to do between the two sleeps), and increase environmentalism (by bringing us back into tune with Nature).  The reason why 'two sleeps' is never mentioned in the Bible is because the House of Borgia demanded that it be expunged from all extant copies in order to increase candle sales.  Cancer, shyness, and nominalism are all side-effects of the unnatural 8-hours-in-a-row sleep pattern.  Also, squat toilets.

* * * * *

If the European Central Bank is actually intending to do an illegal bailout by printing up Euros and "loaning" them to Spanish banks, accepting gum wrappers and bits of string as the collateral, then which country will experience the resulting food riots?  Last time it was Algeria.

* * * * *

My URTY model triggered!  Since March 26th, my robot has woken up every hour, checked the stock market, and then asked itself: "Is it time to buy URTY yet?"  And every hour — 436 times in a row! — the answer has been "No."  Until 11am this morning, when the answer was "Yes".  I was shocked.  Shocked, I tell you!  The URTY model is designed to detect periods of inflation due to stealth money-printing by central banksters.  Unfortunately, it is wrong about ⅓ of the time.  We shall see.  When it's wrong, the robot will usually sell at a loss within a week.
pyesetz: (Default)

So, I drove the family to Massachusetts and back.  And I said I would write a post about it.  But all I have is this pile of three dozen receipts.  How am I supposed to weave them into a story?  I guess I’ll start with a dedication:

This road trip was funded by a grant from the estate of BIL #1, who died last year of alcoholism after being thrown out of the Army for refusing yet another tour of duty in Iraq.  I consider him to be a war casualty.

Day 0: Preparation

Buy gas: It is 1:45 PM on September the 26th.  The big trip begins tomorrow.  I am at the recently-opened gas station down the street from my house, filling up my tank.  I buy 67⅔ litres of gasoline for $81 (that's about $4.80/gallon for Americans).  I am thinking that perhaps I shouldn’t buy so much gas, since it’s cheaper across the border in New York, but I don’t want to deal with the stations near the border — last time I had trouble with a gas pump that wouldn’t accept my American credit card because my address doesn’t have a zipcode.
      This gas station has a large sign that says “Mac’s” with an owl logo.  The pumps have logos for Shell Oil.  The receipt says it’s from Shell Canada.  Nowhere to be seen is the name ”Alimentation Couche-Tard”, which I think is the shadowy megacorp that actually owns this store.  They are apparently not very nice and perhaps the #OccupyMontreal people should keep them in mind.  Still, they were willing to spend lots of money to build this station in my little town, so I guess they have some redeeming social value, unlike the banks who refuse to open any branches here.
      The receipt also includes a store number, a gas pump serial number, a transaction number, a credit card approval number, a sales tax ID number, zzzzzzzz...  You know what?  I don’t give a shit about this crap!  Let’s jump forward to the middle of the story, because that’s just the kind of left-handed doggie that I am.

Day 5: Aquarium

October 1st is one of two days of our trip that were set aside for visiting museums, on the grounds that BIL #1 would have wanted us to have some fun with his money.

Drive to Boston: We are on our way to the New England Aquarium.  I paid some tolls on the Mass. Turnpike to get here, but didn’t get any receipts so fuck it.  I haven’t been to this aquarium in many years.  As we get closer to it, I vaguely remember that it has some sort of parking problem.  I pass by one garage that seems quite far away from the destination, but advertises $18 for aquarium parking.  I keep going in hopes that maybe something more convenient will show up.

Parking: We arrive at Central Wharf, which is a mob scene with wall-to-wall tourists.  Eventually, at 1 PM, we complete the maze of one-way streets to arrive at the parking garage that is adjacent to the aquarium.  The charge is $35.  Ah, now I remember!  The aquarium and the garage next door are enemies; it is the $18 garage that is friends with the aquarium (get your parking stub stamped for a discount).  The aquarium hates the $35 garage because it causes people to feel cheated before they even get in the door, which reduces the take from their gift shop, etc.  This has been allowed to go on for many years, so I presume the City of Boston is raking some off the top from the garage.  Mustn’t miss an opportunity to scalp the out-of-towners!  The whole thing stinks of corruption, which overpowers the slightly-fishy odour of the wharf.  As we exit from the garage, we are accosted by barkers trying to sell us overpriced tours on harbour boats.  For a moment I feel like I’m back in Mexico.  But we must soldier on because that’s what BIL #1 would have wanted.

Waiting in line: It is Saturday at a museum.  The line to get in is very long.  I generally avoid lines, figuring that anything *that* popular is probably overhyped.  But “visiting the aquarium” is our scheduled activity for the day, so we enter the line.  I feel like a sitting duck with a neon sign over my head saying, ”Attention all pickpockets!  The tourists are ⇒HERE⇐ and they can’t leave this line.”  But our time spent in line is uneventful.

* * * * *

I later learned that #OccupyBoston was holding a demonstration at South Station, about a mile away, but there was no evidence of any disturbance at Central Wharf.  I wish the occupiers well, but the situation is similar to the end of apartheid in South Africa: it is very, very difficult for the oppressors to climb off their pedestals, having told each other all their lives that they *must* remain on the pedestals because otherwise surely the unwashed masses will tear them limb from limb!  Well, no, actually the masses just want this horrid financial game to be over.  It is only after food becomes unaffordable that the violence will start.  There is still time for the top 0.01% of the ultrarich to do the right thing, but very little evidence so far that they can find it in their hearts to do so.

There is some confusion among the occupiers about who their enemies are.  While “the 1%” is a catchy phrase, most of the top 1% hates the ultrarich as much as the bottom 99% do.  Once all the wealth has been sucked out of the 99%, the vacuum will then be turned upon the 1% and probably many of them know that.  The real enemies are people whose names you have never heard of, who have fudged the public records so their loot appears to be spread out among a horde of fake nominees, because they believe that if their lives ever became public knowledge then of course they would be put to death immediately.  You might as well call them ”the Voldemorts”.

Of course, it is presumptuous of me to be speaking on behalf of the 1%.  I am not now, nor have I ever been, nor have I ever wanted to be, a member of that class.  At the peak of my career as a software engineer, my income was barely into the top 20% for Americans; it is much lower now.  I have always refused offers of promotion into management.  I have never kissed anyone’s ass (no, it’s not just a figure of speech) and I don’t intend to start now.  I have gotten into stock trading, not because it’s a popular pastime among my rich friends, but because my health is poor and it is one of the few jobs that truly doesn’t need anything more than a brain, a computer, some seed capital, and a whole lotta nerve.

The stock market is broken.  It has become a casino where the world’s wealth is gambled away.  It should be restored to its proper function.  But in the meantime, if you’re not playing, you’re losing.  The world’s corporations are taking the money from your pocket and putting it on the stock market.  If you want it back, that’s where you have to go.  To win, all one has to do is be smarter than the average bankster, which seems like it shouldn’t be that hard.  But the banksters have had many years to hone their game, while I am a newbie.

Many people have written their versions of ”What #OccupyWallStreet’s demands should be”.  Here is one from Shah Gilani, who is a member of the 1% and has been neck-deep in Wall Street for 30 years.  The language is a little stilted, and some of his demands are perhaps too lenient, but he seems to be roughly on the same page as the protesters outside his offices.  That’s a refrain I’ve heard from many sources: most of the people who work on Wall Street agree with the protesters, not with their own overlords.  They hate how corrupt their jobs have become.

* * * * *

Aquarium entrance: At 1:40 PM we finally got to the front of the line.  In the meantime, the rear of the line had become maybe 20% longer.  I pity the fool who joins it now!  Admission is only $91.80 for a family of four.  As soon as we get in, we immediately find ourselves at a penguin feeding show.  I really dislike the crowd-control language that the emcee is using, so I wait on the nearby benches until the show is over.

Lunch: At 2:20 PM we head to the cafeteria.  I get a salad.  Later I get the runs; hey Toto, maybe we really are back in Mexico?  The kids get chicken fingers and French fries, which are heavily coated with some bright orange powder of indeterminate origin and purpose (I suppose it *might* be food).  Only $31.51! McDonald’s would have been healthier and tastier.

Aquarium exhibits:  I liked the deep-sea tank, because it was a fake diorama.  They can’t actually replicate deep-sea conditions in an aquarium tank and it is very hard (or impossible) to capture deep-sea creatures alive and put them in tanks.  You can’t even taxidermy them because their bodies explode when you bring them to the surface.

Aquarium gift shop: The receipt says we bought a T-shirt for $25, but I don’t remember that because I waited outside.

LongHorn Steakhouse: In Franklin MA, just down the street a ways from our hotel.  We had stayed at this hotel in the past and thought this restaurant was worth revisiting.  Just over $100 for a family dinner with tax and tip.  I think the food was not as good as I remembered.  Perhaps the restaurant has had a change in management?  Wikipedia says the LongHorn chain was bought by the Olive Garden/Red Lobster people back in 2007.  Ah well; something’s gotta give in a “down” economy.  Receipt is dated 7:21 PM.

Stop & Shop supermarket: In same shopping plaza with LongHorn.  Just popping in for a few items while we’re here.  $22.35, 7:43 PM.

Buy more gas: Actually, this was 11 AM.  I am mentioning it out of order BECAUSE I CAN!  And because I wanted to start with the driving-to-Boston scene. Only $3.39⁹/gallon! Filled the tank with 17½ gallons.  Sunoco station in Franklin MA.

Jo-Ann’s Fabrics, Walpole MA.  Wifey bought $45.62 worth of sewing supplies.  We could probably obtain them in Canada, but Jo-Ann’s has a nice selection and we remember them fondly from our old life in New Jersey.  The receipt says we completed this purchase at 12:03PM, while the receipt from the $35 garage (27 miles away in Boston) says we entered there at precisely noon.  I think the garage is lying its head off.
      The Walpole Mall is just sad.  Around half the stores are out of business.

pyesetz: (flag-over-sunrise)
As a result of the most massive compromise of civil liberties in Canadian history, the government of Ontario has agreed to repeal the law it used to designate a meeting of foreign leaders as a "Public Works project".  No word yet on what they will do about the police chief who now admits that he just made up the part about how being within 5 metres of a public works project is cause for arrest.

My take is that this is all Harper's fault and McGuinty's problem is that he allowed Harper to twist his arm in some way.

Layton seems to be enjoying his sudden fame!  He's talking about what he would do as prime minister and people are actually listening to him for a few days.  If the NDP gets more seats than the Liberals, the Everyone-but-Conservatives coalition should be a done deal and maybe proportional representation might actually have a chance in this country.

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