Archive for March, 2010

Really Great Britain?  You really think this is necessary?  This is a good use of resources?

Great Grandmother Given An Electronic Tag And Curfew For Selling A Goldfish To A 14 Year-Old

You sell a goldfish to a 14 year-old, and that’s punishable?  And not only that, the punishment includes an electronic tag and curfew (not to mention a fine)?

  • “He and his mother were caught out by a new bill passed in 2006 which makes it illegal to sell goldfish to under 16s.” Wait, they passed legislation that specifically addresses the sale of goldfish?  Was this really an issue?  Was there some goldfish killing spree by some kid?
  • Iain Veitch, Head of Public Protection at Trafford Council, said: “The evidence presented for this conviction clearly demonstrates that it is irresponsible to sell animals to those who are not old enough to look after them. A 14 year-old is not old enough to look after…a goldfish?  Really?  I have never had a goldfish, but I’m thinking a tank full of water and some fish food is about all there is to it.  Even if we grant that a 14 year-old is not old enough to look after a goldfish, why don’t the parents become responsible?
  • Goldfish busts?  Man, the British version of the show Cops must really be lame!  (This was really a sting operation.  The 14 year-old was WORKING FOR THE COPS!  Seriously.)
  • I love the idea that this 66 year-old woman has a curfew.  What do they she was going to do after 6pm?  Play bingo?
  • “He said the punishment she had received would prevent her from attending her weekly bingo sessions…” LOL!  Oh.
  • Clearly she needs to be kept off the streets.  She sold goldfish once, she would sale again!  Worse, she may try to sell goldfish at the bingo session!
  • Rest easy, Great Britain.  Joan “The Goldfisher” Higgins has been tagged and is going nowhere!  The old lady even thinks about heading to bingo, the SWAT teams are on stand-by!

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First, it is important to note that news media, particularly television news media, is pretty much in the business of entertainment.  The idealistic purpose for news media would be to provide information.  But really they just want eyeballs on their station or their newspaper or magazine.  So there is a natural tendency for media to focus on the sensational.  So that means that what sometimes may appear to be going on the world through the lens of the media may not be that realistic view of what really is going on in the world.

That said, while it is probably not as bad as it seems, there is not an insignificant amount of bad mojo out there when it comes to discussing today’s issues.  Things are getting too emotional.  Opinions are being shaped by hyperbole.  A lot of people have an us-against-them mentality, and the assumption is that people with differing opinions have ulterior motives, usually involving power grabs if not outright world domination.  It is hard to have a dialogue with someone you believe is truly evil.  I mean, how do you compromise with evil?  So instead of discussions, you have battles and it is winner-take-all.  This is certainly not an environment conducive toward problem solving.

People start to too easily dismiss different ideas, often labeling those that espouse them  as “blind liberals” or “extreme right-wingers” or “too socialist or progressive” or “too pro-rich” or whatever.  At the same time, people get so attached to their own ideologies that they refuse to even consider ideas that even very slightly fall outside of that system.  You have people that rely so heavily on “canned arguments” that they break them out even when it makes no sense to do so in the context of the conversation actually taking place.  You even have another set of people who will just criticize everyone while contributing nothing in the name of being above it all.  Problems can be a lot more easily solved if a group of people with differing ideas can sit down together and just have a discussion (true discussion with both talking and listening) without everyone feeling that the other guy is out to get them, instead of the every-person-for-him/herself approach.

Really, I think the media is not only hyping this environment, they are also contributing to it.  Fox News/Glenn Beck/Sean Hannity/Rush Limbaugh do not want to see successful resolutions.  Neither do MSNBC/Keith Obermann/Chris Matthews.  They want conflict.  They want controversy.  They want anger.  They create senseless “canned arguments” and repeat them over and over.  This is what sells, this is what makes them all rich.  When they see the tea parties and hear the angry callers and all that, they see fat wallets for themselves.  Worse yet, some politicians are seeing the money being made, and are beginning to see this as a way to raise campaign funds.  It’s not good if the people we send to Washington to solve problems decide that creating problems is better for “business”!

Common sense should dictate that the vast majority of the people really do want what is best for themselves and each other.  Of course they will all have differing opinions, but we have to stop believing that just because someone disagrees with us that they are bad for the country or are seeking to ruin it.  The truth of the matter is that there is validity in reasonable opinions ranging the whole political spectrum, conservative to liberal, libertarian to socialist.  Naturally you have extremists, but that can’t be an excuse to use broad strokes to dismiss entire ideologies or else you must dismiss everything.  I know some people bristle when they hear people talk about being “open-minded”, but you really miss out on some good ideas and thoughts (even if you don’t ultimately agree with them) if you are  not.

Next time you have a political discussion with someone, make it point not to label the person or dismiss an entire ideology.  Try listening to what the other person is saying, and seek to understand their point of view.  I think you will find it interesting, and such discussions could lead to something more productive than attempting to make a discussion a big contest.  Oh, and while it is good to call your representatives to let them know what you think, it is not good to make threats.  If you are really that mad, sit on your thoughts for a few days and settle down.  Only make the call when you can let your viewpoint known in a calm, reasonable way.  It will have more impact that way.  People tend to dismiss the thoughts of those that scare them and think are crazy!

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  • The most important factor for reforming health care?  Legislative procedures of course!  I bet you thought it would be health care costs or insurance or doctors or patients or something like that.  How silly!  Republicans know this bill will never work if it is passed through reconciliation.  And Democrats know this thing is doomed unless it is passed through “deem and pass”.  Because if you vote for this through “deem and pass”, you can apparently claim that you didn’t vote for it, or something.  Oh wait, Democrats have reconsidered.  Now they are going to pass the reconciliation bill first and then the Senate bill.  Because this supposedly provides “cover” for those voting for the bill.  Apparently if you do it the other way around, there is no “cover”.  I’m pretty sure this kind of stuff only makes sense in Washington.  Isn’t it wonderful that these are the type of discussions that are taking place?
  • Republicans are very concerned about Democrat’s election fortunes in November, and are only more than happy to help them by giving them advice.  They are very unselfish!
  • Based on what I have seen on TV, I project this bill will be cost neutral, give or take one gazillion dollars, depending on who you ask!
  • Also, this bill will either kill you and send you to the depths of hell or allow you to live forever with special visitation rights to heaven whenever you please, depending on who you ask!
  • An “overwhelming” majority = roughly 45-60%.   If the amount in opposition goes any higher than that, they will be unable to show that to you for fear that it will literally blow up your brain!
  • There is no end of numbers and statistics you can throw out there in either support of or opposition to this bill.  You need not support these numbers.  In fact, the less support for the numbers, the better.
  • It’s perfectly fine to pull numbers out of your derriere (for Palin fans, this is French…er…I mean “Freedom” for “ass”) and then make follow-up assertions as if the number you just made up is real.  This morning, some pundit was on TV saying something to the effect that “full employment is now 5% unemployment and I think if this bill passes it could go up to 8% unemployment”.  And then he goes off on a panic rant that this means that 5 million jobs will be lost if this bill is passed.  The rant was made even though clearly the unemployment numbers he was stating were just arbitrary.  I really expected another pundit to say something like, “Well I think it will be more like 11%.  My god man, we just lost another 5 million jobs just sitting here talking about the bill!  Imagine how many more we will lose if we actually pass it!”
  • If passing this bill is “ramming it down Americans throats”, then we need to get the Democrats ramming device down to Gitmo now!  Given the slow, arduous nature of this painful sounding “ramming”, if we use this on the prisoners down there, they’ll talk!  This may sound like torture, but from “Things I Have Learned From Bush’s Terrorism Policy” I know that you can simply pay off lawyers to change the terminology to “enhanced interrogation techniques” and it is all good!

I am no longer sure if passing this bill is a good idea or not.  We need to do something, that I am sure about.  But this process has been ugly and most of the debate has been unproductive.  Whether this thing passes or not, I am even sure who the winners will be, but I am worried that the winners will not include us, the general public.

P.S.  One more thing I learned.  Having Parkinson’s Disease = freeloader

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Speaking of people who may be jackasses, Karl Rove has a new book out.  I know I rushed out to get my copy….oh wait, what I mean is that this will be a book I never read!  Though I have not and will not read the book, I have heard enough about it that I think I can give a short synopsis and save everyone the time.  Rove thought Iraq had weapons of mass destruction, but so did everyone else so that makes it OK.  Besides, the Iraq war has been a smashing success, so all is well that ends well.  Rove has never done anything unethical (Valerie who?).  Oh, and Bush and his former administration RULZ and the Democrats DROOLZ!  So basically the same stuff you can hear from him on Fox News, except he is asking you for $20 for it.  So I just saved you time and money!  You’re welcome!

Anyway, with something to promote, of course Karl is making the media rounds.  Something from an interview with the BBC (BBC?  I didn’t figure ol’ Karl is that popular in the UK.  But I guess you try for a sale wherever you can get one.) that caught my eye:

I’m proud that we kept the world safer than it was, by the use of these techniques. They’re appropriate, they’re in conformity with our international requirements and with US law.

Karl Rove Says Water Torture Is Justified – And A Cause For Pride

First, I had to link the article above because I love the first line, “The man known for much of his career as “Bush’s brain”…..”.  That cracks me up.  Not because it is the first time I’ve heard it, but because it appears in mainstream media articles over there.  I can just imagine Rove doing his interview on British TV, and a little graphic popping up saying “Karl Rove, George Bush’s Brain”!

Anyway, Rove has decided that not only is water boarding not torture, it is something we can all be proud of!  Great!  USA!…USA!….USA!  Nobody out waterboards America, nobody!

Rove claims that we got good information from Khalid Sheikh Mohammed once we waterboarded him 183 times.  I would note that two of the places, London and Karachi, where Rove claims we received good intelligence about potential attacks were attacked anyway.  I am not aware of any terrorist attacks at the other place, Djibouti, he listed.  So I guess the claim would be that this attack was prevented.  And who knows, maybe Rove is speaking of other potential attacks that were supposedly thwarted at London and Karachi too.  The convenient thing for Rove is that you really can’t prove anything about events that never happened.  He may as well have also said that we got info about potential attacks from Mars and Godzilla (Rove said, “Hey, the Godzilla thing was completely unexpected.  But have you SEEN Godzilla.  That’s one nasty lizard, one you don’t want to mess with!  Now aren’t you glad we approved waterboarding so we were able to stop the king of monsters?!”)

I also love how he continues to claim that waterboarding is not torture and conforms with U.S. and international law.  You know, because he paid some lawyers to say that, so it makes it true.  The interesting thing is that it seems that anyone who has actually ever been waterboarded has no doubt that it IS torture.  I mean, look at this guy:

How can anyone watch this video and still think waterboarding is not torture is beyond me.  Frankly I think Rove or anyone else that doesn’t think waterboarding is torture should volunteer for a session.  I think we could get him to say waterboarding is torture.  I also happen to think we could get him to say that he wants to make love to Barack Obama or anything else we wanted.  That’s because waterboarding IS torture!

The thing that really gets me is the whole “proud” thing.  Even if one where to grant that waterboarding somehow falls just inside the line of what is acceptable, how could this be something to be proud of?  Wouldn’t it be at best something that was regrettable, but a necessity to protect this country?  I just can’t see how we can be proud to use these techniques.  Of course, it also bothers me how smug this Rove guy is in general.  Come to think of it, was being smug a requirement to be a member of the Bush team?  Rove, Bush, Cheney, Rumsfield….all these guys come off as so smug.  Most of the time these guys can’t get the smirks off their faces.  It must be nice to be so certain of yourself, I guess.

Last thought, Bush’s nickname for Rove was turd blossom?  Um, Karl, I don’t think that is generally regarded as a compliment.  But, hey, if you like it, suit yourself!  I think I will call you turd for short, OK?

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A teacher actually wrote that on a graded assignment of a 6th grade girl.

Teacher Writes “Loser” On Student’s Paper

  • A grown man that calls a 6th grade girl a loser?  I’m pretty sure that makes him a loser.
  • He claims to be trying to “relate” to his students.  Which students?  Other students that may be calling this young girl a loser?
  • He is calling it his “style of teaching”.  Does his “style” also include wet willies and wedgies?
  • Really, I get trying to relate to the students.  But shouldn’t you at least act THEIR age if you are not going to act your own?
  • Apparently some parents are defending the teacher’s “style”.  I would really love to hear more about this.  Seriously, I’m curious.
  • Rex Roland, you are a jackass!  Hey, don’t worry about me saying that.  I’m just trying to relate to you! 🙂

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Apparently Rush stated on his radio program that if health care reform passed that he would leave the country and go to Costa Rica.  In fact, his exact quote was:

I don’t know. I’ll just tell you this, if this passes and it’s five years from now and all that stuff gets implemented, I am leaving the country. I’ll go to Costa Rica.

Of course, suddenly that became by far the best reason to pass health care reform!  But alas, he is now saying that his statement was taken out of context.  He is now saying that he would only get his health care service from Costa Rica, he wouldn’t actually move there.  (Rush, I apologize, those packed bags?  It was me, just trying to help out!)  Boo!  Oh well, it was nice thought!

P.S.  Incidentally, Costa Rica has nationalized health care.  How does Rush reconcile that Obama’s plan will ruin our system because it will make it too socialized, while Costa Rica’s system will become the superior system even though it is fully socialized?  The likely answer?  Rush is too stupid to know that Costa Rica has nationalized health care.

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Like Samir of Office Space said, “Yes, this is horrible, this idea.”  Whether it is a mat, or just jumping to conclusions in general, it is a horrible idea.  And yet we as society will do it again and again.  Granted, often we are misled by the media.  It happened with Richard Jewell, who will always be associated with the Atlanta Olympic bombing, even though it was actually a man by the name of Eric Rudolph who was responsible (who incidentally also was responsible for bombing an abortion clinic right here in Birmingham).  The reporting of Jewell as the bomber happened so repeatedly, it just became true, regardless of what the truth actually was.  Now it appears to have happened again, this time to the organization ACORN.

I am sure you all have seen snippets of the video where ACORN employees appear to be advising a couple on how to break the law.  You know, the one with this skinny white kid in a ridiculous looking pimp outfit.  Yeah, that one.  Really, that ridiculous outfit should have been a hint for us all that something wasn’t on the up-and-up with these videos.  I remember thinking how could those employees be so stupid?  Well as it turns out, they were not that stupid, because he was not wearing that outfit in their offices.  The videos were just edited to look that way.

Another clue that something was not on the up-and-up with these videos is the fact that the makers refuse to release unedited versions.  Why?  Well it may have something to do with this:

ACORN Set Up By Vidiots: DA

The video that unleashed a firestorm of criticism on the activist group ACORN was a “heavily edited” splice job that only made it appear as though the organization’s workers were advising a pimp and prostitute on how to get a mortgage, sources said yesterday.

The findings by the Brooklyn DA, following a 5½-month probe into the video, secretly recorded by conservative provocateurs James O’Keefe and Hannah Giles, means that no charges will be filed.

Many of the seemingly crime-encouraging answers were taken out of context so as to appear more sinister, sources said.

It appears that the videos may have been a complete hoax.  Not only was the video spliced together, but the audio was dubbed in as well.  So literally it may well be that nothing wrong was done, which would mean that even ACORN jumped to conclusions by firing employees that appeared on those tapes.  The media certainly fell for this hook, line, and sinker.  But we as a public did too (I will admit that I did).

I am not sure why we in this country want instant gratification for, well, pretty much everything.  But it leads to some pretty poor decision-making.  ACORN deserved more of a benefit of a doubt.  Instead, we stripped them of federal funding and pretty much ruined an organization that did a lot of good for low-income families, probably because we were all duped by two right-wingnut kids (but they did have the full backing of Fox News and the rest of the right-wing media), and that pretty much happened the instant these videos were released.  No need to let the facts come out, let’s take action NOW!  Next time we all get ready to pick up the pitchforks, we need to remember this.  In fact, we need to remember this in our lives in general.  There’s no advantage to jumping to conclusions, whether it is regarding politicians or alleged criminals, or whether it is  regarding your neighbor, your coworker, or a family member.  There’s no awards for being the first one to judge.  And we all know what happens when you assume.  It makes an a….well you know. 😉

I will leave you with a link to this awesome The Colbert Report segment about this subject.  It’s hilarious!

Tip/Wag – James O’Keefe & Sean Hannity

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