Tuesday, October 4, 2011

A prescription for repairing the economy.

It's probably a good thing that Van Jones was fired by the Obama administration after being made the target of a smear campaign by Glenn Beck. For he has gone on to better things. His new organization, Rebuild the American Dream, is working on, well, rebuilding the American Dream.

They have released a contract that is a prescription for repairing the economy. From the preamble:
We, the American people, promise to defend and advance a simple ideal: liberty and justice . . . for all. Americans who are willing to work hard and play by the rules should be able to find a decent job, get a good home in a strong community, retire with dignity, and give their kids a better life. Every one of us – rich, poor, or in-between, regardless of skin color or birthplace, no matter their sexual orientation or gender – has the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. That is our covenant, our compact, our contract with one another. It is a promise we can fulfill – but only by working together. Today, the American Dream is under threat. Our veterans are coming home to few jobs and little hope on the home front. Our young people are graduating off a cliff, burdened by heavy debt, into the worst job market in half a century. The big banks that American taxpayers bailed out won’t cut homeowners a break. Our firefighters, nurses, cops, and teachers – America’s everyday heroes – are being thrown out onto the street.
Go read the whole thing and sign it.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Hello? Is this thing on?

I'm back. Perhaps.

Two main factors contributed to my prolonged absence. Well, three if you count general laziness, but I'm planning on skipping that.

1) The cab driving business has turned to complete shit. Business never came back after the recession which the people who claim to know say is over but it really isn't. Times are bad, and they are getting worse. One of the first luxuries the people cut when times are tough is the daily cab ride. Business was too slow, and I was not earning enough to keep up with my free-spending lifestyle.

So, I said fuck it. I packed up myself and the cats and flew off to the Pacific Northwest. I've been here about a month now, and I've discovered that this is a land of tall trees, big mountains, and a disturbing lack of guardrails. Oh, and rain. Apparently monsoon season is starting. The ten day forecast calls for nine days of rain.

2) This whole atheist community I was getting involved in has really begun to annoy me. The amazing kerfuffle surrounding Elevatorgate is pretty fucking disturbing. To think that with all that is going on in the world, this is the most talked about event for the past year. perhaps the past several years. I haven't been paying attention enough to know. Pathetic. Really completely and totally pathetic.

I wonder, do I really want to get involved with such a dysfunctional group?

Friday, July 15, 2011

The Story of Elevatorgate.

I've been planning to write The Complete Story of Elavatorgate (It deserves capitalization at this point.), accurate and detailed, but, damn, it has become a large, bloated mess of a story. Fortunately, I found this video over at The Justicar. It sums up the entire damn story quite nicely. Not big on the details,  but all of the pertinent facts are in place.

No, I'm not dead.

Life, at times, just weighs quite heavily.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Riding in the bike lanes.

New York is currently embroiled in a bike lane war. The city wants to encourage cycling as a healthy (for body and environment) alternative to driving. To help with the goals, they have installed hundreds of miles of bike lanes throughout the boroughs. Oftentimes, the city removes a traffic lane in order to give it to bicycles. Where else would a bike lane go?

Drivers are pissed, especially cabbies. They see it as less road space for them, which means more traffic. Which is true. Fewer lanes for cars does slow traffic, but we can get used to it.

I fully support the city's efforts, even though I am a cabbie. I am also a cyclist, and besides, I figure that fair is fair. Bicycles have just as much right to the streets as cars. Studies show that novices are more likely to take up biking if there are dedicated lanes for them. They feel, and are safer.

But many cyclists are not safe riders. Some go the wrong way down one-way streets, ride on the sidewalk, blow red lights, split the lanes and ride between cars, then get pissed at us when they go flying over the hood of a cab.

So, the NYPD is stepping up their efforts to police cyclists by engaging in a ticket blitz. They are giving out tickets for every infraction concievable, real and imagined.

Casey got a ticket for not riding in a bike lane. The cop told him to always ride in the bike lanes. So Casey did so, with comic results.

The radio clip seen in the video is from The Brian Lehrer Show.

via @rebeccawatson

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

In case you were wondering what the definition of "Fucking Awesome" is...

Back in January, Newsweek declared Grand Rapids, Michigan a "dying city." So, Some 5,000 residents got together and created this response.

We got marching bands, gymnasts, kayakers, footballers, a wedding party, pickup trucks, explosions, and a whole lot of amazing in this video which Roger Ebert called "The greatest music video ever made." And, I gotta agree with him. It was all done in one long shot. Imagine the stage management involved.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Defending SlutWalk

A quick note before starting: Whenever I use the word 'slut' in this post (or any other), I use it in a sex-positive sense only. If you are the type of bigoted jackass who uses 'slut' as a negative, this post is for you. Read on.

Last Saturday, I was at the end of my shift with my 'Off Duty' light on and doors locked, when there was a banging at my window. A lady, dressed like a club girl with a low cut, short, tight dress and a look of desperation. I rolled down my window, and before I could tell her I was off duty, she pleaded, "Please, can you take us to South Ferry?" She seemed close to tears, so I said, "Sure."

Three girls climbed into the back. All were wearing typical club gear, short tight dresses with stilettos. From their drunken and upset conversation, I was able to piece together what happened. They went clubbing and met up with some guy friends. They all went to one of the guy's apartment to continue the party. Girls #1 (the one banging on my window) was sitting on a bed with a couple of guys sharing a joint, when one guy held her down and the other started to fondle her breasts. She struggled and screamed, and they let her go. Meanwhile Girl #2 was sitting on the bathroom floor, having rid herself of excess alcohol, when another guy sat down next to her. He gave her a bottle of water and asked if she was feeling OK. She said she was doing better, and he went ahead and stuck his hand up her skirt.

So, the two girls grabbed their other friend and headed for the door. On they way out, one of the guys said something to the effect of,  "If you're going to dress like sluts, you shouldn't be surprised if someone hits on you."

Two thoughts immediately come to mind:
  1. Groping a woman against her will isn't "hitting on." It's assault, plain and simple. And, assault is a crime.
  2. Even if a woman is dressed like a slut, it doesn't mean she is. And, even if she is one, it doesn't mean she wants to fuck you.
This incident has been floating around in my mind, and I've been considering writing a post, when I came across this bit of ignorant humor. (undermyfitted) is a blog I read often. AJ, the author, has a way with words, and an interesting outlook. Sometimes I agree with him, sometimes I don't. But, this time he pissed me off. He wrote a piece belittling SlutWalk and the meaning behind it. I left him an irate comment and asked if I could repost his drivel so I could rip it apart sentence by sentence. He was game enough to give permission. His post follows. My comments are bracketed and in bold, and I address AJ directly.
Some things are just so ripe for parody [SlutWalk isn't a joke.] they barely require jokes [Yes, jokes are unnecessary, but that isn't going to stop you.], which is why this post lacks even a clever title. (I mean, how the fuck am I supposed to top that phrase for eye-catchability?) Nope, the title of this post refers not to a promisucous method of locomotion nor some website where one can Google the fastest and least conspicuous walk-of-shame [Why does it have to be a walk-of-shame? Are you ashamed going home after a sleep-over? Why should she?] route home, (hmm, slutwalk.com ...I could totally see that...options for routes that take you past places you can get breakfast, streets where one can hail cabs or clothing stores to buy an outer layer of clothing so everyone doesn't know you're wearing the same clothes from yesterday...is that taken yet? If not, it's mine, bitch!) but an international event, coming soon to a city near you!

Where in the hell could one possibly get an idea like this and for what purpose? Well, for starters, we actually can blame Canada. This thing got and spread its legs in Toronto a few weeks ago when a police officer told a personal security class that they could "avoid being victimized by not dressing like a slut". Make of that sentence what you will [I make that sentence to be an ignorant cop victim-blaming rape victims.], but what a group of women in Toronto made of it was a 1,000 woman march of scantily clad women defending and demanding their right to...um...dress like sluts [No, it was a group of women demanding that police take sexual assault seriously and not dismiss women as 'sluts who had it coming.']. They were outraged at the suggestion that being dressed like something out of the back of an independent newspaper would garner negative attention [Correct, they were outraged. Are you implying that they deserved negative attention?]. Of course, a thousand women deep, no one was victimized, the march passed without incident, a tour of North America was planned, and the entire incident was cheered as a victory for women's rights...or...something. Of course, the question here is...what the fuck? [No, the question is...what the fuck don't you understand?]

Since when did sluttiness become a positive attribute? [Are you saying women should remain virginal? Are you a virgin? Waiting until marriage? Or do you have sex? Ever do anything slutty yourself? Ever fuck a slut? A double standard exists in which men get to sleep around as much as they want, but any sexually liberated woman is dismissed as a slut. The idea of a woman saving it until marriage dates back to the time when women were considered PROPERTY. Women were the property of their fathers until they were given to another man in marriage. We live in a time when most people realize that no one owns a woman except herself. And, she has the right to do as she please with herself and her sexuality. If you have a problem with that, it is your problem.] Why are women out there marching for their right to resemble dickholsters? [Is that how you view some women? As a place to park your dick? Just a come receptacle?] With all the problems out there facing women today...domestic violence, breast cancer, workplace discrimination, no more Oprah episode...you pick THIS cause to get riled up for? [Judging by your ignorant ass post, you need some educating. As do millions of other men and women. That's worth getting riled up for.] Really? [Yeah, really.] A slut walk? It's not even like it's a word with colloquial connotations that can be reclaimed. [They will reclaim it, despite you.] It's just a foul-ass word. [No where near as foul-assed as 'dickholster.']I mean, I can get away with calling bitches bitches, [That's pretty fucked up, too.] the bitches call other bitches that all the time and don't seem to particularly mind me doing so, as long as it's in the correct context...but let me call a bitch a slut without wearing an athletic cup and the only person who will regret it more than me are my kids who will never be born. Why would anybody want to be labeled a slut? [There are plenty of sexually proud women who want to be positively labeled a slut, and they expect you to respect that.] Susan B. Anthony risked being tarred and feathered so women could vote, in twentyleven we're struggling over the right to wear a bra as clothing or a negligee to the supermarket. [No, they are fighting for the right to be safe and respected.] Where the fuck are we at as a society? [Apparently, we still have a ways to progress.]

(I need you to read this next paragraph v e r y carefully [OK, read it a few times. Every time I got angrier.] ...don't comment with no bullshit, please. [I'll do my best, though the paragraph is pure bullshit.])

Not only that, but...it's not like Officer Maple Leaf [I like the nickname. Only thing you got right so far.] didn't have a point. I don't have any statistics to back me up, [It's called Google.] so honestly I'm quite fucked if you call me on that...but it would certainly stand to reason that people who lock their doors are less likely to be a target for home invasion. [In this case, no cop, or anybody else, would question whether a crime was committed. It would be reported and investigated as a home invasion. But, if a woman dressed as a slut gets raped, people, would question whether it was a rape. She would be put on trial herself. People would say that she had it coming. People would say that if she wasn't a slut, it wouldn't have happened. And, that's the point of SlutWalk. Women have the right to dress like and be sluts and have their safety taken seriously by police and society.]  It would also make sense that a locked car is less likely to be stolen, [Don't equate a woman's safety with a fucking car. Just don't] that carefully watched children are less likely to get snatched, [Child snatching, while tragic, is relatively rare. There were 248,300 sexual assaults in 2007. That comes to about one assault every two minutes.]  that money kept hidden from others is less likely to be hidden from you later, or that your girlfriend is far less likely to find all those nekkid pics in your phone [Who sent you those naked pictures behind you girlfriend's back? Was it a slut? I hope you treated her with the respect she deserved.] if you keep that secure too. See where I'm going with this? I'm not, repeat, not, one mo'ginn, NOT saying that women who choose to look like they cost $50 [Slut does not equal whore. Learn that. And a whore who charges only $50 is either engaged in survival prostitution or she's a slave.] deserve to be attacked [I'm glad you realize they don't deserve to be assaulted. I just hope you realize that with your attitude (like calling a slut a 'dickholster') is contributing to the problem. It is your duty to respect ALL women, and preach it to your friends, family and neighbors to RESPECT WOMEN.] ...just saying there are certain steps one can take to decrease the likelihood of being targeted, [Read on to the end; I'll give you a whole list of steps to keep a woman from being targeted.] and keeping one's nipples on the inside when you're on the outside is one of those steps. [And, another step is re-educating guys like you.]

Of course, who gives a damn what I think [Perhaps the 1 in 6 women who are victims of sexual assault give a damn.]...the Slut Walk will be in Philadelphia on June 17, and I'm sure there will be a very heavy turnout (if only to self-identify). People will wear whatever they want, and that's cool with me...hell, I'm definitely not gonna sit here and say women should wear those black ghost costumes some Muslim women wear [Seriously dude, how can you write that and not see the irony? Muslim women are often forced to wear those 'black ghost costumes' because Muslim men are not held responsible for their actions. The belief is that men can be driven crazy by the sexuality of women, and that if a woman shows the slightest bit of skin, it is her fault if she gets raped. Many Muslim countries blame, imprison, or stone a woman if she is raped. The man walks free. That is victim-blaming taken to the extreme. Even though you say that women should not have to wear 'black ghost costumes,' you are saying that a woman shouldn't dress immodestly. You are still implying that women are partially responsible if they are attacked. That is victim-blaming. It is wrong.] or anything, but realize there are certain inherent risks to wearing any controversial clothing. An "I (heart) the KKK" t-shirt, while perfectly legal to wear, might get your face stomped down your throat if worn in the wrong area. [Since you bring up the KKK, let me say that your grandparents could have gotten their asses stomped just for them being in  the wrong neighborhood. I hope you wouldn't say that they shouldn't have been there. Fifty years ago, black men and women fought and died for the right for you to live in a desegregated country. This country has made great gains for equality since then. But only for the MEN. Women have been left behind. Black women carry the stereotype of being easy, sluts, or whores. With your attitudes towards women, you are helping to perpetuate those stereotypes.]  A Speedo worn to Wal-Mart technically falls within the limits of the law, but will get you put on somebody's Facebook wall as a funny picture [Don't equate being mocked on Facebook with being raped.] (I know that because I would be the guy to do it).

Hell...a red shirt could get you shot in the wrong hood [There's a big difference with being sexually liberated and being a gangbanger.] ...so why are we surprised that people who dress like hoes are often mistaken for them? [It's all about attitude and perception. Change yours, and you might be able to notice the difference.] Who knows...all I know is I'm strongly debating renting an electric blue leisure suit, feathered hat and a bejeweled cane and standing near the Slut Walk when it comes handing out fake job applications just for fun. [Please don't] Hey...that's what sluts are good for, right? [Fuck you.] Now get out there and get me my mon-aaaaay [Seriously, fuck you.]....lol...
 Now, let me quote sjfbarnett, one of the founders of SlutWalk,
I would label myself a ‘slut’ before a ‘feminist’ {funny, since I avoided the latter due to what I considered the bad reputation it had}. I’ve always enjoyed sex, hot sex, consensual sex. Starting to discover this in high school, I got the reputation of ‘slut’, and was pretty pissed that I got stuck with that label, when the guys I slept with got high fives. But despite the shame of such a label, it didn’t stop me from enjoying a good fuck. 
I always told myself that should a high school reunion come ’round, I’d never go. I didn’t want to walk in and have people think or say “oh yeah; you were such a a slut” {although, now that I think of it, sleeping with a handful of guys over my entire high school career doesn’t seem like much}. But in the last few years, I’ve come to embrace my sluthood, especially after honing a certain code. Sex should always be between consenting adults, and all parties involved {because sometimes there are more than two} need to know and be fine with such an intimate exchange. To be honest, I can’t respect someone who doesn’t live by a similar code. Anything involving lies and deception is something I don’t want to be near. To me, it’s a judgement of character. Excusable in high school students, not so much in adulthood. 
So when The Ethical Slut finally landed on my bookshelf, I felt vindicated. I could finally dump the learned shame of enjoying sex. I’ve seen people do way worse to others and never get labeled with such a harsh word originally meant to inflict a serious sting. So to hell with those who thought I was a bad person for enjoying sex, who thought I was less deserving of respect.
Having been a confident slut for sometime, this January the word was slung out again as an epithet, but this time it wasn’t by a high school kid. It was by someone who demands respect by way of authority. Someone who’s charged with a person’s safety. Someone who should know better. So when I read the quote in the Excal, “don’t dress like a slut…”, I could almost hear the blame dripping from the word.
And, as promised, guidelines for preventing rape:
  • If a woman is drunk, don’t rape her.
  • If a woman is walking alone at night, don’t rape her.
  • If a women is drugged and unconscious, don’t rape her.
  • If a woman is wearing a short skirt, don’t rape her.
  • If a woman is jogging in a park at 5 am, don’t rape her.
  • If a woman looks like your ex-girlfriend you’re still hung up on, don’t rape her.
  • If a woman is asleep in her bed, don’t rape her.
  • If a woman is asleep in your bed, don’t rape her.
  • If a woman is doing her laundry, don’t rape her.
  • If a woman is in a coma, don’t rape her.
  • If a woman changes her mind in the middle of or about a particular activity, don’t rape her.
  • If a woman has repeatedly refused a certain activity, don’t rape her.
  • If a woman is not yet a woman, but a child, don’t rape her.
  • If your girlfriend or wife is not in the mood, don’t rape her.
  • If your step-daughter is watching TV, don’t rape her.
  • If you break into a house and find a woman there, don’t rape her.
  • If your friend thinks it’s okay to rape someone, tell him it’s not, and that he’s not your friend.
  • If your “friend” tells you he raped someone, report him to the police.
  • If your frat-brother or another guy at the party tells you there’s an unconscious woman upstairs and it’s your turn, don’t rape her, call the police and tell the guy he’s a rapist.
  • Tell your sons, god-sons, nephews, grandsons, sons of friends it’s not okay to rape someone.
  • Don’t tell your women friends how to be safe and avoid rape.
  • Don’t imply that she could have avoided it if she’d only done/not done x.
  • Don’t imply that it’s in any way her fault.
  • Don’t let silence imply agreement when someone tells you he “got some” with the drunk girl.
Stats on sexual assault in the US I got from RAINN. The rape prevention guidelines have been floating around the internet for years in one form or another. I got this copy from san fransisco love story. Special thanks to Yandie for debunking some rape tropes. I suggest you also read her post on Schrodinger's Rapist. If you are really up to doing your homework, I suggest Feminism 101 at Shakesville.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

I gotta take a piss

It's true; I do.

I drive twelve hours a day on the streets, and it's not always easy finding a place to take a pee break. New York doesn't have much in the line of public restrooms. Something the city has tried to fix. They recently opened a pay toilet in Madison Square park, but it closes at midnight. To prevent people from fucking in there, I guess. As if people can't fuck before midnight. Other than that, I know of no other public toilets. There are a few here and there in parks, such as Bryant Park, but there's a catch.

There has to be legal parking nearby.

A parking place and a reasonably clean toilet are not always easy to find nearby each other. But, over the years I've found a few places. There is a deli on Lex between 71st and 70th. They cater to cabbies. They have a clean toilet and a decent salad bar. And, get this, the salad bar is all you can fit into a container for only four bucks. The cabbie special. I eat there often. At Lex and 41st is another deli that has a cabbie special. The salad bar is half off, but they are so damned overpriced, it's still a tad expensive. If I've already eaten, I'll stop at one of these places and just grab a candy bar or something. Usually peanut M&M's. Diet, what diet?

Gas stations are also good. Some are hostile, and don't like cabbies using the restroom, some are OK with it, some expect us to purchase something, some (most) don't clean often enough. I've stopped in at hospitals before. I just tell them that it's an emergency. A few times I've used the restroom in a police precinct. Only in a dire emergency, though. That's enemy territory.

A number of times, I've gone into a bar and asked nicely if I could use their restroom. Only once have I been given grief. On East Broadway at the 169 Bar. The bartender told me quite emphatically that if I wasn't buying then I wasn't peeing. I pleaded that I was a cabbie and desperate. She said OK, but to never return. Now, if a passenger ever asks me to take them to 169 Bar, I tell them that it's a total fucking dive and that they should go somewhere else. Don't piss off the cabbies.

If a fare takes me out to Park Slope, I just stop by the taxi garage. On the rare occassions that I take someone to Bay Ridge, I just go home. I've called my girlfriend past midnight before when I was in Sunset Park. I've called friends and borrowed their bathrooms a number of times.

Once, I used a coffee cup. It was more difficult than I thought, so I haven't tried it again. Some drivers use bottles, but the coffee cup was difficult enough for me. There is a story floating around my garage of an old-time cabbie we call Superhack. Allegedly, he used a bottle while still driving, and while glancing down to check his progress, rearended the car in front of him. How he did not get fired is beyond me.

And, a few times, shamefully, I used the gutter. I'm not proud of it, but I would have been less proud of pissing my pants. Only once was I caught. A lady told me that I was disgusting. I told her that she was correct, I am.

More than once, I needed to go pee, but had no place nearby where I could stop. So, I picked up a fare, thinking I'd go afterwards, just to have them take me way the hell out to the Bronx or East New York. Half way there I'd be squeezing my knees together, wondering if it would be bad form to make them wait while I took a pit stop. My buddy Big D actually has done that once. He just pulled into a gas station and told his passenger that he was desperate. The lady told him, "If you gotta go, you gotta go." What a sweetheart.

I've had the occasional urinary tract infection since I've been a cabbie, and now I have kidney stones. Go figure.

At least I drive the night shift. The day guys have it even harder.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Sometimes You See Some Strange Shit in New York, II

Awhile back, I posted some photos of a car encased in a crochet car cover. I thought it interesting art, but then forgot about it. But, tonight I spotted a little tricycle completely encased in its own crochet covering. Judging by the yarn, style, and plain wackiness, I presume it is by the same artist.

Now, a long while ago, before I began this blogging experiment, I came across a man standing in Union Square Park wearing a full head-to-toe crocheted bodysuit of the same basic style and color. He was holding a  Priority Seating sign from the Tokyo Subway.

I wonder if he was the artist, or a model. I also wonder what the next project will be.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Who gets credit for killing Osama?

The Republicans are in full damage control mode. They must create the meme that credit goes to Bush, and they will keep all the talking heads on the TV until the teabaggers and sheeple believe it unconditionally. Obama's team meanwhile will continue trying to remain above it all and act dignified.

That doesn't work. Calm and reasonable doesn't work on sheeple. They need simple talking points repeated over and over again. The Democrats have this silly idea that they are nice, honest, and fair, and that's how they fight. As far as I am concerned, they should remain honest and fair. But, they should stop being so goddamned nice. It's time to get mean and nasty. They can do so and still remain honest and fair. Start fighting, kids.

John McKay at archy has written a detailed post regarding all the spin the Republicans are doing now. He brings up the relief many claimed to have that Gore wasn't president on 9/11, and how he would not have acted as Bush had. He answers wonderfully,
That's complete and utter crap. Al Gore would have done exactly what Bush did. Or McCain would have done. Or Bradley. Or Hillary. Or you or I or any president in the history of the republic or anyone who isn't brain damaged. He would have gone on every news channel and made a speech saying the American people will rise above this, we will track the people responsible to the ends of the earth, heads would have rolled at the CIA, and we would have invaded Afghanistan to get at bin Laden and punish those who protected him.

Here are some things that might not have happened. Gore probably would not have sat frozen, reading "My Pet Goat" for eight minutes after hearing about the planes hitting the World Trade Center. He probably would have issued his first statement from Air Force One rather than leaving the American people without reassurance while he flew around for nine hours and spent another ninety minutes at the White House. He certainly would not have called off the search at Tora Bora. He would not have spent hundreds of billions of dollars and thousands of lives waging a war in a country that had nothing to do with 9/11.

He probably would not have tolerated wholesale violations of international and domestic laws such as creating a bogus category of "enemy combatants" to avoid the Geneva Conventions, using torture, or gutting habeus corpus. I know he wouldn't have completely respected all of our rights the way I would have liked. There still would have been a slide toward a surveillance state with wire tapping and eavesdropping. The same conservatives, who spent the Bush years justifying the erosion of rights would have cried "tyranny" and raised holy hell.

Actually, those last few points would have been moot, because I know for a fact that the Republicans would have tried to impeach Gore for allowing 9/11 to happen. There would have been none of the coming together in good faith that the Democrats offered throughout 2002. But this brings us to a final point, under Gore, there might not have been a 9/11 because he might have actually have read the August 8 security briefing. Remember, he was VP when Clinton tried to get bin Laden in 1998. Terrorism was a front-burner issue for him, whereas Bush only cared about tax cuts for the rich before 9/11.

That last bit is important. If Bush was unsuccessful in his bid to steal the presidency, Gore might have prevented 9/11. We'll never know, but it is probable. Consider it.

Friday, May 6, 2011

FCKH8 takes on that stupid fucking Tennessee "Can't Say Gay" law

Those Neanderthals in Tennessee have proposed a bill that would make it illegal for teachers to discuss homosexuality in the classroom. Seems like they don't want the little kiddies to know that such a thing as gays exist. Fuck 'em. And, FCKH8.

If you've never read "I Like Cheese" then you probably have absolutely no idea what this post is about.

Doug "Sissy Boy" Stevens, of I Like Cheese fame, has issued a challenge to his readers. He wants us to finish a comic that he started, post it on our blogs, and in the process, send some readers his way.

OK, I'm up to a challenge.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

For all those people who landed on this blog by Googling "Two women encounter cabbie's terrifying fare refusal"

I have no idea why Google has sent you to me. I haven't written about this silly little drama. But seeing that a dozen people have stopped by today from this particular search phrase, I guess I ought to write something. Customer service and all.

I think this is the video you're looking for:

And, the story is here.

Since I'm running late for my own shift, I'll quickly give my two cents.

The law is clear. Drivers are required to take passengers to Brooklyn if they request it. If the driver refuses, the passenger can call the city and file a complaint. The city will follow up, hold a hearing, and fine/suspend the driver. Easy.


This isn't some scary attack. Those women aren't frightened. They are pissed off because some cab driver won't go to Brooklyn. So they sit in his cab and refuse to move. And, they stay there until the cabbie flips out. Listen to the nasty, privileged, demanding little shits. If they were in my cab, I'd probably flip out too.  New Yorkers think that they own any fucking cab that they see. They don't. It is the driver's cab, and the riding public needs to learn that the driver isn't their personal servant, there to perform their every bidding.

So ladies,

Get the fuck out of the cab. Seriously, the driver may be legally required to take you to Brooklyn, but that doesn't give you the right to trespass. It isn't your cab, and the driver isn't your fucking slave. If the man tells you to get out of his cab, then get out. Take that fucking chip off your shoulder and get out. Sitting in the back of the man's cab and throwing a little hissy fit cause you want to go to Brooklyn isn't going to help. You are creating the problem here, not the driver. And, now, because of your obstinate refusal to remember that it's not your fucking cab, this man is going to lose his job. Fuck you, you smug little jackasses. I hope you get runned over by a cab. That would be karma.

Google makes a kick ass "It Gets Better" commercial

And they ran it during yesterday's episode of Glee. The cynical side of me sees it as really damn good marketing, but still, it's a great commercial.

via Joe.My.God.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

City chooses Nissan for Taxi of Tomorrow

Well, they didn't choose the ugliest design, instead going for the most boring.

This biggest problem I have with this design is the lack of handicap accessibility. In this day, choosing a design that doesn't give one in a wheelchair a chance to hail a cab like anyone else is inexcusable. If the city didn't like Karsan, the only design that was accessible, they should have rejected all entries and reopened the design. Karsan wasn't chosen because the powers that be feared that the Turkish upstart didn't have enough experience building cars. Considering the experience Ford and Nissan have, one might think they should have been able to come up with better designs.

Sorry Karsan, better luck next time. Or, perhaps offer a bigger bribe.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

It's really a shame that the parents of these "We Are the Youth" kids didn't have access to Planned Parenthood.

LiveAction is a group of ignorant, lying fucktards who describe themselves as "a non-religious, non-partisan, non-profit organization" that "creates new media pieces to educate the public and raise awareness about human rights issues." A quick glance at their website (Google it yourself. I'm not giving the jackasses a link.) shows that the only "human rights issue" they care about is the destruction of Planned Parenthood.

Their most recent video is full of lies, half truths, distortions, and really bad editing. Be forewarned, it is enraging. You may want to slide your chair back, so if the urge to punch one of these kids proves irresistible, you are not within striking distance of your screen.

The video is mostly a bunch of uncited stats, annoying repetition, and a great deal of emotional appeal. They make no attempt to try for a rational, honest argument. Perhaps they have none. Never mind, ZOMGitsCriss, one of my favorite YouTubers, has made a rational, humorous, and insightful response. She even cites her sources in the info pane, something LiveAction couldn't figure out how to do.

Friday, April 29, 2011

By far the best Royal Wedding commemorative kitsch I've seen yet. (NSFW)

Oh my, how kinky.

The artist created this out of love. He says,
The Gribsby Plate is not an anti-establishment gesture. It is an expression of my belief that the way ahead for humanity lies in the loving marriage of the male and female energies. The British monarchy is a focus of joy and love for the whole world, and a Royal wedding is a time for us to experience that joy in an excitingly erotic way.

Of course the plate is irreverent, in the best best British tradition. This is why I have called it an 'anal-ternative' souvenir. Laughter is essential to emotional balance. But my irreverence is underpinned by a profound belief in the orderliness of life and a respect for marriage as an ancient sacrament.

My congratulations go to beautiful Wills and Kate, together with my sincere wish that they find lasting pleasure and nurture in each other’s bodies.

I might consider getting one if I had eighty pounds to spare.

via Savage Love

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Taxi of Tomorrow may be built in Brooklyn

Karsan, the Turkish upstart that is leading the race for NYC's Taxi of Tomorrow, has upped the ante by promising to build their taxis in Brooklyn. From Transportation Nation:
The Turkish automaker Karsan has informed New York city officials that they’d outfit a 250, 000 square foot space at the south Brooklyn marine terminal to produce thousands of vehicles if they’re selected to be the “Taxi of Tomorrow” manufacturer.

Karsan USA President Bill Wachtel [WACT-tell] says since they’re planning to partner with [the American company] Chrysler for the engines, transmissions and gear boxes, it’s actually a better to assemble the vehicles here.

“It makes far more sense for us to build the car in Brooklyn than it does to send all these U.S. components to Turkey and ship it back,” Karsan USA President Bill Wachtel says. he says his proposal includes a partnership with Chrysler to build engines, transmissions, and gear boxes for the taxis.

Wachtel says the project could provide 2-300 local jobs at the outset.
Brooklyn can certainly use a few hundred manufacturing jobs. And, as the Karsan entry is the only one that is fully handicapped accessible, I hope they win the contest.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Hitchens's letter to the American Atheists

Christopher Hitchens was scheduled to appear at the American Atheists' Nation Convention yesterday, but due to illness he could not attend. He sent the following letter.

Dear fellow-unbelievers,

Nothing would have kept me from joining you except the loss of my voice (at least my speaking voice) which in turn is due to a long argument I am currently having with the specter of death. Nobody ever wins this argument, though there are some solid points to be made while the discussion goes on. I have found, as the enemy becomes more familiar, that all the special pleading for salvation, redemption and supernatural deliverance appears even more hollow and artificial to me than it did before. I hope to help defend and pass on the lessons of this for many years to come, but for now I have found my trust better placed in two things: the skill and principle of advanced medical science, and the comradeship of innumerable friends and family, all of them immune to the false consolations of religion. It is these forces among others which will speed the day when humanity emancipates itself from the mind-forged manacles of servility and superstitition. It is our innate solidarity, and not some despotism of the sky, which is the source of our morality and our sense of decency.

That essential sense of decency is outraged every day. Our theocratic enemy is in plain view. Protean in form, it extends from the overt menace of nuclear-armed mullahs to the insidious campaigns to have stultifying pseudo-science taught in American schools. But in the past few years, there have been heartening signs of a genuine and spontaneous resistance to this sinister nonsense: a resistance which repudiates the right of bullies and tyrants to make the absurd claim that they have god on their side. To have had a small part in this resistance has been the greatest honor of my lifetime: the pattern and original of all dictatorship is the surrender of reason to absolutism and the abandonment of critical, objective inquiry. The cheap name for this lethal delusion is religion, and we must learn new ways of combating it in the public sphere, just as we have learned to free ourselves of it in private.

Our weapons are the ironic mind against the literal: the open mind against the credulous; the courageous pursuit of truth against the fearful and abject forces who would set limits to investigation (and who stupidly claim that we already have all the truth we need). Perhaps above all, we affirm life over the cults of death and human sacrifice and are afraid, not of inevitable death, but rather of a human life that is cramped and distorted by the pathetic need to offer mindless adulation, or the dismal belief that the laws of nature respond to wailings and incantations.

As the heirs of a secular revolution, American atheists have a special responsibility to defend and uphold the Constitution that patrols the boundary between Church and State. This, too, is an honor and a privilege. Believe me when I say that I am present with you, even if not corporeally (and only metaphorically in spirit...) Resolve to build up Mr Jefferson's wall of separation. And don't keep the faith.


Christopher Hitchens

via Pharyngula

Friday, April 22, 2011

On that whole jews killing Jesus thing

Scented Nectar has an Easter post in which she wonderfully describes the birth and death of Jesus. She also has a video of herself quite logically (perhaps too much logic for the average xtian) discussing the whole issue of the jews killing Jesus. The Retar Crew make an appearance singing a delightful song. Happy Good Friday and Easter. Beware of the zombies.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

In honor of 4/20.

I first posted this back in August, but seeing that today is the international stoner's holiday, I thought it deserves reposting. Happy toking.

Introducing the Taxi of Tomorrow (maybe)

The City of New York has decided to introduce a "Taxi of Tomorrow" that will become the standard cab for the next ten years. The are running a design competition that three car makers have entered. Those three are Ford, Nissan and Turkish upstart Karsan.

Karsan is leading the race. It was chosen as a favorite by respondents to a city survey, and it is fully wheelchair accessible. Accessibility is good. Karsan produced a video to help sell their design to the public.

Nissan is only sort of accessible. Picking up a wheelchair passenger requires the back seat to be folded up. So, only one addition passenger can ride with the wheelchair. No sense in that. Nissan's entry is also a hybrid. Fuel efficiency is good. Nissan didn't bother producing a video, but I found one that sort of shows what they're offering.

Ford fails. Their entry is neither accessible or a hybrid. And, it's ugly. They didn't make a video either. Ford is not good. Though, the fleet owners like Ford cause they are the cheapest, and likely the cheapest to maintain. Fleet owners are millionaires. Fuck 'em. Drivers and the riding public are more important.

My favorite is Karsan. It's accessible, it's fuel efficient, it's cute, cute, cute. Cute is good. I do have one major problem with the design, which I reckon can be fixed with a few design tweaks. I estimate that 80% of my passengers do not wear seatbelts (that's a rough, yanked-out-of-my-ass-guessstimate), so I can imagine passengers flying forward and getting injured if I stop quick. I make emergency stops everyday. This is New York traffic. The second problem is the location of the TV screen. They are touch screens that are also used to process credit card transactions. Grandma isn't going to want to kneel on the floor trying to figure out how to use a damn touchscreen. That will be a big problem. My genius solution is to place a second jump seat where the wheelchair cubby is and move the TV screen between the jumpseats. The second jumpseat can be made foldable and stow-awayable so it can be easily moved to make room for wheelchairs. Easy to fix. Get cracking Karsan.

Being a realist, I predict that Ford will win the race. Fleet owners will sue, money will change hands, a back room deal will be made, wheelchair passengers will be shit out of luck, and drivers will keep paying high gas prices to fill inefficient vehicles.

via Gothamist

Monday, April 18, 2011

Poverty is not a choice.

Recently, I started a debate on Facebook concerning taxes. One of my old friends from my high school days, a teabagging Libertarian type, chimed in with the belief that poverty is a choice. She was born and raised poor and has managed to do well for herself since. She has the notion that anybody can succeed if they just try hard enough. The poor, therefore are lazy, and have chosen their fate.

Unlike this here blog, I actually attempt to be polite on Facebook, so I bit my tongue and refrained from immediately pointing out what was so very wrong with her ignorant, clueless, cruel notions. I decided to pause for awhile and figure out how to get my point across without actually calling her ignorant, clueless and cruel. In the meantime, my brother-in-law Andrew* wrote a response far better than anything I could have come up with.
Although I am paid well, and although we have little debt, my family's medical needs often knock our finances. As a result, I've had to cash in retirement accounts to pay large hospital bills.

Now, I'm not complaining, I'm simply stating that "working hard" is not a magic bullet to financial success.

Capitalism works on the notion of winners and losers. The system fails if you expect everyone to "win." Some win, but most don't, just like in sports or any other competitive endeavor.

And, just like in sports, if you just leave everyone to their own devices, you'll get a lot of cheating. So, we need some referees to keep the game fair, or at least more fair... provided the ref isn't on the take himself!

Strong competition and solid, fair regulation will no doubt be a long term successful strategy for our economy. But we can't approach every problem with the same strategy! Some problems require a cooperative, rather than competitive, spirit.

It's disheartening to hear both sides speak in venomous terms of the other... to the point that liberals use "tea party" and conservatives use "socialism" as bad words! And that's on the polite forums!

It seems to me that we Americans get more interested in finding fault than in finding common ground. We revel in our well placed barbs, whose purpose is not to actually solve anything, but simply to make the "other side" lose face.

And that's because we're inherently competitive... whether we care to admit it or not.

*Andrew is a blogger himself, though he has been silent recently. Hopefully, the fat man will soon be running again.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Required Reading

David Cay Johnston has written 9 Things the Rich Don't Want You To Know About Taxes.
For three decades we have conducted a massive economic experiment, testing a theory known as supply-side economics. The theory goes like this: Lower tax rates will encourage more investment, which in turn will mean more jobs and greater prosperity—so much so that tax revenues will go up, despite lower rates. The late Milton Friedman, the libertarian economist who wanted to shut down public parks because he considered them socialism, promoted this strategy. Ronald Reagan embraced Friedman’s ideas and made them into policy when he was elected president in 1980.

For the past decade, we have doubled down on this theory of supply-side economics with the tax cuts sponsored by President George W. Bush in 2001 and 2003, which President Obama has agreed to continue for two years.

You would think that whether this grand experiment worked would be settled after three decades. You would think the practitioners of the dismal science of economics would look at their demand curves and the data on incomes and taxes and pronounce a verdict, the way Galileo and Copernicus did when they showed that geocentrism was a fantasy because Earth revolves around the sun (known as heliocentrism). But economics is not like that. It is not like physics with its laws and arithmetic with its absolute values.

Go read the whole thing. It's enlightening, enraging, and damned important.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

"Spare me my life."

K, who is Japanese, was both amused and horrified by my previous post. It got us talking about educational videos, and she told me about the Zuiikin Girls. They did aerobics while teaching English. The idea was for housewives to learn English while getting in their morning workout. Enjoy.

Monday, April 11, 2011

"One never knows when the homosexual is about."

I guess I shouldn't be shocked that such videos were made, but holy shit. This is twisted.

And, it goes to show that, while we still have a long way to go towards full equality, we have made quite a bit of progress.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Jen McCreight still has that feminism stick firmly implanted good and deep up her ass.

So, Jen attended some atheist group meeting at her grad school, and had this exchange with some guys.
Guy 1: So, what was your talk in Minnesota about?
Me: The intersection of atheism and feminism, what we can do to get more women to leave religion, and how to make the atheist movement more welcoming to women.
Guy 2: Cool! Is the lack of women really that big of an issue? I'm just new to everything.
Me: For a lot of groups, yeah. I mean, just look at ours. There are only three women.
Everyone: Yeah... *shame*
Guy 3: Heh, I'm dating a third of the SSU's women.
Me: So yeah, I talked about how to make groups more welcoming so more women join.
Guy 4: I guess that's a good thing.Means there would be more girls to date.
Everyone: *glare*
Me: Um, that's precisely what you shouldn't say.
Apparently, Guy 4's statement is sexist or something. So, Jen posted the conversation [EDIT: Jen has moved her blog, and the old site no longer has the comments. New link here.] and said,
It's fine to be attracted to someone and date within a group, but don't only see a woman as Person Who I Want to Sleep With.
Her little post sparked a wee bit of controversy, gaining 112 reader comments at this writing. Some comments were guys defending Guy 4, and some were from the hordes of Jennyites complaining bitterly about the "dudez" who are "mansplaining"  Guy 4's rather (IMHO) innocuous statement. One comment was from a lady who mentioned that she would like to meet guys at atheist meetings. No one responded to her.

Matt Dillahunty (full disclosure: he is one of my heroes) left the most thoughtful comment in response to some foolisheness from Julie Lada. She said,
What was said was that he "guessed" that more women in atheist organizations was a good thing because it "meant more girls to date." So this guy can't see a reason outside of how it could benefit his dick to have more women in the group. Not that they'd add a unique perspective or contribute interesting ideas. Nope, boobies and blowjobs, amirite?
Matt responded in part with,
This frequent representation of heterosexual men as slobbering sex maniacs who objectify women such that "date" really equates to "boobies and blowjobs" is pathetic. It's narrow-minded and sexist - and shameful ... and it may hurt the cause even more than what "Guy4" said.

Are there guys like that? Sure...and there are women like that - and that goes for every sexual identity I've encountered.

Jen is completely correct that this response from him is part of the problem, but it's part of the problem because it tends to give the wrong impression - not because his intent is somehow base and repugnant. Your response is also part of the problem - because you're alienating men by misrepresenting them as inconsiderate, sex-crazed pigs.
Jen didn't respond to Matt. Some people did, but not Jen. You see, Jen does not engage in debate or conversation when it comes to her feminism posts. She puts up the post and expects everyone to agree with her. She gets upset and frustrated when people disagree. Instead of engaging Matt in thoughtful discussion, she made a new post where she posted a comic.

Um, ok, kinda simplistic. Not really funny, but the point is made, I guess.

This post also got a bunch of comments. One person said, "I'd say you just won. ;)" I guess she liked the comic. One guy (or "d00d") by the name of Joe T simply said, "Sigh, whatever" and posted a link to this cartoon.

Again, rather simplistic, but at least funny.

So, if the discussion of feminism in the atheist community is to be boiled down to the most simplistic terms, allow me to point out the obvious in the most simplistic way I can manage.
  1. Men like to fuck.
  2. Women like to fuck.
  3. Straight/bi men and women like to fuck each other.
  4. Where ever straight/bi men and women gather, someone is gonna try to fuck someone.
  5. Don't sweat the fucking.
  6. Men, don't be pigs about wanting to fuck.
  7. Women, don't whine about men wanting to fuck.
And, Jen, yank that stick out of your ass already.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Admit it: You like to get high

We all like to get high. Roller coasters, skiing, dancing, gambling, sex, alcohol, and illicit drugs all get us high. And, I doubt that there is a person in the world who doesn't get high one way or another every now and then.

Even as a child, you got high. With your arms out straight, you would spin around and around, faster and faster, until you collapsed onto the ground, giggling joyfully with the dizziness and lightheaded feeling. Your uncle would pick you up by your legs and spin you about. After you recovered, you would beg for more. During recess at school, you would play on the merry-go-round, hanging on for dear life as the older kids spun it faster and faster.

You loved it, and you were getting high.

The desire to get high has always been part of being human. Archeologists, historians and scientists agree that agriculture started about 10,000 years ago in Mesopotamia with the planting of grain. What they can't agree on is whether that grain was first harvested for making bread or beer. Regardless which came first, alcohol has always been well loved. Up until this century, it was common practice for people to drink during lunch before going back to work.

Thrill seekers can get high without ingesting anything. Surfing, sky-diving and mountain climbing all produce an adrenaline rush. It's the same as getting high.

Some get high by going to church and worshiping false gods.

Some eat chocolate.

Some like to get high by smoking marijuana. Some snort coke. Some shoot heroin. Yet, they are condemned by society as sick and immoral. Perhaps some are sick. Heroin is a dangerous drug; it can easily lead to addiction or death. The health problems associated with abusing drugs are well documented. As are the problems with eating too much chocolate. Chocolate is dangerous, but people do not view it as immoral.

We all like to get high, and we should let people get high anyway they please. Skiing, chocolate, marijuana and spinning around in circles are all legitimate ways to get high. You have your way, I have mine.

I smoke pot to get high. I make no apologies.

Hillary Clinton doesn't understand the effects of prohibition

I have a good friend living in San Franscico who is a member of the libertarian wing of the Tea Party, and he often sends me links to ReasonTV videos. ReasonTV is not television, and lacks much in the line of reason, but they nailed it on this video.

Prohibition increases the value of any commodity. There is a reason why so many pot farmers want to keep marijuana illegal. The price of weed would drop dramatically if it was completely legal. It's just too damn easy to grow. And, with that price drop, the profits of small farmers would dry up rather quickly. Without the high profits, it no longer makes good business sense for criminal gangs to get involved with drug dealing.

The quickest, easiest, and cheapest way to end the violent drug wars in Mexico would be for the United States to legalize all drugs. Instead of gangs killing each other fighting over the inflated profits, corporations would be suing each other in court over much smaller profits.

Most of the harm that people believe is caused by drugs is actually caused by the war on drugs.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Introducing the Machine

I've been silent for a bit. I have excuses, though.
  1. I'm lazy.
  2. I work twelve hour days.
  3. I am getting over a bout of the flu. I shall get a flu shot next year.
  4. I have recently discovered Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton movies. Those dudes are total geniuses. I recommend getting stoned before watching. It's better that way.
  5. I have a machine. It makes happiness.
My dad got me The Machine for Christmas. He bought it from a friend who needed $50 more than he needed the machine. Bummer for him.

Isn't it pretty?
The Machine is an Zephyr Ion Vaporizer. It vaporizes cannabis instead of burning it, so the smoker (vaporer? vapor inhaler? stoner?) need not inhale a bunch of tar, smoke, resin or other nastiness. It is supposedly safer. If you want a further discussion concerning clinical trials and science and stuff, I suggest you check out Wikipedia.
Vaporization is an alternative to burning (smoking) which avoids the production of irritating, toxic, and carcinogenic by-products by heating the material so its active compounds boil off into a vapor. No combustion occurs, so no smoke or taste of smoke is present. Vapor ideally contains virtually zero particulate matter or tar, and significantly lower concentrations of noxious gases such as carbon monoxide. Vaporizers contain various forms of extraction chambers including straight bore, venturi or sequential venturi and are made of materials such as metal or glass. The extracted vapor may be collected in a jar or inflatable bag, or inhaled directly through a hose or pipe. With little to no smoke produced and cooler temperatures, less material is required to achieve a given level of effect. Hence, the irritating and harmful effects of smoking are greatly reduced or eliminated,[1][2][3][4][5] as is secondhand smoke. 
In comparison to other drug delivery methods such as ingestion, vaporization has a more rapid onset of pharmacological effect, direct delivery into the bloodstream (via the lungs), and more precise titration such that the desired level is reached and not exceeded, enabling consistent and appropriate dosage.
Those editors at Wikipedia sure do like big words, don't they. Don't feel bad. I have no fucking clue what venturi or titration mean either. If you are curious, you can wander over to Wikipedia and click on their links. If I was a good responsible blogger, I would have kept their links in the copied and pasted text, but reformatting Wikipedia's HTML to fit Blogger can be a pain in the ass (Note to Google: fucking fix that, already.). Besides, I've been vaping tonight, so reading HTML is even more confusing than usual.

The Machine may appear complicated at first glance, but it is easy to use. Simply turn it on, fill the basket with product, insert said basket, close the lid, attach the bag, and fill.

After just a few minutes, the bag is filled with sweet vapor. Remove, and inhale.

No coughing. No burning of the throat. No chance of burning down the house because some stoned hippie bastard was a little careless with the lighter. Just a beautiful high.

Now, I know exactly what you're thinking. Why so long to write about the beautiful Machine? Well, I've hadn't any ganja until this week. I don't buy or smoke that reguraly, and I haven't bought any recently. But, the other day, getting home from work, I found a bag shoved under my door. I wonder where that came from.

And, I'm sure you're wondering, where, oh where, can you get your very own Zephyr Ion? Well, they are voluntarily and temporarily out of business. Worried about the govmint or something. But, fear not, Amazon has a bunch of other vaporizers for sale. Happy vaping!

I do wonder why the govmint is so damn set on harassing harmless stoners. Our last three presidents have all been confirmed potheads at one time or another. You'd think they would cut their fellow tokers some slack, but, no, they got to make sure they look tough on crime. Hypocrites.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Wisconsin Senate votes to strip away collective bargaining rights

Remember, this is not about balancing a budget. Wisconsin is not broke. This is politics, a cynical move designed to weaken unions, weaken workers and weaken the Democratic Party. The plan behind this move is to defund public unions. Without their funding, unions would not be able to donate to political campaigns. Some Wisconsin GOP leader was honest enough to say so on live TV.

Their plan won't succeed. The American worker has wakened, and they are angry.

The battle is not lost, the fight shall go on.

Michael Moore in Wisconsin

America is not broke. We do have plenty of money. We can afford to give workers decent pay and decent benefits. The rich just don't want to. They want more for themselves. Our county has plenty of cash. Watch the video, and remember what he says at the end.
Never forget, as long as that Constitution of ours still stands, it's one person, one vote, and it's the thing the rich hate most about America -- no matter how hard they try to buy the votes, no matter how hard they try to own the political process, when it comes down to it, it's one person, one vote, and there are a hell of a lot more of us than there are of them!

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Some thoughts on free speech

I'm not an absolutist when it comes to free speech, but I come awfully damn close. Speech is our most cherished right, but there are limits. The most obvious, and cliché, example is the prohibition of yelling "Fire" in a crowded theater. The danger to the public outweighs any right to speech the yeller may have. In my view, pornography is also a no brainer. As long as it is consensual and adult, one should be able to make and distribute any type porn they can imagine. Other exceptions to free speech are not quite so obvious. Where exactly the lines are drawn is often fiercely debated, and I frequently find myself questioning my own views.

Take the recent Supreme Court case involving the Westboro Baptist Church. Protest, even that with the most hateful language, is permitted, but at a funeral? I think the Court decided properly here. The families feel pain in having a funeral become a circus, but that does not warrant prohibiting protest. The state should be able to restrict the speech to a distance away from the funeral, but not so far as to make the protest invisible.

Continuing on the hate theme, some dumbass fashion designer is facing charges of hate speech in France for making anti-semitic remarks. His drunken rants were certainly hateful, but they ought not be considered criminal. Outlawing hate speech is essentially policing thought. If one feels hate, even unjustified bigotry, it is their thoughts. That cannot be policed, and the uttering of such thoughts should not be policed either. There is a very steep slippery slope here. Religious groups may claim hate when they are confronted with speech that questions their superstitions. Many Muslims considered those infamous Danish cartoons to be hate speech. They may feel it was hate speech, but others thought they were just vaguely amusing cartoons. The answer to hate is not the courts, but education and peer pressure.

Recently in New York, a retired man was arrested for jury tampering. He would spend his days standing in front of courthouses handing out literature encouraging people to use the concept of jury nullification of law in trials where the jurors may feel a law was unjust. A rather rare and often unheard of concept, jury nullification is perfectly legal, and in some cases proper. For instance, if I ever found myself on the jury for a pot dealing trial, I would vote for acquittal, and the other jurors would not be able to sway me.

But prosecutors do not like jury nullification, so some annoyed prosecutors decided to charge the man with jury tampering. I feel that this is a clear cut case of protected speech, and the prosecutors ought to be chastised, and maybe prosecuted themselves, for abuse of power. After all, this is a case of one old man handing our political pamphlets on the sidewalk, an American tradition stretching back to the Colonial days. Just the arrest itself is suppression of speech.

On piece of news got me scratching my head trying to figure out my thoughts and opinions. It seems that our neighbors to the north have a law against news broadcasters lying. Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. wrote a piece recently that stated,
Canada's Radio Act requires that "a licenser may not broadcast ... any false or misleading news." The provision has kept Fox News and right-wing talk radio out of Canada and helped make Canada a model for liberal democracy and freedom. As a result of that law, Canadians enjoy high quality news coverage, including the kind of foreign affairs and investigative journalism that flourished in this country before Ronald Reagan abolished the "Fairness Doctrine" in 1987. Political dialogue in Canada is marked by civility, modesty, honesty, collegiality, and idealism that have pretty much disappeared on the US airwaves.
Now, this got me wondering. Is such a law just? Could it work in the States? Is it possible to force Fox to either be honest or quit broadcasting? I'm rather torn on this one. Fox is notoriously dishonest. Whole websites and YouTube channels are dedicated to documenting their dishonesty. And, their deceit is damaging to our nation. Far too many people (teabaggers) believe the bullshit that Fox attempts to pass as news, so their harm is readily apparent. But, would this become censoring the news? I'm afraid it may be going a step too far. Freedom of the press is cherished, and necessary for a democracy to survive. Perhaps it would be better if other news organizations kept exposing their dishonesty. Perhaps a happy compromise would be to charge them with false advertising. That "Fair and Balanced" slogan could easily be considered deceptive. I cannot decide on this issue. I like the idea, but it seems dangerous.

Fisting for dummies

No, not that kind of fisting, you perv. I'm talking socialism.

via Joe.My.God.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Class warfare is already here.

via MoveOn

A bit of good news for women's rights

With the Republican current war on women, things have been looking bleak for women's rights, especially reproductive rights. But, finally, a bit of good news from New York.
The City Council passed a bill on Wednesday seeking more transparency from crisis pregnancy centers that present themselves as medical clinics but that critics say offer little more than pregnancy tests and counseling intended to steer women away from abortions.

“The goal of this bill is to ensure that women are fully informed and not deceived,” the Council speaker, Christine C. Quinn, said. “Women need to know, they have a right to know, whether they are consulting with a licensed medical provider.”
I see signs for these "pregnancy centers" all the time on the subway. The signs sometimes mention that there are alternatives to abortion,  but usually fail to disclose that the centers are anti-choice and Christian run. Their main tactic is to get young, poor, scared girls into their clinics and then convince them that abortion is evil. The centers do not refer patients to abortion providers, and they usually do not even provide condoms or birth control information.

Ariel Kaminer visited three centers while pregnant, and wrote of the experiences for the New York Times.
It’s my body, my choice, Ms. Marzulla told me, invoking the old abortion rights rallying cry with a new, antiabortion twist, “but someone else is involved, too.” Almost as an afterthought, she told me that Margaret Sanger, the hero of the reproductive rights movement, had ties to the Third Reich.

The pamphlet she gave me about the risks of abortion mentioned breast cancer, a link the National Cancer Institute has refuted, and something called post-abortion syndrome, for which the American Psychological Association, among others, says there is no evidence. As for the physical risks of pregnancy and childbirth? There was no pamphlet to discuss them.
The sole reason for these centers existence is not women's health, but the pushing of a political agenda. This bill will force them to disclose what they will and will not provide.