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