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Far over the misty mountains cold
To dungeons deep and caverns old
We must away ere break of day
To seek the pale enchanted gold

The dwarves of yore made mighty spells
While hammers fell like ringing bells
In places deep, where dark things sleep,
In hollow halls beneath the fells.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Spending Sunday

Not doing what I had planned, but fortunately I am writing. Or, actually, editing. I'm now over halfway through Bladesman. Which is a good thing.

So I'm doing good, I think. Added about a thousand words so far. Maybe deleted about 500 to 800. Here's to keepin' on keepin' on.

Linkee-poo Sunday shuffle

wwCatherine Shaffer and the giant internet hand of spanking.

It's good to know that no matter how far we think we've progressed as a society, we can still ban books. Vonnegut's Slaughter House Five? Really? Crude language and adult themes are inappropriate for an upper-level English course? Truly, Republic, MO district school board, you have your heads up your asses if you think your kids haven't already been exposed to even worse. Also, the person objecting to having the books doesn't have children within the system. I'm all about openness and inclusiveness for opinions, but making your decision based on "advocating principles contrary to the Bible" 1) isn't an acceptable argument to ban a book and 2) can not be reasonably made by someone who isn't being exposed to the material as they have no standing. (Grokked by Jeffrey Beeler).

I think I need to start drinking more often. I'm getting close to Professor Farnsworth's quote, "I don't want to live on this planet anymore."

Metal on the plains of Mars. A cool photo of Mars from Opportunity. There's a wild herd of comments thundering through my brain, but the one that looks like it's winning is, "Not content with trashing it's own world, mankind reaches out to trash other planets." Well, that and "How far to the recycling station?" (Grokked from Jay Lake)

In late breaking news, Sen. Mitch McConnell has stated that now we have the right people at the table and they have the sufficient amount of motivation. Or, in other words, we've been dicking around for the last four months. Let me see, it looks like all the same people at the table, except for Boehner and Cantor. And it sounds like what's being jettisoned is much of what the House bill was based around (2 step raise to the debt limit, tied to votes and passage of further cuts and a balance budget amendment).

Friday, July 29, 2011

Tear in the Dashboard

As a sum up to just a wonderful week, I ripped my dashboard vinyl on the way home. So, Great Internet Mind, does anybody have experience with repair kits? Any recommendations?

Bought some lumber for the deck project and when fitting it into the car, bumped into the dashboard (wood was 2"x10"x10', so turn down the back seat, and the front passenger seat, run the wood in from the trunk). Like I said, the capper to a great week.

TIA

Linkee-poo, special edition on cancer

"The worst case scenario here is we accidentally treated a 9-11 responder's cancer even though his cancer may not be proven to have its genesis on 9-11." While, "yes, this," also somewhat a part of the whole "Fukushima/Chernobyl disaster and cancer, not a direct link" debate. You might remember me pointing out that, "well, all those increases in cancer can't be directly tied to Chernobyl" argument. Welcome to its US cousin.

Speaking of cancer, Jay Lake speaks of his own cancer. He also points to this xkcd on the subject of survivability.

It's a hard struggle, and my heart goes out to Jay. Staring one's own mortality in the face isn't easy, even when you've done it before and are prepared. It is made especially harder with the stories we tell ourselves of the "fight until the last breath" struggle, "stay strong", or the "miracle remission," or the ever popular, "you'll be okay/things will turn out okay" and finally the guilt ridden, "you have so much to live for." Couple that with the myth of "tell Laura, I love her" death bed scenes. Death is not the nice person he's made out to be in modern movies. He is like how the ancients saw him, a thief in the night.

I've promised to write a post on "Cancer and Me", this is not it. It's complex, and cancer is the barrel of the Armalite I look down every morning. At sixteen I watched cancer devour my Grandfather. Watched it take him away from me, piece by piece. And I know, when the cancer came back the year before, he knew what it was. It wasn't his first dance with that devil. He knew why he was losing so much weight. By the time the rest of us did, and imposed our version of the story of his life on him, it was too late. His surgical team changed direction mid procedure from "eradication" to "palliative care." The person who taught me what it meant to be a man, what it meant to love someone fully - cancer ripped him from me just as I was becoming a man and trying to love someone fully.

I have gone into days of my life with a chip on my shoulder and embracing the philosophy of "today is a good day to die." I know what that phrase really means (as, unfortunately, too many kids now know). And I've put on that cloak of invincibility to swagger forth and either use my shield or come home on it. I know what a life struggle is like, know the lay of the land for that particular Hell.

Two more people I know were diagnosed with cancer this year. Last night at class, one of my class mates shared her story of "walking" her parents down with their cancers. I should have gone up and hugged her. I know that pain, and that fear. You may also remember this year I had a sarcoma removed (on my ear). Given my family history, you can bet I wigged out a little.

Fuck cancer.

One way the stories we tell ourselves screw things us concerns the whole debate of "not giving pain meeds" to terminal patients, or "heroic extremes" to keep someone alive (the opposite of "can you pull the plug?" conversations that go on behind shuttered windows). It's a pervasive myth we hold. It's part of why Terri Schiavo's ordeal was allowed to go on for so long (and also why that fight was personal to me).

When it comes to it, I will probably fight hard. That's just the way I'm put together. Other people have their own stories to live, and each one is just as valid and acceptable as the next. But, if I get like my Grandfather or Grandmother in their last months, get the damn Hospice involved. I am not your fucking made-for-TV movie.

Linkee-poo aso has trouble with his own majority

Connected more than somewhat to yesterday's link about writer's being rock stars, a tale of two terrorists and the macho politics of "rugged individualism" (our US concept of this). (Grokked from Jay Lake)

Interview with Batgirl at SDCC. Why does it seem like privilege is continuing to be cemented into place after decade of jack hammering at the edges?

Congressman Joe Walsh, non-payor extraordinary. This is a little personal for me, being the child of divorce where my Mom is owed around $45,000 in back child support and alimony. So you may think I'm a little harsh when I read, "Walsh's ex-wife Laura Walsh asked a judge to suspend Walsh's driver's license until he paid his child support… In response, Walsh asks his ex-wife's lawyer: 'Have you no decency?'" and respond with, "Really? Fucking pay what you owe her." Want "no decency"? Be glad you're in Illinois. In Ohio she could send you to jail (very hard, but has been done - also, one of the reasons conservative elements are attempting to change the divorce laws here and nationwide). Listen, buck up and be a mensch. It's called "responsibility." (redacted some statements that were personal attacks)

On the "Centrist" debate. Also a little on what you will hear soon (mostly from your conservative friends and bloggers), "both sides are to blame, nobody can get anything done." Well, no, one side went over 80% toward the other and then got shut out. "Bruce Bartlett, who served as a policy analyst in the Reagan administration, argues that Mr. Obama is in practice a moderate conservative." Yes, that. Also, Juan Cole with more of the history here. "The reason that the Republicans deliberately destroyed the balanced budget and created unprecedented government debt was precisely in hopes that at some point they could use the debt as an excuse to destroy social security, medicare, and myriads of educational and health programs." Many of us were making this point in 2005. Grover Norquist in all his finest (what, didn't you know what it meant to drag the government to the bathtub and drown it). (Grokked from Jay Lake)

And (the) Pontius Pilate(s) wash their hands of the matter. Still was him who sent Jesus to the Cross.

"That is, if I may say, some of the most free-range, organically grown, disingenous, ideologically marinated, un-self-awareness I've ever seen in the wild." Jon Stewart on the victimization card. I think I've made similar comments before. (another link in case that one isn't working)

Also related, in case you're still laboring under the delusion that Fox News is the only news persecuted for their views. Before you say, "It's just turn about," remember Dan Rather and few other "lefty" news people who were driven from their posts.

Frequently forgotten facts of the debt debate. In other words, it's called "moving the goal posts" when, in fact, you aren't playing an honest game to begin with.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Faster FOIA Act of 2011?

Okay, so can anybody point me to the actual text of Boehner's debt limit increase bill? I keep reading that it's S. 627, which is the Faster FOIA Act of 2011 that sets up a committee to report back on why FOIA request are taking so long. Supposedly he's offering his debt limit increase and spending cuts as an amendment to the act, but I can't find the text of that amendment.

And, doesn't anybody else find it hilarious that such an important piece of legislation is being introduced as an amendment to an unrelated bill?

Yeah, yeah, it's the way around reporting out of committee, blah, blah, blah. Not like we didn't see this coming for the past year.

Linkee-poo has got a crush on you

The incomparable Michelle Sagara West on bad panelist behavior (Michelle is on LJ, which has been having difficulty, I was able to read her rant through my RSS reader). If you're a writer and are now being invited to be a panelist, read and learn. I could give my own examples, but as her main point is "this movie is not about you", I'll restrain myself. Just like we all had to learn how to write a story, you should also learn how to be a panelist. It's not as easy as it looks. Observe all the panelist, see what works and what doesn't. Which authors didn't you know at the beginning of the panel, but by the end you wanted to check out their books. Learn how they did that, and do so likewise. Also, internalize Wheaton's Law.

Kaye Umansky on a life of writing the funny. Maybe only interesting to me, because in the next book, I'll be heading back to the funny.

On piracy, plagiarism, and what is and isn't applicable.

Writers need to be more like rockstars (NSFW, no pictures, but profanity and sex references abound). Only, rockstars aren't really like that, in the main (hey, Alice Cooper plays on the amateur-pro golf circuit and Ozzy can hold forth on the history of metal bands like a historian recounting the Hundred Years War). Also, nobody likes to work with jerks. See earlier comment re: Wheaton's Law. Follow that advice at your own risk. (Grokked from gabrielnovo)

More on the "No true Scotsman" response to the Norway shootings. Considering I've had three conversations where I've had to correct people about the political views and motivations of this nut, the initial rush of, "ZOMG, it MOOSLIMS" had it's desired effect. Nothing to see here, citizen, move along. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

History, it's a bitch. Conservatives, thy name is hypocrisy. Seriously, when do we start airbrushing people off the podium? (Grokked from Jay Lake) Need I say more?

Ten doomed industries. (Grokked from Jeffery Beeler)

This is why we have rules. They didn't read the MLK Day Bomber his Miranda rights, but had him "under arrest." See, this is why conservatives want to make sure terrorists aren't tried in civilian courts. Because civilian courts make a big deal out of following the damn rule book.

Oh look, voter fraud. Except, it's not really. Apples and oranges comparisons, implications, and not understanding their own laws on voter registration, yep, seems par for the course these days. He says he's found "the 'tip of the iceberg.'" Looks more like he found the q-tip with ear wax.

EDITED to add this one, just because it makes my blood boil, I couldn't hold it until tomorrow.
Really? Republican candidates can't source their campaign swag in the US? I have no problem finding, t-shirts made in the USA. Hell, even some made by unionized workers. Having sourced specialty advertising pieces for a lot of my career, I can tell you, for a fact, these people are spewing bullshit. And with the lax "Made in USA" laws you can find a lot more that have that label (even if they aren't made here).

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Linkee-poo runs for the border

A light one because, well, see the first point.

When the world tries to kill your writing. And article over at Shimmer of which… What can I say? I've so been there (still am right at the moment). (Grokked from Catherine Shaff Stump)

Think healthy, eat healthy. (Grokked from Morgan Locke) Publishing calorie counts in restaurants affects choices.

On the "if you've got nothing to hide" logic fallacy. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

Nothing to see here, citizen. Move along. Keep telling me how conservatives are for the little guy, I keep forgetting.

Some musings on the response to the Norway shootings. That mirrors some of my own thoughts. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

Experts: Drone Strike Has the 'Hallmark of al-Qaeda'. Some snark to counter the chicken-hawks who think war is great, when they don't have to fight it. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

Do you hear what I hear?

That sound like unto a thousand yard coil of steel collapsing on cement? That's the other shoe dropping.

Okay, for those of you playing the at home game, I've moved my bets into the "We're going to default for the first time in history, probably for at least a week or more (not more than a month). Cover your asses," column. If I could move my 401k into a cash position, I would (YMMV, talk with your own financial adviser, yadda, yadda, yadda).

See, to avoid default we have two scenarios.

First up is that Boehner's plan passes the House tomorrow (good luck with that), Harry Reid brings it to the well of the Senate, then survives 3 "without objection" procedural votes (if not, we have to go through the whole rules procedure which is an 8 day process, as long as it's not filibustered), and then passes the Senate without amendment (amendment would mandate a joint committee to hash out the differences, and then we have to pass that amended bill in both the House and Senate without further amendment). And then the President needs to sign it.

Chances of all that happening = 0%. (I don't see it getting past the procedural votes without objection from either the left or the right, and then I also don't see it passing without having a score of amendments being made. Oh, and the President, making good on his promise from April, will veto that sucker if it by some miracle makes it to his desk).

Next is Harry Reid's bill which is winding it's way through the normal process in the Senate, the House would need to take it up immediately (less than a day) for a floor vote (well, 3 votes at least) without amendment and then send it on to the President for his signature.

Chances of all that happening = < 5% (The President would more than likely sign that bill, but I don't think it has much of a chance to pass the House let alone without amendments, although when they're staring into the harry abyss come next Tuesday, they might, which is why I won't say 0%).

So, IMHO, we now have a greater than 95% chance of defaulting. More than likely for about 3 days to a week (I don't think it'll go much longer than 10 days). I expect to see major negative movements on the markets today as investors come to grips with this reality.

Still like your revolution, TPers? Get ready for this albatross neckless. I don't think it'll look nice on you. But then, it never does.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

I think I smell pants burning

Hey, remember that promise to the American People to allow all bills brought before the House to be posted for public review for at least three days before holding any vote? Yeah, apparently neither do the people who made that promise.

Linkee-poo jumps, shouts, knocks itself out.

Because they're going around, pictures of happy NY couples. Now if only we can finally sweep away the caustic remnants of DOMA, we'll all have full rights under the law. This news just in, civilization fails to collapse.

Kristen Lamb on not insulting the reader's intelligence. Some oldie but crunchy writer's tips told with a new emphasis. One should not piss off the reader (unless you've sunk the hook deep and are doing it for effect - I'm looking at you Neil Gaiman). (Grokked from Miranda Suri)

A Clarion interview with Jim Butcher. I'm still going through the audiobooks around Harry Dresden. I'm enjoying them immensely. With reading them, I've been asking myself if I need to redesign the world of New Frisco, but I think I'm going to resist that, for the moment. There are some changes I'm going to make, but not major ones. Some people will tell you that while you're writing you shouldn't be reading, and most definitely you shouldn't read works close to what you're writing. I have to call bullshit on that. Maybe if you haven't developed your own voice yet, you might want to. But once you have a strong voice, you better damn well read books close to your own.

The raconteur viewpoint. For the record, Bladesman was intentionally told in first-person raconteur. It allows me to perform tricks that readers apparently like (such as internal dialog remembrances of his master's sayings, which still confuse him, and naming the unnamed cannon fodder after nursery rhymes).

Just in case you're still laboring under the myth that Obama created this fiscal deficit crisis. A handy chart that compares the debt created by President GW Bush and President Obama (with projections out to 2017 for his programs).

Jim Wright gets cranky again. This time he mirrors some comments I made earlier about how the myth of running government like your household. "You cann't spend more than you make," The People™ like to say. "Government needs to learn how to live within its means, just like all of us do." If that were really the case, our debt would be about 4 times larger than it is now.

In case you need any more ammunition to know that Glenn Beck is a complete ass. (Grokked from Teresa Nielson Hayden)

And in other news, so much for the "post-racial" world we live in. Janiece pretty well sums up my thoughts about that. (Grokked from Janiece)

Monday, July 25, 2011

My response to the response

For anybody who believes Boehner's performance piece, especially the "blank check" reference, you need to learn how your government actually works. You might want to start your re-education with the concept of Appropriations (and appropriation bills and who passes them, and then who passed the recent one). Then you may want to look at the fiscal calendar year of the government (hint, it's not the calendar year).

Maybe here is a good place to start.

Dear Speaker Boehner, The appropriations/spending bill we are currently operating under (and the rules previous to its passing since the new House was sworn in in January) are all your party. You passed the bill. Your committee chair approved the spending before that. Sorry, sir, but some if us actually do pay attention and know how things are done. The President can only work within the framework you gave him. If spending is out of control, it's because you made it that way. For the sake of the country we both love, please stop telling myths and do your constitutionally mandated job. The one you swore your oath to do.

You may have missed that even the Fox News polls show that if we do go into default, the majority of people will blame you and the party you lead. You might not be able to hear that from the bubble of your caucus rooms. If you don't listen now, you will hear it in the polling booths.

Your house page was having troubles loading just a moment ago. I'm hoping it's the result of people trying to tell you the same thing I am telling you here. The President has you boxed in politically. We all know it. So now the question is will you remain hostage to your fringe, or will you actually be a leader of your party? Only one direction holds the promise of getting out of this (hint, it's not toward your fringe).

Default will be much worse than '94 debacle, or the trial balloon of allowing the FAA's writ to expire. If you don't think so, you may want to read some of the local Ohio press of why our Governor's approvals are through the floor. Everybody wants only cuts to balance the budget, until they actually see what is left to be cut.

Tell them a hookah smoking caterpillar has given you the call

You should know I'm a music snob. Having listened to, played, created, toted, and roadied music for most of my life, I find it difficult not to love all kinds of music.

So you should know that covers, to me, are the bane of existence. For the most part.

There are notable exceptions, mostly transformational retakes of the song which exploits a good song's universality. Tim O'Brian's take on Norwegian Wood which converts an excellent Beatles song into Irish ballad. Or Fountains of Wayne's take on "Can't get it out of my head." Or TMBG's group sex version of "Tubthumper." But I typically shy away from covers that cleave close to the original.

This weekend, on the road, we heard a Fresh Air interview of Gillian Welch (and David Rawlings). At the end, Terry Gross asked them to play a song which isn't theirs, but that they love. Then they played "White Rabbit." Wow.



Here's their take at Telluride. They really play up the "spanish guitar" vibe (even without the "Bolero" drum riff). And their reverse, close harmony really cranks to the song. You can buy the version they played on Fresh Air. It's even better.

Linkee-poo curses Sir Walter Raleigh for being a stupid git

The New Knights Templar? Really? Hmm, I think the Masons may have something to say about that. And considering they rule the world (but secretly), this guy ain't going no wheres.

My other comment, hey, look, Norway has no problem with trying terrorists in civilian courts. "I want to make my statement." That nice, this hearing is closed. Deal with it. it's almost like they're more civilized than we are.

Broetry? Really, dude, just own up to liking poetry.

TEDxBoston with Caleb Neelon on graffiti, public art, and courting the creative class.

Rep. Wu, game over. Please go home now.

On being overweight in America. Or at least one view of it.

But today I am still just a bill

You know how everybody is talking about "Aug 2"? Yeah, because of the convoluted rules, the Senate needs about 8 days to pass anything (if anybody objects to a unanimous vote). That makes the deadline tomorrow.

Conservatives have drug their feet to the last minute to try and ram their plan down our throats. Two years ago nascent tea partiers howled about the President was shoving a bill most people agreed with down our throats and how terrible that was. Yet, here are the conservatives actually shoving a plan down our throats that most people think is stupid and there's nary a peep.

Gee, ever think the President will call your bluff with a veto? Think if he does the blame will shift to him? Boy, you all really don't remember 94, do you? Only this is slightly worse than a budget impasse.

Notice that the President has already floated more cuts than what you're asking for, was willing to go to his base to get them to accept major changes to entitlements, and laid out his plan? Notice that Harry Reid just floated an even larger cut than what Boehner was working toward? Notice how the conservatives won't take either deal (well, I would guess at this point the President's plan is off the table)? Guess what that makes conservatives look like? Yeah, even the poll I saw on Fox over the weekend says that people will blame the Republicans for any default. Also notice how the story is being told that Boehner is being held captive by his TP Caucus. Dudes, you're being framed, and you can't see it.

Think it'll just be old people and the very poor that get screwed over (notice the sub talk about how "the poor now have to do their share")? One thing not very well highlighted in the arguments, guess what programs won't get funded (because they're not on anybody's radar, yet) if we go past the deadline? Pell Grants and Student Loans. Guess what's due soon? Guess what will make a major difference for a lot of people? And let us not forget direct payments to schools (and block education grants to states) that affect a lot of children. The citizenry will get an object lesson of what this country will be like without a Department of Education. Eyes will be opened.

On a slightly related note, Congress can't get it's shit together and allows authorization for the FAA to lapse. Government loses $200 million per week, stalls out airport construction, and generally sets up a big mess (fortunately they're keeping the flight controllers on the job, so the public doesn't notice too much). And in a move of ever loving gratitude to their customers, airlines raise their fares to keep ticket prices the same. You know, just so we don't get used to those fares sans taxes. That's so nice of them. Just remember that the next time someone talks about how business has their customers as their main focus and how the free market will drive down prices.

Studying Sleep

I was hoping to live blog it, but the fee wireless internet refused to be wireless, then free, and by the time we hit the internet part I just wanted it to be over. Last night I had a sleep study. For those of you playing at home, you should know I've been trying to lose weight for about 4 years now. I seem to be stuck just north of 300 (I've been less, but quickly went back up, probably if I had the time and energy to exercise regularly again, I could break back through).

Ever since I broke my leg nine years ago now (wow, 9 years), I've never been able to sleep well unless I've been totally exhausted. See, for 3 days after I shattered my left fibula, I was just in a wrap to wait until the swelling went down. It was very painful. This was also the time I found that I can't take Vicodin (I love that drug, but it makes me paranoid with delusions, not fun). I had to be careful of my ankle (with the break, and with walking upstairs afterward, my ankle was 5" out of position), so I would wake up to reposition (having to have my ankle elevated above my heart didn't help). And then when I was in a cast and brace I had to do the same thing (also had to have the foot elevated, but also had to be careful). I've just never relearned the trick to sleeping through the night.

Since then I've become a horrible snorer (I snored before, but not like now). So add breathing problems plus every time I need to roll over I come to full consciousness. Not a recipe for a good night's sleep. Have I mentioned that I'm now fairly tired all the time. I have black bags under my eyes (and I never had them before, even when I would work 72 hours straight). Sometimes driving home late at night, I have difficulty staying awake (which I'd never have a problem before, behind the wheel = awake in my life). I've also experienced the feeling of, "Where am I, how did I get here/get this far?" while driving. That's so not me.

So I took the sleep study. They wire you up like a Christmas tree with a bunch of goop to hold and transfer electrical impulses to the wires. They put a nasal monitor (actually 2, one for pressure, one for speed) on. And then tell you to sleep.

Well, they tell you to sleep on your back, which isn't my preferred position. So I tried laying on my back. For about 45 minutes. I did doze (it's about the only time last night I remember dreaming - mostly about the sleep study), but not fully. And then I said, "Screw it", turned on my left side and bingo! I was asleep.

You know, until I had to roll over.

Which then I must have pulled too much at a wire and they had to come in a reconnect my legs (they connect pickups to your legs to see if you kick or move too much). About halfway through I tried my back again, with the same results.

In the morning you take a very hot shower after they pull the wires off. They can't get the goop out, so you need to "melt it off." While finishing up I asked the nurse how I did.

Of course she couldn't tell me. That would be practicing medicine, or something.

But I was able to find out I "did well until around midnight." And while it wasn't bad enough for them to "split the study" (ie. half sleep study, half determine optimal pressure for CPAP machine), they hinted heavily that I would probably be back for that second part.

I should know in three weeks. I guess I passed the audition.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Linkee-poo of one

Roger Ebert on just how far conservatives have gone in dragging us to the cliffs of insanity. Go and read. Having seen much of the frame work for this back in the early 90s lead to my leaving the Republican Party. It saddens me that so many people still buy onto this philosophy. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

Saturday, July 23, 2011

A record setting week

For those of you who know me in person, you know that I'm a fairly easy going kind of guy. It takes a hell of a lot to disturb me. And even then, when I'm upset, I usually maintain a live and let live attitude. The, "well, we couldn't agree/come to a deal, s'okay we'll go our own ways" mind set.

Well, this week saw two organizations that became dead to me. (Also here, let me explain that this is emulating behaviors my father modeled for me. That gets an instant heavy push against it in my book. This is how bad you have to screw me over before I pull the trigger on this. I don't want to be like my father in any way, but there comes times when I don't have any choice.)

First up is PNC Bank. PNC didn't become dead to me when they changed the rules in regards to my former job and listed any bills 90 days past due as "uncollectible", which our industry was on 120 day standard. This led them to foreclose after the best 2 months we had in years, and I got laid-off. Pissed me off, enough for me to not want to deal with them, but not enough for me to go around saying, "Do not use." However, Bette's Uncle Benny used PNC (as a previous NCB customer, as was my old job). The double billing for identity protection (for years), the statements that were wrong, inaccurate accounting, and general pissiness in dealing with them over the past month and they're dead to me now.

Really, if you all didn't really want to be in personal and small business banking, why the fuck did you buy NCB (which, BTW, moved jobs out of Cleveland)? Are you on drugs? If any of you have money with this bank, I recommend moving to another bank, credit union, or savings institution as quickly as possible. Not all banks will treat you like this. NCB, which wasn't the best (lets be honest) wasn't this bad. I'm talking hyperbolic curve of reduced customer service. We don't have the time to continually come back into your offices because after assuring us we had everything we needed in place, suddenly we need one more thing. And then another. And then just one more. Please, PNC, roll over and fucking die.

Next up is the NFL. First you allow that bastard Modell to move my Brownies from Cleveland. Didn't you learn from your 10+ point share drop in viewership that year? Then you drag your feet on giving us the newly reconstituted Browns. I went from someone who would stop what I was doing to watch football to someone who just doesn't care about it anymore. I went to high school in Canton, Ohio. We love football down there. My mother has volunteered for Hall of Fame for decades now. I marched in 3 parades (back when the bands wore our wool uniforms). I volunteered for activities with my Mom. You didn't think it was critical to get your labor dispute done in time for Football Hall of Fame?

Hey, you know your fans, the people who give you their money? You might want to stop fucking us over. That's it. You're dead to me. My HoF t-shirts won't even be used as dust rags. When I'm out in bars, if they have an NFL game on the TVs, I'll ask them to turn that shit off. I used to buy NFL stuff for gifts. Never again. You're not getting another dime from me.

To all you fans out there, all the NFL cares about is the money you're spending on their overpriced products. They want you to buy their outrageously priced tickets, $8 beer at stadiums (of which they get a cut), watch their TV programing, and buy their licensed materials (which in any other market would qualify for both monopolistic behavior and price gouging). Need your football fix? There's plenty of Friday Night high school football and Saturday college football. You could probably TiVo a lot of it and never be able to see all of it. Why give your time and money to someone who doesn't give a shit about you.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Your Friday Moment of Dissonance


Fortunately not mine. Also, no the highest I've seen.

The summer of our discontent

Some of you know that I'm taking a class this summer, and may be disappointed that I haven't posted any grades or progress reports yet. Well, that's because my grade is all subjective. For our assignments so far (short answer quizzes of 1 question each, make notes on article copy, and report on the movie, "As Good As It Gets") all I have are Check+s and "Excellent." No numbers. So, how am I doing? I have no real clue. This is only a small issue I have with this class. I have other, bigger issues. But only 2 more weeks and I can put it in the "done" column.

Some of my bigger issues? Well, where shall I begin? We'll start with the, "I don't want to teach, today" comments followed by, "we can leave now, and just pretend we had a long class." Really? No, I fucking paid for this class, get your fanny to work.

Then we'll go to the two major projects we have, which each time she describes them she keeps adding extra shit that would be a major player in our final grade. Don't you know what the project should be? As a "communications" professor, can't you "communicate" those expectations from the get go?

Also, 8 week class, just finished "mid term" project, only 2 weeks to go.

Have I mentioned that there's one thing I hate more than reading from powerpoint slides? That would be reading the book to me. And not having read it before, so she's not familiar with the text, so we then have to wait while she scans the text to find something to call out. Oh, and reading from subject matter that's 2 weeks old. Add in not knowing some of the words (different that misreading, this is when she stoops and says, "What's that word/what does that mean?" (in a "I don't understand it" not in a "tell me you understand this concept" way)

Sigh. Two more weeks and I can put a check by this one. It's the only class that's not major related (and I used to love those, BTW) in my reboot.

Linkee-poo, hot enough for you?

It makes me wonder just what is going through the minds of all those who say (both on TV and not), "It's a snowstorm, were's the global warming? Oh those silly Goreists," are thinking right now. If they had any logic consistency it would be "OMFG! We're boned!" You know, right before their heads exploded.

A post of creativity for designers with an interesting chart most of the way down. That chart is really over how "creative design gets done" (not my process, but okay, I've witnessed it in others). But what really struck was it's practically an exact chart of the writing (a novel) process. Like it, get excited, okay middle shit here, ZOMG! this is the worst writing ever, I suck!, okay, we're getting to the good part, Zoom! done and I love it.

A little more on the "our brave job creators." Profits are up, and being banked. But not only are they not hiring, some are laying people off. Again, this isn't my first time on this merry-go-round. Lots of newly minted managers don't understand what they're doing. Say, maybe you all ought to look at China and the fun and wonderful time they're having with their employees. Nah, that could never happen here.

Want one legit reason newspapers are dying? Another in the "stories we tell ourselves" (and how they aren't true), corporate non-bravery, and "profits? What profits." Or, in other words, that vicious cycle of diminishing returns. What could be bad with firing people, working the rest into the ground, and not having any principles? Hey, want to know why Fox is doing so well? It's because they have an agenda and don't give a crap if you don't share it (okay, they do, they'll just call you "unpatriotic", "a loser" or "pin-head"). With the lack of leadership, people will drink the sand because they don't know any better. Dear CNN, want to grab your spot back? Relearn that lesson of speaking truth to power. (Grokked from Vince)

And just in case anybody is still laboring under the principle that conservatives care for them. You know how in the 90s the Republicans bemoaned and wailed against being labeled as the party of the rich and big business. They were a big tent, after all. Well, looks like a duck, waddles like a duck, and quacks it's probably at least in bed with a duck.

Speaking of caring, Erich knocks another one out of the park with his take on the Heritage Foundation's selfishness propaganda report on poverty in the US. So, before I call bullshit on the report (and its summary is a steaming load of crap that only works if you start vivisecting out a small portions of the population, and then mash them together to give a distorted sense of what is happening, and buy into the resurgent "welfare queen" mentality), I'll let you read Eric's commentary on it. In case you don't, I'll also point to Scalzi's post on being poor just in case.

On meeting Ayn Rand's editor. (Grokked from Roger Ebert)

The Clarion blog with just how strange our universe is.

Tobia Buckell on our culture of TEST TEST TEST. Versus, you know, actually educating people. (Just a note, Finland has some advantages over us to begin with, 1) small, 2) homogenous 3) they have a culture that respects education, instead of sneering at it).

It just never gets old that candidates who like to tout their "business" and "job creator" credentials just seem to have no fargin' clue as to how businesses actually work or the reality of any business situation they like to roll out as an example. If that's the only credential you want to run on, it would be nice if you could demonstrate your actual capability.

Tweet of my heart:
@JohnFugelsang: The fact that unelected Grover Norquist controls an entire political party proves the benefits of a Slytherin education. (retweeted by CarolElaine and 24 others)
Also, winner of best Harry Potter comment tie-in.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Linkee-poo is just what I needed

Linkee-poo wishes Jay Lake a speedy recovery. It's awfully damn hard doing this when I can't just steal from his link-salad and make myself look well connected and literate. Congrats on the new scar, dude.

Are you there, Allah? It's me, Hamad. (Pointed to by Dan)

This is why the internet was invented (online kaleidoscope). (Grokked from Camille Alexa)

Why we can't have nice things, a biblical defense of spousal rape. This is also why having a "God has sent me" candidate for president sets my hackles on edge. Before you start protesting, sorry, I have personal experience with Christianity's "It's just in your head", "they're such a good church member, I can't believe…" or, "you miss understand," or the ever popular, "God tells us to be forgiving," in circumstances very similar. I appreciate not all churches and preachers are this way, but there's enough. (Grokked from Jim Wright)

Ohio is #2 in solar power installed.

There are monsters under your bed. Sleep tight. (Grokked from Morgan J Locke)

You know, after having so many actors in office, I think we should have more comedians. That would, at least, make politics more exciting.

If only we could turn the political world on its head and end all those restrictive regulations. The "State Sovereignty Through Local Coordination Act" which would allow our local municipalities to thumb their noses at state regulations if they're tougher than the local ones (which, in case you don't know, is the exact opposite of how home rule actually works), I'm all for. See, we've had feelers for plastics companies wanting to come to our town. They couldn't affect our water supply (well, until 250-300 years from now). Fuck the townships around us and their shallow wells, as well as Cleveland (all of whom would be affected). And our local sewer plant being exempt? Well, that would reduce our compliance costs by an amazing amount. Fuck it, we don't get any money by the anglers downstream from us, or in Lake Erie. It's about our jobs, baby. Christ, now we not only have to refight the 80's and 90's, we're going back to the 70's.

On city planning around the car, and what that does to the pedestrians. Even as a designer of communications I understand the basic principles behind these things. It saddens me, quite often BTW, when engineers and city planners don't grasp the basics. In my own village we're in a multi-year fight to get a traffic signal for our school. Every traffic survey we've had (4 to this point) says we need one. But our local ODOT manager says, "No." Why? Because nobody has been killed yet. And close calls don't matter. Since it's on a state highway, we need ODOT (or a higher source) to agree, even if we're paying for most of it. (Grokked from Tobias Buckell)

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

That pesky CO2 debate

The other day, the Mittster decided to get dumb about carbon emissions. I did a little on how CO2 is actually very bad for you individually (since his point was it didn't affect humans, so shouldn't be considered a pollutant). But I wanted to also point to something more disturbing about our CO2 releases that isn't directly related to global climate change. See, CO2 +H2O makes H2CO3, an acid. Where do we have a lot of H2O? Why, in our oceans, of course.

And the oceans absorb a lot of the CO2 we're producing. They act like a buffer. That sound great, until you know how buffers work. There's a tipping point that is eventually reached. But even up to that point, buffers can't absorb all the free H+ floating around. So pH drops. Not as fast as it should, but still it drops.

But the ocean acts as more than a carbon sink. Phytoplankton/algae, besides being the base of the food pyramid, produce prodigious amounts of O2 (from CO2). But they don't produce enough to keep up with all the CO2 the ocean is absorbing. The numbers are still being debated but it's clear the ocean accounts for nearly 50+% (some reports say 70%) of our atmosphere's free oxygen (not to mention suspended O2 in the water).

Guess what doesn't grow so well in acidic oceans.

Sleep tight.

Linkee-poo is TNT, dynamite

Horrible bosses. (Pointed to by WannaBeWriter06).

Eric has been knocking them out of the park, lately. It reminds me of when I worked in the Admissions Office at UofA (way back when). Near the end of my 3 years of working in that office, I was regularly explaining the duties of other offices to the people who worked in those offices. And I'm not talking about things like "customer service", I talking about, "you're the Records department, sending out copies of transcripts is what you do. Stop referring your calls to us."

Tor.com is giving away an iPad2. I can tell you after using it for a few months now, it's an amazing piece of kit. Still love my laptop, but the tablet is real close. With IOS5, it'll even be better. And, sure, it's only the 8gig model. It's free. Which is best. (They're also giving away model rockets!)

Dear Wisconsin State Senator Wannabee VanderLesst, you keep telling yourself that, bubba. It's almost as good as if you had won, I'm sure.

And this is why when people say, "We'll cut the budget" or "We'll make reforms" you've got to pin them down on specifics. Just what are you cutting, and how. "(from the Quinnipiac poll report on why Gov. Kasich's approval numbers continue to drop) Voters may say 2-1 they wanted him to balance the budget just through spending cuts…, but they don't like the cuts that he and the Legislature approved. By 50 - 32 percent, voters say the budget is unfair to people like them. When voters think a politician is treating them unfairly, that's not good for the politician's political health." I believe that gets the "D'uh!" award of the year. People want government to balance the budget just through "cuts" because they don't have the first clue as to how much government spends where and for what (let alone how much it affects other items in myriads of ways). I'll point out here, our Gov has worse poll numbers than the President at this point. (Pointed to by Dan) And speaking of Ohio politics, proud, yet, of the people you helped get elected this time?

Next up (in the ZOMG, DOMA may be going down in flames panic fest) the discredited polygamous argument. And can "bestiality" be far behind? I expect that to come up by the weekend. Remember my comment yesterday about just getting tired of the disproving (and proving) the same arguments over and over again. Can we just start handing out signs now?

And speaking of signs, oh look, another of O'Keefe's videos doesn't hold up when you look at the whole thing. Strange that.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Linkee-poo is tired of living in this one-horse town

Borders has filed for liquidation. Cue the "Publishing is Dead" crowd in 3… 2… 1… It had nothing to do with their property management, purchasing policy, or constant churn at the top. Nope, not anything at all. Anybody remember B. Dalton, Waldenbooks, and any of the others?

David B Coe on creating minor characters. Even side characters have their motivations, skills, needs, and expectations. It could be maddening to keep track of it all, but then, they don't need to be deep. You don't need to explain how you're second in command of security is driven by her being the only girl in a family with 3 boys. Or that she has a deep need to prove herself. But as a writer, it's good to know those things to explain why she's upset her part of the plan was 2 minutes behind schedule or why she kicks-ass better than some of the other thumpers she directs.

Cool photo of the orbiter, the ISS, and the aurora australis. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

Jay Lake has a short and interesting post on cancer and invisibility. While you can attribute it to various levels of "no hair" and "no beard", and those things definitely can make someone nearly unrecognizable (hey, it's the stock action of criminals) I think there's a heavy dose of cultural invisibility as well. When people fall ill, or their luck runs out, find themselves on hard times, go against the "stories we tell ourselves" our culture can erect a veil before them (this is sometimes exacerbated by the individual internalizing this and "putting themselves on the iceflow" as it were). I'm not saying this is good behavior, I'm just pointing out a common occurrence. Fortunately, this is changing. Slowly. Jay is also going in for his fourth cancer surgery today. We wish him good luck and a speedy recovery. Fourth time is a charm, or something like that.

Eric, mirroring some of my own thoughts. "… there is no other way to describe a party that has viciously turned on proposals (in healthcare and economic reform, for example) that originated on their side and have been offered back to them by the President in the spirit of meeting them more than halfway." (emphasis in the original) Yes. That. Also mirrored at Janieces' place. I think for me, part of it is a great weariness of having to prove my point over and over again against opponents who don't bother to prove themselves, but cling to their convictions as a drowning person clings to a scrap of wood that may help them float. No matter how often I prove that this rope here is a much better choice to get them out of the water, they think it's a hangman's noose.

Mitt Romney gets ignorant. And he's right. Carbon is not harmful. However, CO2 and CO are (and that's what we're talking about regulating). Very much so. Don't believe me? Okay. You survive in a booth that replaces the air content of O2 with CO2 and I'll believe your point. No. Really. Do it. Do it now or concede the point. And if you don't think CO is bad, maybe you missed how we sell CO detectors in the same vein we sell fire/smoke detectors. Want to know why CO2 is bad? Because it's an acid, man (you need to say that like a stoner). CO2 + H2O make H2CO3 (Carbonic Acid) which then makes H+ and HCO3 (bicarbonate, which is a buffer). This action is reversible and easily converts from one state to the other with H2CO3 being the preferred state (for nature, not for us). Too much CO2 in your system and your pH drops. If it drops too far (it's actually a pretty narrow band) and your enzymes quit working. That happens and death quickly follows. Getting rid of CO2 is actually the subconscious driver of breathing (2 steps above O2 levels) because of this. You breathe not so much to get O2 as to rid your system of CO2, 'cause it's an acid, man.

Because it keeps coming up, more on the "lightbulb ban." A quote from that article. "In fact, there is no 'light bulb ban.' Because of the advanced light-bulb standards Upton (R-MI) helped pass in 2007, 'the incandescent bulb is turning into a case study of the way government mandates can spur innovation,' the New York Times reported last year. 'There have been more incandescent innovations in the last three years than in the last two decades.' The new light bulb efficiency standards are supported by the light bulb manufacturing industry. 'When this bill was passed, it was passed by people who knew how to make light bulbs,' says Randall Moorhead, vice president of government affairs at Philips… 'Everyone supported it… it’s created more choice for consumers — we have two incandescent bulbs on the market that weren’t there before.' The standards will save about $100 per household annually in lower electricity costs, or about $12 billion per year when fully implemented." The people telling you this is a bad thing are lying to you. They are trying to get you upset to make sure they have your vote. Let's see: innovation, more consumer choice, reinvestment, saving money and lowering our dependence on fossil fuel energy. Yep, don't want any of that. The government should get out of the regulation business! Stop telling us what to do with giving us more choices and saving us energy/money. This is a non-issue.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Hypothetically speaking

In my post about business people claiming "uncertainty" is keeping them back, Anonymous Cassie poses this hypothetical (and my answer would be longer than a comment should/can be):
I own Business A. I need to upgrade my lighting in my business. I prefer incandescents for a variety of reasons - my product looks better under them, my fixtures currently work with them, I like them better, what-have-you.

Right now, there's a repeal working its way through Congress. Hey, if it goes through, I get to continue to buy the product I like best. If it doesn't, and I don't want to use CFLs and halogens have some side issues that concern me. LEDs aren't an option because of their poor quality of light.

What do I do?

Okay, let's add a little more to make this close to what I was talking about. You also have the cash to go in a few directions.

Now, here is what I would tell you in the real world (in case anybody is in or knows someone in this position), call up Nela Park (GE) And their Lighting Institute and ask to speak to them in a consulting position. The lighting were talking about here is the shittiest kind available. It is cheap. That's THE only reason they still sell it. Trust me on this.

But, okay, let's say there is someone's real world case and we don't have standard incandescent bulbs that meet the new standard (hint, we do, it wasn't that hard to make them, seriously, I can't stress this point enough, the bulbs being phased out are crap, they're specifically manufactured to be crap).

Okay, you have a choice. See, the bulbs we're talking about won't last you a year in a retail/business environment (unless you don't turn them on, and this question is moot at that point anyway). And let's say you and all your employees and customers are the minority of people who can see the flickering of the cfls/incandescents. And for some reason buying a warm light LED bulb is, I don't know, not an option (the argument about not liking the light is non-sensical, you've just been buying the cheapest bulb available and you get the crappiest light, you aren't noticing it with the incandescents because you're used to it (but I can tell you that as bad as those cfls and cheap LEDs look, the same is the case with your incandescents if you're buying those that can't meet the new standard, and for a business, crappy light is deadly).

Here's the solution for you, stock up on bulbs. It's an expense you would have to make anyhow. And since you're making a bulk purchase (if you're buying the cheap bulbs, trust me that you're buying in bulk here) that you should be able to itemize it and depreciate the value (this only works because you're buying in bulk). Problem solved, cash spent. You know, until 3 or 6 years down the road when you're now out of bulbs. But then your in the position you are in now. Hopefully you've planned for the conversion by now and are ready to go.

If Congress repeals the law (again, can I say how much this is a tempest in a tea pot? Seriously, this is a non-issue), well, you would have had to buy those bulbs anyway. If they don't, then you're positioned to get more of your ducks in order to make the switch (and if you were in business and haven't prepared for this, frankly, 1) you're wasting money with inefficiency and 2) you aren't really competitive). So, no matter what happens you're ahead of the game (except for not being prepared for the new regulations that were passed over 5 years ago).

I sit and wait to see what Congress is going to do. Maybe I go out and buy up a supply, delaying my decision. Maybe I hold onto the cash pending the development of a better light bulb.

If that's you're plan, you're screwed. Doing nothing, and engaging in wishful thinking is a sure way to lose. The old maxim, "pigs get slaughtered, rabbits get skinned," is true in investing and in business. Standing still in business is not an option.

What you can do (valid strategy) is plan for the worst case scenario and move forward. If things turn out better than you planned, that's great. But sitting on the sidelines is a sure way to have someone else eat your lunch. Not growin, or shrinking, or going out and finding business, or meeting your customer's needs (try and sell something in a dark showroom) is a sure recepie for business stagnation. Which leads to death. I've seen it too many times.
Uncertainity is indeed an issue. Maybe it's the MBAs running the show. Maybe it's my uncles in their businesses -not one of them is an MBA, btw - who say "Until I get a clue what's going on with the health care, I'm not doing anything."


There is always an excuse for doing nothing. Again, engaging in wishful thinking. Understand that even if you get you're way and ACA is repealed, then it'll be "will Congress extend the Bush Era tax cuts," (earliest repeal will be next year, tax cut extension expires December 2012). There's always something that you won't know. Hell, Democrats could retake state governments and the House as well as keep the Presidency, and then your uncertainty will be if they increase taxes. There's always some excuse to not do something.

Edited to add Understand the issue is if you have unproductive capital (ie. cash on hand). Now, if you're struggling with cash flow, those are different issues. But with the cash, you can do various things. However, letting it accumulate a great deal without a plan (such as short-term investments to grow cash while you're pulling together enough capital to do a big move) just isn't smart. And that's what is happening with much of this cash companies are keeping on the books. It's sitting in (at best) short term, quick liquidity vehicles.

Running your business without examination will run you into the grounds. There is always going to be uncertainty in business. It's part and parcel of the business gig (and one of the reasons I'm not running my own business at this point, btw, I understand the paralysis of not knowing which way to turn, also I hate sales). So, if you're using some future possible event as a reason for staying still, maybe being in business isn't really for you? Because, like I said, there will always be uncertainty.

If you're in a business that doesn't have that, I want to know what it is.

Letting the cash sit helps no one. Non-working capital is outside the economy (economy is the movement of cash, unproductive capital is a negative on GDP, etc). The technical recession is over, has been for over a year and a half now. Except for construction, most retail numbers are back to normal. So what's different? All those businesses are sitting on their cash instead of doing the smart thing. Because they're afraid. If it continues for too much longer, it'll become a self-fulfilling prophecy. So the goal is to get that capital moving and working. Hell, pay it as a dividend to your shareholders.

Right now is the exact opportune time to make a move. Waiting until everybody is moving it too late. You'll have missed the boat, and even if you're able to catch up, you'll be paying a premium for it (both in costs, and in any loans you may have to take). Building your business now is the smart money. In two years you'll be reading about the companies that are doing that, because they'll be the industry leaders (like I've said before, this isn't my first time on this merry-go-round).

Now, if you're facing the opposite problem (not enough cash flow), then you have different choices to make. And in either case, YMMV (not everybody's situation/market is the same as others).

Linkee-poo run, run, runs away

Eric embeds an interesting animated short film on his blog. Watching it lighted up circuits I haven't used for a while, like when I was in school and used to watch the various animation festivals.

Vince makes salient points about our security nation. You know whom I blame.

Humans can't affect the world. Keep telling yourselves that. I'm sure the apex predators (which, BTW, we aren't) are disappearing because they all embraced yoga and veganism. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

With any technology, there is the cure. 2d glasses for those annoying 3D movies. (Pointed to by Dan)

I know you are, but what am I?

Sunday, July 17, 2011

The stories we tell ourselves

The certainty argument.

Bullshit.

US business are uncertain about the future and so they're keeping their money on the side line? Businesses don't know what's going to happen with regulation, taxes, health care, demand, which way the wind will blow tomorrow and so they're not willing to hire, make investments, buy lunch, whatever?

This clashes with "the stories we tell ourselves" that our business are inventive, risk taking (why we can't tax them, because we should reward risk taking), our brave business men creating jobs out there.

Well, one of these things isn't true (for our larger culture). Either we have brave business people, or ones who are too afraid of their shadow to make a move. IMHO, this is what happens when MBAs run businesses. I'm sure there are some good MBA Management people out there, but they're few and far between.

Then we have the line about "businesses need their profits because they plow those back into their businesses and create growth." Well, businesses have been creating and sitting are large sums of profits. And profits, by their very definition, means that they're not putting that money back into their business (or else it would be "expenses"). What to know how to get businesses off the stump and start putting that money to work?

Tax it.

"Your (the business world) isn't going to use it? We will." Remove loopholes that allow them to horde their cash. Remove loop holes that allow businesses to write of large sums for very little activity. And what will happen? Businesses will spend that cash on the things they should be spending on (R&D, buying/updating equipment, expanding markets, hiring people, etc). And if not, well, they'll help reduce our deficit. Win win if you ask me. But don't tax that money (or keep the same level we have now) and that money will sit.

As a side note, businesses also run out the line about how they found efficiencies and can now do the same amount of work with fewer people, so why should they hire more? This, again, is one of the reasons we shouldn't have MBAs running our businesses. Okay, I've been on this merry-go-round before, so let me help you all out, Skippy? Working your people at the level you are now (higher productivity level without new hiring, investment in new materials, or new equipment means one thing, you're working your people harder) will lead to them breaking. That's not what you want. Because when they break, they break hard. You might not remember why we have the phrase, "Going postal." I do. You may not remember why we have a large Social Security Disability payment (and application process). I do. You might not remember when people would trade jobs every six months because they wanted to find better pay/hours/bosses. I do. This was all back in the 90s after the 92 recession ended and we heard the same argument (why hire when we can do more with less) from the management community.

Notes on Bachelor Parties

The object of drinking is not to get drunk as fast as possible. It's to get a nice buzz, and then maintain.

Drinking games during the "dinner" (ie. before going out), not necessary.

Stopping to buy beer at convenience store on way to bar is silly. They have beer at bars. Trust me. I don't think that's changed.

When you have a car or two of people, winging it is an option. When you have a bus (10+), you need to have a plan, and you need to have scouted and let the bars know you're coming.

With 20+ people, you need to keep tight control of them. They need to understand they will be given two notices to get on the bus. After that, if they're not on the bus, there's a good chance they'll need to find their own way home.

When the "tavern" sign says, "Family owned and operated since..." there's a good chance it's not a dance/strip club. Just saying.

The group should be kept as a group. Wonder off, and see note about getting on the fucking bus and finding you're own way home.

When you get on the fucking bus, get on the fucking bus. Getting on doesn't mean hanging around it in the parking lot. The bus can not go to the next bar until everybody is on the bus.

Driving 30 minutes between bars (in an urban setting) is a sign of bad planning. Taking more than 30 minutes to get on the fucking bus is being inconsiderate.

Sheets (the gas station) food is "convenient", it isn't "the best thing evar!" If you think the latter, you might want to sleep it off on the bus instead of disappearing to go to Sheets to get food.

You had an opportunity to pee before we got on the bus.

Dancing/stripping is a job. Don't interfere with someone's work. Tip well for good service. Sit back, relax, and enjoy the show. Stop trying to be a part of it. You don't go into the cockpit and tell the pilot you want to fly. Also, even though she says "You're nice/cute/etc" she probably doesn't really mean it. She's working for tips. If she's convincing, see note about good service.

If someone needs to tell you, "Let the woman work" you misunderstand the previous rule.

Also, "she's just working through school", may actually be true (I know 2 people who did dance their way through school, and 1 other who tried), it is a common story sold to patrons. See note about working for tips.

If you're thrown out of a bar, you can ask for an appeal. However, the bouncers are also just doing their job. Ask to speak to a manager for the reason. If that doesn't work, don't be pissy about it. Get on the fucking bus so we can get to the next place.

You are not the only people trying to enjoy the night out. Sometimes this movie is not about you.

In general, and this is good for everything, follow Wheaton's Law.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Your Friday Moment of Dissonance


FIled under, "Things you don't expect to find in a Defense Contractor's break room."

Linkee-poo cries at the end of an era, first the shuttle, now Harry Potter

Well, both will live on in their various incarnations.

A prominent author takes a breather. Pointed to for it's relevance that authors should have lives, a little on the inside baseball of the industry, and the fact that everybody's career is different. (Grokked from John Scalzi)

One person does not a trend make, but something tells me we'll hear various spins on Stephanie Swainston's story from the "Self Publish Rulez" people to the "don't write" people.

Seven awesome images that will remind you space shots are cool. (Pointed to by Dan)

Sarah Palin reuses her "Don't retreat, reload" line again, this time on the debt ceiling crisis. Sigh.

The Bush Administration put politics and ideology ahead of actual science and public safety? Shocked, shocked I am… you know, I need a new quote. I think I just wore that one out.

They just help you if you need help. This is my basic argument and disagreement with faith-based initiatives (and one of my standing critiques of the Obama White House, he hasn't dismantled that office, I'm inclined to give him some sway here as he has changed it, a little, and if he did dismantle it the "He's a Secret Muslim" crowd would go nuts). (Grokked from Jay Lake)

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Linkee-poo offers no shelter from the storm

Did I link to this before? I can't remember. The Saga of Biorn. Ah, those vikings.

Of dogs and surfs, or the privilege of the male life and how that affects publishing and story writing in our society. There's not much else to say about it, except part way through my own novel I realized 1) all the bad guys were Chinese and none of the good guys were and 2) except for a sex (not exactly romance, she wields sex as a weapon) interest I didn't have very many women in the book (although they were all over the place in mental pictures). So I made a conscious decision to place more women and Chinese in. Also I made a conscious decision to include the panoply of females (from one you do not want to get on the bad side, executives, receptionists, and the old Chinese women who knit the society together). (Grokked from Tobias Buckell)

A story about how we're geared towards fatty foods. I have noticed in my dieting that if I can avoid starting to eat unhealthy foods, I can stay away from them. But once I break that diet (eating chips, or my current failing - milkshakes) it's hard to break back out of that cycle. For the record, I buy a shake about twice a week, but that's still too often. So my own dietary issues match to this study (and yes, it does feel like quitting an addiction to stop pop/chips/fatty foods). (Grokked from Jay Lake)

Satire FTW! (Pointed to by Dan)

A school board reverse a decision to remove The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie from school reading lists after, you know, they actually read it. Hey, they liked it. Strange, that. (Grokked from Tobias Buckell)

The 20 worst restaurant meals. People eat out 4 times every week? (Pointed to by John)

Jim Wright takes a larger and future look at the current debt ceiling circus. Very wise Jim is. I only have one critique, the Chinese still tie the yuan to the dollar (albeit not as much as a decade ago). They couldn't uncouple it fast enough to also not be taken down with us.

A side comment about all the wunderkind speaking about how the President is lying, and we have plenty of money to pay the bills, blah, blah, ba ba. Okay, the President has shown his math, and has practically every economist (or at least all of them I've heard, there are some who say it'll be very bad, but we ought to do it anyway)on his side. Time to show your math. If I was a total SOB and didn't care about the pain (economic and physical) we would inflict, I would say, "Let's do it. And if it's okay, I'll join. I'll sign up. You'll have converted me. But if it doesn't go so well, you all sit down, STFU, and let the adults run the store." However, all big name TP people know they can vote against it, and it'll still pass. They're just signaling that their votes will be "no" so the whips can do their calculus. It's a cynicism. I guess to be polite, it's because if the government does nothing but pay military people (no contracts, not supplies, no gas… guess how long a military will function on just pay) and service the debt, we've go plenty of money (and, oh, they would like it if the government did only those things… until they realize they still need government functions to go forward with business, unless you're willing to trash all our laws). Personally, I'll agree with the laws that prioritizes who gets paid, but only if House Representatives and Senators are the very last on that list.

More evidence of the Tea Party having mission creep. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

Tweet of my heart:
kristenschaaled: We are told the tax break to the rich increases jobs and yet the unemployment rate keeps rising. Get a new lie. (retweeted by bigbadchang and 100+ others)

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Linkee-poo watches the storm clouds gathering in the East

Writer Unboxed with 5 must do book publicity tips. As always, YMMV, but some good stuff in there. Also some hints at the process of being published.

A little article on some medical schools changing their interviewing process. This is mostly to remove some interview bias, group think, and see how well the student would perform in the field (bed side manner). Strangely enough, this is how NEOUCOM did interviews 20 years ago. But then, NEOUCOM was geared to general practitioners, which puts a getter value on how they interact with real people. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

Vince left a comment in last night's post quoting Bruce Bartlett's recent interview over his new book and his "5 Myths about the Debt Ceiling." There's a lot of Truth to Power in there. While Vince gives his favorite quotes, I think the following one is mine. When asked about why people (specifically named darlings of the Tea Party movement in Congress) aren't listening to the economic experts and are threatening to both scuttle or filibuster any raising of the debt limit his answer pretty much sums it up, "Never underestimate the power of wishful thinking."

The Republican Party's Tea Party addiction. I appreciate the TP position, really, I do. However it's not reality based. Our federal tax rates are the lowest they've been in over a century, but they think it's the highest. You could cut all discretionary spending except DoD and you still wouldn't remove the deficit. It's not because the budget is so big, it's because discretionary spending is so small. Now, if you come from the standpoint of wanting a government that can't do anything, sure you can cut your way to success. And as long as you're willing to live in such a world, it'll work. I like to live in a country where we don't have people dying in the streets, are given a chance to succeed, and a social net to catch them if they fall. Oh, and eating safe food, not being exposed to lead in paint, having drugs that work, making advancements in science, educating our kids with that science and fact based history, and having a military that can protect our interests (these examples are stand ins for the many, many things our government does to help us). If you want any of that, we can't cut our way to success. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

A 2003 Xmas Family letter from Michelle Bachmann. Can you say, "Ick!" I knew you could. Dear TPers, would you actually learn to vet your darlings more than just having them repeat your talking points? (Pointed to by Dan) When I say she scares me, this is part of what I'm talking about.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Those wacky conservatives

Well, hey, there might be a way out of this gridlock on raising the debt ceiling. Ah, all they need to do is relinquish their Constitutionally mandated power to the President to cover their asses by doing the job they swore they would. And then they can pass a resolution telling the President how naughty he is. Which he can then veto, and there won't be enough votes to overturn that veto. Simple, eh? I have one word for this plan.

Cowards.

Okay, I have two words. Fucking Cowards.

Really? Really? This is a serious plan? Abdicating your responsibility because you don't want to take the heat doing what you know you need to do?

Fortunately this balloon is being shot down. And it doesn't take a rocket scientist to realize the GOP presidential field would be against it (knowing they'll also have to raise the debt ceiling if they win the presidency).

Then we have the Speaker of the House, John Boehner, who says the President now needs to come forward with his plan and submit it to Congress for them to pass. Hey, John, you might want to attend one of those Constitution readings that are all the hip thing, I hear. Because setting appropriations and managing the money is your job. Okay, well, it's the job of the body you lead. Do your gorram job.

But of course they can't. They're staring their worse nightmare in the eye and are frozen by fear, wondering how it all came to this and why no one will save them. See, when you look at this problem with a practical and fully honest eye, you know that both the debt ceiling needs to rise as do revenues. Unfortunately they've spend the past decade convincing people they don't need to (even after increasing the debt ceiling 8 times claiming that "deficits don't matter", at the time, though, what would become the Tea Party was silent as the lambs at the doubling of the debt because... well, I don't know really why except that they thought the world was right and orderly and then for some reason after the election of Obama it wasn't).

So now we have Conservatives running for the exits and are just praying the President will take the political heat for them. I would wish them good luck with that, but we all have to live in this country they're creating. Thanks TPers.

Who knows, we might get to see just how much gold will be worth "after the crash" (hint, not a lot, really).

So, elected conservative, you have a choice to make. Either ruin your economy, abdicate your responsibility, or grow a pair and do what's necessary and show your math. Given the current political climate, I'm betting on one of the first two.

Linkee-poo grows tired of tired rhetoric

Some more on the lightbulb change. What's skipped over quickly in the article, is that there are incandescent bulbs that meet the new standard (typically halogen filled, but there are other ways). I should probably do a long post about this sometime.

"Indeed, fusion research facilities more modern than anything in the United States are either under construction or operating in China, Germany, Japan and South Korea... What has been lacking in the United States is the political and economic will." Again, American Exceptionalism looks like a relic of the past. Dear Conservative America, we're becoming a buggy whip nation because of your social ideals (no government spending - ever, science denialism, and a continual lack of reference when you shout, "We're #1 and anybody who says otherwise just hates Amurica"). (Grokked from Jay Lake)

Everybody is dungeon bound. As Dan says (who pointed this music video out) "How come we never had any cool goth-chicks playing D&D with us?" Kids these days, they don't know how good they have it.

Dave Klecha points us to this declassified report on Trust and Cultural Incompatibility between ISAF (our international mission in Afghanistan) and ANSF (Afghani police and military). Mostly because we don't understand them and (for at least some of the part) don't want to. (it's long, and I haven't read it all, yet, but it's compelling). Also, I should mention here that I don't completely trust Michael Yon. However, he's done great work in the past, and I used to read him regularly. He made several dramatic claims during the Iraqi Surge, arguing for the cause of war, that never did pan out.

And the shenanigans keep coming in the WI recall elections. (Pointed to by Dan)

For the Reagan and Thatcher fetishist in all of us. Reality, it's a bitch.

And regarding the current tax vis a vis debt talks, there's a bunch o' bull being spread around. The first is, the rich are already taxed enough. Well, not everybody feels the same. (also see comment yesterday on top 10% pay 70% of taxes yet control 90% of wealth)

Then there's the homily of "Americans live within their means, their government should do the same." Really? While it's down, the average credit card debit is still around $4,200 (not including store card debt - depending on who's numbers you use, it could be as high at $8,300 with store credit). In 2009, we (collectively) owed $14.3 trillion in mortgage debt (of all kinds). With approximately 310 million people, that gives us an average of $46,000. So, without adding cars, equity, personal, or any other debt that gives us an average of about $50,000 (rounded) per person of personal debt. The average national wage in 2009 was $40,711. While individuals vary, does that sound like we're a culture that lives within their means? (and, because I was following trails, apparently $75,000 income is our magic number for happiness, how many of you make that?)

Speaker Boehner said that "we shouldn't raise taxes on job creators" (ie, the rich). Really? Dear Job Creators, if that's you're real duty, you're falling down on the job, better get to it. (Let us not talk about the implied threat in his statement)

It always amazes me that people just don't know how they benefit from government programs. Especially those people who believe we should end all programs. Mostly they don't know just WTF they're talking about. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

Dear Senator Hatch, nice try, but you're still a dick. Also notice how all those people got to pay no taxes in just the last two years. Really, I think it started in Reagan and hit you're 50% figure in the GW Bush administration. Unless you want to make the argument of Pres. Obama, Tax Cutter Extraordinary. See, your implied argument of "Obama is making people poorer" just doesn't work on the face of it. (Let us not talk about his statistical mixing from who doesn't pay taxes to who would be effected in other programs and whom qualifies as poor/not paying taxes)

Monday, July 11, 2011

Linkee-poo has too much to do to be reading the internets

One of the things I loved about The West Wing (you know, besides its intelligent writing and expecting the audience to get it) is that the characters were often shown reading (books, reports, etc). In that vein, Awesome people reading tumblr. (Grokked from John)

Seanan McGuire guests over on Jim Hines' blog about writers with day jobs. "Balancing work and life is hard in our modern world. Balancing work-that-pays-bills, work-that-soul-demands, and life can seem borderline impossible sometimes." Amen, sister. Sing it out.

There's been a lot of pixels spilled over the new TSA "ZOMG! Terrorists might implant bombs in their bodies", hysteria. This isn't new. I think I joked about this last summer when the whole, "Gropes R Us" and "backscatter" technology came in. Also, I believe it was used in one of the Dune novels, and I'm thinking sometime before then as well (although my brain is too fuzzy at the moment to pull it out). The best I've seen so far is Jay Lake's commentary on it. As someone who also once traveled with a few ounces of subcutaneous metal in them, me no likey the new ergs. (Also, as I commented elsewhere, the TSA, like the IRS, is doing the job they're directed to do, the paranoia culture is one of my critiques of how the previous administration handled 9-11).

Göbekli Tepe and the dawn of religion. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Linkee-poo focuses a little too much on one subject

When infographics go wrong. (Grokked from Steven Gould)

Remember two summers ago when the Obama Administration was making the argument about how much worse the recession and job outlook would be if we hadn't passed the stimulus? Remember the conservatives arguing against it, about how you really can't make such an argument. Also remember at the time that job creation was in the 200,000 a month range. Notice that now the stimulus has been ended, the Bush Tax Cuts extended, and the budget cut, everything the conservatives said was needed to get jobs going, and our job creation numbers have been dropping ever since April? Notice how the conservatives are now making the same argument that without doing all that stuff the numbers would have been worse. Let me see, tax cuts, lower regulation, conservative leadership in both the Presidency and Legislature throughout the 2000's and we had the worse job growth since the Depression. Then we had a Stimulus package, and progressive President and Legislature, and job growth reversed (not enough, but still a reverse). If you want a more granular chart. Notice the leveling off starting 2011, you know, when the Bush Tax Cuts were extended, conservatives retook the House, increased their minority in the Senate, and all the budget cutting began. Lookie, it's a real life experiment.

I'm sure if we just cut the budget again, loosen up a few more regulations, have the poor chip in, and clap really hard, we'll solve the problems. Note to Orrin Hatch, the rich only pay 70% of taxes? But they hold 90% of the wealth in this country. Sounds like they're getting off easy if you ask me. Let us not speak of how real wages (for the lowest 80% of earners), at best, have stagnated over the past decade. You, sir, may wish to pay more attention during Sunday School.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

AI Durandal, I presume.

I did spend most of the day working outside and scrubbing the bathrooms. But I've also rediscovered another time sink. See, I don't usually have many games on my computers. It's not that I'm bad at them, quite the opposite (ask my nephews). It's just I know how much time they soak up, and I don't have that kind of time. Angry Birds is about all I've had for years.

Until John tells me that Bungie has approved a Marathon app for iPad. And it's free.

For those of you that don't know, Marathon was a first person shoot way beyond it's time (and it was only on the Mac). It wasn't only ahead of it's time in game play, smoothness of action, but it had a compelling story line that drew all the scenarios together.

And I wasted months on this game back when it came out.

Now, it's not like modern first person shooters, and its graphics seem a little dated, but I found myself wasting a few hours today with it. I also played Doom, the comparative game at the time. IMHO, Marathon blew Doom out of the water.

Thanks, John.

Durandal, we meet again. This time, I will kill you. You bastard.