Monday, June 16, 2014

Because I Want To Save This For Future Reference

And because these guys did the Lord's work in putting it together.

Here’s the short version: The United States invaded Iraq in 2003, claiming that Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein had both weapons of mass destruction and connections to Al Qaeda. He had neither. Today, both Saddam Hussein and the United States are gone from Iraq. In their place? Al Qaeda.

I have a feeling that unfortunately this is going to come in handy in the near future for knocking down wingnut bullshit about how Obama "lost" Iraq.

Monday Extra: This is something I've been thinking about the last few days. Maybe I have a future in the State Department. At least if my garden didn't need some much work.

Secretary of State John Kerry cautiously signaled on Monday that the United States would be open to cooperating with Iran militarily in Iraq to beat back al Qaida-inspired fighters who pose an "existential" danger to that war-torn country and may look to target Europe and the United States. 

In the interest of making lemonades out of the lemons that George Bush turned Iraq into maybe we can at least gain some rapprochement out of the situation. We've left big, stinking piles of shit on Iran's Eastern and Western borders. Both of our countries have a vested interest in seeing them cleaned up.

UPDATED: Fred Kagan and Wm. Kristol disagree with me, I'm feeling much better about the idea that we should work with Iran. What's President Obama got to lose? The RightWing Media Congressional Complex is going complain about whatever he does anyway. He doesn't have to run for re-election. Israel can have a non-obstructionist role if they like. Time to earn that Nobel, Barack!  

Thursday, May 15, 2014

An Invitation to Nevadans and to Liberals in Illiberal Places

I'd like to start by asking all those who are currently living in right-wing hell-holes in this country to consider moving to the Northeast Kingdom of our once-great country. This began as an invite to the folks  in Nevada who are burdened with sharing their state with Cliven Bundy and his gang of over-armed and under-educated militia members. I'm also asking all those who are unhappy living under the rule of King Andrew to consider moving to one of these right-wing hell-holes where you undoubtedly be  happier. I'm thinking of starting an exchange program. Let's just divide up. Shirts and skins.

So here is the Cliven Bundy update

1)Authorities call bullshit on Bundy's land claims.

2)Militia members threaten members of the community.

3)Civil war is threatened between Bundy supporters.

4)Authorities prepare for charges to be filed against all involved.

5)Violence spreads to Utah

If we can summarize what’s happened since the spotlight moved on, we see the ongoing spread of lies and violence on the one hand — which is completely unsurprising. The almost-shooting war that Bundy supporters got themselves into is precisely the reason that the Second Amendment doesn’t mean what they think it means: As John Locke’s social contract theory explained, civil society was created because individual force cannot guarantee peace and security — even among the supposedly like-minded. Hence, the turning of violence against one another was just as predictable as its threatened spread to Utah as well.

On the other hand, we see a deliberately restrained, but methodical law enforcement process underway. Let’s hope it stays that way, because nothing damages the law as badly as those who abuse its authority, or use it recklessly. But let’s also hope they don’t take too long in beginning to bring folks to justice. Hatred, lies and violence already have too big a head start. We don’t need to let them get any further ahead.

Nearly forgot to mention that, apparently, fighting the tyranny that is Barack Obama's federal government doesn't pay anything. I mean, Bundy is not paying his grazing fees why would he pay these yahoos. So, if anyone passing through here would like to slip a few bucks in the tip jar of these domestic terrorists...

The life of an ever-vigilant anti-government armed patriot is hard. And by hard, I mean dull and unproductive. Also, not very profitable. Maybe that's why all those guys hanging out cleaning their guns in Nevada are now begging hard-working Americans to please give them some money.

I would, but I already gave to SPLC.

UPDATE: Here's a posting I just came across that may help convince you to abandon your gun-laden environs and head for our Socialistic, regulated Mecca.

Myth #2: Guns don't kill people—people kill people. Fact-check: People with more guns tend to kill more people—with guns. The states with the highest gun ownership rates have a gun murder rate 114% higher than those with the lowest gun ownership rates. Also, gun death rates tend to be higher in states with higher rates of gun ownership. Gun death rates are generally lower in states with restrictions such as assault-weapons bans or safe-storage requirements. Update: A recent study looking at 30 years of homicide data in all 50 states found that for every one percent increase in a state's gun ownership rate, there is a nearly one percent increase in its firearm homicide rate.

ownership vs gun death 

The other nine myths are worth checking out as well.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Wingnut on the Pulpit

Reverend John Koletas in Troy believes in keeping his flock well-armed.

After a sermon connecting the "Christian values" of America's founding fathers with the right to bear arms, an upstate New York Baptist minister has raffled off a new Smith & Wesson M&P semi-automatic rifle.

Jesus wept  blasted the money changers. I'm too lazy to look, but I'm sure the outcry would have reached Heaven itself if this had taken place in a mosque.

(Koletas) said in an online letter that he wanted to honor gun owners "who have been so viciously attacked by the antichristian socialist media" and politicians.

He's going to have to kick it up some if he wants to replace Fred Phelps. Good news on the politician front. In my district, the contenders to replace Rep. Owens are in lockstep defending gun rights, Democrat, Republican and Green Party alike. There's voters in the hills of the Adirondacks.

Koletas has attempted to justify his bizarre giveaway by arguing that America “was built with the King James Bible and the gun" in a letter to his congregation.

Yes. Though I don't give present day gun owners any credit for the Trail of Tears or the building of America. To end with some good news, I was pleasantly surprised to see this today what with all the kvetching I see in the Post Star about the SAFE Act.

A year after the SAFE Act gun-control law was enacted, voters support it by a 2-to-1 margin.

What's better is that I found that on WHAM, the home of my favorite NY wingnut, Bob Lonsberry. And thank you Reverend Koletas for giving me an excuse to put up the Beat Farmers, yet again.

Reverend Alan Rudnick has a nice commentary on this issue at the Times Union and reminded me of a peace loving Jesus episode.

For even upon Jesus’ arrest, a sword was drawn by Peter, and Jesus prohibited him saying, ”Those who live by the sword, die by the sword.” In other words, “if by your actions you encourage violence, expect violence to come to you.”

Thursday, March 6, 2014

At Least He Didn't Call For Death Panels

I know Dan Altman is an economist, but he didn't make the case for me that "old people are sucking us dry" (and not in a good way). And I realize he likely didn't entitle the column, but I would think he'd have some input as to what goes above the piece. As someone who hopes to reach "entitlement" age someday and start sucking that sweet teat that gives government money I was glad to see him point out that:

By contrast, much of mandatory outlays are designed to prevent drags on growth. Reducing poverty and improving health among retirees and the elderly frees up time and resources for the working-age population. Undoubtedly, this is important to the economy as well.

So, he's not putting me in the wood-chipper yet. But, old farts are taking lots of government money that could be better spent?

This situation is not the fault of the elderly. They were promised certain benefits during their lives, and they are at least entitled to try to collect them. This is a time of sacrifice, though, and everyone -- including the country's seniors -- must surely give a little. The problem is that no sitting politician seems willing to ask them. 

I like the part about seniors being entitled to try to collect them. But anyway, it's really the fault of gutless politicians. Moving on from greedy seniors he makes the leap where I miss the connection, though.

As a result, the discretionary share of spending dwindles while mandatory outlays go unchecked. Some of the costs of this choice may already be apparent. Consider, for example, how the ratio of patents to GDP has evolved in the United States and other major economies. From almost identical starting points in 1991, China and Germany have managed to raise their productivity in terms of patent applications much higher than the United States has.

Altman notes Germany outspends us on science.
The German government now spends more than $240 per person on science, which would work out to more than $75 billion a year in the United States. But the combined budgets of the National Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Health come to less than $40 billion. 

Since I'm aware that there were people collecting social security long before le deluge started in 1991, I'd like to suggest an alternative hypothesis for our falling behind the Germans and Chinese. I could blame it in part on Jimmy Carter who got the notion of a Bible blessed president. And Ronald Reagan who carried it further with the full blessings of Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson and every other Christian con man out there. And the doves are still coming home to roost.

Forty six percent Americans believed in creationism, 32 percent believed in theistic evolution and 15 percent believed in evolution without any divine intervention.

I realize there are questions about evolution, but there are problems with trying to believe in two contradictory tales of creation in Genesis has its problems too. It could just be that Germany and China have a higher percentage of people who believe in science. There's hope, though.

The survey found that 50 percent of Americans "are convinced the climate is changing" and another 34 percent believe it "is probably changing." Duke said this is the highest level of belief in climate change since 2007. 

I don't know whether it is occurring. Since I don't have the time to become a climatologist, I'm casting my lot with the people who were not trying to sell me on Obama not being born in the US and other such rot. Best I can do. 

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Happy Lupercalia

Pagan origins of our present holy days is so interesting. Really think we should bring back the old traditions.

The sacrificial feast followed, after which the Luperci cut thongs from the skins of the animals, which were called februa, dressed themselves in the skins of the sacrificed goats, in imitation of Lupercus, and ran round the walls of the old Palatine city, the line of which was marked with stones, with the thongs in their hands in two bands, striking the people who crowded near. Girls and young women would line up on their route to receive lashes from these whips. This was supposed to ensure fertility, prevent sterility in women and ease the pains of childbirth.

Beats Hallmark and candy hearts. The name Lupercalia is derived from the name of the cave, Lupercale, where a she-wolf suckled Romulus and Remus. I was recently wondering about the derivation of the word February for this blustery month. Most of the other months are fairly obvious as to the origins of their names.  

The Roman month Februarius was named after the Latin term februum, which means purification, via the purification ritual Februa held on February 15 (full moon) in the old lunar Roman calendar.

It's wild to see how other cultures arrived at a name for the month.

Old English - mud month and cabbage month
Finnish - month of the pearl for frozen water droplets
Polish and Ukrainian - month of hard frost
Macedonian - month of cutting wood

Our present holiday associated with the date comes earlier in the season than the Roman holiday of Februatio. This is sensible as it was a festival for purification and fertility that would traditionally be timed nearer to Spring.

February occurred later on the ancient Roman calendar than it does today so Lupercalia was held in the spring and regarded as a festival of purification and fertility. Each year on February 15, the Luperci priests gathered on Palantine Hill at the cave of Lupercal. Vestal virgins brought sacred cakes made from the first ears of last year's grain harvest to the fig tree. Two naked young men, assisted by the Vestals, sacrificed a dog and a goat at the site. The blood was smeared on the foreheads of the young men and then wiped away with wool dipped in milk. 

The Romans grew to celebrate the holiday of Lupercalia as a form of speed-dating it seems and naturally Christians were appalled.

As Christianity began to slowly and systematically dismantle the pagan pantheons, it frequently replaced the festivals of the pagan gods with more ecumenical celebrations. It was easier to convert the local population if they could continue to celebrate on the same days... they would just be instructed to celebrate different people and ideologies. As Christianity gradually advanced through Europe the church replaced pagan festivals with festivals more suited to the new faith. They kept the days of the festivals the same to ease the introduction of the new religion but they changed the name and the reason for the festival. The Lupercalia's pairing of men and women went against the teachings of Christianity. In 496 AD Pope Gelasius ended the festival of Lupercalia and replaced it with St. Valentines Day, declaring St. Valentine the patron saint of lovers. The pairing of couples was replaced with the pairing with a saint. The name of a saint would be drawn from a bowl and the person who chose it would then learn about and try to emulate that saint for the following year. 

Because hooking up with saints is so much more rewarding than hooking up with a flesh and blood partner. Thanks zealots. Bring back Lupercalia! I've already picked out a mascot

Monday, January 27, 2014

Guilt-Free Eating

Since I've decided to turn Hometown into a cult of personality blog, it's important that any unsuspecting victims who wander through here are aware of the what and why of my diet. We're all narcissists now anyway, otherwise Twitter and selfies would not exist. Would they?

For the past 3 months, I've been subsisting (well, apparently, since I've lost only 7 pounds) on a, 99% of the time, vegetarian diet. Initially the reason was to lose weight and 7 pounds is better than nothing. But, this is an inactive time of the year and that was mostly during the cookie season. So many cookies between Thanksgiving and New Years! So we'll see how it works out when the freezin' season is over and gardening begins. Aside from wanting to appear buff for the beach this Summer there are health considerations. With that in mind I'll throw in a plug for Forks Over Knives, a DVD full of vegan propaganda, if you'd like some convincing of the health benefits. I love to eat meat. Bill Clinton Loves to eat meat. If Bill and I can do it, anyone can become an herbivore. But don't think just of yourself, or in this case myself, since this is my cult here.

You don't have to have the sensibilities of a PETA devotee to appreciate that animals raised for food in this country don't have the best lives. Bluntly stated, they're tortured from birth to death. Buster's Law does not apply to them. I've known that for a long time, but have happily rejected the cognitive dissonance. Admittedly this was not my overriding reason for the change in diet, though, and I'm not going to try to shame anyone into giving up meat. And besides, those animals are getting their revenge through the saturated fat, hormones and antibiotics you're ingesting. So, rather than harp on how cruel we are to these creatures, I'll get back to why it's important for you, my "follower," to abstain.

I want to live in a country and a world that's not polluted beyond hope of renewal. I've moved beyond the urge to copy and paste large swathes of the internet and basically claim it as terra incognita. So, just go to the link. In short, as your beloved leader, I implore you to make this planet healthier for me and for yourselves as well.

Ignoring the Warnings 


Friday, January 24, 2014

Where I Live and How (or Blame It On Henry)

Like many others of my generation, my development was warped by the lunatic ramblings of Henry Thoreau. Simplify, he said. And I listened. It's been over a year since I quit my job and entered an early "retirement." Since the sound of that word can be grating for so many reasons, I'm going with  the oh-so-more mellifluous " jubilaciĆ³n." Every word is sweeter when spoken with Romance speaker would.

Thoreau had it easy. All he had to do was find a bit of land to squat on and build a cabin. I bought a house 8 months ago. If Henry had had to get a mortgage, he'd have couchsurfing at Emerson's place. Lucky I saved. They take a dim view of that squatting thing nowadays. I did build a cabin shed for my garden tools and mower. His was likely larger, but I have a house and he was probably a better carpenter.

One of my goals for my jubilaciĆ³n is to develop new skills. Admittedly, I did have a contractor do the renovation on the bathroom. My criterion for making the effort to acquire a new ability is whether I'll use it on a regular basis. I don't plan on doing a lot of plumbing, so why learn it? Seeing a need for curtains in my new house led me to purchase a sewing machine, though. I have finished window treatments (as we pros say) for my bedroom and living room so far. It may have been more economical to have bought them, but I want slipcovers once my sewing proficiency improves. Furniture from the Salvation Army is comfortable enough, but not always attractive.

This year I learn to garden, as well. Got a late start in 2013. At the end of the summer, I did get several frames built for raised beds and a few cold frames. Have amassed a huge pile of leaves for compost. What I've noticed is that during the Summer there's a lot of grass trimmings, but no leaves to combine for good decomposition. In the Autumn, there are leaves and no grass. This year it's all coming together and I put Thoreau's beans to shame.

Like most people affected by the winter, I'm hunkering down and waiting for Persephone to come and bring Spring (and farmer's markets) back to us mortals. Enjoy the rhythm of the Winter while it's still around and try to avoid quiet desperation. Be well.