Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Agriculture Department Doesn't Care if You Die

The USDA wants to ban a cattleman from testing all his cows for Mad Cow Disease.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture tests fewer than 1 percent of slaughtered cows for the disease, which can be fatal to humans who eat tainted beef. A beef producer in Kansas, Creekstone Farms Premium Beef, wants to test all of its cows.

Larger meat companies feared that move because, if Creekstone should test its meat and advertised it as safe, they might have to perform the expensive tests on their larger herds as well.

In other words, they do not want to ensure the safety of the food supply. Period.

Expensive? How expensive is it going to be to treat a population with rotted brains?

Monday, May 28, 2007

Farenheit 451, Live, 6 Blocks Away

Did he ask the small towns of the Gulf if they would pay to have books shipped?

Did he ask the large towns of Mississippi and Louisiana? How about Florida?

Did he ask the local libraries that use old books to raise money? How about the churches? The VA hospital?

Whether he did, or whether he didn't matters not. He burned them, as many as he could manage before the Fire Department stopped him. Since his antics have made the national news, maybe he's got his money's worth in free advertising.

He is also making manifest some old bogeymen.

[crossposted @ Mockingbird's Medley]

The Good Old Days and a Sense of Shame

Toshikatsu Matsuoka is not the first Japanese office holder in recent years to follow the old tradition and kill himself when he became embroiled in a scandal.

Even people who only vaguely know about Japan have heard of sepuku, which was the ritual disembowelling that Samurai did on command of their leaders. Honorable Suicide. Death to atone for bad behavior. The kamikaze of WWII were famous as well. It is no recent thing to make an airplane a weapon. The Divine Wind -- people who freely gave their lives to achieve an end; and thus kamikaze entered our language as well.

In the United States, there is no shame so great that a political figure will seek death. We have weasels instead. Perhaps there would be less corruption if there were more shame. It's something to think about.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Oops! They Did It Again!

WalMart has made another fashion faux pas.

The kind of error that they are making has two important prongs. The first is that the buyers (or concept creators) are conflating "upscale" and "trendy". There are clothes that are upscale. There are clothes that are trendy. Those two sets only overlap in a small area. The second mistake is that WalMart misidentifies the activities for which its customer base buys clothing.

WalMart needs club clothing in its stores like a hole in the head.
Your average "upscale" individual doesn't spend a lot of time lurking in clubs.
Your average WalMart shopper does not lurk in clubs, either.

And it is beyond imagining that Paris Hilton or Britney Spears, women who actually do inhabit clubs, would suddenly be possessed with the need to go see if WalMart has club wear.

Wal Mart shoppers want things to wear during leisure and work activities. Your WalMart shopper likely goes to ball games, amusement parks, movies, bowling alleys; barbecues and picnics; swim outings and camping. These are "regular American" pastimes. I say this with no mockery at all. These activities are fun, and they are things that cut across class and race. But clubs? Trendy time eaters? There is a very brief window when any normal person might become very heavily into dancing, drinking, and trolling for companionship.

It's best not to base a business model on luring people in that narrow demographic into your store. It will not keep WalMart afloat, that's for sure.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Light and Erratic Posting

Ah yes -- this weekend is a big one for conventions, and I'm attending one. So far it's been fun. The Neilsen Haydens of Making Light will be around, as well as many writers and artists.

Science Fiction conventions are way too entertaining.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

School for the American Taliban

Here you go!

A student from Liberty University was arrested for making bombs. Of course, in line with the quality of his university they were *crappy* bombs, but he did give it the college try.

He intended to use them on any protesters at Jerry Falwell's funeral.

The most infamous of those protesters were supposed to be the congregants of Westboro Baptist Church (shame upon the Baptists for not suing these nutcases for blackening the otherwise-innocuous name of Baptists everywhere).

Ironic. Right now I'm listening to South Pacific and "You Have to be Carefully Taught" just came on. I'm afraid my distaste for Westboro and Liberty U people is a lot more recent than being "carefully taught" at "6 or 7 or 8". And if the groups are at war, it sort of strikes me as a Kilkenney Cats solution.

Sunday, May 20, 2007


Last night I had a rather scary few hours. I have been reading many books in the last few weeks as a prelude to judging them. I read fairly fast, but due to the amount of time I spend online I no longer read 3 to 5 books a day -- I am down to one or fewer. Yes, I now take several days to finish a book. Such a slacker!

In any case, last night I was reviewing the ones I need to judge, when I suddenly realized that I could not remember anything about the one I had most recently completed except for its title and author. No clue to the plot. Not one character name. No themes. No nothing.

I am terrified of getting Alzheimer's. It is altogether possible that I will live more than another 30 years, and I would hate to lose my mind even 25 years into that span. One of my relatives had either Alzheimer's or some other form of senile dementia. I know when it happened, too -- when the television in my parents' house broke down and the elderly relative lost the mental stimulation (!) it provided, the mind went into a permanent sunset.

Now let the snarky one say what he will. I check up on the latest research with some frequency. Just Google "beta amyloid" for everything you ever wanted to avoid. If you Google "turmeric beta amyloid" you will understand why I eat curry regularly, as any person with a possibility of Alzheimer's should be doing. I also have lots of mental challenge games and I try to play some of them daily. Simple? Yeah, right.

The terror of suddenly being "lost" while driving on some of the more cookie cutter roads around here -- the losing of words, quotes, phrases -- losing a *entire book* just two days after completing it! I read it. I liked it. Today I looked it up on Amazon and got the information about it back, but it's been scary times, thinking over the possibilities.

The book I forgot had Alzheimer's as a theme. I am hoping that is why I suppressed it so thoroughly. I'm freaked out enough that tomorrow I'm headed to an herb store to get turmeric in capsules so I can take the amount that was used in some recent studies. I guess eating curry isn't enough. I do take my own advice, whether it's simple or complex.

[crossposted @ Mockingbird's Medley]

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Fun with Science

This week in the news, there was a story about new species found on the Antarctic shelf. The photo album with the piece was incredible.

My particular favorite was the photo at the top of this link. I saw it and immediately thought "glass trilobite". It's beautiful.

OK, so my idea of beautiful can be a bit eccentric.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Best Thing This Week

The Freeway Blogger has a brilliant new strategy.

To rip down the opinion is to also rip down the flag.

This will definitely give some folks something to think about -- and of course, others will go wah wah wah, just as they always do when thwarted.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Freedom of Speech Again

Shock jocks are biting the dust in record numbers this week. Opie and Anthony were suspended from their meal ticket at XM Radio for their schtick on rape with Condoleezza Rice as the object of merriment. Meanwhile, two New York shock jocks, Jeff Vandergrift and Dan Lay, lost their jobs at CBS for a racist mock of Chinese.

Clearly the lines are firming up -- there is freedom of speech, but no reason to expect freedom to be paid for a public platform for racist and sexist puke. And I will place long odds against Imus getting a job on satellite if Opie and Anthony's perch there is already precarious.

Good deal.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Hot Topic

On Sunday Kevin Drum did a post on the Heinlein Centennial, which will be July 6 through 8 in Kansas City.

Of course the post has a lot of comments. They range from the idiotic (Why isn't it another date? Well, since Heinlein was born July 7 of 1907, another date would not be a Centennial, now would it?) to the very explicit.

One of the comments I liked the most pointed out that his three major cult novels appealed to three very different cults. The person commenting did not see a philosophical thread that connected Moon is a Harsh Mistress, Starship Troopers, and Stranger in a Strange Land, but they are actually not inconsistent with one another. Indeed, Moon is a Harsh Mistress holds permutations and echoes of the other two.

Every now and then, as someone who has read all his work, I have a Heinlein moment, when something he has written becomes obvious to the rest of the world. One of the most recent was when Stephen Hawking took his zero-g flight. The inevitable thought was that Hawking would live "Waldo" if he were allowed to do so, because living in zero-g would be a great boon to him and his caregivers.

In many ways Heinlein was a visionary. He was, nevertheless, a creature of his age, for all the things he did that were unusual.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Web Evolution

Over at Mockingbird's Medley, Mimus asked the question "Blogads or YouTube...?"

It's pretty easy for me to ignore Blogads -- they just sit there. The main harm they do is to curtail the speech of the blogger who accepts a corporate nickel -- and I think that readers can make their own decisions about what that does to someone's point of view.

What drives me really crazy is something that big web sites do all the time now. They put up a headline promising a recipe, and if you click on it, you are presented with a video box with the inevitable arrow. I hate those mthrfckrs! If I had wanted a damned video, I 'd have gone to YouTube.

I read much faster than anyone can perform anything and I resent the daylights out of time-wasting videos. I also resent links that take you to videos without giving a video icon by the headline.

If these morons do it enough, I will move on to another home page and they can begin to kiss revenue good-bye with my foot helping them along.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Little Stuff

I spent some time thinking about politics, and there are only a couple of leetle things that keep me from being wholeheartedly libertarian.

The first, and likely foremost of those is this: if libertarians would abolish the personhood of corporations and require personal, individual responsibility for corporate acts, perhaps I'd be more of a libertarian.

You see, escaping from consequences by hiding behind a corporate shield is anathema to me. Corporations kill people with impunity. There's no death sentence for them, even when they act with malice.

There are enough little flaws in a libertarian system that I could write a book. Augh! Mimus! See what you've done?

[crosspost @ The Medley]

Tuesday, May 8, 2007


Avedon Carol at The Sideshow has a story on union-busting in China. She quotes a JohannHari article that goes into detail about the exploitation of Chinese workers and the support that US business has given the Chinese government in its exploitation.

Yes, since businesses cannot actually keep slaves here, many are willing to collude with governments that do the next best thing.

WalMart sells a lot of things made in China. I avoid them. When people buy cheap Chinese goods, they are colluding with the abuse of Chinese workers *and* making sure that their own job market will not come back from the dead. And yes, manufacturing in the US is pretty dead.

I have another policy that I uphold. If I get a call from any organization that is using a foreign call center, I disconnect immediately. Call centers used to be in the midwest, but India is cheaper. Foreign call centers make their employees take an Anglo work name like "Mark" or "Dave" when they call. That may be considered "convenient" since clients are not likely to pronounce Goparaju, Prasadram or Ptumporn Supakitvilakakarn comfortably. On the other hand, one cannot help but think that it's transparently fraudulent as well.

My take is that I will not support Kansas jobs that have been outsourced to Bangalore -- period.

Monday, May 7, 2007


will she land on the Rose Garden?

Saturday, May 5, 2007


Air traffic controllers were in a room full of carbon monoxide. They were not allowed to leave. They felt their mental processes were impaired.

I believe that. Someone with a functioning mental set might have started vomiting when not allowed to leave. That is unusually convincing to supervisors. Someone on break might have hit the fire alarm. That, too, is a reasonable thing to do under the circumstances.

But to just let a supervisor do something criminal -- that I don't understand at all -- either the doing or the accepting.


Did I read this correctly?

Is Don Imus really contending in a lawsuit that since he always got away with his crap before, that it is his *right* to be paid to spew racist and sexist malice?

That's a new low, even for a White Boy.

Thursday, May 3, 2007


Barack Obama is being given Secret Service protection this week. I am glad that someone is being realistic.

I have heard many people remark that he would be a good president if he survives to hold office. The way people say this makes one understand just how many people fear that racists are plotting evil based on the color of someone's skin. It's an ugly reality.

Me, I'd like to see him survive, so I am glad he will have guards.

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Back from the Dead

The medical news in Newsweek this week is breathtaking.

Read the entire story. If the possibilities don't just blow you away, you need to get a sense of wonder.

Tuesday, May 1, 2007


I give Mimus the Good Stuff.

Why Not Tell the Whole Truth?

Bush Vetoes Appropriation of Billions for Iraq.

Wah wah wah. He did not like the terms.

He wants billions with no oversight at all.

Gravy train time is over.