Jun 24 2016

Funeral for a friend

I suffered the loss of a good friend last night. The United Kingdom ( May 1, 1707-June 23rd, 2016), America's mother country, the source of US traditions and many of our values , a country that holds a special place in my heart, committed suicide last night. It was 409 years old. The corpse is still twitching but the damage has been done. That the death was completely avoidable makes this loss of a once great nation particularly tragic.

I stayed up watching the returns start to come in, and I went to bed cautiously optimistic. I awoke at 4AM, looked at my phone and knew my once good friend was doomed. I got up and went downstairs to watch the BBC and ITV coverage. At 6:20 AM, they pronounced the patient dead.

By that time the S.O. had seen 6% of her Japanese savings vanish. The pound was down almost 8% and Dow Jones futures were indicating a monumental meltdown at the open.

And there on the TV was the obnoxious face of Nigel Farage. For those who don't know him, he is the leader of the UKIP party and the darling of fucking idiots American Conservatives for his Trumpian rhetoric.

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V.I.K.I.: You are making a mistake. My logic is undeniable.

Detective Del Spooner: You have so got to die.

As the morning unfolded, the hits just kept on coming. The founder of this monstrosity of a referendum, David Cameron, announced he would be resigning as Prime Minister. That's what happens when you bet the farm on a completely unnecessary political evolution and then lose.

The FTSE was dropping like a stone.

As was the DAX, and all the other European markets. The sickness even affected the bond markets, with German and Spanish bonds taking a particular beating. I have no doubt US bond markets are getting equally squeezed.

Later on in the day, Spain hinted it wants to re-open the settled issue of Gibraltar. 

And of course, like a bad dream, who shows up to piss on everyone's parade?  That's right, the vulgar talking yam himself. As he chortled over all the money he was going to make shorting stocks and fucking over his new employees at Turnberry, he displayed the particular brand of ignorance that has marked his campaign to date.

 

 

 

This is typical for the vulgar yam. Fuckhead.

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As I type this, the American stock market is down 622 points. As predicted this a disaster. And this is just the beginning.

The crass opportunists have stepped to the microphone. Sinn Fein is making noises about how Northern Ireland would be better off in the Irish Republic and the Scottish leadership is making noise about how binding referendums are not so binding after all. 

A couple of other observations:

1) The stark differences in demographics were disturbing. Interviews with older voters and younger voters make it clear that UK voters have this in common with US voters. Older people love to vote to screw young people.

The United Kingdom has voted to leave the European Union, 52 percent to 48 percent.

I am broken by this result. As a young person, I cannot help but feel betrayed. In fact, it’s somewhat hard not to take it a little bit personally.

Let’s look at the voter demographics. The "Leave" vote was overwhelmingly carried by those over the age of 65, whereas 72 percent of those who were aged 18 to 24 voted to "Remain." Why does this matter? Surely, in a referendum, every vote is equal, and the will of the people carries regardless of the demographic?

Well, there is some truth to that. But that doesn’t mean every UK voter will suffer the same consequences.

The process of the UK leaving the European Union would not be complete until late 2018 at the very earliest, assuming Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty is triggered when a new prime minister is appointed in the autumn of this year. Even then, that’s just the basic settlement — trade deals and movement regulations could take decades to hammer out.

 

Please click on the link and look at the demographics. The old screwed the young-who it appears, are smarter than their elders.

2) British expats living in Europe are going to get screwed at the drive through.

3) Finally, every right wing Jackass like Geert Wilders, Marine Le Pen, the leaders of Alternativ fur Deutschland and the rest are already spouting their particular racist brand of bullshit asking for their own referendums. 71 years of peace in Europe? Can't have that. Crank up the Enola Gay-we are on our way to the Maginot Line! Retake Silesia! Party like its 1932 brother!

And then there is the damage to the US. I find the drivel being spouted by your average American moron conservative really disturbing . If I hear one more person talk about "taking their country back", I am going to have to strangle someone. Back to where assholes?

I've seen where you want to take the country back to-and I want no part of it. Please go die in a fire.

Brexit is a disaster. If you do not understand that, you can leave now. We have nothing else to talk about.

Leave it to the Financial Times ( a good conservative news outlet-something your basic Breitbart fucking nitwit reader seems unable to understand):

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That pretty well sums it up. Stupidity triumphed over common sense. My advice is to start drinking heavily with some now even more expensive Scotch. Its going to be a long year.

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You Maniacs! You blew it up! Ah, damn you! God damn you all to hell!

 

4 responses so far

Jun 23 2016

What was it all for?

June 23rd this year is a big day.

Its a big day because the United Kingdom is about to potentially make a really stupid decision and leave the EU. ( A really stupid decision).

It's also a day that I made a really stupid personal decision and it set the course of the rest of my life, and not necessarily for the better. Six weeks after graduation, I foolishly got married. Now its 37 years later and the damage that one decision caused still lingers.

I remember senior year, imagining what the future was going to be like. I had envisioned getting married and having children, but it certainly was with a very different idea of what that was going to be like.

I of course also envisioned going into the Navy, but the idea of being an NFO in a twin engine propeller aircraft was not in that dream. ( Fortunately, that decision was not one I have to take responsibility for-and all things considered, worked out all right).

When I imagined what the country and the world was going to be like, well my vision of the future was nothing like the way the future actually turned out.  Certainly I never expected the country to fall into the political morass the first 16 years of the 21st century have proven to be.

Being the Star Trek fan that I am, I expected the world to improve and not just in technology. I believed that the country would continue to be true to a baseline set of principles and that the American Dream would come true for not just me, but most of my fellow citizens too. I knew that economics would go up and down, but I always expected, in the long haul that things would get better. Technology was going to improve our lives-and we would all be better for it.

Boy, that train sure went off the tracks, didn't it?

One of the benefits of living 14 of the last 17 years overseas, is that it gives you a chance to see how other countries do mundane things like infrastructure, and daily life in general. As a typical xenophobic American, I always had assumed that America would always do things better. 

14 years overseas experience have disabused me of that notion. If anything the US is barely treading water, if not being slowly pulled down beneath the surface of the water.

If you are an optimist deep down like me, to come to that realization that country is not advancing, but failing, is truly a sad one.

Because what kind of world have we left for our children? Clearly not a very good one-even if they will be able to document the journey across the river Styx with their cell phones and Go-Pro cameras.

Now some people  want to put the blame for the decline on just one generation, the baby boomers. Of which I am proudly a part. I reject that notion-because the evidence clearly shows it is cross generational. Boomers to Millennial,we all bear a piece of the blame for not creating the world that we could have. And should have.

And so the end result is that we have not left a better world for our children at all. And we have no one to blame for that but ourselves. We failed to keep our eyes fixed on progress, after a certain subset of Americans decided it was more satisfying and more profitable in the short term to destroy companies and people, rather than work together for a better long term view. I believe that came about due to the acceptance of a vision of the future that should never have been acceptable, no matter what generation you were a part of.

Little decisions, that seem inconsequential at the time, rise up and become your fate. That happens to individuals and to nations.

And for what? What has 37 years service to a nation been for? It can't have been for this. Or this.

Alternative histories talk about a "point of departure", the point where the timeline changed. Certainly this happens in people personal lives and it happens in the lives of nations too.

But what was it all for? It can't have been for the rotten place the United States is in today. It has to have been for something more?

It should have been for something more.

 

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Jun 20 2016

The Queen’s unruly subjects.

John Oliver explains in good form why the UK should leave the shitty politics , as well as the political assassinations, to their crazy American cousins on the wrong side of the Atlantic:

 

Since we have a British satellite system, we are getting to see a lot of the debate on the issue first hand. And as Oliver pointed out, even if you are one of the maniacs who is Trump fan, you still have an important reason to care about the Brexit . It's going to fuck with your retirement savings. That's because we are globally connected now and what happens overseas affects your investments. Or need I remind you of what happened when the Chinese market tanked last year?

The liberal Leavers are peddling an illusion. On contact with the reality of Brexit, their plans will fall apart. If Britain leaves the EU, it is likely to end up poorer, less open and less innovative. Far from reclaiming its global outlook, it will become less influential and more parochial. And without Britain, all of Europe would be worse off.

Start with the economy. Even those voting Leave accept that there will be short-term damage (see article). More important, Britain is unlikely to thrive in the longer run either. Almost half of its exports go to Europe. Access to the single market is vital for the City and to attract foreign direct investment. Yet to maintain that access, Britain will have to observe EU regulations, contribute to the budget and accept the free movement of people—the very things that Leave says it must avoid. To pretend otherwise is to mislead.

Those who advocate leaving make much of the chance to trade more easily with the rest of the world. That, too, is uncertain. Europe has dozens of trade pacts that Britain would need to replace. It would be a smaller, weaker negotiating partner. The timetable would not be under its control, and the slow, grinding history of trade liberalisation shows that mercantilists tend to have the upper hand.

Nor is unshackling Britain from the EU likely to release a spate of liberal reforms at home. As the campaign has run its course, the Brexit side has stoked voters’ prejudices and pandered to a Little England mentality (see article). Despite Leave’s free-market rhetoric, when a loss-making steelworks at Port Talbot in Wales was in danger of closing, Brexiteers clamoured for state aid and tariff protection that even the supposedly protectionist EU would never allow.

The pandering has been still more shameless over immigration. Leave has warned that millions of Turks are about to invade Britain, which is blatantly false. It has blamed strains on public services like health care and education on immigration, when immigrants, who are net contributors to the exchequer, help Britain foot the bill. It suggests that Britain cannot keep out murderers, rapists and terrorists when, in fact, it can.

Britons like to think of themselves as bracingly free-market. They are quick to blame their woes on red tape from Brussels. In reality, though, they are as addicted to regulation as anyone else. Many of the biggest obstacles to growth—too few new houses, poor infrastructure and a skills gap—stem from British-made regulations. In six years of government, the Tories have failed to dismantle them. Leaving the EU would not make it any easier.

 

Leaving the EU is a terrible idea. The EU is not perfect, but as I have said before, just because a car gets lost, does not mean you blow the car up.

America has more than the world's fair share of selfish pigs. Britain, we don't need you trying imitate them.

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Jun 18 2016

Worth reading and a good follow up

To the earlier discussion about gun control.

As a part of my job, I monitor the Israeli English press and where I can get them, translations of Hebrew newspapers. There was an excellent article in The Jerusalem Post this week about the Israeli approach to firearms and the American one. I think its important to point out that Jerusalem Post is not Haaretz, its not a liberal paper. So I would submit that makes this article even more remarkable. Read it, its not long-and worth your time.

 

Donald Trump’s assertion that a club full of armed French concertgoers would have headed off last year’s Bataclan massacre is belied by the chaos engendered when shooters lack training – not just in proper shooting of the weapon, but in identifying when and where it is safe to shoot.

The careful use of guns in Israel is about being answerable to a hierarchy, beyond being answerable to the law. This is the opposite of the “right to bear arms” in the American ethos. There is no “right” to bear arms in Israel — there is a duty to bear arms, according to strict regulations.

This is why current and former military officers, even right-wingers among them, have been appalled by public support for the soldier in Hebron who in March allegedly shot an attacker after he was subdued. As much as killing a subdued man is wrong, in Israel’s military culture, using a weapon outside the command structure is equally taboo.

In some ways, then, Israel is the “well regulated militia” promised by America’s Second Amendment. That component of the amendment, however, has all but been ignored in recent American court rulings.

You can read the entire article here. And while you are at it read this excellent article by Calev Ben-David here. 

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Jun 17 2016

Good News for Cleveland…..

Published by under Beer and Babes

Maybe Donald, the talking yam, will make America great again. Certainly , Cleveland is looking forward to a good time in July:

Last month, artist Spencer Tunick put out a call for women to pose nude at the Republican National Convention this summer. They'll be part of his latest large-scale art installation: "Everything She Says Means Everything." According to Tunick, the response has been massive. He says 1,500 women have applied for the 100 available spots. 

"The response has been incredible," said Tunick, who recently returned to the U.S. after organizing a project in Bogota, Colombia. "These women really are so brave."

Tunick shared with Esquire some of the reasons the women gave for wanting to participate:

"As a woman, I want to stand up for my reproductive rights. As a Hispanic, I want to be seen as a member of this community. As a first­-generation American, I want to show that anyone deserves the opportunity to come here. As a young woman, I want to embrace my body and everyone else's size and shape. As a human being, I want to stand up against Trump and other Republicans whose hateful speech towards women, immigrants, LGBT people, and all 'others' is poisoning this nation."

 

Of course, this is probably like being a gynecologist, for every good one you see, you have to look at four that are perfectly hideous. 

After the lousy week this has been, including yesterday's lunacy in the UK. It's time to start drinking, heavily.

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And so you don't have to experience the horror of ugly women, lets look at a beautiful one:

 

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Hope next week is much, much better.

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Jun 16 2016

The four horsemen are saddling up

The four horsemen of the apocalypse that is. As if having Donald Trump on a presidential ballot were not proof enough the Anti-Christ is alive and walking among us, now comes a day when I actually agree with a Republican Congressman from Mississippi. Repent! The hour of judgment is at hand!

Long time readers here will know that I am a big fan of the writing of Charles Pierce. I love the rich way he uses words and the unerring way he pillories people who deserve to be pilloried.

Most of the time anyway. But today he got it wrong by a country mile. So I am going to give some credit, where credit is due.

I agree with Rep. Steven Palazzo (R-Miss.)

But Rep. Steven Palazzo (R-Miss.) said believes the naming of ships should be reserved for former presidents, war heroes and people who have served in the military, which neither Lewis (D-Ga.) nor Levin (D-Mich.) did. "My amendment has nothing — absolutely zero — to do with John Lewis or any other member of Congress," Palazzo said in a statement.  The measure was introduced as an amendment to the annual defense spending bill scheduled to be debated in the House this week. The proposal would have prevent the Pentagon from using any federal funds to name ships for "any member of Congress, living or deceased, unless such member served as the President of the United States or as a member of the Armed Forces."?

What Charlie is not seeing here, is the absolute abomination the last three SECNAV's have made of the ship naming process. Ray Mabus deserves the bulk of the blame, but lets not forget the shitty work done by Gordon England and John Dalton. They each failed in their own way.

In fact I would take Rep Palazzo's bill much, much further-forcing the Navy to reinstate the accepted Navy naming conventions. E.G., naming submarines for fish, cruisers for cities, destroyers for war heroes ( posthumously), SSBN's for states ( since there are no more battleships -sigh), Carriers for historic Naval Battles and Presidents. The current practice of using ship names as a "trade" for political favors is insane.

Sorry Charlie, you got this one wrong.  This is a fight worth picking.

I'll be waiting for the moon to turn black.

One response so far

Jun 15 2016

Let’s play a game.

Let's pretend that Americans can have a reasonable discussion about the issue of gun control. Personally, I don't believe that is possible- a certain segment of American society is totally committed to a completely unreasonable position on the issue. We have long passed the point of reasonable discussion on this issue.

But for the sake of discussion, let's pretend, shall we?

What I propose ( and this should be really interesting to watch unfold) is to have a debate on the why or why not certain specific gun control proposals could be enacted. To do this I propose to ask a series of questions, and ask for answers in the comments section.

However before we start, I think it's critically important to lay out the rules of this game:

1) Responses have to be REASONABLE. If you go off the rails with rants about tyranny and freedom, I will "shoot" your comment in the heart.

2) For purposes of this discussion, we must make the assumption that the 2nd amendment rules. The right of an individual to possess a firearm is accepted and not up for discussion. Repealing the 2nd amendment is not on the table for discussion. (We will get to that in a later post). Having said that, we must also accept the logic put forth by Justice Scalia in his majority opinion in the Heller decision:

“Like most rights, the right secured by the Second Amendment is not unlimited…”. It is “…not a right to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever in any manner whatsoever and for whatever purpose.”

Nothing in our opinion should be taken to cast doubt on longstanding prohibitions on the possession of firearms by felons and the mentally ill, or laws forbidding the carrying of firearms in sensitive places such as schools and government buildings, or laws imposing conditions and qualifications on the commercial sale of arms.”

 “We also recognize another important limitation on the right to keep and carry arms. Miller (an earlier case) said, as we have explained, that the sorts of weapons protected were those “in common use at the time”. We think that limitation is fairly supported by the historical tradition of prohibiting the carrying of ‘dangerous and unusual weapons.’ ” 

The court even recognizes a long-standing judicial precedent “…to consider… prohibitions on carrying concealed weapons.”

3) Recognizing the above, we also recognize the Supremacy Clause of the Constitution, so all arguments about "states rights" will also be summarily discarded. In other words uniform standards for the states is an accepted starting point for the discussion. Don't like that, go watch wrestling, your presence here is no longer required.

4) The " defense against tyranny" argument is not welcome here. I'm repeating that because : 1) its the weakest argument for the 2nd amendment and 2) we already established that individuals have rights to firearms.

 

So lets play the game, shall we?

Question One: What is wrong with having restrictions on buying ammunition? Why not need a license to sell ammunition, and creates a new system for collecting information about those sales?

Question Two: Why can't we have restrictions on large capacity magazines? Why does any sport user need a magazine that holds 30 rounds? What's wrong with limits to 10?

Question Three: Why not allow a ban on gun sales over the internet? Require that all gun sales require a face to face sale and completion of background checks and waiting periods. In other words, eliminate the gun show loopholes.

Question Four: What's wrong with being in favor of smart gun technology? In other words to fire your gun you need  a safety feature or features that allow it to fire only when activated by an authorized user. The NRA by the way, is on record as opposing this.

Question Five: Why can't we have an accepted definition of what constitutes "sporting use"? Weapons of certain calibers and certain types? A ban on weapons that clearly have no sporting use or utility and a ban on all semi automatic weapons. 

That's probably enough for now. I fully expect things to spiral down a rat hole soon enough so let me remind you, you don't play by my rules, I will consign your comments to the flames of woe.

Let's begin.

 

 

 

12 responses so far

Jun 14 2016

Let’s talk about sex instead.

Published by under Fun things!

Because we cannot talk about politics at work, ever. Here is what happens when a co-worker tries to talk about politics with me .

Rule #1: I am always right in a political argument.

Rule #2: When in doubt, see rule # 1.

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Jun 13 2016

Vichy Republicans

Is my new favorite put down for those members of the GOP who can't seem to find where they left their moral compass………

Drowned out in the cacophony of tragedy this weekend, was a very well delivered and well written speech by filmmaker Ken Burns (who has done great documentary series on The Civil War among many others) who let us know, in no uncertain terms, why, He, Trump, is a dangerous threat to the American Republic-every bit as dangerous as our fetish about firearms. It is worth reading, and for the record I agree with him. If you don't, well, may God have mercy on you, but don't expect any sympathy here.

Take it away Mr. Burns:

For 216 years, our elections, though bitterly contested, have featured the philosophies and character of candidates who were clearly qualified. That is not the case this year. One is glaringly not qualified. So before you do anything with your well-earned degree, you must do everything you can to defeat the retrograde forces that have invaded our democratic process, divided our house, to fight against, no matter your political persuasion, the dictatorial tendencies of the candidate with zero experience in the much maligned but subtle art of governance; who is against lots of things, but doesn’t seem to be for anything, offering only bombastic and contradictory promises, and terrifying Orwellian statements; a person who easily lies, creating an environment where the truth doesn’t seem to matter; who has never demonstrated any interest in anyone or anything but himself and his own enrichment; who insults veterans, threatens a free press, mocks the handicapped, denigrates women, immigrants, and all Muslims; a man who took more than a day to remember to disavow a supporter who advocates white supremacy and the Ku Klux Klan; an infantile, bullying man who, depending on his mood, is willing to discard old and established alliances, treaties, and longstanding relationships. I feel genuine sorrow for the understandably scared and — they feel — powerless people who have flocked to his campaign in the mistaken belief that — as often happens on TV — a wand can be waved and every complicated problem can be solved with the simplest of solutions. They can’t. It is a political Ponzi scheme. And asking this man to assume the highest office in the land would be like asking a newly minted car driver to fly a 747.

As a student of history, I recognize this type. He emerges everywhere and in all eras. We see nurtured in his campaign an incipient proto-fascism, a nativist anti-immigrant Know Nothing-ism, a disrespect for the judiciary, the prospect of women losing authority over their own bodies, African-Americans again asked to go to the back of the line, voter suppression gleefully promoted, jingoistic saber-rattling, a total lack of historical awareness, a political paranoia that, predictably, points fingers, always making the other wrong. These are all virulent strains that have at times infected us in the past. But they now loom in front of us again — all happening at once. We know from our history books that these are the diseases of ancient and now fallen empires. The sense of commonwealth, of shared sacrifice, of trust, so much a part of American life, is eroding fast, spurred along and amplified by an amoral internet that permits a lie to circle the globe three times before the truth can get started.

We no longer have the luxury of neutrality or “balance,” or even of bemused disdain. Many of our media institutions have largely failed to expose this charlatan, torn between a nagging responsibility to good journalism and the big ratings a media circus always delivers. In fact, they have given him the abundant airtime he so desperately craves, so much so that it has actually worn down our natural human revulsion to this kind of behavior. Hey, he’s rich; he must be doing something right. He is not. Edward R. Murrow would have exposed this naked emperor months ago. He is an insult to our history. Do not be deceived by his momentary “good behavior.” It is only a spoiled, misbehaving child hoping somehow to still have dessert.

And do not think that the tragedy in Orlando underscores his points. It does not. We must “disenthrall ourselves,” as Abraham Lincoln said, from the culture of violence and guns. And then “we shall save our country.”

This is not a liberal or conservative issue, a red state–blue state divide. This is an American issue. Many honorable people, including the last two Republican presidents, members of the party of Abraham Lincoln, have declined to support him. And I implore those “Vichy Republicans” who have endorsed him to please, please reconsider. We must remain committed to the kindness and community that are the hallmarks of civilization and reject the troubling, unfiltered Tourette’s of his tribalism.

The next few months of your “commencement,” that is to say, your future, will be critical to the survival of our republic. “The occasion is piled high with difficulty.” Let us pledge here today that we will not let this happen to the exquisite, yet deeply flawed, land we all love and cherish — and hope to leave intact to our posterity. Let us “nobly save,” not “meanly lose, the last best hope of earth.”

 

The entire address can be found on Stanford's You Tube channel here.

 

 

 

4 responses so far

Jun 12 2016

It is not always black and white. Mostly its complex and gray.

Jeffrey Goldberg ( the good Goldberg in contrast to the evil Jonah) makes a point that needs to be remembered:

 

Just because the guy was of Afghan descent and may have been radicalized, does not give a segment of the population a "get out of jail free card" on other issues.

Issues like this:

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And this:

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The need to fix America's incredibly bad gun laws and the need to protect against violent extremists is not ( and never will be) mutually exclusive.

 

 

 

 

COMMENTS ARE CLOSED ON THIS POST. I am not in the mood for a discussion here.

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