I told you so (again)

This is a quote from an article in Newsweek:

“I’ve been a registered Republican all my life, and now I’m staring to wonder why,” says Kansas attorney John S. Hocutt, who says religious right has gone too far in imposing its beliefs on the party.

If I’d been a Republican all my life, I’d be hacked off too.

Halalluia, I’m an editor again

I’m just working on my first issue as editor of the newsletter of Southern Nevada Mensa. The poor club is so disorganized that they had some real problems when the editor died suddenly. She was a great lady, and I would have thought too young to go, but there’s no stopping the going, even for editors. So, for what it’s worth, I’m editing again. I was editor of the Denver Mensa newsletter about fifteen years ago. It’s similar, but boy are things easier.

The real change is called Microsoft Publisher, a desktop publishing program that makes it just ever so easy to set type and do layout. This is our directory issue, so it’ll be bigger than most months, but it took maybe five minutes to get it all put together except for the monthly calendar. Then the calendar took another ten minutes. Used to be it would take two days to print it all out and paste it up on those boards with the blue grid printed on them. I know that there are plenty of people that insist that “the old days” were better, but I guess that they and I live in different worlds. Just think: Caesar had to pay a scribe to write down everything he wanted written down, and to make copies to boot. Mark Twain was a typesetter, using a California job box maybe, hand placing little bitty letters of type that then were used on a flat printing press (that literally pressed the type into the paper) to produce books and papers. Fifteen years ago the bigger publishers had electronic typesetting machinery that used photo sensitive paper to produce strips of copy ready to be pasted down. I used a laser printer and computer. Now, it’s all set in a jiffy, I send it to the printer electronically, and a few days later I get a box full of newsletters all ready to go.

Let’s hear it for progress!

Threats and Other Propaganda

Threats are always good for some people. I’ve seen it written that you should never underestimate the power of fear as a motivator, and by enough people that I think it’s probably true. Threats are wonderful, threats are great, threats are a boon to leadership. Yee-haw.

Or, I guess that’s what’s going on. I just read something about gay marriage. You remember that issue, don’t you, from before Karl Rove or somebody else did or didn’t leak the name of a CIA agent to the press for the purpose or not of getting back at the agent’s husband for being critical of the administration? Also from before the disasters of Katrina, Rita and the New York Yankees stole all the ink, right? Sure, it’s a hot-button issue all right. Too hot to touch, even. Holy cats and dogs: if we let gays marry the very institution of marriage will cease to exist and chaos will reign in the streets. Not to mention of course in the gay couples’ bedrooms. You know how gays are, right? All orgies all the time. It’s indecent, is what it is. So, anyway, we’ve got to keep gay marriage illegal to save the republic, not to mention Jesus. Am I getting that right?

The only thing I figure for sure that Jesus would do about gays is give all his money to them if they were poor. Or clothe them if they were naked, tend them if they were afflicted, or visit them if they were in prison. Or maybe he’d just preach to them, coming up with a few new beatitudes just for the homosexual audience. “Blessed are the interior decorators, for their place in heaven will be blessed with earth tones and granite countertops!” Whatever. What I just can’t see is how letting gays enter legal commitments can possibly have any effect on my marriage, or anyone else’s other than their own. I mean, if you really think that god frowns on that sort of thing, then by all means don’t do it. I suspect, if Jesus is to be believed, that god isn’t too nuts about the work ethic, investment banking, or capitalism in general, but most of us engage in those things anyway.

I’m also surprised that anyone drug out that phony threat when the threat of terrorism is working so well for us. Been searched at an airport lately? Next time that happens, ask yourself what would happen if the plane you’re about to board were attacked from on board by terrorists with box cutters. Especially if you’re an American man, you’re going to say, “Hell, if we’re going down anyway, those bastards are going to be dead before we hit the ground!” If there are, say, a third of a plane load of American men, then I pity the poor fool terrorists. (Not really, but it’s a cool expression.) So, why are we searching people in airports if there is no way that the plane is going to be hijacked in the first place? Threats! Got to keep up the appearance of threats! No threats, no reason to pay attention to lame color schemes or pasty looking old guys in bad suits. Clinton, for instance, had no particular threats to hurl, and nobody ever paid attention to a thing he said until he came up with that “what is is” nonsense. All hail threats, for that is how we keep the suckers coming back for more.

I’ve ranted on the theme of not letting fear tell you what to do before, so I’m going to skip that part. It would be good, though, if more people saw the attempts to use fear that come from Washington. It’s sort of like my earlier post from today: the end of the world is near. If you think about it, if that’s true, then there’s not really much to worry about at all. If you need to make peace with your creator, then it’s time to have at it. If there’s something you’ve always wanted to do but never gotten around to, then it’s time to get busy doing it. Heck, if what you’d like to do is smoke a lot of pot and leave this world in a marijuana induced haze, I’d say why not? What are they going to do, arrest you? Give you a life sentence (har har har)? As I said a few sentences ago, if the world is really going to end, then your worries are over.

Know what’s tough? Living life. Not letting fools stealing souls get you all worked up over the inevitable. Seeing your way through the maze of conflicting information that is modern news. And of course treating other people the way you’d like to be treated. The upside is, so far as I can see, that if you can do all that you won’t ever be bothered by threats again. Seems like a bargain when it’s put that way, doesn’t it?

Seven Days Without a Blog Post Makes One Week

Yeah. Whatever. Today I was watching the 6PM news on a local channel. They talked about Hurricane Wilma, which reminds me of the opening of The Flintstones where Fred’s been locked out by the cat and is pounding on the door shouting, “Willlllmaaa!” Anyway Wilma was for a few glorious hours the strongest storm ever recorded in the Atlantic basin, but now it’s down to a Catagory Four. They were talking about it making landfall in Florida in a few days when it would “only be a three, maybe even only a two.” Good heavens, total disaster eases back to only partial disaster and they sound genuinely disappointed.

We do like our disasters. How else to explain the perennial popularity of the “end of the world” stories that people manage to find in places like the New Testament, some ancient scrolls, the Mayan calendar, or those tabloids you can buy at the supermarket. The world has yet to end, in spite of many, many predictions of imminent demise over the millennia, where many a doomsday prophet has been shamed (not that they ever seem to notice) by the continued existence of, well, of everything. I guess it’s some inate love for total disaster that makes people find such scenarios attractive. That, or we’re all effing nuts, eh?

Well, anyone wanting Armageddon can take heart. As my dad used to say: the world ends for everybody eventually. And if you’re one of those guys on the corner shouting about it, then I say, “Good luck with that.”

Addendum to the directly below post

This is a current headline. Honest:

High-dose cannabis stimulates growth of brain cells in rats

Here is a paragraph from the article below that headline:

Its effect was similar to that of the antidepressant drug Prozac, which also stimulates nerve growth in the hippocampus. The rats were less anxious and more willing to eat in a novel environment that would normally make them fearful.

See? Competition for the big drug companies. Like Prozac, but virtually free if it isn’t illegal. Hmmm.

More Drugs and Fear

I saw a show on the History Channel the other day that dealt with how illegal drugs got to be that way. One segment, naturally, dealt with the devil’s weed, Marijuana. I’d read some things in the past about the origins of the laws against cannibis, but seeing it all laid out was illuminating and interesting, but not really in what I’d call a good way.

For instance, I knew that it had something to do with Mexican workers. What I didn’t know was that these Mexican workers, largely illegals, were prone to go into town on Saturday nights and party (they were workers, not saints) which upset the townsfolk in various small California towns and got the Hearst newspapers, ever eager to sell more ad space, involved in campaigning to stop the flow of illegal immigrants. (Illegal immigrants? Yes, the connection is coming up.) Then as now it was next to impossible to stop people determined to cross into this country illegally. (Scary, huh?) But some genius reasoned that if their main recreational drug (that would be Marijuana) were made illegal, the attraction of working in this country would be eliminated. This was all going on at just about the time the prohibition against alcohol was coming to an end, by the way.

But there was no way to make the drug illegal on a Federal level that would pass constitutional muster (an interesting point to ponder in itself.) So, cleverly, congress passed a bill mandating tax stamps for Marijuana. No tax stamps, no legal pot. Since you had to have the pot in hand to get the (theoretical in any case) stamps, and pot in hand without the stamps was illegal, there was no legal way to have any marijuana. So, the problem of illegal Mexican immigration would be solved.

Of course, getting laws like that, which are of dubious constitutionality not to mention useless (there are no illegal immigrants smoking pot now, are there?) can be difficult to get passed without a massive PR campaign to back them up. That’s where films like “Reefer Madness” come in. Most of what is said about pot in those films is plain lies, but it didn’t matter, because they got people scared of what was going to happen to their kids if they were exposed to Mary Jane. Well, consider the past two Presidents and maybe you can see how the argument can be made, but the truth is that pot is not hallucinogenic, and it doesn’t make the user violent or anti-social, just sleepy and hungry. Nevertheless, the fear stirred up by the PR campaign to make pot illegal got some borderline unconstitutional laws passed and enforced. Now Marijuana is illegal on a Federal level because Congress declared that it has no medical value. That’s surprising news in the many states that have legalized the medical use of the drug, but that’s the story of the DEA and they’re sticking to it. (I think maybe they’re smoking pot, but that’s just me.) So now we have a massive government agency (DEA) having to outright lie in order to justify its own existence. And some people wonder why the young don’t respect the law.

Other drugs have similar fear-mongered rationales. Cocaine, for example, was used by a poor psychotic black man in Atlanta who committed a series of axe murders. The egregious PR campaign to suppress cocaine actually used phrases in the open press such as how we “must protect our negroes from the ravages of this scourge.” Maybe it’s a coincidence that now rich Hollywood celebrities can snort all the coke they want, but poor blacks get hard time if they’re caught in a crack house. Maybe it’s not. Opium and it’s derivitives had a similar build-up in order to protect society against the “yellow menace” of Chinese immigrants who used opium. Ever wonder what the long-term effects of chronic heroin use are? They are this: you need to get your heroin every day. Other than that, heroin addicts can lead lives that aren’t different from those who never use drugs. For that, we expend billions annually to interdict opiates, with little actual success on a percentage basis.

Drugs with potentially excellent medical results that can’t be researched further include such things as MDMA (Ecstasy) that was shown in preliminary trials to be very effective against profound depression; Marijuana, which is the only way some cancer patients manage to eat at all, and in fact can make the difference between being nauseated and having a ferocious appetite; and even heroin, which is tremendously effective as a pain blocker. All of these can not be researched further at this time because so many people are so frightened of what will happen if they are made legal. Let’s see, we might have a burgeoning Latino population, legions of clever orientals infiltrating our professions, and African Americans actually entering into public life in positions of influence. At least, that’s what the laws making these drugs illegal were supposedly preventing. How well do you think they’re working on that score, since obviously there are plenty of places to get the drugs?

What’s going on is that a lot of people are making obscene amounts of money on illegal drugs. Not just the drug kingpins, but the congressional representatives who love the big donations they receive, and of course the “legitimate” drug companies who see the “war on drugs” as a decent enough way to suppress competition. Okay, I don’t know those things for certain, but then what other explanation is there for a collection of ineffective laws with a dubious history that have been proved not to work over a period of sixty or more years? It boggles the mind. So, do I advocate legalizing all of these “terrible” drugs? Yes I do. I don’t advocate using them recreationally; recreational drug use is a waste of time on the good end and goes downhill fast. But I do think there would be a lot fewer problems, a lot fewer murders, a lot fewer wasted lives in poor neighborhoods, and probably less drug addiction, if these things were simply legal.

Lucky for those making all the bucks on illegal drugs that nothing of the sort will ever come about, isn’t it?

My Diary

Nothing else to post about today, as I’ve let the current administration off. I guess I could change my mind, but I always hate cheap jokes, and . . . well, that’s all. On the way home from work yesterday morning someone started honking at me. I looked to see a woman mouthing the words “Your tire is flat!” I waved thanks, pulled into a gas station, and fifty cents later my tire had some air in it. Lucky for me, the store where I bought it, a place called Discount Tire Company, includes free repair with each purchase. So, other than not getting a single nail driven in my new wall (which I’d hoped to finish yesterday morning) it wasn’t a disaster. I had breakfast at a place called the Omlet House (since 1979!) that sold me an omlet that was considerably larger than I could eat, with potatoes consisting of hand cut and freshly fried potato chips, which are the only kind of potato chips I know that are better than Ballreich’s. You can find Ballreich’s on the web if you’d like the chance to order some truly great potato chips. They have been wavy since forever, as the company invented the process. Gee, I wonder how it’s done? Wavy knives? Too easy. Anyhow, all in all it worked out okay, but I got absolutely nothing done that I’d planned to do, and I have to sleep sometime.

In other news of stuff that’s happened to me recently, I sent in an entry to the Aristocat’s contest for versions of “the joke.” Technically the video was awful, but the way I did the joke is both innovative and truly disgusting and obscene. If there’s someone it doesn’t insult, I’m truly sorry. Let me know and I’ll put something in next time I tell it. What is it? Well, if I used obscenity here they’d close down my blog, so I can’t tell you. If you get a chance to see the movie “The Aristocrats” you’ll know what I’m talking about. My version is not nearly as gross as George Carlin’s, by the way, but then nothing is. I hope something comes of it, if only that I get to meet Penn & Teller in person. Teller not only talks in real life, but he writes essays that he posts on their web site. Penn, on the other hand, is reportedly pretty introverted, although reports from people locally who’ve met him say that he’s really nice, friendly and personable. You’d never know that by watching him on their Showtime program “Bull***t!” (Which they wanted to call “Humbug” in honor of Harry Houdini, by the way, but the word “Humbug” has lost it’s fire over the years.

In addition to the new wall separating the laundry room into a smaller laundry room and an office we’ve put in a lot of gravel in our desert landscaped front yard in the past couple of weeks. I have a guy I hire to come by and do the actualy labor. Unfortunately I came up a few tons short, so I’ll be ordering more rocks and letting him spread some more. Our back yard, consisting as it does of sand, rocks, and dog doo doo, will be a more challenging project as we intend to have some actual grass, some oleanders, and to properly prune and care for our Pommegranit, Fig, and Mulberry trees. In case you’ve ever wondered, a pommegranit is what the flavor of grenadine syrup comes from. As for the figs, I don’t really give a fig, but the tree is nice looking and provides shade. An irrigation system is in the offing as well. For the desert plants, probably no irrigation will be necessary once they’re fully established. That’s what I love about native plants: very low maintenence.

Well, there it is. No rants, no complaints, no real comments on politics or much of anything. See how dull it can be when the news is nothing but good?

Global Warming

Okay, everybody loves to express an opinion about global warming, right? Some people are certain that it’s the reason behind the severe hurricanes this season. It’s never been this bad before, after all. And there are some people who pretty much deny that the planet is warming up, in spite of the fact that the planet is warming up. What? Well, a couple of years ago somebody actually sailed the Northwest Passage. Henrik Hudson couldn’t pull that off; in fact it took a nuclear submarine (the Nautilis) to make the trip, and that was in the 1950s. Now, during the high summer, you can do it in your yacht. Kilimanjaro is running out of snows. Glaciers are receding all over Alaska. And, most telling of all, the average temperature on this planet is up half a degree (celsius) in the past century. So, the globe is definitely warming. But . . .

The globe has been warming and cooling for millennia. Tens of millenia. Eons, even. There is a very good question as to whether it’s us causing this round of heating. Maybe, because after all we are dumping a lot of carbon into the air. Carbon in gasseous form (carbon dioxice mainly) tends to hold heat in, which is why you hear of a “greenhouse effect.” That’s bad. Of course, a good volcanic eruption will dump more carbon into the air in a month than we can manage to dump in a year, but still, we do add to the total. Given the frequency of volcanic eruptions (all the darned time, in point of fact) our contribution might not be all we’d like to think. So, maybe we can cut down greenhouse gas emissions to virtually zero, but not make a whit of noticeable difference to global warming. That’s actually the truth, in spite of the fact that W. Bush says it. Surprisingly, there’s no real evidence that global warming is behind the current spate of large hurricanes in the Atlantic, either.

Actually, this isn’t the worst season ever. About eighty to sixty years ago the hurricanes were truly awsomely bad. One cut across the keys and wiped out a railroad. One virtually destroyed Galveston, Texas. There were more, all terribly destructive. There is, it seems, a pattern to really strong hurricanes, and we are moving into a stretch where the strong ones are the norm. The pattern is caused by a pattern in the surface temperature of the Atlantic ocean, which varies by a degree or so over a long cycle. When it’s warm, we get severe storms. When it cools a bit, the storms ease up a bit. This current cycle of large cyclones was predicted almost a decade ago, in fact, without any reference to global warming. That’s not doomsday or otherwise exciting, but it is the truth. In about ten to twenty years they’ll become the more mild storms we were used to in the last half of the twentieth century. Hope that’s okay.

Some of the dire predictions of global warming are not really happening. For example, if the North Atlantic becomes sufficiently de-salinized, by the addition of enough fresh water, the gulf stream will stop sinking down and becoming an undersea current that heads on south and around the world. That will stop the massive transfer of heat from the tropics to the arctic, resulting in hurricanes that make this year’s storms seem like April showers, and ushering in a new ice age. It’s happened in the past, when an ice dam broke in what is now Canada and the entire contents of a giant freshwater lake emptied into the North Atlantic in a matter of months. This, say some, is what awaits if the polar ice melts. Well, actually, the North Atlantic is somewhat less salty than it was fifty years ago, but the rate of desalinization is so low that even if all the ice in the arctic melts, which it appears will happen sometime this century, it won’t lose enough salinity to stop the gulf stream. That dire prediction is simply not in the cards, apparently. I hope that’s okay, too.

In fact, if all the ice at the poles melts the sea level will rise two to three feet, and the climate will change, in some places for the worse and in some places for the better. It will change life, to be sure, but then so do births, deaths, relocations, wars, pandemics, reality TV, new inventions and the inexorable increase in entropy in the universe. Change is inevitable. Some coastal areas are going to be in trouble. Miami is at an elevation of just about three feet, for example. That’s going to make Miami a salt marsh, unless something is done like the dikes in Holland or (if they’d only been high enough) Louisiana. New York City is, for the most part, higher than three feet. It will seemingly inconvenience the Port Authority to relocate docs and such, but when you consider that the process will take about eighty years, you can see that there will be plenty of time to get it done. Which is one big difference between the real effects of global warming and what you see in movies and on TV.

That is, it won’t just happen one day (there is no ice dam holding back more than half of the world’s fresh water anywhere.) It will happen over decades. Most ice ages have taken centuries or more to get started, except for that one caused by the ice dam failure. They also have taken many centuries to go away, and in between ice ages have been clear periods when things have been, well, considerably warmer. Again, it’s a change, but it’s not a disaster. The thing is, humans (that would be us) became human due to the pressures of climate change. We’re used to that sort of thing; we’re even experienced in adapting and thriving in varying conditions. We will, in short, no doubt swim right through the effects of global warming, getting bigger and fatter just as we have for the past half millenium. Hey, it’s what we do. And for added entertainment, we can find out what it takes to live on another planet or two, because after all, that’s just a change in climate if you think about it.

As for the doomsayers, well, as my dad used to say, the world ends for somebody every single day. So buck up: your day will come.

I Just Don’t Have the Heart

I have no idea what I’m going to rant about for the next bit of time, but frankly, given our President’s current ratings, coupled with his apparent total inability to stop digging when he’s in a deep hole, I just don’t have the heart to keep reaming him new ones twice or so a week. I could, of course, it’s easy, and some of it is even fair, but like shooting fish in a barrel, it just seems unfair and unnecessary. Maybe I can go off about cotton in pill bottles . . .



Do you get much spam in your mail box? I sure do. For quite a while I didn’t get much, or at least I didn’t see much, but the spammers have gotten more clever (sort of like anything “foolproof” just spawns better fools, I suppose) and lots of stuff is getting through. Some of them are pretty outrageous. The subject lines are terrifically explicit, even. You’ll see when I reproduce a few below. I’m going to reproduce them because I’ve been thinking of putting up a web site that would use the same exact come-ons, but would actually not be the least bit pornographic. How? Well, consider.

One I got today said, “Sex Kitten Licks Cock.” Okay, I can do that. Just as soon as I find a sexy young girl who’s willing to run her tongue over a chicken.

Or consider this other one from last week, “Mature Ebony Sucks Hard.” Wow, that shouldn’t be too hard. I’ll just show some footage of Oprah having a milkshake from McDonalds. Seems like that ought to do it, doesn’t it?

I have a female Basset hound, so I’m thinking of posting something with the come-on line of “This Bitch Loves It Doggy Style.” She lounges about on a recliner on her back, so it will even look, you know, slutty and all.

Think what could be done with the line “Fast Hardbody Action.” Don’t NASCAR vehicles have hard bodies? Don’t they drive pretty fast?

The only trouble could be possible charges of fraud. But, considering the amount of fraud perpetrated by the “legitimate” porn industry, I’m not sure anyone would ever bother to prosecute.

Whattya Think? Is it a winner?

Oh, I’d like to put something like this on my funny pages, but I promised some rating services I wouldn’t stray beyond a PG. So, here it is.