Monday, March 30, 2009

Free Money Only for Wall Street

Plymouth Model PA 4-Door De Luxe Sedan 1931Image via Wikipedia

The administration has unveiled new plans to help the auto industry. It will entail a complete re-organization of Gm and Chrysler - “shared sacrifice” is what Obama called for, which means the re-negotiations of union contracts. And he also wants the head of GM to step down.

Excuse me???!!!! Is Obama serious? Now I’m having very serious doubts about his ability to get us out of this economic mess - he doesn’t seem to understand what caused it and what has to change.

I don’t mean that any of those things he wants the car companies to do are wrong - what I’m mad about is why didn’t he and Geithner make these same demands of the bankers and Wall Street guys and AIG??!!

When it came to the AIG bonuses they said “Oh, we can’t do anything about it, they have contracts.” Yeah? Tell that to the auto workers union members who also have contracts. They will tell you contracts aren’t sacred, in fact, they might even tell you that contracts are worthless. Except - they only seem to be worthless for a working man, if you are rich then your contracts will not even be questioned.

And why is the head of AIG still there? Actually the guy in there now is new and can’t be blamed for all the stuff that went on before he got there. But what about all those guys who got those bonuses? You know, the guys so indispensable they not only can’t be fired but we have to give them millions of dollars just to keep them around - who are the same guys who engineered a huge part of the problems. Or the people at all those over corporations?

Where the HELL is the “shared sacrifice” over at Wall Street? Can we even have any kind of “shared sacrifice” as long as the rich guys aren’t part of it?

On top of that he gave the 2 auto companies 60 days to turn things around or the hammer will fall. But Wall Street is given 5 times as much money with no demands on them at all. They don’t even have to account for where the money went.

All the people who have caused this financial meltdown are still there making far more than any auto worker ever did and are being handed billions of dollars with absolutely no strings attached.

UPDATE: Turns out that although the head of GM was fired by Obama he will be walking away with a $25 million golden parachute. Think the union people renegotiating their contracts will see the “shared sacrifice”? Think about it, working people making the HUGE fortune of $50,000 per year are asked to take a pay cut while the head of GM walks away with more money that any of them will ever see in their lifetime? GM stock went from around $30 per share to around $2 per share during his tenure. That's worth $25 million?

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Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Changes in the NFL

The old NFL logo, officially used between 1970...Image via Wikipedia

Just came across this little news blurb from ESPN:
DANA POINT, Calif. -- More games that count, perhaps as early as August 2011? That's exactly what NFL commissioner Roger Goodell wants.

There are several hurdles before the league can expand its regular season from 16 to 17 or 18 games. Among them is reaching a new collective bargaining agreement with the players' union.

Still, the commissioner hopes to present a proposal to the owners in May after the matter was discussed at length this week at the owners meetings.

"It's possible that we could vote in May, but we want to have core discussions on this," Goodell said Wednesday. "Anytime you have change, there is some reluctance. But it's clear we don't need four preseason games anymore."
I would LOVE another game or two. My seasons have been messed up lately because of Darcy, she hated football and was so glad when the season was over. It made the Super Bowl bittersweet for me because that was the one game she liked - because it was the last one for many months.

I actually missed most of the season, seeing maybe one game a week, if that, because I wanted to spend my time with Darcy for however much time she had left. There was none to waste.

Now it's just the opposite, with Darcy gone I very much want as much football as I can get because it will make me not think about Darcy. So an extra game or two would be great. And I hate pre-season games, not worth watching and not worth getting a star player hurt.

One or two more games would place quite a toll on the players, though, a football game is pretty brutal, it's rare to come out of one without some kind of injury. Plus there is the fatigue factor.

I'd still be very happy to see it, I don't watch pre-seaso0n or collage football because they just aren't the same .

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Tuesday, March 17, 2009

The Law of Evolution

Clive Thompson has an interesting essay on It's about how damn annoying Creationists are when it comes to the word "Theory". I am so sick of hearing someone say "Well, it's ONLY a theory" when talking about evolution. Little do they know tht tells someone who knows about these things that they are completely ignorant on the subject. I've explained over and over what a theory is in science for years now yet it doesn't seem to have made a dent on the terminology.
The defense against this: a revamped scientific lexicon. If the antievolutionists insist on exploiting the public's misunderstanding of words like theory and believe, then we shouldn't fight it. "We need to be a bit less cautious in public when we're talking about scientific conclusions that are generally agreed upon," Quinn says.

What does she suggest? For truly solid-gold, well-established science, let's stop using the word theory entirely. Instead, let's revive much more venerable language and refer to such knowledge as "law." As with Newton's law of gravity, people intuitively understand that a law is a rule that holds true and must be obeyed. The word law conveys precisely the same sense of authority with the public as theory does with scientists, but without the linguistic baggage.
Quinn is physicist Helen Quinn who wrote about this in an essay for Physics Today. Clive goes on to say:

Evolution is supersolid. We even base the vaccine industry on it: When we troop into the doctor's office each winter to get a flu shot — an inoculation against the latest evolved strains of the disease — we're treating evolution as a law. So why not just say "the law of evolution"?

Best of all, it performs a neat bit of linguistic jujitsu. If someone says, "I don't believe in the theory of evolution," they may sound fairly reasonable. But if someone announces, "I don't believe in the law of evolution," they sound insane. It's tantamount to saying, "I don't believe in the law of gravity."

It's time to realize that we're simply never going to school enough of the public in the precise scientific meaning of particular words. We're never going to fully communicate what's beautiful and noble about scientific caution and rigor. Public discourse is inevitably political, so we need to talk about science in a way that wins the political battle — in no uncertain terms.

I'm all for it . . . OK, now how do we get it done?

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Thursday, March 12, 2009

Climate Change

Just found a new blog on global warming, very informative:
So the NYT’s Andy Revkin blogs on the new Gallup survey, “Gallup: Rising View That Climate Risk Exaggerated?” and asks “What’s your take on what’s going on?” What’s your take on why Gallup finds “a record-high 41%” of Americans now say the

Instrumental temperature record of the last 15...Image via Wikipedia

“seriousness of global warming” is exaggerated.

[Yes, let’s put aside the irony of that question coming from the reporter who famously wrote an article, “In Debate on Climate Change, Exaggeration Is a Common Pitfall” that charged Nobelist Al Gore — the man most associated in the public mind with the climate warning — with exaggeration (a false charge, as I proved here).]

Here’s my take. Objectively, in the last two years, the science makes painfully clear that climate risk has grown sharply, far beyond what 99% of people I talk to realize, even highly informed people.
He has lots of charts and things but the main point is clear - we are screwed. Nobody is doing anything in this country because most of us don't think it's all that bad. I've been worried sick about this, we really are going to be royally screwed by climate change that has gone too far to stop now. Best we can do is try to limit the damage. Here's more from the site:
* Hadley Center: Catastrophic 5-7°C warming by 2100 on current emissions path
* M.I.T. joins climate realists, doubles its projection of global warming by 2100 to 5.1°C
* AAAS: Climate change is coming much harder, much faster than predicted
* Nobel laureate Rowland agrees we are headed to 1000 ppm
* NOAA stunner: Climate change “largely irreversible for 1000 years,” with permanent Dust Bowls in Southwest and around the globe
* Startling new sea level rise research: “Most likely” 0.8 to 2.0 meters by 2100
* US Geological Survey stunner: Sea-level rise in 2100 will likely “substantially exceed” IPCC projections
All this is very bad news. Now I don't think things will get so bad that human life or civilization will end, but millions, maybe even billions, are going to suffer and many will die over the next century.

He is saying that the oceans will rise 5 feet by 2100, 91 years from now. To think about how bad this is go to the beach (those of you not landlocked) and stand on the sand right at the water's edge. Figure out where 5 feet is by using your own height, doesn't have to be perfect, this is just a quick estimate to give perspective.

Now turn around and face away from the ocean and project an imaginary line at 5' high and see where it goes. Down here in So Cal it means all our beaches will be gone and all houses close to the beach will be gone, at a total lose to the owners.

The blog is called Climate Progress and it's written by Joseph Romm.
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Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Rachel Explains EFCA

Rachel Maddow keeps proving she can explain things with precision and simple clarity. Nor is she afraid to call anyone a liar when they are lying. She explains what EFCA is and what happens at a business when someone wants to start a union, and how the Republicans are lying through their teeth in their desperation to stop the bill.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Tax The Rich

I get a weekly newsletter that I always find interesting even though it makes my blood boil. It's called Too Much and it talks about the many abuses of the rich and how much they are really walking away with and how everything they say is a lie.

This week they talk about the claim by Republicans and the rich that raising taxes on the rich doesn't mean anything because the rich just hire accountants to get them out of paying more:
Does this case against upping tax rates on high incomes have any merit? Do higher tax rates on high incomes merely roll off the super rich, as opponents of these higher rates charge, like water off a duck's back?

We don't have to guess at the answer here. We need only examine the historical record. Higher tax rates on income in the nation's top tax brackets, that record shows, do make a clearly discernible difference. The higher the tax rate on high incomes, the more in taxes the super rich pay.

Tax loopholes, of course, do exist, and the super rich have, down through the years, spent large fortunes on tax lawyers who know how to max out on the opportunities these loopholes offer. But they spend these fortunes whether tax rates on high incomes are rising or falling. The lower the tax rate, consequently, the less the rich will pay in taxes.

The current top federal tax rate, 35 percent, has been in place since 2001. On 2008 tax returns, this top rate will apply to ordinary income — that's wages, salaries, and bonuses, but not capital gains — over $357,700.
In other words, they are lying. If it was true why would the rich care if their tax rate was raised if they wouldn't have to pay any more? The fact is the rich ALREADY have armies of accountants getting them the best tax payment they can get, they won't suddenly start hiring them if their tax rate is raised. The Too Much web site has charts for how much they rich paid in the past when there were higher rates.

But look at the real numbers, they are now paying 35%, but only on income OVER $357,700, not on all their income. And the new tax rate will only take them back to the Clinton tax rate of 39%, again only for income OVER $357,700. This means $40,000 per every million they make. This is pocket change for them, they spend more than that on their daughter's birthday parties. And they were still pretty rich and getting richer during the Clinton years.

It's unbelievable how greedy and petty these people are - and unpatriotic. This is to help the country and they fight it tooth and nail.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Darcy and Me

I was going to put a picture up of Darcy that showed how sick she was. I only have one because she didn’t want any pictures because of how badly she looked. There is only one in existence because she did it for one of the grandkids, Maddie.

But when Bennet was here and going through some of her things I found a set of very old photos. This picture of us is from January 1986. I can pinpoint the time exactly because it was when my sister Wendy and Earl got married and I know they did it on my mom’s birthday, January 10.

We had only been dating a few months and she hadn’t even moved in yet, although I think she did not long after the picture was taken. It was kind of a gradual process. But we got Nikko, the World’s Best Cat, in April that year and had been living together for a bit before then.

I think this is the first picture of her I’ve put on the web. I thought it should be a good one, not one of a courageous person ravaged by disease.

Life Without Darcy

It’s been more of a struggle to live without Darcy than I thought it would be, 23 years together creates a lot of patterns. It’s almost more as if I lost a piece of myself than just losing my wife - as if that wasn’t enough.

Years ago I was working really hard, trying to start different businesses and working 16 hours a day, 7 days a week. Darcy wasn’t one of those wives who complained, what she did was support me as much as possible. One way she did that was to take care of everything at home, cleaning, cooking, shopping, paying bills, etc. Not that she liked all those things but she was home and unable to work and she did want to do her share.

Now I have to do all those things myself and having a tough time of it. I never was very good at it. Before Darcy moved in my place was a mess, I only ate fast food, and my bills were starting to get out of control just because I couldn’t remember them until it became urgent, like they were about to cut my electricity off. So I’m not good at these things to begin with.

I’m also faced with this huge case of ennui, I just find it really hard to do things and I find myself so indecisive that I’ll put things off just so I don’t have to decide anything. I keep thinking I need to start making lists of things to do and make plans on when to do them but then I forget to do it or put it off. And the more I put things off the more things spiral out of control and the more indecisive I feel. And the more depressed I feel.

Boy, do I want a cigarette. I haven’t had one since August 1st which I find amazing considering all that has gone on since then. Clearly I would not have made it without the Chantix. Speaking of which, I forgot it this morning, better go take some.

Wish I could talk to Darcy about all this but I’ll have to settle for a blog posting.
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Thursday, March 5, 2009

Religion 101: Final Exam

Someone has come up with a pretty good religious test, here's a sample:
5- You are the incarnated Son of the all-powerful and all-loving Creator of the universe. What would be a good way to demonstrate your compassion and power?

1. Cure cancer forever
2. Cause all the earth's deserts to bloom with food crops
3. Unite the world with a common language and an end to poverty
4. Conjure up a jug of wine and follow it up by walking on water

6-Since we can never "know" whether or not a God exists - it is fundamentally a matter of "faith" - it's best to be a believer since you have nothing to lose, but everything to lose if your

Quetzalcoatl as depicted in the Codex Telleria...Image via Wikipedia

disbelief is incorrect. Keeping in mind that the fate of your soul depends on the right choice, in which God should you place your belief? For extra credit, include a brief essay justifying your choice, along with the reasons why you reject the other three.

1. Zeus
2. Quetzalcoatl
3. Vishnu
4. The Holy Trinity

(*Note: Choice D assumes you were born around 400 A.D. or later, after the invention of the Trinity)

7-You are the Creator of the universe. Your chosen people are a tribe of nomadic herdsmen, presently in bondage on one of the millions of your planets. Their ruler is being quite obstinate. Keeping in mind that you possess not only infinite power but also infinite love, your best course of action would be to:

1. Cause the ruler to drop dead of a heart attack
2. Cause the ruler to fall off a cliff
3. Visit the ruler in a dream and persuade him to let your people go
4. Slaughter a great number of innocent babies who had nothing to do with the ruler's policies
My quess would be that the writer of this is an atheist, heh heh. Check out the rest of the exam via the link.

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Sunday, March 1, 2009

Atheist Advetising

Atheist ads are being put on buses all over the place - but not in Australia:
My second-best laugh recently was at the news that Australia's largest outdoor advertising agency, APN Outdoor, rejected an attempt by the Atheist Foundation of Australia to put slogans on buses.

British atheists have 800 buses around Ol' Blighty emblazoned with: "There's probably no God. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life." So the Little Aussie Atheists decided to do their bit for the cause. The cause being freedom of speech, rational thought, intelligent discussion and consciousness-raising. In the same way religious groups try to spread the good news to help ease people's existential pain, so too are the atheists. One man's good news is another man's harmful propaganda defacing public spaces.
This was written by Catherine Deveny down under.
Aren't we a multicultural, multifaith country that prides itself on diversity and tolerance? So APN, what gives?

APN has cracked open a can of "No Comment" on this one. As you would, considering Spain and Canada are all running the British slogan, America's going with "Why believe in a God? Just be good for goodness' sake" and Italy, home of The Grand Poobah of The Roman Catholics, is going with, "The bad news is God doesn't exist. The good news is we don't need him." Ireland will run something similar.
It’s funny but I never pictured Australia as a particularly religious place. I remember when Bill Clinton was having all of his problems with Monica Lewinsky a famous quote from an anonymous Australian was making the rounds: “I’m glad they got all the Puritans and we got the convicts.” So why all this hooha over a bus ad?
The number of churchgoers in Australia is about 9% and dwindling, the diversity of spiritual belief is flourishing and atheism is going off like a frog in a sock.
Apparently they aren’t very religious, so what’s the deal? The ad company, APN Outdoor is issuing no comment.
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Rationally Speaking

I’m an occasional reader of Rationally Speaking, a blog by Prof. Massimo Pigliucci. He and Richard Dawkins are my favorite scientists/atheists. In this post he publishes an argument with Christian evolutionist Ken Miller. He is an evolutionary scientist and has said that it is not incompatible with evolution. They mostly agree and the argument is mostly picking of nits, but I like that kind of stuff.

I posted a comment that I thought deserved it’s own blog post, and I couldn’t resist expanding on it:

Wolverine (comics)Image via Wikipedia

I have long been annoyed that when an atheist suggests that an omni-benevolent god could not have created this world filled with the tremendous suffering of humans and animals, nature red in tooth and claw, they claim that God would then have to make a boring world where nothing can change and nothing can be achieved and free will does not exist.

There are 2 major flaws with this argument, the first is - isn't that exactly what Heaven is supposed to be? Why is Heaven so desirable for after we die but would be a terrible thing to have in this world, here and now?

The second is that there are many degrees in between this world and one with no suffering at all. Imagine a world with no illness, where humans healed as quickly as Wolverine, no earthquakes either. Humans would still be capable of good and evil, cowardice and courage, and the seeking and creation of beauty and science. It would just eliminate the very worst things that can happen in life.

And an all powerful god could easily create such a universe, or any one of an infinite number of such universes that are better than this one, including ones that no human mind could ever think of.

The answer is this world could only come from a god who was either not all powerful or else not all loving. Or, if this really was the best he could do then Heaven has to be just like this.

Picture of a Zen garden. Measures approximatel...Image via Wikipedia

The obvious answer, of course, is that this universe appears exactly the way one that grew on it’s own through cause and effect would look, not one that is created. My favorite analogy is to compare a forest untouched by man and a Zen garden. It’s incredibly clear which one has had careful maintenance and which one grew wild.
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