Thursday, July 29, 2010

A Musical Interlude

A little classic rock and a soupcon of anime for you:

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Mistakes That Cost Money

Those are the kind of errors that I never forget. Name a mistake that cost me a significant amount of money, and I can name the circumstances - even the date, in some cases.

And that's for amounts of about thirty dollars or so.

So do you think 8.7 BILLION dollars might honk me off if it went missing?

In the runup to the war with Iraq, we were given many breezy and heartfelt assurances that the total cost of the war and the reconstruction of the country would be borne by the Iraqis, out of their oil revenue of course.

But quite naturally those people lied. People like Paul Wolfowitz and his greasy ilk, so in response to their lies we started sending money into Iraq.

Lots of money.

Loaded on pallets and driven aboard C5-A Galaxy transports by forklifts.

Crisp new bills, straight from the Federal Reserve Bank to Baghdad - where it all disappeared.

Poof, like a fart in a tornado.

This isn't a brilliant scoop by some enterprising journalist - those are few and far between nowadays. The news of this monumental mistake (part of an entire avalanche of mistakes) broke a few years back, but was quietly dropped after causing a bit of a stink.

But I never forgot. I don't forget mistakes that cost money.

Where did the money go? Who lost it? Who got it? Did it benefit the insurgency that was in its "last throes" for so many years that we made the phrase a joke? Did it end up lining the pockets of our Viceroy, L. Paul Bremer and his satraps? Is it squirreled away somewhere, in quiet places so that it can accrue interest until certain people retire?

No one knows - or, rather, no one who wants to talk about it knows.

Now, compared to the total cost of the war in Iraq, nine billion dollars is chicken feed. But when our economy is reeling from the burden of that war, and the war in Afghanistan, and the repercussions of the Bush tax cuts, nine billion dollars is a huge amount. It looms over us like a mountain.

And no matter what, I won't forget this mistake.

All Bad Choices

But one choice may be less bad than the others.

We're careening rapidly toward a decision in November, dear readers. Who shall lead our state into the next four years?

Let's look at the choices, starting with my own party, the Republicans. We have Bill McCollum, who was a U.S. Representative for the past twenty years, and our state's Attorney General for four. He's for cutting taxes, gutting social services spending and generally carrying on with the economic policies that have plowed Florida straight into the toilet. We've all seen how the property tax cut benefited us - my property taxes didn't go down a bit, and the revenue shortfall has to be made up elsewhere. But let's face it - who needs libraries anyway?

Then we have Rick Scott, who's trying to essentially buy his way into the Governor's Mansion. He's suing to deprive McCollum of matching funds, which is great tactics because McCollum can't compete against him otherwise. Scott has about the same stance on taxes and spending as McCollum's, which is a bit of a shame (but not surprising, considering my Party's stampede to Crazyville). Scott made his fortune from the health-care industry, and while he was never actually charged with a crime, his money has a skunk-like stink to it.

Now, for the Democratic candidate, Alex Sink. She won't raise taxes, which is good, but won't commit to cutting spending either, instead opting for finding "efficiencies" and trimming things back that way. If she gets elected, I say good luck. With solid GOP majorities in Tallahassee, a Democratic Governor is looking at a huge handicap.

That same series of handicaps faces the Independent candidate, Bud Chiles. The son of "Walkin' Lawton" may be in the race for high moral reasons, but we need to see how well Jesse Ventura fared up in Minnesota to see just how Sisyphean a task Chiles would face if he won.

I've been thoroughly disenchanted with my Party since 1999, so my vote will not be going to either of the two Republican candidates, despite the number of fliers and TV ads they bombard me with.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Obligatory Friday Sex Post

"The more you repress it, the more you want it."

It's a truism, dear readers, whether the thing you desire is that last slice of cheesecake, or the latest Swedish Babes and Dachshunds* website - the more you deny that desire, the more that little voice in the back of your head whispers, "Yeah, you want it, and you know it."

Now, conservatives are all about repression, particularly when their Sith-like, repressive ideology is buttressed by religion. It's often said that a fundamentalist is one who is certain that someone is having fun somewhere, and that state of affairs must be stamped out.

However, there are indications where political conservatism and religious fundamentalism are actually only lids bolted down on simmering cauldrons of desires.

We start with Utah, a state that is majority Mormon (not a group of people who are really identified with sexual freedom and the joys of self-expression). Utah internet subscribers averaged 5.47 'adult content' subscriptions for every 1,000 residents, the highest in the entire country.

But let us look farther afield. Perhaps the Utah Mormons are a singular and unique case.



Pakistan, it seems, the home of the Lashkar e-Toyba, the Pakistani Taliban and the home-in-exile of al Qaeda, where madrasas are thick on the ground and the government can't stop religious extremists, leads the world in kinky stuff.

How kinky?

Well, how's about horse sex, camel sex, rape sex, child sex, and all-around basic animal sex?

If we could eradicate religion, not only would we be solving a lot of current problems, we'd have entire nations made of sheep-squeezers who'd be too interested in shagging to cause trouble.

Just my opinion.

*(I know nothing about this, by the way. Honestly.)

Monday, July 12, 2010

World Cup - The Fat Lady Sings

And she sang in Spanish.

The much-anticipated re-enactment of The Eighty Years War was played in South Africa Sunday, between the Dutch (who've been there twice before and came up empty-handed both times) and the Spanish (who've never been).


The Spanish hoisted the Remet Trophy after winning late in extra time, 1-0.

Their balanced attack and good defense kept the possession in their favor and maintained pressure on the Dutch, essentially repeating their performance against Germany in the semifinals.

So, viva Espana!

Enjoy it, and we'll see you again in 2014!

Friday, July 09, 2010

World Cup - Oh, Poop ...


For the first time since 1978, the two contestants for the World Cup will be teams that have never won the tournament. Netherlands beat Uruguay, and Spain outlasted Germany.

The Dutch opened the slugfest by scoring first, then Uruguay equalized. Then it was Holland all the way until the led, 3-1. One minute into injury time the Uruguayan side managed to scare the chocolate out of the Dutch fans, but were unable to seal the tie. They lost, 3-2, and will play on Saturday for the right to say whether they came in third or fourth.

Spain showed that they were a better side, peppering Neuer in goal so many times it was only a matter of when. Germany did their best, and I think they'll all be back, including manager Jurgen Loew. Spain, 1-0.


Saturday, Germany meets Uruguay for the booby prize.

Sunday, Spain (which has never made it this far) and the Netherlands (who've been to the well twice before and came up dry) will collide for the trophy. The match also has the distinction of being the first all-European final to be held outside of Europe.

So this isn't over. Let's sit back and watch the fun.

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Pistol-Packin' Mama

demotivational posters - YOUR GRANDMA
see more

Sunday, July 04, 2010

Thoughts on the Fourth

While strolling through the garden that is the Recent Submissions page on FurAffinity, I happened across this interesting cartoon. Having a bit of a reflective bent (reflective bent what? Don't ask) today, I was intrigued by what the cartoonist is saying.

"Patriotism is the last refuge of the scoundrel," Samuel Johnson famously wrote back in 1775. He wasn't referring to what he termed true patriotism, which is love for one's country, but instead was referring to people who only paid lip service to the idea.

The modern concept of patriotism - at least, here in America - has managed to be bound almost inextricably with nationalism and even jingoism. This attitude arose during the 19th Century in America, which shows a true "pre-9/11" mindset.

The flaunting of yellow ribbons after Black Tuesday was originally touted as showing support for our armed forces, while neglecting to note that in most color symbologies yellow is the color most associated with cowardice and quarantine.

Patriotism isn't merely waving the flag and shouting slogans. It runs deeper than that, and includes a desire for the common good as well as the capacity for constructive criticism.

Yes, constructive criticism. "My country, right or wrong!" is an empty slogan here in the United States, because dissent is vital to the democratic process. You want change? You first have to find something wrong that needs changing - if our society was perfect, nothing would require change and everyone would be satisfied. Nations and institutions are built on people, and people are fallible.

(And don't give me that dreck about "Judeo-Christian values." Those were written by and are interpreted by people too, and are more honored in the breach anyway.)

Which leads me back to the cartoon. The generic canine opens the cartoon by declaiming that the Fourth is the day we celebrate our independence and express our love of country. Another character toots a vuvuzela in response.

The other three characters then tell him that they are not from America. Two are citizens of other nations, while the third is a recent immigrant. The first character's response is to snarl in the best nativist tradition, "Get the fuck out of my country."

It is possible that the cartoonist is being ironic here. I'm not sure, but the cartoon was certainly thought-provoking.

So, Happy Fourth of July, everyone. Love your country, and the diversity that makes it strong and resilient. Love it despite its flaws - or even because of its flaws, and remember that the Preamble to the Constitution states the purpose "to form a more perfect Union." The Founders knew that perfection is unattainable, but it gives you something to aim for.

So, Happy Fourth of July. Be careful with the fireworks.

Saturday, July 03, 2010

World Cup - Setting the Stage

This past Friday and today saw the quarterfinals of the global soccer tournament known as the World Cup. Uruguay met Ghana on Friday afternoon (local time), and in the later match The Netherlands met Brazil, the number one-ranked side on the planet.

I had hoped that Ghana would win, but a missed penalty kick on a blatant foul by the Uruguayan side left everything knotted up after extra time. It went to penalty kicks, and Ghana lost. So we've lost all the African, Oceanic, Asian and North American sides, leaving the South American and European teams.

The second Friday match was Holland against Brazil. I anticipated Brazil would beat the Dutch, who had the reputation of not being a very strong side. Well, I was wrong about Uruguay going through to the semifinals, so ...

The Dutch managed to shock the world, Sneijder scoring a header off a miscalculation by Felipe Mello and following it up with a strong goal to make it 2-1 late in the match. Mello got sent off with a red card after he stomped on Arjen Robben, but it was all over by that stage of the match. Holland goes through; Brazil (BRAZIL!) goes home.

Today we saw a match between two hardy perennials, Argentina (who've on two Cups) and Germany (who've won three). Mueller opened strong and scored in the third minute.

It would be another 65 minutes before Klose made it 2-0, and the rout was on.

The final was 4-0, and I was a bit disappointed that Diego Maradona's head didn't explode. Instead, he just seemed to get a bit smaller. Lionel Messi, widely regarded as a comer, didn't score a goal the entire tournament. Better luck in 2014, Lionel.

That left Spain to duke it out against Paraguay, and back and forth the seesaw battle raged. Paraguay was awarded a penalty kick, which was blocked by the Spanish keeper; the Spanish drove back down the pitch only to be fouled down in the box. Xabi Alonso made the kick count, but the goal was disallowed due to the other Spanish players encroaching on the box too soon. Alonso tried again, and the Paraguayan keeper earned his pay.

Finally David Villa managed to drive one home, and Spain won, 1-0.

So, the stage is being set. Here are the semifinal matches:

Uruguay v Netherlands: My pick, the Dutch
Germany v Spain: My pick, Germany