Friday, February 22, 2013

Comes as No Suprise, No Surprise at All

Last year, a young fellow named Trayvon Martin was shot and killed by a neighborhood watch volunteer named George Zimmerman.  Zimmerman used Florida's "Stand Your Ground" law as a justification for his actions (I believe he's since backed off that, and is going with straight self-defense).

Since there's a potential for abuse of the SYG law, Governor (p)Rick Scott commissioned a panel to review the law.  As I recall, I didn't hold out much hope for any revision or repeal of the law, as the commission was chaired by the person who wrote the law in the first place, and the other eighteen members were all supporters of it.

Well, to the utter and complete surprise of absolutely No One, the commission handed down its decision.

And that decision was . . . drum roll, please . . . envelope, please; thank you Brigitte . . .

No change is required in the law, so it's all good!

Needless to say, this news has made the NRA in Florida spontaneously ejaculate in their pants, spraying DNA everywhere.  In the abstract, this is not a bad thing; every drop of semen from these noisome nuisances that is mopped up and cast into a trash can or flushed down the commode can only but improve the overall gene pool.

Until, of course, one of their family members or loved ones is on the receiving end of the SYG.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

All the Maps are Correct – The Shape of Eastern Europe, 1938 (alt-Earth)

"The Vilayet of Taras. Never heard of it? Good; neither have I." - Edith Ponsonby.

Four separate empires collapsed at the end of the Great War in 1918; Hohenzollern Germany, Hapsburg Austria-Hungary, Ottoman Turkey, and Romanov Russia (which suffered a revolution and resultant civil war beginning in 1917).  Winston Churchill put the resulting scramble among various Eastern European nationalities and nascent nations best when he famously said, "The war of giants has ended, the wars of the pygmies begun."

After a series of revolts, revolutions, pogroms and `brush fire' wars, culminating in the Polish-Russian War of 1920-22, the various borders stabilized and treaties of varying levels of adherence were negotiated.

Any Grand Tour of the new face of Eastern Europe must begin at the Baltic Sea, with the new republics of Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania. Poland's attempt to absorb Lithuania into a new Commonwealth foundered on the Lithuanian's insistence on remaining independent. Facing war with the Soviet Union, Marshal Pilsudski did not press the issue.

Poland was the largest state in the new map, maintaining as it did a watchful eye on its eastern border with the USSR. It and its government were trying hard to revive and start up various industries in an effort to keep its independence between its two larger and better-armed neighbors, Germany and the Soviet Union.  In order to avoid the embrace of the Bear, Pilsudski and his successors were leaning toward an alliance (or at least an association) with the Germans.

South of Poland is the Western Ukraine People's Republic, with its capital of Lviv. This state, the second-largest after Poland, was part of Pilsudski's Intermarum (Between the Seas) idea, where there would be a belt of Polish-oriented states extending from the Baltic to the Black Seas. The WUPR is still under Polish `protection,' a fact that irritates many Ukrainian nationalists in their government. However, the support of the Poles is necessary in order to fend off attempts by the Ukrainian SSR and the USSR to
extend their hegemony.

The Balkans are still largely as the end of the Great War left them – still staring daggers at each other and squabbling over small slices of land.  Romania, Bulgaria, Albania, Yugoslavia and Greece are all monarchies, with only the Albanians and the Yugoslavs enjoying domestic dynasties (the others displaying, if nothing else, the fecundity of the various German noble houses).

Hungary invited the twenty-year-old Archduke Otto von Hapsburg to be crowned as its Apostolic King in 1932. He took as his regnal name Ferenc (his first baptismal name), and dismissed the Regent Admiral Horthy.

A variety of small Carpathian and Danubian principalities arose or were resurrected after the Great War, and by and large the Big Four let them be.  Geopolitically they were of little consequence, and had little economic impact apart from tourism and postage stamps (interestingly, the Spontoons have similar industries; think dirndls instead of grass skirts). They may not have any armies to speak of, but they do have some of the best cheeses in Europe.

These small states are:
The Duchy of Teschen;
The Principalities of Anheim, Azieuza, and Kuhk-Mönge;
The Grand Duchy of Ruritania, and
The Vilayet of Taras.
(It is believed that Ruritania was established as a joke on the League of Nations; perhaps not surprisingly, none of the delegates ever got the joke).

The Vilayet of Taras was a former Ottoman governorate, and before its absorption into the Empire was a very minor state at the mouth of the Danube. It declared its independence, but hardly anyone noticed apart from the Rumanians. The Tarasian ruling family claims descent from the original ancient Greek settlers of the area as well as the Byzantine Lascarid Dynasty, while glossing over the facts that they are actually one-half Turkish, one-quarter Hungarian, one-eighth Greek and one-eighth Norwegian (no one can figure this out).

Taras partly straddles the mouth of the Danube, but is surrounded on three sides by Rumania; the rulers know better than to try and close the river to traffic.  Its primary exports are stamps, grain, cheese and dairy products, and occasional court intrigues that mimic the classic English garden parties, complete with the obligatory murders.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

"I got 98% of what I wanted."

Those are the words spoken by Representative John Boehner (R-OHmytheygrowthemstupidinOhio), the Speaker of the House, back in 2011 after the Budget Control Act was signed into law.  The law provided for the Dreaded Sequester, which will do all sorts of scary shit to the economy.

Basically, it's an automatic austerity package.  You know, the kind that forced the United Kingdom into a double-dip recession and has turned the economy of Greece into a basket case so bad that a neo-Nazi party has actually managed to get into Parliament.

The Budget Control Act was like wiring a stick of dynamite to your gas tank, designed to explode if you didn't take your foot off the brake pedal.  Kind of hard to progress down the road like that, you know?

Boehner's now trying to hang the looming sequestration on President Obama who, by Boehner's own math, is only responsible for two percent of the BCA and the blame therefor.

Blame where it's due, John, you stupid Oompah-Loompah.  You owned 98% of this flaming sack of dog feces back in 2011, you can own 98% of it now.

How Bloody Credulous

Can you get?

During the confirmation hearings for Chuck Hagel as Secretary of Defense (an appointment I do not agree with; his volte-face on Iraq back when he was a Senator smacked of 20-20 hindsight leavened with hypocrisy), Senator Rand Paul (R-KYjelly) challenged him to prove he was not part of an organization known as the "Friends of Hamas."

Since you can't prove a negative, Hagel's nomination was filibustered in the Senate, the first time in history a Cabinet Secretary's appointment was stopped.

Now, ready for the punch line?

There is NO SUCH THING as "Friends of Hamas."  The name was pulled out of thin air as a joke by a reporter.  That didn't stop Senator Paul, however, proving that Ron Paul's son is an even bigger idiot than even I at first thought.

And now . . .

Senate Minority Leader and Impressively Wattled One Mitch McConnell (also R-KY, imagine that) sent a message to the Pentagon on behalf of a constituent demanding to know if it was true that inmates at Guantanamo Bay were actually receiving post-9/11 GI Bill benefits.  The constituent linked to a website called The Duffel Blog as justification for their assertion.

A ridiculous assertion, to be true, made even more ridiculous by the fact that The Duffel Blog is the military equivalent of The Onion - i.e., gentle readers, it's satire.  It's a joke.

So, no sense of humor and not enough sense to check to see if what you're about to repeat as fact is actually a joke or rampant bullshit.

I'm glad that Paul and McConnell are in the minority.

Friday, February 15, 2013


(Historical Note: A "whizz-bang" was the British slang term for a shrapnel shell used during World War One. See? You can learn things here . . . )

There were a number of whizz-bangs in the news recently:

Okay. The DPRK has slid over the line into The Truly Crazy, setting off a small nuke capable of being fitted to a ballistic missile. Even China, Asia's Crazy Neighbor's only real friend, has shown signs of telling Kim Jong Un and his government to dial it back a tad.

And now, this:


Out of a nice morning sky over south-central Russia, as you can see on the dash cam, a meteoroid roughly a few meters across entered our atmosphere. After a few seconds of trying to hold its own against our nice thick air, it went ker-plooey. The shock wave hit a few moments later, shattering windows and setting off car alarms. About 400-500 people were injured by flying glass.

Expect the Crazies to start moaning about the End o' da Woild, or at least start spreading stupidity.

And finally, on this date way back in 1898, the armored cruiser (second-class battleship) USS Maine went ka-boom in the harbor at Havana, Cuba. The cause of the explosion has never been definitively explained, ranging from a fire in a coal bunker to a naval mine to a deliberate sinking to provoke the USA into war with the Spanish Empire. Sure, we went to war anyway . . .

Monday, February 11, 2013

Pap from the Poopacy - Er, Poop from the Papacy . . .

To the surprise of quite a few people, Pope Benedict XVI abruptly announced his resignation from the See of Rome effective February 28th of this year, citing age and unspecified health issues.  This makes Benny the first pope in almost 600 years to voluntarily step down.

So, what's this got to do with the price of pork shumai in Tokyo?  Not much, really; the only fun we'll have with this is if Benny decides to renege on his resignation and come back as Antipope.

Which causes me to wonder:  If a Pope and an Antipope meet, do they mutually annihilate each other, like matter and anti-matter?  Just one of the many questions that make sane people keep a safe distance from me.

Now, I got awakened from a sound sleep with this news (a disturbance in the Force begs to be noticed), and the news media is rife with speculation about who will be the next guy to wear the Funny Hat.  Candidates include several from Africa, about four from the Americas and at least from the Philippines.  No matter who gets picked, they'll come into the position with a lot of stuff in the IN box - scandals about financial skulduggery, scandals about pedophilia, and the ongoing struggle to adapt a medieval organization based on the classical world's last mystery religion to modern cultural trends.

It ought to be fun.

(Flames will be judged on merit and originality.  Have fun!)