Wednesday, June 12, 2013

10th Anniversary!

Ten years ago this month, I started writing a serial for the Spontoon Island website.  That serial, Luck of the Dragon, chronicles the adventures and lives of a family of Chinese red pandas, forced by circumstances into lives of crime. 

So far, there are 188 chapters, several branching and stand-alone stories . . .

. . . and no end in sight!

Thursday, June 06, 2013

Enraged Yet?

Because if you're not enraged, you haven't been paying attention.

But then again, how can you be enraged?  The NBA Finals are about to start, the NHL playoffs are ongoing, and then there's trying to figure out whether or not Jaden Smith's divorcing his parents or not.  Seriously, there's just so much important stuff going on!

Well, bear with me.  I'll be brief.

It all started in the aftermath of the incident that marks a bright dividing line between Old America and New America.  It all started on a bright and sunny Tuesday morning in September.

Yes.  That day.

In the aftermath of 9/11 (everybody drink!), while the debris was still being cleared and the world's largest crime scene was being sifted, the United States Congress was presented with a mammoth bill for their consideration and approval.

The bill was called the USA PATRIOT Act, and it's basically a blank check for the Federal Government to spy on everyone, as well as brand anyone a 'terrorist.'

Now, in most totalitarian states, this level of surveillance is expected, and it's so in your face that the government doesn't even need approval from the rubber-stampers to do it.  Here in America, on the other hand, President Bush had to wait for the Congress to pass the Act before he could tell the NSA, the CIA and the FBI to start setting up wiretaps. 

Congress duly passed it, in a fit of fear and panic (at least one Congressman admitted, on the record, that it was never read all the way through).

And the American Surveillance State (ASS) was established.

The ASS is now huge and powerful, and ASS gets into everything with only the barest murmur of legal proceedings from the Federal court set up to approve such things (known as FISA). 

The Guardian has published an article that states that a court order has allowed ASS to record every call made by subscribers to the Verizon telecommunications network.  That's about 145 million Americans, folks, now feeling the power of the ASS.

And if you think that by using Sprint, AT&T, or any other network makes you immune to the ASS, stop and take a sniff.

Smell that?

Yep.  It's ASS.

The Third Scandal - That Isn't, Really

The GOP hasn't been able to get any traction out of the Benghazi Embassy attack, nor have they been able to score any points off the Obama Administration regarding the Justice Department's investigation into the AP and one Fox 'reporter' regarding whether they had possibly interfered with a terrorism case.

In the first, the government 'oversight' watchdogs haven't been able to do anything to achieve their actual goal; i.e., casting aspersions upon Hilary Clinton in order to damage her chances of running for President in 2016.  No word on whether she'll actually run, so think of it as insurance.  Alas, the 'insurance' isn't gaining any ground.

The second scandal?  Attorney General Eric Holder went to the airwaves and, as I expected, played the "It's NATIONAL SECURITY, BITCHES!" card.  A couple Republican Senators (the usual suspects - John McCain and Lindsey Graham) admitted that he was right to do it.

That left the Third Scandal.  The Third Scandal is like the so-called Third Wave - it's the most damaging.

Well, maybe not so much.

The third scandal was the revelation that the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) had - gasp! - investigated several Tea Party groups that had applied for 501(c)4 tax-exempt status, and had - even harsher gasp! - had forced them to Fill Out Forms asking for that status. 

This caused a great deal of wailing and gnashing of teeth on the part of the dribbling ignoramus otherwise known as Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA, not RCA).  He and the other shitheads on the House Government Oversight Committee had a constant parade of Teabaggers in to squeal and moan and cry great steaming crocodile tears about this unwarranted intrusion into their lives and finances.


There's always a however, dear readers.  We'll take them one at a time.

1.  Since 2010, the IRS investigated and approved 176 organizations for tax exemptions.  122 of them were conservative groups.

2.  The only group denied tax-exempt status was a liberal group.

3.  What the hell are political Tea Party organizations doing asking the Big Bad Evil Gummint for a handout, anyway?

4.  What the hell are political organizations (of any orientation) applying for exemption as 'social justice' groups (the exemption covered under 501(c)4)?

So that 'scandal' is starting to founder, as more and more of the truth starts to seep out.

Rep. Issa and his gang may as well face facts.  They've lost the ability to do anything but obstruct, their attempts at outreach to those voting blocs who won't have anything to do with them are falling flat, and their attempts to find something, anything, impeachable are turning out to be total and utter bullshit.

Hang it up, guys.  Time to just throw up your hands, admit defeat, and step aside to let the people who want to govern run things.

Wednesday, June 05, 2013

The Wonderful Fifth of June

Today, history buffs, is the wonderful Fifth of June!


Today's the fiftieth anniversary of the Profumo Affair, when Britain's Secretary of State for War, John Profumo, admitted that he had lied to the House of Commons and was resigning his post. See, Profumo had had an affair with a prostitute named Christine Keeler, who in turn had connections with certain people.

One rumored connection was with the Soviet naval attache, who may have made one attempt to coach Keeler into pumping Profumo for secret information (among other things - hint hint nudge nudge say no more).

The silhouette shown is the badge of the completely fictional Most Provocative Order of the (k)Nights of Christine Keeler. I have the rank of Officer in the Order, and commemorate this day to all those pretty faces who've been able to bring down entire governments.*

*Profumo's boss, Prime Minister Harold MacMillan, resigned four months later, with the scandal a contributing factor.

Sunday, June 02, 2013

Animal Planet Channel Gives Me A Sad

A very long time ago, cable channels such as The Learning Channel, Discovery, The History Channel, Arts & Entertainment, Animal Planet and such gave the public exactly what their names advertised. I recall being laid up with a fever for three days and watched a show about learning Conversational Japanese on TLC.

But over time these high-minded programming venues have succumbed to the need to make money. They slowly and insidiously lowered their standards and contents to appeal to the lowest common denominator.

Shows like Ice Road Truckers.

Shows like - gag me with an assegai - Ancient Aliens.

Shows like Little People.

And now, courtesy of Animal Planet, a "documentary" about mermaids.

Fucking mermaids.

Using actors to portray scientists and having no "Gotcha! You're a Fucking Idiot if You Buy Any of This Shit" disclaimer, this steaming sack of dog feces has the potential to mislead weak and simple-minded dullards (for which read a growing segment of the American viewing population) into thinking that mermaids actually exist.

Shit like this is why I find myself growing nostalgic for the halcyon days when there were only four networks.