Friday, June 8, 2012

I Should Be More Upset...

Unemployment. The dreaded specter that hangs over the head of every middle-class, working-class, single-income family. Some times you can see it coming. Some times it sneaks up and bites you in the ass before you know what happened. I'd like to say it's an indiscriminate force, but we all know better. Like everything, it's money motivated. Make too much money? Cost the company too much money? Don't make the company enough money? Say things other people don't like? You're on the list. Of course, it's also political. No, I don't mean Republican v. Democrat. I mean who kisses the most ass, curries the most favor, holds the most dirt, or has the most friends.

If the preceding paragraph comes off a tad bitter, then you might have caught on. Recently, I joined the ranks of the unemployed. Sad though it might be, I feel a bit liberated. I have options on the table. Enough nest egg to keep the wolves at bay while I try making a few projects hold water. And, I have friends and family who are willing to throw their support behind me.

Maybe I'll find a position I like more working for a company that sucks less. Maybe I'll update this blog more regularly from here on out. Maybe I'll finally get that damned book published... even if I have to do it myself through Amazon. Maybe I'll write free-lance. The doors are open, and I've got nothing but time on my hands now... of course, if you read this regularly you're going to have to put up with a few more banners than usual. In that there will be some, where there weren't before.

I'll keep this blog posted with thoughts and ideas, and I'll get back to my usual ranting in another day or so after the rage wears off.

Speaking of ads...

Friday, January 13, 2012

Cherry Picking the Constitution

Much appreciation to Ophelia Benson for pointing me at this story, but first... some background.

For those of you who haven't caught wind of this story, or haven't been keeping up with it, Jessica Ahlquist is a 16 year old high school student in Rhode Island who saw something wrong taking place at her school and worked to correct it using the most effective means at her disposal. As it happens that 'Something' was an obviously Christian prayer banner hanging in her school auditorium (picture after the jump). Oh, and the means by which this gross oversight was dealt with? Another pretty weighty document that predates the banner by, oh, something like a hundred and seventy-five years. Roughly.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Cthulhu for President

**Warning: The following is the result of too much caffeine,  nicotine and gothic horror, Lovecraft readers are welcome**

Recently awakened from his prison in R'lyeh, the Great Old One has stirred forth... and he's Republican...

We caught up with the Ancient Lord of Earth at the New Hampshire primaries, for a chat about his stance on the issues.

(Reporter) So, Mister Cthulhu, you seem to be lagging behind in the polls, do you still think you have a chance at the nomination?


(R) I...uhm... I don't think...

(C) Puny flesh-thing! I am older than the stones! Why do you not bow before your master?

(R) I... so... quite confident, then? Good, because you'll need it going into South Carolina next week. Tell us... uhm... Cthulhu... we haven't heard much about where you stand on the issues. What about marriage equality?

(C) All shall be equal in their suffering. This world will serve me as it once did before you up-right simians arrogantly sought to supplant me with your make-believe deities!

(R) So, you're in favor of same-sex marriages, and you obviously don't follow the religious right. Why did you choose to run on the Republican ticket with values that obviously don't mesh with the rest of the party?


(R) ..... Did... d-d-did you... just eat that man?

(C) Yes...

(R) ...

(C) Your vapid mind cannot comprehend the morality of the Ancient Ones! You will all die. Those who serve will be granted my greatest mercy, in the form of a swift death before the world is plunged into darkness and chaos, and I am able to rejoin my fellow gods! ...

(R) Serve you...

(C) Until then, I pledge to enforce my will upon you, and abolish all your foolish mortal governance. Your weapons of war are useless, so I will abolish gun control and so that you may be fruitful and provide me with more to serve, I will also abolish abortion, except those that result from devouring women heavy with child. As I have no use for your worthless commerce, taxation is also hereby ended, may your greed rot you from within.

Behold the glory of Cthulhu, and BOW!


(C) Good man-ape. Heh heh heh...

Welcome to America: Land of the Free (unless you're pregnant)

That fine print can be a killer, huh?

Apparently, after every SINGLE 'Personhood' amendment failed last November, some asshole in Ohio decided to ramp this vaguely worded rhetoric back up.

Now, I'm in Mississippi, I believe I've mentioned, one of the states that Personhood USA tried this schtick with this past fall. Proposition 26, they called it. Vote for Life was one of their favorite slogans... For life, but against personal freedoms. Not that it would have much mattered if it had passed, as the state constitution forbids any law that forces one person to serve another... and isn't that the very definition of forcing a woman to carry a child she doesn't want/never intended on keeping? Anyone who's ever been pregnant will tell you, 'I'm eating for two' or 'I have to take care of myself, for the baby'... Sure sounds like servitude to me.

On the one side, you have some fundamentalist wing-nuts who are so hopped up on their 'Right to Life' bullshit that one half expects them to break into Monty Python's 'Every Sperm is Sacred' (it's medical experiments for the lot of ya). What they're trying to do is add an amendment to the state constitution (of pretty much any state) which just says:

(A) The words "person" in Article 1, Section 16, and "men" in Article 1, Section 1, apply to every human being at every stage of the biological development of that human being or human organism, including fertilization.
(B) Nothing in this Section shall affect genuine contraception that acts solely by preventing the creation of a new human being; or human "eggs" or oocytes prior to the beginning of the life of a new human being; or reproductive technology or In Vitro Fertilization procedures that respect the right to life of newly created human beings.
Which, while being a good deal less vague than November's Personhood amendment language (pretty much leaving out all of the (b) section above), is still an end-run around Roe v. Wade, as well as most states' existing bill of rights. Usually something takes precedence over these kinds of trivial after-thoughts. IE: You can't add X if it disagrees with or contradicts A-J. Standard procedure for every level of the legislative process, from municipal to federal. The problem is, this means that if a woman becomes pregnant as a result of events beyond her control, she has no choice but to carry that child to term, and while the Pro side will regale the public with anecdotal evidence in support of the 'blessing' that this 'miracle' child was to their (friend/mother/sister/cousin/niece/aunt/etc) the reasoning falls apart. None will ever directly answer the question 'How is taking away the rights of one person in any way Constitutional?' Notice also that the language of this amendment doesn't include anything respecting accidental miscarriages, which would become the equivalent of manslaughter, if these kinds of ridiculous propositions manage to pass. We only have the word of supporters that this would not be the case. All it would take is one angry (ex) husband or boyfriend going to a lawyer and forcing the police to enforce the law as written.

The other side will tell you how this change will give rapists control over the reproductive rights of women, and will make birth control illegal, while cutting off access to fertility clinics (which do also perform abortions in many cases) and vilifying IVF doctors. While there is some alarmist rhetoric in the Con argument, for the most part it's merely a slight exaggeration of the truth.

In my opinion, I prefer to find a comfortable middle ground (yes, even in the abortion debate there's plenty of grey area) between these two extreme interpretations of the amendment. My first problem with it has nothing to do with babies or the reproductive process at all. I'm against this law because it flies in the face of a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that was carefully worded to PREVENT misapplication and misinterpretation. It also smacks of unconstitutional application of the legislative process. The organization spearheading these state level amendments has, time and again, been shut out by a strong majority, even in conservative (largely pro-life) states. Rather than taking a 55%-60%+, and rather resounding, NO! from the voters though, they are wading in again to try and circumvent popular opinion by trying to lobby for the change in the state senate and congress. The representatives there would do well to listen to the voters who have already spoken, and choose NOT to take action that would be contrary to the documented will of the populace.

Do I disagree with abortion? In principle, yes and I swear never to go and get one... I'll wait while that one sinks in. In practice, however, my opinion cannot be applied to the majority. When speaking in constitutional terms, amendments being made there are applied to every person, equally. I cannot, in good consciousness, vote for an amendment that would sacrifice the rights of others, simply so that I feel better. I cannot force my will on another person, and amendments of this type do exactly that. This is a choice left to a woman and her morality. Even the father, prior to birth, has no control over this decision... which is the way it ought to be, because if the pregnancy carries to term then that father can have already left the state and might never have to take any responsibility, while the mother (at the time of birth) has endured ~9 months of pain and discomfort that NO one else can suffer in her place.

In fact, think about the result of being FORCED to carry a child to term and either A) raise it, or B) give the child up for adoption. How might that child suffer as a result? How might it benefit? The mother in these cases (often enough to have statistics to back it up) is usually unprepared, under (or un) employed, so we're asking the American public to help foot the bill for the pre-natal care and post-birth care, WIC, Food Stamps, school lunch programs, etc. As a result, the child often ends up having fewer opportunities to grow (socially/mentally). As to the benefit... it will be alive, but what kind of life will it lead? Will a boy in this situation end up causing yet more unwanted pregnancies? Will a female child end up HAVING an unwanted pregnancy?

The fact is, most women who end up getting abortions tend to be from the lower end of the socio-economic curve. Children born to these women, historically speaking, tend to perpetuate the worst stereotypes of the lower class demographic, especially if they are single mothers.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Lies, Damn Lies and Statistics

Mark Twain coined the phrase in his autobiography, "There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies and statistics."

I agree, and interestingly enough all three get utilized when painting a portrait of an opposing group. The specific case I'm talking about is the current anti-Muslim sentiments being vomitted forth by far too many groups in the Western World.

From the suburbs of St. Louis to television networks, and who can forget the 'Ground Zero Mosque' debacle in late 2010 (it opened last September, incidentally). I'd like to say this is a uniquely American issue, and that the rest of the world is more tolerant and welcoming, but... then we have these wack-jobs, proving that the U.S. doesn't have a monopoly on crazy, right-wing, hate-mongering, fuck-tards. We do, however, boast the most public right-wing, hate-mongering, fuck-tards.

There go those crazy Americans again, with their loony bloggers organizing massive press conferences, and their ... wait... FUCKING PRESIDENTIAL HOPEFULS? Are you serious? Yup, that's right... Welcome your next Republican nominee. The ignorant bigot.

And I'm not just picking on Newt here either. Even the guy I pretty much gave a reach around in a couple previous posts, Ron Paul... here's what he has to say on the matter:

“The question ultimately revolves around one issue, that one demands our total support, with power, determination, and one voice, and it is this: Does Islam, or does it not, force people, by the Power of the Sword, to submit to its authority corporally, if not spiritually? The answer is Yes.”

I won't get into Sarah 'Titty McBangBang' Palin, or Michelle 'Batshit Crazy' Bachmann, but let's just look at the front runner for the GOP...

Mitt? Gimme somethin' good:

“They are peace-loving and America-loving individuals. I believe that very sincerely. I believe people of the Islamic faith do not have to subscribe to the idea of radical, violent jihadism.”

... wait... Goddamnit, Mitt... You keep being reasonable and shit, and I might have to stop imagining you being skull-fucked by a buffalo. Too bad you're still a big homophobe.

Interestingly, I couldn't find anything from any non-republican leaders that specifically cited either acceptance or rejection of Islam. The only people who are vehemently (and violently) anti-Muslim are Republicans, everyone else just doesn't take a stand either way... which, while pretty evasive, is still better than publicly decrying it as ... wait... what did you call it Mister Santorum ... The quotes reliably attributed to him are too lengthy and obscure to place here, but follow that link and take a look.

Here's the facts:

There are ~1.5 billion (that's a 1 a 5 and 8 zeros) Muslims, of some flavor or another, on Earth.
There are ~2 billion Christians, of some flavor or another.

Sweeping generalizations about either group, or focusing only on the most violent and abhorent behaviors of people who identify with EITHER faith is an ignorant fallacy.

There are crazy fuckers who are Christians and crazy fuckers who are Muslim and I'm sure there are some crazy fucking Buddhists, Hinduists, etc. The thing is, that doesn't mean all Christians/Muslims/Buddhists/etc are crazy fuckers. It means there are some crazy fuckers in the world, some of whom also HAPPEN to be Christian... Sarah Palin comes to mind, again. This is no less ignorant than the fear of Communism or Russians. The over generalization of these hateful sentiments is only adding fuel to an inferno. It's continuing the same rhetoric that charismatic, anti-American groups are using to recruit young men in the Middle East.

So, Newt, Rick, Ron, you pasty fuckers are part of the problem, not the solution. Fix your shit, or get the fuck on.

Monday, January 9, 2012

No Hope, No Cash, No Jobs...

It's becoming increasingly popular, among journalists who still think Obama is their boyfriend, to report on the steady, teasing, trickle of jobs being 'created' by the current administration. Point of fact, they really didn't. What they managed to do is increase spending on temporary contractors and independent employees. I expect, if you tally up total man-hours, figuring 40 hours a week, 52 weeks a year, the total number would be a damn-sight lower.

According to the people who actually track this shit, (that's the Federal Bureau of Labor Statistics, not NPR, btw) the total number of jobs created in the last two years has only been around 120,000. Consider that, prior to Chocolate Jesus taking office (he's not your boyfriend), the unemployment rate was around 5%. Alright, I'll grant you that the spike in 2009 was not of his making. That was back-lash from Giggles McFuck-Nut (you know him as George Bush) spending 8 years making a mockery of the presidency. So, in all, the spike to 10.1% that took less than a year (a ~5% jump) has taken more than two years now to recover just 1.3%...

I know, that's a lot of math there, and I may have lost some conservatives. Let me explain. We went from 5% (appx 15 million) of Americans being unemployed, to 10.1% at the peak (appx 30 million). Thats  a relatively small number... getting REALLY FUCKING BIG in just 11 months. Now, here we are at the beginning of 2012 and we've only recovered by 1.6%. So, in nearly two years since unemployment spiked, less than 500,000 people came off the unemployment teat. Yet, Barry-O is claiming responsibility for creating 2.6 million new jobs? ... Where?! How the fuck do I get one, because obviously they haven't been filled yet?!

Am I the only one reading this shit? Do these monkeys really believe the American public isn't going to fact check?

Apparently they do, because Mitt Romney is the front runner for the GOP nomination, and there are a cock wad of other knuckle-heads who have an equally fair shot... Hell, Michelle (Crazy Tits) Bachmann was a serious contender for a while there.

So, as it stands, I'm not voting for Obama again. I'm damn sure not voting for a Republican that isn't Ron Paul and if Mitt Romney gets the GOP nod, I'm either gonna write in this little fella:

Cross my fingers and hope that R. Lee Wrights (who I disagree with on a number of issues, but he's neither a giant douche nor a turd-sandwich), or... Fuck it, I'll run on the independent ticket my goddamn self.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

It's Not Fair! -- Insights on Equality, from David, Age 9

So, last night my son challenged my definition of equality... Well... not really. It was a fairly standard kid argument resulting from some perceived injustice. I won't go into my parenting style in detail, because I'm pretty sure no one cares. Suffice it to say, he got himself in trouble and his punishment was the loss of a privilege which, at the time, his sister was enjoying.

"It's not FAIR!" he shouted as he stomped his way up the stairs to pout in his room.

That's about the time I stopped him and called him back down stairs so that I could explain to him, in a simple yet detailed fashion, precisely what 'Fair' is. It forced me to reevaluate exactly what equality IS and exactly why equality is important to me, and what kind of world I want both my son AND my daughter to be prepared for.

I came to a few basic conclusions about what makes a situation 'Fair'. I'll start with a little story and I'll explain myself afterwards.

Lets imagine, for a moment, that we have three kids. We have Tyrone, Chris and Joe. Tyrone lives in a low to middle class neighborhood with a single mother in an apartment. Chris lives in a rural area with both parents who are self employed. Finally, we have Joe and Joe lives in a suburban neighborhood, also with both parents who are both gainfully employed.

All three go through school at about the same rate, end up getting about the same grades and have relatively similar experiences. All three end up applying to the same college, but Tyrone doesn't get in, even though all three have approximately the same SAT and ACT scores... So why didn't Tyrone get in?

Ask yourself a few questions, first. What genders are these three kids? You'll note I didn't give them. What ethnic/racial background do you believe each of them is? You'll note I didn't give that either. Economically, all three are widely varied, but in my little story...

Tyrone is a caucasian male
Chris is a caucasian female
Joe is a black male

This isn't me popping up a straw-man, it's an actual example of how college acceptance works. There are bean counters at most major universities who keep track of how many woman and minorities (non-caucasian) are being enrolled. Non-minorities (white males) are bumped to a lower priority to make room. It all has to do with affirmative action and 'White Guilt'.

Now, I'm by no means racist or sexist, but by the definition I gave my 9 year old, what I've described above is expressly not 'Fair'. Fair would be measuring all applicants by the same standards. Why there's even a check box for gender and race on these things, I'm not sure. Tyrone is no less deserving of the opportunity than anyone else. Lets go back to that example and add in a chance at a scholarship, which may be the only way Tyrone gets to go to college in the first place, all things considered. Because he's male and not a minority, though, he gets passed up for that as well.

I'm all for changing standards to make those standards more appropriate for a larger section of the population, but apply the same standards to everyone, regardless of gender and/or race. There's no reason to have three different sets of standards for three different demographic groups. In my mind, Affirmative Action did a lot to set the civil rights movement back several decades, because it tells employers to expect LESS from non-white male applicants and tells universities that they HAVE to accept more non-white male students, even if those who are accepted don't meet the standard level of qualifications normally required for acceptance.

To look at it another way, if Tyrone scrapes through and manages to get a four year degree, and he and Joe both end up applying for the same job (lets say as a RN in an ER), but Joe graduated at the top of his class while Tyrone just barely made it through... wouldn't you rather have Joe meet your ambulance at the door than Tyrone? I know, I switched that up on you, but my point is... does it really matter what color a person's skin is, if they're the most qualified individual for the position? Does their gender matter?

So, maybe that's a bigger issue than belongs on a tiny little blog like this. What about social interactions? Should some one have to stop telling a joke, if some one who happens to be a part of the ethnicity/gender the joke is about shows up? Does that mean I can't tell jokes about ignorant southern white guys? Pretty much EVER? I live in fucking Mississippi, those assholes are EVERYWHERE! But, fair is fair, either I can't tell jokes ABOUT a group of people IN FRONT of that group of people, then that rule applies to all groups. Not one or two in particular.

Equality means treating everyone the same, regardless of who they are. It definitely does not mean changing one's behavior in relation to one particular ethnicity/gender/religion/sexual orientation but not another.

That's not what 'Fair' means.