Thursday, October 31, 2013
Wednesday, October 30, 2013
So, we now all know that when President Obama said "If you like your insurance you can keep it," he was lying through his teeth. This made me wonder how those brave souls at PolitFact had graded the issue when it came up in the past.
Well, according to them the President spoke the truth! Yes, they claimed what Obama said was only half true, but that was only because, according to PolitFact, the dastardly insurance companies could change the plans, or, in a completely unrelated aside, people might voluntarily change plans. However, THAT wasn't the point. The claim was "If you like you current insurance you can keep it." . Obamacare, PolitFact insisted, wouldn't alter anything.
PolitFact was, obviously, wrong. But, of course, they had to be wrong. After all, their only source for the veracity of the statement in the first place was the Obama administration itself, which is par for the course as far as I can tell. They obfuscate that fact by prattling on about off-topic issues; a bit of misdirection which is also, sadly, par for the course.
Sunday, September 01, 2013
I know it's early, but its not too early to decide that NBC's takeover of EPL coverage in the United States is nothing but a disaster for actual FANS of the game.
I was open to the switch until today when I realized NBC Sports had zero intention of covering the deadline as news.
My disgust knows no bounds. Being a fan sucks because you perpetually get screwed over with impunity. What am I, or any other real fan of the English game, gonna do? Stop watching the games?
Sunday, August 11, 2013
The best hours to watch the Perseid meteor shower – in some ways the most viewer-friendly show of shooting stars in the northern hemisphere – will begin just before midnight Sunday and persist through Monday night.
It is one of the annual can't-miss events for stargazers – promising abundant shooting star-sightings and coming during the height of vacation season, when late-night temperatures are pleasant and folks have more time to dawdle under the night sky.
This year, it might be more of a can't-miss event than normal. Next year, the moon will be in a waning gibbous phase (a three-quarter moon on the way from full to half) during the the best time for viewing meteor showers – after midnight. That means the light of the moon will wash out much of the night sky right when viewing should be peak.In days of distant past my favorite meteor shower was the Quadrantids in early January. The winter sky always seemed clearer and the Quads always seemed to offer more slow long track meteors, which are always the most spectacular. However, since I moved I've been way too far north to make being outside in the early morning hours anything but miserable.
That being the case, the Perseids have moved to the top of the list. The nice thing is there isn't too much summer haze to worry about up here (most of the time), so the viewing is generally above average. I keep thinking I should find a venue even further out to eliminate even more light pollution, but that will have to wait.
As does my bed. I'll need a nap if I'm gonna be up to all hours. I'm not as young as I used to be.
Monday, July 22, 2013
Former National League MVP Ryan Braun was suspended without pay for the rest of the season and the postseason Monday, the first penalty from baseball's investigation of players reportedly tied to a Florida clinic accused of distributing performance-enhancing drugs.I must say I find this situation more exasperating than I would have originally thought. After all, I am a Cardinals fan and I lived through the Mark McGwire years. However, when that whole era was going down there already was the sense that something wasn't exactly right. When it exploded as a drug fueled myth no knowledgeable fan could be exactly surprised.
The Milwaukee Brewers star accepted the 65-game penalty, 15 games more than the one he avoided last year when an arbitrator overturned his positive test for elevated testosterone because the urine sample had been improperly handled.
"I am not perfect. I realize now that I have made some mistakes. I am willing to accept the consequences of those actions," he said in a statement.
But that was all in the past, right?
When Ryan Braun signed his huge contract extension, choosing to stay with the small market club that established his name rather than chasing big money in a bigger market, I bought into the "feel good" storyline of it all. As a result I feel like nothing but a sucker today.
But really it is worse than that. Braun, in attempting to cover his ass nearly two years ago when he failed a drug test, absolutely trashed the reputation of the poor technician who handled that test. Basically Braun accused the tech of tampering with his urine sample. We now know Braun had a wider history of attempting to skirt baseball's drug policies. In the light of today's admission of guilt by Braun, the sumbag quality of that earlier denial has become unavoidable.
Braun should apologize to everyone whose integrity he so cynically attacked.
Saturday, July 20, 2013
considerable (and painful) research I have come to the unavoidable
conclusion that there is no other publication in this entire world as
intellectually insipid as the London Review of Books. I just finished a
twenty something paragraph long piece arguing that the recent protests
in Turkey was the rising of the proletariat against their capitalist
oppressors. (LRB "explains" that capitalism and Islamism are synonymous
terms, or something.)
I nearly passed out from laughing so long and derisively.
The test? Oh, if you find the premise of the Turkish protest as precursor to communist revolution silly, congratulations you are smarter than everyone affiliated with the London Review of Books. (Yes, I know I just damned you with faint praise. Sorry about that.)
If you don't find the LRB premise silly, you need to get out more.
Tuesday, July 09, 2013
Friday, May 24, 2013
Monday, May 13, 2013
I've lost track of the number of Obama administration scandals boiling over at the moment. (I think its four: IRS, Sebelius' shakedown of the health industry, Benghazi, and wiretapping the Associated Press.) So, these are embroiling the Treasury Department, Health and Human Services, the State Department, and the Justice Department.
Why do I get the feeling someone should be checking Energy and Education to make sure they aren't stealing booze from the White House liquor cabinet?
It would be funny if we weren't all so very screwed.
Friday, May 10, 2013
So Benghazi. What have we learned?
A) The political people around Obama are a profoundly insecure bunch. Their judgement in the wake of the attacks was just plain dumb. There was no way this could have turned the election. It was a terror attack against the US. When have the American people turned against their leaders in the aftermath of such an attack? (The answer is never.) How out to lunch do you have to be not to know this?
B) Those early mistakes were compounded by the refusal to admit there had been any mistakes. As a controversy this should have been over months ago. They can blame Republicans all they want, if anyone is still talking about this it is the fault of the Obama administration and no one else.
C) The capacity for the unofficial/official propaganda arm of the Democratic party, i.e. The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, etc, to run obfuscating disinformation campaigns for the administration is truly remarkable. And disgraceful.
Tuesday, May 07, 2013
Well, the first trip to the bookstore has taken place and the reading list has doubled in size to four with the purchases of Chuck Thompson's Smile When You're Lying: Confessions of a Rogue Travel Writer, and Sean McMeekin's July, 1914: Countdown to War.
These were something of a no brainer for me to pick up. Slightly irreverent travel writing is right up my alley, as is any history book that blames the occurrence of the First World War on Russia - right where it belongs. McMeekin also wants to blame France, so I'm intrigued to see what his evidence is.
The trick now will be to not begin to read these until after the semester is over. Easier said than done.
Monday, May 06, 2013
This is the last week of classes at the university where I teach, which means next week is finals. After that I'm only a few grueling days of grading away from summer. (Which would be especially welcome if it ever stops snowing around here.)
Summer means reading.
Which is, oddly enough, a bit of a problem.
Usually, at this point I've got a stack of books I've procured since last summer waiting to be devoured over the next couple of months. As of right now I have two so far this year; Alan Furst's Blood of Victory, which I picked up years ago and never got around to reading, and Jeff Shelton's Caleb & Callie. Jeff is an online acquaintance of mine, and a hell of a power pop songwriter and performer. (In fact, his new band Hot Nun will make up part of the soundtrack for my summer.) I'm looking forward to diving into his first novel.
The problem is that is it. It is almost disconcerting how unconnected I am to the world of books. Oh, I peruse the catalogs of academic philosophy and social science that fill up my mail box at work, and some of those find their way into my shelves. The larger world of books, however, escape my notice.
This is particularly trying to me as once upon a time I was plugged very deeply into the book world. I managed a good little bookshop for a number of years and got used to being immersed in a sea of books, where currents of information on the new and interesting was constantly at hand. But as time has gone on I've lost touch with those currents and I find out about books in a haphazard way. We do take the London Review of Books, but really it is a terrible waste. The "reviews" are most often not about books at all, but merely a venue for the article writer to tell you how they view the world. It doesn't help that those views are among the most moralizing and self-congratulatory you will ever find. (Really, when did priggishness make its comeback? Oh, my God, is it annoying.)
Soon, I will make my traditional late spring trip to the local bookstores to see what may be there to catch my eye, but usually that effort was merely to add one or two titles to round out the selection. Never before has it been expected to supply the bulk of the reading list.
I will keep reader here informed of how it goes. I also plan to post little reviews of the things I read this summer.
Any suggestion readers may want to share can be left in the comments. They will be appreciated.
Sunday, May 05, 2013
Add a new query to the "too sacred to be uttered" list. Evidently asking if childless adults are less interested in posterity than adults with children is strictly verboten. (And, no, I am not aware of a groundbreaking social science study which conclusively answers such a question. A preliminary search turned up very little, but who needs "studies" when you have moral exactitude!)
I really wish the new American Taliban would publish a list of these unquestionable 'holy of holies" so we can all be as "enlightened" as they are. Of course, being merely censorious is small potatoes when you could be a true visionary, which evidently involves advocating burning books that challenge these new sacred truths.
Exciting times we are all in.
Monday, February 04, 2013
Here is something of a counter cultural result these days; the powers that be don't actually win all the time.
A federal jury today found former Valdosta State University (VSU) President Ronald M. Zaccari personally liable for $50,000 for violating the due process rights of former student Hayden Barnes in the case of Barnes v. Zaccari. In May 2007, Zaccari expelled Barnes for peacefully protesting Zaccari's plan to construct two parking garages on campus, calling a collage posted by Barnes on his personal Facebook page a "threatening document" and labeling Barnes a "clear and present danger" to VSU. Barnes first came to the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) for help in October 2007.
"College administrators have been blatantly and willfully violating student rights for decades, but they have far too often dodged personal responsibility. Not so today," said FIRE President Greg Lukianoff. "We hope this serves as a much-needed wake up call to college administrators that it's time to start paying close attention to the basic rights of their students."
"After five years, I finally feel vindicated. This is a victory for me but it's also a victory for students everywhere," said Barnes. "I hope that other college administrators take heed and see that violating students' rights can be costly and that they will be held accountable. I thank my legal team and FIRE for making this victory possible and my friends and family for standing by me through this difficult fight."
Barnes' ordeal began in the spring of 2007, when he protested Zaccari's plan to construct two new parking garages on campus at a cost of $30 million. By posting flyers and sending emails to Zaccari, student and faculty governing bodies, and the Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia, Barnes expressed his concerns and proposed what he saw as environmentally friendly alternatives. Barnes also penned a letter to the editor of the VSU student newspaper about the proposed parking garage plans and wrote to Zaccari to ask for an exemption from the mandatory student fee designated for funding the construction.
In response to Barnes' activism, Zaccari personally ordered that he be "administratively withdrawn" from VSU in May of 2007, ignoring the concerns raised by members of his administration. Zaccari absurdly claimed that Barnes presented a "clear and present danger" to both Zaccari and the VSU campus on the basis of a cut-and-paste collage Barnes had posted on his Facebook page that included pictures of Zaccari, a parking deck, and the caption "S.A.V.E.—Zaccari Memorial Parking Garage." Given no notice or opportunity to defend himself, Barnes came to FIRE for help in October 2007.
Today's verdict follows five years of litigation, both at the trial and appellate levels.
All too often university administrators, particularly at the uppermost levels, act as if they were tin pot dictators because most times there is no one able or willing to hold them accountable for their misdeeds. Cases like this can serve an important reminder that state-run colleges and universities are not personal fiefdoms to be run any way they damn well please, nor are students and faculty second-class peasants without Constitutional rights.
Who knows, maybe they will learn the lesson.
(Okay, I realize they will not but a man can dream, can't he?)