December 31, 2014

Booman's excellent idea

Booman has a great post up today about the NYPD's latest tactic, which is to do nothing. They're not arresting anyone or doing, you know, their jobs, because their lilly-white feelings are hurt. Aw, you just wanna grab an NYPD cop and hug him right now, don't you? I'm kidding, of course. They're showing themselves to be irrational, childish, resentful and hateful. They don't want to interact with the community, they want to arrest it (or at least slap it around).

Booman wonders if this might backfire on them:
So your brilliant, devious plan is this: you’re going to show the people who believe that the NYPD is full of power-hungry bullies and paramilitary goons what for by displaying to the country exactly how most of the collars you make are in fact wholly unnecessary exercises of petty microagression towards the citizenry you hold in open and rancorous contempt.
Okay then. Go with that plan, guys.
Booman's idea is to check the stats later on. Did traffic accidents increase? Were there more robberies and other crimes? Or is this plan going to show NYC that the police don't need to harass the citizens to do their jobs?

Remember, Eric Garner was murdered for selling loose cigarettes. There is absolutely no reason for the police to stop a poor person from making a few cents by selling cigarettes that he bought and owns. This is part of the poverty economy and it's been around for decades. To attack it is to attack poor people (who are often people of color).

Maybe it would be better if the police spent their time working on, you know, actual crimes. I hope this racist move ends up running over the PBA and all the white racists on the force. As Booman suggested, perhaps their hours need to be greatly reduced -- given the fact that they waste most of their time on harassing people of color.

Fun notion. Let's see what comes of it.

First time ever

I eat boring food. Not only that but I eat the same boring food, day after day. Today, in an effort to ignore New Years Eve -- which seems to be a holiday in search of a purpose -- I decided to cook all day and into the night.

The thing is, I usually make one thing per day when I cook. But today is special so I'm making all three of my world-famous (to me) dishes. I've never even tried two in one day. Three? Call Guinness!

I'll probably be up past midnight with the rice and beans but that's okay. When I wake up on January 1st, all my cooking will be done! This will supply me with breakfasts and dinners for at least two weeks. There's nothing like looking in the freezer and seeing tons of iced-over containers of food. Gives me a real lift, it does.

But the really-really great thing is that this gives me an idea for a New Years resolution: I resolve to never do this again. Ever.

What's your New Years resolution?

December 30, 2014

Police respect squandered in attacks on de Blasio

The headline above is the title of a great editorial at the New York Times today. It's spot on. Here's an excerpt:
Mr. de Blasio isn’t going to say it, but somebody has to: With these acts of passive-aggressive contempt and self-pity, many New York police officers, led by their union, are squandering the department’s credibility, defacing its reputation, shredding its hard-earned respect. They have taken the most grave and solemn of civic moments — a funeral of a fallen colleague — and hijacked it for their own petty look-at-us gesture. In doing so, they also turned their backs on Mr. Ramos’s widow and her two young sons, and others in that grief-struck family.
Go read the whole thing.

What digby said

Anyone who fails to read digby each day is missing out. Here she is on the NYPD:
I continue to be stunned at these police officers' lack of maturity and professionalism. I understand that they're upset at both the protests and the shootings of their fellows in NYC and that's fine. But their antics in the face of criticism proves in living color what we see in so many individual incidents: they don't just want respect, they want submission.
Uh-huh. And they ain't gettin' it. Not now or anytime soon. I think we're experiencing the Golden Moment. It's hard to see these things when they're happening, though they're readily visible in our rearview mirror. Truly, I don't think the protesters are going to stop until there is tangible change in police/community interactions. I believe that this is the Golden Moment, the instant when real change occurs. Cops have to alter their M.O. or they will be despised by all decent Americans.

Let's see if they're up to the challenge. As to the protesters, I think they're grand. I especially love the response many gave when asked about their willingness to keep protesting despite Mayor de Blasio's request that that they stop until the funerals of the two police officers are completed.

Paraphrased, this is their response:
"The world didn't stop when our loved ones were gunned down by the police without cause. We will keep on marching."
Good for them. They didn't kill those police officers; some nut did. There is no connection. Please, please let this be a real Golden Moment. Change has to come sometime. Why not now?

December 29, 2014

Appalling rightwing visuals

Visuals matter. The wingnuts never understand this.

In NYC, throngs of white people are holding events to show their mindless support for racist police officers. In image after image, there is a sea of white people holding candles and signs -- and there isn't one person of color. Not one. I doubt that rightwing viewers notice this. To them, the crowd probably looks "normal". It's sad, really.

So, let us pause and review. What we see in the news are huge groups of people of all colors marching against police brutality directed at people of color . . . and throngs of white people screaming "Leave our cops alone!" Extra bonus: Rudy Guliani -- nitwit of nitwits -- is on the side of the racists. Right there, you know something stinks to high heaven.

Is there really no one in rightwing circles who can tell them, "Uh, those images on TV and the news, of only white people supporting our side of the issue, could be a teensy problem." Apparently not.

Each day, they show exactly who they are and frankly, they don't give a damn. They themselves are the proof that their argument is a racist lie. They are white people, and only white people. And every single one of them is a racist. End of story.

That's the true joy of wingnuttia: it's all wrong, all the time and they don't even know or care. USA! USA! USA!

Image: Twitter, The Independent

December 27, 2014

The week that wasn't

My least favorite week is happening as we speak. The time slot between Xmas and New Years is an empty, dead thing. No one does anything, everyone's on vacation, nothing of note occurs and there is no news at all. The silence is deafening. If I could put myself into a nice restful coma with an end date of January 2nd, I'd do it. What the heck, I wouldn't miss anything.

But on the other hand, those damn sales are still going on. It seems the retail industry is setting itself up for a fall. The lesson presented this year is clear: don't buy anything unless it's December. Otherwise you'll pay too much. Something tells me this isn't a functional plan for the retailers. Only sell in December at rock-bottom prices? This will lead to failure.

But Americans have totally bought into the idea of becoming a new species: homo shoppiens. The purpose of life is (wait for it) buying things. And then hooray, life is fabulous. Yeah, for about five minutes. I understand that this is just the hunter-gatherer instinct gone wild, but it's still obscene.

And you have to buy things. Well, if you need things, anyway. I just bought four sweaters at Old Navy for $12 each. I mean, seriously, how can you not buy them? So I'm a sinner too.

But I know it's wrong. This isn't the pinnacle of human achievement we were hoping for merely decades ago. We've lost our place, our bookmark. We're not progressing anymore. All we're doing is lining our nests and making sure no one else can climb into them. Damn those immigrants cuckoo birds!

We've lost our way, folks. And I think it's too late to search for the path we were on. Ah, who cares? Let's go eat donuts and shop online.

December 25, 2014

How nice!

I woke up this morning to discover a new, positive review for Xmas Carol at Amazon. Now, that's how to say Merry Xmas (to me, anyway).

Hohoho, kids. Merry Xmas! Now go give everybody presents. See you tomorrow, bright and early (ha).

December 24, 2014

David Brooks' idiotic thoughts

The least inspiring writer in the world, David Brooks, has a meaningless Christmas column in the NY Times this week. It's called "The Subtle Sensations of Faith". In the following excerpt, he sets up a strawman so he can knock it down and thus display to the world his nonexistent chops. Here, he's talking about the value of faith.
It begins, for many people, with an elusive experience of wonder and mystery. The best modern book on belief is “My Bright Abyss” by my Yale colleague, Christian Wiman. In it, he writes, “When I hear people say they have no religious impulse whatsoever ... I always want to respond: Really? You have never felt overwhelmed by, and in some way inadequate to, an experience in your life, have never felt something in yourself staking a claim beyond yourself, some wordless mystery straining through word to reach you? Never?
This is obvious tripe. Of course we feel awe. If you explore the scientific nature of reality, as Brooks never does, you cannot fail to be impressed. Reality is indeed awesome. (Read "Elegant Universe" by Brian Greene if you doubt this.) Reality doesn't contain any gods because it doesn't need them. Everything proceeds smoothly without the intervention of a super-creature. God-belief is just a silly, primitive notion that came out of the forests with the earliest people -- and we've never managed to rid ourselves of it. To this day, it claws at humanity and fights every effort we make to improve ourselves. 

How many people were killed today because of religion? A hundred? Two or three hundred? A thousand? Religion kills profusely and often, while atheism kills no one. And yet there's a "wordless mystery straining to reach" David Brooks. Well, reality's been straining to reach DB for some time, but it always fails. Maybe he needs to look for something real instead of wallowing in his own thoughts.

Today, the godless are excited because it's finally Xmas Eve. We've got our gifts wrapped and we can't wait to see the smiling faces of our giftees tomorrow morning (or tonight, for those of us whose traditions include Xmas Eve gift-giving).

We look forward to seeing family and friends, for whom we wish the best in the coming year. Friendship and love, that's what Xmas is about. That's why each year at this time, we gather together and rejoice in the bonds we share. That's real. Gods aren't.

Here's some more gibbering from Brooks, to send you on your merry way today:
These moments [of faith] provide an intimation of ethical perfection and merciful love. They arouse a longing within many people to integrate that glimpsed eternal goodness into their practical lives. This longing is faith.
When innocent babies die as a result of terrible, painful diseases, I wonder if Brooks things of god's "ethical perfection and merciful love." That's quite a god they've got there.

Merry Xmas everyone. Have a great time tonight and tomorrow!

December 22, 2014

Satanists on top

You really have to hand it to the Satanists. These guys have a way with words:
The Detroit branch of the Satanic Temple has put up what they call a “Snaketivity Scene,” in which a snake offers a book titled, “Revolt of the Angels” as a gift. The snake is also wrapped around the Satanic cross. 
They knocked it out of the park with that phrase. What could be better than a "Snaketivity Scene"? It's just so darn special. But some wingnut Christians don't think so. Go figure.
State Senator Rick Jones, a Republican from the town of Grand Ledge, erected a Nativity scene on Friday featuring a baby Jesus, Joseph and Mary, and said he was glad to "represent the light and not the darkness,” AP reported. 

"They could have put theirs up in July or April or sometime. They didn't need to put it up in the Christmas season. That's OK. We're going to ignore them. I'm not afraid of the snake people. I'm sure that Jesus Christ is not afraid," Jones said. 
That was the best he could come up with, that he's not afraid of the snake people and neither is Jeebus. Swell. But of course this has nothing to do with Satan. It's just a bunch of fun atheists whose point is that you can't allow only Christian kitsch on government property. If you want to include sacred kitsch, you have to open the doors wide and let everyone in.

But rather than do the sensible, logical thing and take the Christian kitsch away, they were forced by law to allow anyone, even (gasp!) Satanists, to set up their kitsch.

But don't misunderstand. No one believes in Satan except religious nitwits. The truth is that there are no Satanists, just as there is no Satan and no god. This is just theater -- and good theater at that. Well done, guys!

Hohoho, Merry Xmas!

December 20, 2014

Little known Vatican fact

I came across this today:
In the case of a papal death, the camerlengo is the person who officially confirms it, traditionally by tapping the pontiff's head three times with a silver hammer and calling out his name.
I assume they use silver to rule out interference by werewolves.

December 19, 2014

The Sony hack

If I was running things, here's what we'd do. Sony is expected to lose up to $100M over this nonsense. That may be a lot to them but it's chickenfeed to the government. The head of Sony should have called Obama and worked this out:

The government gives Sony $100M. In turn, Sony releases "The Interview" for free to every American household that has a cable or satellite connection. It is also uploaded to YouTube as a free view. And Sony tells the world that any broadcaster who will show the movie in their own area gets a free copy to distribute. The entire world sees "The Interview".

End of story, sorta. The rest of it is that American companies, which are totally hackable, need to up their game immediately. Make your networks secure! It can be done, you're just not doing it. Because the US can't be expected to fork over a hundred million dollars every time this happens.

But just this once, it would have been lovely.

Show us

Each day, religious wingnuts tell gay people that they weren't born gay. Gayness is apparently just an illusion, even if we can remember same-sex attractions from when we were five years old. Never mind all that, they say. We can turn straight any time we want to (if we ask Jeebus for help).

I think these folks should demonstrate this simple sexual orientation-changing process by, say, having one of their straight male bigots turn gay. You know, so we can see how easy it is to change one's sexual orientation. That's the challenge, bigots -- just turn gay, preferably while a camera is rolling.

But as I think further about this, I realize such a demonstration would have little meaning. Because let's face it, almost every bigot who says gays can go actually a closet case. And seeing a closet case "turn gay" would be a joke. They're already gay.

Never mind.

John and Yoko's Xmas song

Here you go.

December 18, 2014

Worst Xmas song? No way.

I saw a poll somewhere in the past few days -- probably at PuffHo -- suggesting that Paul McCartney's "Simply Having a Wonderful Christmas Time" was the worst Xmas song ever.

C'mon, it sounds like Xmas itself. I don't like McCartney much and I'm certainly no fan of his solo career. But this song is perfect. What do you think?

So that's how it's done!

I remember when I was four or five, someone gave me a compass. I looked at it and said, "This stupid thing doesn't work. It's not pointing North." It didn't occur to me that I'd have to turn the compass so the needle pointed toward the North. Nope, it was just broken. Didn't work at all.

That's the earliest dumb thing I can remember doing. What's your earliest dumb memory?

(Actually, I have a contender. When I was even younger, perhaps two or three, I remember being convinced that if I just pulled hard enough, I could grab the chains of a swing and lift it up and sit on it and hold myself up while I swung. No structure was needed, it would be all me. I was very upset when it didn't work. Truly, I suspected something was radically wrong with the world. It should have worked!)

December 13, 2014

Great atheist quote

Today, Jerry Coyne included a quote from Andrew Bernstein in one of his posts:
Here is the tragedy of theology in its distilled essence: The employment of high-powered human intellect, of genius, of profoundly rigorous logical deduction—studying nothing. In the Middle Ages, the great minds capable of transforming the world did not study the world; and so, for most of a millennium, as human beings screamed in agony—decaying from starvation, eaten by leprosy and plague, dying in droves in their twenties—the men of the mind, who could have provided their earthly salvation, abandoned them for otherworldly fantasies.
I love it. Religion is a waste of time and energy. It's killing the planet too, in case you haven't noticed.

Dog's image perfect for heaven that welcomes dogs

Dog would laugh at the idea of his image being synonymous with dogs going to heaven, but it could work! BTW, the reason he's smiling in the photograph at left is because he thinks crosses are so funny. They don't have religion on his planet.

Still, isn't it uncanny how perfectly this image would work for the new push to get dogs into a Catholic version of heaven? And of course, the real fun here is how much Dog would laugh about this use of his image. And that's the very meaning of fun.

In case you missed the true story about Dog's visit to Earth, just pump dog into the search box at the top left of this page. (You'll get a few irrelevant posts but most will be about Dog. Yippee!) And if you're too feeble to search for a simple word like dog, here's a post that explains who he is.

Sadly, now that I've raised the topic of Dog, I must reveal something that I've hidden for many months. Readers who followed this story from its inception probably suspect what I'm about to say. Yes, I have terrible news for you. After Dog arrived on Earth he took a long, close look at humans and turned around and went back to his own galaxy. He didn't explain himself; he didn't have to. We are unworthy to join the Federation of Sentient Planets. We're just too damned aggressive and greedy (and dumb).

This news crushed me...but I'm still in telepathic contact with Dog. So really, you missed out; I didn't. Sad, that. Hmmm, I think I'll put my Lid on and go talk to Dog right now. Oh, joy!

December 12, 2014

It seems a past pope hated animals

I came across this tidbit in a story about Pope Francis' recent statement that dogs go to heaven:
The question of whether animals go to heaven has been debated for much of the church’s history. Pope Pius IX, who led the church from 1846 to 1878, longer than any other pope, strongly supported the doctrine that dogs and other animals have no consciousness. He even sought to thwart the founding of an Italian chapter of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.
Sweet guys, these popes. I don't understand anyone who says that animals "have no consciousness". They can't possibly believe that, can they? Does the creature look at you? Does it know you're there? Does it react to what you do and try to move away from you if show that you're a hateful git? But it's not conscious?!

My favorite thing is that Pius tried to stop the SPCA from forming an Italian chapter. Wow. But he was holy, people. He was holy! And don't you sinners forget it - or you'll burn for all eternity in the fires of hell.

Religion is an illness. Don't believe anything a priest, imam or rabbi tells you. They lie for a living.

One last thing. You have to love the confusion Francis' remarks have caused. I loved this (from the same article):
“The Catholic Church has never been clear on this question; it’s all over the place, because it begs so many other questions,” she said. “Where do mosquitoes go, for God’s sake?
They're so deep, these religious people.

December 11, 2014

United States of Torture

I can't even post about America's use of torture. It sickens me too much. But do you know how this monstrous practice became standard fare in our country?

Read the disgusting details on PZ's blog. It's not about what we did to those poor souls but how we came up with the rationalization to do it. It focuses on the psychotic psychologists who enabled the process -- and walked off with $18M for their troubles. Apparently, there is no justice on this Earth.

The United States will never recover from this colossal misstep. Bush's coterie destroyed our country. That's what happens when you elect a stupid man as president, twice.

December 9, 2014

Just say no

Now here's a lesson for every kid who attends school.
Police say a Maryland teenager eating a pot brownie in class panicked when his teacher asked him for a piece of the treat, and that he is now charged for obliging.

Anne Arundel County police said Tuesday that the 17-year-old didn't tell the teacher that the brownie contained marijuana. She began feeling ill and acting disoriented, and was brought to the nurse's office at Broadneck High School in Annapolis on Monday.
The teacher told police that the student had given her the brownie during third period and that she suspected it contained marijuana.
When your teacher asks you for a piece of your marijuana brownie, just say no. Problem solved. See, kids? It's easy.

December 8, 2014

Digby says what we're all thinking

In digby's post, The Torture Genie, I found this:
At this rather late stage in life, I'm realizing that the solid America I thought I knew may never have existed. Running very close, under the surface, was a frightened, somewhat hysterical culture that could lose its civilized moorings all at once. I had naively thought that there were some things that Americans would find unthinkable --- torture was one of them. 
Someone finally said it. This ain't America anymore -- and what we think we miss, may never have existed. That's it, exactly.

Digby is a national treasure. I don't know what we'd do without her.

Drones are big this Xmas

A man on the teevee said that this year, at least a zillion people will get a drone for Xmas. Think about that for a moment. I mean, what could go wrong, right? Piece of cake.

Seriously, I can't believe that drones can be purchased by any nitwit with a few bucks in his pocket. This is not a good idea. Starting on December 26th, I guess you should expect to see lots of tiny air vehicles populating a sky near you. Wow, huh? What fun.

Some of these things are 50 pounds or more. How'd you like one of those to fall out of the sky and hit you in the head? Or perhaps it'll just hover near you and the rotor blades will nick your eye. And of course there will be many, many drones looking in bedroom windows; that's a given. If you're female, you can probably expect to see one at your window within a month.

But I guess it's not all bad. I assume some people, particularly people of color, will choose to have a drone hover over them everywhere they go. This way, if a police officer decides to assault or kill them, there will be a video record of what occurred. (Not that such records do any good; just ask the Garner family.) Still, it's a moderately good use for these things. Gotta try, right?

You can't fly drones too high. Nuh-uh. That's against the law -- and if there's one thing all Americans do, it's follow the law. But I guess it's okay to fly them really close to the ground to, you know, take photos up women's skirts. I could go on and on, suggesting awful uses for drones. You can probably come up with some on your own. These things are going to change the way we live. Just imagine the creative uses criminals will find for them. Put guns on a drone and shoot your local prosecutor. Fly them into police helicopters. Truly, the sky is the limit.

Moving right along, the law says you have to hide your gun so innocent children won't get their sticky hands on it. But what about your drones? I haven't heard anything about a requirement to keep them out of the hands of children. And let's face it, any self-respecting kid over the age of five should be able to operate one of these things. Maybe a little kid will send one out over the neighborhood and then forget what he's doing and walk away, leaving the drone flying, but unmanned. That won't be a problem, right? I mean, it won't crash into anything dangerous, like a propane tank, and cause a fire, or anything. Nah, it'll be fine.

Just consider how interesting life will be after everyone has a drone. Why, it'll be a brand new world. I can't wait to see how this plays out on the streets and in the skies of America. It should be lots of fun. Ho ho ho!

December 7, 2014

Before I forget

I meant to write about this yesterday but it slipped my mind. On Friday, NY's governor Andrew Cuomo and NYPD police commissioner Bill Bratton both said stupid things about the Garner protests.

Bratton said, in his wildly irritating manner of speaking (have you heard this guy speak?) that demonstrations like the Garner grand jury protests "tend to peter out on their own". As in, he doesn't have to do anything but wait, and this too will pass. Naturally, he said this with a condescending smile. He might as well have added, "I'm the man. I know high-level stuff you peons know nothing about."

But, Brat, that's not the point. We don't need to see perfectly legal protests "peter out"; we need the unlawful killings of innocent black people by racist NYPD officers to "peter out". Better yet, "petering out" is not the optimal way to go. These police crimes need to cease immediately. Brat isn't even on the right page, which doesn't surprise me.

Then, as if to cap it all off, Andrew Cuomo said something startlingly stupid. He said the problem here is "the perception" that people of color can't get fair treatment from police officers. He literally said it's "a problem of perception". No, Andy, that ain't it. You see, it's not "perception" that is killing innocent black people; it's racist police officers with guns. Perception has nothing to do with it.

I'm glad to have cleared this up for both men. Hopefully, they'll send me tweets of thanks in the coming days.

Bruni's column on Hillary

You can go read it for yourself. Bruni tries to say there would be something new if Hillary was elected president: she'd be the first woman president. Uh, whoopee?

Here's the line that sticks out for me:
[D]etractors will say that she’s a third term of Obama: business as usual.
Uh...yeah. And that's not what we need. End of story. Why oh why can't we look toward a progressive candidate for president, someone who would, you know, do something about the mess that is our country?

I don't think Bruni wanted to write this one. It seems forced, which is unlike his typical writing.

December 6, 2014

Xmas shopping

Have you bought all your Xmas presents yet? I'm done. It's a good feeling, too. It seems like I bought good, appropriate gifts that all my recipients will like. Unfortunately, I always think that and it's rarely never true. Guess I'll find out later this month.

Black Friday and Cyber Monday were pretty awful this year, no? I mean, they were out to git us. Did you see Amazon's idiotic deals page? It was just like watching QVC on the teevee -- a ton of items you don't want or need, flying by on the screen, waiting for a sucker to pounce on them. "Honey, we just gotta buy that rhinestone suit with an American flag theme for momma! We gotta!"

I was also pissed off by the sale sites' insistence on magic words to score a discount. "Don't forget to enter IMAFOOL on the checkout page to get an extra 15% off!" I just figure there are a lot of addled brains out there who won't see this tip, or will forget to enter IMAFOOL by the time they get to the checkout page. Alzheimers, anyone? Why put an extra hurdle out there for your customers? Just pick a sale price and go with it. Oh, I forgot: it's a scam.

Retailers are all about the money. They're supposed to have it, not you, so they're gonna get it any way they can. On one site, I didn't forget to enter IMAFOOL; there just wasn't anywhere to enter the code. Seriously, there was no box for the code. So when the order went through, I wrote them and asked them to apply it. They wrote back "thanking" me for pointing this out so they didn't "overlook" it. Uh huh. I'm sure that's exactly how it went down. Just an oversight on their part.

But shopping is done. Woot! Now I can fall into the mass daydream we call "the Christmas season". For a month, we are commanded to believe that all is calm, all is bright, and the world is filled with people of goodwill.

That must be why so many people are getting killed by cops or bombs -- because everything is so calm and bright.

Merry Xmas, everyone! Ho ho ho.

December 5, 2014

Required reading

Seriously, just drop whatever you're doing and go read this. It's an op-ed by a black, former NYC police officer and it tells it like it is. We've got to fix the problem of racist police.

The racist, sexist Republican mindset

Finally, someone says what we've all been thinking. That someone is Timothy Egan. In an op-ed in the NYT today, called "A Deficit of Dignity", I found this:
It’s one thing to make fun of Nancy Reagan’s designer dresses. It’s quite another to ridicule Michelle’s Obama’s rear end, as the Republican congressman James Sensenbrenner did, trying to discredit the first lady’s Let’s Move initiative. Why a politician with a red bulbous nose and no discernable chin — the very caricature of a pampered political hack — feels that he’s in a position to comment on someone else’s appearance is another question.
A similar thought comes to mind whenever I hear beastly men dissing a woman's appearance. But, but...look at you. Egan's description of Sensenbrenner is actually kind. The man looks like a fat and particularly ugly hog. And Sensenbrenner's ugliness is not merely external -- he's a horror inside and out. Contrast that with Michelle Obama, who looks great and has a kind disposition.

The op-ed is about the disrespect shown to both Obamas, and Egan is 100% right. Check it out if you're so inclined.

December 4, 2014

Sure, go kill. We don't care. Have fun!

Washington has an agreement with Baghdad on privileges and immunities for the growing number of troops based in Iraq who are helping in the fight against the Islamic State group, the new U.S. ambassador said Thursday.
The article goes on to say:
Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi has given assurances that U.S. troops will receive immunity from prosecution
Very nice. I assume this is similar to the 007 license given to all white police officers in NYC. It's nice to know that the good guys can kill with impunity. USA! USA!

The NYPD gets away with murder

The grand jury's appalling decision not to indict in the Eric Garner case in NYC made me crazy last night. I couldn't watch anything on TV afterward. I had to shut it off. If the NYPD can kill any person of color and suffer no consequences, then NYC doesn't have a police force, it has 007 agents. They undoubtedly have a license to kill -- as long as the victim is a person of color.

I don't know what needs to be done about racist cops in this country. Certainly every cop should be forced to wear a camera that is always on. That would definitely help. These racists operate under cover of darkness, and the cameras will shine some much-needed light on everything they do. Police cameras represent one small step that we can take right now, but much more needs to be done.

One thing I'm thrilled about is the return of protesters to the streets. There's been far too little of that, even as the 1% siphons away all the money and benefits. People are so uninformed that they don't know enough to fight back. Some don't even realize there's a reason to fight...anything.

But violence against people of color, perpetuated by cops, is the norm on city streets -- everyone can sense that. If you're black and you're outside your home, you're in danger. You don't need to tune in to a particular TV channel to understand this. You just have to go outside while black, and it will happen to you. So this is one area in which people at least know that there's a need to fight for their rights. Fox News can't take that away from them by doling out misinformation. It's something they see every day of their lives.

If I still lived in NYC, I would refuse to recognize the existence of an NYPD officer ever again. If one of them said something to me, I would walk on by without recognizing him. And if a cop was coming down the sidewalk, I'd give him a huge berth. If everyone did this, the police would no longer be able to do their jobs.

That's what's needed at this time: something that will hurt the cops where they live. This has been one-sided for far too long. Shun all police officers. If they want the time of day, let them go buy a watch.

Being polite to cops is now an anachronism, something from our quaint and distant past -- you know, when people had rights. Today's cops don't deserve civility, since they don't feel a need to show respect for citizens of color.

I hope lots of people dig down deep to try to come up with ways to disassemble the ability of cops to function in NYC. They lost that right. Let's put them out of business.

December 3, 2014

Increasing the intelligence of animals

I've read a few versions of this story in the past few days, hoping to gain further details. The link I've provided seems to be the most comprehensive version of the tale. What's it all about? Well, it seems that a group of scientists did something very interesting:
A team of researchers working at the University of Rochester in New York, has found that injecting glial cells into a mouse brain caused an improvement in both memory and cognition in the mouse. In their paper published in The Journal of Neuroscience, the team explains how they injected the test mice and then tested them afterwards to see what impact it had on their abilities.
Now, don't freak out. They weren't neurons -- in other words they weren't human brain cells. The cells they injected merely provide support to neurons; no one literally thinks with them. The procedure served to expand the network of the mouse brains, and that allowed them to think better -- and probably more swiftly (with their very own mouse neurons; calm down). Here's a bit more:
Testing the mice showed that their memory was far superior to normal mice and they had improved cognition as well.
That's what I want to know more about. Exactly what were these altered mice able to do? Run mazes in a single bound? Figure out tests that had been opaque to them a week ago? Tell me! The story ends with this:
The team is considering testing the same procedure with other animals, but says it will not do it with monkeys—the ethical issues might become too great.
I'm not clear about the ethical issues involved in using monkeys. Is there a fear that the monkeys will become too smart and will resemble humans to an uncomfortable (to us) degree? Is there a fear that a super-intelligent monkey would be smart enough to be saddened by his fate, echoing the situation experienced by the human character in the movie "Charly"? Will the altered monkeys realize how badly we've always treated them and demand a condo and reparations? I wish there was more detail.

Ebola Nancy apologizes

I'm sorry but this just won't do:
Dr. Nancy Snyderman returned to NBC Wednesday morning to give an apology for breaking in October a 21-day home quarantine she agreed to after returning from reporting in Ebola-plagued West Africa.

“We had already been taking our temperatures 4, 5, 6 times a day, and we knew our risks in our heads, but didn't really appreciate, and frankly we were not sensitive to, how absolutely frightened Americans were,” Snyderman told colleague Matt Lauer on the “Today” show. “So I came back, agreed to a voluntary quarantine in my home, and then 72 hours, left my home.”
Uh-huh, because you wanted soup. This is the most insufficient apology imaginable. Snyderman is allegedly a medical professional, a smart woman and a journalist. She "didn't really absolutely frightened Americans were"? How could that be, since everyone in the United States was filled with mindless terror over Ebola and there was absolutely nothing on the news that wasn't about Ebola and Americans who were terrified of catching it? (And, ahem, Snyderman is a newswoman.) The TV coverage was all-Ebola, all the time for weeks. And her perfidy occurred in the midst of this. But poor Nancy had no clue that Americans were frightened?

And then there's what she didn't say. This had nothing to do with the fear of Americans, it had to do with the medical safeguards put in place to contain a deadly disease, and Ebola Nancy's disregard for those safeguards. Let's be clear: she was completely familiar with the protocols and voluntarily agreed to a quarantine. And this isn't just any woman; she is the NBC expert in this area, on the teevee nightly to tell us rubes all about it. And she broke quarantine for a supremely ridiculous reason: she wanted some hot soup. That's inexcusable.

The truth seems to be that Nancy Snyderman has a one-percenter mindset and thinks the rules don't apply to her. I will not accept her return to TV as a medical expert. She blew that gig. Blew it up, in fact. The woman needs another job, one that has nothing to do with medicine, trust, or educating the public about anything.

December 2, 2014

How to clean house quickly and efficiently

This is from The Independent:
Thousands of people have resigned from the Lutheran church in Finland after its Archbishop said he rejoiced “with my whole heart” following the government vote to legalise same-sex marriage.
I think that's fabulous. What a great way to rid a church of its most hateful members. They should do this in all sorts of organizations. Consider who would be left behind: the good people!

Then there wouldn't be a need to wear white cowboy hats and black cowboy hats when you head out to church. Everyone could go hatless! Think of the savings in haberdashery.