Friday, March 30, 2012

Art,Heart,Propaganda - Cartoons!

A few days ago the Globe, which usually runs reasonably decent cartoons, ran this piece of excrement:

I generally like cartoons. They grab you, usually in a familiar way but very occasionally with a recognition of something I hadn't thought of. The characters get established, the villians well known to the point where you can sort of see where they are coming from.

Propaganda is a different matter. The characters are shaded to tell a story. Standard images are thrown in to incite either affection or rage. The central object is altered to something that it simply is not. Characters are added that make no sense, but seem to if you don't think. What is that sea around the hold lady? Who is she? How can the Ryan plan help her? There are simply no reasonable answers to any of these questions. Instead, replacing a system with guaranteed coverage with something strange and probably worthless is shown as a life preserver. Whose life? There is no answer.

In our time, making sense has been abandoned by a movement based on scaring those with a little into believing that their pittance is being threatened by those with a bit less, all in the service of those with far too much.

But you knew all this. So we look at simpler cartoons

Toles used to be great. He had a brainless, destructive but essentially not vicious Reagan who ran around as captain of a toy spaceship during SDI days that really clarified the absurdity of the whole thing. This just fails because Romney doesn't drink, and his attempts at being normal would have failed 3 steps back.

Which is to say, as always, the difference between propaganda & truth is that propaganda is easier & pays better. Me? I produce crap & earn nothing for it.

So how about a comment or 2?

I'll tell you her name.Maybe she has a cute granddaughter.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

So I'm busting my hump

(whatever a hump is. Not sure I want to look it up) to get 5 or 6 posts a week up and discover that all around me people are working half days, taking whole weeks off...

oops. Shouldn't mix this up with the day job. Anyhow, the point is that we have now officially reached the point where our most solemn institution can't even pretend to care:

“And do you really expect the court to do that? Or do you expect us to — to give this function to our law clerks? Is this not totally unrealistic? That we are going to go through this enormous bill item by item and decide each one?"

Taking a swipe at the court’s textualists, Justice Elena Kagan said the court could dispense with the legislative history and “look at the text that’s actually given us.”

“For some people, we look only at the text,” she said. “It should be easy for Justice Scalia's clerks.”

“I don't care whether it's easy for my clerks,” Scalia said to laughs. “I care whether it's easy for me.”

To which the only appropriate response would have been : Vaffanculo.

But I guess they didn't want to wake up somebody.

Yes, I know that wasn't taken in court. Why do you think they don't allow cameras in court?

Anyhow, I have a plan. Nominate a new justice. So what if there's no openings? The Senate won't confirm anyone even where there are openings.

And she looks great in black.

Countdown to April 17 starts now.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

That effing blue circle

Half the sites on the web bring my brand new machine to an icy hell of overwhelming scripts. Do I need more memory, or has HP jumped the shark?


Yes, I'm old enough that at graduation everybody wanted to go to HP because they made the best pocket calculators. People still make pocket calculators. Mostly as exam, aids, best I can tell.

Oh well. Might as well crawl off to the junkyard. There to dream...

absurdities of an appropriate age.

Monday, March 26, 2012

I saw a werewolf with a tuition bill in his hand

On our main front, cutting college costs before they hit home, there was a bit of progress this week. David Levy (not the chess one) spread some tripe about faculty in the Washington Post. While there are probably a few more wasted suits and bloated salaries among faculty than say, housepainters, it isn't exactly a new phenomenon. What is new was the rapid pushback, with lots of references to the real problem. [As well as lots of professor types claiming they work 170 hours a week for a dollar an hour because, gosh darn it, that's what they do]

The best collection was at Lawyers, Guns & Money.
The money quote:

Right; the reason for the increase in college tuition is “insufficient teaching schedules,” not the massive increase in administrative costs.

A couple more links along the way:

Center for College Affordability is promoting a 25 step plan to cut costs.

A more complete analysis of the UC numbers.

Time to go cook.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Do you like gladiator movies?

Remembering the mission here is to slow down the waste in University Administration, you might think I'd have something to say about the reeking sore that is the NCAA & big time athletics. That coaches, bowl officials and many others make millions, while the kids get their brains and bodies crushed, and the NCAA brass feed us with meaningless drivel about amateurism (or whatever their current excuse is now that amateurism has been happily discarded from the Olympics - they've become incoherent) is something that's being well documented these days by Joe Nocera, Charles Pierce & a bunch of others. In their ongoing fight against the corrupt mass, I wish them well, but have nothing to contribute. Eventually, maybe, I'll know enough about the real financing to be able to tackle the "It contributes support to the rest of the school excuse", but not now. So that's not today's subject.

F'ball is close to the 10.0 destructive limit of what you can get large numbers of people to submit themselves to voluntarily. The Saints headhunting scandal takes that to 10.5. Boxing is also close to the edge. It's always been a sport for men with no other obvious choice. Take away even the appearance of choice, and you get : Gladiators!

Hollywood has always loved gladiators. You get the audience in to enjoy deadly combat, and the directors get to make moral points. I don't remember exactly the point of the Crowe movie. In the background, though, there was always the understanding that even though Maximus vision of Noble Rome might take down one hideous emperor, he couldn't change the system. We all know what happens when gladiators try to change the system.

Given the limitations of Sword & Sandals, it's been natural to try & stuff the plot into other genres. Chopsocky has lots of To the Death! tournaments. They don't work too well. Bumfighting never really made it big.

SciFi is a natural for slave fighting. Star Trek did gladiators at least 3 times : Spock in heat, Abraham Lincoln vs the lizard, and of course

Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome took it to absurdity and beyond. That Running Man, Deathrace 2000, & Rollerball all got remade says somethingI don't want to think about. Why not pleasant, pastoral movies about brave young girls?

See you at Hunger Games.

Friday, March 23, 2012

An Impressionable Young Mind

Long ago, in a place far away, a clever young fool took to the adult section before he had a grain of sense.

In those days, the library had a fairly complete selection of Giovanni Guareschi's Don Camillo series. BFD! you say. And you're right, so don't try and deny it. It's a pretty insipid series about a communist mayor and his frenemy, the village priest. But to a bloody literal minded 11 year old, the whole angel/devil thing meant that one guy was good, the other evil. Never mind the constant silly tricks with the reserve tank, or even that the 11 year old was already a bit of an agnostic. Righteousness! Good days to be 11.

Then puberty & doubt hit. Many reversals of course. Guareschi was rejected, not for what he was, insipid, but for what he was imagined to be, fascist. I think Don Camillo took it well.

So after all the reversals, maturity, aging, doubt, & approaching senility, what stays the same? The need to maintain a coherent self image. Fortunately, part of this image has always been stinginess. Cheap bastard, never knows when to pull out the wallet,a step behind- fought it at times, but usually lost. One way to fight the cheapness has been to take vacations and try to relax. Trouble is, when you're on vacation and need a cap, or oranges, or something to slide down sand dunes, and you're in a small town, where do you end up?

That's right. The axis of evil in the modern world. And to drive home the evil, there's an old man near the back, who will smile at you and patiently get you a fishing license.

Figuring out how to disapprove of the corporate evil behind WalMart, while embracing the splendid, horribly underpaid, people who work there (and the low priced stuff! made in China) is the key to our times. Give me a call when you figure it out.

Barbie knows,but she's not talking.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

The Man of Property

I was thinking it was about time for yet another go round of the old chestnut, the Forsyte Saga, but it turns out the last one was only 9 years ago. So Kate (can't say her full name, a promise was made) & Barbie (no last name needed for megastars) won't be fighting for the role.

They'll find other projects. Probably including Project Runway, which has a finale tonight of sorts. It's not Heidi, not Fashion Week, and most of all, not Tim Gunn. But there it is, and there's not much else.

The sausage grinders will most likely turn to Dickens. We're entering an era where the brutal injustices of Dickens novels are starting to look like the good old days.

What traditional English fiction has going for it is lots of words. You read a sentence, right behind it is another sentence. Or maybe a whole Paragraph, or even a Chapter, or )shudder( a Volume. Galsworthy churned out 2 sets of 5 books each. You don't have to worry about that here. Three sentences, a picture

& it's over.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

The Old New Wave

For the last 90 years or so the main literature of teenage boys has been Science Fiction. From the clunky mechanical stuff of Hugo Gernsback to the mass produced fantasy of teh Goth era, most of it has sat well inside the boundary of Sturgeons Law: 90% has indeed been crap. But there was a time....

about 45 years ago when it looked like literature (and lots of sex) would break through, when Science Fiction could point the way into a new era. Along with Rock, Revolution and general desperation, it looked like we were on the edge of a change in society.

And we were, of course. And we're still in the grip of reaction, boiling over into insanity. Harlan Ellison is 77 years old. Phil Dick is 30 years dead.

And I see Hunger Games in my near future. It could be worse.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Utopia, Dystopia, ZEGS

Being that it's my core competence, I suppose I have to mention the excrement plopped into the public domain today by the zombie eyed granny starver running the majority party in the legislative body responsible for all revenue bills in these United States.

The immorality of the thing is overwhelming. That the entire function of the federal government can't be squeezed into less than nothing is also bleeding obvious. That the entire thing is a move towards bring out your dead dystopian idiocy is even more obvious. So what do I mean my core competence?

Posting silly pictures. But it's too depressing.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Kate Beckinsale may be a real person. Dammit.

About half the traffic that's ever hit this blog was looking for Kate Beckinsale ass. It seems to be time to confess that the only KB movie I ever saw was Much Ado About Nothing, a truly boring movie even by the loose standards of filmed plays. So who is Ms. B?

She won writing prizes as a child and went to Oxford. Then she did a couple serious movies, had a boob job, nose job & lobotomy, and became a movie star. Next she's in Total Recall, which I may go see, in what seems to be the minor Sharon Stone role from the original.

So fly away Kate. Your time here is done. I'm going back to roots. The source of wisdom.

“"When you wake up in the morning, Pooh," said Piglet at last, "what's the first thing you say to yourself?"
"What's for breakfast?" said Pooh. "What do you say, Piglet?"
"I say, I wonder what's going to happen exciting today?" said Piglet.
Pooh nodded thoughtfully.
"It's the same thing," he said.”

Another thing to think of every morning is one true thing that a lot of people ignore. Today my thought was : We really need more unions. The amount of anti-union rubbish drilled into people's heads that they can't see what's happened to us in the last 40 years of union busting is quite appalling.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

More on deception...

If you think about it, wouldn't we all have been better off if this cover hadn't been a fakeout?

Aquaman is the firewall. As long as he's around, all the other detested superheroes get to keep on causing more trouble than they're worth. Which is most all of them, except Bubbles.

Because gosh darn it, as many times as the girls have destroyed Townsville trying to save it, they're still cute.

Yes, nice weather has melted my brain. Not just mine. I searched for something at all interesting, and the closest there was turned out to be some routine Gourmet food from Maine. Time to go buy an orange shirt & get a job in a foreclosure mill.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Lying & Laughing, Ho Ho Ho

Every now and then, you have to pause in analysis and wonder at what people really believe. And then realize that huge swatches of it are utter rubbish, spread by people who know better, but just don't care.

i.e., paid liars. (And I dont mean Kate Beckinsale's plastic surgeon. However she got them, her boobs are real.)

Time to name some names, point out some occasions of deceit.

We covered global warming. Tracking Willard Romneys lies is a full time job.

Generation Opportunity is a standard issue Republican Astroturf operation designed to appeal to the Ute of Amerika. I ran into them because they set up a Facebook scam to drag in people upset about gas prices. The joke I posted go deleted in about 30 seconds. Of course, demagoging gas prices based on who is president is a major Republican effort this year. There was a bit of attempt to blame Bush in 2008, but on the whole sanity (and the collapse of the world economy) prevailed.

That Republicans freely lie to each other, strangers and themselves is not really news. This is after all the party that is attempting to worship a senile ex-actor whose entire presidency is a sham.

But who is the father of lies, the one who makes people happy to be lied to?

That's right. First we lie to children. Then, when kids start to catch on that grown-ups are conspiring to lie to them, they learn the big lesson : pretending to believe leads to good things. So they move on from Santa to the next layer of fakebelieve, the Old Man in the Sky. Again, good things happen to those who pretend to believe, nothing but trouble for unbelievers.

And that's why you need to do a child a favor : Tell them the truth. Santa is a wino working for minimum wage & the chance to have kids sit on his lap & pull his finger.

Otherwise, they could grow up to be a Fox News viewer, spreading chain emails and chuckling about those dumb old scientists who don't know about Jesus on a dinosaur.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Pets or Meat

Try as you might to avoid the subject, there could be a vegetarian sharing your food in the near future.
The just-released “Vegetarianism in America” study, published by Vegetarian Times (, shows that 3.2 percent of U.S. adults, or 7.3 million people, follow a vegetarian-based diet. Approximately 0.5 percent, or 1 million, of those are vegans, who consume no animal products at all. In addition, 10 percent of U.S., adults, or 22.8 million people, say they largely follow a vegetarian-inclined diet.

Data for this survey were collected by the Harris Interactive Service Bureau on behalf of Vegetarian Times. The poll surveyed 5,050 respondents, a statistically representative sample of the total U.S. population. Vegetarian Times commissioned RRC Associates, a research firm in Boulder, Colo., to perform the data analysis.

The 2008 study also indicates that of the non-vegetarians surveyed 5.2 percent, or 11.9 million people, are “definitely interested” in following a vegetarian-based diet in the future.

The study also collected data on age, gender and other demographic factors. Of the vegetarians surveyed:

•59 percent are female; 41 percent are male.
•42.0 percent are age 18 to 34 years old; 40.7 percent are 35 to 54; and 17.4 percent are over 55.
•57.1 percent have followed a vegetarian diet for more than 10 years; 18 percent for 5 to 10 years; 10.8 percent for 2 to 5 years, 14.1 percent for less than 2 years.

40 years ago, there were only about 1% vegetarians. Nowadays, only about 1% of us ever eat veal. Throw in the horrors (and horrible lack of flavor) of factory farming, and long distance shipping, and you're stuck with the grim reality : You have to start thinking about what you eat.

For starters, there's the easy calls. These are pets:

No need to think. These guys have lived with people for thousands of years, and trust us. Trust is vital. And love.

Rabbits? Some people think they're cute. Some are pets, and you have to respect that. Wild rabbits will take your garden & spit in your face. Eat them before they do!

Then there are these walking hunks of meat -

A steer is born to be eaten. Seemed pretty simple a while back, and might still be if you take the medium view. People eat animals. Always have. And, for now, so do I -just not as much as before there was a v-person in the house. But how many of us could be the one that chops the turkeys heads off?

Every year the world gets more crowded, and we get more gentle.

For now.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

50 people a day!

are coming here & saying nothing.

Except Riley.

So what do the rest of yuns have to say?

Monday, March 12, 2012

Burden of Goddamn Proof, Lady!

Calvin Trillin wrote a story about jury duty. There was one hold out juror, who insisted that while the plaintiff might have been damaged by the railroad, it was possible that he might not have. She just couldn't tell. After lengthy attempts to explain to the woman that according the the judge's instructions, this meant a finding for the defendant, had bounced off her head, Trillin was reduced to screaming "Burden of Proof lady! Burden of Goddamn Proof!".

While on a jury you can generally rely on a judge's instructions as to where the goal lines are. In other cases, the standards can be less explicit, but just as certain. Often it's Experts vs. Liars. I mentioned Megan McArdle's dithering a couple weeks back. Her Tallness was a bit uncertain whether she should go with All the Climate Scientists in the World, or the Wingnuts. Now, seeing as the scientists have done all the work, checked their numbers millions of times, understood the physics, doublechecked the history, and come to an agreement, some of them are getting a wee bit impatient that every knucklehead in the world has appointed themself a juror. When Robert Wilson scoffed at McArdle, her Twitter meltdown hit the Richter Scale. The epicenter was Wilson patiently uncovering Megan's method, which centers around never reading that which she talks about:

Megan McArdle ‏ @asymmetricinfo
@wilsonrobertj I've stated an opinion, defended it with examples, and indicated I'm open to correction. You've . . . demanded I name a paper

4h Megan McArdle ‏ @asymmetricinfo
@wilsonrobertj I find *your* refusal to name a model particularly strange. As if you don't know which ones are reliable, almost.

4h Megan McArdle ‏ @asymmetricinfo
@wilsonrobertj Given that when asked to do so, you fall back on "You can't name a model!", I tend to suspect it's because you can't.

4h Robert Wilson ‏ @wilsonrobertj
@asymmetricinfo I am simply asking that you provide some evidence of having read a scientific model before saying it is useless.

In equally glorious Fail news, Megan's sub Avik Roy demonstrated the futility of Medicaid:

Chapin White of the Center for Studying Health System Change has published an important new paper in Health Services Research, a journal of health economics, which suggests that a critical part of the Affordable Care Act--its expansion of Medicaid coverage to 16 million more Americans--may actually reduce those individuals' access to health care.

but forgot Rule #2 : Don't misappropriate the work of somebody who is watching you:

I asked Chapin White to comment on Avik Roy’s post about his work. In reply, Chapin sent me the following by email and authorized me to post it.

The author of the recent Atlantic blog post did not contact me while writing the piece, and I found that it missed several key points.

& details follow.

A big problem is the inability to distinguish between Data & Lore.

It's not that tough. Usually, when somebody tells you "Scientists don't know everything. 100 years ago everybody thought X" a little history checking will reveal that no, in fact the people who actually studied the issue in an orderly manner had concluded that X was a load of bunk long before.

Scientists are losing patience. Pretty soon, if we don't shape up, they'll unleash the killer robots.

And we know we don't want that.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Damn you kids, I don't have a lawn!

My favorite question is : Why are things so fucked up? When the obvious answer : "Somebody benefits from it" doesn't work, it gets more interesting.

Some things develop to meet needs & are hard to change when needs change : The QWERTY keyboard, stoplights.

Some things transition from fashion to custom: Lawns, big antlers. It can happen in biology, and when it gets too extreme, buh-bye.

Some things were originally made one way, and options only later came in : Asphalt shingles were always dark.

A couple of these items - lawns and roofs - have huge adverse effects on our energy and land use. Lots of people are working hard to change them.

It's Sunday, so let's just focus on something that was bloody annoying from the start: Asphalt colored cars are the most obvious example of misguided fashion, except when one is heading right towards you & you can't see it. With car sales and miles driven most likely permanently on the downside of the peak, at least in the US, the only way things will change is if repainting becomes popular again.

Who drives preference? And to what extent does preference drive purchasing decisions? 11.5% say they prefer silver, 8.37% gray - although I've never met these people. And yet they make up at least 50% of the junk on the roads.

Sure, you can make an ugly car in any color

(One of these used to live on my street - it was even uglier in person.)

But on the whole, nobody that I want to know looks at a row of bright shiny colored vehicles and thinks "Wouldn't this look better in gray?", although car thieves do. If you're worried about theft:
Of the 109 pink cars in the study, not one was stolen. A bright and uncommon color, like pink, may be as effective deterrent as an expensive security system. Ben Vollaard, who conducted the research, wrote, “If the aversion to driving a car in an offbeat color is not too high – or if someone actually enjoys it – then buying deterrence through an uncommon car color may be at least as good a deal as buying deterrence through an expensive car security device.”

Practicality & aesthetics are aligned : Go bright. After all,

"I won that shiny red car!" wouldn't have worked in gray, would it, Diane?

Update 3/27: The Ugly Car is back! I saw it at the shopping center.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Tomorrow's & Yesterday's Funnies Today

It's the weekend. Time to get stupid.

While nothing can top Family Circus for porntastic rip off potential, there's a lot of fun stuff out there.

Archie out of context is an endless puzzle : How bored were the authors when they came up with this stuff?

(And yes, there's a ton of gay stuff, not all of it Jughead)

Superman put all the jokes on the cover, and Superdickery ponders them.

Joe Mathlete had a good run before giving in to the unstoppable force of Marmaduke.

Marmaduke is about to sodomize a banker into signing his owner-man's loan papers.

And yes, before I get any emails, Marmaduke will probably eat the banker after he sodomizes him. What else would he do?

And some more or less current strips better than anything in the newspaper:

Cyanide & Happiness -

Emily Flake/Lulu Eightball used to run in Digboston, but now she's all over the place.

Babbage & Lovelace isn't so much a comic strip as a comic that weaves in and out of a blog.

So whadda you got?