Sorry for the length, but I didn't have time to write a short blog.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Fear is Stupid

I know I am not alone in this. There is a growing trend on my timeline on Facebook and on some of the Tweets I see. They are ones of fear. Fear the government is coming to get us.  Fear of soldiers dressed in black body armor dropping on zip lines from black helicopters.  Fear that we are under constant scrutiny. Fear of Republicans.  Fear of Democrats.  Fear of Evangelicals. Fear of Atheists. Fear of science. Fear of asteroids. Fear of the bird flu. Fear of same sex marriage.  Fear that something is being hidden in Benghazi.  Fear of gun laws. Fear of no gun laws. Fear of more taxes. Fear of not enough new taxes. We live in a society that is becoming afraid, and I suspect that certain politicians and lobbyists want this.   I cannot count the number of memes that do this.  Fear that there is a host of people who want to take all hand outs and do drugs. I cannot count the number of false stories on new ways the government is going to turn us into a dictatorship or the number of stories about new ways that gangs are going to rape women or the number of stories about new candy flavored drugs. Fear of a kidnapped child. I've even had a meme with the accompanying story about the danger of the brown recluse. Honestly, with all the fear this and that, it must be tough for these folks to leave the house.

Fear is stupid.

A quick check and the internet will tell you that you've been mislead.  You've been lied too. Much of the statistics you see on the memes are made up.  Thousands of the pictures  been photoshopped, taken out of context, or mislabeled. You have been manipulated because the creators of these stories know that the ones who repost this baloney will not actually check the facts or have been convinced that fact checkers are lying.   In fact, if you do not know the source of the photo, you should always check.  For example, there is a report from a the Washington Times that the DOD has marked Catholics as terrorists.  They didn't.  Try reading the report. The Washington Times is owned by the Unification Church, sometimes referred to as the Moonies. They have also reported things like 9/11 was a plot by the National Education Association.  All stories about the DOD are tied back to this one paper and this one story.  Not a single other paper has independently reported this.

Fear is stupid.

There no super secret organization waiting to zip line into your home.  There is no league of evil guys planning your demise as soon as we have universal background checks.  No criminal started life with a record or genetic disposition to become a bad guy. The government is not coming to get you and even if they were, do you honestly think your guns could stop them.  Ninety percent of Americans support some form of gun regulation.  Most Republicans and most Democrats are nice people who are not extreme.  There is no evidence that anything that will happen in a gay marriage  that would not happen in a straight marriage.  The vast majority of folks who need our help, really do need our help.  They are not all on drugs or just sitting around.  Most programs require work proof and states that have enacted drug testing have lost money on the tests because the tests cost more than the drug users they discovered.

Fear is stupid.

We do need to control spending and to raise new revenues.  Economics is and always has been about balance.  Many evangelicals are not political and do not see their beliefs as something to impose on others.  Atheists cannot hurt you. Understanding science expands what we can do to help others and has usually moved us forward. No cases of human to human transfer of bird flu have occurred. There is no unknown planet or asteroid hurtling from outer space towards the planet and even if there were, would you want to know?  The meme about a little kid being used for gangs to rape is an urban myth.  The kidnapped child you posted may be a hoax.  All you have to do is do a quick search for missing teens.  Drug dealers are not making candy flavored meth.  There has never been a documented death recorded in the US that can be attributed to the brown recluse spider according to ABC news.

Fear is stupid.

Some things are out of our control.  To live in fear of things you cannot control is silly.  Some things are in our control. To live in fear of something we can control and yet do nothing to take control is stupid.  To live in fear of a government that we elect is just as illogical.

To live in fear is stupid.  To let others continue to try and make us live in fear is just as stupid. So here is what I want you to do. If someone posts something that is wrong, divisive or grounded in fear, comment on it. Post the link to or another fact check organization.  Do not let it slide.

Fear is stupid.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Engage Grey Matter before Posting

And now the much anticipated meme machine...

Okay...let's go over this one more time...most break-ins occur when you are not at home.  If a thief finds this, guess what: you just armed him.  If your people's song is a sawed-off shotgun, who are your people, descendants of  Doc Holiday?  Finally, if this is a sawed off shot gun of under 18 inch in barrel length, congratulations, you are in violation of the law. Putting sights on it does not make it legal. Yes, there are already limits on the Second Amendment. 

There are two things about this meme.  Why would anyone need this gun unless they planned on starting a war or are thinking of starting a live action Call to Duty (both a bad idea, by the way)? And does anyone notice who made the meme? That's right Gunsellerz.  Gee, I wonder why they would want to sell this gun? I don't know guns well, but having played Call to Duty it looks like this gun is slightly more than semi-automatic.  If it is, congratulations it too is illegal. Yes, there are already limits on the Second Amendment.

Wrong. Just plain wrong.  If you don't get why a guy in full military gear with an aimed and loaded weapon sitting on a child's ride in what is obviously a park with little kids around is wrong, please, if you live near me, move, and get a good therapist when you find your new home. I can say nothing else, except measure you for a tinfoil hat and a straight jacket. If ever there was an argument for gun safety laws, you are it. 

Those opposing any form of gun control, these memes are doing you no favors.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Odd Support

As the gun debate on background continues, those wishing to prevent background checks find themselves with an unintended ally, al Qaeda. When I first heard this story, I thought this has got to be a hoax or at the least something from the gun safety supporters. I checked Snopes, and a number of news sites and not one dispute it authenticity.

Adam Gadahn is an American who has become the spokesperson for al Qaeda. He is to say the least a traitor and is on the FBI's wanted list. What is odd here is that he discusses the availability of guns for would be terrorist in the US: "America is absolutely awash with easily obtainable firearms. You can go down to a gun show at the local convention center and come away with a fully automatic assault rifle, without a background check, and most likely without having to show an identification card. So what are you waiting for?"

Now admittedly, he is wrong about his information.  It is illegal to sell fully automatic weapons.  It must, however, be a bit disconcerting to support the same loophole in gun laws supported by al Quaeda. The idea of using our gun laws to arm terrorist is not new. In 2001, Ali Boumelhem, a Hezbollah member was convicted on charges of conspiring to smuggle guns and ammunition to Lebanon. The F.B.I. documented that Boumelhem bought weapons at gun shows in Michigan. It has also been pointed out by ATF officials that gun shows are "a major venue for illegal trafficking" of weapons, sometimes involving Mexican drug cartels.

It is also odd that a person who is on the terrorist watch lists can still buy a gun.  He will be or is suppose to be flagged if he tries to fly or cross the border, but he can still go to a gun show in one of 33 states and purchase a gun.  Senator Lindsey Graham following his filibuster vote to stop background checks gave a speech on detaining the Boston bombers as enemy combatants.  After the speech a reporter asked if gun sale laws should not be expanded to include those on the terrorist watch lists.  He responded, "I think anyone who's on the terrorist watch list should not lose their Second Amendment right without the ability to challenge that determination."

I guess it's true.  Politics do, indeed, make strange bedfellows.

*(I tried to embed the video here, but am unable to do so. Please follow the link to YouTube if you wish to see it.)

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

A Changing Society

I am about to say something that is going to scare a few of you who oppose gun safety.  The view on guns in this country is changing.  The battle over gun safety did not end the filibuster vote.  It actually has, I think, just begun.

You see, I've seen this change before.  I saw it in the 1970's.  Those of you who were around then saw it too.  In 1975, I saw for the first time a group called GASP.  They were reasonably funded and organized.  GASP stood for Group Against Smoking Pollution.  They opposed second hand smoke.  We smokers made fun of GASP.  If we would have had the ability for memes, I am sure we would have used social media to make fun of them just as the memes do of those wanting gun safety.  You see, we didn't know. We believed that second hand smoke was an over-blown myth.  We had missed the change.  There was a fundamental shift coming in America, and many of us missed it.  GASP got it.  Like now, there was an organization that fought to protect our fundamental right to smoke.

The smoking lobby was one of the most powerful lobbies in the United States.  IT protected the smokers. It represented us.  At least, that's what we thought. They had money, and they contributed to political campaigns. In the 60's they had made fun of methodology used to show cigarettes caused cancer.  They had their own doctors and studies, but a shift had begun. They were very possibly the reason that modern lobbyists still operate the way they do.  People were dying and then word leaked out that the big tobacco industry had known about the dangers for years. It also became patently obvious the smokers' lobby was funded by the tobacco industry.  They didn't support smokers; they were a shield for big tobacco.

We watched as great movie actors fought cancer.  It became for the lobby a PR disaster.  GASP saw this change, and as the first real force to oppose smoking, especially second hand smoke, began the push.  They lost the battle here and there but ultimately they won the war.  Don't believe me?  Light up in a bar.  There are even cities now planning on going smoke free.

I see this change again.  With the deaths in Newtown, there was a fundamental change in this country.  Just months before, even after Aurora, almost every pundit and politician agreed that the gun debate was over.  The NRA had won. When those little ones died, suddenly the debate came blazing back from the dead.  What is more where before stood only the NRA and its single issue voters on gun rights there was suddenly not just one group but many demanding change.  Like GASP, these organizations are organized, funded and are building their own lobby.  The Newtown Promise, Mothers Against Gun Violence, Women Against Gun Violence, Parents Against Gun Violence, The Coalition Against Gun Violence, Mayors Against Gun Violence and the Brady Campaign are just a few.  They are not going away, and like those who oppose gun safety measures, they are building a base of single issue voters.  Some are even establishing rating systems like the NRA.  All they need is one successful election. Then senators on the left and right will live in fear of them too.

Just as true is the arguments offered by the NRA which in one breath opposed background checks and then put out a recommendation to put armed guards at schools once they had passed, you guessed it, a background check. Even more devastating is information is starting to leak that the NRA does not actually represent gun owners, but just as the smokers' lobby, the NRA is well funded by gun manufacturers.  Now with an organized opposition, it is a matter of time.

Fundamental change is actually pretty rare, but this country is changing.  Less than two decades ago, no one would believe that we would have a majority of the society supporting same sex civil unions or that we would have an African American President, and the current front runner for the next presidential campaign is a woman.  There is a fundamental change.  The background bill did not fail.  It actually passed 54 to 46.  It was killed by cloture or the silent filibuster.  You see the vote was not on the bill, but whether it would be filibustered.

Change is slow.  The battle has been joined.  Who will win? I do not know.  All I know is in 1975, I laughed at GASP.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

A Gathering ...But Why?

Another dopey, dope day has come and gone.

I've done the research and know how 420 got started, at least according to High Times magazine.  According to them it all dates back to the Waldos. According to the executive editor of the magazine, "People tried to create their own myth about this...The start of 420 is fairly clear at this point—the kids back at San Rafael High School." It was the time that they gathered at the statue Louis Pasteur to smoke pot in 1971, which they referred to as a 420 Louis.  The students were nicknamed the Waldos. The name went viral the way most things went viral in the '70s.  In other words, it took years before it became national pot smoking day. High Times published the term in 1990, and it was adopted by Deadheads, the followers of the Grateful Dead.

It became a celebration.

I've never really understood the whole idea.  I have wracked my brain trying to find something that compares to an event that advocates a yearly gathering that celebrates being impaired.  The only thing I can come up with that even comes close is New Years Eve.  That is a celebration of a beginning or ending depending on whether you are an optimist or pessimist, I suppose. While many do imbibe and some make complete idiots of themselves, and even a few who commit violent acts as happened with 420 in Denver this year, the celebration really isn't about the drinking.  I mean there is no actual holiday that has the sole purpose of people gathering to celebrate being drunk.  You might think that we would have say 125 which was the day Prohibition ended, December 5, 1933.  We don't.

I suppose I could point out that smoking pot is illegal, and it still is here in Colorado for a while longer. That, however, isn't really a good point, and it is, in fact, moot.  I could also point out that since it is illegal has anyone at these celebrations considered where the money they spent on the drug goes?  What organization they might be supporting? I let you consider that, but again, not my point.  I am just pondering why anyone would think that celebrating being high is a good thing?

I mean can you imagine a group of ten thousand  people gathering in the park for the single purpose of drinking scotch? Sounds a bit silly.  So 420 seems to me a bit silly.  I guess it may just be as some might say, "We humans are an illogical and goofy bunch." I might even go so far as to say, "It doesn't just say it, but screams it."

Monday, April 22, 2013

Marathon update

A day after the bombing in Boston I wrote a piece on the stupidity of conspiracy theory types instantly coming up with all kinds of bizarre stories.  Having received some commentary, I thought I should update you on a couple things.

One update involves this picture:

It is according to one news source was investigated by the FBI.  So perhaps we will get a few answers.  It still does not mean that this picture is anymore than a guy on a roof at the wrong time. Leaping to any conclusion is still not a good idea.

Now in the dumb category on the Facebook page Illuminati: Exposed Media this picture appeared:

I will point out a plea from one of the comments not to post this kind of picture because it makes the page look like foolish.  Apparently a number of people cannot tell that this is the same picture with one side zoomed in and then a new news banner added on it.  There are more problems but perhaps the worst is anyone who would use the picture of someone who not only died at Newtown but died trying to stop the intruder is one is one sick individual.  Is that person really so desperate for attention they need to use this person without regard to her family?

When I first saw this picture I wanted to check and see if it had hit Snopes yet and what I found was one theorist in a Sunday best tin foil hat trying to say this story had appeared on Fox News. Now saying it was on Fox and it being on Fox are two different things.  I don't think Fox News would be this dumb, and  I have yet to actually find this report as actually being from them. Hello...can anyone who spread this say the words PHOTO SHOP?

Sadly, it took conspiracy theorist Alex Jones about ninety minutes after the bombing to announce that it was "false flag" operation  to expand government power,  and then he somehow tied it to the drop in the price of gold.  Honestly I don't know how this guy lives with such paranoia unless it is all an act to keep his name in the press...hmmmm.   If you follow Mr. Jones, may I ask where you get your tin foil hats made? They really are quite fetching.  (If you don't know of Mr. Jones he is the guy who had the complete melt down about gun control on Piers Morgan in January click a the first link for a CNN clip or this link for the entire interview on YouTube.)

I am spending no time on the next bit nor am I pasting any links.  Immediately following the death of the first suspect a picture appeared saying it was a picture of the bomber in the morgue.  It isn't. Don't waste your time. 

I also have to yell "Bravo" to  the guy who bought the domain name of The name is not what you think it is.  The site originally said


Well done and well played.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Oblivion Roams

I am not terribly certain that Oblivion as a title isn't confusing the word with Oblivious.  Let me state from the onset that while sitting in the theatre watching Oblivion, I enjoyed it.  I mean I wasn't checking my watch every few minutes wondering when it was going to end.  I did find it a bit meandering at time as if it wasn't really sure whether it was action, pure scifi or a romance movie, but still I was drawn in to it despite its  poorly constructed plot.  Not to think about the problems of the movie though, one would have to be somewhat Oblivious.

It was well acted although I doubt the two dimensional characters were much of a stretch even for Tom Cruise.  It also seemed to be at times something of a mash-up of plot ideas from a number of other scifi movies.  I don't want to offer spoilers, but if you are a scifi geek you will get them.

The movie is also somewhat visually trite.  Like most post-apocalyptic movies it has the required scenes of destroyed landmarks.  I am honestly tired of seeing The New York Library, the Statue of Liberty, and The Empire State Building as the only landmarks that movie makers seem to want to show destroyed.  I know I didn't include the Capitol dome and the Lincoln and Washington Memorials.  I feel sorry for the East Coast because come the end they get the worst of it.  Why not just once blow up the Disney Castle or Decca Records?  Aliens just don't like the East Coast.

The movie is also very predictable.  Not one event really caught me off guard.  The real problem comes after the movie.  There is usually a discussion of most movies.  Ours quickly devolved into the number of gaping plot holes in the movie.  I am not going to discuss all of them here because if I do, I will give away the entire film.

Spoiler Alert for example:

I will give you one though that is pointed out at the beginning of the movie.  The aliens blew up the moon, and the ensuing chaos from the destruction -- floods, tidal waves, earthquakes, tsunamis -- devastate the Earth and its people.  I am not terribly certain that blowing up the moon would do all these things, but if we accept that it would, why would the land masses be re-arranged?  Tom's character moves from buried New York to mountains with magnificent falls, and forests to vast dessert wastelands to a football stadium that is for some reason on the coast.  If the destruction from the war with the aliens that followed was so complete how is it after on 60 years so much as grown back?  Why is everything seemingly buried except the football stadium?

I don't feel like I wasted my money on the movie.  It is just that I won't be seeing it again anytime soon, and I doubt that I will buy the DVD.  It's one of those movies that you can enjoy while its on; just don't spend too much time thinking about it.

My take is

Friday, April 19, 2013

Stupid is as Stupid Does

Ready to see how gullible some folks are?  Let me give you this lovely link entitled "Obama ADMITS Born in Kenya."

Go ahead watch it.  I'll wait.

Did you notice all the links you can click like "Impeach Obama" and "why Birthers are ridiculed"?  The optimal link there by the way is "donate money."  The reason Birthers are ridiculed is really simple.  They are at the least naive and at the most fools driven by hate, fear, and attention seeking.

Now let me give you the whole clip. Obama at White House Correspondents' Dinner 2010. The original quote starts at about 1 minute 40 seconds in.  The actual quote is sarcasm, and as is the case with all speakers at every White House Correspondents' Dinner, it is the speaker's job to make fun of himself, others in the audience, and politics in general.  Obama is making fun of the Birther movement.

You may notice the entire clip is over 17 minutes long.  The edited misleading clip is just 21 seconds.  Too bad the person who would mislead you couldn't cut the laughter totally just the laughter following the punchline making fun of the whole Birther idea.

If you don't want to appear foolish, then spend a little time looking for reality.  Try Googling a neutral statement like "where was Obama born." Guess what, you get all the evidence that birthers want to ignore and claim as faked.  Googling  a non-neutral statement like "proof that Obama was born in Kenya" will get you a little more biased result, although it also gets the fact check groups like Snopes. (By the way saying Snopes is wrong does not make it so.  You need proof.)

If you don't like Obama, that is your choice.  If you don't agree with him, that is your choice.  But if the only reason you can come up with is that he is a Muslim, which he isn't, or he was born in Kenya or not born in the US, you only end up looking like a foolish, a hater.  Is it any wonder that folks think Birthers are driven by bigotry? If none of the above is true, then why weren't you complaining that John McCain was born in Panama or Romney is a Mormon.  The reason why you're not complaining is probably because it doesn't matter or worse still because they are white.  McCain was born on a military base and, in a country touting freedom of religion, being a Mormon makes no difference any more than being a Muslim would. It really is time to join the rest of us in reality.

Stupid is, as the movie Forest Gump points out, as Stupid does.  Don't be stupid.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Voting not to Vote

I don't care where you stand on gun control or gun safety.  Yesterday, the Senate voted not to vote.  Our government has come to a stand still with the abuse of the filibuster in the Senate and Hastert's rule used in the House. These rules have stolen our representation from us. I am not going to lie and say that I did not support background checks.  If it had failed, I would live with the decision.  The point is it did not fail.  It was filibustered by this ridiculous 60 vote threshold which has been used by a minority to keep any actual governing from being done. There is no such Constitutional rule.  A filibuster should be live, and 51 votes should pass laws in the Senate.

The abuse of the filibuster to keep the majority from passing legislation is about as antidemocracy as it gets.  If you are one of those who thought senators should use the filibuster to stop any bill whether it is on infrastructure or gun control, then you clearly do not support democracy except when it works in your favor.  Guess what, that is not how democracy works.

I don't just blame Republicans for this cowards way of  not doing their job; I blame the majority leader of the senate, Democrat, Harry Reid for it.  He could have gotten rid of it in January, but was so afraid that Democrats might become the minority party and then not have the 60 vote filibuster rule in place for them he kept it. Cowards!  Do your job. Vote!

I am not ignoring you either House Speaker, Republican, John Boehner.  The House has its own form of filibuster these days.  It is called  Hastert's rule.  There is no such official rule, by the way. Representative former Republican Speaker, Daniel Hastert believed that no item should be voted on unless the majority of the majority party in the House would vote for it.  Boehner has carried on the tradition.  With extreme Right who will vote for nothing in the House, it means that we get the same results in the House that we do in the Senate.  This House and the one in 2010 have become under Boehner's leadership, the most non-productive Houses in history. A minority of elected officials have taken our government from us.  Boehner has violated the Hastert rule only four times since the 2012 election. Again, they are so worried about getting caught in a primary, they have decided the best way to keep their ELECTED job is not to do it. Cowards! Do your job. Vote!

As I said, if a bill that I think would be good fails, it fails.  In life we don't always get what we want. What I want, however, is a vote - not a vote that is a vote not to vote. Washington has become the place where all laws, good or bad, go to die.

I for one will be looking at these ELECTED officials in 2014 and 2016, and if they have used those despicable rules to prevent a vote.  Guess who I won't be voting for.

Tell these cowards to do their job. VOTE! If they don't then we should. They have become so fearful of their base, a primary or some special interest group, they've forgotten who they should really be afraid of: we the people. It is time to remind them.

Anyone care to join me?

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Wrong? Who Me?

Following my post on conspiracy theory and my current rant on bad memes, I posted this on Facebook.

"Westboro Baptist Church, you know the guys who protest funerals and are going to protest at the funerals of those who died at the bombing, have had their FB page highjacked by Operation Anonymous. It's hilarious."

I will be honest here (thanks Tiffany), I didn't do my checking as I should have.  I blame George Takei because I was more or less following his lead on his post.  Now I would point out that I did not use the word hacked in the original post, but being honest with myself and everyone else, it is what I thought. I got called on it and was told that it might be a fake page.  

Only then did I do my research about the news.  The Westboro Baptist Church Facebook page was not hacked, but it was hijacked. Well, actually, their brand (name) was hijacked. For those of you who don't know Westboro Baptist Church is the group, I hesitate to use the word church, that protests funerals of soldiers and even threatened to protest the funerals at Newtown. They have also announced their intent to protest at the funerals of those who died in the Boston Marathon bombing and have blamed the bombing on same sex marriage.  They became a target of a group of hackers loosely known as Anonymous or Project Anonymous.  According to Huffington Post they did have a couple of Twitter accounts taken over in December. I don't support hacking but if anyone deserves it, it might be Westboro.  

Anonymous is a real group of "hacktivists" who are marked by their videos of people wearing the V mask.  They did announce their intent that they were turning their attention to the hate groups and have specifically identified Neo Nazi groups and Westboro.  They are actually several different groups of hackers that band together under the single name.  

At any rate, I have been doing some checking.  Two sources which I know little about announced shortly after the hijacking said the page had been hacked.  CWZ or CyberWarZone reported it  as did Citizen on Line. But after more checking it did come out that hacking is not the word should be applied.  Mother Jones reported that the excitement of the hack was not what happened.

Anonymous squatted on the page name and then unveiled it today.  This allows them to create posts appearing to go back for months.  Brandjacking is another term for this squatting, so alas, Westboro was not hacked. The page on Facebook, however, is one worth the look.  I was wrong in thinking or saying it was hacked. It doesn't make the page any less hilarious. 

(Thanks to Tiffany and Andrew for reminding to do my homework!)


And then the news announces LAPD will no longer cover prank 911 calls...

This is called swatting, and it has become a problem.  It is also already carries a jail sentence and in a few places a fine.  A number of states are already tightening the laws and penalties for swatting to include the cost of the call which can get up to $10,000.  Using a computer based phone or other technical skills which prevents caller ID, a swatting caller will convince the operator that someone is about to be killed, usually a celebrity.  This will cause 911 to dispatch police, swat, emergency teams - in short, the entirety of emergency services. So suddenly, a usually public figure finds their home invaded by armed officers who may have entered by breaking down doors, and maybe throwing in flash-bangs and tear gas.  It is not just the public person affected by this, though.  Their spouse and children and staff also get all the wonders of what would be a truly traumatic experience. If the celebrity is not home then just family and staff get experience.

Some joke.

The LAPD announced this week that they will no longer be releasing information of swatting events. In other words, because it gets so much attention in the press causing more morons to prank call 911, in an effort to get it under control, they are going to down play the calls.  Now, with paparazzi camped out around many a celebrity home, it is not likely that responses to these calls will go unnoticed, but it is at least an attempt to stop the outbreak which has affected a number of celebrities like Ryan Seacrest, Tom Cruise, Ashton Cutcher, Justin Bieber, Selena Gomez and Justin Timberlake just to mention a few.

There is a certain amount of irony that the story isn't about swatting for the press now, but that they will no longer be getting information from the police.  Here's the deal...

1. These folks are celebrities and no more world leaders than Dennis Rodman.
2. Even they should have some privacy.
3. The press is covering a usually juvenile, impractical joke. Most swattings are done by teens.
4. If celebrities were not involved, it would probably not be news
5. Ergo, the continued coverage of swatting is not news.

Cover the important stuff and quit giving these deliquents anymore press than you would any other stupid prankster.  If you want to make a difference, cover the jailing and fining of these callers, not their childish and dangerous act.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013


Yesterday, I had the TV on when the news hit moments after the explosion in the Boston Marathon.  I hoped against hope as the initial reports would turn out to be a horrible accident, but as the time wore on, it became clear someone, some coward, had attacked.  As is always the case in this age of instant information, reports came out, reports were walked back, numbers of the hurt grew and thankfully but just as tragically the number of dead did not grow exponentially.  Sadly once again one of those murdered was the least among us.  And amid it all, the conspiracy theory crowd...the tin foil hats...came out in full.

Amid the shameless statements of those who would attach this to the gun debate which a terrorist act has zero to do with, were those who began discussing subliminal messages suddenly appearing in one of the announcements and the pictures that captured the moment showing details.  One thread on the web a person announced she had seen a face flash on the TV during one of the reports.  I am not sure what that means or why it would be done, but she was positive a subliminal message was being done.  Must've not been too effective or subliminal if she saw it and didn't know why it was done.

And then there was the picture...
It is a picture of a man on a roof top after the bombing. Who is he? We do not know. The photo was taken by spectator Dan Lampariello and shows the explosion of the second bomb. It also captures a guy standing on a rooftop. Judging from the fence on the roof, it is designed for people to be up there. Once the pic went viral it took about five seconds for someone to decide it was the bomber. Let's think about this for a few moments. An event with 27,000 runners and who knows how many spectators, and someone is on a roof during the event. I am actually surprised that there are not more on the roof. He may be a witness or he may be just some guy on a roof who got caught in the picture.  Other speculation is foolish.  To create an ominous presence without any other information is simply wrong.  

Soon after came the mysterious Facebook page...

The picture is of a Facebook page set up about the explosion. What makes it suspicious is the page was set up two days before the explosion. Fortunately the paranoid person whose links "mysteriously disappeared" after the page disappeared was paranoid enough to take a picture of the page. I know I take pictures of the pages I visit just in case they turn out to be mysterious later on. I am told that it is not difficult to change the name of a page on Facebook. So someone who set up a new page a few days ago could easily change the name. You may notice the address bar which would bear the original name of the page is not in the picture. You don't suppose the person who made the page and then deleted the page also took the picture and then started to spread the strange and mysterious and suspicious page. Sorry, my conspiracy theory friends, nothing to see here. Move along.

Look.  We suffered a tragedy. Boston suffered a tragedy.  We were attacked by a coward or cowards, and the last thing anyone needs is a bunch of conspiracy theorists trying to get their moment of fame or injecting their irrational fears of the media or government into what is a time for  support.  We don't need anyone to try and make this a political meme or try to tie this to any unrelated agenda whether it be gun safety or the price of taxis in New York.  Terrorist cowards get enough press and operate for their own warped reasons.  Personally, the tin foil hats and conspiracy theory crowd are already pretty nutty as they rant from the street corner.  Those, who would use this event for a political or social problem like guns...shame on you.

Besides, it is only a mater of time before the face of God appears in the smoke from one of the pictures and the bombs turn out to be supplied by the men in black.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Visiting Cuba...Much Ado...

No, not this Cuba...
A few on the right are up in arms.  Is it over the budget? No.  Is it over immigration? No. Is it over gun safety? No.

It is over the visit to Cuba by Beyonce and Jay Z.  Now to be fair, all of the issues above are important and as such do we really need to be worried about two singers going to Cuba?  Are they really propping up an evil, dictatorial regime with their injection of money into the Cuban economy?  That is now the complaint since after the first objections discovered that the two had not met with any leaders of the Cuban government.  Let's see...hmmm...since the embargo on Cuba some fifty or so years ago, will Jay-Z and Beyonce really save the Castro regime? Uh, no.

The embargo was established during the Cold War, and it was actually more to stop USSR from establishing bases in Cuba than to destabilize the Castro regime. Well, the Cold War is over, and the USSR does not exist.  If you really want someone to experience Democracy, keeping it out of those countries is really not going to solve the problem.  To be blunt, the Castro regime is struggling and we have done business with governments that are far worse about human rights violations than Cuba.  We have seen a revolution in the Middle East as the young have discovered what a free society has to offer because their restrictive governments were no longer able to keep out contact with those groups via the internet.

To complain about the visit, approved by the Treasury Department, not the White House, is silly.  There have been visits by others and to single these two out is inane and purely political.  Who else has visited and injected their dollars into the Cuban economy?  Stephen Spielberg, Winton Marsalis, Oliver Stone, Clive Owen (okay he's British), and numerous other musicians, actors and film makers have visited Cuba.  In fact, in 2011, nearly 500,000 people visited the island from the USA.  Most were Cuban Americans visiting family, but some 90,000 were Americans on licensed visits.  With that said, then one must wonder why these two people were actually singled out?  Can you say agenda politics?

The visit to Cuba by Beyonce and Jay much ado.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Memes, Propaganda and Spin...Oh My!

So this week in stupid memes and other propaganda we have a few.  The first is this wonderful meme comparing Timothy McVeigh's bombing in Oklahoma to the reaction to gun control.  It runs with the logic that we can still buy fertilizer and the other elements for the Oklahoma bombs, but we are banning guns.  This meme runs the logic fallacy of apples and oranges.  Both are fruits, but the similarity ends there.  It is a false analogy.  Guns control and availability have nothing to do with a lunatic, home-grown terrorist bomber.  A simple way is to go back to Sesame Street.  One of these things is not like the other.  Another example and as expected, it was less than twenty-four hours before I heard a right wing pundit announce following the stabbings at Lone Star that there had been no call to control knives.  Maybe that's because knives and guns are inherently different or perhaps it was because no one died.  What isn't being discussed is the mental health issue involved in all these issues.

Next up comes the Obama Columbia University ID.  This is one I had not seen, but it has been around since before the last election.  Apparently Obama went to Columbia under a different name, had an ID labeled Foreign Student and graduated from Columbia sometime after 1998.  Why 1998? This was when Columbia began using digital ID which this one, from the use of the bar code, clearly is.  There is also the little problem that Columbia labels all student ID's with
the words "Student" not "Foreign Student." Barry, your photo ID has been found. Sorry about the photo we pasted on it. This piece also comes with the statement, "No wonder his records are sealed." No. Sealed is a legal term meaning closed by a court. Obama's school records are in fact confidential and are protected by Federal law, the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974.  No candidate for president has released these records.  Why would Obama be any different in expectation?

This photoshopped ID reminds me of the Obama without his hand over his heart pic which is a real pic, it's just not, as claimed, that he refused nor was it taken during the pledge.  I saw this pic again this week and have discussed it in another blog. It was a picture actually taken during the playing of the National Anthem, which anyone who has attended a sporting event will tell you lots of people do not put their hand over their heart during it's singing.  BTW if you've seen this pic, please note that unless there is flag we cannot see, every person there is facing the wrong way.

Next up is the "Obama Youth Program"  Youth Brigade which is actually not a meme but propaganda.  There is no such thing.  What I've seen posted is a radio talkshow pundit who announces that Obama, like Hitler, is starting his own Youth Program by tying it to student loans and requiring service.  There is no such program.  Where does this come from?  Obama signed GIVE, Generations Invigorating Volunteerism and Education Act, (its official title is actually H.R.1388 - The Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act) in 2009 which is a law used to update the National and Community Service Act of 1990.  The law, named after Senator Kennedy and originally signed before the amended version of GIVE by Bush I, increased funding for Americorp and other service organizations.  It does not require students to serve, but does give $500 credits towards college to students who serve in various volunteer organizations.  My suggestion: try reading the actual law before you make such a ridiculous comparison to the Hitler Youth.  (BTW the hand sign that some folks point to is the shape of an "O" as in Obama and has nothing to do with the Hitler Youth salute.)

I also want to address something that is not really a meme but spin.  I've seen now three "news" stories about gun manufacturers leaving states that are enacting stricter gun laws.  One is a gun maker in Connecticut, one is gun maker in Maryland, and one is a clip maker here in Colorado.  Leaving because they do not support the new laws is one thing, but leaving because there are stricter laws affecting there manufacturing process is another.

No enacted law affects the ability of these factories to manufacture within the state.  It may affect the ability to sell within the state.  That ability is affected whether they remain within the state or outside the state.  The laws are not why they are leaving.  Their political beliefs are the reason why.  It is clear that these ideals are more important  than other businesses they subcontract to or the people they hire.  If they wish to make a statement about their political agenda, then that is their right, but to blame it on laws that do not actually restrict the manufacturing is spin.  I also find it odd that they did not leave the country during the assault weapons ban, but they didn't.  I would also point out if these laws are truly unconstitutional as their lobbyists would have us believe, they should be able to easily stop the implementation of these laws.  Why aren't they?

A little research would make it clear that what you see is not what you many memes...

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

The Dentist and Me

At the beginning of the week, I went to a new dentist.  I realize that most folks do not look forward to this, but few I've met dread the dentist more than I do.  I occasionally  feel like Dustin Hoffman in Marathon Man about to meet the Olivier dentist. The new hygenist told me for someone who doesn't like going to the dentist, I've certainly spent a lot of time in "the chair." This is true.  I have had a ton of work done, and for the most part, it is not my fault.

To understand my fear of dental work we need to go back a few years. As a child, my family dentist sent me to a specialist in Denver.  I am not sure about this, but I think much of the work was done on teeth I was going to lose anyway. We would travel the four and half hours to Denver for the appointment.  The enamel on my teeth was weak, and I had a number of cavities.  I don't recall much of those visits except, there were at least two, they were very painful and scary, and the dentist gave out a choice of comic books after the appointment.  I also recall the trip home, and that we would stop at a restaurant where I could order chicken noodle soup because the fillings would take several hours to set, and I would need what seemed like an eternity for the novocaine to wear off.  My jaw would ache for hours because of the procedure and the shots to deaden the side of my face that was worked on.   There was no pre-numbing salve used to deaden the shot site either.  Did I mention I was just a kid.  I don't think I was in school yet.

And so my journey with the dentist began.

I lived in dread of going to the dentist.  Cleanings were excruciating, and I would consider myself lucky if I didn't have more than one cavity.  It would be years before I found out why my teeth were so cavity prone. I thought, and so did most dentists, that I was just bad at oral hygiene.  Turns out not so.  Oh sure, I did add to the problem.  Between coffee and smoking and not regularly flossing,  I didn't help matters.

I also broke a tooth in a bicycling accident half of the tooth had to be replaced.

Then I got my first crown.  A molar with a large filling in it cracked in half.  The dentist I was going to at the time had to do a crown to fix it.  With the crown came a root canal.  I would discover years later that the dentist had broken a bit off in the root canal and left it there.  That was discovered on another crown was placed on the tooth above.  The second crown required two root canals.  The first one didn't take, and an infection occurred.  I still have a small scar from the infection on my upper gum. I also have a crown with a filling in it.

I've had a series of dentists who are, shall we say less than stellar.  Besides the three that didn't do well with my crowns, there was the dentist I went to that thought he should replace every filling or put a crown on the teeth that had big fillings.  He saw "micro fractures" everywhere.  I think he probably saw money and insurance payments everywhere.  When he started seeing them in my wife's mouth during her check-ups, we knew something was up.  My wife had always had near perfect teeth.  We changed dentists.  It was then I found the dentist of my dreams.

He told me why I had weak enamel.  I was raised on high mineral probably overly fluoridated well water. It created brownish stains or  rings in my bones, including my teeth.  Also, the fact that my mother did not drink milk had an impact on my enamel growth.  It explains why I had so many cavities.  When my wisdom teeth came in, I had space for them, but there were so many cavities in them, it was simply easier to have them extracted.  My new dentist practiced pain free dentistry.  He didn't just say it; he really was pain free.  After years of painful cleanings and even a few times actually finding cuts from the instruments in the roof of my mouth, I had found the perfect dentist and his highly qualified hygienists.  We had developed a way of maintaining my teeth.  I had come to expect no...that's cavities.

Then it happened.  My insurance at work changed, and my dentist didn't take my new insurance.  I couldn't afford him.  I had to go elsewhere.  Enter one of those dental chains.  It was recommended to us.  They too practiced pain free dentistry.  Take my word, they needed more practice.  Several of the dentists for example would use the pre-shot deadening salve but would never give it time to take effect before giving me the shots.  In the several years I went to them, I don't believe I ever saw the same dentist or hygienist more than twice.  Hard to form a relationship with someone you only see once or twice.  It was this group that gave me the wonders of the infected crown.

 My final adventure with them was when my original crown, you know the one with the drill bit still in the root canal, came off.  I met yet another dentist at the "dentist factory" as I called it.  Her broken English and heavy accent made her very difficult to understand.  She put on a temporary crown and told me I had to go to a specialist for another root canal.   Two visits later to the specialist, I returned.  It was then that I was told I she needed to do cavity work.  It seems the reason the other crown came loose was because it was badly fitted and decay had caused the crown to loosen.  When she was done, she told me there was not enough tooth to hold a new crown and off I was sent to another specialist for crown lengthening.  Not to gross anyone out, but crown lengthening means they cut back the gum and put a notch around the tooth socket to give more surface for the prosthetic crown.

A few weeks later, I returned from that specialist for the crown.  I had another new dentist back at the factory.  This one too had an accent, but at least I understood her, and I didn't need her assistant to translate.  My retirement was about to kick in full, and that meant I was about to change insurance again.  I told the dental office that it was crucial that all bills be done before that change occurred.  They assured me that I was paid in full, and my new dentist fit me for the crown.  Two weeks later I came in for the crown.  We had moved to a new office. It had digital x-rays and a  little TV camera that let the dentist show you what the problems were.  She was fascinated by her new toys.  I, on the other hand, have no desire to see inside my mouth.  A new crown, two dentists and two specialists later I went on my way.  Four weeks later I got a threatening letter that I owed several hundred dollars that the insurance did not cover.  It was the first "bill" I had received.  The insurance had maxed because of all the specialists.  I told them they had said I was paid in full and had not actually received any bills.  They did remove the late charges, but I still had to pay the difference.  Good to know that they were able to pay for their in-the-mouth camera.

And so I went to a new dentist.  He too is highly recommended and so far has been pain free.  He also could tell why my teeth are the way they are.  There may be hope.  I go back at the end of the week to have the broken tooth filling replaced, something that's needed to be done for awhile.  Every dentist I saw back at the dental factory had said so.  I never saw one long enough to actually get it done.

The irony of this all.  My mom wanted me to be a dentist.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Elected for Law

With the new gun laws on the books here in Colorado and with the hot air coming from Washington, a number of Sheriffs, including here in Colorado, have announced they will not enforce any gun restriction law. I get their point.  They believe in some cases that it is unconstitutional. This is despite the fact that during the original assault weapons  ban of the 90's,  there was not a single successful constitutional case mounted. Others believe that the new laws are going to be useless or a bandaid and knee jerk reaction to the situation. What concerns me more though is not the stance on gun safety laws.  Everyone has their point of view. What concerns me is that law officials are choosing what laws they will enforce.  This is not a prioritizing of the laws; this is a flat refusal to do the duty they were elected to do. The problem I have is that this is not about guns.  It is about law.

I am pretty sure that most sheriffs take an oath to uphold the law, the constitution of the state and the constitution of the United States.  I understand that they want to take a stand but refusal to do the job is not a stand.  What is more, if sheriffs can choose what laws they will enforce then what is to prevent them for interpreting laws or even adding to the laws?  Don't agree with the legalization of marijuana, then what is to prevent a sherrif from throwing someone in jail based on the old laws since he or she has decided that the new amendment is not something he or she can support?  I understand the worry about the new gun laws, but as one sheriff put it as he announced he will not enforce the new laws, he is no constitutional scholar.  Another law enforcement official pointed out that it is a sheriff and policeman's duty to enforce the law.  It is the court's duty to determine its validity.  If a sheriff truly cannot enforce the law, it is time to step down.  That would be a true way of taking a stand.  Current laws do not allow for the removal of a sheriff for failure to enforce, but he or she can face stiff fines from the state.  The ballot box is the only real way to remove a sheriff from office.

Think also of the possible cost.  Suppose someone is shot or hurt by a gun that violates the new laws.  Imagine the liability that the county and sheriff now face.  Any lawyer is going to make mincemeat of a sheriff who has announced he will not enforce the law.  The cost will come out of the pocket of not only the sheriff but from the county government as well because they didn't do anything about the sheriff's dereliction of duty.  There is also, I would guess, a chance that a sheriff who has refused to enforce the law could be held criminally negligent.

As I said, the sheriff;s stance on gun law is not what is at issue.  It is the same problem that I had with the Norquist Tax Pledge.  It is the promise, the oath that an elected official takes to not only the people who voted for him or her, but for all the citizens they represent.  No sheriff has the right to use his or her position to fail to do the duty we elected him or her to do.  A sheriff may hold any opinion they like, but that opinion does not override the will of people who may not agree with that sheriff.  In time voters and courts may speak to the laws that have been passed.  A sheriff is not the voters or the courts.  He or she is a representative of not the laws they would like but the laws that they have, and he or she is not the voice of the voters but one vote along with the rest of us.  They were elected to serve.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

What Sherlock Has Wroght

This is a bit late, but I do know that there are apparently enough folks that watch House for the show to have been picked up in syndication on more than one station.  That said, I think it is okay bring up my recent discovery.  I know.  I know.  More than a few saw the final episode documentary with the show's  finale last year.  I didn't see it until yesterday.  I learned something that until that point, having watched House from the beginning, I did not know.  House, in particular the title character Gregory House,  was inspired by Sherlock Holmes.  Suddenly, it all fell into place for me.  It also explained why the last two seasons before the show's final season stunk so badly.  It was because all the episodes about House's new love of Cuddy, his search for his new team, and his stint in drug rehab had all left the simple premise that started the show, which was Dr. House solved the mystery illness.  All the other side stories left the cannon of the idea that Dr. House was a modern character version of Sherlock Holmes. Attempts to change the character of House is as useless as trying to change the character of Holmes.  The two characters are who they are.

It is also because of the leaving of the cannon, particularly the Cuddy loves House season, that both my wife and I quit following a show that we had loved at its beginning.  House was no longer solving mystery illness and was instead doing comedy bits from a bad buddy movie as he and Wilson babysat for Cuddy's adopted child.  And so the last season sat on my DVR until I decided to watch it.  Once House got out of prison, for a time, the show actually returned for the most part back to cannon.  House was Holmes again.

I thought about this. Here was a character whose intellect needed to be constantly challenged.  He only became engaged when there was a puzzle to be solved.  His only friend a gentle, ladies man of sorts, and relatively normal human, Dr. James Wilson.  Wilson was also one of the few characters who understood House well enough to challenge him and was an excellent foil character.

Like Holmes, House was a drug addict.  He used drugs to numb the real pain of his leg and the pain of the ordinary attacking his keen mind. He was also socially inept and egotistical as well as quite musical.  Holmes played the violin and House the guitar and piano.  Holmes unlike House did love "The Woman" but never really consummated the relationship.  Irene Adler was the only person who ever got the best of Holmes.  Perhaps he knew what would happen.  House, and alas the series writers, did not seem to know the doctor was too egocentric to actually maintain a relation. The attempt also damaged the series.

So, the last episode of House, despite its triteness, actually fits the Holmes idea.  It was a version of Reichenbach Falls from the Holmes' story of "The Final Problem." The episode of course was followed by a very short version of the return story called "The Adventure of the Empty House."  So knowing this, I was willing to forgive the House writers for such a trite end, since it was a homage to the original.

It also got me to wondering how many characters have been inspired by Doyle's seemingly immortal Consulting Detective. So other than the obvious, Sherlock and Elementary and the recent movies, here is a sampling according to a few different sources: Psych, The Mentalist, the original Batman (inspired by not adaptation of), and of course most modern detectives owe to the great detective, especially  Hercule Poirot and Nero Wolfe.  There also the British cartoon Danger Mouse and of course Disney's The Great Mouse Detective.  It is truly fascinating.  Heck, even Snoopy and Woodstock occasionally dressed up and did Sherlock Holmes.

Monday, April 1, 2013


Okay, so there is a whole host of memes and cartoons that I just don't get.  Take this one, for example. If you were a citizen, veteran, and a taxpayer, what difference does the election make? If you roam around with a hat that says 'fanatic' and carry a semi-automatic pistol muttering and staring at your gun as if it is an appendage or a friend, of course, you have a much deeper problem.
And then there is this meme.  I've never seen anyone actually suspended for finger pistols.  There is one case I can find in Maryland.  Not like it's running rampant. I have heard of students being suspended for gang signs.  As to the other part of this meme, impeach for what? If being a fool is the only requirement, congress has got to go.  By the way, impeachment is the process. If impeachment is successful, then an elected official may be removed from office.  A crime must perceived to have been committed.  For example, Bill Clinton was impeached for lying to congress.  Clinton did lie to the American People about his affair with Monica Lewinsky, but that is not a crime.  Politicians do it all the time.  He didn't actually lie to Congress.  the impeachement failed.  Andrew Johnson was impeached on the basis of violating a law that congress passed the year before. It too failed.  Actually most impeachments or even discussions of one tend to be political.  Imagine that.  The only president, Richard Nixon,  that could've actually been impeached on a real crime resigned before he could be impeached.  So if you have a crime, you might be able to start impeachment.  Not liking someone's politics...not really a reason.  

Next is this one.  Explain it to me, please.  You could write:  I'm a Republican because I believe in smaller government except on Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, gay marriage, and religious freedom.
And what does Walmart have to do with this?

Next came this one.  Has anyone actually said this? Thought this? Proven this?  Logic comparisons need to have some basis in reality.  If no one has ever made the comparison, you cannot suddenly pretend that someone actually said something so stupid.  In fact, I am pretty sure that most folks would be in favor of having a real gun safety courses (not those silly online ones).  There are even a few states considering requiring it.  Sorry, stupid is stupid, and this is stupid.

I leave you with this one.  Is it about marijuana? How about banning certain guns? How about banning oversized clips?  How about marriage equality?  I know it's about outlawing the pledge in school (which has actually never happened or was even considered)? No wait, it's about abortion.  No? Having no drinking age? Pick your cause where one group has tried to outlaw something for another.  This meme would even work for prohibition.

For a meme to work, shouldn't it actually have a point?

Ahh memes, so much material, so little time.