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12 November 2015 @ 11:06 am

I've heard reports that they are bringing charges against the guy from Rolla who made the online threats the other night. I don't see what they can really do to him.

He was 93 miles away from MU and had no guns or anything. His was a completely non-credible troll threat. And the threats were made on Yik Yak, which is basically troll center: people say anything and everything there. It is an unrestricted online free-speech zone. Unfortunately in America right now free speech = hate speech. Of course they were right to arrest him and hold and question him. They had too. But as far as actual charges? Not so much.

BUT..... as a student in the UM system making threats to other UM students I'm sure he has ran afoul of the rules of student conduct. I'm guessing he could probably be expelled and barred from future enrollment. For a kid in his position, that punishment could very well ruin his future, and so is more than enough.

28 October 2015 @ 07:56 pm

Once again, the Republican debate is blacked out to anybody without a cable subscription. For Republicans, apparently, politics is pay-to-play, even for voters.

Republicans have simply given up even trying to pretend to address the average people of this country. They obviously don't give a rat's ass for anybody who isn't a member of the middle-class establishment, seeming to say, “If you aren't in a socioeconomic position to have a cable subscription, then we don't want to talk to you – never mind the lip-service we give to broadening our appeal beyond our traditional base, or the 25% of Americans without cable.”

This is in sharp contrast to the Democratic debate, which could be seen easily and hassle-free by virtually anybody in the country with a screen, be it a cable TV or a connected device (cellphone, computer, etc.).

In both message and practice the perception is Democrats are trying to be inclusive and in touch with the people, whereas Republicans are exclusive, out-of-touch snobs.

Why doesn't Sanders get the media coverage the other candidates get?  Perhaps because a great deal of the (conservative) mainstream media is controlled by entrenched rich interests and individuals who are strongly tied to the Republican party.  Individuals like Carl C. Icahn.

Icahn has taken substantial or controlling positions in various corporations including RJR Nabisco, TWA, Texaco, Phillips Petroleum, Western Union, Gulf & Western, Viacom, Uniroyal, Dan River, Marshall Field's, E-II (Culligan and Samsonite), American Can, USX, Marvel Comics, Revlon, Imclone, Federal-Mogul, Fairmont Hotels, Blockbuster, Kerr-McGee, Time Warner, Netflix, Motorola, and Herbalife.

Icahn is also the second highest stockholder in TEGNA Media. Tegna owns or operates 46 television stations and is the largest group owner of stations affiliated with NBC and CBS.

Now here is the kicker: Not only is Icahn involved with Viacom, Time Warner, and TEGNA, but Trump absolutely loves him!

Trump has mentioned Icahn in several speeches and has even said the he would make Icahn Secretary of Treasury. And Icahn has accepted Trump's offer:  "'After last night's debate I decided to accept @realDonaldTrump offer for Secretary of Treasury,' Icahn tweeted Friday afternoon."

So the guy who has been picked for a cabinet level position with Trump also happens to have a lot of power in the world of mainstream corporate media:  Is it any wonder we don't see much of Sanders?

Add this to the anti-Sanders position of GOP-tool Fox and Sanders definately has an uphill battle to get fair coverage.

26 August 2015 @ 11:08 am
After the news today, I think a lot of us feel this way (repost from 2008):

Hey, Killer,

I am sick to fucking death of you fucking suicidal gunmen.  Dammit, if you want to kill yourself just do it.  Really, just go to your room and blow your damn head off, or jump off the building, or whatever.  It's your life and it's your right.

But you worthless bastards do NOT have the right to go shoot up a bunch of innocent people.  And you shits don't even have the stones to stick around and face the consquences of your actions.  Pussies.  Just go off and kill yourselves quietly (or spectacularly if you really want to make the news so badly).

I don't really care if you are crazy, if nobody loves you, if the man's got you down, etc.  That is not the fault of the random innocents in the classroom, mall, restaurant, side walk, etc. that you just happen to be spraying lead at.

Deal with your issues at the source.  Don't ever give up.  Change what you can, accept what you cannot change, blah, blah, blah.    If you are unbalanced enough to have to turn to violence and killing then at least limit your killing to the guilty, or perhaps resort to political terrorism (then at least you are killing the innocent with a purpose).  And be big enough to accept the consequences.  This random shooting and suicideing just doesn't get it there, Champ.  Don't be a chickenshit.

Or you could (gasp) cope with it like the rest of us:  talk to somebody, get professional help, join a gang, have yourself committed, take drugs, find Jesus, drop out of society, bury your feelings until the cancer kills you at 45, whatever.  Just take a look around at all the seriously fucked-up people getting by just fine.  You'll be ok.  And if not, remember:  suicide is an individual sport, not a group activity.

Suck it up, Dickwad.
It boggles my mind how so many average-Joe conservative consistantly vote for candidates/policies that are  actually in opposition to their own self interests.  This question has been taken up by many non-conservative writers and pundits, most notably in "What's the matter with Kansas?"  So it really does beg the question:  Is the average working-class conservative just stupid?  Maybe so, according to this article:

Scientific Studies and Fox Presidential Debate Prove Republican Voters Are Stupid

In a dick move last night, Fox refused to provide a free stream of the Republican debate. It was impossible to stream the debate without having a cable subscription, even on a smartphone.

This decision to not provide a cable-free stream demonstrates three things about Fox, and by extension, the Republicans:

  1. They value corporate profit over public good.

  2. They don't give a rat's ass about anybody except the older, moneyed, “traditional” demographic who watches TV in their living rooms.

  3. They have simply given up on the millenials altogether.

The Republican party is pandering to their base and ignoring everybody else. In this instance they have made a decision to ignore people who don't pay for a cable subscription, mostly those under 35, and especially the millennials. Cable subscribership is going down and broadband subscribership is going up, and this is driven primarily by millennials.

  • In the three years ending 2014, the ranks of Americans who no longer get cable or satellite TV increased 44 percent to 7.6 million households (report by Experian Marketing Services).

  • A 2014 survey from ComScore found that almost a quarter (24%) of TV viewers ages 18 to 34 don't subscribe to a traditional pay TV service.

  • During the first quarter of 2015, the share of cable-cutting households reached 9.7% and the number of homes getting programming from Internet services rather than TV providers has more than doubled since 2014.

  • As of this July (2015) nearly half (46%) of U.S. homes have access to a streaming service. That figure rises to 62% for homes with people age 18 to 34, underscoring the allure of on-demand video, especially among Millennials.

  • Furthermore, households where one of the residents owns a smartphone or tablet are at least 20 percent more likely to be a cable cutter, and smartphones are now the most commonly used device to watch downloaded or streaming video. (this last fact makes it especially mind-boggling that Fox requires a cable subscription to stream content on a mobile device, wtf?)

Given all this, it is unthinkable that Fox wouldn't provide a cable-free stream of the Republican debate to provide the candidates the widest audience possible. But they did not. They could have, but they didn't. They willingly prevented at least 8 million people from watching the debate live.

One can only conclude they (both Fox and the Republicans) simply don't care about the streaming demo, and, more cynically, that they value corporate profit (cable fees and advertising revenue) more highly than they value the public good of providing viewing access to our legal process.






27 June 2015 @ 08:32 pm
I’m pissed.  My wife and I have been looking forward to our 25th wedding anniversary next year.  Planning to renew our vows, even looking at silver rings and everything.  But now it’s all ruined.  How are we supposed to joyfully celebrate our marriage when matrimony has been made unholy?  How could they destroy marriage like that?  They have no right to go against both God and the majority of Americans to undermine the beauty and specialness of such an important social and religious institution, an institution central to the health of our families and our Christian society.  They have pulled the rug out from under all of us.

Not only am I personally offended by this perversion, I’m directly affected by it.  By turning from righteousness and destroying the sanctity of marriage this unelected cadre of robed heathens has redefined and de-sanctified everybody’s marriages, including mine, and destroyed the underpinnings of the American family.

Marriage has literally lost it’s meaning.  How are people supposed to know when I say I’m married that I’m not gay?  Up to now we all knew the code.  When someone said “partner” or “significant other” we knew they were perverts, and when they said  “spouse” or “husband” or “wife” we knew they were straight like the rest of us.  But now?  Now my once-holy union is open to sick interpretation.  My deepest relationship has been violated.  Everybody’s marriages are now infected by the intrusion of the gay agenda and its destruction of the family.

Might as well not be married.  It’s all a sham.

Current Mood: angryangry
So I replaced the 13-year-old original speakers in my car this weekend:  nothing special, just the cheapest little Kenwood drop-ins:  6 1/2” on all four corners.  But damn if it didn’t take almost 4 hours!  The O.E. speakers are non-standard size and/or built into mounting brackets.  So required custom mounting brackets/adapters front and rear (thank you Crutchfield!).  And the rear speakers top-mount to the deck under the parcel shelf, which required removal of the parcel self – after removal of the rear seats.  The fronts are in the doors, but were riveted in – had to drill the rivets.  All-in-all it all went well – only had one glitch:  the Crutchfield-supplied wiring adapter for the rears had the wrong connector.  It was the correct shape, with the correct pins, but the alignment bar was wrong.  So I had to pull the pins and go without the connectors.  Still better than without the wiring adapter since I just plugged in the pins and wrapped with tape, but took an extra 20 mins to disassemble the connectors, etc.  The front wiring harnesses were exactly right, and were the perfect length too.  I just can't believe it took like 4 hours to install cheap “drop-in” replacement speakers.  But they do sound better, so it was 4 hours well spent.
In the 2012 election, Democrats won the popular vote in the aggregate, resulting in a Democratic president and an expanded Democratic majority in the Senate.  Yet, at the same time, we installed the second-largest Republican House majority in 60 years.

So how did Republicans expand their House majority despite more Americans voting for the other party?  How does Congress enjoy a 90 percent incumbency rate despite a 10 percent approval rating?  Gerrymandering.  Extreme gerrymandering.

Gerrymandering is a primary cause of the crazy bi-polar politics we are seeing.  After Republicans swept into power in state legislatures in 2010, the GOP gerrymandered key states, redrawing House district boundaries to favor Republicans.

In Pennsylvania, Democrats received half of the votes in House contests, yet Republicans hold about three-quarters of the congressional seats. In North Carolina more than half of the vote went for Democrats, yet Republicans fill about 70 percent of the seats.  Democrats drew a majority of votes in Michigan, yet hold only 5 out of the state's 14 congressional seats.

The idea behind gerrymandering is to create safe House seats for the party doing the redistricting.  It has been done for years by both parties.  But lately the conservatives have successfully drawn geographically nonsensical district maps around pockets of political extremists, thereby creating electorally unassailable, extremely (and unrealistically) conservative districts.   Political scientist Larry Sabato published an analysis finding that 375 of 435 seats — 86 percent — are safe.  So even if incumbents' aggressive, extremist bargaining positions poll terribly nationally, back home in their districts they are heroes.  "The electoral threat of them angering anybody outside of their base is pretty low," Gary C. Jacobson, a political science professor at the University of California, San Diego, tells the National Journal, meaning "incentives for most House Republicans would encourage more — not less — confrontation as the standoffs proceed."

Indeed, these incumbents can do anything they want without fear of electoral reprisal.  The vast majority of GOP lawmakers are safely ensconced in districts that would never think of electing a Democrat. Their bigger worry is that someone even more conservative than they are -- bankrolled by uncompromising conservative groups -- might challenge them in a primary.  In fact, this is  already happening:  a few House Republicans are facing serious threats from within their own party.  In each of these upcoming races, Republican incumbents will have to answer criticism that they’re insufficiently conservative and haven’t done enough to combat the Obama agenda.  In short, most of the Republicans behind the shutdown have no reason to fear that voters will ever punish them for it, and in fact would be punished for not digging in.

Compared to the last U.S. government shut downs in 1995-96, Republicans in the House represent much safer, more homogenous districts, where the only challengers are other conservative Republicans.  Comparing today's 232-seat Republican majority with the 236 seats Republicans held in 1995-96 underscores the extent to which GOP legislators have succeeded in fortifying themselves into homogeneously conservative districts.

On every measure, Republicans today represent constituencies that lean more lopsidedly toward their party. According to David Wasserman, who analyzes House races for the Cook Political Report, 79 of the 236 House Republicans serving during the last shutdown resided in districts that Clinton won in 1992. Today, just 17 of the 232 House Republicans are in districts that Obama won in 2012.  According to the Cook Political Report's Partisan Voting Index, in 1995 the average district held by House Republicans had a GOP advantage of roughly 6.6 points. Today the average district held by House Republicans has a GOP advantage of roughly 11.1 points.  These changes are the results of extreme gerrymandering, not changing political views.

Look at the leaders of the defund-Obamacare effort in the House: Georgia Rep. Tom Graves, a Tea Party Caucus member, represents a district where Obama won just a quarter of the vote. Fewer than two in five voters in Kentucky Rep. Thomas Massie’s district backed the president for reelection. And Idaho Rep. Raul Labrador, a poster child of the conservative Club for Growth, is in a district where Obama got just 32 percent.

We saw the conservative political echo-chamber in full effect in 2010 when Karl Rove and Romney and others were completely blind-sided by the Democrat's sweep.  And now their echo-chamber has been amplified for a large number of incumbents who are representing artificial, geographically nonsensical districts that don't reflect the actual demographics of their states, nor even accurately reflect the demographics of the geographic regions they supposedly represent.

Added to the echo-chamber amplification, is the reality that even if a widespread public backlash does develop against a shutdown or potential government default, many Republican incumbents are well insulated against electoral consequences and are less sensitive to shifts in public attitudes that could threaten their party's national image or standing in more closely contested parts of the country.  These guys are beholden only to their base of extremists and can do extreme and unreasonable things with impunity.

And the frustrating and sad thing is, there is no clear way out of this mess since the forces at play seem only to want to make things worse.





17 September 2013 @ 10:35 pm
Excerpts from an interview with theologian John Haught.  Wherein he argues science and religion are not necessarily at odds: they just ask different questions and look at things in different ways.

Full interview at Salon:  http://www.salon.com/2007/12/19/john_haught/

What do you say to the atheists who demand evidence or proof of the existence of a transcendent reality?
The hidden assumption behind such a statement is often that faith is belief without evidence. Therefore, since there’s no scientific evidence for the divine, we should not believe in God. But that statement itself — that evidence is necessary — holds a further hidden premise that all evidence worth examining has to be scientific evidence. And beneath that assumption, there’s the deeper worldview — it’s a kind of dogma — that science is the only reliable way to truth. But that itself is a faith statement. It’s a deep faith commitment because there’s no way you can set up a series of scientific experiments to prove that science is the only reliable guide to truth. It’s a creed.

Are you’re saying scientists are themselves practicing a kind of religion?
The new atheists have made science the only road to truth. They have a belief, which I call “scientific naturalism,” that there’s nothing beyond nature — no transcendent dimension — that every cause has to be a natural cause, that there’s no purpose in the universe, and that scientific explanations, especially in their Darwinian forms, can account for everything living. But the idea that science alone can lead us to truth is questionable. There’s no scientific proof for that. Those are commitments that I would place in the category of faith. So the proposal by the new atheists that we should eliminate faith in all its forms would also apply to scientific naturalism. But they don’t want to go that far. So there’s a self-contradiction there.

So if you’re a person of faith who wants to be intellectually responsible, you can’t just shove all this science into a drawer. You do have to deal with it.
Exactly. Theology has always looked to secular concepts to express, for its particular age, what the meaning of God is. In early Christianity, St. Augustine went to Neoplatonism. Later on, Thomas Aquinas did something adventurous: He went to a pagan philosopher, Aristotle, to renew the understanding of Christianity in his own time. Islamic and Jewish philosophers and theologians have done the same thing. But as we move into our own time, theology has to deal with other concepts in order to make sense of its faith. Darwin’s thought seems to be more important intellectually and culturally than it’s ever been. My view is that theology, instead of ignoring or closing its eyes to it, should look it squarely in the face. It has everything to gain and nothing to lose by doing so. In my view, Darwin’s thought is a gift to theology.

You have carved out an interesting position in the debate over science and religion. You are critical of atheists like Dawkins and Dennett, who believe evolutionary theory leads to atheism. Yet you testified at the 2005 Dover trial against intelligent design. What’s wrong with intelligent design?
I testified against it because, first of all, teaching it in public schools is a violation of the establishment clause of the First Amendment. There is something irremediably religious about the idea. Try to deny it though they might, advocates of intelligent design are really proposing a kind of watered-down version of natural theology. That’s the attempt to explain what’s going on in nature’s order and design by appealing to a nonnatural source. So it’s not science. I agree with all the scientists who say intelligent design should not be made part of science. It’s not a valid scientific alternative to Darwinian ideas. It should not be taught in classrooms and public schools. It’s also extremely poor theology. What intelligent design tries to do — and the great theologians have always resisted this idea — is to place the divine, the Creator, within the continuum of natural causes. And this amounts to an extreme demotion of the transcendence of God, by making God just one cause in a series of natural causes.

This becomes the “God of the gaps.” When you can’t explain something by science, you say God did it.
Paul Tillich, the great Protestant theologian, said that kind of thinking was the foundation of modern atheism. Careless Christian thinkers wanted to make a place for God within the physical system that Newton and others had elaborated. That, in effect, demoted the deity as being just one link in a chain of causes that brought the transcendent into the realm of complete secular immanence. The atheists quite rightly said this God is unnecessary.

Einstein is certainly relevant in this context. He called himself a “deeply religious nonbeliever.” He talked about having genuine religious feelings when he marveled at the inherent order and harmony in the universe. But he thought the idea of a personal God was preposterous. He couldn’t believe in a God who interfered with natural events or intervened in the lives of people.
Let’s look at why Einstein found that idea of God objectionable. Einstein was a man who thought the laws of physics have to be completely inviolable. Nature is a closed continuum of deterministic causes and effects, and if anything interrupted that, it would violate the fundamental scientific worldview that he had. So the idea of a responsive God — a God who answers prayers — would have to violate the laws of physics, the laws of nature. This is why Einstein said the problem of science and religion is caused by the belief in a personal God. But it’s not inevitable that a responsive God violates the laws of physics and chemistry. I don’t think God does violate those laws.

What do you make of the miracles in the Bible — most importantly, the Resurrection? Do you think that happened in the literal sense?
I don’t think theology is being responsible if it ever takes anything with completely literal understanding. What we have in the New Testament is a story that’s trying to awaken us to trust that our lives make sense, that in the end, everything works out for the best. In a pre-scientific age, this is done in a way in which unlettered and scientifically illiterate people can be challenged by this Resurrection. But if you ask me whether a scientific experiment could verify the Resurrection, I would say such an event is entirely too important to be subjected to a method which is devoid of all religious meaning.

So if a camera was at the Resurrection, it would have recorded nothing?
If you had a camera in the upper room when the disciples came together after the death and Resurrection of Jesus, we would not see it. I’m not the only one to say this. Even conservative Catholic theologians say that. Faith means taking the risk of being vulnerable and opening your heart to that which is most important. We trivialize the whole meaning of the Resurrection when we start asking, Is it scientifically verifiable? Science is simply not equipped to deal with the dimensions of purposefulness, love, compassion, forgiveness — all the feelings and experiences that accompanied the early community’s belief that Jesus is still alive. Science is simply not equipped to deal with that. We have to learn to read the universe at different levels. That means we have to overcome literalism not just in the Christian or Jewish or Islamic interpretations of scripture but also in the scientific exploration of the universe. There are levels of depth in the cosmos that science simply cannot reach by itself.