02.08.11

Governator Hangover

Posted in Phlogiston, Rock 'n' Roll, Stumble and Fail at 4:10 pm by George Smith


Arnold in better times. No more good news, lads! Alles kaput!

After more than half a decade of misery and failure at the state level, via Digby, here:

In 2003 Californians recalled Gray Davis and elected Arnold Schwarzenegger. Now they say oops. 42% of voters in the state say that Davis was the superior Governor to only 32% who remain in Schwarzenegger’s camp. Democrats, at 56%, are a lot more sold on Davis having better than Republicans, at 48%, are on Schwarzenegger. Beyond that independents go for Davis by a 40/33 margin as well. It would be hard to claim that Davis is a popular figure at this point- but he’s certainly not as disliked as Schwarzenegger and his 25/65 favorability rating is.

In 2003, I had the right idea. Make a song, “I Think We Should Make a Carla Sandwich,” with purloined Arnold vocal bits taken from prank phone-call sites.

Wrote the LA Times in November of that year:

A couple of MP3 online musical parodies by “Arnold and the Gropinators,” a “Venice Beach garage metal” band, have surfaced … the A-side title, “I Think We Should Make a Carla Sandwich,” is taken from a description in The Times of an alleged movie set incident in which Schwarzenegger and his stand-in trapped stand-in Carla Baron next to a food service table. Schwarzenegger supposedly said, “I think we should make a Carla sandwich,” and the men squeezed her between them. After they released her, Baron said, Schwarzenegger stuck his tongue in her mouth.

It was popular enough to make its way across the country to the Pine Grove, PA, video rental store.

“I Think We Should Make a Carla Sandwich” — is here.

“I vould like to vork you out/Your ass feels to me, very stout!”



“You
like discipline!” — Arnold

The Schwartz was with the NYT Magazine

Posted in Stumble and Fail at 1:43 pm by George Smith

It’s almost too easy to bag on the fancy and fine editors and contributors to the New York Times magazine when they blow up in public like this:

There is an element of uncertainty in every complicated engineering endeavor. “In July 2003, in the Pacific, a Japanese fishing boat was sunk by a flying cow,” Robert Bea told me. Bea is a professor of civil and environmental engineering at the University of California, Berkeley, and a leading scholar of risk; he also spent many years working in research and management at Shell. The cow, it turned out, was part of an illegal cattle shipment bound from Anchorage to Russia; as the plane approached its destination the smugglers became nervous about their cargo and began shoving it out of the plane. “No risk analysis can ever be complete. No one can predict a flying cow.”

Written by Benjamin Wallace-Wells for an article entitled “The Will to Drill,” the Times retracted what was a too-choice-to-be-true and fairly obvious hoax with a brief note on the 5th:

An article on Jan. 16 about drilling for oil off the coast of Angola erroneously reported a story about cows falling from planes, as an example of risks in any engineering endeavor. No cows, smuggled or otherwise, ever fell from a plane into a Japanese fishing rig. The story is an urban legend, and versions of it have been reported in Scotland, Germany, Russia and other locations.

The original — whimsically dubbed “No one can predict a flying cow” — in e-mail, is here although the pages of Wallace-Wells’ article have been cleansed of his goof.

Wallace-Wells’ tagline is even more cringe worthy in its misplaced vanity:

Benjamin Wallace-Wells is a contributing writer for the magazine and a Schwartz fellow at the New America Foundation. His last article for the magazine was about the legal scholar Cass Sunstein.

And there can now be no doubt the Schwartz has certainly been with him.

“As a Schwartz Fellow at New America, Wallace-Wells will examine the shifting role of intellectuals in public policy,” reads his blurb page at the ‘think-tank.’

With such a steely and forward look he is certainly the man for this important job.


File under: Upholding the good reputation of American think tanks.

GOP damaged high school science education: Proven by science

Posted in Culture of Lickspittle, Extremism, Stumble and Fail, Why the World Doesn't Need US at 9:01 am by George Smith

This quote from the New York Times piece channeling a recent article in the journal, Science, is all you need to know:

“With 15 to 20 percent of biology teachers teaching creationism,” he continued, “this is the biggest failure in science education. There’s no other field where teachers reject the foundations of their science like they do in biology.”

When I was in high school in the Seventies in very conservative Pine Grove, PA, this was not an issue.

One might say it has evolved, driven by extreme religious right GOP efforts to use science as a wedge issue, not only because its findings conflict with its ideology but because people can be rallied by insinuating their faith is under attack by the other side which believes the hated “elites.”

PGAHS had a fine biology lab and equally good instruction. It prepared my entire class, most of which was headed toward a college education.

One of the academics interviewed by the Times did not think more education was an answer. And that’s because the right rejects evolution outright.

“At least 25 percent of high school teachers in Minnesota explicitly teach creationism,” says one professor to the Times.

This would have presented me with a dilemma in 1972.

Walk and try to find a school where there wasn’t a creationist (PGAHS had only one high school biology instructor) or have my time wasted.

And when the president went on television to say we need more interest in science I just laughed. If people who were in a position to do something about that in this country now we would be able to reverse this atrocious statistic and run the creationists out of town.

The paradox is that American science hasn’t been up to this job. For many years the denial of science was taken as just a laugh-it-off kind of thing in University-land.

Who’s laughing now?

One has only to review the history and continuing existence of Michael Behe in the biology department at Lehigh University, my old alma mater, for a working example.

So we don’t live in a country where just more rational discourse has any effect. We live in a country that is in decline, that has lost a self-correcting capability, and this is one symptom of it.

When half the political establishment detests science and actively works to undermine it, it’s a driver of decline.


Over at Armchair Generalist, Jason Sigger has embedded a bit from Bill Maher. Here five trivial people, Maher included, argue global warming and evolution.

At this point there are only two solutions to the behavior.

The nice one is that you don’t give the Republicans an opening. You don’t invite them if you plan to discuss it. It’s not entertainment. It’s just more of the problem.

If Republicans — or any random heevahavas — get to open their mouths they present myths and falsehoods, now packed with the maddening implication that it’s they who have the scientific outlook because it is they who have evaluated all the data and are now being criticized for it.

They cling to the idea that the rightness of something is determined by the number of people who adopt it. And since their tribe is the one to adopt non-belief in science, that is what’s right.

The not-nice solution is to wind up and knock the grinning Georgia politician’s teeth out when he starts up on cable television.

“It’s a mystery how these people get dressed in the morning,” concludes Armchair Generalist.

They are a collective disgrace.

02.07.11

Fellating US businessmen: A losing proposition

Posted in Made in China, Stumble and Fail at 7:25 pm by George Smith

TIME magazine covered the President’s visit to the US Chamber of Commerce today here.

And it dug up a US Chamber of Commerce member to act as the uncertain businessman, wounded by too much regulation — Harold Jackson, the CEO of Buffalo Supply.

TIME reads:

It’s unclear how [Obama’s] message will resonate with business owners like Harold Jackson. The CEO of Buffalo Supply Inc., a Lafayette, Colo., medical equipment purveyor, has cut his staff by nearly half in the last two years. On Monday, Jackson said he was “encouraged” by President Obama’s support for measured regulations. “The proof will be in his actions,” Jackson said, adding, “Until he actually removes regulations, I don’t have confidence to hire the way I’d like.”

Now go out to Buffalo Supply’s website here.

The only reason Buffalo Supply exists is the dadgum US Federal Government.

Right at the top of the page, in bold letters:

Buffalo Supply is Your Federal Business Solution.

Followed by:

At Buffalo Supply, we’re working hard to earn your business! We have been providing medical and surgical equipment and supplies to the Federal Government since 1983. Buffalo Supply has numerous Federal Supply Schedule contracts with products to satisfy all of your needs. Through our diligent work and long experience in the federal marketplace, Buffalo Supply has developed a high level of expertise in helping federal institutions efficiently meet their objectives of providing high quality healthcare at competitive prices.

And its CEO is complaining about the big bad Obama and too much government regulation.

Was it too hard for TIME’s reporter to check the company’s website before asking its CEO for words of wisdom?

Or would the truth that Buffalo Supply’s CEO and employee salaries come from taxpayer dollars just have spoiled the script of US-government-hostile-to-business?


Buffalo Supply’s Chairman of the Board is someone named Stonewall Jackson, according to this page.

Seriously.

02.06.11

If only we could all be great on Twitter & Facebook

Posted in Culture of Lickspittle, Made in China, Stumble and Fail at 9:38 am by George Smith

DD, through wearing of the senior fellow hat at GlobalSecurity, received a query from a reporter at the biggest newspaper last week. Could I talk about Egypt and the Internet?

No, not really. I indicated I didn’t have interest in the story that Facebook and Twitter had been significant to the Egyptian uprising.

I did see that US-made M1 tanks were laying smoke screens and refraining from shelling and machine-gunning crowds.

Which doesn’t jive with the regular make-stuff-up things passed off by US media.

Mark Zuckerberg, bringing freedom and democracy to the downtrodden everywhere through a click. When-oh-when will he be awarded a Nobel prize?

Naturally, since it’s always about how fantastical/egotistical we can be re social media coupled with how much fun it is to point out all the rest of the lumpy useless sitting-around unskilled people who aren’t, we have Tom Friedman rubbing it in, as usual:

When China can make Egyptian Ramadan toys more cheaply and appealingly than low-wage Egyptians, you know there is problem of competitiveness.

Egypt, Jordan, Yemen, Tunisia today are overflowing with the most frustrated cohort in the world — “the educated unemployables.” They have college degrees on paper but really don’t have the skills to make them globally competitive. I was just in Singapore. Its government is obsessed with things as small as how to better teach fractions to third graders.

Being good with fractions has nothing to do with making crap toys cheaper in China where the government subsidizes its businesses, manipulates its currency and manufacturing is built on labor costs that are a fraction of ours.

And Singapore is a small island. Think of it as a wart on Malaya, always held up as an annoying beacon of progress. With little to support any such claims other than it’s a place, much smaller than soCal, where the kids do far better on tests and the beggars are a bit less obvious or something. Where all that good science comes from.

“What science?” I hear you ask. My point exactly.

I was asked to give a bioterrorism lecture — for free — at a Singapore university called Nanyang a couple years ago. Passed. I’m wise to the link between competitiveness and the keeping costs down through knuckle-whitening parsimony thing.

In the same section as Tom Friedman’s regular riff on how we are useless unless we start inventing our own little private TwitterFacebooks, was Frank Rich, being the naysayer:

Three days after riot police first used tear gas and water hoses to chase away crowds in Tahrir Square, CNN’s new prime-time headliner, Piers Morgan, declared that “the use of social media” was “the most fascinating aspect of this whole revolution.” On MSNBC that same night, Lawrence O’Donnell interviewed a teacher who had spent a year at the American school in Cairo. “They are all on Facebook,” she said of her former fifth-grade students. The fact that a sampling of fifth graders in the American school might be unrepresentative of, and wholly irrelevant to, the events unfolding in the streets of Cairo never entered the equation.

The social networking hype eventually had to subside for a simple reason: The Egyptian government pulled the plug on its four main Internet providers and yet the revolution only got stronger. “Let’s get a reality check here,” said Jim Clancy, a CNN International anchor, who broke through the bloviation on Jan. 29 by noting that the biggest demonstrations to date occurred on a day when the Internet was down. “There wasn’t any Twitter. There wasn’t any Facebook,” he said. No less exasperated was another knowledgeable on-the-scene journalist, Richard Engel, who set the record straight on MSNBC in a satellite hook-up with Rachel Maddow. “This didn’t have anything to do with Twitter and Facebook,” he said. “This had to do with people’s dignity, people’s pride. People are not able to feed their families.”

Re Maddow and MSNBC: There was still plenty of Twitter and Facebook blow-jobbing.

02.05.11

Unemployment and outsourcing situational humor

Posted in Made in China, Stumble and Fail at 1:27 pm by George Smith


Source: US Bureau of Labor Statistics, data plotter.

DD generally looks in the spam filter once a day. Akismet false flags legit comments semi-frequently. As a byproduct, I’m familiar with the often ludicrous nature of spammers.

However, an attempt today was exceptional — worth a repeated laugh.

An outsourcing/offshoring company used comment spam to try and place a link for its services on the blog. And it was attracted to my recent posts on “US bullshit manufacturing.”

This is the poxy company: t**ech**vein. If you’re curious, purge the asterisks, add a dot com.

“While it’s true that a skilled worker in the US will be in the higher range, the actual cost to company for every employee is substantially more …” reads one come-on to dump the middle class.

One expects people of such ilk to be cockroaches. And they helpfully prove it for you in so many ways.


Related: US Bullshit Manufacturing.

Commodities, conspiracies, caliphates

Posted in Extremism, Imminent Catastrophe, Stumble and Fail at 9:37 am by George Smith

Earlier in the week I commented on how Ed Schultz on MSNBC has implicitly asked viewers to entertain the idea that Wall Street threatened national and world security. Not in connection with the economic collapse — which is the most obvious conclusion which actually can be drawn.

But currently with speculation in commodities, most notably food, causing spikes in pricing, privation and subsequent popular uprising in Egypt.

It was startling to see the conspiracy laid out in the mainstream. It is not, however, nearly as lunatic as Glenn Beck’s claims that the Egyptian uprising is caused by a socialist Muslim conspiracy.

This conspiracy, Beck explained, was aimed at creating a world ‘caliphate’, employing the tactics from an obscure book, The Coming Insurrection, now made famous by his name-dropping the title as a way of working up his audience over the idea that others are soon coming for them.

Beck’s crazy tirades can also be summed up by an illustration taken from the cover of the old short manual of Afghan jihad.

It’s here — a map of the world with an Islamic dagger through it. The manual contains a reference to establishment of a caliphate and it’s probably no coincidence that this has trickled down over the span of many years, now finding lodgment — far removed from any original source — in Beck’s addled head. [1]

I actually watched a couple of Beck’s episodes and by late Friday night — a rerun — he’d lapsed into a poor man’s Jack D. Ripper/Strangelove mumble, going on about how he was giving his audience facts, facts — and was criticized for it by people covering these facts up.

And here’s where my desktop copy of the Strangelove script always comes in handy:

“The facts are all there, Group Captain … I have studied the facts carefully for over seventeen years and they are here … I have studied the facts, Group Captain, facts, and by projecting the statistics I realized the time had come to act … The absolutely fantastic thing is that the facts are all there for anyone who wants to see them.”

In Strangelove, Ripper’s mania is humorously laid out in many ways, one of them being his repetitive obsession with the facts about fluoride. On Fox, however, the network obviously believes it’s appropriate to send something ad hoc but similar out to millions of easily confused Americans packaged as a show of news and opinion.

When you get down to the nut of it, it’s the work of cynical shitheels.

Back at MSNBC, Dylan Ratigan — like Ed Schultz — was on a similar commodities pricing riff. For Ratigan it wasn’t just Wall Street, but primarily the US government — the Fed, printing money and causing a rush into commodities by Wall Street investors.

Krugman’s blog addressed it today. And it’s always a wonder what a cogent argument from a big scientific mind can do:

What’s behind the surge in food prices? The usual suspects have made the usual claims — it’s all about the Fed, or it’s all about speculators. But I’ve been looking at the USDA World supply and demand estimates, and what stands out from the data is mainly that we’ve had a huge global harvest failure …

Why is production down? Most of the decline in world wheat production, and about half of the total decline in grain production, has taken place in the former Soviet Union — mainly Russia, Ukraine, and Kazakhstan. And we know what that’s about: an incredible, unprecedented heat wave.

Obligatory disclaimer: no one event can be definitively assigned to climate change, just as you can’t necessarily claim that any one of the fender-benders taking place right now in central New Jersey was caused by the sheet of black ice currently coating our roads. But it sure looks like climate change is a major culprit. And it’s not just the FSU: extreme weather elsewhere, which again is the sort of thing you should expect from climate change, has played a role in bad harvest around the world.

Back to the economics: if you want to know why we’re having a spike in food prices, the data suggest that the key cause is terrible weather leading to bad harvests, especially in the former Soviet Union.

An ‘ah-ha!’ short essay, so to speak.

Footnote:

[1] The precise reference from the ‘manual’ is: “I [the author] present this humble effort to these young Moslem [sic] men who are pure, believing, and fighting for the cause of Allah. It is my contribution toward paving the road that leads to majestic allah and establishes a caliphate …”

02.04.11

Nobody likes him except the high class hookers

Posted in Culture of Lickspittle, Satan's Bank, Stumble and Fail at 2:17 pm by George Smith

From Krugman:

… the fragile ego of Jamie Dimon, who is not only wealthy beyond count but has also received a lot of fawning press. But it’s apparently not good enough.

Reuters’ Jamie Dimon special.

Re fawning press, the New York Times magazine comes to mind.

America’s Least-Hated Banker, by Roger Lowenstein.

The comments at the foot of the Reuters piece do not support the mag’s thesis.

Related: Let’s Lynch Lloyd Blankfein.


John Young at Cryptome discusses the lofty and important New York Times and its disdain for nerdy, smelly and impolite Julian Assange. And some of the lines scream for republication:

As a clue, [Bill Keller] jokingly noted that the information security set up among those working with Wikileaks was likely penetrated by governments — an exculpation often deployed by informers. Rusbridger joined the humor by grinning at Keller and admitting “we” lack technical skills against that — separating noble wordsmith editors from sneaky outlaw hackers like Assange …

“I am not a lawyer,” Keller said idiotically evasive, said he had been advised to not tell about the Times’ legal defense, then went on to expostulate in carefully lawyerly-guided rhetoric the public benefits of reputable MSM against anarchistic information bomb-throwers. Rusbridger kow-towed to Keller as if dangled by his lawyers’ strings to cow behind The Times officially-constructed bulwark to escape complicity in the Wikileaks (and its kind) prosecution, and to be protected by legislation underway to formalize that arrangement to coddle obsequious press …

Cryptome made a 1.5 hour-long video (to be posted shortly) for grit against the slick campaign version to be publicized by Columbia. It begins with Cryptome being twice threatened with ejection for violating rules of who was permitted to record the highly-scripted campaign to protect the press from those who break rules, umm, commit crimes, like Wikileaks.

Columbia University and its School of Journalism are long-time suppressors of dissent under guise of fostering loyal opposition to official power (John Young of Cryptome is a dissenting graduate) …

Brav-o!

Young notes the New York Times spammed a sales push for its book on WikiLeaks simultaneously with the announcement of a 26 percent drop in income.

02.03.11

The poor sod, 3

Posted in Ricin Kooks, Stumble and Fail at 2:00 pm by George Smith

From Ohio newspapers:

Ricin suspect Jeff Boyd Levenderis will continue to be held on suicide watch in Summit County jail at least until a Feb. 15 federal court hearing when his lawyer will resume trying to get him released on bond.

Federal and local authorities arrested him last week after the deadly toxin ricin was found in his former residence in Coventry Township.

Levenderis pleaded not guilty Thursday to indictments of possession of a biological toxin and making false statements to the FBI. His attorney, Edward G. Bryan, said in U.S. District Court in Akron that he didn’t pose a threat and said he should released …

Before his arrest last week, Levenderis was staying in a Tallmadge nursing home where his attorney said he was being treated for mental illness and a thyroid condition. Bryan said Levenderis might go back there if released.

Bryan said Levenderis’ health improved dramatically after being placed in the nursing home in November and he expressed concern it might deteriorate in jail. He said Levenderis’ suicide watch includes being held naked in a cell under constant watch from deputies.

Everyone knows being banged up on what almost always means prison time and being held naked in a cell improves the mental outlook.

A wise judge would release the man on bail as soon as possible.

In a better world there would be no book in prosecuting people like Jeffrey Levenderis. Prison time for crap in a jar in the refrigerator?

It’s ludicrous, cruel and unusual punishment.

Stuff your craft beer where the sun don’t shine

Posted in Phlogiston, Stumble and Fail at 9:53 am by George Smith

DD readers know I despise anything have to do with the idea of the ‘artisan’ economy. This is the new mind candy, now that manufacturing except for arms and some cars, is gone from the United States, that a nation of over 300 million will transform to making crafted premium goods for the world’s upper middle class shoeshine boys and plutocrats.

It’s a ludicrous concept, particularly if you still walk by businesses and stores everyday and actually rub shoulders with your countrymen. Yes, we’re surely a great mass of people, bustling with ideas for super apps and the next robotic chrome-plated coffee maker/alarm clock.

What it is: An editorial argument to rationalize sending most of the country to the poor house as too stupid and unskilled to flourish in the new world.

Today’s example, an article on craft beer exports from the Los Angeles Times:

After decades of taking hops advice from foreign brewers, American craft brewers are beginning to return the favor. Several are now exporting their beers, and others are inviting upstart foreign brewers stateside for a lesson in brewing American favorites such as double IPAs (an India pale ale amped up with extra hops to intensify the flavor). Or, as with Stone, they are getting a surprisingly bubbly reception in the bid for permanent resident status abroad.

“We had no idea we would suddenly need a Stone employee with ‘European acquisitions’ added to his title,” says Koch. After scouting locations in May, Koch and co-owner Steve Wagner received more than 75 brewery site proposals from nine countries, including Denmark, Estonia, France, Italy and Britain. They recently narrowed the playing field to the top two contenders: Bruges, Belgium, and Berlin.

Aside: History used to tell us IPA’s were “pumped up” so they wouldn’t spoil on the sailors and their long export trips to resupply the troops with bitters on the fringes of the British empire.

Anyway, I’ve had Stone. Meh.

When I moved to soCal in the early Nineties the domestic craft beer boom was in full swing. I tricked myself into liking a few.

Then I went back to Lucky Lager, from Tumwater, WA, which was the cheapest selling stuff at Von’s supermarket. Plus, all the bottlecaps had a little sight riddle inside them. You knew you’d had enough Lucky when you couldn’t discern the pictographs or figure them out anymore.

About 2003, you stopped being able to get Lucky in Pasadena, right at the time the Tumwater plant closed. Which makes perfect sense in the context of this story. Downsize the middle class.

So Stone is popular in Estonia. I’m beginning to get a hate on for that country, particularly when it keeps showing up in business stories having to do with computing. That anyone from Estonia would like a US artisan beer is enough to warn you off the beverage.

Estonia’s GDP is less than the worth of computer security company McAfee. Get a grip. There are no lessons for us in Estonia.

The LA Times piece, from it’s food section, contains a few numbers, none of them interesting:

In 2004, the Brewers Assn. launched its Export Development Program with a grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to help American craft breweries meet the increasing demand for their products in international markets. According to the Brewers Assn., since 2003 total U.S. craft beer exports have tripled to more than 1.3 million gallons. (Sweden is the largest importer of American craft beer, followed by Canada, Japan and Denmark.)

Most of those sales are limited to large craft breweries such as Stone, but some small breweries are beginning to test the international waters. The Bruery in Orange County recently began shipping about 100 cases of its spice-infused ales to Europe every quarter as part of a shared shipping arrangement with Green Flash Brewing in San Diego and the Lost Abbey in San Marcos.

1.3 millions gallons a year.

The MillerCoors brewery in Irwindale produces 7 million barrels a year. It employs 600 middle class workers.

Of course, if you perused DD blog during the holiday season, you saw this heartwarming Xmas party tale revealing that even they are up for grabs.

The artisan economy thing has also almost ruined Pabst for me. The idea that it’s now entrenched as a beer for cool people leaves me speechless.

The LA Times artisan brew export story is here.

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