"Where else would you go when you have an ax to grind?"

Friday, April 17, 2009

"Going, going, Galt" or "How can we miss you if you won't go away"

The Amish have the right idea: When someone's antisocial behaviour is so extreme as to become intolerable, they should not be allowed to be part of society and should be shunned.

I'd like to see all these "Go Galt" teabagging "I'll keep my guns, my money and my freedom, you keep the change" chowderheads either put up or shut up. They want to go Galt? Fine, I say we don't even send a bill for the protection of the social contract they've enjoyed so far in life. But from now on, they get a regular bill for the breathable air and drinkable municipal water and product safety protection and every road is a toll road for them. No taxes for you John Galts, you don't want your money subsidizing shiftless layabouts like those pointy-headed academics in states universities or those faceless bureacrats in the oppressive state civil service. You are all independent free agents -- we get it, you can pay your own way without The Man to hold you back.You have resigned your membership in society.
So, you don't get the special members rates from the hospitals and fire departments and other parts of society either anymore. In fact, some of the services we offer members, such as use of hospital surgical facilities and oil refineries are so much in demand, that we are going to have to restrict them to use by members only. Good luck building your own CAT scan machine, though I'm sure you can find some doctors willing to treat you at several times the regular rates. You have private medical insurance, so you don't need society and the state. Of course, if the insurance company doesn't live up to its end of the contract, I'm sure you can talk them round. After all a contract is legally binding on both parties and failure to live up to the terms of the contract nullifies that contract, so you could take or business elsewhere, I'm sure the company will miss you terribly. If only there was some way to force them to hold up their end of the bargin, some big stick you could wield against them, like the court system or a government licencing agency, but that's just the machinery of the oppressor.
Oh, and if I see any non-members of the public on public property, I'm calling the cops - who can do whatever they want with them since they are no longer members of society and have no rights. In fact, maybe I'll just shoot them or run them over in my car - what are they going to do, have me arrested? sue me? The police and the law and the courts are part of the apparatus of the state. They are here to serve and protect members of society. You decided not to be a member of the club called society, remember?
You want to withdraw from society - fine with us. But if I were you, Mr. and Ms. Rugged Individualist, I'd stock up on on no-doze, because all those guns won't help you if you're asleep when we decide we want your stuff, or for that matter, feel like it might be fun to hunt you for sport. You wanted the government off your back, remember? Woooolverines, baby! Welcome to Lord of the Flies, starring you as Piggy.
As a very powerful man once said "you're either with us, or you're with the enemy" - If the Galters want to leave society, fine, don't let the door hit you on the ass on your way out, but don't expect society to have anything to do with you. You're independent, remember?
What's that phrase so beloved by the righties that they've shouted it at any protester since the Vietnam era? "America - Love it or leave it" 
Well, guess what teabaggers? You had your eight years to cut taxes on the rich and "run the government like a business" and we all saw how that worked out. You lost the election, it wasn't even close. Now, either suck it up, pay your (reduced if you make less than $250,000 a year) taxes and play by the rules - or get the fuck out. Maybe you can all get together and convince Richard Mellon Scaife that in exchange for your services in keeping his tax rate down, he should buy you an island somewhere for you to live out your Randian fantasies while you slowly starve in your own filth.
But in the meantime, quit your tiresome fucking whining. Yes, members of society have the right to free speech, no matter how insufferably stupid their speeches are and since you haven't actually "gone Galt" just yet you still have that right, so I'm not advocating the government shut down your little tea parties or anything like that - though you might go a little easier on the talk of violent, armed insurrection against the gubmint, since I'm pretty sure that is treason. I'm just exercising my free speech rights to tell you to quit your mindless yammering about "going Galt" and shit or get off the pot. 
You want to go Galt? So go already! Who's stopping you? Shit, I'll even volunteer to help you pack.

Dear conservatives: Just breathe thru your nose

The things I find funniest about the "tea parties" of angry incoherent right-wing nuts this week are numerous - here's a very short list.

1. Very few of the people showing up to these things look like the types to be making enough that the tax increase on the top 5% of income earners will effect them.

2. Most of them don't seem to know what exactly they are protesting or what they want done. They don't like the bailouts - fine, neither does anyone else - but are we supposed to do, just let the banking system collapse?

3. For something that is pretty transparently put together by Steve Forbes, Richard Mellon Scaife and Rupert Murdoch and the rest of the billionaire wingnuts to help push for a flat"fair tax" system, you'd have thought they could get someone other than Beavis and Butthead to come up with the theme and name of the "protest movement."

4. The identification of Fox News as the "teabagging Network" -- nice to see them admit to the description of them we've been using for years.

5. Even though the meaning of the term has been point out to them - ad infinitum - conservatives are determined to show us damned sniggering liberals just what conservatism means: That just because an idea is stupid, it doesn't mean you don't stick with no matter what.

Shared pain is lessened, shared joy is increased

That's the most important lesson I've learned from the work of Spider Robinson, but its hardly the only one. For his Callahan's Bar stories alone, I owe the man - never mind all the excellent novels he's written and the great music he's turned me on to or his excellent podcast. He made me realize that punning was not a criminal offense and he introduced me to Bushmills  (okay, so maybe he owes everyone who's ever met me an apology - but not me, I owe him BIG).

And so, I wanna tug on your coatsleeve for a minute.
First, for those of you not in the know, let me say that the man is a national treasure. As a writer, he's won most of the major awards they give out in science fiction and with good reason. He's also a regular writer for the Mop&Pail though they foolishly discontinued his regular column a few years back. We won't even get into the massive runaway thing that Callahan's has become on the internet. Suffice to say that at one point the Callahan's bulletin board forum was just about the biggest non-porn site there was back in the days of usenet. Furthermore, he's a natural storyteller and ten minutes listening to his podcast will make you wonder why the CBC hasn't signed this guy as the second coming of Peter Gzowski or at least a summer replacement for Stuart McLean. 
Second, let me say that his wife, Jeanne, is also a national treasure as one of the country's foremost choreographers and former modern dancers. She is currently engaged in bringing to life an idea that was the foundation of a trilogy of great science fiction novels Spider and Jeanne co-wrote called Stardance that won a hatful of awards. That idea is dancing in zero gravity and you can see the early experiments here and follow the project here.
So, Spider and Jeanne Robinson are some of my favorite people and their presence their alone is enough to make me consider moving to Bowen Island, BC, when we do move back to Canada.
Kumbayah, hugs and shots of Bushmills all 'round.

Now we get to the harder part. 
I learned last week from Spider's podcast that bad things happen to good people. Jeanne went into the hospital for what was supposed to be minor surgery a couple of months ago and it was discovered she had a very nasty case of cancer. She starts radiation treatments this week. Spider's been lucky enough to have her sisters fly in from the east coast to help care for her over the last month or so and apparently has lots of good friends and neighbors to help out too. But I suspect, no, I know, it isn't going to be easy for him to write the new series of books he just signed up to do or any other paying copy while his  mind is occupied with trying to help his wife and obviously Jeanne is going to be doing any work for awhile either. Unless someone is making a multimillion dollar movie of your novel, science fiction writing does not pay that well, no matter how good you are and their home is not called "Tottering on the Brink" for nothing. 
So if you could drop a few bucks in the hat for them, it would be very, very much appreciated.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Reasons #3,947 thru #3,951 to hate "Canada's New Government"

3, 947. They lie.
3, 948. They lie all the time.
3, 949. They aren't even good at lying.
3, 950. They lie about things its pointless to lie about, that can be confirmed as untrue before they can finish the sentence.
3,951. Pants+fire=CPC  

Pogge and Paul Koring speak, you listen. 

Dark Star

Yet another reason to love Obama. Truly, the DFHs have taken over the White House. That noise you hear that sounds like popcorn is wingnut heads a-poppin'. When they talk in Washington about someone drinking the koolaide, I didn't think this was quite the kind of koolaide they had in mind. I betcha there are bootlegs available within the week.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

The smell test and a new SLOTM

They say that quitters never win, but sometimes the best thing you can do is quit (listen up Norm Coleman) - in fact, sometimes its the only ethical thing you can do. Just ask ethicist John Jones, former technical advisor to the ethics committee of the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police.

The short version: Ethics committee warns board of directors of police chiefs association that it is unethical to accept sponsorship money and gifts as it could constitute a conflict of interest or create the impression of conflict of interest. Board tell ethics committee to mind its own business and pass the doughnuts. Ethics advisor does the right thing and resigns on the spot.

From Christie Blatchford's well-detailed story in the Globe:

The technical adviser to the ethics committee of the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police has resigned over corporate sponsorship - including that of Taser International - of the group's annual conference.
John Jones, an expert on police ethics who has advised the committee for three years, quit Thursday after the committee's efforts to stop the practice was rebuffed by the board of directors.
"I said in that case, I can't remain a member," a saddened Dr. Jones, the author of Reputable Conduct: Ethical Issues in Policing and Corrections, told The Globe and Mail in a phone interview yesterday from his Ottawa home. "[Such sponsorship] doesn't pass the smell test."

The fine folks at CBC Radio's As It Happens were on the story like a cop on a donut. Listen here to their interview with the soft-spoken ethicist who walks the walk and the executive director of the Association who merely talks the talk.

Jones and the rest of the ethics committee were concerned by the fact that the police chiefs - who charged with ensuring their own officers don't accept so much as a free cup of coffee - were availing themselves of free concert tickets and sponsorships from the Canadian Bankers Association, Loto-Quebec, Microsoft, Bell Mobility and Taser International.

"Generally, commercial enterprises do not operate altruistically. When they donate money, they expect there is something in return." Jones told the Toronto Star, which points out that the Association issued a position paper supporting the use of "conducted energy weapons" last year. Taser International is just about the only maker of "conducted energy weapons" - to the extent that the term is synonmous with their brand name.

The Association doesn't see any conflict of interest - I guess justice really is blind.

The editors down at the Mop&Pail agree.

And so, for having the courage to bite the hand that feeds him and quitting rather than going along with unethical behavior to get along with his employer, Dr. John Jones is our newest Spiritual Leader of the Moment.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Warning: professional geekery

The book is wrong, wrong, wrong!

Oddly, that works for me Glenn

"I think it would be just faster if they just shot me in the head. You know what I mean? How much more can he disenfranchise all of us? President Obama, why don't you just set us on fire?"
-- Glenn Beck

"Nope, no crazy there, no siree" he said, backing slowly out of the padded cell that doubles as a studio for Fox's latest ratings hero.

Deep bench

I've said it so often, but it still bears repeating: The Liberal Blogosphere has a very, very deep bench. Whether it is must-read stuff from the old masters or a fine debut from the newest kid on the block, the best place to start is the blog roll here or there or any of your other favorite blogs.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Sunday songs and cinema

Thanks to a bit of an itunes meltdown, this week's music is brought to you mostly by the letters B, C, D. Requests may be emailed or left in comments. This week's presentation from the Glorious People's Cinema Project will be "Harvey" to conclude our cavalcade of Jimmy Stewart films. Music from 8 pm EDT/5 Pacific, movie from  10 EDT/ 7 PDT -- join us here or in Second Life at the Red Zeppelin.