Whom do you root for?

Exploring the prevalence (and causes for) sports fandom.

A friend’s son asked me which Superbowl team I would be rooting for during the big game – and I didn’t have a satisfactory answer for him. Team sports have always held a “red tribe/blue tribe” quality to me, even from a fairly early age. A great deal of that has to do with how we become associated with team sports, among other concepts.

Written By
Jeff

Experts vs Relativism

Trying to make sense of what constitutes the opinions and expertise we listen to.

In the larger search for guidance, justification, or confirmation, we tend to weigh different opinions – especially expert opinions – based on how they relate to our trust “weighting” of them, by association. That being said, there are two, drastically different, models of weighted opinions: experts, or everybody (which can be understood through the concept of “universal relativism”).

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Jeff

Migrating to Octopress

After much hemming, hawing, and gnashing of teeth, I’m migrating my years of sporadic blogging from Wordpress to Octopress. It seems to integrate a little bit better with both my “command line ethos” and my workflow. I’m sure (for anyone keeping track) that there are probably going to be some weird formatting issues, potentially broken pages, and other incidences of oddness in some places. Please excuse the mess, we’re remodeling.

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Jeff

Election 2012 Summary

It’s the day before the 2012 Presidental Election. I’m disappointed, as usual, by the choice of far right and center right “choices” that we have. I again am forced into the decision of either voting for the preferable third party candidate, with whom I share views on the vast majority of issues (Dr. Jill Stein, for anyone wondering — I still think Ron Paul is a complete crankcase, and Gary Johnson is way too “fuck Federalism” for my taste) and effectively helping to elect an out-of-touch sociopathic plutocrat butt-munch, or vote the “lesser of two evils” and probably end up with a Democrat who is going to “Grand Bargain” away the Great Society programs.

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Jeff

Imaginary Horserace, 2012 Edition

So, the 2012 United States Presidental Election is effectively between Barack Obama and Willard “Mitt” Romney. I don’t think I can stress how little this registers on my “give-a-fuck-o-meter”, although I have been inundated by dire prognostications regarding the end of our “American Way of Life ™” (whatever that is) and a lot of scare-tactic advertising campaigns unleashed by the virtually unlimited flow of corporate money (or as Constitutional Originalist fuckwads like Antonin Scalia would say, “free speech”) into the current election cycle.

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Jeff

FJM Treatment of Charter School Argument

This is an argument I had with someone publicly a little while ago. I was fighting the concept that the entire educational system was a complete failure, and should be replaced with Michelle-Rhee-style charter schools. Jeff I’m sorry, I don’t care what is going on outside the school. That’s pretty myopic. Teaching isn’t a daycare, nor is it a panacea — if you have external positive or negative influences outside of school, it’s going to affect their educational outcome.

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Jeff

Money well spent

I caught a piece on NPR this morning, regarding Governor Dannel Malloy’s proposed educational budget for Connecticut. Most of it was the normal policy discussion, but there was a part of it where they discussed increasing funding in some of the neediest municipalities in Connecticut. There, it was revealed that Litchfield had expressed concern with the governor’s plan to deallocate money which was designed to bring their students together with other kids for the purposes of “racial diversity”, citing that it wouldn’t foster “racial understanding”.

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Jeff

The Dangers of Over-Simplification

I was listening to an FM talk-radio host (I know, I know, when will I ever learn…) this afternoon, and caught a peculiar rant. He was complaining about how terrible the public sector (and government in general) was compared to the private sector, based on two events. The first was that he had bought a large amount of classical music using Amazon’s “one click” service, which he had “downloaded to a cloud driver [sic]“.

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Jeff

Just a theory

I’ve been trying to keep up with the education reform battle in Connecticut, since it’s my home state. The people pushing for reform (along with such “luminaries” as Michelle Rhee and The Walton Foundation, who incidentally would privatize everything up to and including the ocean) are pushing for publicly subsidized yet privatized “charter schools” and the breaking of teachers’ union protections. One of the first things you read in the wikipedia article about charter schools is that:

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Jeff

The myth of moral hazards in health insurance

The entire “managed health” component of the privatized healthcare system which we now “enjoy” in the United States descended from the HMO Act of 1973, signed into law by the President whom Hunter S Thompson had famously claimed “could shake your hand and stab you in the back at the same time”. The insurance system we have today, primarily built on the foundation of the profit-inducing-but-patient-screwing HMO system, has built in something called a “moral hazard”, which ostensibly provides the conservatives’ requisite “skin in the game“.

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Jeff

Wall Street, Occupied

Finally, there’s some sort of populist anger against the bastards who tanked the economy in 2008 to pad their pockets. It’s just too bad that there isn’t a cohesive set of demands to go along with all of that rage. For too long, media-created “populists” like the teabaggers have railed against liberal policies, diversity, and government in general to attempt to explain the uncontrolled collapse of the United States’ economy. I’ve heard explainations (discredited, of course), ranging from the Community Reinvestment Act to “too much regulation”, but I find it rather difficult to understand why the Occupy Wall Street protesters seem myopically obsessed with the Bush Tax Cuts and the Citizens United decisions — as if they caused this clusterfuck.

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Jeff

Unemployment Benefits and the Masters of the Universe

The Masters of the Universe seem to have a vested interest in the death of 99 week unemployment benefits, which I’m just starting to realize. There is a pretty substantial inverse relationship between the DJIA and unemployment rates. By “unemployment rates”, we’re not talking about the Bureau of Labor Statistics U-6 numbers, indicating our entire workforce, but rather the more limited U-3 numbers, which indicate “Total unemployed, as a percent of the civilian labor force”.

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Jeff

Xela Day Seven: Huevos revuelto con queso sin carne y adios

It was my last day in Xela, with all of the basic setup, wiring, and other on-site work having been completed on Friday. As I’m lousy at negotiating prices even in English, Jorge was kind enough to go from shop to shop with me looking for some gifts for my wife and keepsakes to take home with me, after I went out with Irv to find a whiteboard for the clinic.

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Jeff

Xela Day Six: Implementation

More than half our our crew parted ways to do a mobile clinic today, whereas Irv, Shelley and I stayed behind with Dr Christian and a few med students to attempt to get the EMR functional in a way which would jive with the clinic’s workflow. I hit quite a few snags in some of the UI implementation, since I have been pretty hands-off in the development of the UI over the last few months.

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Jeff

Xela Day Five: FreeMED, Finally

It’s day five of our trip to Xela, and we’ve come to the realization that the damn server isn’t going to clear Customs before I leave the country. That being understood, I got FreeMED up and running on the machine which was originally designated to be the secondary / failover server. The guy who set up the router which is being used by POP-WUJ is unfortunately in Spain, and has left no information on access, so I’m unable to appropriately set up port forwards for the server.

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Jeff

Xela Day Four: Aldea Pujujil

Today we left early in the morning, around 7am, to head out to the village of “Aldea Pujujil” in Solola, Guatemala to do a travelling clinic. We took two “micro buses” with ten to thirteen people in each with equipment tied down to the top, and left Xela heading back towards Guatemala City on the Pan American Highway. The local town had set up their central meeting building, which was a stone edifice with a grooved tin roof, as a sort of makeshift clinic.

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Jeff

Xela Day Three: Clinic

The clinic was open for the first of the two days it will be open during my stay in Xela. It was a pretty crazy scene — a line going to the end, if not around the end, of the block. We had Isabel, the local intake/registration person, working with my sister Shelley to do registrations, after which the patients were sent to Jorge, who war running triage. Dr Meg Sullivan treated the pediatric patients, while Irv and one of the local doctors handled the adult patients.

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Jeff

Xela Day Two: A Tale of Two Servers

I ended up passing out on top of the sheets in the hotel due to the tired state in which I arrived, but today was full of plenty of excitement and activity. We walked down to the clinic after breakfast from the nice people at Casa Mañen. The clinic is, to my knowledge, the only permanent free clinic in Xela, and has a few permanent staff members in addition to the volunteers who come down with the “medical brigades” (as Jonathan calls them).

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Jeff

Xela Day One: Planes, Trains and Automobiles

As part of setting up the POP-WUJ Clinic in Xela, Guatemala with an electronic medical record, I have headed down with a team of ten other volunteers to the city of Xela in western Guatemala. I’m going to document the trip and the work we’re doing down here by a series of daily blog entries chronicling our trials and tribulations setting up and installing FreeMED there. I’ll post pictures as soon as I get the chance to upload them to Flickr.

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Jeff

The Evils of Adjustable Rate Mortgages

I was talking with someone this morning about ARMs and the sort of financial havoc they have been wreaking upon a population who was assured that they would be able to refinance before the “adjustable” portion of the mortgage kicked in. During that conversation, I realized the reason why banks were so interested in getting people into ARMs, and it didn’t really have anything to do with trying to weasel houses away from people.

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Jeff

Kill Bill

Kill that damn “healthcare” bill. Kill it dead. I’m as shocked as anyone else that I’m agreeing with morons who wear teabags on their hats and think that universal healthcare is some bizarre form of fascism, and that everyone is a Nazi. Not to fear, I’m not agreeing with them on *everything*, just on one thing: this “healthcare” bill sucks. We saw a 100 bump in the DJIA this morning after the Senate passed their bastardization of a health insurance industry subsidy bill.

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Jeff

US Healthcare Reform is Dead

Yep, that’s it. It has been dead for quite some time now. Unfortunately, it’s not always apparent *why* that has been the case. Warning: Political and healthcare-related opinions below, linked to various reputable sources. Public Option, Single Payer, Medicare for All? The most contentious part of healthcare reform has been the concept of a government run health care plan. HR 676 refers to the idea of “Medicare for All”, extending our Medicare program for seniors to cover all Americans, effectively creating a single payer system in America.

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Jeff

Tis the Season

It’s getting closer and closer to the big holiday of the winter season. Hell, let’s just call it the “Christmas Season” and get it over with; it’s the 900 pound gorilla in the figurative room. Christmas, or to be more specific, Christmas *shopping* is the most important time of the year. Economically, that is. Small shops and large chain outlets alike rely on the boom of Christmas present sales to create the bulk of their sales figures for the year.

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Jeff

Metaphor du jour

For those who don’t know much about my life or daily habits, I have to commute into Framingham, Massachussets most days for work, which is about an hour drive from Northeast Connecticut, where I live. Unfortunately, this means spending a fair amount of time in traffic, as well as on the Mass Pike, which is the sorry excuse for mass transit across Massachussets. Americans think of mass transit as highways instead of rail and its compatriots, for one reason or another.

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Jeff

Rich People

I think one of the biggest things that keeps America from moving forward is the intellecually bankrupt notion that people exist independently of one another, and that each person is independently financially responsible for their entire life. It’s a horrible concept, which was promulgated, at least in part, by Ayn Rand and her followers. I quote: In answer to the question: “If a morality is not based on the common good, what is it then based on?

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Jeff

Sharecropping

I was flipping through radio stations on my way to one of the colocation centers I have to visit for work, and chanced upon a Worcester-area right wing talk radio station. I got fed up about 60 seconds into the broadcast, listening to a man with very poor English asking why the government wants to take small business’s hard earned money away from them and give it to people who don’t deserve it.

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Jeff

Mortgaging our lives for money

“Everybody here sells his time for money. It’s like taking a mortgage against your life.” – Dr Dick Solomon (3rd Rock from the Sun, “I Enjoy Being A Dick”) Although the quote “the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil” is an oft-malighed, often quoted Biblical “New Testament” passage which is used by quite a few bible-thumping born-agains, I started thinking about the reason why money would be such a powerful motivating force.

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Jeff

Performance Bonuses

I think that after reading things like this about taxpayer outrage at executive level bankers raking in performance bonuses for apparently tanking the world financial system, I’m starting to think that we’re wrong about the outrage. Not that we shouldn’t be outraged about funnelling money to jackholes who buy and sell people like me during lunch … more that they really should get performance bonuses if it’s based on *performance*.

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Jeff

Private health Insurace will damn us all

There has been, for some time, debate in the United States regarding healthcare “reform”, as our current system does not serve a fair percent of the population, and out of those served, many are “underinsured”. From Michael Moore’s Sicko to Howard Dean’s offer to present the issue in front of Congress, there is no doubt that the system is horribly, horribly broken. I believe the issue is a systemic one, hinging on the broken premise that “private insurance”, that is, pay-for-play insurance funded by either direct periodic payments or employer contributions, is a far superior method of providing healthcare.

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Jeff

Congratulations! We’re finally an adult nation!

After an actor, a CIA spook, a Republican in Democrat’s clothing and a moron, we finally have a President willing to let us become an *adult* nation. President Obama just announced that he wanted to create a high speed rail system in the United States. Hell, even the cheese-eating surrender monkeys in France have had one of those for *years* … I’m sure that the trucking lobby, oil lobby, or some other lobby I haven’t though of, will stymie this and kill it somehow, but at least we’re trying, finally.

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Jeff

Dichotomy of the Human Condition

Why is it that we have such a strong built-in need to survive when we’re miserable most of the time? I guess that’s the biological imperative making sure that we perpetuate the species, in the same way that our genes fighting for dominance is most likely the root cause for our Randian inability to coexist with others without eventually trying to climb to new heights by stepping on them. I’m not really an Ayn Rand fan, if you haven’t gotten that from reading the last few sentences …

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Jeff

Who is getting bailed out, anyway?

I’ve been asking who we’re attempting to save with this bailout idea, and I’m not liking the answers I’m getting. Paul Krugman has some good insight into why Keynesian economics are the best way of attempting an economic recovery. I’m not disagreeing with him, I think he’s right on the money, so to speak, saying that pumping money into project work will circulate money in such a way that the economy is allowed to recover.

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Jeff

Gordon Bok

This saturday night I had the pleasure of going to see Gordon Bok, one of the finest living folk singer/songwriters, at the Connecticut Audubon Society location in Glastonbury. I’ve been a fan of his since his Bok/Muir/Trickett days, and haven’t gotten a chance to see him live since seeing him at The Sounding Board. And yes, his voice is just as awesome as it was back then, and his storytelling skills have improved with time.

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Jeff

I Hate Bowling

I really have come to dislike bowling as sport or pastime. I can’t figure out why, but I seem to forget everything I’ve learned at the immediately previous bowling experience. And it’s things like that which make me inclined to believe that it’s a “sport” more of either dumb luck, raw repetition, or some curious combination of the two. There’s also very little class ever associated with the game or those who champion it, much as the mullet-festooned NASCAR afficionados in their brightly colored baseball and feed caps, anxiously craning their necks to armchair jockey their favorite driver past the finish line.

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Jeff

Windows Mobile is a crapfest

I hate Windows Mobile. It’s a horrible, horrible operating system. Phones and devices based on it are just as awful. My Blackberry started exhibiting very odd behavior and disconnecting from the mobile network about every 30-45 seconds, so I flashed the firmware and shouted some incantations of the dockworker variety before giving up and pronouncing it dead. My job was nice enough to furnish me with a replacement, which unfortunately runs WinMo.

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Jeff

Bastards Watch

For anyone keeping track, I’ve been delicious-tagging any new story I come across which describes something awful going on today with the tag “bastards”. So, here is the link for that ever-growing list, if you’re ever bored and have nothing better to do than lose faith in humanity:

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Jeff

Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?

The adaptation of my favorite graphic novel “Watchmen” is premiering tonight as a motion picture. I have mixed feelings about it, as the creator has disavowed all film adaptations of his work, and apparently Snyder changed the ending. You’d think after a travesty like V for Vendetta that directors would keep it in their pants and learn to respect good writing. Just because you can script Keanu Reeves saying “whoa!” for a few hours doesn’t mean you can out-write Alan Moore.

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Jeff

Why I Hate Banks

Another 30 billion ducats down the toilet. I’m not sure exactly what banks are supposed to do anymore, but I could swear it used to have something to do with loaning money to allow economic movement. Banks won’t lend money to anyone without sparkling credit, which means most people couldn’t get a loan. Why the hell are we giving these weasels money? Their primary job is to lend money, and they can’t do that, instead favoring the primary job of funnelling money to CEOs and wealthy investors.

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Jeff

Let’s hear that dirty word … Socialism

It seems to be the fashion for people to hem and haw about how the United States is spiralling downward towards (horrors!) socialism. I’m still trying to figure out what the big deal is. Capitalism is, by definition, survival of the wealthiest. In its purest, most unadulterated form, capitalism involves certain entities becoming very, very successful, while supressing others who would aspire to become as successful. It’s a very selfish philosophy in that it stresses the survival of the individual over the survival of the society, much as most Western religions stress the survival of the self (notions of individual souls) over the Eastern philosophy empasizing the sum total of everything over the notion of the individual.

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Jeff

My grandfather

I just came back from an impromptu trip to Fort Lauderdale to attend the funeral service for my grandfather, Israel “Irving” Liss. He was born in a small town in Russia on December 20, 1917, and survived a pogram, emmigration to Israel, and eventually moved to Brooklyn. He was a professional soccer player, playing for the New York Americans after coming back from decorated service in the 101st Airborne paratroopers. And I did not know most of this a week ago.

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Jeff

BankerWatch 2008

I’m getting to the point where I’m actually starting to track the guys who are primarily responsible for this awful financial mess, and. though there’s a lot of bad news, there’s also a lot of not so bad news. I rate any story where a banker doesn’t give the proverbial finger as a “good” story. I’m not advocating violence against people in the financial industry, but I’m surprised when it doesn’t happen.

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Jeff

Are You Feeling Swindled Yet?

Apparently AIG, known mostly for its ability to go through large amounts of taxpayer money in order to cover outrageous bets, is reporting that it owes another 10 billion dollars that it hadn’t reported before, and which is not covered by the 150 billion dollars already allocated to it by the US government. If that weren’t bad enough news, AIG has been taking advice from other industries and is paying out large retention bonuses, even after they were given sweet, sweet bailout green.

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Jeff

House of Imaginary Cards

“Don’t forget that most men with nothing would rather protect the possibility of becoming rich than face the reality of being poor.” – John Dickinson I was astounded to read on Bloomberg news that, despite the lost of over 500 thousand jobs last month, and the current toilet-bowl rated economy, somehow the Dow Jones Industrial Average (and also S&P 500 and a bunch of other indicators) were going up as of 3:00pm EST.

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Jeff

Holiday Season Beaten to Death

It finally happened. The spirit of giving and wonder which is supposed to accompany the “Holiday” season has finally given way to the actual seasonal sentiment of unrequited greed. A worker at a Wal-Mart was trampled to death by consumers who wanted to bum rush a store for toy greed, and two people were shot at a Toys-R-Us. Look, this isn’t my holiday. I didn’t tell everyone to gussy up a bunch of chopped down trees, hang dangerous glass bulbs on them and blow money you probably don’t have on gifts that people probably don’t need.

Written By
Jeff

Misplaced priorities

In case anyone has been living under a rock for the last few months, the economy is pretty well in the drink, and most respectible economists are predicting at least two to three years of recession. Where to start? We’ve fed massive amounts of cash into buoying institutions where I wouldn’t invest in as much as a taco which have made killings screwing the crap out of our economy. The latest institution to receive sweet, sweet bailout green is Citigroup, which received a shocking 306 *billion* dollars of borrowed money.

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Jeff

Ho Ho Ho

By even the most conservative accounts, the “Christmas Season”, otherwise known as the season of greed and overindulgence, where the majority of retail sales are supposed to occur, seems to have been foisted onto us a bit early this year. The strategy being employed by retail outlets, from rolling out the tinsel and sale items to playing every bad Christmas song ever written on their public address systems, seems to be an effort to push severely slacking sales by bringing the orgy of spending which supposedly accompanies the birth of some Jewish guy 2000 years ago (but actually just a co-opting of an old pagan seasonal ritual), a bit earlier than it is supposed to show up.

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Jeff

Let General Motors Die

Amid news of the overcompensated fatcat of General Motors heading over to Capitol Hill to prostrate himself at the feet of House Speaker Pelosi to beg for some of that sweet, sweet bailout money, without admitting that the pure capitalism he pimped to support his outrageous salary is now effectively dead, I see that Chief Financial Rape Artist Hank Paulson has just thrown another 140 billion dollars into the rabbit hole of non-accountability.

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Jeff

History

Well, that’s it. At around 11pm EST, Senator John McCain conceded the presidency to Senator Barack Obama. All of my fears of stolen elections and bigotry prevailing were unfounded. And I owe someone a lunch, but gladly so. After listening to a few pundits on TV and McCain’s concession speech, I have noticed that everyone keeps harping on Senator Obama’s race. I just find it difficult to believe that we’re so proud of our ability to not trip over our bigotry enough to elect someone who isn’t white.

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Jeff

Spread your cheeks, America, here comes the dud

I’ve been watching all available polling today after I hit the polls around 8:30 AM EST to cast my vote. I’m a little nervous watching the polling numbers, and everything is just a little too close for my comfort. Please, America, not the dud.

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Jeff

We’ve been had

In case anyone was wondering, we’ve been had, in an awful, awful way, to the tune of around 70 *billion* dollars. And as pointed out on Cronytopia, US newspapers aren’t covering it. Why aren’t we burning people in the streets, right now? I mean, I understand that the bailout passed by an overwhelming majority, but why were we so glad to give such a large amount of money to people that we shouldn’t trust raking manure, let alone running financial institutions?

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Jeff

Holy Crap

(Again, apologies to the people I stole the title from, the nice guys over at crooksandliars.com.) Every time I think I’ve heard the most awful thing done by religious people… In the same day, I’ve heard two stories coming from the Catholic Church. Yes, I know, the guys who did the whole “inquisition” thing. But they’ve been keeping their noses clean since at least the 1950s, so I’ll start this off by pointing out that I don’t have any beef with the modern day Catholic Church.

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Jeff

Us Against Them

Recently, you may have heard about certain alarmist crap being circulated in the guise of educational information to people in so called “swing states” in the upcoming 2008 election. Usually this crap doesn’t get an audience, but some of the kooks have been coming out of the woodwork, bitching at the top of their lungs about “islamic fundamentalism” and terrorist, and “oh! think of the children!” Some people already think that the September 11, 2001 attacks were false flag attacks, but regardless, it couldn’t have played better.

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Jeff

Cadillac Panders

There have been a number of truly awful and stupid things going on in the world, but I think I’m going to pick on a very particular piece of stupid. In case it was overshadowed by other, larger economic news, we just bailed out GM, Ford and Chrysler to the tune of 25 *billion* dollars. I’d like to believe that it’s all due to horrible economic conditions — but I’m starting to think it might have a bit more to due with having their heads up their asses.

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Jeff

Heads on Pikes

If you’ve been outside of a cave in the last few days, chances are that you’ve heard about Lehman Brothers, the latest of the investment firms to fail miserably due to the incredible sham that has been the American housing market. Early news today is showing that foreign markets are starting to fail, and it looks as though AIG may be the next major dropping point. I’m not sure exactly how low this goes, but my guess is that we’re going to pay for those crooked brokers and investment bankers.

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Jeff

The Dud and Forty Percent

“The definition of stupidity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” — Albert Einstein America has at least a 30 year history of, more often than not, electing the dud. And by dud, I mean the absolutely least qualified or least desirable person for the job. Take a quick look at Saint Ron. That guy was an awful actor, sub-par governor, and an absolute crapbox President.

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Jeff

The God Bullshit Part Two

The last time I was ranting, it was about the joke that is the current seperation between church and state. But I think it’s time to take a look at the other part of this mess — us. “People of faith” seems to be a term which is bandied about an awful lot, which is meant to convey to other people that Jeebus or the Flying Spaghetti Monster, or your multi-armed deity of choice, is watching over them, and is ready to smite at a moment’s notice.

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Jeff

The God Bullshit

“The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the Members of the several State Legislatures, and all executive and judicial Officers, both of the United States and of the several States, shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.” -The United States Constitution, Article VI, section 3

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Jeff

Is we getting more stupider?

Note: I’m skipping my usual pathos drenched birthday post about mortality, aging, and life still being exactly as awful in favor of the following… I’m starting to think that we’re getting dumber, as a nation of people. The causes for this, mainly substitution of conjecture for truth and dropping standards for academic excellence, are pretty well documented in these cases. As being dumber seems to make you happier, you’d almost think that a nation of happy cretins would be preferrable to a nation of intelligent malcontents.

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Jeff

Why the Olympics is a Sham

Maybe you’ve divined from the title that I’m not exactly a supporter of the Olympics. Of course, I have quite a few reasons why I don’t like them, and why I’m boycotting watching or having anything to do with the Olympic Games 2008 in Beijing. 1) Human Rights. Honestly, I don’t think I even have a leg to stand on with regard to this particular issue. It’s not like we torture people, stifle or censor the press, supress opinion or fundamental rights, or occupy a sovereign nation or anything.

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Jeff

What happened to the land of innovation?

I remember this great, wonderful feeling that America was a nation of innovators. That no matter what the problem is, we would have no trouble solving it with some good ol’ fashioned American “know how”. What happened? We have a pharmaceutical industry which in 1999 brought in around 100 *billion* dollars for the top three companies with profits usually above 20%. Yet when was the last time we actually *cured* anything?

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Jeff

Open Mic at the Stonewall Tavern

As a kind of public service of some sort, I’ve been recording the Open Mic night at the Stonewall Tavern in Eagleville, CT, which has been hosted by the terrific Blaney Brothers for the past few years. I have been putting the recordings up for anyone who wants them, arranged by date and artist on MediaFire, at . Enjoy… (But don’t complain too much about it. It’s all straight board-out to mp3 using this little gem: arecord -f cd -t raw -D hw:1,0 | lame –verbose -x -s 44.

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Jeff

Hating people for the wrong reasons, political edition

I just had a fascinating phone conversation with one of my more conservative friends. He proceeded to tell me how Obama is a muslim, Clinton let terrorists into the country, Clinton abandoned our valiant troops in Somalia (I think they call this “cut and run” now), and how McCain is a true compromiser with integrity in his beliefs. The best part was how he told me that he formulated these opinions himself, since five minutes and The Google will tell you otherwise.

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Jeff

Thank you, Metro North

I’m writing you, the good people of the MTA, to thank you for the ride on the Metro North train to New Haven yesterday. The complimentary sauna included with the train ride left me peeling myself off the seat, and the lack of any openable window compounded this. I think I’m a few pounds lighter for the experience. All kidding aside, this leads me to ask a simple, stupid question: Why aren’t we funding public transportation in this country?

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Jeff

Surviving

I had a bit of a revelation the other day. Natasha and I had gone to pick up food to bring to a small dinner party, although it wasn’t a very formal occasion. She, on a lark, decided to grab one of those ridiculous celebrity tabloid-type magazines to read in the car on the way over. The cashier, who looked to be somewhere between her mid forties and fifties, reacted with much excitement, and started talking to Natasha about some of the celebrities mentioned on the cover.

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Jeff

Thanksgiving

There seems to be an almost delectable thread of irony heading through my life as I head into Thanksgiving Day. Strangely enough, a few days ago I could have spouted for what would have seemed hours at all of the wonderful things to be thankful for, but somehow enough things have happened to come to a head that the same time that it’s a bit more difficult to extract the wheat from the chaff.

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Jeff

Ebony

My dog Ebony passed away today at 8:00pm EDT (Thursday, June 21, 2007). He was sixteen years old. He lived a very well documented life. Natasha rescued him from being drowned along with the rest of his brothers and sisters when he was a month old, and bottle fed him until he was old enough to eat food on his own. It took me a long time to get him acclimated to me, since he never really had to get used to anyone, but I played the guitar and sang to him every day until he accepted me.

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Jeff

Respecting the Dead

It’s almost disturbing that after someone dies, many people seem to come out of the proverbial woodwork to mourn them. I suppose it’s natural that there’s a tinge of regret at not being able to express yourself to someone anymore, not being able to apologize for some real or even imagined transgression. But there’s also a line. When did it become nouveau chic to get choked up at a funeral of an acquaintance?

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Jeff

Missing

I told a lie tonight ; I told it twice. I was asked by a stranger if I was “okay”, and I mechanically replied that I was. Not that I wasn’t “okay” in the physical sense, just that something seemed to be … missing. It seems that the very moments when we are the most contemplative and the furthest away from understanding our place in the universe are the very moments when we find ourselves the most desperately alone.

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Jeff

Rest in Peace, Mike

Most local musicians in Eastern Connecticut have heard of Mike Praytor of “The Sound Factory”, a local promoter and musician. He was found dead in his home this past Saturday, April 7th, 2007. There has been an enormous outpouring of support for his family, especially his two children, from the local music community. It’s strange, I’m not really one for writing eulogies or waxing rhapsodic about life accomplishments ; I’ve been more of the mind that there is a certain aggrandizement which occurs after someone dies.

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Jeff

The Ghost of Hunter S strikes again

It hasn’t been that long since the passing of the great [Hunter S Thompson](), creator of the so-called “Gonzo journalism”, and all-around lunatic. Apart from being eminently quotable, Hunter Thompson was deeply involved in politics; he especially hated Richard Nixon, whom he frequently wished malfeasance upon.. I’m unsure as to whether Hunter really would have approved of where his “Gonzo” journalism has gone. Glen Greenwald recently pointed out that so-called “blogger” journalists have been creating their own “facts”, and in some cases completely fabricating stories, in an effort to influence the news which they purport to report.

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Jeff

Birthdays as Mile Markers

Not only is it a brand new year, but it’s also someone special’s birthday today. I’m not a big fan of birthdays, especially my own, for their tendency to appear as “mile markers” in the road trip we call life. I’m not going to say how old she is, mainly because there’s some awful stigma in our society regarding growing older. No longer is it treated as a source of venerable knowledge and experience, but instead a somber, inescapable conclusion — a dark, dismal fate.

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Jeff

Yet another end-of-year thought

Every year I end up writing some glib piece of trash about how much or little the last year meant to me, and how much better I hope/hoped to do the next year. Inexorably, I’m drawn towards the cliche of trying to constantly explain away my foibles and missteps, as though some imaginary jury is critiquing my performance. Perhaps I have been looking at the entire *concept* of the year in the wrong way.

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Jeff

Three down in a week

I’ve had three laptops bite the big one in the last week or so. Not software related at all. One stopped working entirely and won’t even turn on, another has a completely non-functional display, and a third ate a hard drive … completely (and has a shot power supply to boot). I’m finally back online on a fourth machine, as evidenced by this posting. The time away from a machine gave me a little time to reflect exactly how dependent I am on such incredibly fragile machines to be able to function in certain important ways.

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Jeff

Potential and Perception

I’ve never been one to take risks in any part of my life. Somehow, I’ve always taken the safe road, and unlike the Frost poem, I’m not the better off for having done it. Even small things, I seem unwilling to extend past a limited view of what is safe and comfortable — and now I can’t help but feel that I’m not living up to whatever potential I’m supposed to have.

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Jeff

Rumsfeld is gone, six years too late

President Bush (god, it still sounds so awful to say it) just gave the traditional sixth-year “we lost our majority” speech to the nation, with the addition of the announcement of Donald Rumsfeld’s resignation as Secretary of Defense. Many people will remember Rumsfeld as the jackass who condoned torture (or sought to redefine it), pushed the notion of “weapons of mass destruction” in Iraq, and sought to push forward ideas like the “PATRIOT Act”.

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Jeff

Exercise your rights as a citizen

I’ve just done the one thing which I feel sets me apart from many more unfortunate people in other countries: voted. I got to go to a polling location and cast my single vote for whomever I feel would be the best person, or at least not the worst person, for the job. I mean, government can strip my rights to a fair trial or any civil rights and declare martial law at will, so I think voting to oust the bastards who passed this kind of constitution-screwing garbage is the least of my rights, no, *responsibilities* as a citizen of this country.

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Jeff

Time to Start Kissing Babies and Kissing Asses

With less than a month remaining before the midterm congressional elections, one could argue that not much has actually changed in the United States. I mean, we still are passing awful legislation (Military Appropriations Act of 2006, stripping habeus corpus at will) and still not making people any less poor. What has changed, as it does before every election, is the amount of rampant sucking up to the regular plebes of this country.

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Jeff

Why I Don’t Watch Fox News

I tuned in Fox News on the old “Radiation King” television on a lark around 4:30 AM Eastern Standard Time, out of some form of morbid curiosity. I’ve heard a lot of ranting and raving from both proponents and opponents of their reporting and the questioned quality of their reporting, but like anything else, it is best to see this sort of thing and make your own decisions. What I found was rhetoric and montage shots of soldiers and waving flags.

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Jeff

Partisanship dooms us all

Apparently, fear of partisan political reprisal trumps constitutional rights, decency, and a host of other important things in the lastest failure of the United States’ legislative branch to keep insanity out of our lawbooks. Both political parties seem to have failed us horribly. Republicans sided with a corrupt and out-of-control administration in an effort to bolster itself against possible defeat in midterm elections, while Democrats, afraid of being considered “light on terror”, only put up a limp-wristed struggle, with the bill in question passing easily.

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Jeff

War on Nouns

I’ve been watching a great deal more television, reading a great deal more papers and “blogs”, and listening to a lot more interviews these days. And though it’s extremely hard to do this without politicizing what I see, I try to look at it as objectively as I can, from as many sources as I can. I’m getting downright sick of this “War on Terror”. Not that global terrorism (as opposed to local terrorism?

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Jeff

One Missing Thread

I was sitting by myself a few days ago, and started to wonder about the value of a single person. Not in relation to society, or anything else that tangible, but in relation to the totality of existence. At first, I thought that the lack of a single person’s existence would irreperably alter the universe. Everything we do impacts others in thousands upon millions of imperceptible ways every day we’re alive, so wouldn’t one missing person somehow change the fabric of existence?

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Jeff

Something About Getting Older

There’s something about getting older. Things invariably change, life progresses, and eventually your perceptions begin to shift, ever so slightly. There’s also something of an Easter Bunny effect which happens at some point in your life ; for me, it was my birthday this year. As you grow up, you think of certain days as special, whether they be days which are special to you, like your birthday, graduation, et cetera, or days which are special in some sort of cultural significance such as holidays (religious or secular), vacation, even certain days of the week.

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Jeff

Moving on, moving on up?

Well, after many years of living in podunk cowville, I’ve moved back into a slightly more suburban area, complete with ridiculous historic figures. It’s a bit easier not having to deal with annoying power outages and other awful inconveniences. And now I don’t have to worry about my mailbox getting nailed by that plow driver who always seems to target it. Hooray for the benefits of modern civilization!

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Jeff