Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Golden Ratio via Satellite

That pesky mathematical, scientifically proven, Golden Ratio appears again... and again.  This time, via satellite.

But a Republican congress has defunded the NOAA  program that was going to launch a replacement geocentric weather satellite, so this kind of image (and the warnings & preparation associated with it) will be a thing of the past in the future, non-elitist, willfully ignorant, Medieval America they dream of achieving.

How Books Work

I saw this a few weeks ago... and it's really stuck with me.

Some Good From Irene

On Sunday night, Dr Desert Flower and I browsed through the "Meet The David Gregory" DVR recording we had, where Socialist Governor Chris Christie was talking about getting Federal aid for his state and working with FEMA.  Amazing to hear these Republican Governors like Seismic Anomaly Christie and The-Fundamentalist-Gift-That-Keeps-On-Giving-Perry so willingly taking Federal hand outs that they rail against and abhor whenever the money is going to another state or another emergency.  Such blatant self-serving hypocrisy.

At least ideologue Libertarian Extremist Ron Paul showed some consistency when he was heard on MSNBC Tuesday night talking about how 100 years ago communities used to rally together to 'build sea walls that are still standing today to protect against storms', doing all these kinds of things before there was a FEMA. Dr Paul stated the US should abolish the whole agency.  Yep Dr Rich-Guy-Paul, you and yours have no shortage of boot straps.  Maybe you could send some of them to Vermont, in an act of Charity?

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Another Collapse

It's going to be a long day =(

Monday, August 29, 2011

Punctuation is Powerful

I saw this poignant quote this morning, and it made me think...  a great deal.  The commas (I believe) are all superfluous (and this link agrees), and the colon handles it adequately.

As frequent readers of JustJoeP already know, I have a proclivity for over-using the hyphen & dash.  I tried to apply it here...  but found it to be unsupported (same link, but check out the use of fun with hyphens at the bottom of the link).

Here are some more illustrations of altering punctuation or spelling hyphens to change meaning:
  • In conducting annual self-assessment training, providers should seek help.
  • In conducting annual self-assessment, training providers should seek help.
  • The man dropped the bullet in his mouth.
  • The man dropped, the bullet in his mouth.
  • Watch out – man eating apes!
  • Watch out – man-eating apes!
  • We order merchandise and sell the products.
  • We order, merchandise and sell the products.
  • When I sing well, ladies feel sick.
  • When I sing, well ladies feel sick.
  • You will be required to work twenty four-hour shifts.
  • You will be required to work twenty-four hour shifts.
  • You will be required to work twenty-four-hour shifts.


When I first saw this image earlier today, I laughed... but then the more I thought about it, I began to get depressed.   This infection of Reality Show obsession is endemic to American (and perhaps global?) culture today.  It dumbs down anyone who is exposed to it, and perpetuates the Temporarily Embarrassed Millionaire mindset.   Yes, I have watched 10 minutes of Jersey Shore, and I nearly wretched as I thought about how popular the show was and how inexorably stupid I found it.  It's not just Jersey Shore: 
Any "Dancing with the..."
"You think you can..." 
any variation related to the contrived Kardashian, Brett Michaels, or Simmons viruses
the "Survivor" popularity contest (not a true "Survivor survival skills contest"
Donald's Trumped up publicity train wreck
any pet whispering show other than the original Dog Whisperer, which actually makes sense
"16 and anything..."
"19 Kids and clueless about birth control as we imagine we are building Gawd's army"
"Americans at Idle"
 "The Bachelor(x)" unnecessary dramas
"Wife Swap" that does not include actually swapping wives

It once again reminds me of one of the corporate moves that my family endured in the 90s, where the movers labeled book cartons as "Buchs" and said to Dr Desert Flower and I "y'all sure got alot of books" as they rolled dolly after dolly after dolly of books out of the house and into the moving truck. 

Republicans Against Science

An excellent and disturbing article (link here) by Paul Krugman:
"Jon Huntsman Jr., a former Utah governor and ambassador to China, isn’t a serious contender for the Republican presidential nomination. And that’s too bad, because Mr. Hunstman has been willing to say the unsayable about the G.O.P. — namely, that it is becoming the “anti-science party.” This is an enormously important development. And it should terrify us."

I am not terrified... but I am saddened that so many of my fellow Americans have chosen to be so blatantly, intentionally, fundamentally, parochially stupid.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Error 404 - Democracy Not Found

While President Obama's and Congress's public approval poll ratings are dropping faster than the value of my under water home (and believe me, that's pretty darn fast, still, in 2011), I don't think Washington, nor most state capitals, really get it.  They think people are all mad about "jobs!!!!" .. and yes.. some people ARE Very mad about jobs.  But this malaise the country is in economically on all fronts is broad based with the  with the exception of one small privileged group, has got most people feeling very left out of their democracy.  That one exception - Wall Street and those who are rich because of Wall Street (psst:  we're supposed to call them "Job Creators" now, and not "the rich" anymore).

Other than Ponzi grogan and popular prison girlfriend Berni Madoff, no one has gone to jail, or paid for their corruption, their back room bribery, their hand in the kleptocracy that used to be an American democracy.  Year after year since the 2008 housing bubble bursting, the richest F'tards on Wall Street, the Bankers who invented imaginary and worthless paper that bamboozled simple single family home buyers like me, and then sold those worthless imaginary amalgamations of merde to get the risks of default off their books, are getting richer and richer, being paid higher and higher bonuses, living the extremely good life, while dumb schmucks like DDF and I who trusted in the system of regulators and reputable ratings agencies continue to see our net financial worth diminish.  It's nothing we did, other than trust the system.   We did not speculate.  We did not over-extend, in fact, we bought a home that was 2/3rds of what we COULD HAVE afforded on both our salaries, because we didn't want to be "mortgage poor".

I have a theory, that IF one or two Wall Street investment banks has actually been investigated, and found to have defrauded investors / violated Glass-Steagal / been found guilty of gross mis-management, or of paying off regulators or ratings agencies, that it would have scared the other W.S. banks into better behaviour.  Nothing like taking one or two COEs and CFOs in hand cuffs to prison to make the others fly straight.  But instead, they speed dialed the Secretary of the Treasuries under both Bush and Obama.  They watered down any banking regulation that would have had ANY teeth in it, and they paid themselves GIANT (and well publicized) bonuses, sticking a dirty finger in the American public's eye the entire time, and laughing about it.

This continues to drive the lack of buying power that constitutes 60% of American GDP.  It perpetuates the lack of trust of all Americans (living & breathing, as well as 'corporations are people' citizens), and it leaves us in the malaise, seeing that we're not millionaires or billionaires, we can't lobby to re-write legislation and water down regulations, we're pretty much powerless.  Not even the 'power of the ballot box' matters much anymore, when unregulated (read "infinite") finance can be poured into campaigns to get the (mostly) ignorant voters to believe anything that the sly campaign spin doctors want them to believe.

My plan to get America out of this malaise is simple:  Reverse the "Citizens United" decision on "Corporations are people" and prosecute 2 (one would look like a sloppy anomaly) major investment banks for the shenanigans they pulled in the housing collapse, and the American economy, and the world economy, will come back ROARING. 

But of course, that would take morals, and political will to do the right thing for the greater good; neither of which the United States apparently has any longer.

Big Electric Cat

Adrian Belew makes is guitar sing, and he's always been one of my favorite guitar players.  He's the Ying to Robert Fripp's Yang.  On "Big Electric Cat" the drums are not much to remark about, but there's more to a song than just drums!  (sometimes, LOL!)   When our son was a little little boy, I used to play this on our Honda's cassette stereo, and we had great fun driving down I-75 or I-40 to this when on holiday road trips to visit relatives.  Ahhh, good times.

Red - King Crimson

Doubly good... having fun with awesome stick control, team work, immense talent, and musicality.

Dr Desert Flower said she and her colleagues were discussing 'what would your ultimate dream job be?" Playing in King Crimson, 30 years ago, if I had a TARDIS, would have been one of my nominations.

As one of the youtube comment posters said:  "I'm pretty sure nobody has as much fun playing music as Adrian Belew."  I concur.  And, that will bring us to the next video.

[Playing Scrabble while listening to videos, after extreme desert heat gardening all morning, is a nice way to cool down on a Sunday afternoon]

Mt. Helium or Apex, still Sammy

Sammy Watson still has some remarkable stick control.  I stumbled upon this song today

Around the 3:50 minute mark you can hear single handed single stroke rolls (the hi hat continues, even as he single stroke rolls the snare), that impress me every time I hear it - not to mention the maniacal Eastern-European style syncopation earlier in the song.  Good stuff.

Retraction & Apology. Cellar, Not Chair

All the difference a simple "e" can make! 

My apologies to several of my friends and JustJoeP readers on my inept mis-translation of "Mis en bouteille dans nos chais."  I have told several people, at dinner, or while drinking, that this meant "put in the bottle while in our chaise lounge", or, more loosely translated 'we really don't care too much, we were phoning this batch in, lower your expectations'.  You see, I do indeed buy LOTS of Trader Joe's inexpensive wine to have as table wine.  The stuff I find is usually good, as guided by the appellations and denominazione or denominación de origen (DOC), and avoiding the MASSIVE bottlers who makes 100s of thousands of bottles a year for mass market consumption.  MANY of the Trader Joe's corks are indeed labeled "Mis en Bouteille Dans Nos Chais" which to me, evoked an image of a comfy chaise lounge - I think everyone should have a chaise lounge, your home is better for it in so many ways (chez nous, our chaise lounge has been claimed by our nearly 20 year old cat, who considers herself, the empress of the living room).

But Do Not confound the difference between "Chais" (no 'e') and "Chaise" (with an 'e') [ ne confondez pas la différence entre les deux! As my old friend Knucklesplitter used to love to say! ].  While a Chaise IS a chair, a Chais is a cellar!  The French pronounce both nearly identically (lacking a next-word liaison, where the "s" might, or might not be pronounced, google translate is full of baloney, don't listen there), and it is only through written means and context that the two can be differentiated, and when spoken in colloquial, rapid French, it is (for me at least) extremely difficult to hear the difference.  Regardless, I felt incredibly stupid and embarrassed on Friday, when I read the handy "Wine Searcher" page on cork labeling (link here). 
Bottling information:
  • EB – 'Estate Bottled'
  • MC – 'Mise en Bouteille au Château'. Estate bottled or bottled by the wine producer within the estate. 
  • Used on quality wine labels from Bordeaux in particular.
  • Mise en bouteille à la propriété – French term meaning bottled at the property
  • Mise en Bouteille au Domaine – Estate bottled. Mostly seen on Burgundy wine labels.
  • Mis en Bouteille dans nos Caves or Mis en Bouteille dans nos Chais – Bottled in our cellars.
Duh. It's "Cellars", not "Chair".   That makes much more sense.  But keep in mind, that "bottled in our cellars" is NOT as high quality as  'Mise en Bouteille au Château' usually.  "In the cellars" can often denotes that a wine negotiant, or "guy with a truck" (albeit a sophisticated, modern, and very clean truck) travelling bottler might drive up to the vineyard and bottle the wine for the vineyard owner.  It's not always lower quality than the 'au Château' wines, but it can be (a purist would tell you it is ALWAYS inferior, but I am not a purist).
I was saving my corks, but I gave a large container full of corks to "Treasures For Teachers" and they were DELIGHTED, so I will continue to donate to those nice people. 

And as you can see, the majority of the wine consumed in our home is 'Mise en Bouteille Dan Nous Chais" or, organic, or artificial corks that don't mark too well, but are usually of very good quality also (again, a purist would denounce the artifical corks, but, they work well and preserve the endangered Portuguese Cork Monkey forest habitat.).

Saturday, August 27, 2011

History of Darth Vader

"I'm your father" ... sort of a theme this morning.

Rotating Not Waving

The image below is rotating, not waving.  If looking it for too long causes you sea sickness or nausea, look away.

Had a Dad

I spoke to the mountain, and listened to the sea.

"Had a Dad" - over the nearly last 2 dozen years my son and I have played this Jane's Addiction song on steering wheel and child's car seat in our various Hondas (88 and 95 Civics, 91 Accord) as he was growing up.  Excellent music to get your adrenalin a pumpin' on a long drive.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Reords Over Time

I found this to be both very interesting, and somewhat depressing, as in the 80s I BUILT my recording collection above 400 cassette tapes, and 100 albums.  I resisted CDs for a decade, while Dr Desert Flower enthusiastically abandoned the cassette paradigm in favor of the CD, and then quickly made the leap to downloads once she got her first MAC.  I hope the GIF automates here...
I bought my first album - Styx, Grand Illusion, at the Venture store (now bankrupt chain or retail) that was within walking distance of my home in 1978, just 3 years prior to the start of this GIF.

Captain Optimism

This made me smile.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

France In A Bottle

Last Saturday night, Dr Desert Flower and I went to dinner to celebrate our 2nd dozen years together, at Christopher's in Eastern Phoenix, at Biltmore Fashion Square.  The dinner was delicious.  The service, superb.  DDF had the Duck Two Ways, and I had the tasting menu (salad, sweet potato bisque, scallops, cheeses, cherry & fig tart dessert, and...) that was crowned with a braised pork belly that was indeed, succulent.  The wine list was extensive, and I ordered a bottle of Domaine du Salvard Cheverny, 2009, Appellation Cheverny Controlee, white Loire Valley wine.  It was $50, which is a bit more than I like to pay for a restaurant bottle, but the $34 bottle of l'Havre Roussillon Languedoc white they had on the wine list was 'sold out' so I decided on the Cheverny instead.

The Loire valley, between Paris and the West Coast of France, makes delicious wines that typically do not overwhelm the meal.  Chinon is the most mild red I've ever had, and it is from the Loire valley as well. While I expected the Cheverny to follow suit, it surprised us. Upon the first sip, DDF declared "this tastes like France in a bottle".  It was complex, without attacking the senses.  Fragrant with just the right amount of citrus without being a New Zealand Grapefruity Sauvignon Blanc.  "France in a bottle" in a very wonderful way.

The History of Michael Jackson

Rather straight forward.  I think IH-57 was phoning this one in.

What To Wear To Cabelas

Last weekend, Dr Desert Flower wanted to get a pair of good hiking shoes, so she could keep up with me on mountainous hikes, and my recent inventory of ammunition showed that the last trip to the shooting range depleted most of the hand gun ammo.  DDF said she even had a "10% off the entire purchase" coupon, that expired last Sunday for Cabelas, so I acquiesced to go to the gigantic sporting goods store.

I was in a rather adversarial mood last Sunday, so I donned my nicest Barack Obama T-shirt, and my old NRA hat, and we drove through the 115F heat to Glendale.  The last time I was there, customers were buying ammo so fast off the shelves, that Cabelas employees cut literally barely keep the shelves stocked.  .38, .44, and .45 shelves were particularly bare, and I watched one stocker putting boxes on the shelf that were instantly snatched up by red-white-and-blue wearing, anti-Obama-ites.  Many had birther shirts on, or "from my cold dead hands" wear, or "No Mosques! No Sharia Law!" misguided & hateful slogans emblazoned on their hats, shirts, jackets or tattoos, if they were not wearing camouflage.  I wanted to see if any of these members of Dumbphuckastan would try and pick a fight with me, or obstruct me in some passive aggressive way.

None of them did pick a fight, but I had several Arizona red necks read my shirt and scowl when they found it didn't contain any hate speech or negative message.  At least one of them (I think) mistook the crossed "O" in "Obama" as a "cross-hair", which he almost pointed a finger towards reflexively, before he lowered his mock pistol.

I did notice one Asian man and one Hispanic man in the store see my shirt, read it, and smile broadly, nodding to me - happy to see that they were not alone in not despising a President who has NO INTENTION of taking ANYONE's legal firearm.  All the unsubstantiated hype the NRA has drummed up against the Obama administration has been GREAT for ammo prices and gun sales, but it has not a single thread of truth to it, unless of course you are a shell buyer for Mexican drug cartels, or you're trying to buy fully automatic weapons, or explosives.   Then, yes, the ATF is interested in you.

I am happy to report I was able to find and purchase made-in-America ammunition to replenish my depleted supplies at very reasonable prices, competitive with Serbian, Romanian, Czech and Chinese ammo of the same caliber and powder grains.

Use The Dumpster For Support

If you have to lop off a droopy Mexican fence post cactus arm that has started an inexorable slow-motion downward trajectory (that takes weeks or months to droop), it is best to use your rolling 96 gallon city dumpster for support, underneath the arm, before you lop it off with a sharp Colombian Inconel machete.
Have the foresight to place newspapers under the cactus arm, and you'll find it easier to pick up the amputated arm, and transplant it (note the black 5 gallon bucket in the lower right hand corner of the photo).  In the case of this arm, it was about 4 inches (100 mm or so) lower than the top of the dumpster's lid, but I used the newspaper to lift up the arm, and gently roll the dumpster just beneath it.   

After this recent amputation, I DID NOT take the extra step of drying out the arms before planting, as the DBG had previously advised.  I did that in years past, and it proved futile in avoiding bacterial infections that turn the cactus arms black at the tip and then slowly destroy the transplant.  I had to bury 4 of my children the week before, that were nearly 2 years old, when I found all 4 of their tips rotted with the black ooze.  We'll see if this 4 foot long arm thrives and sprouts new children, or if it rots from within as the other children have.

Thanks again to Dr.Claudia for the awesome machete she gave to me dozens of years ago.  It remains one of the most handy and frequently used tools in my garage.  I do hope I don't have to use it in a Zombie Apocalypse any time soon. 

Ira Mehlman, Get A Clue

When I hear hypocritical ideologues spouting their pathetic logic on the radio in an attempt to justify their paranoia and hatred, it really aggravates me.  I was listening to Richard Gonzales' excellent report this evening on NPR, and the following was actually said publicly: (link here)

"Congress has written the immigration laws of this country. It's the responsibility of the executive branch to carry them out, whether they happen to agree with them or not," says Ira Mehlman, a spokesman for the Federation for American Immigration Reform. He says his objection has nothing to do with the sexual orientation of the people whose cases are being dismissed."

Oh REALLY Ira?  Where was the "Federation for American Immigration Reform" during the Bush Administration?  Silent.  Now that several couples who are gay are about to lose their health care, be deported, or not get their spouse a green card, ENFORCEMENT is suddenly an issue??

Congress writes LOTS of laws in this country Ira.
- Laws like the Glass Steagall Act, which the Bush Administration rarely ever enforced since it "didn't like" what the teeth in the law did against their Wall Street donors.
- Laws like The Securities Exchange Act of 1934, which again, the Republicans refuse to support, to fund, to enforce, to audit.
- Laws like The Dodd–Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act which established the Bureau of Consumer Protection which the Republican Congress refuses to fund, support, staff, and which they are trying to dismantle.  OH! But wait.... That Barney Frank is one of the gays... isn't he?  So it's all ok, right Ira?
- Congressional committees ratified some kind of agency called the EPA Ira.  It's something like a Environmental Protection Agency, proposed and organized by the flaming liberal Richard Nixon, remember him Ira?  But strangely, the Bush administration refused to level fines, indictments, or enforce EPA regulations, and the current Republican Congress would love to dismantle it.  Had you ever heard of that selective enforcement Ira??
- The Bureau of Land Management has that "Mineral Management Service", Ira.  Do you recall how back in 2008 the Sex & Drugs and Bribery scandal was uncovered at the BLM by the congressional inspector general (link here, Ira).  And who was in office, in 2008? Oh yes, that was George W Bush Ira.  No outcry back then?  Oh, it was heterosexual sex (mostly) that the MMS federal employees were having with corporate lobbyists in federal offices, as they didn't enforce federal laws, so I guess that's OK Ira?

The examples are LEGION, of where Republican Administrations and Republican legislators, who despise the very concept of government, have refused to enforce laws they don't like or install incompetent nincompoops to lead vital agencies.  Democrats on the other hand, pride themselves on competent governing, skillful public service for the greater good, helping all Americans, regardless of their political affiliation or socio-economic status. 

Is it OK Ira if Republicans do it, but if a Democratic administration does something your ideological lobbying group doesn't like, then you need to vociferously protest?  Sit down and shut up Ira.  Reasonable people don't want to hear your bigoted message of fear and hatred.

Stop Being Gaddafi

Listening to PRI's The World this afternoon, I was struck by a new phrase used in a phone interview held with the LA Times reporter Borzou Daragahi, as he was being harassed by armed rebel fighters in Tripoli as he was talking in the phone to the PRI interviewer Marco Werman.  The local rebel 'boss' was demanding to see the 'work permit' that gave Daragahi permission to work in this area, and he said in Arabic and then in English "Tell your guys to stop being Gaddafi!" (link here - quote at 3:10 mark)

Marco Werman was struck by it too.  Stating that just a few days ago, such a phrase could not have been used in Libya without severe repercussions.  "Tell your guys to stop being Gaddafi!"  Wow.

You can take the oppressive & brutal dictator out of a state, but it is hard to break that mind-set of continued oppression.  I wish Libya the best of luck in their new experiment in creating a less oppressive government.  Hopefully it will go better for them than it did for the US and the insurgency in Iraq, or their educated neighbors in tourist-lean Egypt who are still stuck in a military dictatorship.

How Hot Is It In August?

Dr Desert Flower really wanted to drive home from work last night with the convertible top down, but something she saw on her dash board dissuaded her from lowering the C70's top.
She has covered parking at her place of employment, so the vehicle did not sit baking in the sun all day.  This was just the ambient temperature, inside the lower leading edge of the engine compartment, about 18 inches above ground level.  She did not drive to lunch yesterday (as is often her practice) so there was no latent heat from residual engine cooling a few hours earlier.  No, this was an ambient temperature engine & engine compartment, in the shade, in South East Phoenix, about 2 miles away from the Sky Harbor Phoenix airport. The sunlight you see in the above photo is the western setting sun, which never had a chance to fall upon DDF's car's hood, front fender, front quarter panels, or near the ambient temperature sensor of her eastward facing parked car.

People ask me "how can you stand the heat?"  To which I often reply "Stay inside.  And when it is -20F with a -35F wind chill in Chicago in January, you don't spend alot of time outside either."  (I learned this one from my cousin Mike who has lived in the Phoenix valley 10 years longer than I have, and who also grew up near Chicago).  Even my dentist yesterday was complaining about the heat (no cavities or gingivitis, again... but the hygienist reprimanded me for tea stained enamel). 

It's hot in August here in Phoenix.  125F is not pleasant.  This is our 5th August here.  They get more tolerable over time.    At least is it not Saudi Arabia, or Iraq.  It will actually be hotter here today than either of those places, but there's fewer religious fundamentalist extremists in Phoenix, so that certainly makes it much nicer.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

No Turning Back - The Sherbs

My freshman year college room mate, John L, had this Sherbs album.  I heard this song (the "hit single" from the album) ad nauseum that year in our dorm room.  When I heard the BBC news caster this afternoon say there was "no turning back" in Libya for Gaddafi's regime... this is the first word association that came to mind.

Bahrain opposition is taking note of Libya?  Well... the Bahrain monarchy is allied with the oil rich Saudis and never tried to assassinate members of the Saudi family as Gaddafi did.  So it really doesn't matter.

Syrian citizens are taking note of Libya?  Yes, well, the Assad regime is still being well funded by oil rich Iran, and shows no signs of stopping it's brutal and violent crack down on protesters all around the Assyrian empire.

The puppetry will continue, in its brutal, well funded, media-suppressed function, until the citizens are cowed into submission or killed. There's "no turning back" - and that's the W0RD.

Faux News Mission Statement

Not Much Room For Engineering

Forty Five years ago, back in the 60s, when Gene Rodenberry got Star Trek on TV, the Enterprise had a whole engineering deck, and there were massive light speed engines on Federation starships, Romulan & Klingon war birds, anything that was capable of going fast (light speed / hyper speed / etc... faster than Einsteinian  Relativity says you can).

Then, 11 years later, George Lucas gets his first Star Wars movie released, and engineering space, engines, "stuff that makes things work" are reduced down, to literally, "the margins" of the concept vehicles.  Sure, a Y-Wing fighter has some substantially massive engines on it, but Y-wings sucked and got blown up easily.  The heroes and main villains few the X-wings, Tie Fighters, and Millennium Falcon (cross section, pictured to the left here).  Engines are an after-thought on the Falcon and on Tie Fighters.  X-wings have small engines behind the cockpit, and Tie Fighters appear to be solar powered?  Whatever.  It just goes to show how over time, Hollywood's and the public's perception has evolved to not see real world, practical, useful engineering as sexy, alluring, or even worth-mentioning most of the time.  Never mind the useless dribble of confusing time and distance in the same nonsensical sentence:  ""...the Millennium Falcon…It's the ship that made the Kessel Run in less than twelve parsecs."  (and yes, I disregard the extremely geeky wookiepedia that tries to justify this nonsense. Get out of your parents' basements, boys  It's like trying to explain how Moses parted the Red Sea, or how Joseph Smith read from Golden Tablets).

Discount Invisibility Cloaks

These things are really catching on with the kids.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Casbah Is Rocked This Morning In Tripoli

The Clash - Rock The Casbah
Get More: The Clash - Rock The Casbah
I love the armadillo in the video  =)

"As the winds changed direction..."

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Red Fish, Blue Fish

Thanks again, to Arm Chair Patriots.

One fish, two fish, red fish, blue fish... yucky fish, no fish.

The History of Giulio Cesare

Giulio Cesare, (AKA Julius Cesare).

Sunday, But No Dead Yet

I did not know that the actor who plays Deputy Sheriff Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) was British.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Dwindling In Unbelief - Steve Wells

I was asked by a long term friend and colleague via email this morning, if I still had a reference from "about 5 years ago" regarding Sharia law and religious text prescribed violence.  Gmail is a wonderful organizational tool with superb search capabilities.  All I had to do was search "Leviticus" and BAM, a second later, a September 2006 email conversation appeared with this exact same friend, along with 4 other earlier conversations with other people.
My part of the conversation ran as follows: 
all religious texts can be interpreted in a wide variety of ways.
See the following, for violence and cruelty (including killing):
Literal cHristian interpretists [sic] who insist the earth is 6000 years old, yet eat pork (Leviticus, Chap 11, vs 3 - 27), and don't stone homosexuals when they see them, or shun menstruating women into huts, have their own hypocrisy that they practice.
Literal Muslim interpretists [sic] have to their own perspective as well.
About the only religious writings that I've seen that don't promote violence, cruelty, or death in some manner, are Buddhist texts.
followed by.... 
excellent comparison I just ran across:

Violence and Cruelty Total verses Percent
Bible 853 31173 2.74
Quran 337 6236 5.40

So in reflection, since in 2006 I was not yet living in Arizona, and my friend Ron had not yet convinced me that blogging was a better vehicle than email broadcasting for expressing my is inside my head and starting conversations, I have added Steve Wells's excellent blog (link here) Dwindling In Unbelief  this morning, to the JustJoeP referenced blog list at left. 

Upon perusal of Wells's on-going efforts this morning, I see that he has recently illuminated the blatant hypocrisy and insanity that is the Bachmann campaign (based on religious texts), and the pornographic & lewd (warning, NSFW) evangelical fundamentalists like Pastors Mark Driscoll and Doug Wilson at the Christ Church conference that was just held in Moscow Idaho.  It would not surprise me to see frequent postings by Wells during the 2012 election season, just as in 2008 and 2010, his posting frequency increased substantially.

It's nice when you re-discover a stash of gems like this, that you once knew about, but had been too busy / had too many book marks / had not looked at in many years.  So I present it here for you, my readers.  Soak it in.

I still maintain the fundamentalist religious fervor has killed more people, destroyed more families through abuse, and inspired more hatred and despicable acts of evil than nearly any other single cause in the world today, with the exception perhaps of medieval pandemics - like the black plague.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Tea Party Tim and Plutocrat Pete

Tom Tomorrow captures it perfectly, again.

Anna Hazare... #Gandhi

As I listen to the BBC reporting on Anna Hazare's renewed protest against the endemic and pervasive culture of bribe taking and corruption in Indian society, it makes me wonder:  What if Gandhi had been on Twitter?

Being John Malkovich Assad

The more I hear about Syria killing Sunni (majority) citizens, and Bahrain suppressing Shi'a (majority) citizens, and the more bombs that keep going off in Iraq & Afghanistan & Pakistan... I find it hard to not implicate the involvement of the largest Shi'a nation in the world: Iran. 

First, Syria.  I keep hearing questions on the radio
Q: "When will Assad run out of money?"
A: Never, as long as Iran is pumping oil.  Iran won't pass up a chance to take out Sunnis and stick a thumb into Sunni run Saudia Arabia's eyes, whenever possible.
Q:  "How long before the Syrian military generals turn against Assad?"
A:  Never, as long as Iran is providing military advisers, intelligence, weapons
Iran NEEDS Syria and the Assad regime to funnel money and weapons to Hezbollah ( حزب الله‎ ).  Assad is an 'Alawite, which is a off-shoot of Shi'a.  Now, to most so-called christian[TM] Americans, a Muslim is a Muslim is a Muslim.  But to the Shi'a and Sunni, they see themselves as different as Roman Catholic and Orange Protestants in Northern Ireland.  Sunni doctrine dictates that Shi'a are heretics who need to be executed - Martin Luther didn't advocate killing of Catholics, the same way the Inquisition advocated hunting down and taking out perceived "heretics" but the level of hatred is the equivalent. 

So the Iranian Shi'a, who have loads of oil, and therefore a supply of Cash, are able to finance, supply, guide, influence, control the Syrian 'Alawites, and the Lebanese Hezbollah Shi'a militants, and the citizens of Bahrain who are 80% Shi'a but are ruled by a Saudi Aligned Sunni monarchy.  And to make things look worse for the United States, our 5th Fleet is stationed in Bahrain, so the United States Commerce, Energy (oil), Defense & State Departments don't want to have American media cover Sunni suppression of Shi'a majority citizen protests in Bahrain, but they DO want to have intense media focus on Bashar Assad's killing of his Sunni majority citizens in Syria.  Thing is, it's not Assad so much anymore killing anyone, but Iran pulling the puppet strings.  If Iran loses Syria to a majority Sunni revolution, they lose a 2nd front on Iraq through which to funnel IEDs, suicide bombers, and enough mischief & evil to entangle US troops in support of the Iraqi government for generations to come.  Iran would also lose their conduit to easily reach Hezbollah, since in Lebanon there's too many Druze and Christians getting in their way. 

Now, to circle back to Afghanistan & Iraq.  Iran Does NOT want America to withdraw troops, treasure, and attention from their neighbors Iraq and Afghanistan.   They DON'T want to be invaded, but at the same time, they won't pass up a chance to kill as many Americans and NATO troops as possible with increasingly sophisticated IEDs, so Iran creates as much mayhem and havoc as they can without stepping over the line to the point where they blatantly piss off the US and get cruise missile, predator drone & B2 bomber strikes.  From what I've observed, the bloody math figures to < 50 US troops killed / month = American Apathy*
* Note: as long as the IED or violent attack is not directly traceable back to the Iranian Revolutionary Guards.

So it is the Sunnis in Saudi Arabia who are pulling the puppet strings with the monarchy in Bahrain, and with Hamas ( حماس‎ ) in Gaza.  The Shi'a Iranians are pulling the puppet strings in Syria, in Lebanon with Hezbollah, fueling unrest in Bahrain with the Shi'a majority, in Iraq when Sunnis are blown up, and in Afghanistan when the Sunni dominated Taliban are not involved in killing Afghan & NATO troops. 

John Malkovich is no longer John Malkovich once John Cusack is pulling the puppet strings, and playing out his long lasting dream of exploring the 'art of puppeteering'... all while appearing to be John Malkovich, having the facade and reputation of Malkovich, but living out the dreams and machinations of Cusack.  Pick your puppet, and your puppet master.  Align each with rival Sunni or Shi'a sects who've hated each other and warred with each other for centuries, and perhaps now you have a better impression of just how messed up things are from the Sinai Peninsula to the Hindu Kush range. 

I do not include Libya and Pakistan into this, since they are far more tribal, diverse in which Muslim sect their populations are made of, and are therefore much harder to predict.  The puppeteers are playing smaller roles there, but are not the dominant voices in the cacophony of violence, chaos, and civil war (in Libya Open civil war, in Pakistan, just-below-boiling-point covert civil war).  In Egypt, the society is more educated, more tech savvy, more metropolitan and less agrarian relying heavily on tourism for revenue (or at least they Used To rely on tourism) so the religious puppeteers have less sway. 

Therefore, whenever I hear about "When will the Syrian regime collapse?" I automatically rephrase the question:  "Will Iran capitulate in Syria, to Sunni / Saudi dominance?"

"When will the media start covering the brutality against the Bahrain citizens?" automatically becomes "When will the 5ft Fleet leave Bahrain?"

"When will the US withdraw all their troops from Iraq?" automatically becomes "When will Iran stop funding Malaki and other Shi'a insurgent factions?"

I know it's somewhat of an over-simplification to label ALL the carnage in the middle east on the Sunni / Shi'a internecine conflict, but it helps my tired mind to see who the real puppet masters are, and why the killing continues on a massive scale fueled by religious fervor. 

The History of Jesus

Tip of the hat to IH-57.

The History of Jesus, expressed graphically.

Japanese Priority Seating

I get the pregnant woman # 3 ... but the others?

When the EPA Is Gone

Thanks again to Armchair Patriots (link here).

Born in a Crossfire Hurricane

It's all right now.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Temporarily Embarrassed Millionaires

Ronald Wright, on page 124 of in his work A Short History of Progress (2005) quotes John Steinbeck as saying: 
Socialism never took root in America because the poor see themselves not as an exploited proletariat, but as temporarily embarrassed millionaires.

Some people dispute the authenticity of this quote, but read the Grapes of Wrath to understand Steinbeck's views on how successful an investment capitalistic socio-economic landscape can be, and it's not hard to picture Steinbeck saying this. 

The whole modern cultural obsession with reality shows, instant twitters, the "me Me ME ME!!!" paradigm, drives & reinforces this belief.  "Someday, I'll be as rich as them there Koch brothers too!" - no you won't.  They inherited it from their oil & chemical magnate daddy, and your daddy done run off an left yer mama in her trailer when you was still in diapers.  (to phrase it colloquially, as I DID live in rural Indiana and in South Carolina for nearly 3 decades). 

Wright also states:
"When Mahatma Gandhi came to England in the 1930s for talks on Indian self-rule, a reporter asked him what he thought of Western civilization.  Gandhi, who had just visited the London slums, replied: "I think it would be a very good idea."  If I sound at times rather hard on civilization, this is because, like Gandhi, I would like it to fulfill its promise and succeed.  I would rather live in a house than in a rock-shelter.  I like great buildings and good books.  I like knowing that I am an ape, that the world is round, that the sun is a star and the stars are suns -- taken-for-granted knowledge that took thousands of years to wrest from "chaos and old night."  For all its cruelties, civilization is precious, an experiment worth continuing.  It is also precarious, as we climbed the ladder of progress, we kicked out the rungs below.  There is no going back without catastrophe.  Those who don't like civilization, and can't wait for it to fall on its arrogant face, should keep in mind that there is no other way to support humanity in anything like our present numbers or estate." (page 34). 

Warren Buffet's and Dennis Mehiel's efforts are a start, a small voice, a minority initiative, to help maintain the viability of modern society as we know it... but I fear it is too little, too late, with the vast majority of the 'I got mine' wealthy selfishly hoarding behind their walled communities, armoured cars, and private security, while the rest of celebrity obsessed idiocracy mindlessly go through their daily lives, blissfully unaware of the financial, societal, and infrastructure precipice which we are all rapidly approaching as a planet.

Time will tell.

Danger, Conformity Hazard

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Vice Presidents Huckabee & Brownback

Had John McCain picked someone electable for his running mate, I am NOT SURE that Barack Obama would have been elected president.  Huckabee actually won several state primaries and caucuses.  Brownback would have appealed to all the evangelicals and extreme right wingers who eventually became Tea Baggers.  Both Brownback and Huckabee would have energized their bases and might have gotten the more reasonable right wing to go out and vote.  Instead, McCain made the fatal flaw of picking a 1/2 term Governor, who had formerly been a mayor of a 2000 person rural city where there were no city services provided, a city known as the crack capital of Alaska.  The VP candidate he picked galvanized opposition from literate, intelligent, reasonable people, like librarians, teachers, professional females with college degrees of all sorts, moderates of all shapes and sizes.

I postulate here, as I watch the circular firing squad that the Republican Primary field of 2012 is presenting, that it was McCain's choice of Palin that sealed his fate as an unelectable moderate Republican.  McCain was the least undesirable of Republican candidates in 2008.  Yes, he had some terrible flip flops, lapses in judgments, and mis-statements, but he never believed Barack Obama was a secret Muslim, or that Barack Obama was not patriotic or that he hated America.  McCain corrected ignorant supporters who called then-candidate Obama a 'socialist' and 'secret Muslim' at his rallies.  Compared to the 2012 field of loons who are running, McCain presented a very reasonable choice.

Huntsman is reasonable, and therefore, in 2012, he will be unelectable.  Romney, though easily despised, completely artificial, and slippery enough to do ANYTHING to get people to like him, is still less electable today than McCain was in 2008.  Front runners Paul, Bachmann, and Dick Perry are each to the right of most of the wackiest 2008 candidates (with Perry again today, denying climate change, and wanting to abolish 80% of all Federal Revenue by abolishing Federal Income Tax, what an idiot!). 

There is the possibility that the GOP will come up with a reasonable candidate who can appeal to moderates and independents, but so far, no such person has shown his (or her) face or raised their hand.  Whoever that reasonable person Might be, will have their pick of extremist Tea Party courtiers who they can choose as a VP running mate.  Maybe they'll repeat McCain's fatal flaw of picking a loser who will seal their fate against the incumbent President.  Maybe they'll learn from previous history...  I dunno.

There is also the possibility that the GOP will field a reasonable (yet un-named candidate), AND the Tea Party crazed faction of the far right wing will field their own Tea Party Candidate as well, splitting the vote in a 3-way, 1992 Perot/Bush/Clinton-esque race (Perot was from Texas also).  There's not predicting what crazy people might do. 

And yes, I know that the Republicans are going to do everything in their power (in the majority in House of Representatives, and as the LARGE Minority in the Senate, and as rulers of the SCOTUS) to make things as bad as possible for all Americans leading up the November 2012 elections, saying "NO" to everything, not compromising on anything, and redefining the word "Despicable" ... but there's nothing we, as a nation, can do about it.   At least, not without a TARDIS.

(And Perry needs to stay off my radio, his hubris and hypocrisy is over-whelming: link here)

Read My Lips

Still 1.0

I absolutely had / have all the aspects of Geek 1.0, but I have not yet fully evolved to Geek 2.0 yet. 

I know several of JustJoeP blog followers are indeed 2.0 (but perhaps, without the night vision contact lenses, just yet.)

Where on the Geek evolutionary scale are you?

Waldo? (R)

(R) When Fundamentalists Come Knocking

I need to get one of these door mats, for the evangelical and fundamentalist recruiting seasons here in my residential Phoenix neighborhood.

Live in 9, Missing 1

Here in West Phoenix, Dr Desert Flower and I live in a zone 9.  I went to school in a zone 6 or so, and used to camp (as a kid) in zone 3 from time to time.  I miss seeing skies like zone 1.  When we've driven from San Diego to Phoenix, and we're out in the middle of the Sonoran desert hours after dusk, or on the Grand Canyon's south rim about 30 miles west of the National Park's entrance, we've seen zone 1.  It is amazing, and takes my breath away a little bit each time I first behold it. 

I am looking forward to visiting the Rocky Mountains again.


If you have a few minutes to waste, and you like this sort of thing...  look at the letters below, and see what your eyes find first.  I found:  LOVE, BROKE, and FUN.

Feel free to leave comments about your findings.
(and yes, I know that Science doesn't endorse this sort of thing...  but I find it interesting never-the-less).

Juxtaposed George (R)*

The man with the yellow hat did not fare so well.  "Why So Curious, hmmm George?"

* Note: the new "(R)" Rating will appear on the titles of Blog Postings here at JustJoeP that are not "young child friendly", for those blog followers who might occasionally visit JustJoeP who have their pre-school or elementary school-aged children beside them or perhaps on sitting on their laps... so that the title can be seen in the RSS feed with the (R) rating and then check it at a time when young impressionable eyes & minds are present.  I don't want to give little ones nightmares.

The Ikea Litsabbur

Referencing a post from last summer, I wonder if our local Ikea store carries the new Litsabbur?

Step two looks VERY painful... at least temporarily in a physical sense, and extremely excruciating to cope with in the long term from a psychological & ancestral sense.  Step 3, like most Ikea instructions, is lacking a little bit of detail on specifics... don'tcha think?

Raise You A Giraffe

There's been several good comments on JustJoeP this week.  I want to thank all the followers for their inputs, and encourage everyone to engage in civil dialogue and expressive commentary. 

So I see your post, and I raise you a Giraffe.  =P

An Ounce Of Perception, A Pound Of Obscure

...and in the same vein as the previous post....
An Ounce Of Perception, A Pound Of Obscure

Process information at 1/2 speed. 
[I must have practiced the hi-hat work contained herein at least 100 times in my life.]

A tired mind becomes a shape-shifter.

Remember the Montreal Expos? (Neil's baseball cap)

Deviation From the Norm

I miss Frank.

Real Entitlement Disconnect

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Work With Any Of the Alumni?

I understand that their tuition rates are exorbitant, and the dorms on campus SUCK!