gmonkey42: Spock looking like "WTF?" (douchebaggery)
Here's a post by The Center for American Progress with a table showing programs being cut and tax breaks for corporations and the wealthy where the programs could be funded if these tax breaks didn't exist:
http://www.americanprogress.org/issues/2011/02/tax_breaks_infographic.html
gmonkey42: cartoon Sephiroth (Default)
I hadn't heard about this until I read this Tiger Beatdown post: Bradley Manning, a soldier, is being held in inhumane conditions, and has been for the past 7 months, for leaking evidence of war crimes by the U.S. military to WikiLeaks, though he has not actually been charged with any crime.

You can go to this site to donate to Bradley Manning's legal defense fund. I made a donation. You can enter your own amount, every bit helps.

See also this Salon.com article
gmonkey42: cartoon Sephiroth (Default)
[Error: unknown template qotd]"Witness the decline and fall of the American Empire; thanks, capitalism!"
gmonkey42: cartoon Sephiroth (Default)
Here's an article in Time that sums up how the decriminalization of drugs (ALL of them, not even just pot) has reduced rates of drug abuse and increased rates of addicts getting treatment.
http://www.time.com/time/health/article/0,8599,1893946,00.html
Instead of throwing people in jail for taking drugs, they offer drug counseling (which is cheaper for the government than incarcerating that person). And even that is optional but a lot of people are taking the opportunity to get help and get off drugs. It's awesome.

I heard about it on this YouTube video:


Pharyngula had a post with another video of hers, about Everybody Draw Muhammad Day; I liked it so I started watching her other videos including the one above.


Meanwhile, Prop 19 was rejected by the majority of voters here in California this year. Because we Americans have a major boner for punishing people. I liked the point made in the video that we should be more concerned with what actually works in the real world than with what satisfies our urge to see the sinners punished. That's such a problem. It's rooted in religion and capitalism and is being pushed by the right wing more strongly than ever.

This applies to a lot of social programs. Like the program in Nevada (can't find a link, sorry. I saw it on a news show) where they found that it was actually cheaper to pay rent on small, cheap apartments for homeless people than it was to allow them to stay homeless and keep having to use emergency medical services. Everybody wins: the homeless people have better health, greater stability and a better chance at getting a job, and the government saves money. But the public doesn't like that type of thing. First, I expect a lot of people would grumble about the expense and ignore the fact that it actually costs less. Some would be blatant enough assholes to say the ideal solution is to stop paying for their emergency medical care too, and just let them die on the street, which is a horrific denial of our responsibility as a society. Since that's not a realistic option, people end up choosing to keep things the way they are, with greater expense and greater suffering, because making things better wouldn't satisfy their vindictive need to feel like they're better than other people.

Another argument against programs like this is "why should they get free counseling/apartments/food stamps/etc.? I work hard, why doesn't the government give me free stuff? It's not fair." But it's completely fair: if the complaining person were to become homeless/addicted to drugs/poor/etc. then the help would be freely given to them too. The government isn't going to say "nope, you work too hard, these programs are only available for lazy people who contribute nothing to society." That's absurd. But it's how a lot of people think it really is.

It's so frustrating to see these solutions that really work but have them rejected here because people would rather have everyone, including themselves, be worse off in exchange for feeling morally superior.
gmonkey42: cartoon Sephiroth (Default)
If the scanners/pat-downs were actually capable of preventing a terrorist attack then we'd be having a very different discussion about this. Right-wingers in favor of the new screening procedures try to frame it that way, that we're irresponsibly favoring some abstract concept of "rights" over public safety. But we're not. Because the new screenings do not increase public safety, and the TSA is well aware of this. For example, they want to make pilots go through the scanners/pat-downs, which is ridiculous because if a pilot wanted to destroy a plane, they wouldn't have to bring anything on board, they'd just crash it. And there is lax screening of job applicants for baggage handlers, plane mechanics and TSA employees themselves. This is not about making us safer and the TSA knows it. This is all about appearances.

So we opponents of the new screenings are not coming down on the side of our own comfort at the expense of public safety. We're opposed to the government abusing its authority, and potentially harming people, for the sake of looking like they're doing something. This Huffington Post article about how the TSA works is illuminating and confirms some things I suspected: the TSA is in the difficult position of being responsible for preventing events that are inherently unpredictable. If someone gets by their security methods and blows up or crashes a plane - and there is no way to guarantee 100% that that can't happen - then the TSA will be the first to get blamed. This is an unfortunate reality. It would be nice if we could all collectively agree not to blame them for failing to do the impossible but this is America and whenever something goes wrong, the first thing we do is find a scapegoat (apart from the person who actually blew up the plane, whom we're not all that interested in for some reason, but that's a whole other blog post).

They respond to this difficult situation by, as the HuffPost article describes, operating in a perpetual state of crisis. That is not an effective way to run any organization. They desperately grasp for anything they think might help, without any justification for that method and often only after someone was caught by older methods that were already in place: the shoe bomber and people planning to bring liquid explosives onto planes for example. These people were prevented from getting explosives onto a plane BEFORE we had to take off our shoes and not bring liquids but these procedures are now required to prevent things that were prevented before without them.

The TSA's insistence on passengers (and flight crews) following whatever draconian rules they come up with, just because they said so, breeds an attitude of extreme authoritarianism. And this leads to the job attracting exactly the wrong type of people: those who enjoy abusing their authority and exerting control and dominance over people who are helpless to stop them. The only solution to this is careful hiring and rigorous training and the TSA does neither. The agency exists in a constant state of being overwhelmed and uses that as an excuse for not preventing its employees from abusing the people they're supposed to protect.

The point is not only that a lot of innocent people are being and will be harmed by these screenings, physically by the X-rays and mentally by having PTSD or other conditions triggered. The greater point is that the screenings come with A MUCH HIGHER COST THAN BENEFIT. THAT is why large numbers of people are finally resisting the TSA's abuse of authority (years after we should have started resisting...) Because the new screenings cross the line into doing more harm than good.

ETA: Here's another article, from The American Prospect, that says the TSA has not even conducted cost/benefit analysis before deciding to deploy the scanners.

TSA

Nov. 18th, 2010 02:14 pm
gmonkey42: cartoon Sephiroth (Default)
Here's a good post about the TSA scanners and enhanced pat-downs.

I'll be flying in January. I don't know what I'll do, if I'll opt out - the author of the post says she will demand the pat-down to be done out in the open, in front of witnesses, but I don't know if just saying that could get you arrested for non-compliance - or if I'll wimp out and go through the scanner. I don't really have concerns about my personal well-being; of course both options are bad but I could tolerate either one. It's the principle. I don't know if forcing them to waste time doing the enhanced pat-down will even help anything. Or maybe it won't be an option, if by then it'll be either go through the scanner or get arrested.
gmonkey42: cartoon Sephiroth (Default)
[Error: unknown template qotd]It often amounts to the same thing - the candidate I want to vote for is also the Democratic candidate. Well, sometimes I vote for the Green if there's no danger of splitting the left-wing vote and letting the Republican win.
gmonkey42: cartoon Sephiroth (Judge Turpin)
I usually like South Park but sometimes there's an episode that's just one, 28-minute testament to how Matt & Trey Do Not Get It. For example: the one about the BP spill. They have a character called Hindsight Man, whose superpower is that he has really good hindsight. And sort of a silly, nasal voice, just in case the audience didn't get that this character was supposed to be ridiculous. And he goes around saying what should have been done instead of actually helping. The implication is that when someone says, for example, that the government shouldn't have turned a blind eye to BP and other oil companies' lack of compliance with safety rules, that person is stupid and they should be doing something concrete to help. Like making an episode of a cartoon, for example. What South Park, infuriatingly, fails to understand is this isn't just about saying what should have been done, it's about making sure we don't make the same mistakes again.

But you can't expect a couple of libertarian douchebags - talented, entertaining douchebags but douchebags nonetheless - to come out on the side of environmentalists against a giant corporation. Or to refrain from using over-the-top, exaggerated strawman arguments.

I'm still going to watch the rest of the episode, though. I have to find out who Mysterion is.

ETA: Oh. It's Clyde.
gmonkey42: cartoon Sephiroth (Default)
[Error: unknown template qotd]No.

But I have no idea how much is too much. Whatever amount required to invade other countries unprovoked and then occupy them indefinitely? That's too much.

holy crap!

Aug. 4th, 2010 02:41 pm
gmonkey42: cartoon Sephiroth (Default)
Federal court rules CA Prop 8 unconstitutional!

It'll go to the Supreme Court and then who knows what will happen but this is a huge victory!
gmonkey42: cartoon Sephiroth (Default)
LOL, now I wish I'd gone to Comic-Con!

Pharyngula post: Comic-Con versus Westboro Baptist Church

There's a TNG Starfleet officer holding up a sign that says "GOD HATES JEDI," someone further back holding up "ALL GLORY TO THE HYPNO TOAD," and Bender holding a sign that says simply "KILL ALL HUMANS."
gmonkey42: cartoon Sephiroth (Default)
[Error: unknown template qotd]Pretty concerned. It's never as bad as the worst predictions (see: overpopulation) but it'll still be pretty bad. And the fact that it's (maybe) coinciding with peak oil makes things worse. We're going to start having more problems with producing enough food for everyone.

It's unfortunate that human nature is to wait until it's already a crisis before we start taking the problem seriously. The economic arguments against renewable energy and reduction of carbon emissions are ridiculous. We've built our economy to be so focused on ultra-short-term gains that too many people have lost sight of anything else. That's why the economy crashed and that's why a lot of people still resist even acknowledging that we're altering our environment... "environment" in general usage has become sort of a buzzword that polarizes people as pissed-off-redneck-conservative vs hippie-liberal-douche but it's not about some kind of abstract, one ideology vs another thing, it's about being able to freaking feed ourselves and not be breathing and drinking poison. I don't get how people can support the pro-starving-and-being-poisoned position. They think it'll only happen to poor people but climate change is going to make everybody's lives worse. We could be working a lot harder to mitigate the damage.


I like that the question was posed like this: it's not "do you believe in global warming" any more. It's getting harder to deny the facts in front of us. That's something, at least.
gmonkey42: cartoon Sephiroth (Default)
Read this Pandagon post about environmentalism: it's not about hugging trees, it's about having a place where humans can live.

That's why this George Carlin video pisses me the hell off:


"Human arrogance" isn't what it's about. We ALREADY interfered with nature and now we're trying to stop doing it more. Speaking of arrogance, how can they think they're so much smarter than scientists, that they know about mass extinctions of the past and we don't?

Carlin: "You know what [environmentalists] are interested in? A clean place to live - their own habitat." What the fuck is wrong with wanting a clean place to live? How is that not a worthy goal? Like that's supposed to invalidate our argument, like it would be better if we wanted to preserve the environment for abstract reasons? Fuck George Carlin.
gmonkey42: cartoon Sephiroth (Default)
This:
http://smadin.wordpress.com/2010/01/13/i-dont-care-if-youre-offended/
is a good post, about why "offensive" isn't the same as "harmful."

Heroes post coming soon!
gmonkey42: cartoon Sephiroth (Default)
The public option is still on the table:
http://pandagon.net/index.php/site/comments/house_bill_released/

The bit in the latter half of the post about Representative Stupak and others objecting to their tax dollars paying for abortion made me think: not that it's the same thing but my tax dollars pay for executions. The way to fix that is push for specific reforms, not demand that my tax dollars not pay for anything related in any way to the criminal justice system.
gmonkey42: cartoon Sephiroth (Default)
Al Franken lays the smackdown on a lawyer for KBR.

Jon Stewart: "If to protect Halliburton, you have to side against rape victims, you might want to re-think your allegiances."
gmonkey42: cartoon Sephiroth (Default)
Read this if you haven't already: Iran's Election - why you should care by [livejournal.com profile] one_hoopy_frood

I feel like I should add my own commentary here but I don't know what to say. It's awful. What I was scared could happen here is actually happening in Iran.

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