A Quick Note About the Stimulus Package

Been seeing and hearing a lot of lamentations lately about the stimulus package.  A lot of them seem to be nebulous complaints not focused on the actual legislation, but more of the ideological whining that plagues our Democracy.

After actually looking at a nice, objective, analysis of what’s in the package (which you can read here) I came up with a short comment.

600,000 teachers get to keep their jobs.

If one were to “stimulate” the Green Energy industry, one would get a tax cut.

If one were to “stimulate” the auto industry, one would get a tax cut.

If one were to buy a new home, one would get a tax cut.

In one were on unemployment, this provides more money to keep the lights on and keep looking for work. And keeps health insurance for a little while longer.

If one makes less than $100G or so, one gets $400. Two as one (married couples) get $800.

If one is in environment science, there are 100,000 new jobs to be had.

If one likes cops and firefighters, they get some cash too. In order to keep hiring and keep away the growing number of theives (a “recession” creates more people who have to chose between stealing bread and watching kids go hungry).

If one is headed to college (or has kids headed there), more money.

And yes, the 14% of Americans who are poor get a bit too.  Hopefully to give their kids a chance at a better life.  Headstart has a wonderful record for doing this, and toddler care (as mentioned here) is one way to help those trying to make the transition from poverty to being able to consistently pay the bills.

In essence and in act, Obama has done the start of what he promised to do, focus on the Middle Class and the Poor.   Bush’s tax cuts for the rich are, at least IMHO, part of what led to the economic collapse of the banking sector, as a great deal of money flowed into a deregulated system which artificially inflated house prices.  A big part of the problem was that the mortgage industry was divorced from actually holding the pieces of paper they signed, and all the crap flowed from them onto the books of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac (who, with the quasi-governmental status were assumed to be “Good for it.”)

For a while there, it was possible to not have any real income, or less than one would need, and get a $250,000 note (financed by a $25,000 loan for the downpayment) on the ASSUMPTION that house prices would continue their meteoric rises.   At the base of most crises are flawed assumptions, and this one was no different.

The point of the stimulus bill is to stimulate people to spend money in good ways that will pay more dividends down the road.  The tax cuts of investing in energy-saving technology being one of the main points in that regard, as it both stimulates that industry, increasing the potential for future advancements and cost savings, and focuses on one of the areas that America needs to address the quickest to return to a more stable economy…our general lack of energy efficiency.

As to me personally, this stimulus package does nothing directly.  While I’m in the job market looking for a job, I am not taking unemployment, so I miss that.  Without a job, I don’t get the $400 tax cut.  Without spending money I don’t have, I don’t get the other tax breaks.  I’m not a teacher or a cop or a firefighter, so those are out.  I don’t take food stamps, so no luck there.  I don’t have a toddler in day care as a single parent, so again, nothing for me.

However, given the nature of our current problems and the scope of the hole we are in (Thanks, dude) the package as a whole seems to be on the right track, getting money into the hands of people that will spend it, and encouraging people with money in their pockets to spend it.

One of the biggest problems in this kind of economic situation is those with money refuse to spend it, worried about the future.  As things get tighter, fists get tighter, and the cycle continues.   The hope is to change the attitude and reverse the spiral toward the bottom.

Yes, I used hope and change in that last sentence for a reason, because we need both to recover quickly.  And peace, we probably need that too.

Hope, peace, and change.   Those are words I most certainly believe in.

UPDATE: If anybody would like to economically stimulate me, there’s some places to do that above.   Eating is fun, but one of those big bills that get smaller when the money dries up.  Hence the nature of “belt-tightening” during a rough economy.  We all need to tighen our belts and trim our waistelines (and wastelines…cable news…I’m looking at you) a bit more during a downturn.  If every American (who needs to..at least 31% of us) lost 20 pounds, we would save billions on healthcare, look better, and get smarter (all things we need to do in order to compete better in flat world).

The Best (and Worst) Superbowl Ever

American Honeys

American Honeys

So I went to my favorite pub/sports pub to do some liveblogging for the Superbowl.

As football is about as close as I come to organized religion, the Superbowl is a big day for me.  A Super Party, if you well.   I had picked my location in the bar early and spent most of the day flirting and taking pictures and watching one heckuve football game.

There was one rather catastrophic downside though.  As I was at a bar, using my laptop, there was a chance things could go badly.  This happened right after halftime, when a half-full cup of water was poured on my laptop by a group of drunk Mexican nationals (the rich Mexicans).

Quick note on the glass half-full versus the glass half-empty riddle.  Trust me on this one, it is the half-full side of the glass that causes problems.  The empty part does nothing.  The glass is/was half-full.

The half-full glass ultimately fried my laptop and leaves me in a rather precarious place, as I am now an artist without  a brush.  I’ll figure something out, but it was a big loss.  Here’s how the liveblogging of the first half went.  By the second half I was deep into flirting territory and had to stop blogging.  It happens…

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I’m Still Trying to Come Up With a Title for My Book

I just thought of another good one, “Philosophy is an Action.”

If anyone has any suggestions, please let me know.  I’ve already written down some predictions of what people will think of it, and I want to check my work.

Joel, you first.  🙂

The Dark Bailout (and Joker vs. Joker)

Here’s a couple quick mash-ups made from “The Dark Knight” and Heath Ledger’s soon to be legendary performance.  When I rent a movie, I might watch it once before returning.  This one I’ve watched at least 3 times, and will probably *gasp* by a $.015 piece of plastic for $20 just to have a copy laying around.

Anyway, here’s the goods…

And the Joker v Joker one, “Whens Clowns Collide”.  This took some serious editing, but did a great job making something new out of something old.

Horse Drinking Water Corollary (Leo Donofrio is Off His Rocker and Blognitive Dissonance)

It has often been said that one of the frustrating things about human interaction is that, said simple, “You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make them drink.”

I would like to add the following corollary, “A horse drinking rancid water will continue to do so, if thirsty, no matter how often you point to the shit floating in it.”

In this case the shit floating in the water is Leo Donofrio, who has glamoured a whole bunch of horses that have convinced themselves they are dying of thirst and he has their water.

This metaphor is made real by the blog “Natural Born Citizen” (a play on the Oliver Stone movie “Natural Born Killer”, which is a curious thing to note in and of itself.)

I recently took a few moments out of my day to read his latest diatribe about how he doesn’t understand the Constitution in order to try and help out a little.  As with many right-wing nutters, Donofrio doesn’t have the strength of conviction to deal with simple arguments that invalidate his thesis.  As with many right-wing nutters (particularly of the blogging world), he attempts to make it look like this is not the case by simply refusing to publish counter-arguments [UPDATE: he finally posted my comment after editorializing in them, my response to that is below].

For example, if you were to read the thread entitled …


…as of this morning you would not see the following comment, by yours truly.  This is despite the fact that later comments have both been posted and commented on in length.

Click for full size to read comment and note how its not posted

As one could clearly see that the argument posted (Leo’s) is easily and quickly invalidated by the comment posted (Mine) it would behoove Mr. Donofrio to avoid such situtations.  Hence the point of the “comment awaiting moderation” tag on my comment that none of y’all can see on the thread itself (which is why I took the timestamped screen shot).  It sits in the queue, and the horses keep drinking, and get sicker and sicker in their stomachs.

As mentioned in another place, the base of his argument is that British citizenship laws trumps U.S. citizenship laws.  He seems to forget we fought, and won, a war with the British over precisely this issue (i.e. who is subject to British law).  Our Constitution is very clear about what to do for U.S. citizens when there is an apparent conflict of law with another nation and which takes precedence for citizens in the U.S.

The *really* funny part about this is that he’s trying to use *Scalia* to make a point that some other country’s law trump the U.S.’s, which is something that Scalia would find almost as objectionable as gay marriage (Scalia is not such a big fan of the gays getting hitched and he ABSOLUTELY HATES the idea that “international law” would ever trump U.S. law…the crux of Donofrio’s argument).

Funny stuff, and a very precise and exact example of “blognitive dissonance” (that is, removing comments that invalidate one’s argument in order to maintain a seemingly coherent, unanimous, thread).


Oh, and Leo, the reason why everyone is calling you and your supporters racist is, well…you do know what the fourteenth amendment fixed, right?  And you do know how many people, up to at least the 1950’s, and in Congress, had no problems talking about the inadequacies of the “nigger race” (video evidence).

When the point of the argument is to try and keep one of “those people” from assuming the top office in the land (after a free and fair election), I hope you can see how people think they see right through your hand waving, and understand your real purpose here.


UPDATE: He responded and agreed that his argument was absurd and frivolous.  Woot!  I’ll post my response here as well, since it is going to to take too long for him to try and think up a response to the following (which is what he does before posting alternative opinions by editing those comments).

[Leo Donofrio: The law doesn’t recognize the absurd or frivolous. In the case above, there would be no basis in Jus Soli or Jus Sanguinis for the Chinese citizenship. Obama was a citizen – by blood descent – of Great Britain not by an absurd hyopothetical.]

No he wasn’t.  You clearly state that..

When Barack Obama Jr. was born on Aug. 4,1961, in Honolulu, Kenya was a British colony, still part of the United Kingdom’s dwindling empire. As a Kenyan native, Barack Obama Sr. was a British subject whose citizenship status was governed by The British Nationality Act of 1948. That same act governed the status of Obama Sr.‘s children. (Emphasis added.)

You even added emphasis that it is BRITISH LAW that you are using to make your argument.   In the hypothetical Chinese case, all they would have to do is have a “one drop of blood” rule and it is the exact same thing.

BTW, my point is exactly what you said.  The concept that British or Chinese law would trump U.S. law is so absurd it keeps getting tossed out of court.  Thank for you confirming my point.

[LD. The Treatise was written in 1758 and was the way of the world. The Constitution was ratified in 1788 and the original intent of the phrase is explained in The Laws of Nations. The treatise as cited would appeal to an originalist like Justice Scalia, who referred Cort’s case to the full Court. Scalia just recently used The Laws of Nations in the Heller case where he wrote the opinion of the Court. Obviously, somebody like Justice Ginsberg probably wouldn’t be influenced by the Laws of Nations as to this issue. ]

Yes, I know the world was very sexist in 1758.  It was also very racist.  That was the point of the Fourteenth Amendment, if you’ll recall, to try and address the direct issue of how people treated former slaves.

Your lack of clarification or real argumentation seems to mean that you agree that a gender-neutral test is fine, and so Obama wins again.

Scalia, BTW, hates using other country’s laws to interpret the Constitution.  I don’t see him agreeing with your contention that British Law somehow trumps U.S. law in the context of citizenship.

UPDATE2: Like I said, blognitive dissonance. The above comment has been excised from the conversation.  I’ll try again.

UPDATE3: He’s got no answer for the above argument.  Which is why he’s not going to understand (again) why nobody will let him argue this crap in court.

UPDATE4: I want to make it clear that I do not believe ALL right-wing sites suffer from blognitive dissonance.  Many do.  I’ve been banned from Little Green Footballs and Free Republic, both of which go with a mob attack mentality that precludes anyone from attempting to interrupt their constant circle-jerking.  One example of a site that doesn’t, and thus led to what I considered to be good conversations, is Lone Star Times.  Those conversations can be accessed here (regarding Catholic Schools in the UK and Muslim “appeasement”), and here (a continuation of my deconstruction of Ziegler’s “Obama voters are stupid” movie, [quick note on that one…check the sarcastic title of the post and the author’s later denial he meant to belittle Obama voters]).

Fire Brad Johnson

I’m watching football (it’s Sunday, it’s Fall…this is natural) and I’m watching my Cowboys, and I’m watching Roy Williams (whom I like as much as the other Roy Williams for much the same reasons…their first names their bad-assedness) make a one-handed catch for 30 yards down the field to ignite offense.

Then I watch Brad Johnson throw a HORRID 5-yard slant that gets picked off by the Giants and it’s 70 yards the other direction.

Fire him. Fire him now.

And now the commercial break is over and I feel better having registered my frustration on the Internet within moments.

UPDATE: Leeeroy Jenkins!!!! For the pick and the touchdown.

Oh, wait. His first name is Mike. That’s all right, I’m sticking with calling him LeeRoy. LeeRoy Jenkins.

14-7 Giants.

UPDATE2: Interception 2. Fire him. Now. You had a good career. That probably should have ended 2 years ago.

UPDATE3: I got bored with the game. Watched this mash-up and felt better.

21-7.  Giants.

UPDATE4: Mike “LeeRoy” Jenkins just gave up a touchdown by, uh, *not* attacking. Mike, I know you’re a rookie, but when a running back is running straight toward you, TACKLE HIM!

35-14. Giants.  Final.

Ugh.  Tony, come on back now.  Ya hear?

Colin Powell Endorses Naive, Socialist, America-Hating, Muslim Black Candidate


Base: All adults


Soon After 9/11






























Feb. 2004





President George Bush








Secretary of State Colin Powell








Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld








Attorney General John Ashcroft








Vice President Dick Cheney








Republicans in Congress








Democrats in Congress








Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist








House Speaker Dennis Hastert








via Harris Interactive | The Harris Poll – Bush Approval Ratings Remain Stable; Other Leader Ratings Drop

Colin Powell was pretty much the only one to “survive” the Bush Admistration, in terms of positive public opinion.  Powell endorsed Obama for many of the reasons I raised in the title of this post.  He called out McCain for the b.s. campaign, and Palin for being an unqualified neophyte.  Powell said we should talk to our enemies and while he loves John McCain, like Joe Biden, he thinks a McCain Presidency would probably be a disaster on a number of fronts (economic, international, etc.).

XKCD / New Yorker Cartoon Off

Cartoon Lounge: Tell us a little bit about yourself and XKCD.

Randall Munroe: Well, I draw XKCD, a webcomic about stick figures who do math, play with staple guns, mess around on the Internet, and have lots of sex. It’s about three-fourths autobiographical.

I used to work at NASA in Virginia. It was nothing glamorous; I was just tasked with making code compile for obscure projects, and I wasn’t very good at it. Now I spend most of my time drawing pictures and looking at funny things on the Internet, which in retrospect is largely what I did at my old job, too. Maybe that’s why they kicked me out. I also program, read, and try to get outside once in a while (any longer in front of this screen and my skin tone might actually hit #FFFFFF).

C.L.: You say that XKCD isn’t an acronym for anything, but shouldn’t it stand for eXcellent Kids Can Dance? That would be a good comic (and inspirational for kids).

R.M.: Well, in the absence of peer-reviewed scientific studies of the subject, I can’t in good conscience assert that excellent kids CAN dance.

via The Cartoon Lounge: Online Only: The New Yorker

I score it 2-1-1 XKCD.

Tophats, squirrels, “it” and Palin FTW!!

Comparin’ The Candidates (Using the “=” Sign)

This is the latest political meme that is sweeping the interwebs.  I found it over at Fark. 

As the nation as a whole has now had a chance to see each of the four candidates up close and personal in a variety of situations, we can now begin to stereotype each one by building simple cultural metaphors.

This can be done quite easily with Photoshop™ and/or MSPaint (I use Fireworks).

 Here’s some of my favorites.  I think you will get the idea quickly.  Feel free to add your own.

Star Wars

Star Wars

  Continue reading

The Flying Rays of Mexico (and Planet Earth Live Mini-Review)

The great ocean migration… thousands of majestic stingrays swim to new seas | Mail Online

Like autumn leaves floating in a sunlit pond, this vast expanse of magnificent stingrays animates the bright blue seas of the Gulf of Mexico.

Taken off the coast of Mexico’s Holbox Island by amateur photographer Sandra Critelli, this breathtaking picture captures the migration of thousands of rays as they follow the clockwise current from Mexico’s Yucatan peninsula to western Florida.

Measuring up to 6ft 6in across, poisonous golden cow-nose rays migrate in groups – or ‘fevers’ – of up to 10,000 as they glide their way silently towards their summer feeding grounds.


Arc: The rays, swimming in a long line, was spotted by amateur photographer Sandra Critelli

Some pretty amazing pics there and a cool phenomena.

On a slightly related note, I spent last night in Downtown Big D watching this special…

The Blue Planet Live rolled into the Meyerson Symphony Center for the first of three shows Tuesday night and delivered big in offering one of the coolest, most creative escapes yet to the summer doldrums. Under the baton of composer-conductor George Fenton, it makes deft use of the 76-piece Dallas Symphony Orchestra in carrying 2,000 viewers on an oceanic expedition.

It does so with a mesmerizing score that swings from calming to exhilarating to terrifying, only, in the end, to return home again. Mr. Fenton composed the music and flew in from London to conduct the DSO, which makes splendid use of horns, strings, percussion and a trumpet soloist to enhance the emotional current.

[more info]

A good show that could use a couple tweaks (the preaching at the end needs some “action items”) but overall a very moving experience.

As a pirate with long experience dealing with unregulated Nature, it was fun to see some of the incredible images highlighted by professional musicians and air-conditioned joy.