Friday, January 28, 2011

Jimmy Cliff - Many Rivers To Cross

NIN - A Warm Place

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Why America needs more than two political parties

For so long now, it has just been Republicans and Democrats and I'm quite sick of both. While Democrats nauseate me with the constant need for more government and more gun control laws every time someone commits a sensational crime, Republicans completely sicken me with their mantra of less government and less spending, as long as we keep spending money on their projects and enforcing their moral beliefs.

People like to point to the Tea Party as an alternative but really, they're no more than a disorganized collection of a few old Dixiecrats, some independents, some Libertarians and the hard right wing of the Republicans. While the talk of financial responsibility and deficit reduction are their main shtick, they are generally all social conservatives who believe that everything that ails America is the fault of liberals, government and what ever other enemy du jour they've been told about. These are all people who probably would have voted for a candidate with an "R" after their name anyhow rather than let anyone who had a "D" after their name win.

That's basically what it comes down to is that both parties have us programmed to be so afraid of the opposite voting bloc that we will take whatever they have just to avoid having the "enemy" win. You turn on any news commentary and over and over, you will see a pundit pointing to the extreme views of a group on the other side, telling us how afraid we should be of them. The extremists are usually the minority in a party but they control the dialogue and they are usually the ones who end up choosing the candidates the party nominates. I truly believe that the majority of voters cast ballots in fear of the other side and not out of admiration for the candidate who gets their vote. As long as we continue to allow ourselves to be tricked into being afraid of others with different ideas, we cannot move forward.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Another scammer gets scammed

This guy has been "baited" (reverse scammed in simple terms) by a baiter for the last few years. Originally he sent the baiter an email telling them they had won or inherited millions of dollars but now instead of scamming a real person, he's been taken on a long, strange trip. In fact, he's been the victim of his own scam now for the past few years. You'd think he'd learn but apparently not. The name of the baiter and the scammer are not being released because we don't want to spoil the fun but enjoy the latest photos.

Feel free visit for more hilarity.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Upgrade changes at Sprint and Verizon

It seems that both Sprint and Verizon have changed their subsidized phone policies going forward. Here's what you need to know for Sprint since I have experience with them. There will be two tiers and this is from their site.

Sprint Premier Gold

What You Get: One upgrade per year per account. (main line)

Qualifications: 1). Individual plan that has a 3 month average of $89.99, 2) Family plan that has a 3 month average of $169.99, or 3) 10+ year customer

Sprint Premier Silver

What You Get: Upgrades every two years under the Sprint standard "New For You" program. (annual upgrade benefits will not be grandfathered to customers already in premier program)

Qualifications: 1). Individual plan with a 3 month average of $69.99- $89.98, 2). Family plan with a 3 month average of $99.99-$169.98.

What Is Staying The Same:

1). 25% discount off of two accessories
2). First To Buy Occasion
3). Anniversary Thank You Letter (choice of $5 bill credit or 75 bonus minutes 
4). Just Because Perks
This is it basically, if you have a current plan or you have been with them over 10 years, you'll continue to get the good deals. However, if you've been with them less than 10 years and/or you have a cheap plan, no more subsidized phones for you.

US cellular customers have become accustomed to subsidized phones which are given to them for a fraction of the device's actual cost in exchange for a 2 year contract instead of paying full price like what is done in many other countries. Prepaid is the wave of the future unless you feel like shelling out 90 dollars a month or more with Sprint. Looks like I need to go ahead and get one last subsidized phone before the gravy train ends on April 1st. That is April Fools isn't it?

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Don't shut 'em down new single from Flogging Molly

One listen was all it took, actually just the first few seconds, to realize this is going to be a different sounding album from the boys and Bridget. I've been watching Flogging Molly ever since 2000 when they opened for The Mighty Mighty Bosstones and the last 10+ years has seen them go from their label of a "Guinness-soaked body blow" with the album "Swagger" to a more mature but no less intense experience on albums like "Within a Mile of Home" or "Float".

I hope that this new song will grow on me or that the rest of the album doesn't sound like Dave is just phoning this one in. I really hate to say it but while this is still far better than the majority of rock songs out there, this is definitely not one of my favorite songs.

Ok, 12 hours later and multiple shots of whiskey later, it is slowly growing on me. I think the lyrics are good but not what I'm used to. If anyone would be kind enough to post those up, I'd appreciate it.

Not all are the same

In recent conversations, as well as overall life experience, I've found that people love stereotypes. I know that's about an obvious statement as "the sun comes up each morning" but there is more to it than that. We rely on stereotypes because honestly, it makes it easier to compartmentalize people. It makes it easier to put others at a distance and sometimes, it makes it easier to hate or distrust. All of us are guilty of it to some extent, it's just the human way of doing things. However, it is especially wrong and dangerous when it is used to provoke or justify violence or bigotry towards others.

For example, not all Southerners are pickup driving, dip spitting, NASCAR loving idiots who have sex with first cousins. On the flip side, not all Californians are gun hating, tree hugging, vegan illegal aliens who want to gay marry you. There are white people who can dance and there are black people who can't. There are Asian people who are good drivers and Jewish people who can't handle money to save their lives. There are Irish people that aren't alcoholics, British people who have great teeth, and French soldiers who are complete badasses. Yet we rely on stereotypes because it makes the world simpler for lazy thinkers.

Now let's dip this momentarily into the cesspool that is politics and the same thing applies. Not every liberal is an elitist, atheist vegetarian who is afraid of guns just as not every conservative is a Fox News viewing, gun-toting homophobe. On top of that, there are those like me who try to look beyond the constant barrage of rhetoric and who vote for who they think is the lesser of two evils, regardless of whether there is a "D" or an "R" after the candidate's name.

So with stereotypes and fear-mongering, we manage to see each other not as neighbors or fellow countrymen but as rivals or worse, enemies.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

The great corporate 419 scam

You know how it goes, you get that email in your inbox from a Nigerian prince who needs you to help him move millions or billions of dollars of "inheritance" out of the country and for it, he'll give you a portion. Most people automatically delete it from their email boxes but what if I told you so many people fall for this every single day but from a different source?

Right now we have corporate lobbyists pushing for repealing health care reform, removing regulations, and cutting taxes saying that these will help create jobs but that is really a bogus argument. In all actuality, they want to make the cost of business as low as possible, period. Only until the average American worker is willing to work for less than a couple dollars an hour, without any government or union protection, will jobs flow back here rather than continuously off in the never-ending race to the bottom of the wage market. If there was a way to get slave labor, they would be using it right now.

Just like the scammer sitting in some cybercafe in Lagos, Ghana or Benin, they have no intention of ever giving anything back because their intent is to take and take until there is nothing left for us to give, then demand more.

The crucifixion of Sarah Palin

This is our first attempt at a political cartoon. Thanks to our contributor.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Why I dislike the religious right

You know, I take a lot of shit from people who think I am somehow completely unfair and impartial because I refer to a couple of political celebrities/commentators as the "pudgy prophet of doom" and "Caribou Barbie". I haven't thought of a good nickname for Sean Hannity yet but I will, eventually. I have nothing against reasonable, thoughtful conservatives even though I am probably not going to agree with them on much other than the death penalty and gun rights but that's OK. As long as they are rational and objective, that's fine with me.

You may ask why do I pile on the hypocrisies of the right and not so much of the left? For one, I figure Fox News does that enough, even though most of it is wayyyyyyy off the mark and secondly, I grew up in an ultra-conservative, rigidly religious environment so I have far more experience with conservatives, especially the religious and fanatical right. I've met and spent time with people like Alan Keyes, Pat Buchanan, Ralph Reed, George Allen, Jim Gilmore, and Bob Goodlatte. On the flip side, the only "liberal" politician I can remember meeting was Tipp O'Neill. I voted strictly Republican and even worked on campaigns doing things like standing outside polls and putting up signs until I was 20. That was when my presidential candidate at the time, John McCain, was the victim of mudslinging and lost the election to the person I would later to come to simultaneously loath and be fascinated by, George W. Bush. I didn't vote for Bush or Gore that year, I ended up campaigning for a third party candidate who didn't stand a snowball's chance in hell.

So yes, I have spent most of my life around extremely conservative politics and in areas that always went heavily Republican. In fact, I still have a few acquaintances who swear up and down that Obama is going to have all the elderly people that don't agree with him sent to death camps or some nonsense like that. My distaste for the hard right comes not from a misunderstanding of it learned by watching too much MSNBC or listening to "Air America", which I have never listened to in case you are wondering. My mistrust and dislike comes from experience, of having been around it all of my years and knowing exactly what it is about.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Winking at the monster

Despite all signs pointing to the Arizona shooter as not being truly politically motivated and more of a mental case than anything else, this incident has set in motion a truly epic debate on the state of our political climate and the rhetoric that has been allowed.

Perhaps only in our current state does a half-term governor unknown to the general populace prior to causing crushing defeat for her running mate and a recovering alcoholic that specializes in fear generation somehow become the unofficial spokespersons for a political party. I refuse to believe that they are the true face of the GOP. Instead, they have learned to flame the fires of paranoia and mistrust in the ranks of the party for their own financial gain. Neither of them would consider running for a national office because they know they would lose and lose hard. By preaching an apocalyptic message on a boogeyman idea that our president is a foreign born racist who wants to take away people's guns, money and religion, they have made for themselves a very tidy little living.

In today's statement, Caribou Barbie created yet another completely intentional firestorm by using the term "blood libel", all in another attempt not to discuss the tragedy or convey sympathies to those affected but to once again pull the spotlight back to herself.

Their message is nothing about patriotism and everything about personal gain.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

If words don't mean anything

If words don't mean anything, why do people rail against the "socialists teaching our kids", "liberal brainwashing" and other ideas like these? You cannot claim these things and then claim "irresponsible, violent rhetoric" from the mainstream left when in fact, it is very rare. If you believe that words have no meaning and no attached moral responsibility, then you cannot hold those of opposing views to that same standard to prove the superiority of your argument. You cannot dismiss something like an opinion poll group because you do not agree with the result but then turn around and use that same source to later justify your position on something else. Either something is right or it is wrong in varying degrees and you go from there. Like Bush said "you are either for us or you are against us".

For example, if you agree it is wrong to make innuendos or outright state that suggest a person or party be removed from a campaign or political office by violent means, then you cannot dismiss it as free speech or pretend it didn't happen when someone from your political leanings violates that. Our moral code as human beings is supposed to be followed regardless of whether or not someone else is watching or paying attention. The same goes for if you agree with the other person or not. The problem with us as human beings is that while we may go on and on about being capable of being logical and rational creatures, the fact is that emotions and allegiances will always get in the way of true impartialism. We will be pre-disposed to overlook the faults and errors of those we tend to agree with and over-investigate those we disagree with because that is in our nature.

My friend shared these as his proof of violent speech from the left and I am letting you decide.

While I'm not sure of the original context or source of this picture, we can safely assume it's most likely a city-raised liberal, probably a PETA freak. No self-respecting conservative or country person would make the mistake of posing with a left-handed bolt action rifle (most likely a .270 or 7mm, neither of which are ideal for shooting moose, elk or caribou by the way) with a righthanded aim.

The following are videos showing "violent rhetoric" by liberals and they are in some degree violent, demeaning, etc. My argument is that while wrong, they are not from popular or influential people. They are not on syndicated radio or cable news programs.! 

The only one I'll give any credence to is the one from Madonna since most people, myself included, have probably not even heard of the other two people. In a fair fight, Palin wins. Madonna is getting old and quite honestly, the few people that still listen to her are probably so self-absorbed, they wouldn't even have the time to travel to Alaska to act upon the idea of an ass kicking.

So do I think Palin's crosshair map caused a severely mentally disturbed person to go out on a shooting rampage? No, I don't and not for one minute would I ever make that argument. What I do believe is that he was going to eventually attack someone, it was just a matter of time. However, I think this incident does bring to light a couple of disturbing issues and that is the state of our society in which mental illness is either overly medicated or ignored. The second is our political climate which is extremely charged and we have already seen people acting violently as a result. It does cause otherwise somewhat normal people to act in ways that they would not normally and could possibly cause disturbed people to finally resort to actions they may have only talked about before

Monday, January 10, 2011

Loughner's voter registration

Just in case anyone was wondering.

Everyone, just knock it off

Yes, everyone. Just stop demonizing your political and ideological opponents. Don't want to accept responsibility for your previous actions? Fine, instead of playing the blame game, just shut the hell up and stop trying to point fingers at your opponents like little kids. "He did it first", "she said a naughtier word", etc. Holy Jesus H. Christ on a pogo stick! What are you, 4 years old?

Keith Olbermann Special Comment On Gabrielle Giffords Shooting

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Why won't Palin denounce violence?

Why won't she, why won't Beck, or Limbaugh, or any of the others? The statement by Boehner was the closest thing I have seen to an outright denouncement of violence against people you didn't agree with politically but you don't see anyone else on the far right doing that? Why don't you hear someone like Beck take time out on their show to say something like, "you know folks, as much as I dislike and don't agree with the policies of those on the left, we have to remember that they are human beings with the same rights as the rest of us. While we should oppose their policies as much as possible, never should violence even be considered." You'll hear things like this from Boehner and Cantor because they are not motivated as much by ideology as they are with just power and money.

Unfortunately, since the election of Obama, the rhetoric on the far right has gone from what used to be your typical bully-ish attitude to an almost shrill, angry cacophony. So many times I have heard people say things like "I wish someone would shoot that fucking nigger" or other similar statements. Yes, I have unfortunately heard things like that about President Bush when he was in office but it seems that those on the hard right fringes are usually more willing to carry out acts of violence and intimidation. I have personally received threats of death and violence as well as having my vehicle vandalized for a simple sticker opposing Bush and the Iraq war. You don't usually hear about this from the left because, to put it bluntly, most liberals are pussies, especially here in the US.

When on a daily basis, you say things that are inflammatory and you accuse your own countrymen of being traitors, repeatedly talk about revolutions and other rhetoric that is viewed by millions, don't be surprised when one of those people picks up a gun and does something about it. Just because what you say is Constitutionally protected doesn't make it right. There is a moral obligation by those whose words are heard by so many to be voices of reasonable dissent and not to fan the flames of the mentally unstable. To do otherwise is to counteract the process of liberty and democracy which they claim to hold so dear.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

A call for political sanity

You can't reason with crazy. To some degree or another, all of us are or have the ability to become mentally unstable. It is just how we deal and reason with it that makes the difference. In this hyper-partisan political climate especially, the controversial things that we say and do are not without consequences. It is is not a perfect, logical or predictable world and there will always be those who slip through the safeguards and risk formulas to do harm to others out of psychosis or other delusional ideas.

While we cannot 100 percent stop the Jared Loughners and other crazies of the world, we can curtail the flow of fuel that gets thrown onto the fires of those who are already unstable to begin with. Although we will always disagree on issues as a nation, demonizing opponents as unpatriotic, facists or other labels can cause those who are already barely clinging onto some shred of sanity to go over the edge and literally open fire on those they have fixated upon as enemies. To designate a person as a target on a political map using crosshairs and then state they need to be removed will be perceived by the vast majority of others as what it should be, a request to vote against them. However, there will always be those few unstable or disenfranchised persons will see it as a need to eliminate that person or idea by whatever means necessary. Just as the BNP (British National Party) hijacked the skinhead subculture in the UK back in the late 1970s to further their hateful agenda, so now people ramp up the partisan rhetoric then deny responsibility when those they have influenced cause harm to others.

Of course the Sarah Palins, Glenn Becks and other mainstream political celebrities are savvy enough not to endorse outright violence against those they disagree with because they could be found guilty in a court of law like Bill White or Hal Turner who took their hate speech beyond the protection of the 1st Amendment. When you put out statements that will appeal to those who are on the fringes of sanity and society, blaming others for their predicament, eventually someone will chamber a round and act upon their new beliefs. Whether you are in it for power, greed or blind ideology, what you say is ultimately your responsibility when it could lead to the harm of others.

As I have said many times before, the hyper-partisan atmosphere of the last few years has done more damage to America than the 9/11 hijackers could have ever hoped to have accomplished. The events of yesterday should serve to remind us that even though this was probably the work of one or two demented individuals, ultimately we are responsible for not throwing gas on the fire.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Looks like Sprint paid attention

From what I have been able to gather, perhaps finally some people at Sprint have paid attention. Emails, reports and other attempts on the inside to fix the corruption and incompetence apparently are not as effective as information posted on the Internet for all to see. I guess when it is done from the inside, there are enough people above you that can block the information from getting to the right people but on the net, the info is there and anyone can see it. Perhaps public embarrassment had something to do with this or maybe people finally realized the jig was up, we will probably never know.

According to the letter I posted last month and this link, Sprint has been auditing accounts and pulling corporate discounts from individuals who are not entitled to them such as those who don't really work for JPMorgan or those who have plans like SERO which are not supposed to be discounted in the first place. It is truly a shame that a really good brand has been held back by idiots and thieves. As much as I have criticized this company, I am a loyal customer who gets a great deal and never plan on leaving.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Punk rock maturity

Eventually you have to grow up or face a lifetime of useless rebellion. That is the branch in the road everyone has to take, especially in the world of punk rock. It is a culture that is founded on rebellion, on not following the established rules and on individuality. The problem is that while it is a life unto itself, you still have to follow the same path everyone else does and unless you are somehow independently wealthy, you still have to make an income and pay the bills like everyone else. The real challenge is learning the difference between rebelling for the sheer sake of it which is a pointless dead end versus harnessing it to make it work for you. Not all of us can be rock stars, not everyone of us is going to be a famous artist or designer, so what are you going to do when reality knocks on your door?

Yes, it's fun to sit with your studded leather jacket outside the mall and make fun of the shoppers coming out with bags full of useless shit but that's what you do when you're 15 or 16. That's an exercise to massage your still fragile ego and convince yourself that you are on the right path (which you are) but doing that at 20 or 25 makes you a bigger loser than the thousands of sheep inside. Spray painting bathroom stalls or other destructive acts are expected of kids, that kind of shit gets you arrested when you're an adult.

One day you realize that while it is fun to get drunk and play music fast and loud, you still have a whole life in front of you that you have to get through somehow. Rebellion without a direction leads you nowhere and only hurts you in the long run. There's nothing cool about being the oldest cashier at McDonalds or detailing cars for the rest of your life because all of your cool tattoos, lack of education or criminal record disqualifies you from everything else. There are few worse feelings than knowing that everyone has gone on without you.

Just to prove a point

Sometimes when you have nothing else to motivate you to pick yourself up and keep going, the urge to prove everyone wrong can be that little bit that keeps you holding on. Just to prove a point, you get out of bed and put on the boots, time to face another day leading with your jaw. No matter how bad it gets, remember the doubters and the people who have said you couldn't do it. Keep going just to piss them off, if for no other reason.

Living well is the best revenge, remember that.