Friday, October 12, 2007

High Weirdness Drifter

The week is coming to a close, the weather is cooling off a bit and even though I haven’t had a lot of free time to make blog entries I certainly feel more energetic. I’m going to need that energy as I am in the process of moving to a new apartment in a few weeks. To all the visitors and feed subscribers out there, you can expect new postings but bear with me until early to mid-November. I hate the process of moving.

The recent upswing in Ron Paul mania has me think a lot more about the Republican and Democratic bathing beauties that have been trotted out for us to vote for. Now that we have had many debates and have been able to see these waterheads in action for a while there is a much better picture to look at with each candidate. I’m planning on writing a series of posts which will look at each candidate with an eye toward the topics that I blog about. To be honest, the cutting sarcasm and humor I often use is going to be unavoidable. Fair warning to all on this but at the least I can assure you that there will be some humor involved.

Let’s take a look at the news of late and see what is being overlooked by the mainstream press and what is odd, ominous and just plain goofy:

Al Gore has won the Nobel Peace Prize for his contributions in the field of global warming awareness and education. I guess the selection committee overlooked my idea on how to combat global warming – leave the door to your refrigerator open.

Speaking of the environment, your illustrious blogger may need to ask for donations of water by time 2008 rolls around. Lake Lanier, which supplies the water for the metropolitan Atlanta area, is 3 months away from going dry. Overdevelopment, piss-poor water management and a 100 year drought has transformed us from a “City among the trees” to a city drifting along with the tumbling tumbleweeds. I’d do a rain dance but the last time I danced in public folks thought I was having an epileptic seizure.

If it weren’t bad enough that only a handful of Americans support the crap happening in Washington, now the country of Turkey is pissed off at Congress too. They’ve recalled their ambassador and they are threatening to cut logistical support to our bases in Iraq and Afghanistan because of a vote to declare the Armenian Massacre as genocide. It’s a sad state of affairs when even a legitimate issue is cause for a pile on of this proportion. I haven’t been able to find a news article that explains what prompted this timely resolution. Afterall, it only happened nearly a century ago. Why now?

The CIA is ticked off at it’s own Inspector General for blowing the whistle on numerous fuckups and nightmare activities. What has the CIA decided to do about it? Investigate him. Yes, that’s right, folks. When you have a shitload of power and don’t like fair criticism you don’t have to change your ways when your criminal and negligent behavior is exposed. All you have to do is sic the dogs on the critic.,1,318772.story?coll=la-headlines-nation&track=crosspromo

If your kids are sick and you are a middle-class worker fighting like hell to not fall into a financial cesspool, the President thinks you should go fuck yourself if you think you are going to get a lifeline thrown to you. The waterheaded water carriers of the Sociopath in Chief think it’s a case of basic economics, common sense and a question of people thinking they have a “birthright to unlimited benefits”

Bush is also pitching a hissy fit over the safeguards that have been added to legislation that covers the programs that spy on American citizens. Once Bush throws himself on the floor, begins screaming at the top of his lungs, kicking and telling Congress that he hates them, they will cave in and give the baby his bottle. Yes, the Constitution is important but with all the wailing and embarrassment they will give in and give him what he wants. I guess we are living in a nanny state.

What sort of black programs are the spy masters using to create robotic spy insects? Get those fly swatters at the ready folks!

Marion Jones has boo-hoo’d her way into our hearts for admitting that she is a lying, cheating, convicted felon. Like Don King always says, only in America. One down, many more to go.

Last but not least…I have been on a serious reggae kick of late. It’s a genre that has held a special place in my heart since my early teenage years when I thought The Clash was the end all, be all of rock and roll. Those cats got me into it and it was so hard for me to find and buy reggae back then. This was pre-Internet and the little mountain town I was raised in had no record stores. The closest record store, in fact, was 30 miles away. I had to rely on mail order and buying stuff sight unseen, artist unheard of.

Back then I would find out who influenced who and tried to buy records from artists who’s name constantly cropped up in this interview or that article or those reviews. Sometimes I ordered stuff that I instantly hated, sometimes I found gems that made my innocent little eyes grow large with glee within two measures of the first cut. I often look back at my teenage years and the hoops I jumped through to get new and good music and I feel nostalgic and amazed at the whole process. The thrill of the hunt is gone with downloads and the act of sitting down to listen to music is a ritual that few even know of, let alone those who still do it. Times change and this is an area where I have stayed isolated and within my routine.

So, for your enjoyment and my own selfish pleasure, here is the marvelous, incomperable, unstopable, untopable and roots deeper than your own soul; Prince Buster live at Club Sombrero in 1962!

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Oil, food, money and the dope addled brains of the GOP.

To make 1 gallon of gasoline you need to start with 2.15 gallons of crude oil.

Under optimal conditions it takes approximately 1.24 gallons of fuel to perform a single farming task on 1 acre of land.

You can make 230 gallons of ethanol per acre of corn.

Most bio-diesel made in the United States comes from soybeans, which yields only 70.13 gallons per acre.

The average steer produces 568 lb of beef.

To produce 1 lb of beef it requires between 2.6 lb to 16 lb (depending on data source) of feed.

A 1200 lb steer, from which 568 lb of beef is harvested, requires between 13.83 and 284 (depending on data source) gallons of oil.

Soybeans cost $10 per bushel, up from $7 per bushel in January of this year.

Corn costs $3.50 per bushel, up from $2.00 per bushel two years ago.

A bushel of wheat now costs $9.50, up from $5.00 per bushel in January.

A recent study in Montana shows that for a single adult the minimum living wage needed without asking for public assistance is $10.32 an hour, $20.97 for a single adult with two children. 40% of all job openings in the state pay less than $10.32 per hour. The study also found that the state’s median wage has risen by 9.1% since 2002 but the cost of health care has risen by 44% and the overall cost of living has shot up 19.7%.

Of the 56 counties in Montana, 46 have an average population of 6 or fewer people per square mile. In Chicago the population density is 12,000 people per square mile, average. In 2006, the City Council of Chicago attempted to enact a Living Wage Law, which would have required all employers to provide its employees with pay that would at least equal the minimum living wage for the city.

According to the US Census Bureau, in 2006 earnings dropped 1% and for the third straight year earnings lagged behind inflation. The number of uninsured Americans also increased in 2006 by a total of 2.2 million.

In yesterday’s GOP debate, candidate Fred Thompson said things look “rosy” when asked to describe the economic state of affairs in America today and "We have the second-highest corporate tax penalty in the world. We need to do better than that.” Rudy Guiliani said, "The possibilities for America in this global economy are endless”. Mitt Romney said, "It's inexcusable that Michigan is undergoing a one-state recession, that the rest of the country is growing”.

National Household Survey on Drug Abuse found in 2001 that more than 4.6 million Americans--a much higher number of individuals in need of professional help than had previously been thought--did not recognize their problem and were “in denial”.

The question is—will someone do an intervention for the Republican candidates about the economy and it’s effects on 90% of the American public?

AT&T -- Ruler of airwaves. Seriously, they now own it all.

The fat cats keep getting fatter, the mega-corporations keep expanding and choices for the consumer continue to dwindle. AT&T, the behemoth that keeps on gobbling up all it sees with no interference from government agencies, has just announced a deal they have worked out with Aloha Partners that will give them access to a massive block of wireless spectrum. The move will position AT&T in a way that they will now be the provider of 700Mhz for 196 million people. The deal is subject to regulatory approval but let’s face the facts, the feds are going to give AT&T anything they want.

The Chairman of the FCC, Keith Martin, has officially announced that they will not investigate AT&T on grounds that they illegally allowed the NSA to spy on Americans. The reasoning behind this is the stereotypical “National security” bullshit and lies. Of course the Telco spy scandal is a massive and multi-layered story that is being well covered by some media sources but woefully understated by the major media outlets. The old “National Security” line has been abused for a long time by the current sociopaths in DC but reports from yesterday cleared the air even more on this subject.

Remember the recent Osama Bin Laden video? The one where an obvious imposter was employed? Well, it appears that the White House once again threw intelligence national security down the toilet by releasing the video to Fox News long before giving copies to the law enforcement and intelligence agencies and in the process destroyed the network access capabilities of SITE Intelligence Group. How many fools are left to believe this administration when they have been caught so many times in lies?

This of course harkens back to the Plame affair, The Military Commissions Act of 2006, Patriot Acts I and II, the suspension of Posse Comitatus with the John Warner Defense Authorization Act of 2007…all just a long line of enabling this administration with the keys to the nation. To return to AT&T, of course the federal agencies that oversee the Telco’s like AT&T will allow them to do whatever they wish. They are letting the NSA peer into the raw voice and data streams, unfettered. The return for this ultra risky maneuver is free run of the candy store.

What AT&T has risked is their very lifeblood. In sane times, with sane leaders and a sane judiciary; AT&T would be liable for being a part of the largest breach of privacy and un-Constitutional behavior known to the American public. Since AT&T, and the companies they have purchased since 2001, maintain almost complete control over the voice and data networks every American uses, their liability would be to virtually every American man, woman and child who has spoken on the phone, emailed or surfed the web since 2001.

The civil suits are queued up and the Telco’s are pushing the halls of Congress with a passion to get a free pass, a legal written in law pass, for their digressions against the American public and their very own customers. Yet this level of power isn’t enough. They want more power, more bandwidth and more money. The government is all too happy to comply with their desires and allow them to expand, unchecked, as long as they keep that stream open for them.
Adding to this power grab are two recent issues of censorship by AT&T. The first was a blatant editing of a live concert streamed by AT&T of the band Pearl Jam. At one point in the performance lyrics critical of President Bush were cut out. When the issue was publicly spoken about and word began to spread, AT&T, of course, blamed a contractor for censoring on content. However, a recent change to the Terms of Service that customers of AT&T must follow states that they can completely sever your communications links if at any time you criticize AT&T. In other words, this is the fallout of the Pearl Jam censorship case. AT&T has decided to kill the messenger and the message.

Every day, at every step of the way, we are being watched, analyzed and categorized by our government. They took Nineteen Eighty-Four and looked at it as a wet dream, a template, for the future. Since most of us are familiar with the story even if not all of us have read the novel, can we break their plans and refuse to be their Winston Smith?

Monday, October 8, 2007

Don't be stupid, be a smarty, come and join the Jesus Party!

Coming soon to a ballot in your district, The Jesus Party. I can easily see this happening following the comments by James “The Dachshund Beater ( Dobson; that he will back a third party candidate if the Republican Party doesn’t pick someone who is, “conservative enough.” Talk about balls.

I think it’s time for the radical religious freaks to form their own political party, the Jesus Party. Where free spirits and those who live life without lies or shame are called heathens and are cursed. It’s time to put the extremists in a position where every American can see just how fucked in the head some of our worst fellow citizens are. No reason to pussyfoot around and pretend to be a “compassionate conservative”, just show the world how full of hate and contempt you really are. The rest of us can see what those folks are really all about and make some serious choices.

The current crop of 4th tier bathing beauties who are running for President are too afraid of telling hard truths and making hard choices. The Congress is locked in it’s own paralysis of doing the right things for fear of being branded as one thing or another. They are afraid of the consequences. The consequences being the loss of their cushy job in DC and that fear is something that shouldn’t be a part of the job because we all know those lobbyist positions are lined up after a career in politics. We need men and women to make the hard choices and say the things that have to be said to get us on the right track. Instead they’ll talk the talk that they believe is the talk we want to hear.

There was a time, even in the small north Georgia town I grew up in, that getting a bit too full of the Holy Spirit would bring about the response of the common sense most of us have. There was a time that we did not suffer fools gladly and it was encouraged to call things exactly as they appear to be. The fundamentalists had a side role in local politics and social issues, the role of the lunatic fringe. This was the case up until the early and mid 80’s. What precipitated this change from sanity to all-out goofiness? The fear of satanic forces.

Starting with the whole back masking phenomenon in the early 80’s I saw the attitudes in my small town change. First it was the satanic influences upon the young with rock music. Then they added the “epidemic” of drugs and they brought it full circle in the early 90’s with fear of the Clintons and the supposed hidden agenda of one-world secularism. As if the whole scene weren’t enough, my little hometown newspaper began operating a program where they asked the local citizens to rat each other out over who was selling drugs. Honest to God, they instilled fear into the citizens and then asked readers to send in their reports of suspicious activity to the newspaper, which would be forwarded to the local law enforcement authorities. The editor of the paper at that time was a former aid to radical right wing Congressman, Larry McDonald.

How did they frighten and change the minds of these simple country folks who had always maintained country smarts? Fear of everything that sits on the other side of the mountain and fear of it invading and taking over their small town, that’s how they did it. In a town like I came from, there are two mountains that separated us from the rest of the world. Nothing good or positive happened on the other side of those two mountains. To add to it, one mountain was where the drug dealers had their crops and the other housed devil worshipers. I am serious.

Lookout Mountain was where, according to rumor, pot growers had clandestine fields of dope, guarded by men with hunting rifles and woe to anyone who happened upon them. The other mountain was where two Satanists lived in their estate named Corpsewood ( . The mountains were more than just geological boundaries for the community; they became symbolic of barriers to keep the rest of the world at bay.

This is was a microcosm of the path we as a nation have gone down in the past 6 years. Fear of anything beyond the boundaries of our coastal areas and fear of anything beyond the borders that separated the countries we are sandwiched between. Everything on the other side is evil and satanic and we are constantly being infiltrated by demonic forces that threaten us.

In many ways, the field of Conspiracy Theory studies is similar to this phenomenon. We, the CT enthusiasts, are constantly trying to warn everyone else of the dangers we see. Dangers being guided by unseen forces, forces of evil. The problem with both CT studies and extremists religious causes is that far too often we both go into extremely radical territory. I myself understand that I have ideas that stray into the fantastic. However, there is a difference between the two groups. The radicalized religious want to alter the way we all live. They wish to enforce their beliefs upon all of us. The conspiracy theorists only want to broaden their, and your, horizons and expose the false idols around us.

It is easy to see the far religious right wishing to enslave all of us while the conspiracy theorists are trying to free us by exposing the plots. What is most surprising to me in this process is how many conspiracy theorists wind up like Texe Marrs and become caught in anti-Semitism and I really believe there is a trigger point which starts this conversion. Once they head down the “Jewish conspiracy” path there is rarely an outcome other than far right-wing political extremism.

So let’s all cheer for the formation of the Jesus Party. Perception and reality, ideaology and truth rarely meet in the center. Sooner or later the far right-wing of this country will need to show their true colors, on full display for all to see. After all, if you are going to be a full blown fascist you might as well wear the t-shirt that shows you were there for the party.

Forget the Wall Street Journal, drive around town to understand what the economy is like.

One of my favorite Saturday activities is to hit the yard sales and thrift stores. Sometimes I score some real finds in the areas that I collect and to sell on eBay. The real scores aren’t frequent but they do occur. This year I can claim among my finds; some 1st pressing Kinks LPs in astounding condition, the obligatory stash of great books and a Heywood-Wakefield end table. There is a side benefit to hitting these spots each weekend and that is a chance to gauge the market and financial situation among my fellow Atlantans.

Last summer I began seeing a noticeable rise in for sale and house for rent signs on my typical routes. As this summer has come to a close I have seen a serious drop in those signs along the road but the homes are not being sold. They sit empty, the yards beginning to look un-kept and messy. Next will come random vandalism as the homes sit, unsold and unused. The vandalism will ruin the homes and bring down the values of the surrounding houses even more.

The thrift stores are seeing more and more shoppers. I’ve noticed this as the summer has progressed. I’ve been used to a mix of three distinct groups of people at these stores over the years. One, the group I am a part of, is the dealers who sell on eBay or have booths at antique malls. Two is the group of folks who just love to find bargains and the thrill of looking for a serious “find” at the stores. The last group is the folks who really do benefit from buying clothes and household items at thrift stores. I think the latest upswing in shoppers at the thrift stores is comprised of folks who have suddenly felt the pinch of the economic downturn. I see more new cars parked in front of the store and more folks who are dressed like the stereotypical suburbanite.

Even at the farmer’s market I am seeing more folks who drive cars and are dressed differently than the people I normally see. Among the chores I had to do this weekend was a trip to get some groceries, so off I went to the International Farmer’s Market in Chamblee. Normally I see an interesting mix of folks at this market, this time I saw more middle class, suburban white folks than I am used to seeing there. They were all over the fresh produce and fruit aisles and to be honest I am actually very happy to see this development. These stores offer the best buys and the produce really is tasty like fresh from a backyard garden. I’m all for supporting independent stores and giving the middle finger to the big chain stores.

People are frugal for only one of two reasons, they want to or they have to. I am trying to live a more frugal lifestyle and I’ve straddled the fence between living more along my means and higher than I should have for years. I seem to go in cycles where I wise in managing my money and blowing it. Blowing it has always led me to feeling depressed after a while. When I reach the cusp of realizing what I am doing I have been able to back down and live a more reasonable lifestyle but by then the damage has already been done. On comes the depression.

I think there is a sudden increase in people who now have to live a more frugal lifestyle and I don’t think they are too happy either. Imagine losing your home and winding up back in an apartment? Imagine going from buying the latest plasma widescreen TV to hitting church and charity thrift stores looking to buy a used washer and dryer? I see those folks shopping at these places, their faces are new, their clothes are new and they drive cars more expensive than my Jeep. They don’t look very happy to be shopping at St. Vinnie’s.

We are being given warning signs by even the mainstream press that the economic downturn is just going to get worse in the upcoming months. I’m not an economist but even I can sense and see things that lead me to believe that we are only seeing the early stages of things getting hard in this country. I have a feeling I’ll be seeing more unhappy folks at the thrift stores. I’ll be there looking for good deals and things I know I can sell on eBay. I’m afraid they will be there not out of choice but out of necessity and that bothers me a lot. To all of the new shoppers at the thrift stores who aren’t happy with this new twist in life all I can tell you is buck it up, it could always be worse and stay out of the record bins. I’m the cat who buys the vintage vinyl for his collection.