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Member since: 2001
Number of posts: 18,179

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Gun sanity: "It won't work because..." <---This is BULLSHIT

It won't work because...

"There are already 3 million legally owned guns in America. You gonna round 'em up and take 'em away from law-abiding citizens, Nazi?"

"Spoons don't make you fat blah-blah-blah..."

"The Constitution blah-blah-blah..."

I'm having a really, really hard time not writing something to the effect of "go fuck yourselves and the spavined, diseased nags you rode in on," but that would not be productive.

In no particular order:

So fucking what if there are already a buttload of legal firearms owned by law-abiding citizens. Does that mean we should just give up and not even TRY to stem the tide of proliferation?

The Constitutional arguments can go on an on. The reality is that rights to do things are infringed, abridged, and denied ALL THE FUCKING TIME in the name of public safety. You don't have the right to drive a car unlicensed. You don't have the right to "pursue happiness" in a whole lot of ways that might harm your neighbor. States don't necessarily have blanket regulatory and legislative powers in the absence of a specific Constitutional mandate or prohibition. We interpret the Constitution based on the needs of our society, that's its function. Keeping weapons that were appropriate for an 18th-Century militia that might be called up, regulated, and required by legally constituted authority is not the same as GUNZ GUNZ GUNZ, everywhere, anywhere, for everyone, WHOOOPEEEE!!!!

"Spoons don't make you fat."




Bite me. Just bite me.

Yeah, if you're determined to harm someone, you can do it with just about anything from bare hands to a piece of wire to a molotov cocktail, and no, we can't outlaw that shit. But we're not talking about "harming someONE." We're talking about highly-effective engines of mass slaughter. The point here is not that 99.99 percent of law-abiding gun owners would never dream of committing mass slaughter.

The point is that when you have highly-effective engines of mass slaughter readily available, the people who DO dream of committing mass slaughter have the means of doing it with relative ease. In order to "protect the rights" of (I'm trying to be nice, here...) a minority of legal gun owners who have a REALLY FUCKING WEIRD OBSESSION with being able to obtain GUNZ, GUNZ, and MOAR GUNZ easily and to keep those guns any fucking place they want for any fucking reason at any fucking time, we have decided that it's okay to take the risk that any sick, criminal, confused, angry, drunk asshole who wants to show the world something apocalyptic has the means to do just that.

Well, that might have been a low-risk equation at some point, but now? It's been abundantly demonstrated that there are PLENTY of sick fucks who will, indeed, avail themselves of those readily-available engines of mass slaughter to-- SURPRISE! --commit mass slaughter!

There are more gun dealerships in America than there are grocery stores.

Think about that.

The manufacture, marketing, and sales of guns are less regulated than just about any potentially hazardous product that can be purchased by the average consumer, including children's pajamas.

Think about that, too.

Would it really, really, be such a horrible thing if there were controls on who can deal in guns, and on how and to whom such sales could be made? If gun owners were required to be licensed to own guns, and if each gun sold had to be sold to a licensed individual who was then legally liable to ensure that said gun was used only by themselves, for legal purposes, and that license was required to be inspected and renewed occasionally, and the legally owned firearms were also required to be inspected occasionally?

Would that be the fucking end of the world? Would that really, really result in the death of democracy and the grinding iron heel of authoritarian dictatorship crushing the life out of our communities, families, and recreational pursuits?

Would that be worse than burying children killed because we think it's more important to have efficient engines of mass slaughter freely available to just about any sick asshole who has something to prove?

Would it?

Would it REALLY?

It's long past time for gun sanity. It's long past time to begin reining in the proliferation. It's long past time to stop listening to NRA bullshit.

LONG past time.

Demanding sanity --regulations, requirements, controls, licensing, etc.-- is NOT unreasonable. It is NOT the thin end of the wedge of Pol Pot implementing killing fields in Nebraska. It's a reasonable, intelligent way to reduce the very real and tragically demonstrated risk that efficient engines of mass slaughter will be used to commit mass slaughter.

So let's cut the bullshit.

Let's have some sanity.

And I apologize for all the f-bombs, but sometimes they're the only safety valve available.


Next week, Ima march in to my boss and say...

"Look, I know you hired me on the representation that I have the skills to do this job competently, and that I have the integrity and character to apply those skills diligently and conscientiously. And I know we discussed at my interview that the reason I wanted this job is because I have a passion for this kind of work, and that I'm eager to apply myself to help this company exceed its plans, goals, and expectations...

...but yer gonna have to wash that s*** out, because baby, there ain't NOTHIN' I can do for ya unless you dangle "incentives" worth seven or eight times my base salary in front of me, and make sure that I end up taking home at least five times that base salary amount in cash, assets, and benefits. Nothin'. Sorry.

I mean, really, how can you POSSIBLY expect me to perform up to and/or above the standards of everyone else in this business, without that kind of compensation plan?"

And I fully expect my boss to give me the stink eye and say, "It's Monday, Bright, and I'm not in the mood for jokes. Now go straighten out that database issue and get the company Facebook page switched over to the new whatchamacallit, or there'll be no pizza for you at the monthly staff birthday party."

Excerpts from Manulife Financial Shareholder Proxy Circular
For the year 2011

Donald Guloien, President & CEO
Base salary: $986,550; Share-Based Awards: $2,711,280; Option-Based Awards: $2,711,280; Non-Equity Incentive Plan Compensation: $1,584,435; Pension Value: $568,300; Other Compensation: $103,307

Michael W. Bell, Senior Executive Vice President & CFO
Base salary: $690,585; Share-Based Awards: $1,478,880; Option-Based Awards: $1,478,880; Non-Equity Incentive Plan Compensation: $499,097; Pension Value: $112,700; Other Compensation: $835,696

Paul Rooney, Senior Executive Vice President, Canadian Division
Base salary: $625,000; Share-Based Awards: $900,000; Option-Based Awards: $900,000; Non-Equity Incentive Plan Compensation: $534,240; Pension Value: $354,200; Other Compensation: $58,307

Warren Thomson, Senior Executive Vice President and Chief Investment Officer
Base salary: $641,257; Share-Based Awards: $887,328; Option-Based Awards: $887,328; Non-Equity Incentive Plan Compensation: $549,271; Pension Value: $103,000; Other Compensation: $66,112

James Boyle, Senior Executive Vice President, U.S. Division
Base salary: $641,290; Share-Based Awards: $887,328; Option-Based Awards: $887,328; Non-Equity Incentive Plan Compensation: $480,612; Pension Value: $96,200; Other Compensation: $0

(And that's just what they're publicly willing to allow the accounting to show...)

So, tell me, fellow DUers: How do you think YOUR boss would respond to being told that s/he can't possibly get top-level performance from you unless they "incentivize" your compensation to five or six times your base salary?

Or, conversely, if you are yourself a boss, tell me when you're going to implement such a compensation plan, because obviously, your employees can't possibly do their jobs up to industry standards without it?


Why the GOP Primary is Giving the Party Ulcers

It's nothing new. In a two-party system, the parties are necessarily going to have to be composed of disparate ideological strands, often knit together by nothing more than detestation for "the other side."

Democrats have it, too. We have our incrementalists, our visionaries, our single-issue fanatics (on a whole range of issues,) and plenty more. We've struggled, in the past, to integrate "New Left" tropes into "Old Left" complacency, to deal with visionaries for whose vision large numbers of Democrats were by no means ready, to strike balances and compromise between passionately-motivated segments with conflicting passions.

It's the nature of politics.

But rarely have the component parts of a major political party been so sharply delineated and so mutually hostile as with the three versions of Republican ideologue. And rarely have the resources and passion lined up so strongly behind each strain of ideology, fighting for the soul of the Party so vigorously that they are in danger of totally eviscerating it, leaving a bloodied corpse on the voting-booth floor.

The 2012 Primary is coming down to the wire, and the three remaining standard-bearers in the intra-Party contest show no disposition to concede and no respect for "Party Unity."

But Mitt and Newt and Rick, each cognomened in his own sharp monosyllable, are the very souls of conciliation and reason compared to their followers.

Rick's believers are doing The Will of a narrow, fanatical, vengeful God who will smite them (and all of us!), root and branch, if they continue to fail to bring about the conditions necessary for the Millenial Apotheosis.

The plutocratic Oligarchs who have been forced to take shelter in Mitt's wake have woken up to the threats of the populist resurgence, and they have unlimited money and unlimited will to throw it into The Cause.

And the neocon loons forced to make do with Newt as the last remaining and marginally credible loon in the race have long experience at all-out, total dirty-tricks political war and no inhibitions whatsoever.

From this side of the aisle it's difficult to discern which of the three might be infinitesimally less terrifying as an occupant of the Oval Office, but the followers of each have no doubts. It's Their Guy. And, by corollary, they Must Defeat The Other Two. Only their own standard-bearer holds out any hope at all to save them from the horror of more slow, incremental progress toward the re-establishment of a working economy and a barely functional body politic, a fate worse than nuclear annihilation and the zombie apocalypse combined.

Somewhere in the bowels of a few well-upholstered offices, there lurk the pitiful remnants of the conservative pragmatists who long ago lost control of their party, gnawing their fingernails and compulsively glugging down Pepto-Bismol by the liter. Excuse me-- by the quart, we don't have no truck with those Yerpeen socialist metricists.

They stitched the monster together. They strapped it to the table and poured voltage through it. They rejoiced when the creature broke its bonds and wreaked bloody chaos through the core of America's complacent, politically-unmotivated electorate, pulling waves of torch-waving, pitchfork-bearing mobs in its wake.

Now the creature has turned to devour the laboratory, smash the equipment, and leave the power cables writhing and sparking in the ruins.

Mary Shelley might have been able to muster some sympathy for the dramatic inevitability of their hubristic demise.

But not me.


Why protecting the buggy whip industry (again) isn't going to work.

An open letter to Time-Warner, Walt Disney, General Electric, Newscorp, Viacom, et. al., (not to mention HarperCollins, Hearst, and dozens more...)

Dear Content Packagers, Content Distributors, and Content-Provider Exploiters:

The end of the world already happened. You missed it. Or, to put it another way: The entire herd is miles down the road, kicking its heels up. Nailing the barn door shut is, to put it gently, not a terribly productive use of your time.

Let me help you re-think.

Because I know who'll get tossed out of the sleigh first: The schlubs and schlemiels working at the bookstore, doing layouts in a cubicle, packing up film cans for delivery, and generally doing actual work for peanuts in pay while you wring your hands and keen over the diminishing worth of your million-dollar stock options. And while I quite frankly think it would be good for y'all to feel a little of the economic uncertainty and the pain that the rest of us struggle with daily, I'd prefer to limit the damage you'll do in the process to tens of thousands of others.

So let's look at the paleo business model first:
Writers, performers, artists, etc., produced creative output that people wanted-- if they knew about it. But getting that creative output to people who would remunerate the artists, writers, etc., was costly, time consuming, and difficult. And, frankly, not usually a congenial enterprise to people who preferred actually producing the content. It could be done on a very small-scale, retail, one-to-one or one-to-few basis, but that wasn't often enough to keep the musician, painter, poet, etc., in beer and skittles for long.

And thus was born an industry dedicated to packaging and distributing the work of the artists, writers, etc. Entrepreneurs built theaters, bought printing presses, found ways to package and reproduce this creative output in larger quantities to meet larger demands. Other entrepreneurs opened retail shops, set up newsstands, invested in broadcasting equipment, and found ways to take the packaged creative output and put it before larger and larger audiences.

In this paleo business model, the actual producers of the creative output had much to complain about: They had little or no control over the packaging and distribution of their work, unless they happened to be one of the lucky ones who hit it big and could hire their own lawyers and (eventually) agents to keep them from getting too baldly exploited. It wasn't an ideal model. But it kept lots and lots of people employed, and it brought creative output to ever-widening audiences in an ever-expanding array of forms. There were hundreds of publishers, record companies, impresarios, film studios, radio stations, bookstores, etc., all competing both to find the most attractive creative output, and to put it before the largest and most lucrative audiences.

The paleo business model became a victim of emerging mass technologies, the evolving science of artificial demand creation, and the enablement of pro-oligarchic capitalist structures. The modern business model replaced it:

Consolidation and vertical integration produced your huge machines. You now spend vast amounts of money creating a demand for the output of writers, performers, artists, etc.--but only the ones who are willing to be exploited by you or who have some kind of unpredictable, freak success outside your control. Whereupon you bring them into control as soon as possible, on the most favorable terms (for you) that you can manage. You package their work with minimal input from them for minimal cost, and you distribute it through the outlets you own at maximum profit to yourselves.

As you became more and more profitable, you consolidated further, vertically integrated further, and wrote the "suggestions" for intellectual property legislation that would continue to maximize your profit and control of others' creative output. And you solemnly assured the producers of that output that it was their rights you were protecting, because should unauthorized methods of packaging or distribution ever result in putting creative output before audiences that you weren't making vast profits from, the producers of that output would see even the pittance that represented their "ownership" of copyrights and revenues therefrom go poof! and vanish.

There are only a few of you, but you had immense control and immense profit from that control.

But it's a post-modern world now.

The resources required to package and distribute creative output, content for short, no longer require large capital outlays, huge workforces, and highly specialized skills. Anyone with an internet connection can distribute content. And anyone who's willing to learn various software skills (many quite simple) and/or spend modest amounts on widely-available equipment can package that content in high-quality, easily usable forms.

Content producers can (and do) interact directly with consumers. Oh, you can still create demand, with a big enough investment-- but if you can't control the packaging and distribution of the content, why make that investment? One silly home-made video of a kitten can out-"sell" a carefully-crafted corporate-produced meme in a day.

Your control is gone, your vertical integration is meaningless. Your vast profits are AT AN END.

You need a new business model.

There's good news and bad news.

The good news first: There are enormous possibilities in the post-modern world. Unexplored market niches, new wrinkles in packaging and distribution to be discovered, and vast cost savings to be gained by reducing the quantities of static packaging produced (usually expensive!) and moving to inexpensive digital production.

The bad news: It's going to be a long, long, long time before you can re-invent a way to control the system to funnel vast profit margins into the pockets of a few oligarchs. There's still profits to be made-- in improving the quality and accessibility of packaging, in aggregating content for consumers, in segmenting distribution and marketing to niches, in evolving new ways to package and synergize content. But it won't involve control, monopoly, or oligarchy again for a long, long time. Maybe never.

Who's going to make money in the post-modern world?

Content producers, to some extent. Those who produce stellar content will do well, as they have always done. They will find ways to work with packagers and aggregators and marketers and to benefit from broad demand and broad accessibility to their content. The sloggers-- the hard workers in the middle who produce good content and are willing (or driven) to do so in sufficient amounts-- will do alright as well, if they are willing to be a little pro-active in packaging and distributing their own work, and finding new ways to connect with their consumers. The vending machines-- competent producers who will work on demand for others-- will actually do a little better in a demand-rich environment.

Individuals and groups of individuals who find new, creative, accessible, attractive ways to package and distribute digital content, and who are willing to work collegially with content creators, and be alert and responsive to consumers. These will do very well indeed-- but they will require too much agility and internal control to be able to function in an older corporate model. You won't be able to co-opt them.

And a whole new group: Content aggregator/marketers. I don't know the word for them yet, I'm not sure it has been invented. But in a world so dense with digital content in so many forms and varieties, those who find a way to connect consumers easily with the particular types of content they are seeking will do very well indeed. But it's not a market that can be cornered. New sites will constantly be springing up, new people will be innovating ways to present content, locate content, prioritize content, connect people with content.

So it's time to stop chasing down the scattered, frolicking beasties who have already forgotten ever being in your barn, time to stop thinking of new and stouter ways to nail shut the doors to the already-empty building.

The ones who survive will be the ones who adapt to the new reality, not the ones who spend the most money and effort trying to shove the calendar back to 1989.

Just a friendly heads-up.


Despatches from the Nutshell

With election season gearing up, it's a dead cert we're going to have to endure plenty of wackjobbery from the clown car, as one candidate after another is tossed out, run over, backed over, and run over again, all the way down to the final consecration of our beloved Oligarchs' Last, Best Hope to Save the Nation from Obama and runaway socialist/fascist/communist/authoritarian/totalitarian class warfare.

Regardless of who that may be (I have my opinion, but I'm not sayin'...) we are going to hear the same litany of schizophrenic glossolalia over the next few months, hovering around a constellation of targets that include:

God-bothering: Why a Deity that presumably created an incomprehensibly vast universe with billions of stars, forms of life, manifestations of energy, etc., really, really wants this or that individual to win an election in one corner of one planet in one galaxy...

From the Nutshell, best possible response to this drivel: "ummm... yeah. Whatever. I'll check on that next time me and God are discussing the election."

Monging Fear on a (sorry) Biblical scale: Why THE WORLD IS GONNA END!! END, I TELL YOU!!! if this or that individual doesn't win the election.

From the Nutshell, best possible response to this spluttering incoherence: "By election day, our new Silurian Lizard Overlords are already gonna be in charge anyway. Why bother?"

And finally, Severely Witless Intellectual Libertarian Loopitude (SWILL): All of our social and economic problems are the individual's fault. Individuals make bad choices. That's why they get sick, lose jobs, are foreclosed on, can't pay their student loan debt, yaddayaddayadda..."

From the Nutshell, best possible response to this sleazy demagoguery: "The choices we make are limited to the choices we have."

And claiming that we have a "choice" over whether we enjoy social privilege conferred by our parentage, our skin color, our gender, our sexuality, our ancestry, or any other source, is a sure sign that the peddler of this claptrap is taking it deep and loving it, from our Beloved Oligarchs.

Claiming that we have a "choice" over how much and what kind of health care we can afford?

Claiming that we have a "choice" over the quality of the schools our parents have access to?

Claiming that we have a "choice" over whether to accept a job with a seven-figure salary and eight-figure bonuses and stock options, versus minimum wage?

Claiming that we have a "choice" over whether to consume that which is pushed at us by our Corporate Overlords, or invest every waking moment in seeking out and mastering the art of living "off the grid" or "out of the mainstream?"

Claiming that we have a "choice" over whether to commute to work in a cheap, gas-guzzling vehicle or use the abundant, easily-accessed and universally available public transit grid?

Claiming that we have a "choice" about living homeless or in a dangerous situation rather than in a safe, energy-efficient home?

Again: "The choices we make are limited to the choices we have."

From the Nutshell,


What Happens When You "Drive the Occupiers Off the Streets?"



People form committees. They find places to meet. They take time to educate one another about economic, social, philosophical and ideological issues that concern them.

They set up websites, they publish magazines, they produce videos.

They take time to discuss difficult issues and look for consensus and compromise.

They write, post blogs, spread the word, invite others to meetings, share information with Occupiers elsewhere. They identify priorities and create working groups. They recruit friends and develop working relationships with small businesses and neighborhood groups and unions and churches.

They plan direct actions, and mull strategies.

They grow strong.

They grow smart.

They get focused.

Their numbers swell.

They become better-organized across a broader range of issues.

They incubate the future.

Including the future hell for our Beloved Oligarchs.

Good job, clueless Mayors, police brass, and other spineless lackeys of the one percent!

I love the Movement.

Thank you Occupiers.



Many American economists and business groups say the comparison is deeply flawed because of fundamental differences between Denmark and the United States, including Denmark’s high living costs and taxes, a generous social safety net that includes universal health care and a collective bargaining system in which employer associations and unions work together. The fast-food restaurants here are also less profitable than their American counterparts.

“Trying to compare the business and labor practices in Denmark and the U.S. is like comparing apples to autos,” said Steve Caldeira, president of the International Franchise Association, a group based in Washington that promotes franchising and has many fast-food companies as members.

“Denmark is a small country” with a far higher cost of living, Mr. Caldeira said. “Unions dominate, and the employment system revolves around that fact.”

But as Denmark illustrates, companies have managed to adapt in countries that demand a living wage, and economists like Mr. Schmitt see it as a possible model.


The reason why the pay isn't like that in the US because they can easily replace an employee -- (I actually know a Jack-the-Box employee who routinely doesn't show up was fired and rehired a few times -- she has been with them awhile and knows managers here or there but she justifies it by saying "they need me" if that was the case, I'd negotiate for higher wages (I don't know if she still works there but often times she isn't there when I visit her roommate) -- at that wage offer.

Certainly radically different factors come into play.

I'm not sure about traveling abroad...

...or even outside the borders of Crazyland--excuse me, the Untied States of America.

Commie Muppets

Someone sent me this link today. I read it through, alternately sniggering and cringing, and then got to the comments, when it became, essentially, one long cringe. My reply to the emailer who sent me the link was:

"Sometimes it's just so embarrassing to be an American."

I hit send, and then realized that hell, most of the time it's bloody embarrassing to be American anymore. Seriously.

I mean, how embarrassing is it to be known as a citizen of a nation where:

  • A really substantial number of my fellow-citizens actually BELIEVE that the Earth is only six thousand years old or thereabouts.

  • Those same fellow-citizens not only vote, they REGULARLY elect other people who publicly profess to believe that not only is the Earth <7000 years old, but that a DEITY actually TALKS to them and tells them to run for office!

  • Yes! Not only does our society and our educational "system" turn out large numbers of seriously delusional individuals, those individuals are PROUD of their delusion, and demand that it be taken seriously and treated with respect--not just in churches, but in the creation of the public policies that determine how we structure our economy and our government and our entire social organization!

  • In spite of prima-facie evidence, widely publicized, empirically analyzed, and thoroughly tested in nations more advanced than we (and I never thought I'd type THAT phrase outside of fiction, either...) we persist in believing that a national, universal, single-payer, taxpayer-supported system with publicly-operated policy making, cost controls, etc., would produce worse results than we currently experience.

  • While millions lose their homes and continue without jobs, and our best and brightest young people are (essentially) sold into lifetime debt-slavery to become economically competitive, we persist in making issues like "the sanctity of marriage" and the precise extent to which the interests of community safety are considered in interpreting the Second Amendment, and the existence of "illegal" brown people among us, the most critical election fodder.

  • As our once-proud and world-renowned infrastructure crumbles and decays around us, leaving our bridges to collapse, our access to the Internet dependent on a cobbled-together grid of mismatched capabilities and components, our public transport shrunken to virtual nonexistence, and our education "system" an international laughingstock, we continue to debate the desirability of SMALL GOVERNMENT, by the seven Silurian sloth gods!

I swear, I'd be suicidal by this time if it weren't for my beloved esposo, DU, Occupy, Al Franken and a handful of other public servants, and the comforting weirdness of El Norte.

I do actually believe that by the time my grandson is old enough to travel abroad, it will be possible to proudly hand a US Passport or other ID to anyone, anywhere.

In the mean time, I'm keeping my head down and staying home. If I have to travel elsewhere I'm getting a Maple Leaf sweatshirt to wear and training myself to say "eh" a lot.

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