Monday, October 29, 2012

NSA Analyst Proves GOP Is Stealing Elections | UK Progressive

NSA Analyst Proves GOP Is Stealing Elections | UK Progressive

Forget the media, mainstream or otherwise, the real question is:  why aren't the Democrats bringing this up?

The available possible answers are all very, very depressing.  

Friday, October 26, 2012

Note To The Computer Gods: You Don't Know Me

I hate every single automatic function of the software on my computer.  Just because I Googled something in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, a few hours ago, my computer is sure that I have an over-riding and supremely abiding interest in Mecca.  It thinks, for instance, that I want to reserve hotel rooms in Mecca.  It is quite insistent on this point.  This is particularly absurd, because I AM NOT EVEN ALLOWED TO TRAVEL TO FUCKING MECCA, being a no-preference individual, religion wise. 

If they sold computers and software with no, absolutely no automatic functions, I would be there in a heartbeat.  I'm sitting right here, people, my own hands are on the keyboard, I can go wherever I want to go. 

If I need your pathetic help, I'll ask for it.  I say "pathetic" advisedly.  Hardware is quite advanced in this, the second decade of the Twenty-First Century (it chokes me to even type it).  Software, on the other hand, is falling pathetically behind, resorting to stupid tricks like picking up on my search including the place "Mecca," and stupidly, profoundly stupidly, thinking that that one almost random choice should then color my searches in the immediate future. 

But I am, as usual, off point in this blighted age.  The people upon whom I am heaping scorn do not care what I think of them.  They are thinking in terms of algorithms, gigantic world-wide patterns, they are thinking in terms of money.  They live in a world that I don't understand at all.  So I'll just wish them well, turn out the lights, and go to bed. 

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Royal Mecca Clock Tower

Someone thought it was a good idea to build this thing right next to the Grand Mosque of the Kabba in Mecca, the holiest site in the holiest city of Islam.  I'm pretty sure that it wasn't built by trolls who wished to destroy the credibility of official Islam, although it might have been.

It's bigger than the Empire State Building, bigger than the Petronas Towers.  It's fun to read about it, you should go and check out some sites.  There's a very interesting tension between Muslims who think it is a blight on the landscape and an affront to Islam on one hand, and Muslims who think it is a beautiful expression of Islamic culture in general and Arab culture in particular on the other.  The comments, and the back and forth, are fascinating. 

Mecca is a closed city and most Westerners don't even know that this thing exists.  I came across it by accident reading up on the subject of skyscrapers in general.  One site that I read went into detail about a quote from the received literature of Islam that holds that the sure sign of the end times will be that Arabs will compete with each other to build tall buildings.  That alone would be worth the trip to Professor Google's library. 

I may have written about this before.  If that is found to be true, I will claim to have been in shock when writing the first piece. 

Joe Tex. Hold What You Got.

No explanation necessary. 

Spencer Davis Group - I'm a Man

You know I'm still loving some of this old stuff, but mostly I still respect a band that can actually set up and play. 

Kim Jong Il, RIP, Still, Amazingly, Looking At Things

The store of pictures of the Dear Leader, Kim Jong Il, looking at things, is apparently endless, at least for the time being.

This guy was in charge for almost twenty years, 1994 to, let's say, recently, and for all of that time he tirelessly showed up at like twenty photo-ops per day.  No substance at all, he just showed up and people showed him things, they took his picture looking at the things. 

The site is full of pictures that are new to us.  When he was alive, it was just an expose of crude propaganda.  Now that he is dead, and has been dead for a while now, the site has taken on a second life as a weird challenge to mortality. 

Challenging mortality is a fools game, and always comes to nothing, but somehow it always warms our hearts. 

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

So What Happens If This Willard Guy Gets Elected?

The details depend on what happens in congress, I suppose.  But some things are clear.

The National Security State . . . 

. . . continues to grow.  Drone strikes?  Check.  Extrajudicial killings and imprisonments of Americans and others?  Check.  Warrantless surveillance?  Check, with budget increases and more intrusiveness. 

And it goes on, this list.  We're not hearing much about it, but the drug war is being militarized.  That is to say, our military is being used increasingly in the drug war.  Look up "Columbian planes shot down over the Caribbean." 

All of these budgets, mostly secret, will go up under Willard, and our famous freedoms will become even more illusory.

The So-Called Safety Net

Social Security will be saved under President Willard!  Medicare too.  New Deal, shmew deal, we got your New Deal right here.  ("Personal Responsibility")

Anti-poverty programs, and anything else that the Koch brothers don't like, will suffer.

Vouchers anyone?

Regulation of Business

Corporations will be favored over the environment and workers' safety.  Anyone not see that one coming?  Banks will be freed up to do what they do best: "create value." 


Look up JCX-53-06 if you want to see your new tax plan.  This was a proposal from the Joint Committee on Taxation in 2006, when, if you recall, President W had a mandate from the people (in his own mind).  (

The plan was "to  broaden the individual income tax base and lower individual income tax rates."  It's all there, Willard Wannabe's plan to "reduce tax rates across the board" and "close loopholes."  You should look up the loopholes that they plan to close, the odds are that you are benefiting from them right now.

The effect will  be that rates for the most prosperous will come down, and the dollar amount that they pay will also come down, money will be put in their pockets.  Rates for the poor and middle class will come down too, but their overall contribution, in individual dollars paid, will go up due to the lost deductions.   Yes, it's a sure thing, the "percentage" of income to be charged will be reduced, but the actual dollars paid will go up.  The tax burden will be further shifted to the middle class and the poor, because, after all, there are so many more of them, and they don't create anything of value.  Something similar would probably happen under Willard whatever happens in congress, because Democrats are such spineless losers.

A New, New Pearl Harbor

Here's how much I don't trust Willard and his 1990's style, Neocon advisers.  When all of this spending on "defense" and all of this tax cutting keep the economy in the shits and the National Debt, and budget deficits, going up, something will have to be found to explain why it's not the Republicans' fault.  Merely blaming it all on President Obama will not be enough.  So I'd start looking for a scapegoat pretty early on, pro-active defense is always best.  W's excuse for everything was 9-11.  What will Willard's be?  My money's on Iran, one way or the other. 

The Best Part, No, Really!

It'll probably look almost the same if President Obama pulls out a win.  A couple of unfortunate things are cut in stone right now.

1. The National Debt is not going anywhere;
2. Budget deficits are going to continue;
3. Tax revenues will continue to stagnate;
4. The National Security State will not be reduced anytime soon;
5. Globalization will continue to favor corporate interests over individuals; and others.

Unfortunately for us, Neo-Conservatism and Neo-Liberalism are two sides of the same coin.  It's all about the money, and who has it.  The last thirty years have seen the greatest increase in human productivity in history, and the greatest increase in wealth, but somehow all of this human potential and cash money have been allowed to pool over in the corners somewhere where they can do the least good.  If I told you where, I'd be accused of class warfare, and we wouldn't want that. 

Our future, and welcome to it.  At least it will be nice and warm. 

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Debbie Harry explains The Pogo to the Americans

Thanks Boing Boing. 

Oh, Cletis, Where Art Thou?

We develop strange new relationships on these Intertubes.  I've become friendly with people by commenting on their blogs, by having people comment on this blog, and I've even become friends with people because we both commented on some third blog.

Cletis "The Book of Cletis" Stump is a 'Net-buddy of mine, but he's been awfully quiet since August, totally quiet in fact.  I'm just a bit worried about him.  Before he disappeared he had started posting some poetry, which I hadn't seen before.  That can be a sign that someone has arrived at a contemplative and existential phase of life, so maybe that's it.  He's just off contemplating.

I hope that's the worst of it.   Bon chance, Cletis, wherever you are.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Darly (formerly "Darky") toothpaste commercial

Whoever posted this commercial called it racist, but I strongly disagree. 

I, and probably most viewers, identify and sympathize with the athlete; I recognize him as an athlete and not a monkey, what kind of racist would think he looked like a monkey?  I think it's clear that the commercial is strongly critical of the racist overreaction of the mother. 

I saw this on TV about seven years ago, it didn't last long on the airwaves.  "Darky" toothpaste, that's some racist shit right there, but this commercial?  I could, of course, be wrong, but I don't think it is. 

The Engrish Is Truly Frightening

I was treated to a couple of English tests during my recent proctoring gig. Always interesting.

Here’s a question:

Studying English is ________________ for students who wish to work for multinational corporations.

1. Scary

2. Worthwhile

(3. and 4. I don’t recall)

Almost certainly “worthwhile” was the preferred answer, but almost every paper, no exaggeration, answered “scary.” Which is true, I suppose, English is scary for most foreign students, wherever the student wishes to become employed someday.

Another question:

The water’s ____________________ looks beautiful when the sea is calm.

1. Surface

2. Pang

3. Compression

4. Crust

Here the common answer was “pang.” Like a sudden sharp pain or emotion?  Where would they have seen that word, and how does it apply to the surface of water? In all of the tests that I checked, “surface” and “crust” showed up one time each, and the rest were “pang.”

Honestly, I didn’t go through the tests in a systematic way. I usually just looked over the six or eight questions at the end, maybe some from the middle. To be fair, many of the questions in the brief first section were so easy that there were many correct answers. (“Joe _______ playing baseball yesterday.” Pick “was” from a list.) At the middle and the end though, I could rarely find even two correct answers out of the six or eight that I checked.

It’s a shame too, since English is Money these days. Speak it and you get more money, it’s easier to get a good job. No one who has taught English thinks it’s easy, let’s face it, English is hard. Check your own spelling and tell me I’m lying. It’s important though.

Luckily, my mom taught me to speak English, many years ago.

Black People In Thailand

No, I don’t mean “black” in the local sense, which merely means “copper colored and darker than the usual Thai person.” I mean Black in the American sense of the word, the people that were once referred to as “Negroes.”

Black Americans are as rare in Thailand as hens’ teeth, but there are many, many Blacks in Bangkok. My neighborhood in particular features a great number of Blacks. Africans they are, many are students at the two local international universities, but not all. A business in the area just started a professional football team and seems to have hired all Africans to man it, they have been installed in my condo building. Then there are the “businessmen,” boy to the cops keep an eye on them, businessmen my ass.

Disclaimer: You don’t see many of Americans in general over here. Some American ex-pats, true, but most of the White people that you see are tourists and very few of them come from America. Do Americans take vacations anymore? Only the Europeans can afford to go somewhere for a few weeks at a stretch, and a trip any shorter than that is bloody inconvenient when the travel time is twenty-four hours or more in each direction, and then there’s the jet-lag.

Cab Drivers

Africans come in many varieties, and most of them are perfectly reasonable people.  There are some countries in Africa though where the people have some funny habits.  Evidently those countries are well represented in Bangkok.  Just ask any Bangkok cab driver, he’ll be happy to share some of his experiences. I never bring it up myself, but every few months a driver will see Blacks on the street and spontaneously start to complain. “They just get out and run!” is a common one. “They hand you some bills and one in the middle is folded over!” is another. “The fare is eighty-five Baht and they throw forty Baht at you on the way out!”

No surprise then, that many drivers will not stop for Blacks. On the surface, this is like the situation that obtained in Old New York back when I was driving cabs. (Not guilty, me, I stopped for everybody.) This is very different though, because here the terrible side effect of this prejudice is that American Blacks, and they do exist here, are being tarred with the same brush, and without having contributed to the problem in any way. For that matter, most of the Africans in Bangkok haven't contributed to the problem either.  My friend Professor Salifu (Mali; PhD German Linguistics) would, I think, put his hand in a fire before he tried to cheat anybody. It's always the few that ruin it for the many. 

I always take the time to explain to the drivers that American Blacks are not like Africans at all anymore, and certainly not like these rude Africans.  They’re much more like Americans in general. With probably a greater feeling of worker solidarity if anything, and no shortage of fair play in their hearts. In my experience, which I share with the drivers, Black workers were better tippers than rich White people in New York, and maybe even more appreciative of the ride than White workers because they were a little surprised to be picked up in the first place.

It is hard from a distance, however, to differentiate an American from an African, or tell what is in the heart of any individual. Even for me, and I know what to look for. Many African men, I can tell you, will leave the house in outfits that no self-respecting American Black would wear to a rock fight. Hard to pick it all out driving down the street. To a Thai cab driver the challenge of telling them apart is insurmountable. It’s a shame.

Black American Expats

I know that they exist. I’ve heard of some; I’ve seen others. Sorry to say that I have no friends among their number, but like I say, they’re very, very rare. The guys that I occasionally see who appear to be American don’t, I’m sure, want me running up to them asking, “are you American?” Perhaps, dear reader, you could introduce me to one?

From what I’ve heard, Thai society affords them the status of “Americans,” minus the qualifier “Black.” As though a rich foreigner was a rich foreigner, irrespective of the color of his skin. If Thai women discriminate against black skin it is in such small numbers that it doesn’t seem to hurt the Black man’s chances in the least. Even the Africans are considered prosperous, they made it over here didn’t they? They’re paying tuition at an international university, aren’t they? Americans even more so, we are all considered prosperous-to-rich.

Free Advice, Worth Every Penny

I’d recommend it, I would, to my Black American compatriots. Anyone with a bachelors’ degree can easily get a job teaching English over here, for about a thousand dollars per month, which is enough to live on very well in Thailand. People are very nice, a few words of Thai and a genuine smile buy a lot of good will in this country. If my experience is any indication, I can tell you that I feel less alienated here than I do in our own miserable country. At least here I am actually an alien. Who knows? It could work for you too.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

King Khan & BBQ Show - Tastebuds

King Kahn has a side project, featured herein.  (There's a much more conventional cut a column page or two down, "Takin' Out the Trash.")  The man turns out to be much more than a mere R & B wannabe, indeed he's way out in Wesley Willis territory.  Wear your helmets for this one. 

PARENTAL ADVISORY on the lyrics, by the way, these lyrics would probably make Wesley blush.

This wide world of ours is getting weirder all the time.  Blame it on the Internet; blame it on poor toilet training; blame it on Satan; struggle against it or just embrace it.  But it's a fact, Jack, the wide range of (commercial) normality now embraces clinical batshit insanity.  Political normality embraces it too, some would say.

Matt and Kim performing Daylight, live on The Daily Habit

I was pretty sure that I put this up last week, or thereabouts, or something like this, who knows, I'm getting so old that I'm not too sure of anything anymore.  I did check the "search" feature on this blog for "Matt and Kim," and nothing came up, but my confidence in technology is severely curtailed these days.

Anyway, I love Matt and Kim.  There, I said it.  So sue me.  Matt's singing voice is a lot like Tom Verlaine's, as if that meant anything to anyone, and I love the innocence of the whole presentation, like Jonathan Richmond with a funkier beat.  And Kim is hot. 

Friday, October 12, 2012

Biggest Debate Problem

If you tell people what they want to hear, they will receive it as the truth, even if it is a colossal distortion of reality. 

That's it in a nutshell. 

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Junior Brown - Surf Medley

Junior is probably still alive and working.  Maybe I should check the Wiki, or the Google.

It's a shame he's not more famous, but then again sheer phenomenal talent doesn't count for much in the music business, now does it?  He's right up there with the late, great Danny Gatton, but no one outside of the guitar community remembers him either.


I did just Google the both of them.  Junior Brown is indeed still alive.  Check him out at  He's playing clubs and lounges, probably hawking his own CD's to make ends meet. 

Danny Gatton is still dead, may he rest in peace, a peace he never found in life.  Someone, the Gibson guitar company or something, listed him as the twenty-seventh greatest guitar player of all time.  I haven't seen the list, but I'd bet my tattoo that half of the twenty-six guys ahead of him on that list would fall on a sword before they dared get on a stage with him. 

"Eye Of The Sparrow" — A Bad Lip Reading of the First 2012 Presidential ...

I saw the so-called debate.  It didn't look like much the first time around, but obviously it had potential. 

Bangkok Taxi Drivers, Etiquette And Freedom

I have driven cabs myself. It was back in old New York City, in the early Seventies. I drove the night line for two years, four nights per week. I didn’t mind it at first, but in the course of the second year it grew a combination of tiresome and worrisome. Getting home from work at two a.m. was a big part of it. It was a great education though, I learned a lot about people in general and New York in particular.

In New York there were taxi police, “taxi inspectors,” whose job it was to wander around the city all day taking cabs and waiting for a driver to ask them for money over the meter, or maybe a driver who refuses to “go to Brooklyn.” So we kind of had to go anywhere, although it was terrible to be left deep in the wilds of Brooklyn or the Bronx after a fare. (Queens wasn’t much better, but it was my home so at least I knew my way around. In two years I never once was asked to drive to Staten Island.) Trapped in the “outer boroughs” it could take you forty minutes to make your next dollar. No wonder guys didn’t want to go in the first place.

As so often happens, it’s very different in Thailand. For one thing, there are no taxi police. I ride in cabs all the time that have a driver who doesn’t match the displayed license. Sometimes there is no displayed license. Things are all loosey-goosey over here.

If you get hold of a Thai-English dictionary, look up “thai.” Two meanings will be listed: 1) free; freedom; 2) Thailand; the Thai people. “Thailand” literally means “the land of the free.” They call it Brataet Thai.

Besides the loosey-goosey thing, Thailand is also a very polite place. The language is polite, and everyone is very careful not to be pushy, not to show displeasure or anger, very careful to be respectful.

Driving cabs has given me some insight into the driver’s situation. It has made me a good tipper, very good, even the grumps get good tips. You’d think that having driven cabs myself, and having been forced by circumstances to drive to places that I’d rather not have gone, I’d be sympathetic to the drivers on that count too, but you’d be wrong. No, I’m not in the least sympathetic, especially at nine o’clock at night standing around in the rain somewhere and trying to get home, with taxis the only option and not a free taxi in sight for long periods of time.

But now that I’ve been here for a while, I think that I’ve achieved some insight into the whole thing. I’ve noticed that Thais tend to always tell the guy where they’re going before they get into the cab, and I know that frequently the driver will decline the ride. Thais don’t seem to mind. If the weather is good, and there are lots of cabs around, and I have some extra time, I don’t mind myself. (That’s the situation almost all of the time, I almost never go anywhere in the evening.) I finally figured out the dynamic.

It’s a confluence of the etiquette thing and the freedom thing. People don’t want to just tell the driver where to go, they want to ask him, and if he doesn’t want to go, they don’t want to make him. The drivers are gentle about their refusals too, they usually decline with a smile, saying, “I’m almost out of gas and I’m bringing the car back in soon very close to here,” or, “I must have the car back to the owner in ten minutes.” It would be a rare Thai who’d just say, “shut up and drive,” and a rare driver who’d just say, “I don’t go to Brooklyn.”

The drivers want to keep the freedom to say “no,” and I’m generally fine with that. Now, if there’s any doubt in my mind, I even ask them before I get in the cab if it’s okay, if they’ll go there. But if that rainy night far from home comes again, and the only options are take a cab or walk around trying to find a hotel in my own home city, I’ll do the same thing I did the last time, which was to get into the cab and refuse to get out, telling the driver to drive the fucking car or call the fucking police. Etiquette and freedom are, after all, flexible, situational constructs.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Japanese kids band on Korean TV show 1/2(Eng Subbed)

Like a prepubescent Guitar Wolf, but more commercial. 

I like the bass player.  They're like the right fielder of the band, you know, put the dreamy kid on the bass, or in right field, the kid that can't quite pay attention. 

Enter Sandman Metallica by The Mini Band 8 to 10 years old

When I was eight years old I was very, very excited about Rock n' Roll, that much is true.  Elvis; Eddie Cochran; Little Richard; Chuck Berry; Bo Diddley.  It never occurred to me though, that I could actually start performing Rock n' Roll.

That's an amazing difference between then and now ("that was then; this is now").  Kids have a totally amazing PERMISSION to do just about anything now.   Some parents even encourage their children.  My parents never encouraged me to do anything but shut up and sit down (to be fair, my dad did buy the records for me, on his way home from work, he told me that the salesgirls approved of my choices).

I wanted to take guitar lessons at one point, I was about fourteen.  1962 or '63, under the influence of the Beach Boys.  The moaning was so protracted and loud that I disavowed the idea immediately and never brought it up again.  A few years later I bought one with my own money and taught myself how to play, with a little help from my friends.  A little more than twenty years after that I finally mastered my emotions and learned to enjoy playing with other musicians.

The best advice that I ever got was from my high school classmate Gary Pagano.  He told me to learn to play bass and sing, at the same time, and then buy a big amp and a P.A.  He said that if I could do those things, and owned those things, that I could always get a band.  I didn't take the advice, I never take good advice. 

Chinese Deities

"Chinese Deities" is the usual point of reference, but these guys should probably be referred to as "folk heroes," or maybe "saints." 

There are a bunch of them, a real Chinese temple will have alters to about twenty or so.  They all have stories that illustrate an aspect of human nature, and they are all fit for a certain kind of invocation, in the manner of a saint ("patron saint of travelers;" "patron of hopeless cases.") 

These paintings were on the underside of the roof of a pavilion in a park in Nakorn Sawan.  That's a river city, always a center of commerce and accessible by river from China.  So there are lots of Thai-Chinese families there.  

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Forced Right Handedness Update

Disclaimer:  I am right handed. 

But I have several close relatives that are left handed, my father for instance, and their complaints have created in me an interest in the subject.

Six years ago at my high school in Phrae I was teaching English to high school seniors.  In all of my classes there was a higher incidence of left handedness than one experiences in America these days.  In only one class there were fourteen left handed students out of forty-five.  Try duplicating that result in America, it can't be done.

In America, of course, we discourage left handedness in our children.  We attempt, successfully in most cases, to train naturally left handed children to use their right hands.  Who can tell what conflicts they are forced to live with after we cause them to go against their natures like this.  We, the people who do such things, believe that we are helping them.  Among other things, it will make it much easier for them to rent golf clubs some day.  

Five years ago I moved to a teaching position at a Bangkok university, and one of my recurring tasks is proctoring tests.  In these huge rooms I have always scanned for lefties.  At first there were quite a few; more recently the numbers have declined sharply.  I have attributed this to the arrival of forced right handedness in Thailand, at least in Bangkok.  The arrival, I should say, some time ago when these newer students were children, lets say around 1990.

This week I witnessed the return of lefties with a vengeance, but only in one subject.  All week, scanning the rooms, there were very few left handed students.  I could look and look, day after day, and find only two or three in my half of the room.  Saturday, though, we were proctoring a test in the major for Thai language studies, an advanced class in Thai linguistics.  These students are training to become teachers of Thai.  In every row taking this test there were several lefties; I easily counted to ten standing in one place.  (Only every other row was taking the Thai test.  The rows are alternated with different tests for obvious reasons.  The rows taking the other tests had almost no left handed students.)  The rows for the Thai test throughout the entire room were liberally sprinkled with lefties.

Why should this be the case?  Is there something about the subject of language and linguistics that might draw the interest of someone who uses his or her brain the way a left handed person does?  Could the reversing of the "usual" roles of the brain hemispheres that is found in left handed people  drive a child to different interests?  I mean, it showed up in only this one subject area, mustn't there be a reason for such a thing?

Another mystery to add to the list of the Mysteries of the Universe That Will Probably Never Be Solved.  

Thursday, October 4, 2012

The Awful Lies Of A Little Girl

The first debate.  Everyone says the Willard won it, and maybe he did.  But there were two big problems with his performance. 

1.  It was all lies.  Besides the awful tone of it, he was glib to the point of being flippant, the content consisted entirely of lies.  And big lies too, like the Soviets saying that all they really wanted to do was free the workers of the world, or the Imperial Japanese saying that all they really wanted to do was bring peace to Asia.  Mitt's talking about the real goals of his (potential) presidency had me wondering, "what color is the sky on his planet?" 

2.  The awful tone of it.  Poor Mitt is a giggly thing, isn't he?  Is it just me, of does he constantly seem to be on the verge of full blown hysterics.  He bounces; he waives his arms; his face lights up like a Christmas tree; his voice leaps from his throat.  And then, all of a sudden, he settles down and mimics seriousness, for a moment, before launching off into more giddy hysteria. 

President Obama seemed a little too on the down low, that happened, but at least he didn't seem mentally ill.