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Monday, June 30, 2014

If You Can't Beat'em, Join'em

I'm completely sick of these quizzes that everyone posts on Facebook so I made one myself.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

USA vs Belgium

Dear Belgian Friends,

It has been a lot of fun watching the World Cup games together and it saddens me to think that at the next game riot police will separate us. Of course, we can greet one another politely before the game through the barbed wire fence erected to keep us from killing each other but then it will be a constant deluge of insults hurled back and forth. I know that you won’t really mean the horrible things you will say and, in your defense, a lot of the shit you say about our mothers is quite accurate. 

To Your Bitter Defeat, with Love, John

Queridos amigos belgas, 

Ha sido muy divertido ver los partidos del Mundial juntos y me entristece pensar que en el próximo partido la policía antidisturbios nos separará. Por supuesto, nos podemos saludar cortésmente antes del partido a través de la cerca de alambre de púas erigido para evitar que nos matemos unos a otros, pero después será un diluvio constante de insultos de un lado para otro. Sé que vosotros realmente no queréis decir las cosas horribles que vais a decir y, en vuestra defensa, muchas de las cosas de nuestras madres son bastante precisas. 

A Vuestra Amarga Derrota, con Amor

Friday, June 27, 2014

Do the Obvious

-          Mad Magazine publisher William Gaines on their early anti-smoking humor.

I think that you could say this about a lot of liberal tenets: Women’s rights, racial equality, gay marriage, legalization of marijuana, climate change, green energy, mass transit, bicycles as a means of transportation, progressive income taxes, universal health care and education, and on and on. When have conservatives ever been in the vanguard of anything important? Most of their decisions have been train wrecks: cutting taxes on the wealthiest Americans, cutting education budgets, our failed wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as their staunch opposition to most of the things I listed as liberal triumphs.

Sunday, June 08, 2014

How’s the Weather? Science Reporting for Ignorant Slobs

Propaganda: information, ideas, or rumors deliberately spread widely to help or harm a person, group, movement, institution, nation, etc.

Why do so many Americans reject scientific claims about the man-made effects leading to global climate change? Probably because they’re mostly ill-informed simpletons who believe everything they see on what is the worst excuse for news in our history, otherwise known as Fox News. It turns out that when it comes to this issue just 28% of Fox's coverage was accurate in 2013. Take a look at the language Fox unleashes in its relentless propaganda war against science. Almost every paragraph discounts what scientists around the world are telling us and injects Fox News dogma. Here is how Fox informs the cretins who look there to educate themselves on climate change issues:

The report, though, quickly came under fire from Republicans, who said the administration would use it to push job-killing regulations

Environmental Protection Agency greenhouse gas standards they argue will harm the nation's economy

The first rule of climate policy should be: do no harm to economic growth.

…an economy impoverished by mindless micro-management from Washington simply won’t be able to generate the tax dollars to foot the bill.

And Fox always gets in the last word:

Sen. David Vitter, R-La., ranking Republican on the U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. "Definitive policy decisions and regional planning based on far too many uncertainties could hurt our nation's economic viability and competitiveness. Look no further than the European nations whose policy decisions led to economic failure." 

They have even coined a word to describe the horrors of actually allowing our democratically-elected leaders to address the area of climate change: “the climatocracy.” Everyone who watches Fox knows that bureaucracy (any publicly-administered agency) is worse than Hitler because it limits the power of the private sector and any time we hinder private industry we do so at our great peril.

The thing is, I’m not cherry-picking these moronic outbursts at Fox News, this is their editorial policy. I didn’t lift these quotes from op-ed columns. Fox News is almost entirely opinion which is something that few Americans seem to realize. A lot of people don’t know the difference between news and editorial. There is almost no reporting at Fox; they simply have “experts” opining on the right-wing talking points of the day, talking points they control at every step of the process.  No matter how silly the made-up controversy conservatives screech about, liberals always feel obliged to respond to the fake outrage which allows the Right to control the dialogue.

Friday, June 06, 2014

The Boundless Stupidity of American Conservatives Rears its Head...Again!

American conservatives have been going into hysterics over the exchange of a U.S. soldier for five Taliban shit balls who formerly resided in our illegal prison camp of Guantánamo. If Republicans were old dowagers in silent movies carrying on in this manner someone would slap their faces repeatedly and in the next frame of the film would be the caption “My God, pull yourself together!” On second thought, this is an insult to hysterical old dowagers who look like Rambo compared to our conservative leadership.

We have bigger traitors to worry about than some idiot kid. From the rumblings at Fox News and among conservatives pundits you would think that our nation has been brought to the verge of collapse by some E-5 nobody who no one had heard about only a few days ago (except those of us who read about it two years ago in Rolling Stone Magazine). What a fragile thing our United States of America, at least according to Fox News.

What about the generals and politicians that got us into this never-ending war, the leaders who didn’t learn a thing from Viet Nam about entering into a conflict that we can’t win? Even if he is a traitor we should still bring him home. And five Taliban assholes from Guantanamo? Who cares? We should have emptied that hellhole years ago. I'm not defending Bergdahi but turning this against our President is spiteful politics and nothing more. Accounts that six soldiers died trying to rescue him have been mostly debunked but conservatives shy away from long articles and prefer moronic slogans.

Read this and you’ll realize that the discipline among these troops was lower than in my Boy Scout troop and the military is nothing without discipline and hierarchy—at least when I served. This is some real Lord of the Flies crap. An almost complete lack of discipline is why there are so many sexual assaults among soldiers in today's Army.

Freeing a few shit bags from the Taliban is no threat to America. Who are we talking about here? The X-Men? According to a very off-his-meds John McCain they represent, “the hardest of the hard-core” and “the highest high-risk people,” who are “possibly responsible for the deaths of thousands.” In the interview on CBS’ “Face the Nation,” he noted others that have been released have “gone back into the fight.” If this were true then why weren’t they put on trial and sentenced? What qualifications do they have that make them so dangerous? Are they nuclear physicists? The five are tribal Taliban commanders. We invaded Afghanistan and they fought. That describes about a million combatants.

Do conservatives think that these five, bearded goat-fuckers represent everyone who hates the USA and wishes to do us harm? I would say that line begins in Morocco, goes across the north of Africa, through the entire Middle East, and ends in Pakistan, so five more haters is a drop in the ocean. We should have released everyone from Guantanamo while we had the opportunity (perhaps after giving them a heavy blast of radiation poisoning).

Read the comments from The Guardian: a lot more empathy for a soldier who was in combat than you will find among American chicken hawks.

I would be the first to agree that Obama should have done this quietly considering the fact that the kid was a bit of a psycho who deserted his post and went looking to be captured. Anyone who had bothered to read about this case knew that Bowe Bergdahl was no hero but we still should have brought him home.  Don’t believe the lies.

Wednesday, June 04, 2014

Mi Barrio de Ruzafa (Russafa in Valenciano)

I thoroughly enjoyed the weekend here in Razafa. The idea of an art walk isn't new and you see them in cities around the world. I had no idea that there were so many artist studios and galleries (over 80!) and it was fun to be able to snoop around inside of them.

I have lived in this neighborhood almost since I moved here to Spain. I’ve always thought that it was a great place to live but the old neighborhood has changed drastically for the better over the last few years. When I first moved here it was a little seedy in places with several streets serving as open drug markets and some pretty dodgy bars. When the crisis struck in 2008 the city decided to put some people to work and a major rehabilitation project began. The sidewalks were broadened, the streets narrowed, bike paths were built, and street parking was limited. A lot of residents with cars have screamed about the impossible parking situation but it was simply intolerable before when cars were parked end-to-end on every street creating impenetrable walls for pedestrians. Ruzafa has now recaptured the feel of a small town within the city of Valencia.

There has been an explosion of new bars and restaurants here as Ruzafa has become the prime destination of locals out for a night on the town. It seems that every time that I walk around this small section of town I see a new place that looks inviting. Even someone who goes out as much as I has a difficult time keeping up. I guess that I’ll just have to try to work harder.

Sunday, June 01, 2014

World Cup 2014 Brazil

Group A – Brazil, Croatia                                    Group B – Spain, Netherlands
Group C – Colombia, Greece                               Group D – Italy, England
Group E - France, Switzerland                             Group F – Argentina, Bosnia
Group G – Germany, USA                                  Group H – Belgium, Russia

These are my choices to make first and second in their groups.  I only have a couple of picks that don’t go along with the rankings (USA, England) and both are for emotional reasons.

For Spain to win another cup is almost impossible after taking the 2008 Eurocopa, the 2010 World Cup, and the 2012 Eurocopa. With that said Spain is still the best team. I tell people that if I had to bet everything on the outcome I would wager on Spain but the Spanish should brace themselves for anything. Spain could lose in the group play and be eclipsed by Holland and Chile (unlikely). As it goes I have only bet a lunch on Spain winning it all.