How Can You Stop Capitalism?


I do not live in fancy digs, nor do I use Uber or Airbnb, but I cannot understand why there is a growing backlash against basic capitalism:
A woman has been “profiteering” from her government-subsidized, rent-controlled Central Park duplex by renting out bedrooms through Airbnb, a Manhattan judge said, ordering her to stop immediately.
Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Carol Edmead issued a temporary injunction against Noelle Penraat, who, as The Post reported in October, was sued by her landlord.
In her ruling made public Tuesday, Edmead said records show Penraat made $61,000 off her rent-controlled Central Park duplex in just nine months. Penraat’s “own records indicate that she has been profiteering from a rent-controlled apartment partially subsidized by another government program,” Edmead wrote.
The apartment is hers, right? And all she is doing is a form of subletting, which used to be legal. And it's not even subletting. It's called renting out a room, which was done extensively during the Depression. The fear-mongering against the "traffic" in and out of the building is absurd and elitist.
The landlord claimed Penraat has had 135 rentals since February 2012, with guests logging three- to 21-night stays.

The landlord estimated that Penraat could make up to $118,300 a year if she rented the apartment on a nightly, year-round basis.
Penraat advertised her “Gorgeous master bed/bath on the park,” a “Lovely small bedroom in a huge apartment” and a “Sunny bedroom, Central Park view” for between $75 and $150 a night until the case was filed.


Honestly, where's the crime here?  If this was Colorado or Georgia, she'd be unable to charge that much and no one would want to stay in her apartment (emphasis on her apartment). She's using the marketplace to make money. She isn't forcing anyone to overpay her. She's charging what people want to pay. Someone has found a way to undercut the profit margins of the people who are really ripping people off. Imagine that.

Making money by giving people something they want to pay for is illegal now?

Abstract Number Twelve December 2014




Abstract Number Eleven December 2014




An Ethics-Free Congress





You can tell the Republicans are in charge because ethics no longer matter. Michael Grimm was re-elected with a felony indictment hanging over his head and, thanks to a safely Gerrymandered district, he won his race going away.

And yes, there is a precedent here. William Jefferson was a corrupt Congressman from Louisiana who stuffed the money in his freezer and told everyone to go pound sand when they politely asked him to resign from Congress. You can read about that here and then do a comparison and contrast with how the GOP leadership has basically thrown their hands in the air over a convicted felon like Grimm. Reading that old story was like stepping into a time machine.

Ethics in Congress? Really? And people actually cared about that stuff? Wow.


None of These Clowns Are Worth the Attention




At some point, the trolling has to stop:

North Korea threatens to 'blow up' the White House after claiming to find 'clear evidence' that the GOVERNMENT was behind controversial Sony film The Interview

It now looks more like an inside job at Sony Pictures than it does anything else. And it looks to me like the extra attention granted to all three parties--Kim Jong Un, James Franco, and Seth Rogen--is about as shopworn as using a ticking time bomb as a plot device.

In a world...where things actually mattered...nobody would be talking about any of them. Ever.

Abstract Number Ten December 2014




Abstract Number Nine December 2014






Abstract Number Eight December 2014




Whose Ordered Plan?




The British say this is a work of madness:

An eccentric architectural plan thought to have been drawn by George III during his period of "madness" has been discovered at the British Library.


It is part of a huge collection of papers put together by the King during his reign from 1760 to 1820.


The loose piece of paper was tucked inside a volume about the Palaces of Hanover in Germany.


The diagram of a building was drawn in ink over a pencil outline "in a rather savage way", according to experts.


Peter Barber, head of map collections at the British Library, said the drawing, scribbled on the back of an order of service from St George's Chapel in Windsor, was "not an ordered plan".

It looks like someone was working out some ideas; if this is what madness looks like, oh well.

We have to remember that this was drawn with a crude implement, dipped in ink, and probably not in the best of light. It could have been a sketch to work out some ideas or it could have been the work of someone trying to amuse themselves. It could also have not been drawn by George III at all and it could have been done by a servant or someone at his direction.

This is Why We Can Invade Iraq Again


All someone needs to do is figure out how to blame the hacking of Sony on the Iraqis.

That's it.

Once we do that, we have the case for war. We can invade. We can go break shit. We can own that country all over again.

The problem is, these hacks probably come from the Chinese, who are receiving some hard currency or some other form of graft from North Korea and we can't invade those countries. But, anyone threatening another 9/11 falls under the new American doctrine which allows for tearing up old agreements.

Seriously, though. Threatening another 9/11 isn't cool. Someone is going to overreact to this and we may well end up with a sequel to this movie. Killing Vladimir Putin would make a great film, but he'd probably just kick Franco's ass.

Trolling Ted Cruz



And what I like about this Politico story are the comments, of course:


Classic...

Abstract Number Seven December 2014




The Russian Ruble is Collapsing




Couldn't have happened to a nicer kleptocracy:

The ruble tumbled the most since 1998, sliding past 60 for the first time, as traders tested Russia’s willingness to defend the currency amid an oil slump that’s pushing the economy toward recession.


The ruble weakened 9.1 percent to 64.0005 per dollar at 7:57 p.m. in Moscow, the steepest slide on a closing basis since the year Russia defaulted on local-currency debt. The 10-year government bond yield rose 23 basis points to 13.23 percent. Three-month implied volatility for the ruble climbed to a six-year high as the rout triggered the Bank of Russia to sell foreign exchange, according to BCS Financial Group and MDM Bank.


Traders are pressing the central bank to buy more rubles to limit a selloff that has wiped out 22 percent of the currency’s value this month. Oil’s slide toward $60 a barrel in London and sanctions over the conflict in Ukraine are undermining confidence in Russian assets as evidence mounts that the economy is entering a recession. Industrial output fell the most in more than a year in November, data showed today.


Everyone who bet on oil being expensive is losing money right now. And I think that this is largely driven by the fact that alternative forms of energy are making inroads and so there's a glut of oil on the world market. I don't want to be around (but I will be) when the major producers scale back--the price will shoot up, no doubt.

Is it time to get that electric car and invest in solar panels? It's always time to get the electric car and put solar panels everywhere.

The decision made by the Western nations (The U.S. and Europe) to put a shiv into the side of Russia's economy is paying off. The price for all of this has to be for Russia to give up two things: Eastern and Southern Ukraine and Edward Snowden.

Silver Screen Fiend



Patton Oswalt has an anecdote from 1997 he would like to share with you, Mr. Chase...

The Nightly News No Longer Matters


Are you relieved that Brian Williams isn't going anywhere? Or did you, like me, yawn and look for other news:
Brian Williams is staying put as NBC Nightly News anchor, the network announced Monday. Saying that he's "renewed his commitment" to the network's news division, NBC News presidentDeborah Turness said in a staff memo that he will continue to serve as anchor and managing editor of the nightly broadcast "for years to come."
The news comes as Williams recently celebrated his 10th anniversary as NBC Nightly News anchor and ABC News recently replaced longtime World News anchor Diane Sawyer with David Muir.
People no longer wish to be informed. They wish to be entertained. I hope Williams can continue to dance around the fact that the job he holds isn't worth what it used to be. In the 1980s, this kind of an announcement would be huge because the nightly news mattered back then, The revenue generated by those programs floated these huge, bloated news divisions. Now, the only thing keeping them alive are the morning shows.

The evening news is merely a hole for the schedulers to work around.

Ben Edelman and Slanty Eyed Chinese Food Menus




This is what "lawyer" Ben Edelman said to the owner of the Chinese restaurant that he harassed earlier this year.

And no, there are no words for this kind of discourse in American society. This is what happens when you eliminate ethics from everyday life--you say whatever you want because there are no repercussions for it. Edelman won't be fired, disbarred or anything, I would imagine, because he has mastered the law as a tool for furthering his own pathologies.

I mean, wow.

Wow.

Modern Life is a Nightmare




Ben Edelman is a Harvard-educated lawyer who found out that he was overcharged for Chinese takeout. He became enraged, in only the way that a lawyer can, and terrorized the owner of the Chinese restaurant that made the mistake of trying to have a website online and survive.

We can't let one complete and utter asshole ruin everything, can we?




Follow the link to go read the whole thing. It is the use of the law to terrorize an establishment over a pithy amount. We're not talking about a whole lot of money, and we are talking about principles, but, wow.

Ben Edelman's talents seem to be honed in a way that would make him a sociopath or worse. This kind of behavior is an indicator of other very special things and I would hope that this case would inform everyone's thinking about not to deal with others.

New Horizons




Did you know that we're about to have a probe arrive at Pluto? 

The New Horizons Pluto Probe woke up today and, in a conversation with a lag time of 4.5 hours, transmitted messages from about as far away as you can get in our solar system.

Amazing.

Stolen Heritage




The Elgin Marbles are back in the news for another round of handwringing and complaining.

The Greek prime minister has said the British Museum's decision to loan one of the Elgin Marbles to Russia is "an affront" to the Greek people.


Antonis Samaras added: "We Greeks are one with our history and civilisation, which cannot be broken up, loaned out, or conceded."


He said Britain's view that the marbles could not be moved was now invalid.
A depiction of the river god Ilissos will go on show in St Petersburg's State Hermitage Museum.


It is due to remain on display in the Russian city until mid-January.


The work is one of a number of relics acquired [a fantastic euphemism for stolen, as usual] by Lord Elgin in Athens in the early 19th Century, now known collectively as the Elgin Marbles.


Ownership of the artefacts, once part of the 2,500-year-old Parthenon temple, is disputed by Greece.


It maintains that Lord Elgin removed them illegally while the country was under Turkish occupation as part of the Ottoman Empire. The items have remained in the British Museum ever since.

Yes, I think we can all agree that the old British Empire stole whatever it wanted just like everyone else. No, there really is no compelling case for not returning the Elgin Marbles to Greece.

I can see the reasoning behind these arguments, but if you're going to be a purist about this sort of thing, then the museums of Europe need to be emptied of everything they contain.

I remember visiting the Baden State Museum in Karlsruhe, thinking that I would see a lot of German artifacts. And you can certainly see some of that, but what you will also see are numerous artifacts looted from around the world, either "borrowed" or "acquired" the way everyone else used to do it--through war or conquest, and usually both and almost always waged with a heavy hand against anyone who dared lay claim to a cultural treasure.

Honestly, why would a museum in Baden-W├╝rttemberg feature all of those Egyptian and Greek artifacts if they hadn't already been loaded into wagons or onto horses centuries ago and stolen? If you send back the Elgin Marbles, I think you have to send back all of the pottery as well. And then and only then can we talk about the removal of human remains.

Abstract Number One December 2014




Abstract Number One for December, 2014 is a radically different piece than anything that I've done this year. I wanted to start out with something completely new, but my old habits and my old way of doing things will return eventually in this series. That's not an awful thing, I hope.

John Boyega and That Stormtrooper Outfit




Here's my first reaction to seeing John Boyega in a stormtrooper uniform on the surface of a desert planet.

Cinematically, this is a single reaction shot, designed to orient the audience/viewer to a new scene or the beginning of a scene. Boyega rises up, gives a solid reaction, and then moves in the frame to a new perspective that does not appear in the clip.

This suggests that the actor has been knocked out, incapacitated, or is recovering from being struck or disabled in some way. His shocked demeanor supports that.

The idea that he is, in fact a stormtrooper is a stretch for me because he is considered one of the "good guys." That would suggest the Boyega is wearing the uniform as a ruse and nothing more. He put on the armor in order to escape from a situation or to pass himself off as someone he is not. Where's the helmet? Removed because this is not who he is and this is not his actual uniform? Probably.

The Internet exploded with outrage; however, in keeping with the cinematic history, using a stormtrooper uniform to escape detection or deceive the real bad guys goes back to Episode Four, which, of course, begins with a crash-landing on the desert planet that has seen so much action.

I could be entirely wrong, of course, and I'll eat my words a year from now...

The Collapse of Bill Cosby


I sure hope Bill Cosby has been good with his money because when one in three people are turning in their tickets to your show for a refund, that's a pretty good indicator that your performing days are coming to a close.

Fall Colors and Textures




Some of the patterns and textures found in this shot really came out in the Photoshop processing. This is amateur photography, and this is about as good as it gets for me.

You Should Have Waited For it to be Legalized



A middle-aged man in Baltimore, Maryland is in a lot of legal trouble today. If only he had waited a little while, right?

Maryland is creeping up on legalization, and we might as well get it out there--your town is already full of weed. I don't care where you live--your town is already full of people on drugs. Don't believe the nonsense. The cops know where this stuff is because every time they arrest someone, that someone starts squealing about where they got it and how can that help them out?

Our phony war on drugs and the militarization of the police--a match made in heaven. We are hopelessly screwed up and staring at a future full of falling down houses and ruthlessly beaten people in the streets. Isn't anyone tired enough of this to demand some sort of compromise between the twin realities we face? People are gonna medicate and get high and the cops are going to attack society's problems with no subtlety whatsoever. How do you fix that? Stop the war on drugs, make cops go back to being actual police officers who, you know, serve the public and get the military gear out of our towns and cities. If you're on drugs, you go to treatment not prison if you have only hurt yourself.

I mean, duh.

I'm not convinced that this country is ever going to get to a point where we can grow up completely and legalize drugs. I think we are a long ways away from a time where someone like this could be allowed to do what he's done (no one can tax the weed you grow in the dank corners of your own basement, for starters). And so, we are locked in a war on drugs that will continue to ruin lives, cost billions, and fill prisons.

If you want to talk about wasted potential, look at those plants and tell me what we're doing this for because it has never been readily apparent to me. We have way more important things to worry about. All we are getting is more paranoia, more guns, more violence, too much money in the mix, and people who are tossing their lives into a massive bonfire of misery. I don't get it and I never will.

Bill Cosby and Serial Rape


It would appear that Bill Cosby has a problem with being accused of committing serial rape in this country. Did he commit any crimes overseas? Is there any way to bring him to justice in another jurisdiction? Why is he getting away with it?

The statute of limitations has rendered Cosby untouchable. He will likely go the way of Joe Paterno, disgraced but wealthy and confused about his status.

This country can forgive a lot of things. Cosby raped his way through a lot of lives, it would appear.

Norman Rogers is a horrible, horrible man. He was said, in effect, that an adult male can use the $300 hooker to solve a lot of problems.

"A fifty dollar whore is good in a pinch, but she is desperate and sometimes unattractive. If you pay $300 for the services of a professional working girl, you can expect that she will be reasonably attractive and unwilling to turn on you. Bill Cosby could have hired a $300 girl every week of the year. That's $15,600 per calendar year, including your Christmas Ham Boning or whatever you want to call it. Over the course of forty years, that's a grand total of $624,000 spent on discreet, professional sex workers."

As Norman horribly explains, this would save many men a great deal of grief.

"Bill Cosby could have spent a mere $15,600 per year playing hide the baloney and all he would be guilty of is being a horndog. I am not condoning legalized prostitution--I think what they have in Las Vegas is a good model for what we should have in every state. We need special economic zones where regulated adult behavior is tolerated and controlled. Stephen Hawking uses professional women and people consider him a saintly genius. If Cosby were a mere whoremonger, he would likely be making over $10 million a year right now. Contrast that with a controlled budget for getting some ass on the side."

"What an old fool. He reminds me of Tiger Woods, who lost over a hundred million dollars for sex that would have cost him, at best, a few hundred thousand dollars."

It should be pointed out that Norman Rogers is a horrible man and his views are neither condoned nor understood.

This is How You End up Broke




Jack Johnson of the Columbus Blue Jackets let his parents "manage" his affairs. Here's what they did to him:

Miller was the first lender, extending a $1.56 million loan on March 9, 2011, that Johnson’s parents used to buy the home in Manhattan Beach, a third of a mile from their son’s residence, while he played for the Kings.


Johnson, a source said, believed that his parents took out a mortgage using money left to them in the will of a relative who had recently died.


The loan — which carried a 12 percent interest rate, almost three times the market rate — quickly went into default because it called for an initial payment of more than $1 million. (The contract extension Johnson signed with the Kings didn’t kick in until the following season, and he didn’t have that much in the bank.)


One day after the home loan was signed, on March 10, 2011, the Johnsons borrowed $2 million at an interest rate of 12 percent from a software developer in Iowa named Rodney L. Blum, who this month won a seat in the U.S. House.


Blum’s office did not respond to interview requests left with Blum’s spokesman by The Dispatch. It’s unclear how Johnson’s family came to know him or why he was making a personal loan at a high interest rate.


Barely a month later, on April 14, 2011, the Johnsons borrowed $3 million — at 24 percent — from Pro Player Funding in upstate New York, a company that “monetized” several NFL players’ contracts during a work stoppage. Former NFL stars Vince Young, who went bankrupt, and Bryant McKinnie, who was sued for default, were among the company’s clients.


Johnson was sued by both Blum and Pro Player Funding within a month of the loans being signed. He signed settlements, according to court documents, without appearing in court to contest the lawsuits.


To settle Blum’s suit, Johnson had $41,800 — or 25 percent — garnisheed from his bimonthly Blue Jackets paychecks over much of the past two seasons.


The next two years brought additional loans and additional defaults, sources said, but the next loan that ended up in the court system was extended on Sept. 13, 2013: a $400,000 loan at 18 percent from EOT Advisors in Tarrant County, Texas.


They essentially used Johnson's future earnings as collateral and "monetized" his contract, which has bankrupted him. When you're borrowing money at an interest rate of 24%, you've essentially entered a financial zone reserved for Rent-a-Center customers and payday lenders. They could have each taken a million dollars and that would have left Johnson solvent and in great shape. Instead, they used a series of loan schemes to take everything this kid had, and then some.





In other words, a professional hockey player who signed a contract worth $30 million dollars in 2011 has about $50 grand in the bank, if that.





Johnson has severed himself from his family, by the way, and has no idea if his 16 year-old brother is being taken care of by his parents. Now that the gravy train has stopped, hopefully they've been able to get jobs and start paying back their son.





Yeah, right.

The Running Man




I have seen Keith Boissiere running through southern Baltimore. He runs through some sketchy areas, it would appear, and he is not going to give up, no matter what. I haven't seen him in a decade, if that. Wow.

Will Arnett Has Another Series Cancelled Out From Under Him




You may not be able to guess it, but I'm still mad about Running Wilde.

Watching Will Arnett lose another television series is bad enough. He's better than most of the shows they've thrown him in. Running Wilde was a show that I really liked.

There's a moment in that show when Peter Serafinowicz does an Alan Alda impression that I thought was hysterical. And, yeah. Will was good in it. Not as good as Keri Russell. But this sucks for all concerned.

The Butt Grabber

John Epps Jr. is a serial butt grabber.

Epps Jr. has been accused of inappropriately touching two middle school females in Montgomery County. It's all on videotape, apparently, and his actions caused Montgomery County Public Schools a tremendous amount of embarrassment (which is what we call legal liability) when it was revealed that he had worked at nearly 60 different schools in the district.

In the old days, you would call him a pervert or worse. Now, you just call him a contractor:
So, how did Epps Jr. manage to gain access to nearly 60 schools in a day and age when student safety and wellbeing are two of the highest priorities? MCPS administrators were quick to point the finger at the 44-year-old's employer, Rockville-based Netcom Technologies, Inc.
In May, Netcom, Inc. hired Epps Jr. from a temporary staffing agency. Yet, instead of running its own independent background check, Netcom, Inc. accepted the paperwork the temp agency had on file. MCPS says those documents were grossly inaccurate.
"Going forward, Netcom has said [it] will do full checks on any temporary employee hired to work in a school. We are also reminding all of our contractors who work in our schools what their obligations are under the law and requiring they re-run checks on their employees working in schools," MCPS spokesman Dana Tofig said in an email sent to ABC 7.
Netcom, Inc., which has earned tens of millions of dollars in contracts from MCPS over the last 20 years, did not return our phone calls seeking comment.
Going forward, Netcom Inc. will still make a lot of money putting perverts on their payroll and pretending to know something about the people they hire. Profit margins being what they are, does anyone really expect this company to sweat a little butt grabbing? That's for the lawyers to work out.

Epps Jr. has made a career out of butt grabbing. Let's hope someone finally registers him as a sex offender (another failure documented in the article) and keeps him away from school kids.

Stonehenge




If you look into the upper right corner of this photograph, you will see the unmistakable outline of Stonehenge as it appeared during World War I. This series of photographs shows soldiers in training or convalescing near famous sites during the war.

This is Sexist




Veev vodka is hoping you'll accept the joke here. Unfortunately, it's a transparently sexist and somewhat culturally insensitive ad.

The stereotypically harsh and unattractive Russian/Slavic/Eastern European depiction of a hectoring wife is supposed to sell alcohol to who, exactly? I'm not sure who the target audience is but any man married to a "beast like this" (which is what the advertiser is signaling here) must want to drink themselves into a state of unconsciousness.

When you're using humor to kick down here, you have to remember that there is a fine line between satire and being stupid about cultural signifiers. You're not supposed to link your product to something that doesn't have some sort of redeeming quality. Being smashed, cheating on your wife, and fostering a stereotype isn't exactly the smart or uplifting quality being sought here.

Veev makes a vodka that is useful for your suicide by drinking because your horrible wife is a sexless babushka? Really? And now that means you gotta get a third or fourth bottle for your bros?

Stupid. And, of course, sexist.

Rick Scott is the Greatest Politician Ever




I think it is fairly obvious that Florida Governor Rick Scott is going to win his re-election bid, probably by 20 points. Americans love a petulant man-child. They elect them and re-elect them as often as possible now. Clearly, Charlie Crist showed up with a fan that was designed to make the people of Florida mad enough to forget about their problems, and it worked.

Our politics are insane, our country is led by fools, and you couldn't make this up if you tried.

America's First Family


It is now two years into the presidency of Sarah Palin. America is at war with Syria, Jordan, Iraq, Iran, Mexico and Turkey. A universal draft has been implemented in order to place America's military on a footing that is expected to grow to a total of 20 million uniformed service members. The threat to American interests expands in Latin America and the far East, with American embassies shuttered all over the globe.

Unemployment is down to 18.4% and America's GDP is $4 trillion dollars, down from a high of $17 trillion in 2009. Gas prices hover at $6.75 a gallon and milk is impossible to find due to lax regulation of bovine hormones. In most American cities, the police randomly shoot rioters and turn anyone they arrest over for basic training. President Palin has issued another executive over, to the exasperation of the Congress, indicating that she is displeased to learn that her eldest daughter has been rejected as the lead actress in a sitcom about a porn star who finds Jesus at Wendy's and then decides to live there with her uncle, who is a ghost.

Palin believes in blue skies overhead and the power of prayer. She took over when John McCain was impeached for tax evasion and being cranky. McCain declined to run for re-election in 2012 and has retired to a life of lobbying and criticizing American foreign policy. Palin, a family values candidate with plucky and popular daughters and a Bachelor son, easily defeated her primary opponents and then kneecapped liberal Senator Al Franken, who was the Democratic Party's nominee for President. Franken ran on a campaign platform that stated, "I will not allow any of my children to scoot along the ground, drunken and disorderly."

Franken lost by 200 electoral votes. Vice President Peter King snickered like a thug when he won.

In Alaska last week, President Palin was asked, how can your drunken family get away with such things?

Palin replied, "don't you know who I am?"

And with that, the heavens groaned.

Wal-Mart Gives Itself a Tax Cut




Did you know that Wal-Mart can give itself a tax cut?

The act of dropping health care coverage for 30,000 workers amounts to a savings of $500 million dollars per year. I think that that number is low because Wal-Mart is going to make a whole lot more of their employees fall into that category in order to boost their savings (which are not needed, of course, because Wal-Mart is an insanely profitable business).

Your taxes will have to cover that difference because those workers will now have to rely on government benefits or emergency room services or some other form of funding for their health care costs. In many cases, they'll just pay more out of pocket, thereby receiving a pay cut on top of the tax increase you'll get in order to help make up the difference.

Wal-Mart takes the savings and passes them on to you. Only you're not making more money, either.

What I don't understand is, how much longer can we continue to pretend that Wal-Mart has been good for America in any way, shape or form? We're now addicted to cheap consumer goods made elsewhere. We're used to covering the costs of feeding and sheltering people who work for Wal-Mart and receive low pay and can't make ends meet. Now we're going to be handed another segment of the gainfully-employed population that will require health care coverage.

It's awful.

And, what's more, Wal-Mart managers are going to be under pressure to arbitrarily and unfairly cut hours and put more people in the cohort that is losing health care coverage. They'll do that by quietly reducing hours for people who are already on the bubble. Shopping there is already more of a nightmare than it was twenty years ago precisely because they cut the hours of the very same people who are there to help customers and get them through the check stands. The very definition of hell is Wal-Mart on a Friday night at 10:30.

The margins are incredibly thin now--disaster awaits anyone who is unlucky enough to lose a few hours a week or a little bit of insurance.

A one billion dollar a year tax increase on Wal-Mart would be welcome. Good luck ever seeing that in your lifetime.

Piers Morgan is an Expert on American Politics


Shocking insight from Piers Morgan:
President Obama this week committed professional suicide.
Let me explain.
There is a theory in politics that once a leader has fired 50 or more people from his or her administration, he or she is finished.
The reason being that by creating so many enemies ‘outside the tent’, the tent itself becomes too deluged with poisonous bile to avoid sinking into a quagmire of back-stabbing ignominy.
It's too bad that this insight--this brilliance--did not translate into any kind of success in America. If there's one thing that the viewing public needs it is the keen eye for U.S. politics that Morgan possesses and isn't afraid to display.

Many people receive millions of dollars in salary for such commentary. To me, Morgan is woefully underpaid and should have his words written down by more than one person so that there are no errors when he utters something smart.

When we get beyond Morgan's gift to us all, we find him wallowing in stupidity (hold the stenographers) and covered in his own shame (which should get him back on TV soon).

How is President Obama "failing" to protect Americans through complacency? After winning the Nobel Prize for Peace in 2009, he ordered Osama bin Laden to be shot in the forehead, bombed a string of countries, visited robot death from the skies on untold numbers of cowering terrorists, started wars in places Americans can't find on maps, and has made darned certain that there aren't any Americans driving around Baghdad in fifth generation MRAPs.

I don't get these people. This administration couldn't win for trying with them. No matter what the President does, he's either a tyrant or a feckless coward. Which one is it today?

Alec Baldwin is Suffering From Pilates Rage




Alec Baldwin sure has lost a lot of weight, hasn't he? Well, if there's one lesson to be learned from this incident with the paparazzi, it is this: pilates rage is real.

I don't have a lot of science to back any of this up, but that has never held me back. I'm crawling through Season 5 of 30 Rock on DVD, and the episodes that aren't damaged by the rough handling of the library patrons show a Baldwin brother emeritus on the doughy side. And, let's face it--we're all a little on the doughy side.

Sometime last whenever because who the hell knows, Baldwin started to do pilates, which is an exercise regimen that builds the core muscles in your gut by working them relentlessly.

Baldwin himself has Tweeted that pilates has saved his life.




Well, I should say, it has "saved" him but it is not a specific enough Tweet to indicate his life, his marriage, his way of getting around in the world, or if it did, in fact, save him from having to go to a more expensive gym.

It is my considered opinion that these workouts turn a person into a clenched ball of rage.

You cannot discount the fact that the common ulcer tends to cause severe abdominal pain, and ulcers are caused by going around with clenched gut muscles and eating things that are full of acid. Stress contributes to ulcers, and sit-ups and holding a 30-centimeter inflated rubber ball between the legs in an upright position while screaming in pain can cause stress. Having to roll forward on a mat while someone in better shape than you howls in distress after expelling everything in their colon through a lycra garment in your general vicinity also causes stress. It is a logical fallacy, perhaps, but it does contain more logic than fallacy to conclude that pilates adds to stress in the period before the person doing pilates actually begins to see an improvement in their physical appearance.

In Baldwin's case, he is noticeably thinner, his hair is looking better, and he has a much more attractive mate these days. He probably has money and notoriety in amounts that are more pleasant to contemplate. But he stands to lose it all by punching photographers. He stands to end up in jail now because his bottled jar of screeching inner rage popped out like a sideboob full of intrigue at the wrong formal dinner party.

The only salvation he has is the pilates rage defense. He must claim that the endorphins and adrenaline running through his system have been sent into spasms of overdrive because of the intense pilates workouts that he has been thinking about doing over the course of the last few weeks. He must begin to lay the groundwork for the common law defense of "pilates rage."

"Road rage" came into vogue years ago, and has served as a useless legal defense precisely because no one could tie it to diet, weight, or exercise. A smart lawyer could succeed in setting a new precedence here if he or she could tie road rage to a parcel of junk science and get a useless judge to rule favorably. If "pilates rage" can be found to be real, and there's no common sense reason why is should, then celebrities might find it useful whenever they get caught on film turning out somebody's lights on a public street in front of, ahem, a courthouse.

Anyone with a law degree should be able to understand where I'm coming from.

Sacha Baron Cohen's Sad Decline Into Poorly Imagined Spoofs




Rather than come up with something imaginative, original, and daring, why not make another James Bond spoof?

This is what Sacha Baron Cohen is reduced to--spoofing something that has been spoofed to the point where no one cares anymore. They're going to make a fourth Austin Powers movie, and even that will have more going for it than this project. To date, I'm not aware of any indication where being boring and predictable works, but maybe Cohen has decided to chase some of the money that Adam Sandler and Larry the Cable Guy are leaving on the table these days.

Cover Your Shame




I don't have the heart to show you the shot that everyone is mad about. I thought about it, but there was just too much Kardashian butt crack for that to work for me.

I will say this--whoever put her in these clothes should have warned her that she would look bad. A celebrity image industry run by Kim Kardashian that makes this kind of a mistake is one that is going off the rails.

This is the state of modern celebrity. No one believes that Kanye is really with her because he loves her. And no one believes that Kim Kardashian can wear see-through grey without underwear without realizing what she's showing to the world. Everything is fake, everything is a fraud, and I don't need to see that level of detail any time of the day.

Life at Fort Hood is Not Easy




The story of Specialist Ivan Lopez could be the story of a killer or a mentally ill soldier. It could even be the story of both. But this is what I've seen so far:

Spc. Ivan Lopez vented about a range of subjects on Facebook before his shooting rampage at Fort Hood in Texas, including his outrage at Adam Lanza's mass school shooting in Connecticut.


He wrote of experiencing overpowering fear after an insurgent attack in Iraq and the hatred that consumed him after getting "robbed."


Lopez took his own .45-caliber handgun onto the sprawling post Wednesday and killed three people and wounded 16 more before taking his own life, according to authorities.


We aren't exactly certain what he meant by "robbed" and we should not downplay the fear he had while deployed to Iraq. His fear of being attacked was never dealt with and he was never properly counseled by his leadership or the medical authorities. But what people don't really understand is that life at Fort Hood for regular Army soldiers is extremely difficult. It is not a quality of life assignment. By design, it is a tough assignment to a tactical unit, and with it comes a grueling training calendar and a whole lot of time spent in motor pools and in the field.

This is the Army that people can either adapt to, and thrive in, or they don't. The unit that Lopez belonged to likely has a system. Show up unannounced, looking for a leave form, and it's entirely reasonable to be turned away. Most of the comments I've seen try to play up the angle that this was chickenshit. Nope.

The days on Fort Hood are long days. Someone who hasn't been in the real Army--and that would be me--has to adapt to a training calendar that can best be described as relentless. Due to a decade of war, the brigades stationed at Fort Hood are seasoned with experienced combat veterans but, to date, only two of them have shot up their fellow solders. One was a shitbag, never-been-anywhere Major who is facing the death penalty and the other is Lopez, a Specialist who snapped because he couldn't get a leave form when he wanted one. He carried out his own death penalty.

Then there was the female who ranted and raved to the media about how bad it was on Fort Hood. I don't have a link to the video, but if she isn't on her way out of uniform tomorrow, she will be before the month is out. But yes, it is bad on Fort Hood. It's bad in Germany--services have been cut to the bone. It is bad at Fort Stewart in Savannah, Georgia. It's bad in South Korea. It's bad in Alaska. It's bad at Fort Riley, Kansas. It's terrible at Fort Gordon, Georgia, if only because it's a base with a school and whatever else. It's bad at Fort Drum. In other words, the condition of bad is endemic to the entire Army. It is a difficult profession and it requires sacrifice and putting others before your most basic needs and desires. It breaks people.

The war didn't break either of the men who shot their fellow soldiers at Fort Hood. The low standards that allowed them to join and then remain on active duty are the reason why there was violence. Lopez should have been on his way out of the Army; Major Nidal Hasan should never have been allowed to join. Neither man should have been untreated for mental illness and both should have been on medication, in a medical unit, and transitioning to civilian life. Once in that status, their right to purchase and own firearms should have been revoked.

Raise the standards and throw these people out.

Abstract Number Three March 2014




Tim Burgess Oh No I Love You Cover




The cover for the Tim Burgess album Oh No I Love You features an attempt to spell out the title and use shapes and images in a creative way.

It's an effective cover in that it spells out what's going on--it's a solo album, and this is what a solo album is supposed to look like. It's a great example of minimalism using creative typography.

Ridiculous




Nigella Lawson's admission of using cocaine has resulted in her being barred from entry into this country. I think that this is absurd and opens up the policy behind it for ridicule.

The list of people who have admitted doing cocaine and/or worse is too long to even begin to contemplate. There is no reason whatsoever for this country to admit the likes of Eric Clapton or Keith Richards and yet, it would be unthinkable for U.S. authorities in this day and age to deny them entry to the United States.

Policies like this hit people in the arts and entertainment field pretty hard. But they are rarely applied in a fair and uniform manner. Lawson may exist in that realm between reality television and non-fiction television where a specific set of professional skills are displayed, but she does not deserve to be barred from entry just because of an admitted use of drugs.

Now, if she shows up at the border looking like she smashed a powdered doughnut into her nose and carrying an Archer amount of cocaine, yeah, you could bar her.

The Demise of the E-book Market




Now that all of the book stores are gone, you mean to tell me no one wants e-books anymore?

Tim Waterstone, the founder of the Waterstone's book shop chain, has predicted that the "e-book revolution" will soon go into decline in the UK.


He told the Oxford Literary Festival printed books would remain popular for decades, the Daily Telegraph reported.


"E-books have developed a share of the market, of course they have," he said.
"But every indication - certainly from America - shows the share is already in decline. The indications are that it will do exactly the same in the UK."


For the first eight months of 2013, e-book sale were worth $800m in the US, down 5% on the same period the previous year, according to the Association of American Publishers.

The experience of reading a book on a device, no matter how expensive it is, still doesn't rival the actual experience of reading a printed book. The e-reader might be a permanent tool used by people who have to maintain and regularly use a lot of printed material, but the occasional reader still prefers a book. It's too bad we couldn't have saved more bookstores, however.

There may come a day when the only place to buy a book is online--from Amazon. Or in an airport. Maybe, someone will come up with a good hybrid for books and music and start a business model that will work as a retail outlet.

Would We Go to War For Finland?




Even though the idea of Russia annexing or taking over Finland seems far-fetched, there are concerns over things like this:

Russian military drills near neighboring Finland have provoked concern that northern Europe may be the next focus of Moscow's seemingly renewed appetite for redrawing its borders.


Troops and jet fighters from all four military regions of Russia were deployed Sunday about 150 miles east of the Finnish border, according to the English-language newspaper Finnbay. The Russian defense ministry said in a statement that the exercises were pre-planned and that more than 50 fighter pilots took part.

Finland was part of the Russian empire for 108 years, from 1809 until Russia’s withdrawal from World War I in 1917. The Karelia region, where the war games are taking place, straddles the Finnish border and has historically been a heavily militarized zone for Moscow.

Finland is not a NATO country; that would have been too much of a Cold War provocation for the Finns and it would have been unrealistic for the NATO alliance to have expected Finland to accommodate anything in terms of a military alliance. The old Soviet empire was built with a huge buffer zone around it for a reason--to repel invasion. Their previous fights with Finland were horrific battles of attrition. The Finns, however, had to cede territory to Russia before the end of the Second World War. This history is far more relevant that a discussion of what happened after the Czar was murdered.

Russia in the modern sense has no physical fear of invasion but it does have a fear of being irrelevant. The Finns, having the euro currency, twenty years of membership in the European Union, and a cultural and linguistic difference that is very much pronounced, don't have to worry about where they fit into the fabric of Europe--they're the equivalent of a made man in the old mafia structure. If the Russians were stupid enough to invade, Europe would reach a tipping point that would require a military response. The post-World War II borders are all but sacrosanct--they have delivered stability for not quite four generations.

In short, everyone would go to war for Finland in a way that they would not go to war for Ukraine. The preservation of the euro and the need to stop a recklessly expanding Russia would trigger an all out defense of a very profitable and content status quo. That's a calculation that is easy to make. No one would allow it and no one would hesitate to do the unthinkable, and that is, go and fight Russia's land forces.

We have never been nearer to a repeat of the First World War than we were when the Balkans exploded in the early 1990s, and it is because of Russia's inability to accept the verdict of the Second World War. The Europeans and the Americans would all go to war over Finland, and they would do so because a failure to stop Russia would lead to the loss of a post-war standard of living that leads the world.

That Must Be One Hell of a Class




I realize that this is a pervasive big-time NCAA sporting problem and not just a North Carolina problem, but, wow.

The ongoing academic fraud scandal at the University of North Carolina's athletic department has been at a slow burn for months, as salacious bits of news have been unearthed by investigative journalists.


The latest piece of evidence that North Carolina (UNC) athletes were getting passing grades in their college courses with little or no work comes in the form of a "paper" on civil rights icon Rosa Parks, provided to the ESPN sports network by former UNC tutor turned whistleblower Mary Willingham.


Here's the text, in its entirety:



On the evening of December Rosa Parks decided that she was going to sit in the white people section on the bus in Montgomery, Alabama. During this time blacks had to give up there seats to whites when more whites got on the bus. Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat. Her and the bus driver began to talk and the conversation went like this. "Let me have those front seats" said the driver. She didn't get up and told the driver that she was tired of giving her seat to white people. "I'm going to have you arrested," said the driver. "You may do that," Rosa Parks responded. Two white policemen came in and Rosa Parks asked them "why do you all push us around?" The police officer replied and said "I don't know, but the law is the law and you're under arrest.



The work was the only requirement for an independent study class for which an unnamed athlete received a grade of A-minus. (And as freelance writer Bryan Graham points out via Twitter, the piece was probably plagiarised from the first page of Rosa Parks' autobiography.)

That's what we call some serious scholarship. But, to be even more fair than it is humanly possible, the current thinking is that actual knowledge of history or the Humanities is worthless; if this same kid could do math and engineering, and if he knew the table of elements, he'd be fine as far as the global economy is concerned.

My contention is that an obvious lack of ethics or ability to perform a simple function like writing a paper on a historical figure means that the kid probably isn't going to have the skills necessary to perform well in STEM classes and would never get through college-level classes that required any analysis or competence with the processing of information. No matter what anyone tells you, knowing the Humanities means you can process information and communicate in a way that is necessary in virtually all walks of life (even in football).

Someone with the North Carolina educational family should resign over this, and they should leave the education field altogether. How could you be this incompetent?

Fear of a Black Planet in the Suburbs




Chief Keef is a young fellow with a lot of money and a lifestyle that appears to be driving the wealthy people around him crazy. The article goes on to add this:

They say that in the year-plus that Chief Keef — an 18-year-old whose real name is Keith Cozart — has been a presence at the house, their quality of life has deteriorated. Fans have flocked to the address, sometimes shouting obscenities from their cars. Noisy parties and the roar of ATVs have disturbed the neighbors' peace, while open marijuana smoking has unsettled their sense of propriety.


Meanwhile, Cozart's reputed ties to Chicago street gangs have made nearby residents so nervous that they follow his social media accounts to see if trouble might be brewing.


They were particularly alarmed to see a photo Cozart posted before the nonfatal shooting this week that showed him and a companion holding guns in what appears to be the bathroom of the Northfield house.


"We all knew that something bad was going to happen at that house, but I still can't believe it is happening in my neighborhood," said one neighbor, who, like the other residents interviewed, asked that her name be withheld out of concern for retaliation.


Northfield's top officials declined to comment, citing the ongoing police investigation into the shooting, but last summer Police Chief William Lustig acknowledged the complaints stemming from the house.

In other words, this is a first world problem brought on by the fact that when you live in a place like Northfield, Illinois, you had better conform to local community standards and behave. Unless, of course, you're one of the hundreds of 18 year-olds arrested year in and year out in that same group of communities for doing exactly what the young black man is alleged to be doing (or, um, worse).


Here's everything you need to know about what happens when you drive through Northfield, Illinois. First, the demographics:


As of the census[3] of 2000, there were 5,389 people, 2,155 households, and 1,532 families residing in the village. The population density was 1,822.4 people per square mile (702.9/km²). There were 2,241 housing units at an average density of 757.9 per square mile (292.3/km²). The racial makeup of the village was 92.48% White, 0.52% African American, 0.04% Native American, 5.57% Asian, 0.43% from other races, and 0.96% from two or more races. Hispanic orLatino of any race were 1.67% of the population.

The 2010 Northfield, Illinois annual police report, detailing who gets stopped for what and why when they drive in town:



Bear in mind, the community has a population of approximately 28 African Americans (that number has probably changed a bit) and folks from that demographic were stopped 170 times in a year? Somebody does not like outsiders.

What I see when I look at this data is that each of the 28 African Americans who live in Northfield can expect to be stopped 6 times in a year (assuming they don't stop people who drive through the small community of about 5,400 people). If you're white, you can expect that you might be stopped 1.8 times a year--a pretty significant difference.

Now, that's a cursory look at data for one year--but it speaks volumes to the attitude of the police in the community. Outsiders beware.

Amateur Athletics and the Long Dead American Labor Movement




There is an important commentary on the state of relations between the young men who play college football and the National Collegiate Athletics Association, and if it feels like we're about to go back in time and talk about unions and rights and bargaining, you would be correct. We're about to take a trip back to when there actually was an American labor movement and when there actually were people who wanted to form unions in order to receive better compensation from the companies they worked for.

What's substituted is important--the university, bound by NCAA rules--is the company and the football player (and I suppose this will extend to all sports, whether they are played by males or females or both) is the employee or worker.

The worker has been exploited by the company. If this isn't reminiscent of the coal miners or the railroad workers, it will be because the exploitation of college football players rivals that of any other exploitative arrangement in American history.

Public and private universities make billions in profits from the sports played by young men and women, but, primarily, by men. They make money hand over fist. In short, they get some of the most valuable "profit" imaginable for almost exactly nothing paid to the players, also known as the workers. They do get room and board, and they do get free tuition, but those prices and those values are inflated because not every student athlete gets a scholarship and not every kid gets to compete fairly for those benefits. They can disappear with relatively no due process and if a kid destroys their body, their ability to recoup their losses is minimal at best.

The NCAA would love to continue this arrangement because they are wringing massive profits out of a constantly regenerating workforce. Every four years, a kid leaves school and is replaced by the next kid up the totem pole. There is, literally, an endless supply of free labor to exploit and the NCAA's members have tapped a seam of coal that will never run out.

And now, a handful of these young men have decided to stand up for the rights and demand some compensation for their labor. But wait! Unions are bad, unions are wrong, and unions are what communists used to defeat 'Murica.

Which is all bullshit. But it doesn't change the facts:

What you see, right there, is someone who talks about college basketball on television -- and also played college basketball when Bill Clinton was President -- being corrected by someone who played football at the University of Missouri just a few years ago. Moe, for his part, is not sure that "a union is the way to handle it" where this particular issue is concerned, which is not surprising. Most people, after more than a generation of effectively un-rebutted anti-labor noise, don't really know what unions do, but suspect that it is generally bad and broadly anti-competitive and faintly communistic.


That is why the NCAA is attempting to leverage popular distrust of unions as a way of wriggling out of the obligations created by the NLRB ruling. What that ruling found, in effect, is that college football players were effectively employees of the schools in which they're enrolled. This is because the players spend some 50 hours a week on football-related activities, are expected to conform to extraordinary restrictions such as draconian speech and conduct codes and otherwise adhere to standards that do not apply to other students.


The crux of it, which very few are eager to dispute beyond legalisms and Herculean feats of blinkered sentimentality, is that student-athletes are held to a significantly different standard than student non-athletes, to the point where they become something less like students and something more like employees who are compensated for their work with (highly contingent and incomplete) tuition reimbursement.


The mere fact that you have a college kid in 2014 saying that unions are "communistic" takes us back to the 1950s and the beginning of the assault on labor unions in this country. By the Reagan years, this rhetoric had all but crippled the powerful unions that allowed a significant number of Americans the chance to work and earn a living.






Here's what the NCAA wants to fight against:



The nascent union at Northwestern wants to be able to bargain as employees, and its goals are almost poignantly modest. Not annual salaries or performance bonuses or training table room service, but enhanced concussion protocols, a dedicated fund to help players earn their degrees and financial assistance for ex-players who suffered injuries while playing/working with the team. (As employees, they would also have rights under Illinois' worker's comp laws, although that would require a separate ruling.) This is all patently and intentionally not extreme.

Can I just say, WTF? Every single American worker ought to have their own version of these rights, especially people who actually, you know, have to sacrifice their bodies while working.




My money is on the NCAA, however. This county simply cannot tolerate the idea that the working poor have any rights. I am optimistic that we will get there as a society, but I'm concerned that the NCAA's deep pockets will reveal a legal strategy that will crush this rather "nascent" movement.





And, as with any discussion about sports and athletics, actually educating people is the last thing on anyone's minds, except now that it is a part of the idea of unionizing players and giving them some rights as far as completing the education. That one insistence legitimizes their efforts and puts the NCAA's fight against them to shame.

The Spam Bots on Twitter Finally Get Their Due




Much of what happens on social media when it comes to music is just Spam. People post music videos without commentary, endlessly, trying to garner attention or followers. They endlessly use their fake Twitter accounts to tweet and re-tweet things that are "cool" and the links bring them followers.

Why would you measure what is obviously Spam and faked in a way to increase the phony value of a fake social media account? They say that one in ten Twitter accounts are fake. An estimated 697 million people signed up for Twitter and haven't used it in months.

The real value would be to measure only the tweets of people from verified accounts. The unverified masses re-tweet garbage all day long, fruitlessly trying to find a way to wring some money out of a medium that is overflowing with phoniness.

Do you know what would add value to this? If Twitter were to wipe out fake and abandoned accounts, hey, then you might have something.

A Renoir Comes Home




I realize that "home" for a Renoir probably isn't actually Baltimore, but the museum owns the painting and thus, it is, in fact coming home. Any Renoir is worth the trip to view it in person.

Flowers in Line




Statue




Sailboats and Ferry on the Chiemsee




It's Hard Out There For a Russian Billionaire




If you're a Russian billionaire, isn't being afraid of having someone poison you a central part of your job description? How could you reasonably expect to go about your daily activities without having someone test your food in front of you and handle your mail and keep you away from beady-eyed men? Wouldn't that be exactly how you would expect to be murdered?

Any Russian billionaire worth his salt knows that being poisoned on a regular basis is probably how things are going to be until you can safely relocate yourself to practically no where on the face of the Earth.

Who is Manipulating Your Life?






I can understand the frustration that people are having with the new health care law and I can see how going after lawmakers is going to lead to defeat for some and to the election of a select group of ignorant ass clowns. Any time you fundamentally transform a system and try to protect consumers, the reaction against those changes invariably costs a politician or two their jobs.

However, Miss Sippel should take note of this fact:

Mayo Clinic spent nearly half a million on lobbying at the state Capitol last year.
According to the Minnesota Campaign Finance and Public Disclosure Board’s website, it’s the largest amount the clinic has spent on lobbying since 2007.


Mayo spokesman Bryan Anderson said most of the lobbying money was spent on the clinic’s efforts to pass Destination Medical Center, the largest economic development project in state history.


Mayo’s lobbying paid off. The Legislature and the governor approved a $585 million funding package for public infrastructure to support Mayo Clinic’s 20-year, $6 billion expansion.


The clinic’s $480,000 expenditure puts it in 15th place on the lobbying list.
The Minnesota Chamber of Commerce spent the most on lobbying last year with a total of about $2 million.




Note the massive spike that occurs as soon as President Obama is elected on a promise to reform health care. Is this an accident? Do you think that the Mayo Clinic made a concerted effort to practically double their efforts to influence lawmakers out of kindness? Or do you think everything being done to destroy health care reform has the sole purpose of returning the United States to the status quo, which, if I remember correctly, was making these people money hand over damned fist?


What are you going to do in the face of such opposition? Move somewhere else? Elect someone who thinks paperwork is too hard? In Minnesota, this means that a lot of people like Shannon Savick are going to be thrown out of office. They are facing an onslaught of money to send the country back into the dark ages.





Your quality of life is being manipulated by profit-driven companies that are spending money to destroy your freedom. Or something like that. You would think there'd be a Tea Party reaction against hurting the American people, but when you've already been bought and paid for, the people standing up for working Americans have a lonely road ahead of them.

Turning Away From Television




If your TV business is shaky right now, what Jarvis Cocker is saying should wake you up to a new reality. For the first time in about three generations, people are abandoning television in droves. The entirety of the TV industry is scrambling to figure out how to move online and stay relevant and make money. The tablets are killing them, and indifference is helping everything along.

If the TV business model changes, what does that mean for artists who have relied upon television to stay relevant? If you're someone who makes music videos and tries to appeal to fans that way, your options are going to shift towards more of an online model. And, given that advertising online is dead--and revenue from hosting ads is so pitiable--how does that mean more artists will make videos?

Who is Running the Secret Service?




I mean, what the hell?

Three Secret Service agents on President Obama's Amsterdam trip were sent home after they partied so hard Saturday that one agent ended up passed out drunk in a hotel hallway.


Unlike a certain Cartagena trip, the misconduct here appears to be technical—Secret Service regulations say that agents on official trips are prohibited from drinking alcohol within 10 hours of duty. Although Obama didn't arrive in the Netherlands until Monday, the agents violated the rule drinking late Saturday night because they had a classified briefing on Sunday.


Standards are really that low, huh?





Well, these elite young agents can now find jobs elsewhere. If everything that happened in Colombia didn't wake them up to the consequences of losing their mud in public while on foreign security details, what could possibly do the trick?





I have no way of knowing if they went to Bananenbar, but it would be a shame if they didn't get to go there before being out of work and being forced to revise their resumes.

Why Are You In Grad School Anyway?






This is pretty bad, but what's even worse is how being an adjunct professor (because becoming one is one of the reasons why people go to grad school) has turned into an exercise in futility:




Nothing I can do about the size--Don't CLICK on the graphic to make it readable-it won't work

If you're going to get a graduate degree, I would think that you have a pretty good job lined up already. If not, then why bother incurring the terrible costs? To become a professor somewhere? Guess what--that's like starting a band and hoping people will pay for your music. It ain't happening.