Nemo Me Impune Lacessit


There really is a website called "Conservatives For Palin" and they really, really do have a banner with a misspelled word on it.

And I realize that this is absurd and could be entirely wrong, but the phrase stamped on the old Scottish coins was "Nemo Me Impune Lacessit," which is roughly translated as "no one cuts me with inpunity."

The Palin site spells the word as "lacesset." This is an obscure spelling on the Internet. It is vastly more common to spell it "lacessit."

What? I'm bored.

It Remains a Horrible, Horrible World




There are no words for how terrible this is.

To see the life's work of a brilliant woman who was given many accolades reduced to such an assessment is beyond comprehension.

This was how she rolled:

Ms. McCullough was often asked what she thought of the “Thorn Birds” mini-series, watched by more than 100 million people.


Her response packed her usual pith and punch. 


"I hated it,” she told People magazine in 2000. “It was instant vomit.”

The same could be said of those trying to write her obituary.

Would You Pay More if Amazon Hired Union Workers?




Whenever anything related to Amazon comes up, I feel like commenting on it after I tell you that:

1. I publish crappy short stories on Amazon as a wannabe author

2. I use Amazon extensively to entertain the family

3. I buy things cheap from Amazon on a regular basis

Having said that, would I pay more if Amazon hired union workers?

Absolutely. I would pay more. And so, adding 1,000 jobs to Baltimore's work force will improve the lives of a lot of people even if these jobs aren't union jobs (don't laugh because this is not Germany and nobody forms a union here and survives). You'd have to be a braying jackass to make it about yourself and bemoan 1,000 jobs in the economically depressed Southeastern part of Baltimore. Whatever they are going to pay those folks just isn't enough, but at least it is something.

If someone were to stumble across this crappy blog, they would know one thing--Amazon's stuff is dirt cheap because they don't pay their people enough. If they charged just a little more for their stuff, I would still buy things from Amazon.

Really, this isn't hard to understand.

Stuttgart Street Performer




Steinwasen Amusement Park




A view looking down into the Steinwasen Amusement Park in Baden-W├╝rttemberg Germany.

Out of My Mind on Dope and Speed




The only way to get a hold of David Cameron, who is the Prime Minister of Great Britain, is to be out of your mind on coke and booze:

The man who claims to be behind the hoax phone calls to David Cameron and to GCHQ has said he was “off [his] face on booze and cocaine” at the time.

The prankster allegedly rang up The Sun newspaper to boast "I've just made monkeys out of GCHQ” minutes after his phone conversation with the Prime Minister.

He told the newspaper the situation was “hilarious” and added: "I'm definitely going to do it again. It was so easy."

The caller, who successfully obtained a private mobile number for director Robert Hannigan from GCHQ, is thought to have contacted their switchboard pretending to be a Downing Street aide

 Isn't this an indication that David Cameron is actually doing his job? When a social engineering effort successfully penetrates the security apparatus of the state, don't you feel better knowing that the man responsible for defending your country is actually the fellow who picks up his phone, ready to do his job?

The Iranian Jackson Pollock




Jackson Pollock, Mural on Red Indian Ground, 1950


Did you know that the government of Iran still maintains a vast collection of modern art acquired before the Iranian Revolution in 1979?

In the last years of the Iranian Shah’s rein, during a particularly flush
oil-boom period, the Iranian queen Farah Pahlavi assembled a formidable
collection of modern art, now valued at several billion US dollars. The
Picassos, Pollocks and Warhols (among many other household names) in
Tehran’s Contemporary Art Museum were viewable from the museums’ opening
in 1977 until the Iranian Revolution in 1979 at which time the art was
deemed ‘Western’, ie decadent and unsuitable for viewing. Curators
spirited the art away into a climate-controlled basement vault – there,
it has been safe not only from climate extremes but also knife-wielding
revolutionaries. The artworks are often lent to other world
institutions, but display in Tehran depends on who is leading the
country – a few works were mounted in a Pop Art/Op Art show here in
2005, but any works depicting nudity or homoerotic overtones, like
Bacon’s Two Figures Lying on a Bed With Attendants, remain hidden.

Has anyone ever tried to trade weapons for modern art? Would the Iranians accept a few Exocet missiles or a tank battalion? Would such a trade be legal?

It's a shame that all of that art remains hidden away in vaults.

The Republicans Are Out of Ideas and Scared of Facts




Hilarious shit.

This is worthy of the Onion:

The official website for House Republicans has posted on YouTube a doctored version of President Obama’s State of the Union address which cuts out comments where the President was critical of Republican rhetoric on climate change, ThinkProgress has learned.


In the website’s “enhanced webcast” of the State of the Union speech, President Obama’s comments criticizing Republicans for saying they are “not scientists” when it comes to climate change are erased.

At the 43:25 minute mark, President Obama is supposed to say “I’ve heard some folks try to dodge the evidence by saying they’re not scientists; that we don’t have enough information to act. Well, I’m not a scientist, either. But you know what — I know a lot of really good scientists at NASA, and NOAA, and at our major universities. The best scientists in the world are all telling us that our activities are changing the climate, and if we do not act forcefully, we’ll continue to see rising oceans, longer, hotter heat waves, dangerous droughts and floods, and massive disruptions that can trigger greater migration, conflict, and hunger around the globe.”


You couldn't make this up if you wanted to. Real life is now the best parody of all.

Tri-State Munchie Run


Technically, it's not brazen if you're not smiling on security camera footage.
An 18-year-old Kentucky man and his 13-year-old girlfriend who have been missing for 12 days are believed to have taken off on a crime spree across the South, authorities said Thursday, during which they're suspected of having stolen at least two vehicles — one of which had guns in it.
"It is imperative that these two be located and apprehended as their behavior is becoming increasingly brazen and dangerous," the Grayson County Sheriff's Office said in a statement.
The sheriff's office identified the pair as Dalton Hayes, 18, and his girlfriend, Cheyenne Phillips, 13, whom Cheyenne's father reported missing on Jan. 3. They're accused of stealing a neighbor's red Toyota pickup truck, which was spotted on security video nine days later outside a Walmart store in Manning, South Carolina. The couple themselves were captured on video entering the store.
Someone needs to calm down. Americans have more guns than anyone else, and leaving guns in a car is as stupid as it gets.

Have they shot anyone? Nope.

Are they on a run for munchies? Probably.

Which parent thought it was okay for an eighteen year old male to consort with a thirteen year-old girl? Hopefully none of them.

Is this going to lead to a couple of completely innocent people being shot by paranoid idiots? That's a distinct possibility.

Alert me when they're only eight days ahead of the law, okay?

Oh, and South Carolina's age of consent is 14, by the way. Yes, as crazy as that is, this is the law:
The legal age of consent in South Carolina is 16. However, individuals as young as 14 years old are able to consent to have sex with a partner who is 18 years old or younger. Submitting to coercion, especially of an aggravated nature, is not consent.
Something tells me that they're just waiting for a berf-day.

In any event, that's some excellent parenting.

Can We Finally Talk About John Boehner and His Drinking Problem?




Apparently not.

Stuff White People Like




Did you know that "Stuff White People Like" is still in existence? It hasn't been updated in over four years, but if they were going to go with #137, they could submit "the 2015 Oscars nominations."

Yes, this is the whitest year in twenty years in terms of prestigious film award nominations:

Today's Oscar nominations contained a host of snubs that have critics and commentators up in arms (as they do every year). But the optics of this year's slate are particularly egregious when you combine the surprising coolness towards Martin Luther King Jr. biopic Selma—nominated for Best Picture but missing in the Director, Actor, and Screenplay categories—with the fact that all 20 acting nominees this year are white, the first time such a thing has happened since the Oscars honoring the films of 1995.


The Oscar slate that year featured a lot of British period dramas (Braveheart, Sense and Sensibility, Rob Roy), specific American historical pieces (Nixon, Dead Man Walking, Apollo 13), small-scale romantic dramas (Leaving Las Vegas, The Bridges of Madison County), and the talking-pig movie Babe. If the lack of diversity among the nominees was noted, it was probably less remarked-upon because there was no obvious "Oscar film” featuring people of color getting snubbed. We expect the Academy Awards to ignore all kinds of great genre material; the 2015 list feels all the more galling because David Oyelowo's performance and Ava DuVernay's direction were not just extraordinarily good, but also very Oscar-friendly.

Isn't a great thing for America to have no outstanding issues with regards to race or racism anymore? Isn't it just the greatest thing ever for an institution that has traditionally failed to follow up on efforts to diversify who gets awards to end up shitting the bed during an entire calendar year of race-related news events? Can you say out of touch with modern American society?

Congratulations go out to all the white people who are excited to see mediocrity win more awards. Yay!

Tearing Down Ray Bradbury's Home




Ray Bradbury House, LA Times


Well, this is sad.

Author Ray Bradbury (he was more than just a "sci-fi" writer), lived in the same California home for fifty years before he passed away in 2012. Efforts to save and preserve his real legacy--his papers and whatnot--have been successful. Sometimes, you don't get a chance to save things like that, but Bradbury was prominent enough for this to happen.

His house, however, wasn't worth keeping:

The home, which was purchased in June for $1.765 million, is being demolished. A permit for demolition was issued Dec. 30, Curbed LAreports, and a fan who visited the house over the weekend found it in the process of being torn down.

A home built in 1937 isn't that old, especially if it has been remodeled or upgraded since then. The value of the lot was, apparently, more than that of the house. Whatever they put there will be a separate and distinct property. I don't fault the nostalgia for an old writer's house, but his printed works and accomplishments are worth more than the built-in bookshelves that held them.

America is Ready For Romneyshambles


He's running! It's Romneyshambles all over again! Yay!

Romneyshambles, Romneyshambles, Romneyshambles!

I can't wait to recycle all of that great stuff I had to blog about in 2012. Corporations are people, my friends! And none of those boys are in the military, either.

Jessica Roy Enriches the Language




The new term is manslamming:

there’s a helpful new word in the man-as-prefix lexicon. Meet “manslamming,” which New York magazine’s Jessica Roy uses to describe the behavior that is, on a sidewalk, refusing to yield to a fellow pedestrian such that a collision inevitably ensues. More broadly, Roy says, it’s “the sidewalk M.O. of men who remain apparently oblivious to the personal space of those around them.” It is (usually) done by men, (usually) at the expense of women. It is (usually) done unconsciously.

Awful behavior. I instinctively give way and get out of the way when I'm in public. I abhor the possibility of causing injury to someone else. That's more Minnesota Nice than it is anything else. Maybe I picked it up in the Army, which is where you have to get along with people or find yourself in peril. Who knows?

William Donohue Joins Forces With the Muslims Against Satire


You knew this was coming from Bill Donohue, he of the cheap suit Catholicism that drives the Pope crazy.

If there's a wrong side of an argument, and if there's an even more wrong side of it that no one is making, William Donohue and his Catholic League will jump on it with both feet and beat it into the ground, finding a way to be even nastier than conceivably possible.

Do you know what makes America a great country? The fact that Donohue can thrive here and practice his hate and not face criminal prosecution. He has to deal with crappy bloggers, and that's about it.

Seeing a Dentist in the Army




I found this old piece on the New Yorker website:

Hale predicts that combat gum could save the military a hundred million dollars annually. Dental emergencies account for ten per cent of all injuries that cause soldiers to be evacuated from the battlefield (not counting battle itself, of course). There are forty-seven types of dental emergencies, ranging from the mildly uncomfortable (gingivitis, say), moderately painful (pericoronitis), and severe (totally avulsed tooth). When it gets that bad, a soldier might need to be helicoptered into a dental theatre on another continent. The cost of transportation, plus that of the treatment itself, on top of the unit’s lost manpower, adds up to tens of millions of dollars each year. According to Hale, forty per cent of recruits have at least three cavities. “They have developed a decay pattern,” he said. “We diagnose, pull their teeth, and fill them. This is a constant thing for us, because we have tremendous turnover.”

This is the sort of thing that would have automatically prompted me to write a post, had I seen it back in March of 2014. I had occasion to see dentists in the Army, and I can't remember any bad experiences. I even had my wisdom teeth taken out while stationed in San Antonio, Texas. I was regular Army, and I was referred to the Air Force hospital for removal.

It took a week for me to feel normal after that because I had waited until I was about 30 to do the wisdom tooth extractions. I had all four of them out at once. No fun.

What is referenced in the article gets to the heart of a problem for deploying soldiers. We had categories for everyone, and I seem to recall that they ran from Cat I to Cat IV. If you were a one or a two, you could be deployed. That meant that you had seen a dentist and didn't have any issues. If you were a Cat III or IV, you couldn't deploy. Typically that meant that you hadn't been to the dentist in a while or that you had outstanding issues, like root canal work that needed to be done.

I always went to the dentist. It was free and it wasn't that bad. If they can give you a gum that will keep your teeth in your head, sell it to the civilian world and make money. Precious few innovations come to soldiers nowadays. The last big innovation was the Camelback drinking system. Gum that kills bacteria and prevents tooth loss? We should give that to everyone.

A Message From Mars







The brilliant efforts of film restoration experts yields a weird treasure--the first sci-fi film shot in Britain:


A Message from Mars (1913) is the first full-length science fiction feature in the history of British cinema. It stars the leading comedy actor of his day, Charles Hawtrey, as a selfish man who is taught a series of valuable lessons by a visiting Martian.
The stakes are high, for the Martian will only be permitted to return to his home planet if he is successful in his mission to instil a change of heart in his subject.


The film was based on a popular stage play which saw many revivals over 30 years in Britain. It features the first on-screen imaginings of Martians by a British film-maker, as futuristically clad members of the Martian court.


The film survived in the collection of the BFI National Archive as two shortened versions with significant imperfections in the third reel and a number of missing scenes.

You could shoot this today with only a minor change here and there and it would probably work just as well, so long as you injected an anti-hero with super powers into the mix.

Another Billionaire Hypocrite


The people running things don't seem to have any idea how economics work. The media should ignore the pronouncements of such people in the future. They won't, but they should call David Siegel on his bullshit the next time he threatens to fire a lot of his workers because they don't want to vote for Mitt Romney.

One thing I can guarantee you about American politics--anyone who has money has a voice that the poor will never have.

What is the Alternative to College?




This is a great story about why there is something broken with the system that educates people in this country:

Just 11 percent of low-income students who are the first in their family to attend college will have a college degree within six years of enrolling in school. This stems from many issues. Students from low-income backgrounds often attend high schools without rigorous college-prep tracks, meaning their access to good information on higher education may be inadequate. Many of them are also significantly behind academically, which stymies them from applying or being accepted to certain schools. And to make matters worse, thousands of colleges across the country lack resources or programs earmarked for low-income or first generation students. That means that, while many schools enroll these students, few are equipped to actually graduate them.

The European method of getting around this is to legitimize the idea of a vocational education. In America, we are telling kids that they're special and that they have to get a college degree or they'll end up in a filthy, despicable union job. In Germany, for example, they segregate kids in high school based on how smart they are and they provide a union job and training so that the work force can be professionalized and trained.

We can't follow the European model because that would mean that someone's kid, who has pulled C's for years, is a dumbass and will only be a sad and lowly plumber. Never mind the fact that a certified and trained union plumber can made damned good money--America is the land of the middle manager who barely graduated after six years in a state school.

I think it has something to do with the fact that Americans have been conditioned to hate actual skills and competence in another person and that union membership is akin to being in a child molestation ring, but that's shrill and unfair to put into print.

There's a racket and a scam behind charging people $150,000 for an education that will allow someone to get a job making $30K per year--the educator is making money and the employer is saving money. The bankrupt, uneducated person stuck with the bill is of no consideration to anyone.

People Are Tired of Matthew Vaughn Movies, Too



Christopher Nolan's three-film tenure as the director of Batman might have concluded, but the days of his dark, gritty style of superhero films may also be drawing to close, according to director Matthew Vaughn.

In the latest issue of SFX magazine, the Kick-Ass director, who is also Claudia Schiffer's husband, argued that audiences are turning their backs on such movies in favor of more lighthearted material.

"People want fun and escapism at the moment," he said. "Look at the success of Guardians of the Galaxy. I think Nolan kick-started a very dark, bleak style of superhero escapism, and I think people have had enough of it."




The whole "superhero" motif is played out, and it was played out three years ago. The movies that Vaughn and Nolan have been making are great if you want to sell your stuff to teenagers in Asia but I wonder how artistically fulfilling that is after so many years of getting away with not having to come up with anything good.





I can see why Vaughn is taking a shot at Nolan, however. Interstellar wasn't explicitly targeted to the Chinese market and didn't have as much of that darkness he's talking about embedded into it. Nolan is trying to break away from the pack so, you know, he's the one with the target on his back.





These goddamned Marvel movies are eating everything. You have issues and super powers, I got it. I'm just not interested.

The Duke of York







I don't know if this lawsuit has any merit or not; I suspect it will disappear quietly if there isn't any evidence to back up the claims. A corresponding amount of evidence could embarrass Alan Dershowitz but I doubt if it will damage Prince Andrew at all.





Of all of the members of the Royal Family, it would be hard to come up with anyone more despised than the Duke of York. Those watching the lawsuit closely are those within the inner workings of the royal family who would love to dish out more dirt.