Saturday, June 27, 2009

Oh, the poor thing...

Mrs. Madoff has had to relinquish her loot! Poor dear! They only left her with two and a half million dollars in cash to eke out her meager existence. Maybe her sons will be able to help her out, with bus fare and such. Maybe she can appeal to others to help her out...

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Cookie Dough is a bunch of S**T!

Ladies and gentlemen, I heard about a recent outbreak of E. Coli infections in the USA that has been traced to Nestle Toll House Cookie Dough, which is alarming! The company has started a voluntary recall to try and protect the public, i.e. their customers.

Well I have two thoughts about this. One is that E. Coli is a bacteria that comes from inside the intestines of warm-blooded creatures (yummah!). You can get it from eating raw animal (or human) crap. It's often passed in meat-packing plants that aren't kept scrupulously clean, such that a surface where intestines were lying then becomes a surface where meat is laid before it's ground up. The meat sort of wipes up the little bacteria, then it's all together-- wheeee-- pushed through the meat-grinder (which is much too coarse to do much damage to the little E. Coli critters), and then it's all mixed up into a raw-meat cauldron whence it's slapped into patties, frozen, and shipped to supermarkets everywhere. But wait a minute, what is that doing in cookie dough? Are there really industrial processes involved in making cookie dough that are that close to mammalian intestines that they can get fouled? How? Why? Maybe raw eggs, if they're not washed and they don't remove the shells? I hesitate to speculate further...

Whatever, the process is a superb advertisement for not buying processed food. It's easy to make safe cookie dough in your kitchen with almost zero risk of it getting contaminated by fecal material or the intestinal linings of warm blooded animals. How many other "wholesome" foodstuffs are we going to find in our supermarkets full of industrial by-products that are just a little too close to the back ends of animals for our own good?

Oh, and another point is worth making-- baking the cookies according to the instructions is almost guaranteed to kill the offending bacteria and make the product "harmless" to humans (well, as harmless as eggs, butter, sugars and various tropical oils and chocolate chips and chemical preservatives and dough conditioners and food coloring chemicals can be).

So these products are contaminated with poo... and some people eat them raw! That's not good. I'm just saying.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Science coverage-- Rats develop new skills

After thirty years of "Reaganomics," it has been shown that scum sucking pond rats have evolved a new way of existing, by stealing and digesting the savings of an entire generation of America's retired people. I chanced to find and read a lot of the Victim Impact statement that was gathered and released ahead of the sentencing of Bernie Madoff this week. The stories, mostly one page emails or letters, are profoundly sad and upsetting. And they made me think about how, over the course of the last couple of decades, the Reagan-era mantra of de-regulation (of banks and financial institutions) has allowed the evolution of a new species of rat that targets the life savings of hard-working middle class-- and working class-- Americans. Look at the recent bank collapse to see how working Americans' 401K's were decimated-- by as much as 50% and more. And the Madoff Ponzi scheme which grew and thrived right under the noses of the SEC who investigated the operation several times-- atrocious.

It's important to know these victims aren't Hollywood celebrities and fast-talking high-rollers who lost their easy bucks to a shyster. These are parents and grand parents and retired doctors, and even a school teacher married to a retired prison guard-- who lost their $200,000-300,000 retirement fund. And all those billlions of dollars went to finance the lifestyles of several generations of Madoffs, with mansions, palatial New York apartments, private schools, nannies, massage parlors, and all. The bank and insurance CEO's have their own disgusting lifestyles. These captains of finance managed to identify one of the largest American asset pools-- the savings of the baby boomers and their children-- and harvested as much of it as they could, leaving the victims destitute and too old and sick to fight back.

Deregulation is the tool of the princes of kleptocracy. Anyone who says different is expecting to enrich himself by the lack of regulation. I'd love to see the SEC and the FED empowered to effectively regulate the markets they're supposed to. And Bernie Madoff will likely evade the punishement he deserves-- to have his entrails run up the flag pole at the New York stock exchange, preferably while he watches.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

What do we do? Someone was murdered by a White Supremacist!

Much of the American press is wringing their hands and asking, "What can we do about hate groups?" Anyone who reads this blog knows I think we need new laws about as much as I need pair of tits and some high-heeled alligator pumps-- i.e. we don't! We already have way too many laws.

But think about it this way-- what are the odds an African American or a person of Jewish extraction will be killed by a hate-spewing extremist, as opposed to, say a drunk driver? Or a stray bullet in a street shoot-out? Or an estranged spouse or family member? Or a jittery policeman at a traffic stop? Or a bolt of lightning? Or a terrorist set free from Guantanamo? I am guessing all of these reasons are at least an order or magnitude more likely to kill someone than the occasional addled and senile extremist packing heat.

If you think about this a bit, you'll see-- it's OK to be outraged, and it's OK to be sad and depressed, and it's OK to tell yourself you're not going to listen to racial or religious slurs without speaking out from now on. But passing laws that will allow more surreptitious government and police presence in our society is not an improvement, and will never reduce the death toll. Not by one death! Why not pass a law against lightning?

Calm down, go to the funeral, tell your racist uncle he's a freak and not welcome at family gatherings anymore. But don't pester your legislators to pass any more laws! We have too many already (legislators and laws).

America still competitive

Watchers around the world have heaved a collective sigh of relief that the United States of America has proven once again it's still competitive in the international marketplace of inbreeding homicidal nutjobs.

After the fall of Bush/Cheney there was some doubt, but with the recent murder of Dr. Tillman, the gynecologist from Kansas, and now the murder of the secutity guard at the Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C., doubters can feel some relief that America is still unvanquished in the nutjob category. Amen...

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

This is how "cool" happens

This is lovely video about the way something becomes "cool." It doesn't start that way, and it doesn't end up the same, but it's all wonderful. The song is by (I think) a band called Santigold. For everyone whose ever felt like an outcast or a doofus--Enjoy...

Monday, June 08, 2009

Maine Legislature sells out its constituents

In a single stroke of stunning cynicism the Maine legislature has passed a "revenue neutral" bill that moves 25-40 million dollars of taxes from the middle class into the pockets of the highest income earners in the state. Or, to state it differently, the Maine legislature has added a new 6 percent tax to movie tickets, ski lift tickets, and restaurant dining in order to reduce by 2 percent the maximum income tax assessment of Maine's richest residents. I don't know who was doing the horse trading to convince the legislators this was a good idea, and I don't know what they got in exchange, but substituting a flat tax for a progressive tax is always unfair and functions to move money up the income ladder. For shame! Think about this the next time you take your family of four to the movies, that you're paying more than three bucks extra for your night out in order that Daddy Warbucks can have his income tax reduced by 20 - 30 thousand dollars next year. Revenue neutral? Riiiiggggghhhhhttttttt!!!!!

We're all so concerned by the effects of the dreadful economy that it's easy to feel relief that it hasn't hit harder in our own pockets, but this has to stop. Let your legislator know-- this law has to go, or the elected officials have to go, to be replaced with someone with some spine and sense of justice. Substituting a regressive tax for a progressive tax, even if the trade off is dollar for dollar, is not the answer. Unless the goal is to move the rest of the money up to the top of the food chain. Shame!