Girl Geniuses

Mixing the sublime and the outlandish

September 8th 2011

Time to take a break from Politics. Ron Paul is the leading GOP candidate this week, Obama is giving a speech on labor that has unions ready to bolt the Democratic Party, it doesn’t get much crazier than that, so let’s take a break.

Have you ever had a situation where you encounter two new things in your life that both strike your fancy, and even though they have little or nothing to do with one another, they become inescapably wedded in your mind, so that you can’t enjoy one without thinking of the other?

In my instance, the two items are a folk album by a Danish artist virtually unknown in the United States, and a comic book. About the only thing they have in common is that the central person involved in each is female.

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Labor Day 2011

America isn’t working

September 3rd 2011

The labor situation in America this Labor Day weekend? Rotten. Dire. Devastating. Grim. Or, in economic terms, “less than optimal.”

The top problem, of course, is unemployment. The U3, the standard measure the Bureau of Labor Statistics uses to measure unemployment, stands at 9.1%. However, the twelve million people in that bleak number are only part of the tale. The U6, which includes “discouraged workers” and people who got moved from full-time jobs to positions paying less than 33 hours a week, stands at 18.9%.

There are two million or so for whom the 99 week extension on Unemployment Benefits have run out, and so are no longer even considered part of the labor force. Then there are the twelve million unemployables who aren’t disabled but are unable to get work because of criminal records, disfigurements or lack of education. And of course, the three million or so who are in the American gulags at any given time.

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Goodnight, Irene

Strong winds and flooding came, not from the storm, but the media

August 27th 2011

Hurricanes can be a real problem. Insular Americans will immediately think of Katrina, and some will even believe that was the worst storm damage in recent memory. Folks in Mexico, Haiti, the Dominican Republic and Cuba will all beg to differ, having recently taken damage from storms that dwarfed Katrina. And then there is China and Japan, who have their share of war stories.

It’s only a matter of time before a major hurricane hits a major American city squarely, as Katrina did New Orleans, and does at least as much, if not more damage. Not only is this statistically inevitable, but the odds of it happening in any given year increase as global warming makes the likelihood of really big storms greater.

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There’s a Riot Goin’ On

 Class warriors are lighting matches in a powder keg

August 20th 2011

Paul Krugman, the great liberal economist, wrote on his blog  yesterday, “things are looking really terrible, And crucially, they’re looking terrible in the wrong way, at least if you wanted to believe that political and policy debate over the past year and a half made any sense at all.”

Krugman was restricting his comments to the state of the economy, with considerable cause; he fears that the tight money policies that “serious people” advocate will result in an economic perfect storm that will combine the worst of Japan’s lost decade with the 1937 recession. The term “serious people” doesn’t appear in this blog, but it’s the term he uses frequently to refer to conservative economists and politicians who have pushed for the disastrous austerity programs that are dismantling Europe and stalling any hope of recovery in America.

The scary bit is that Krugman isn’t a merchant of doom; he’s a responsible journalist who is careful not to instill extraneous fear in people. If he says there’s a serious problem, it’s because there’s a serious problem, and not because he’s stuck for something to say in his blog.

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Firebaggin’ It

Did an Obama polical hack just give the left an identity?

August 19th 2011

Some guy named Ray Sandoval managed to do Obama more damage the other day then the efforts of the entire GOP over the previous three weeks.

An Obama campaign outrigger posted to New Mexico, Sandoval decided that now was a good time to attack the left for not supporting Obama in the manner to which Sandoval felt Obama was entitled.

He sent an email out defending Obama’s surrender on the debt deal, and condemning what he called the “Firebagger Lefty blogosphere.”

I’m pretty sure ‘firebagger’ isn’t a urban dictionary entry for any pornography terms (although the Internet being what it is, I’m sure we’ll have one in a week). Where the teabaggers screwed up was that none of the people at Faux News who were creating the astroturf movement knew that the term already existed, and had a rather unsavory connotation. It’s on Urban Dictionary if you don’t already know it.

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The New Stillson

A Stephen King nasty stalks the land

August 16th 2011

 Stephen King (the writer, and neither of the two demented right wing politicians of the same name) invented a character in the late 70s called Greg Stillson, in “The Dead Zone”. King already excelled at creating pleasant monsters, and Stillson was one of the most memorable. A fast-rising politician, our introduction to Stillson occurs when he deliberately and coldly kicks a dog to death. The dog, defeated and broken, lifts his head up to lick Stillson’s hand, a gesture of submission. Stillson laughs and resumes kicking. He then drives away, feeling mild guilt and sexual arousal.

The central character/narrator, and by extension the reader, immediately pick up on a sense of wrongness about Stillson, a sense that behind the blow-dried hair and the charming grin lives something truly vile.

He was played, somewhat ironically, by Martin Sheen, who went on to become America’s most beneficent and most-loved pseudo-politician, President Josiah “Jed” Bartlet. In the David Cronenberg movie of the same name Sheen played the personable creep, and was pretty damned scary.

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Everywhere there’s signs…”

 August 8th 2011

 About 25 years ago, I was at an airport on the west coast and overheard two travelers, apparently from Germany, being greeted by their host, a local resident and presumably an American. They had been voyaging around the US for a couple of weeks, their first visit here, and their host asked them what they thought of America.

Since I had nothing better to do than wait for luggage, and no morals to speak of, I eavesdropped shamelessly. The two Germans, speaking accented English, were effusive in their praise of how friendly Americans were and the rich variety of items to be bought anywhere. This was early in the Reagan presidency, when America still indisputably had the highest standard of living in the world and the middle class, unaware that they had passed their peak, were living high.

Then one of the Germans said something that brought me up short and forced me to stifle a laugh. “Oh, but there are so many signs! Every where you look, there is a sign for everything.”

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Ready for economic collapse?

How the GOP just screwed us all

August 5th 2011

 You may have heard about the discussions they had in Congress over the past few weeks about the credit-limit negotiations so the US wouldn’t default, and thus would avoid the hideous expense and chaos that would come from having the credit rating of the country reduced. Everyone agreed that this was of paramount importance, even though the debate never needed to happen in the first place.

The fascists of the GOP wanted to bludgeon the country into ceding a lot of the gains made since about 1870, and extorting concessions, using the credit rating as a Lindbergh baby, seemed to fit the bill. So Obama gave up the store, and saved the country from default, and credit downgrading.

Well, funny thing.

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The Cave

Heigh ho, into the darkness we go!

 August 2nd 2011

Right up until the end, I thought Obama was gaming the Republicans. I figured that he was just letting them climb further and further out on a limb with their unreasonable and extortionate demands, and then would suddenly shake their branch, announcing that negotiations were canceled, and to either extend the limit or wreck the economy, and they could put the rest of their demands up to a separate vote.

It turns out that, at best, he was being gamed, and at worst, he was gaming us. He’s either weak, or a liar, or perhaps both. With his capitulation on the debt-limit increase agreement, he has assured himself of being a failed one-term President.

I’ve been comparing him to Neville Chamberlain. That’s a little unfair to Chamberlain, who faced a more horrific and vicious foe, stood to lose more if the negotiations didn’t work out, and didn’t have to sacrifice his own political base in order to do so. Indeed, he returned from the Munich Conference with his bumbershoot, grandly announcing there would be peace in our time, to wildly cheering crowds. He had much more reason to capitulate, but is seen as an class example of weakness and lack of resolve 70 years later.

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Utopian Dystopia

The best of all possible worlds will still have mosquitoes

© Bryan Zepp Jamieson
July 23rd 2011

If you’re like me, and you did a lot of reading as a kid and through your teenage years, then you know the situation: there’s an absolutely unforgettable story you read that left you gasping with laughter, or wonder, or made you look at the world in an entirely different way.
Only one day, you think it might be fun to look that story up and re-read it, and it hits you: you can’t remember the title or the author.  If you’re lucky, it’s a fairly well known story, and you can remember the central character’s name, or there’s some other specific item that comes to mind, and you can Google it.  Once a friend of mine and I were discussing Mount Shasta and science fiction, and I mentioned that Heinlein once wrote a story about the locale.  Couldn’t remember the title to save my life, but a Google search turned it up: Lost Legacy, 1943.
Usually you’re just plain out of luck, and it becomes one of your personal life’s mysteries, along with the name of the girl you kissed in sixth grade, or the name of the TV show with the sarcastic duck and the lumberjack.

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