The Watering Hole, Thursday, November 17th: Bad Moms! Bad!

Last week, my friend Maria, with whom I work, forwarded me an email that she received from a “friend.”  Maria explained that she had mentioned to this “friend” that her son, Matt, had recently gone down to the Occupy Wall Street protest and had protested along with them, including joining in with a drum circle.  Maria’s “friend” was appalled by this information, and, the following day, sent her an email which is apparently making its rounds on the internets, with the subject line being “I think she nailed it.”  It consisted of a column by someone named Marybeth Hicks, who evidently has her own website, http://www.marybethhicks.com, and who has also written a book entitled “Don’t Let the Kids Drink the Kool-Aid: Confronting the Left’s Assault on Our Families, Faith and Freedom”  Yeah, right.   I will not quote the entire column, but the overall gist of it was that the mothers of the OWS protesters had not taught their children properly, so Ms. Hicks would do so in the mothers’ stead.  Here’s some examples of what OWS protesters’ moms, in Ms. Hicks’ opinion, should have taught their kids:

“Call it an occupational hazard, but I can’t look at the Occupy Wall
Street protesters without thinking, “Who parented these people?”
As a culture columnist, I’ve commented on the social and political
ramifications of the “movement” – now known as “OWS” – whose fairyland agenda can be summarized by one of their placards: “Everything for everybody.”

“Thanks to their pipe-dream platform, it’s clear there are people with serious designs on “transformational” change in America who are using the protesters like bedsprings in a brothel.”

Nice how Ms. Hicks takes the example of one particular “placard” (sorry, but when I hear someone use the word “placard”, I just assume that that person is ancient as hell – as a Mets fan, I automatically think of Casey Stengel talking about the annual Banner Day at Shea.)  And, since the main complaint of most right-wingers regarding OWS is that they do NOT have a clear platform, pipe-dream or not, I have no idea how Ms. Hick finds it “clear” that there’s a sleazy conspiracy afoot.

“* Life isn’t fair. The concept of justice – that everyone should be treated fairly – is a worthy and worthwhile moral imperative on which our nation was founded. But justice and economic equality are not the same. Or, as Mick Jagger said, “You can’t always get what you want.”

Apparently Ms. Hicks is unaware of the next line in the song, “But if you try sometimes, you just might find, you get what you need“, so she probably would not comprehend that the OWS protesters are out there trying to get what they need, i.e., opportunities for decent jobs, reasonably affordable healthcare, etc.

“When you demonstrate to eliminate student loan debt, you are advocating precisely the lack of integrity you decry in others. Loans are made based on solemn promises to repay them. No one forces you to borrow money; you are free to choose educational pursuits that don’t require loans, or to seek technical or vocational training that allows you to support yourself and your ongoing educational goals. Also, for the record, being a college student is not a state of victimization. It’s a privilege that billions of young people around the globe would die for – literally.”

In other words, keep to your station in life, kids.  And, for the record, Ms. Hicks, at least millions of young people around the world live in countries which, through their taxation system, DO provide free university educations – and the students don’t have to die for the “privilege”!

“…while making a mad dash from my cab to the door of my hotel to avoid you [the OWS protesters], I saw what isn’t evident in the newsreel footage of your demonstrations: Most of you are doing this only for attention and fun. Serious people in a sober pursuit of social and political change don’t dance jigs down Sixth Avenue like attendees of a Renaissance festival. You look foolish, you smell gross, you are clearly high and you don’t seem to realize that all around you are people who deem you irrelevant.”

“Newsreel footage”?  Again, just how old is this Hicks woman?  And just what evidence does this woman have that the demonstrators were “clearly high”?  What Ms. Hicks also does not understand is that all of those protesters, if they were aware of Ms. Hicks at all, would immediately deem HER irrelevant.  And, finally:

“* There are reasons you haven’t found jobs. The truth? Your tattooed necks, gauged ears, facial piercings and dirty dreadlocks are off-putting. Nonconformity for the sake of nonconformity isn’t a virtue. Occupy reality: Only 4 percent of college graduates are out of work. If you are among that 4 percent, find a mirror and face the problem. It’s not them. It’s you.”

Yes, of course, Ms. Hicks, all of the OWS protesters and their counterparts across the country and around the world have tattoos, body piercing and dirty dreadlocks.  And, for the record, at least 9.1 percent of college graduates cannot find jobs, and the problem is NOT them, IT’S THE ECONOMY, STUPID.  Ms. Hicks is the one who needs to “occupy reality.”

My friend Maria responded politely to her “friend” that her son, a post-graduate student in mathematics now studying for his doctorate, has neither tattoos nor piercings, nor does he sport dirty dreadlocks.  I wonder if she’ll hear from her “friend” again.  Heh.


The Watering Hole, Wednesday, November 16, 2011: Death & Taxes

‘Tis said there are only two things that are unescapable: Death and Taxes.

The Ruling Class, should it have its way, would escape at least the latter. Abolish the “Death Tax!” They cry from their paid mouthpieces. “Death should not be a taxable event!”

But…why not? Why should someone who’s dead care? He’s been relieved of this veil of tears. During his lifetime, he either inherited, or amassed a great fortune. That’s great!

But he hoarded it, dying with millions, even billions, stashed away. He chose not to distribute his hoard while he was alive. Why should he, now that he’s dead, get to pass it all, tax-free, to folks he kept it from while he was alive?

The only way to prevent family dynasties from rising up and controlling everything, is to reinstate the Estate Tax. If our political leaders lack the will to do that, and do it now, then it is already too late.

When too much wealth is concentrated in too few hands, redistribution of wealth is inevitable.

THIS IS OUR OPEN THREAD. WRITE YOUR WORDS ON THE SUBWAY WALLS…AND TENEMENT HALLS.

The Watering Hole: Tuesday, November 15 – The Battle of Morgarten

In 1315 the Morgarten Battle took place close to the Aegeri Lake in Switzerland. Every year on the day of the Battle November 15th, a shooting competition takes place in the fields there. This is where I spent today’s morning. I scored 34 out of 50 shooting a rifle at 300 yds, 51 out of 60, shooting a Pistol at 50 yards. Currently I eat  Zuger Kirschtorte which is soaked full of Cherry schnapps. I’m fine. Or was. Now I read about the Occupy Wall Street raid and my mood sinks in a hurry.

This is our Open Thread. Ups and/or Downs? How is your day?

There are holes…

There are big holes…

There are really, really, big holes…

And then there’s this…

… a really, really, really big hole…

That’s the Bingham Canyon Copper Mine, southwest of Salt Lake City in Utah. The world’s largest open pit mine, the Bingham is two and a half miles wide, three-quarters of a mile deep, and covers approximately 1,700 acres, or a little over two and half square miles.

You gotta admit… that really is… quite… the… hole. I came across that picture by accident the other day, just surfing the Intertubes, and it kinda blew me away… that is one big farker, and man-made to boot.

It got me to thinking about the really nasty things that we humans do to our planet, and usually in the name of making as much money as possible, as quickly as possible, and the long term consequences be damned.

Another truly notable, really, really, really big hole that humans made is the grotesquely spectacular Mir Diamond Mine Crater, in Russia. The picture is real, btw… it has not been photoshopped for effect.

Located at Mirna in Eastern Siberia, the Mir is over 1,722 ft deep (1/3 of a mile) and has a diameter of 3,900 ft (3/4th of a mile). Helicopters are forbidden from flying over the Mir; several have been sucked in by the down drafts. Here’s more about the Mir if you’re interested, and here’s a nice collection of some of the biggest man-made holes on the face of the Earth, if you can stomach it…

Of course, not all holes are made just for money… some result when we disagree with each other…

This beauty…

… believe it or not, isn’t a picture taken on the face of the Moon, it’s the Sedan Blast Crater in Nevada, the result of a nuclear test back in 1962. If you look carefully at the picture, around five o’clock (lower right side) you can see a viewing platform for visitors, with the road leading up to it. Yes… the Sedan Crater really is that big. According to the good people of Wiki, “Because the craters at the NTS had features similar to the topography of Moon craters, Astronauts for Apollo 14 visited Sedan in November 1970”.

Though nowhere near the size of some of our other holes, it is still nonetheless impressive, considering it was created in mere seconds, the aftermath of this explosion

Here are some stats for you to grok over… the Sedan was a mere ten kiloton blast and still managed to move 6.6 MILLION cubic yards of dirt, or 12 MILLION tons of weight, and left a hole over 300 feet deep and more a quarter of a mile across…

That is one incredible hole… all the more so for being produced by flipping a switch, whereas the Bingham is the byproduct of a century’s steady mining. Here’s an overhead shot of the Nevada Test Area that’s home to the Sedan Crater… it’s like the Earth has broken out in some sort of nasty rash, huh?

Weighing in at niggling 10 kilotons, the Sedan would be considered tiny when compared to today’s bombs with their 10 megaton yields (that’s 10,000 kilotons…). You read that right… we now have nuclear bombs a thousand times more powerful than the Sedan, or Little Boy, the bomb dropped on Hiroshima.

I can only imagine the size of the hole one of those would leave in the Earth. And not only are some of those nukes a thousand times more powerful, we have, en toto, an estimated 8,500 of them and the Russians 11,000. Overwhelming, innit?

Here’s a truly frightening collection of atomic test photos… click on one of them and you’ll get a slide show… the pictures are even more impressive that way…

And yet all it took to produce this mess was eighteen guys with box cutters… go figure…

Then… there are other kinds of really, really big holes that human beings are capable of producing, intentionally or otherwise…

Like the kind our beloved banking class blew in the country’s economy back at the heights, er… the depths… of the subprime mortgage fiasco…

The above chart shows the value of the S&P 500 over the last ten years. Note the enormous slide in the index starting in late 2007 just as the economy was beginning to bear the first brunt of massive numbers of bad mortgage defaults, soon to be followed by even bigger losses due to bad bonds based on those bad mortgages.

The S&P 500 index is such a broad based index that it is commonly used to gauge the overall health of the stock market and even the US economy. Please note just how much it finally dropped at the low point in early 2009, losing nearly half its value.

Now THAT is one spectacular hole and represents several TRILLION dollars of value vanishing in a greasy puff of smoke. Thank you ever so much, Wall Street! No wonder Warren Buffet once described derivatives as “financial weapons of mass destruction”.

It’s now way half past 2011 and with an estimated million homes in foreclosure, several million more in the pipeline, and 870,000 already in the hands of banks, we’re STILL climbing out of that last crater and will be for quite some time to come…

And of course, the usual suspects (the bankers) saw nothing… heard nothing… and know nothing… ‘cept that CEO Lloyd Blankfein of Goldman Sachs, the bank that has become the poster child for Wall Street shenanigans, has lawyered up…

And that other hole, earlier in the decade… around 2002 to 2003? That’s the hole blown in our economy by the dot-com collapse… again gratis our beloved banksters. And the smaller, yet significant drop in late 2001? That’s the aftermath of 9/11.

It makes one think… it do. It seems that as our machines grow more and more powerful and our ability to manipulate our environment increases, the potential for destruction, deliberate or otherwise, grows proportionally too.

Dr. Frankentstein, meet your monster.

I think it’d be fun to start a list of really, really big holes here… we could call it the “A List of Really, Really Big Holes”… but that’s too many words, so maybe we should just call it “The ‘A’ Hole List” for short…

Soooooooooooo… which really, really big holes do you think should be on our little A List?

***TRoS snaps fingers***

One more just came to mind… and this humongous ‘A’ hole definitely belongs on the list…

There… if that hole doesn’t belong, then none of them do… talk about yer weapons of ass destruction…

The Watering Hole: Wednesday, November 2, 2011

A friend sent this to me in an email, and I’d like to share it:

Some who see this will see a work of art, others simply eye candy. And some will see this as nothing but crass commercialism.

Whatever your view, Capitalism made this possible. The ability to amass Capital to form a business venture beyond the scope of the family farm or business transformed industry and commerce, and, eventually, the balance of power globally. When Capitalism was in its infancy, Kings and Emperors still ruled significant populations. Now Capitalists do.

Historically, when the imbalance of wealth and power grew too great, an upswelling of the masses forced a change. That upswelling has begun anew.

Capitalism propelled mankind to its greatest achievements. Unregulated Capitalism will be its own downfall. The question is, when the Ruling Class realize they must accept a redistribution of wealth and power; before, or after an armed uprising?

This is our Open Thread. Exercise your First Amendment Rights while you still can!

Watering Hole, Friday, October 21st: O-C-C-U-P-Y W-A-L-L S-T-R-E-E-T

As I believe I’ve mentioned before, the one redeeming feature in “The New York Post” is the puzzle page, particularly the word game in which you’re given a particular word and have to make as many five-letter words as possible out of that word.  The rules are simple:  no proper nouns, no plurals ending in ‘s’, no foreign words.  For my own amusement, I often play this game with a word or phrase of my own choosing.

The other day I sat down and started playing around with the phrase “OCCUPY WALL STREET.”  As I started jotting down five-letter words, I noticed that many of the words were pertinent to the actual OCCUPY WALL STREET movement.  Obviously, many were not, but there seemed to be a striking number which were applicable to the protests.  I’ve listed all of the words that I came up with, in vaguely alphabetical order, below the fold.  If anyone comes up with a word that I missed, please let me know and I’ll add it. Continue reading

The WATERINGWHOLE: Wednesday, October 19, 2011

THE FOLLOWING IS A WORK IN PROGRESS, obtained at great difficulty and expense by hacking into the computer network of the network of computer hackers currently hacking into the computers that are used to infiltrate the network of hacks intent on infiltrating the 99% movement.

WE, THE 99% OF THE PEOPLE OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, in order to form a More Perfect Union, do hereby make and ordain these Demands upon our government, and the 1% who control a disproportionate share of the Income, Wealth and Political Power.

COGNIZANT OF THE REALITY THAT THE RULING CLASS WILL OPPOSE EACH AND EVERY DEMAND presented by the 99%, We, the 99%, hereby DEMAND the following:

WE DEMAND an END TO THE MINIMUM WAGE;
WE DEMAND an END TO CORPORATE TAXES;
WE DEMAND our OWN BEN AND JERRY’S ICE CREAM FLAVOR;
WE DEMAND an END TO CHILD LABOR LAWS;
WE DEMAND an END TO PROTECTING OUR ENVIRONMENT;
WE DEMAND reruns of FATHER KNOWS BEST;
WE DEMAND an END TO SOCIAL SECURITY;
WE DEMAND an END TO MEDICARE;
WE DEMAND an END TO FOOD STAMPS;
WE DEMAND an END TO UNEMPLOYMENT INSURANCE;
WE DEMAND a CHICKEN IN EVERY POT;
WE DEMAND an END TO ALL GOVERNMENT REGULATIONS;
WE DEMAND our PUBLIC SCHOOLS TEACH THE BIBLE AS SCIENCE.

WE DEMAND an INCREASE TO MINIMUM WAGE;
WE DEMAND an INCREASE TO CORPORATE TAXES;
WE DEMAND our OWN BEN AND JERRY’S ICE CREAM FLAVOR;
WE DEMAND an END TO CHILD LABOR INTERNATIONALLY;
WE DEMAND an INCREASE IN REGULATIONS PROTECTING OUR ENVIRONMENT;
WE DEMAND reruns of THE SMOTHERS BROTHERS and LAUGH-IN;
WE DEMAND an END TO THE SOCIAL SECURITY INCOME CAP;
WE DEMAND an ENLARGEMENT OF MEDICARE TO MEDICARE FOR ALL;
WE DEMAND an END TO THE NEED FOR FOOD STAMPS;
WE DEMAND an END TO UNEMPLOYMENT;
WE DEMAND a CHICKEN IN EVERY POT;
WE DEMAND an END TO ALL GOVERNMENT REGULATIONS;
WE DEMAND pot IN EVERY CHICKEN;
WE DEMAND our PUBLIC SCHOOLS TEACH SCIENCE;
WE DEMAND FAIR TRADE AGREEMENTS THAT FOSTER AMERICAN JOBS;
WE DEMAND THAT THOSE WHO CONTROL 80% OF THE WEALTH IN THIS COUNTRY BEAR 80% OF THE TAX BURDEN;
WE DEMAND our ELECTED REPRESENTATIVES REPRESENT WE, THE 99%;
WE DEMAND a RETURN TO REGULATED CAPITALISM AND STRONG ANTI-TRUST LAWS;
WE DEMAND a RETURN OF THE ESTATE TAX, SO THAT EVERYONE STARTS LIFE ON AN EQUAL FOOTING, GUARANTEEING THAT EACH INDIVIDUAL SUCCEEDS ON HIS OR HER OWN MERIT, NOT ON INHERITED WEALTH AND POWER.

This is our Open Thread. I’ve made my demands, now it’s your turn.

Sunday Roast: Silent Gesture

AP photographer

On this day in 1968, Americans, Tommie Smith and John Carlos, and Australian, Peter Norman, all wore badges for the Olympic Project for Human Rights (OPHR), and Smith and Carlos raised their fists in the air — not in a Black Power salute, but as John Carlos later wrote in his autobiography, in a salute for human rights.

From Wikipedia:

On the morning of October 16, 1968,[2] U.S. athlete Tommie Smith won the 200 meter racein a world-record time of 19.83 seconds, with Australia’sPeter Norman second with a time of 20.06 seconds, and the U.S.’s John Carlos in third place with a time of 20.10 seconds. After the race was completed, the three went to collect their medals at the podium. The two U.S. athletes received their medals shoeless, but wearing black socks, to represent black poverty.[3] Smith wore a black scarf around his neck to represent black pride, Carlos had his tracksuit top unzipped to show solidarity with all blue collar workers in the U.S. and wore a necklace of beads which he described “were for those individuals that were lynched, or killed and that no-one said a prayer for, that were hung and tarred. It was for those thrown off the side of the boats in the middle passage.”[4] All three athletes wore Olympic Project for Human Rights (OPHR) badges after Norman, a critic of Australia’s White Australia Policy, expressed empathy with their ideals.[5] Sociologist Harry Edwards, the founder of the OPHR, had urged black athletes to boycott the games; reportedly, the actions of Smith and Carlos on October 16, 1968[2] were inspired by Edwards’ arguments.[6]

Both U.S. athletes intended on bringing black gloves to the event, but Carlos forgot his, leaving them in the Olympic Village. It was the Australian, Peter Norman, who suggested Carlos wear Smith’s left-handed glove, this being the reason behind him raising his left hand, as opposed to his right, differing from the traditional Black Power salute.[7] When “The Star-Spangled Banner” played, Smith and Carlos delivered the salute with heads bowed, a gesture which became front page news around the world. As they left the podium they were booed by the crowd.[8]Smith later said “If I win, I am American, not a black American. But if I did something bad, then they would say I am a Negro. We are black and we are proud of being black. Black America will understand what we did tonight.”[3]  

This “silent gesture” was viewed as “a deliberate and violent breach of the fundamental principles of the Olympic spirit,” although the Nazi salute was accepted during the 1936 games in Berlin.  But Smith and Carlos were scary black men, so their gesture was taken as a racial protest — which in a way it was, but it was for human rights, not a promise that white people would be murdered in their beds.

Today, in the OccupyWallStreet protests, we are again fighting for human rights and equality all over the world, and I think it quite fitting to honor Tommie Smith and John Carlos for their commitment and courage to the cause of human rights.

This is our daily open thread — What’s on your mind?

Here’s what the Occupy Wall Street protesters are angry about

via Business Insider

1. Unemployment is at the highest level since the Great Depression (with the exception of a brief blip in the early 1980s).

2. At the same time, corporate profits are at an all-time high, both in absolute dollars and as a share of the economy.

3. Wages as a percent of the economy are at an all-time low. In other words, corporate profits are at an all-time high, in part, because corporations are paying less of their revenue to employees than they ever have. There are lots of reasons for this, many of which are not the fault of the corporations. (It’s a global economy now, and 2-3 billion new low-cost employees in China, India, et al, have recently entered the global workforce. This is putting pressure on wages the world over.)

4. Income and wealth inequality in the US economy is near an all-time high: The owners of the country’s assets (capital) are winning, everyone else (labor) is losing.

The United States is one of the most unequal developed countries in the world.  We can’t continue this way, and the Occupy Wall Street protesters are marching GLOBALLY to bring attention to the problems we’re facing because of the greed of the top 2% and the policies that enable them.