Monday, December 27, 2021

Year-End Debunkery

Let’s clean out the old pipeline so we can start the year with fresh idiocy to debunk! These will be quick takes because there’s a pot of chili on the stove and I’m feeling every bit of it.

You wouldn’t risk “Facebook Jail” if you weren’t posting verifiable bullshit. Post things that are true and not harmful and destructive and you’ll be unfettered by Facebook’s shackles. Do better.

This looks like a Christmas wish list from the Koch Brothers. Wipes out most of the areas for taxations on businesses, while leaving taxes as is for the rest of the country. How very Scroogean.

Just remember no taxes means no roads, schools, libraries, fire departments, police departments, national defense, immigration agencies, food inspectors, occupational safety enforcement or a wealth of other community essentials. Your guns won’t get you any of these things.

While this looks to most like a benign kind of “don’t worry be happy” message, I see it as similar to the previous meme in that it is a total benefit to the 1%. “Little Things” for the Little People. It’s an attempt by the rich to keep you happy with your meager possessions and surroundings and get you to stop jockeying for a livable wage or affordable insurance. Don’t buy into it.

This is a headline clip from my Yahoo home page and it’s the best news I’ve heard this month! Now we can easily identify the idiots who won’t get vaxxed. We can see them coming and then stay out of their orbit. Get this information to a MAGA rally ASAP! The red hats can come off but the blue will remain. Plus, we can aggravate them further by saying, “and I thought I was a dyed-blue Democrat…”

Meme Dump

Here are some of the memes I’ve meant to run but either never had the opportunity or forgot about when the subject came up. 

I think this last one is one of the more powerful editorial cartoons from this year.

I hope you’ve had a joyous holiday season and look forward to a better 2022. I, for one, will be thrilled to put 2021 in my rearview mirror. Thank you for stopping by this year and thank you to those who have posted links to this site. Your time and attention are greatly appreciated, as well as indispensable.

See you in 2022.

Monday, December 20, 2021

Electric Car Hysteria

 I can see from the topic’s recurrence in Facebook memes that the conservative Powers That Be don’t want their minions getting cozy with the idea of electric cars anytime soon. You can also tell by the weakness of the arguments that they’re counting on them taking things at face value and not digging too deeply into the subject. This one is typical:

You’d think that the right-wing bearers of toxic masculinity would love to have the heaviest battery around. If the fossil fuel industry wasn’t trying so hard to kill them, the car companies would be touting them right now.

Don’t mess around with those pencil-neck batteries! Get’cher 2022 Ford F-350 with the heaviest battery on the planet! You’ll never get stuck in mud or snow again! [Spoken quickly in disclaimer-speak] “EPA rating 2.5 miles/gallon. Mileage may vary.”

The thing is, since I harvested that meme, battery sizes have already come down considerably (IF they were ever truly 1000 lbs) and there’s no reason to think they won’t continue to downsize. That’s how tech works… over time everything eventually becomes smaller, lighter, and cheaper.

And do you want to talk about displacing raw materials? How much earth do you think has been moved in search of coal and oil? Please. If they were worried about natural resources they would have demanded limitations on drilling and fracking years ago. They use this argument because they know that liberals care about natural resources and they recognize a good scare tactic when they see one.

But this is another method of the right: the “All or Nothing” ploy. If driving an electric car won’t fix everything, then forget it and do nothing. Notice how there is never an alternative plan to fight climate change, just an endless list of things they claim won’t work, (electric cars, wind farms, solar energy) which just so happens to be things they don’t want to do. The only plan is to remain status quo, which coincidentally, is exactly what the coal and oil companies want to do.

And then there’s just the plain old deception and misinformation.

The grand assumption is that the battery will drain away and leave you stranded and freezing. However it is a false assumption, and one the authors know their intended audience will grasp onto nonetheless. Here’s the valid information:

Not only will the battery not die out on you, (assuming you didn’t get into the jam with the battery on “E”), it will likely last longer than a gas-powered car. You can get stranded with your gas tank on E as well as your electric car battery.

When I first saw this meme, someone chimed in with a comment about someone charging their car with a gas-powered generator. (Har har, stoopid libs...)

This is a call back to another meme that purported to show someone doing just that. Of course, they never mention that the picture isn’t even from the US, it’s from somewhere in eastern Europe or something, probably from one of those places where you see the pictures of people precariously stacking one ladder on top of another, or riding around on a bicycle with a sheep on the handlebars. Suffice to say, it has nothing to do with the contemporary argument for which it’s being used. Yet there it is.

Deep down, the fossil fuel industries know that a day of reckoning will come when their products will no longer be acceptable. What they’re doing now is trying to make That Day as far down the road as they can push it, so as to continue to reap the waterfall of profits they currently enjoy. So they put out misinformation like this to sway the minds of those who cling to rose-colored memories of how life used to be.

Now, all that said, I have issues with electric car-hood myself. In my job, I manage a fleet of cars for our company. I’m keenly aware of the pros and cons of going electric. In order for a company like mine to adopt such technology, there’s some more work to be done in the field.

There are two things that the e-car industry will have to tackle before they see wider corporate adoption.

1)      There must be far more charging stations available. I see a smattering around town now, including in one of my office building’s parking garages. But they’re set up in the swank part of town. (As if any part of Baltimore can really be considered “swank.”) When people are on a multi-day business trip to visit various company locations, they won’t be able to use their home station. These people are going to have to count on being able to get a charge when they need one.

I can see our people whose turf is contained within a metro area being able to go electric. But for our other folks out in places like Montana and the Great Plains, whose locations can be hundreds of miles away from each other, finding a charge may be a prohibitive issue. At least for now.

2)      Charging time will need to come way down. People who work on the road cannot wait around for an hour or more to charge up their cars. They need to get it close to the time it takes to fill up a car with gas, or at least in the same ballpark.

I should also mention that the purchase price needs to come down too. Maybe individuals can make their money back in gasoline savings, but that takes time. Companies like mine usually replace their leased cars every 3 years or so, which limits the time available to lower the lifecycle costs. We’ll have to run the numbers when the time comes.

Until these changes take place, I don’t see wide-scale adoption on the corporate level. Although the use of hybrids may be an effective bridge. When I see the cost of hybrids come down, then it may be time for me to broach the subject with management.

More “Dad” Stories

Back in 2013, I wrote a post about getting splinters and shots, the banes of kid existence. Here’s a bit from it that featured “Doctor Dad”:

I quickly learned to rue the moment I got a splinter because I knew my Dad would have to take it out.  And he didn't consider it “extrication” as much as “exploratory surgery,” with nothing but a straight pin.

First, he had to run the end of the pin through the flame from a match, to “disinfect” it.  I think it was really to make sure I was properly terrified.  Then he’d use it to start digging around in my finger until he couldn't hold my hand down securely, from all my wiggling and howling.  After much crying and moaning and swearing and straining, he’d come up with the splinter on the end of the pin.  (Although a few times, I think he just pushed it down far enough so I couldn't see it anymore.)  Afterward, he’d apply some alcohol… not to me, to himself, in the form of Jack Daniels.

I remember one evening, when I was 5 or 6, I got a splinter from playing around near this rough railroad tie-looking plank that bordered our garden.  I came in and we did the whole Splinter Removal Dance, which took about 20 minutes.  (Not including the Jack.)  I went back outside to continue what I was doing and immediately got another splinter.

That one didn't go over very well.  I think there was considerably less delicacy used in the second extraction than there was with the first.  He might have even used an old corkscrew, I’m not sure.  I can’t say I blame him, but on the bright side, it was an early lesson wherein the little Bluzdude learned about the insanity of repeating the same action and expecting a different result.

Eventually, we managed to procure a pair of tweezers, so Dad could retire the straight-pin.  I’m not sure that was better, though, because often the splinter still had to be dug out, and the dullish edges of the tweezers were ineffective unless the nub was exposed.

Before long, I stopped telling anyone I had a splinter, and just went for the tweezers myself.  At least I could regulate how hard to push, and therefore the pain.  It’s hard to properly judge a kid’s actual pain when they scream before you even stick it in.

Of course, Dad had to get the last word in, in Comments:



Monday, December 13, 2021

Toxic Shock

The notion of toxic masculinity has been resurfacing in the news of late. Last week it was the ammosexual family of Rep Thomas Massie, posing for a traditional Christmas card picture in front of the tree, along with enough military hardware to annex Ukraine.

“Everyone say, Compensating!

This is one family where I bet no one ever wanted to bring home a bad report card* or spill their muscle milk. “Jeff, you didn’t finish your meat. Go out there and give me 20 headshots from 250 yards.”

*Bad report card meaning a grade the parents can’t argue or bully into a passing mark.

Back in October, before Rep. Madison Cawthorne was calling women “earthen vessels” meant for child delivery, he gave a speech where he called for women to “raise their boys as monsters,” while decrying the loss of masculinity. This coming from a guy in a wheelchair, it seems like an especially blatant attempt to compensate for his own limitations.

They are trying to de-masculate the young men in our country because they don’t want people who are going to stand up,” says the man who is permanently seated.

It’s no wonder this guy seems to be in a race with Louis Gohmert for “Dumbest Man in Congress.”

Whether it’s political or social, I see toxic masculinity as the source of a plethora of problems that plague our society. Its footprints are everywhere there’s evil and it all has to do with the male ego, with the notion that a man is entitled to anything he wants and if denied, is within his rights to take it by force. Hence the familiar examples:

·        Men who beat or kill women who try to leave them. Or stalk them, threaten them, interfere in their work or career, post revenge porn, and generally make their life miserable. It’s a shot to the ego, so man must make her pay.

·        Woman won’t date/sleep with him, she gets the same treatment as one who tries to leave. Must be a lesbian.

·        Same with road rage, feeling the need to make someone pay for the effrontery of trying to merge in front of him. “No one gets in front of me, they must be taught a lesson.” Even when so "wronged" in traffic, is it so hard just to vent it and forget it, and just go on with your life?

·        Men who are answerable to no one because they know everything. “If I don’t already know it, it’s not worth knowing.” This comes along with the dismissal of any experts of their field. We’ve just had a president with this trait. It would be unmanly and therefore forbidden, to acknowledge that someone else knows more than him about anything.

·        That includes the aversion to doctors and medicine in general because it would be a threat to their masculinity to be sick or ailing in any way. “I have no need for doctors because I’m too strong and fit to be sick. Nothing is wrong with me, ever.” The last president thought this as well.

No one can tell me what to do. No doctors, no lawyers, no wimmen, that’s for damned sure.”

·        Hence the Vax aversions, which by accepting a shot would mean that their own immune system is in some way inadequate or flawed. Or they have to appear to obey some pencil-neck in authority. Neither perception can be allowed to happen.  That’s all this “Liberty” crap is about… It’s a 5-year old yelling at his mother, “You can’t tell me what to do.”

·        Excessive love of high-powered weaponry, as demonstrated in the pic above. It’s not a matter of having a gun or two around the house for protection, it’s having to strap on an AR-15 just to go down to Costco. “Gotta let people know I can’t be trifled* with!” These guys have to have the biggest guns and the biggest trucks, just to make up for the rampant dick fear. If they can even see it anymore over their bellies.

*I apologize, none of these guys would ever use a word like “trifled,” unless it meant shooting someone with three rifles.

·        Obsession with the military and especially law enforcement. They love to laud the police department. You’d think that would be taboo, to recognize outside authority, but this is different because the police are loaded with the same kind of guys and they recognize their own. Rednecks with guns are basically immune to the police unless they go and do something in public that can’t be covered up. (And even then, it’s iffy.)

·        They never back down, never apologize or admit it when wrong. These things go hand in hand. “I’m never wrong, so what’s there to apologize for?” Along with that is the absolute refusal to compromise. “It’s my way or the highway.” Then when nothing gets done, it’s the other party’s fault. “Why should I give ground when I’m right?

*    Gangland mentality is rife with the same issues. There's no dis too small to avoid payback because ego won't allow it. You can't be seen as a pussy so signs of disrespect are avenged by killing the other guy, along with his family, or burning down their house.

·        Persecution of gays in any way possible. They hate gay men for being “sissies” and gay women for turning their backs on men. The whole idea makes them crazy so they’ll back anything from beating the crap out of them, to denying them basic human rights, to not serving them in establishments, to being unable to enjoy a simple TV show, if “one of those people” is on it.

·        A complete lack of empathy toward anyone else. “You got problems? Tough shit. Man up and shut up.”

While this kind of behavior is not limited to one political party, it still reads like the official Republican Platform. Or at least their operations handbook. It’s the kind of behavior that’s appealing to people with limited intelligence and reasoning skills, because it’s completely without nuance, along with being highly satisfying. I mean, who doesn’t want to be right all the time, or be the toughest, manliest, proudest mug on the block? Maybe it’s just “fake it till you make it” gone horribly awry.

Maybe someone can describe for me how any of these symptoms make the world a better place? Granted, that’s a moot question because these people aren’t interested in a better world for anyone else, just themselves and their destructive clones.

Is it really too much to be kind or considerate? Can we never put ourselves in someone else's shoes and consider what it's like to be them? Is empathy really such a sign of weakness? Is a reasoned response so painful that it paves the way to thinking with one's nutsack and just blowing up anyone or anything that dares cross you? There are far too many men for whom it is, an alarming number of which have gone into politics.

In Other News…

I have another “Dad Story” in mind but it’s too long to go with this post. Instead, let me tell you about something else.

I got my COVID booster shot last Friday. There were no side effects to report except a sore arm, much like the last two times. In fact, I also took this opportunity to get a Shingles shot as well. (The first of two.) But it was funny because the shot administrator tried to talk me out of getting both shots at once.

I said, “But it’s right there on your website, asking if we want any other shots while we’re here!”

He went on with a long explanation about types of shots and consequences, loaded with medical jargon and disclaimers. I figured, I hadn’t had any ill effects from shots so far, why worry now? So I had him do them both anyway.

I don’t think that was toxic masculinity, was it? I think it was more like stubbornness and reluctance to change plans.

I was hoping to get both shots in one arm, so I could still sleep comfortably on the other, but no, I had to get one in each. But the arm with the shingles shot was much less sore than the other, so I still got my beauty sleep. And like I said, no side effects at all.

And Lastly…

I see pictures like this on Facebook, usually with the caption that it looks like Jesus. On our dog, I think it looks more like Kenny from South Park.


Monday, December 6, 2021

We’ve Come a Long Way Baby, and Then Went Back

 I was appalled last week when listening to the Supreme Court arguments on the Mississippi abortion law that bans abortions after 15 weeks. Expert court watchers (like the ones that inhabit my blogroll) believe that based on the justice’s questioning, the court is planning on upending or neutering Roe Vs Wade.

I am in disbelief that we find ourselves, as a country, litigating what should be a basic human right: the autonomy over one’s body. Conservatives are perfectly content with turning sentient humans into nothing more than incubators for the state, at the behest of religious zealots who can’t abide by other people’s decisions or beliefs with which they disagree.

It appeared that several justices were looking for an angle, any angle, to use to clear the way for abortion bans. Kavanaugh thinks it should go back to the states, which I’m sure he’d decide the opposite way if the issue was establishing gun laws. Republicans only want laws going back to Republican states. After this decision, guns will have more rights than women.

Amy Barrett Coney seems to be supporting the point that babies being more easily given up for adoption eliminates the need for abortion at all. She pointed out how many towns have hospitals or firehouses where you can anonymously drop off your unwanted baby and it will be cared for.

It seems we’ve come to the point where a joke from Young Frankenstein is about to become the lynchpin of a court case that dehumanizes half the humans in this country.

This whole theory just breezes by the fact that women in more than half the country will be required by law to gestate a baby that will push their body every which way, cause sickness and discomfort, tear apart their lady parts, cost a fortune, and require time away from work. I don’t see anyone looking to provide free prenatal care to unwilling mothers, or any kind of paid stay-at-home-and-grow-a-child benefits. Seriously, adoption really isn’t that simple, until the very end. It’s like reading only the last chapter and going, “War and Peace really wasn’t that long; I knocked it out in an hour.”

Last Friday, Rep. Madison Cawthorne (R-NC17) referred to women as “earthen vessels,” while likening unborn babies to Polaroid pictures. 

The dude ought to leave the metaphors alone before someone puts an earthen vessel upside his head. Here’s more of his pious bullshit:

You have a Polaroid camera and you snap a beautiful picture, and a great photo prints out the front. You hold it and shake it, waiting for the picture to appear, but suddenly someone walks by and snatches your photo, ripping it to shreds. You’re stunned. You cry, ‘Why did you destroy my picture?’ The person replies, ‘Oh, it wasn’t a picture. It wasn’t fully developed yet.’ All of us in this room realize how asinine that reasoning is.”

The gap in logic is breathtaking. The problem with this analogy is that he has it turned inside out. What this law is proposing goes like this: “I just took a Polaroid picture and while it’s developing, I decide I don’t really want it after all (for any number of personal reasons) and before I can tear it up, some panel of strangers decides I have to keep the picture because they want me to have it for… (garbled, incoherent religious reasons). And I have to pass this picture out of a bodily orifice that isn’t well designed for such a journey. They don’t want the picture. They won’t pay for the film or framing. They don’t care if I give it away, but they will force me to keep it until it tears my body apart.”

There’s your analogy, Madison. Talk about asinine.

I know court arguments are very formal, even ritualized. It’s all case law, precedent, and legal eagle mumbo jumbo in Latin. But with this case, I don’t understand how Sotomayor and Kagan can refrain from making it personal. If I were either of those two, I’d question the counsel from Mississippi in such a personal and direct manner, that he’d want to run back to Biloxi and forget all about his quest to force his religious dogma on the unwilling rest of the country.

If it were me (as a female justice), I’d be like, “So explain to me why, if I were 30 years younger and pregnant, your government would seek to preempt my own judgment regarding my child-bearing decisions? On what grounds do you strip away my own will to decide how to use my body? Why is your religious perspective more important than mine, when it comes to what I do? Are you saying the entire country has to adhere to one specific religion, that being yours? And yes, it’s a completely religious argument. The moment a human “life” begins is subject to great moral and philosophical debate. Are you saying that a thimble full of merging cells has more rights than a sentient, thinking, breathing human being? By whose authority? God’s? Whose God?

“The Constitution may not refer to abortion but it very prominently says, ‘Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.’ In fact, one of my favorite blogs says that right at the top. If you take religion out of the picture, where do you get the authority to force me to deliver a baby? Believe me, when you can shoot a grapefruit out of your willy, then come see me about making women give birth against their will.”

I’ve mentioned in earlier posts that the only way for the right to choose (and vote, and love) as you please is to retake state and local governments. If the new conservative Court is going to apply the will of the few to the fate of the many, we have to change laws from the ground up. State legislatures put these onerous laws in place, they can also encode protections. Those may be subject to SCOTUS rejections, but they can still repeal the original restrictions. No court can find that they must enact a law. As citizens, we need to demand that our state legislatures reflect our will and our numbers.

Republicans know this too, or they wouldn’t be working so feverishly to gerrymander and erect barriers to voting freely.

I hope this issue lights the fire under those who have taken Roe Vs Wade for granted and moves them to look hard at their state representation. We have to ensure that government reflects the will of the people, not the will of a small subset of religious zealots.

No Dad Story Today

Usually, this is where I’d tell another story about my father but it’s not really the right time. Last week, our family suffered another tragedy with the loss of my sister’s husband, Scotty, after a year-long battle with leukemia.

Scott was one of my brother’s best friends back in high school and then dated our younger sister for a year or two. As it goes with most high school romances they broke up and went their separate ways, eventually marrying other people. But 20 years later, they both found themselves divorced and missing each other, and thus began the 2nd half of their romance. They married in the early 2000s and have been inseparable ever since.

And I only mention this because of the subject of the rest of this post, but one year for Halloween one carried an oar, the other wore hip waders, and they went out as Roe Vs Wade.

Scotty and Bluz Sister fought this thing hard but ultimately, the cancer won. It is truly a bitch.

I thought last year was bad but this year has reallllllly sucked. 2022 has GOT to be better, right? Right?