Politics and Whatnot

Just another liberal political blog

Monthly Archives: July 2011

I’m taking a break from politics

With all this debt debate and whatever, I think I’ve had enough of politics. I’m increasingly becoming convinced that the wealthy and corporate interests are simply dominating Washington, and that complaining about it does no good. There’s so much misinformation, so much to get depressed about.

What else should I do? I dunno. I like science, I like philosophy. I’ll figure something out.

Here’s a picture of Jupiter, with the moon Io passing in front of it.   Why?  Because when was the last time you noticed just how cool Jupiter is?  Did you know all those clouds are made of hydrogen?  On Earth, hydrogen is a highly flammable gas, but on Jupiter it’s not, because Jupiter doesn’t have an oxygen-rich atmosphere like Earth does.  It’s a completely different world.  Apparently empty, devoid of life.  Just this huge, huge thing, sitting there.  Somewhere deep under that atmosphere are things no one has seen – metallic hydrogen, neon rain, massive storms that could swallow planets, made up entirely of unearthly substances.



Like many things in life, you don’t need to be wealthy, or powerful, to enjoy it.   Although admittedly, more NASA funding for exploration would help.  See, there I go again.


Obama promises to reward plutocratic Republican financiers for default at expense of poor, downtrodden

Our “liberal” president has reassured Republicans that if they force him to default on the debt, he will take it out solely on the poor and downtrodden and cover all the interests of the big banks that fund Republican campaigns.  If you’re a wealthy bond holder, default on the debt is all gain, no pain.

I can’t make this stuff up. If you’re a person with a heart, no part of the US government is for you.

2012 Polls: Obama losing to hypothetical Republican, but beating actual Republicans

I’ll say it once and I’m sure I’ll say it again: Republicans are better at marketing than Democrats.

How can you tell?  Take a look at the latest 2012 polls from RealClearPolitics.   Right there at the top is some alarming news: Polls show Obama trailing a generic “Republican” in 2012, 44.7% to 41.0%.  That’s not a huge gap, but it’s definitely significant.

So you’re thinking, ” Does this mean some Republican wacko like Michelle Bachmann is going to be our next president?”

Not so fast.  Obama’s beating Bachman, 50.0% to 37.6%.   Even the comparatively non-crazy Mitt Romney is getting beat 46.9% to 42.6%, the closest margin for all the candidates, except of course the  generic Republican  that beats Obama (the widest is Sarah Palin, who Obama beats 57% to 37%).

So Obama’s beating actual Republicans, most by a long shot, but losing to a generic Republican.  How is that possible?

Because as I mentioned, Republicans are just better at marketing themselves.  They’ve made the word “Obama” uncool by painting anyone who votes for Obama as a cult member, and have made “Republican” cool by starting the Tea Party ® brand movement, which aligns itself with the Founding Fathers aligns the Founding Fathers with itself.  What’s more, they’ve claimed that they can solve all of America’s problems by cutting “spending”, this mysterious money that disappears and apparently doesn’t go towards anything.  People like cutting “spending”, as long as they don’t know what the spending is for.

So people like “Republican” and they dislike “Obama”.  But the Republican marketing strategy has failed in one key respect – the one thing people still dislike more than “Obama” is actual Republicans.   People dislike Michelle Bachmann, Sarah Palin, and even Mitt Romney.   Americans, even the easily manipulated ones, don’t like their ideas and don’t trust these people to run the country.  So until the Republicans find a candidate that matches their marketing, they’re going to have a lot of trouble in 2012.

A sampling of Anders Behring Breiviks views (I think)

The media has been rather slow to post anything about the alleged Norway shooter’s views.  Using Google translate, archive.org, and a document rumored to be from the shooter (that happens to have his name on it), you can view a sample of what may be his  internet comments here.

Scroll down a bit to get to the Islam stuff.

One interesting note is that while he clearly holds some anti-Muslim views and fears about their supposedly violent beliefs, he does not seem to advocate violence or any other extreme action himself.

A sample:

tell me one country where Muslims have lived peacefully with non-Muslims without the Jihad against Kafr (dhimmitude, systematic slaughter or demographic warfare)?

I could name 40 countries / areas where this has had catastrophic consequences for non-Muslims. Can you please name ONE single example where it has managed to assimilate the Muslims? You seem limitless naive. Of course, some integrate but it is completely the result that counts (everything else is irrelevant).

How many thousands of new Europeans must die, how many one hundred thousand European women should be raped, millions robbed and tractor discarded before you understand that multiculturalism + Islam does not work?

Why do you think Norway will be the first country in the world for the last 1400 years in which this will succeed?

History repeats itself forever.

Again, extreme views and a sense of urgency, but he gives little clue that he might be violent.

Now this one is really interesting/ironic:

2009-11-30 02:32:30

The attack was most likely carried out by Muslims of Ingushetia, Dagestan and Chechnya.

There are now several key Jihadists who are wanted.

No “bomb” in other words …, p


I do not understand why cnn mention the extreme right and the National Socialists? I have never ever heard of a right extreme or NS terrorist attacks of importance on European soil. This sounds like kulturmarxistisk wishful thinking.

Emphasis added.

What are the wealthy doing with their Bush tax cut money?

Republican in Congress have made it abundantly clear that they are opposed to anything that has a tax increase, and in fact some support a further reduction of taxes, at the cost of medicare, medicaid, social security, and scientific progress.

So while we’re butchering these programs, maybe we should look back at a 2006 MarketWatch article about how the super-rich job creators have been spending their money on since the deficit-creating Bush tax cuts were passed in 2001 and 2003.  A few highlights (probably in 2006 dollars):

– $30,000 per year on booze

– $226,000 per year on cars (how long do their cars last?), $404,000 per year on boats (how long do their boats last?)

– $147,000 per year on watches.  Watches.  That’s about 1,470 times what I’ve spent on watches in my lifetime.

The biggest expense?

– $1.75 million per year on art (typically old art, not exactly creating jobs)

So when you’re fighting with your siblings about which one of you is going to pay mom’s latest health care bill, just be aware, somewhere out there is a guy with a heck of an art collection, sitting on a boat that’s worth more than your life, that thanks you.

Actually, he’s probably not going to be thanking you, and he’s probably going to be spending a bit of his money on lobbying Congress for more tax cuts, calling you wealthy because you have a refrigerator.  But at least you’re making him happy.

Gold officially ridiculously overpriced at over $23,000 a pound

BBC News – Gold price hits record at $1,600 on debt uncertainty.

The bar is worth about $640,000. Not sure how much the hand is worth, but it's probably quite a bit less.

It’s times like this that I wish I had enough money to short things.   Then again, most of my predictions are wrong, so maybe it’s better that I don’t. But despite that, I’m quite certain that gold is not only overvalued, but ridiculously overvalued.

So gold has hit $1600 per troy ounce.  That’s $1600 per 1/14.58th of a pound of gold.   In other words, gold is now worth over $23,000 a pound.   Excuse me.


Nothing in the universe is worth $23,000 a pound.  Nothing.  I don’t care what people will pay for it, nothing is actually worth that much money per pound.  And what does gold even do?  It has some very specific electronics applications, and it looks pretty.  That’s it.  That’s what $23,000 a pound is for.  You can’t even eat it.

By the way, gold is one of the heaviest metals – its almost twice as dense as lead.  One of those gold ingot bars (see picture) is 400 troy ounces.

Now, the price of gold wouldn’t be where it is if there weren’t people who thought that gold is quite sanely valued at $1600, or even higher.  One Ivory Johnson, guest blogging at CNBC suggests that gold is “nobody’s bubble” and that “it’s the unregulated counter-party to three decades of conspicuous fiscal incompetence. ” Mr. Johnson describes how several prior predictions of gold’s demise have failed, suggesting the current thinking that gold is a bubble will also be proven wrong.  Wrong before, wrong again, right?  What goes up, keeps going up.

So the gold price is being held up by ideology, self-reinforcement, and magical thinking.  You don’t need to be a highly paid hedge fund manager to figure out that gold is overpriced.  All you have to do is ask the following:  Which one would you rather have?

  • A pound of gold ($23,000) or a new car?
  • 10 pounds of gold ($230,000), or a decent suburban house?
  • A single gold ingot (thing in picture – $640,000), or a working 1979 Learjet that was flown by Neil Armstrong + $40,000?

Yeah, I think gold’s a bit overvalued.

Reason #798,657,890,765 that News Corp is evil

UK reacts to closure of News of the World – CSMonitor.com.

News Corp subsidiary News of the World, which is apparently quite a big deal in the UK,  is closing due to a news scandal.  Now most news scandals involve things like a reporter trusting a source that turned out to be fraudulent, or at worst, making up news.  So what is News of the World accused of doing?  Let’s see:

Hacking the cell phones of:

  • The Royal Household
  • Various British government officials
  • Dead British soldiers
  • Murder victim Milly Dower (then still missing).  Yes, they hacked a dead woman’s phone.  That’s not the worst part.  They also deleted some of her voice mail messages, not only destroying evidence, but also causing her friends and family to falsely believe she may still be alive.

Bribing police officers to gain apparently non-public information.  Doesn’t seem to be too many details about that yet.

– Generally being a libelous and dickish publication that has brought false allegations, run entrapement based “investigation” pieces, and exposed embarrassing private information that is not of the public’s concern.

All this makes one wonder: is this limited to News of the World, or is it part of a wider News Corp method, possibly followed by its many subsidiaries in the US?  Of course reputable papers like the Wall Street Journal would probably stay away from this sort of thing.  Then again, Murdoch’s only been in charge of that paper since 2007.  Fox News has already had plenty of scandals of its own and seems eager to outdo itself again and again.  Time will tell.

NPR explains why corporate music sucks

How Much Does It Cost To Make A Hit Song? : Planet Money : NPR.

If you’re, say, a 14-year-old girl who listens to pop music, you probably have some inaccurate assumptions about how songs are made.  You’d probably imagine that songs are written by the pop artists themselves.  You’d think that Rihanna’s music is her own expression, not just a song written by someone else that she’s lending her voice to.  If you were particularly knowledgeable, you might think that her songs are carefully written by a single songwriter.

But you’d still be wrong.   Rihanna doesn’t have one or two songwriters that write songs carefully in a simple studio somewhere.  Instead, her album Loud had a “camp” where at least 40 songwriters in 10 studios got together to churn out lyrics to tracks put together by some producer somewhere.   The lyrics for the song “Man Down”. apparently, were written in 12 minutes.  The thinking is “You got all the best people, you’re gonna make the best records,” even if it only takes 12 minutes per song.  So you get brilliant lyrics from the “best people” like:

Rum pa pa pum
Rum pa pa pum
Rum pa pa pum
Me say wah man down (A weh me say)
Rum pa pa pum
Rum pa pa pum
Rum pa pa pum
When me went downtown

Yeah, no wonder all the greatest stories in history were written by one, rather than 40 people.  Maybe creativity isn’t something to be expected from  a giant committee.

But who cares about lyrics?  Well fine, but that’s not the worst part.  The worst part is how songs get played on the radio.  In fact, it looks like the vast majority of money spent on a song is put into “roll out” which includes advertising and, apparently, “treating the radio guys nice”.  What does that mean?  One former BET programmer claims he received an envelope with $40,000 cash.  Current programmers say that doesn’t happen anymore (bullshit).   Whatever the means used is, however, its clear that labels spend a ton of money bribing programmers – if not with cash, then fancy dinners.

In other words, the whole thing is just a big corrupt machine.  The music is churned out of a factory at mass-production speed.  No effort is put into it.  Of course, no effort needs to be put into it, because what gets played on the radio isn’t what’s good, it’s what’s been paid for.  And if it’s on the radio, people will buy it, so the assumption goes.

Now I’m all for capitalism, but there are only so many channels on the radio that we have to listen to on my way to work in the morning.  If it’s filled with bribery and corruption that forces us to listen to mass-produced shit, isn’t that a problem?   Maybe it’s time for the FCC to pass some regulations that are worth enforcing.

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