Saturday, December 31, 2011

Thursday, December 08, 2011

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Capitalism Moves in Mysterious Ways

 From UK Telegraph:
"In total, the committee said it had found more than a million fake parts had made their way into warplanes such as the Boeing C-17 transport jet and the Lockheed Martin C-130J "Super Hercules".
It also found fake components in Boeing's CH-46 Sea Knight helicopter and the Theatre High-Altitude Area Defence (THAAD) missile defence system.
"A million parts is surely a huge number. But I want to repeat this: we have only looked at a portion of the defence supply chain. So those 1,800 cases are just the tip of the iceberg," said Senator Carl Levin."
What does this say about capitalism and global free markets?  What does this say about our military?  Fake, cheap, knockoff Chinese electronics in our Trillion Dollar Per Year defenses?   We can do better than this.

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

New/Old U2 does William Bell

Those familiar with my U2 fascination, and my Steve Cropper fascination, and my FRINGE fascination will be amazed.  On FRINGE, William Bell, an overzealous scientist/businessman/space and time contortionist, is played by Leonard Nemoy.

In real life, William Bell was a singer for Stax Records, and Steve Cropper was the guitar player for Stax.  The real Bell is in the Carolina Beach Music Hall of Fame.

Sometime during the "Achtung, Baby" recording sessions, U2 played William Bell's "Everybody Loves a Winner", and it was just released on a new 6 CD, 4 DVD box set, along with some other goodies from the vault. 

One of the new CDs is a rawer, rougher version of each song from "Achtung, Baby", in order... like U2 pre-covering themselves.  It's like it's from an alternate universe.

Here's one from the b-sides disc, a reworked "Even Better Than the Real Thing".  Fascinating. 

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Stompin' Ground

IMGP5881j, originally uploaded by Watts4.
Maggie Valley Cloggin'

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

For Peter Bishop

See ya Friday?

wgifsm Experimenting with anaglyph gif files, this one reminded me of our favorite time and alternate universe traveller.

Monday, October 10, 2011

What Hath Mitt Wrought?

I've spent part of the morning amusing myself on Wikipedia reading about the Golden Plates and Joseph Smith.  I don't hold it against Romney, he was born into it, but it's a delight to see the Christian/Fountainhead followers try to bend themselves into accepting a Mormon as their leader.  I suppose if you can merge the philosophies of Christ and Rand, anything is possible (with Rupert at the helm).  My favorite quote from Wikipedia about Smith's wife Emma:

In 1843, Emma reluctantly allowed Smith to marry four women who had been living in the Smith household—two of whom Smith had already married without her knowledge. Emma also participated with Smith in the first "sealing" ceremony, intended to bind their marriage for eternity. However, Emma soon regretted her decision to accept plural marriage and forced the other wives from the household, nagging Smith to abandon the practice.  Smith dictated a revelation pressuring Emma to accept, but the revelation only made her furious.

"Wait honey, I'm having a revelation from God.  He's saying you need to accept it, you know, the 'me having sex with all the other women' thing.  Yeah, so, um, that settles it!" 

How'd it work out?
Joseph's death threw both the church and Emma's family into disorder. Emma was left a pregnant widow—it would be on November 17, 1844, that she gave birth to her and Joseph's last child together....
Nearly two years later, a close friend and non-Mormon, Major Lewis C. Bidamon, proposed marriage and became Emma's second husband on December 23, 1847.
You can't make this stuff up!  Oh wait..... read for yourself, the story of the Golden Plates.

Here's an engraving of Joseph Smith  receiving the Golden Plates and the "seer stone spectacles":

It reminds me of this picture, Bono handing the Pope his sunglasses:

Saturday, October 08, 2011

Bono to Tutu: Happy 80th


IMGP3777j, originally uploaded by Watts4.

Testing the flickr Android app with this photo

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Tea Party Hero Hypocrites: Hayek and Rand, plus Koch!

"We don't need no gub'ment, um, until we do," is the familiar refrain from elderly hypocrite libertarian types. 

Ayn Rand is a known hypocrite, taking Social Security and Medicare benefits.  Plus, she was a devout atheist.  I'm not sure how the "religious" right squares her views with their heartfelt Christianity, the pairing is inexplicable. 
And now recently uncovered documents show that Charles Koch himself tried to lure Friedrich Hayek (the other Tea Party hero) to the US to take a position at one of his libertarian think tanks, by sending him a letter encouraging him to take advantage of our Social Security system.

Oh, the hypocrisy.  You see, when libertarians are young and healthy, they don't think they will ever need government assistance.  But when they grow old or sick, you know what?  They'll take it! 
Check it out yourself.  Smarmy Bastards.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

I'm Making a Prediction

Obama will win reelection in 2012. Sure, you'll hear a lot of talk between now and Nov. 2012, but you can officially ignore it all.  Barack.  Bank on it.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Maureen misses Slick Willie

The Re-election Tango -

Maureen Dowd on Obama, after spending the entire article fawning over Bill Clinton:

"The Aloof One has to convince voters that he can connect emotionally. In a way, his relationship with Americans now is analogous to a marriage that’s not working. He’s the detached husband; we’re the neglected wife.

Is he paying attention? Does he understand our needs? Or is he just pretending to listen while he watches SportsCenter?"

If you're gonna make that analogy, Maureen, then at least admit that we voters are less like a neglected wife and more like a crazy, fat, demanding, bipolar wife.  We want less taxes and more benefits, more energy at a lower cost & impact, but we're not willing to give Obama a bj or even a hand job.  For cryin' out loud, Maureen, the man needs a fluffer, and if he can't even cop a feel from a liberal stalwart like yourself, why the heck would you expect him to stop watching SportsCenter?

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

I'd pay a Billion Dollars to see THAT

This is true, funny, and slightly entertaining, too!

Got that from HuffPo, where they have an interesting article on how corporations are tailoring their products to rich and poor, leaving out the middle:
"The economy is in evident peril, with unemployment high, wages falling, the housing market treading water and growth so slow as to be nearly imperceptible. Yet the rich are doing just fine. Some statistics make clear the size of America's affluence disparity: As of 2010, the richest 20 percent of the U.S. population control 84 percent of the wealth. And the 400 richest Americans have a higher net worth than the full bottom 50 percent of households.
As the wealthy continue to accrue capital -- helped by policies like a low tax on profits from stock and real estate sales -- and the less well-off classes try to make do in a pitiless economic climate, corporations appear to be finally recognizing the reality of the prosperity gap, and tailoring their product lines accordingly. Manufacturers like Procter & Gamble, the household-goods giant responsible for everything from Charmin and Old Spice to Tide, are concentrating their efforts on luxury and bargain items, putting less emphasis on products aimed at the middle class, the Wall Street Journal reports."
Is it wrong to suggest that without a strong, large and vibrant middle class, that our economy will fail?  

Thursday, September 08, 2011

Excuse me while I whip this out

Watch "the new sheriff scene from blazing saddles" on YouTube

In anticipation of Obama unveiling his Big Package tonight, a classic clip from Blazing Saddles.  I'd give anything to hear Obama kick off the speech with the subject line, anything! 
Other thoughts... I really hope that other Joe Walsh, the congressman who owes over $100k in child support, gets on TV and talks about Obama ramming his big package down our throats.  It's just too good not to note online, and this blog is where I note this kind of stuff.  I'd like to put it on facebook, but I have a wide range of friends, and I am sure some would be offended.  But c'mon, it's just too perfect.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Defending the President

Nominally conservative/libertarian Reason writer Steve Chapman gives a rundown of Obama's accomplishments as President:
"... by any objective standard, Obama has plenty of achievements. He approved a daring raid that killed Osama bin Laden. He's on his way to ending the Iraq war. He brought about a health insurance overhaul aimed at fulfilling the Democratic dream of universal coverage.
He saved General Motors and Chrysler and the jobs they provide. He scrapped the military's policy against gays. He put new regulations on financial institutions and the credit card industry.
He signed a nuclear arms reduction treaty with Russia. He launched a major initiative to promote innovation in schools, winning praise even from conservatives. He stopped the use of torture against suspected terrorists.
Love it or hate it, this is not the record of a dithering dunce or a confused wimp. It's all in keeping with the vision Obama offered during the 2008 campaign. It's all historically significant. None of it was preordained."
All this in an article with the headline "Why Obama Looks So Bad"

Monday, August 15, 2011

Time to drop the mortgage interest deduction

REALTORs and mortgage folks will hate me for this, but this article (Reason writer Anthony Randazzo) gets some facts straight, about the Mortgage Interest Deduction. Dare I say, it is time to get rid of it? As a realist and a supporter of the Simpson/Bowles framework, this is a break I'd be willing to give up to help balance the budget:

"When considering the actual tax savings of the mortgage interest deduction, the benefits to the middle class become even more meager. The average tax savings for households with income between $40,000 and $75,000 is just $152 a year. That's $12.66 a month. Compare that to the highest earners, those making $200,000 or more, who see an average of $1,862 a year off their tax bills because of the MID benefit."

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Friday, June 03, 2011

Bono Hitches a Ride

Oiler Brule gave lift to hitchhiking Bono

This was better than Spidey on AI.  So, Paul McGuinness is Bono's assistant?  Heh.

Thursday, June 02, 2011

Don't hack on me

News Republic:

This is why we threatened to bomb hackers.  It's a new world.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Reason Gets Torture Right

Steve Chapman at Reason had a great piece on torture, back on May 9th, and what really led to bin Laden:
"But it turns out that Mohammed also lied about the courier, saying he was a retired nobody. From this, CIA officials now claim, they knew the guy had to be a big deal. It was a crucial clue.
That's right: When tortured detainees provide truthful information, they prove torture works, and when they lie, they prove it works. If Mohammed had broken into a chorus of "Y.M.C.A.," that would have proved the same.
This bizarre reasoning is one of the many oddities about the defense of torture. Another is that the advocates never, ever refer to it as torture."

 And this is a good place for one of my favorite torture videos, enjoy:

Professional Militaries and Mercenaries

 William Astor of TomsDispatch asks: Are we not unlike 18th Century European Monarchs?  
"Our wars and their impact are kept in remarkable isolation from what passes for public affairs in this country, leaving most Americans with little knowledge and even less say about whether they should be, and how they are, waged. In this sense, our wars are eerily like those pursued by European monarchs in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries: conflicts carried out by professional militaries and bands of mercenaries, largely at the whim of what we might now call a unitary executive, funded by deficit spending, for the purposes of protecting or extending the interests of a ruling elite."
And who's right on top of the new mercenary money binge?  Erik Prince, formerly known as founder of Blackwater, (a company that changed its name to a symbol that only the artist formerly-and-now-once-again-known as Prince can pronounce), has pounced on the opportunities in the Middle East "uprisings" and stands prepared to act in whatever manner the top dollar brings:
Two UAE government officials contacted by Reuters declined immediate comment on the New York Times report, and the U.S. embassy in the UAE also had no immediate comment. It was not possible to locate Prince for comment.
The Times quoted a U.S. official who was aware of the program as saying: "The Gulf countries, and the U.A.E. in particular, don't have a lot of military experience. It would make sense if they looked outside their borders for help."
State Department spokesman Mark Toner told The Times the department was investigating to see if the project broke any U.S. laws. U.S. law requires a license for American citizens to train foreign troops.
Toner also pointed out that Blackwater, now known as Xe Services, had paid $42 million in fines in 2010 for training foreign forces in Jordan without a license, the Times said.
According to former employees of the project and U.S. officials cited by the Times, the troops were brought to a training camp in the UAE from Colombia, South Africa and other countries, starting in the summer of 2010.
They were being trained by retired U.S. military, and former members of German and British special operations units and the French Foreign Legion, the Times said.
Prince had insisted the force hire no Muslims, because they "could not be counted on to kill fellow Muslims," the paper said.
Reading these two articles together makes me think that the first article didn't go back far enough.  This is much more like the Crusades in the Middle Ages.  Plus, as a Doobie Brothers fan, I'm super mad at Mr. Prince for giving the term "Blackwater" a nefarious connotation. 

EXXon Pays Too Little

Wow, turns out, EXXon pays about the same percentage in tax as the Top 400, about half what they should pay:

"Exxon Mobil registered an average 17.6 percent federal effective corporate tax rate on its annual earnings in the three years spanning 2008 to 2010. Its average domestic profits exceeded $6.8 billion. And as a 2011 Citizens for Tax Justice report points out:
Over the past two years, ExxonMobil reported $9,910 million in pretax U.S. profits. But it enjoyed so many tax subsidies that its federal income tax bill was only $39 million -- a tax rate of only 0.4 percent.
Even when Exxon Mobil had a record profit of $40 billion in 2008 due to record oil prices it had only a 31 percent effective tax rate. That’s 13 percent lower than the maximum 35 percent despite being Exxon Mobil's fifth year as the top corporate earner in Fortune 500’s annual listing. The company paid no taxes at all to the U.S. federal government in 2009 on its domestic profits of nearly $2.6 billion. It appears that they avoided the tax man that year by legally funneling their profits through wholly owned subsidiaries in countries like the Cayman Islands, and reinvesting their earnings overseas."
It looks like the ultra rich and most profitable corporations have found a way to pay only the percentage they think is fair.  I mean, if you asked them what they thought would be fair, wouldn't they jump at 17-18%?  What a deal!  But we all have to pay more taxes than we want to, at least, those of us in the bottom 99% that are people do.  

Top 400 Pay Way Too Little

Sam Pizzigati has an interesting article over at Alternet that shows how little the Top 400 actually pay in taxes as a percentage of their income.  It's about half of what the government should collect, 18% rather than 35% (the supposed tax rate for the top bracket):

  "In 2008, the IRS revealed last week, 400 Americans reported at least $110 million in income on their federal tax returns. These 400, in a year that ended with millions of Americans out of work and home, averaged $270.5 million each, the second-highest U.S. top 400 average income on record."

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Donald Trump is a racist

When Donald Trump Didn’t Need Proof

It would be obvious to him if he had studied history, or had a empathetic bone on his body.  Trump is the biggest ass in America. 

A majority of Republicans want higher taxes

for rich folks. 

As Offshoring Continues, US Public Peeved at "Free Market" | Common Dreams

"72% of the public—including a stunning 55% of Republicans—favor President Obama’s proposal to raise taxes on incomes over $250,000"

Will wonders never cease. 

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Blogger test Tab

Testing a new platform for posting to blogger.  Now to find a picture to attach...

The Galaxy Tab is getting rave reviews:
"This thing is just a mess. It's like a tablet drunkenly hooked up with a phone, and then took the fetus swimming in a Superfund cleanup site."  Thanks, Gizmodo.

Monday, March 21, 2011

It didn't seem THAT big

That's what she said! Har Har
Here's a poor time-lapse of the "biggest moon ever" or whatever.

bmwmlhammer480 a video by Watts4 on Flickr.

The best part is right at the beginning, you can see a few stars and the sky color change is dramatic. Too bad that part is over in like 1.5 seconds. (TWSS)

Shot with 10-17mm Pentax lens. I went with f5.6, ISO 100, auto-shutter.... most pics took 20+ seconds, so I didn't get enough pictures, but was able to expose to see some foreground detail. Next time I may be braver and use a zoom + quick exposure to get moon detail.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Monday, March 07, 2011

5 Pack: The "5" Royales

My recent re-fascination with all things Steve Cropper led me to The "5" Royales from Winston-Salem.  What a gold mine of music these guys were!  Led by guitarist/songwriter Lowman Pauling, The "5" Royales started as a gospel harmony group in the 40's, had piano-based do-wop hits in the early 50's, and then revolutionized themselves with electric guitar on some of the greatest songs of the 50's.  They span the bridge from gospel to soul, releasing over 100 songs in a 30 year career.  I'm going to highlight a few of my favorites for ya from throughout their career: 

A 5 pack of the "5" Royales for you.

Item icon The 5 Royales - Just As I Am.mp3

Item icon The 5 Royales - Put Something in It (With All Your Heart).mp3

Item icon The 5 Royales - Say It.mp3

Item icon The 5 Royales - When I Get Like This.mp3

Item icon The Royal Sons Quintet - So God Can Use Me.mp3 

If you like what you hear, let me know.  "Say It" is the rocker, "When I Get Like This", the ballad.  "So God Can Use Me" is the oldest, from the 40's.  Many of their songs are available at

Friday, February 04, 2011

Fringe, with U2, again!

Last week U2 was mentioned on the FOX hit Fringe yet again
Walter's line: "Fauxlivia ruined U2 for all of us." Fascinating.

Monday, January 17, 2011

The Sensational Nightingales

After that game last night, I need "Somewhere to Lay My Head". This is a fantastic sure to stick around for the last minute to see the foot moves. This was way before James Brown. This is Rev. Julius "June" Cheeks, from Spartanburg, SC. I found this and a lot more gold at TheHoundBlog.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Is Krugman Wrong?

In this article, Paul Krugman says that Republicans don't want social security and medicare anymore. Is this right?

One side of American politics considers the modern welfare state — a private-enterprise economy, but one in which society’s winners are taxed to pay for a social safety net — morally superior to the capitalism red in tooth and claw we had before the New Deal. It’s only right, this side believes, for the affluent to help the less fortunate.

The other side believes that people have a right to keep what they earn, and that taxing them to support others, no matter how needy, amounts to theft. That’s what lies behind the modern right’s fondness for violent rhetoric: many activists on the right really do see taxes and regulation as tyrannical impositions on their liberty.

There’s no middle ground between these views. One side saw health reform, with its subsidized extension of coverage to the uninsured, as fulfilling a moral imperative: wealthy nations, it believed, have an obligation to provide all their citizens with essential care. The other side saw the same reform as a moral outrage, an assault on the right of Americans to spend their money as they choose.

This deep divide in American political morality — for that’s what it amounts to — is a relatively recent development. Commentators who pine for the days of civility and bipartisanship are, whether they realize it or not, pining for the days when the Republican Party accepted the legitimacy of the welfare state, and was even willing to contemplate expanding it. As many analysts have noted, the Obama health reform — whose passage was met with vandalism and death threats against members of Congress — was modeled on Republican plans from the 1990s.

A Tea Party takeover of the Republican Party has made these decades-old agreements (SS, Medicare, Unemployment Insurance, etc.) into arguments again. They want to roll it back to pre-1930. Just listen to the books Glenn Beck recommends. Heck, his whole show last night was about Freud's nephew and advertising to control people's minds. But I digress.
The question remains... do Republicans still support Social Security/Medicare, etc? Do they just not want to fully fund it? Do they want it, but don't want to pay taxes for it? WHAT is the deal?

Friday, January 07, 2011

Judge Henry Hudson, Porn Star

Hey, that ol' VA Judge Hudson sure seemed familiar when he became the only Judge (out of what, 14?) to find the Health Care Law unconstitutional. He seemed familiar to me because I did my high school Senior Speech on pornography, and the Meese Commission that Hudson led.
Interestingly enough, in the porn case, he argued that the Commerce Clause allowed the Fed to control all pornography. But now, conveniently, he doesn't see the Commerce Clause the same way he did back then. Basically he likes it when it works for him and not so much when it works against him.

Tuesday, January 04, 2011


Well, Rep. Issa, you've gone and done it. You took idiot Jim Cramer's advice:
"In news from Capitol Hill, Congressman Darrell Issa (R-CA) has asked the oil industry, drug manufacturers, healthcare providers and telecom firms to tell him which government regulations he should target this year as the new chair of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee."
There it is, that wonderful Jim Cramer advice...."just ask the big corporations what they want, and give it to them".

Issa better watch his ass-a. We're on to you.

Congrats Corporations, You Win!

From David Dayen, "Corporations Show Largest Profits in History Amid Jobs Crisis", an article that exposes some truth:
"Despite record unemployment, and no hope for reductions clearly in sight, corporations have experienced all-time record profits, the highest since the Commerce Department started tracking the figure 60 years ago. They’ve learned to produce as many or more goods without workers.

This is something of a dream for corporate America – bigger profits without those meddling workers to pay. This is the seventh straight quarter of corporate profit growth, with none of those benefits being shared with the working class. “Uncertainty” is blamed for the lack of job growth, but corporations are sitting on giant mounds of cash while they bask in the glow of their strategy to increase their profit margins by cost-cutting.

The other part of this is that multinational corporations are reaping profits from increased consumer spending in China and India. Their markets there have expanded greatly in the past few years.

In the other side of the funhouse mirror, American workers continue to have little hope for returning to the job."
Congrats corporations, you win!

Tax & Spend Conservatives

Joshua Holland has an interesting piece on Alternet about the "9 Biggest Conservative Lies About Taxes and Public Spending". They do try to confuse the public about the numbers, and this article hopes to clear up some of those misconceptions. It shall therefore be ignored. So, here are the 9 points, click through to the article to see them explained in glorious detail:

1. Cutting Taxes Leads to More Money for the Government
2. Conservatives' Favorite Economist Proves the Point
3. Taxes on the Rich Keep 'Wealth Producers' from 'Creating Jobs'
4. The Opposite: Tax Cuts for Upper Earners Spur Job Growth
5. Only Half of American Families Pay Taxes
6. Americans Are Taxed to Death
7. We're Being Killed by Runaway Government Spending
8. Conservatives Favor Low Taxes and Limited Government
9. Taxes on Top Earners Are Actually Taxes on 'Small Businesses'

Monday, January 03, 2011

Finance Funnies

From Frank Rich:
"It’s a measure of how rapidly our economic order has shifted that nearly a quarter of the 400 wealthiest people in America on this year’s Forbes list make their fortunes from financial services, more than three times as many as in the first Forbes 400 in 1982. Many of America’s best young minds now invent derivatives, not Disneylands, because that’s where the action has been, and still is, two years after the crash. In 2010, our system incentivizes high-stakes gambling — “this business of securitizing things that didn’t even exist in the first place,” as Calvin Trillin memorably wrote last year — rather than the rebooting and rebuilding of America.
That's as close an answer as I've found for my question "How many in the top 2% of wage earners work in the finance industry?" The Forbes list counts accumulated wealth, not how much one makes in a year, so I imagine that top 2% is even more chock full of finance industry folks. You know, the industry that shat in its pants and spread it all Screw them. I see folks who bought moderate houses at the peak and are now tens of thousands of dollars in debt, underwater in their homes. I'd like to take some finance executives' clearly unearned bonuses and fix this situation...
" companies that actually make things (and at times innovative things) have been devalued, looted or destroyed by a financial industry whose biggest innovation in 20 years, in the verdict of the former Fed chairman Paul Volcker, has been the cash machine."
And the cash machine.... they're making a mint on this, too! They got to fire half the tellers in America, and they charge $3-$10 per transaction if you can't find "your" bank machine. Sometimes I think the best solution is a money mattress, like this one the new head of BOA uses:

Update: I just have to add in here the article by Sarah Anderson ("Bankers' Pay Still Skyrocketing, as Wall Street's Casino Rolls On"), where she talks about a TV appearance she made back in '07:
" head bitten off for criticizing Countrywide Financial CEO Angelo Mozilo on the CNBC show Squawk Box.

My offense? I questioned whether Mozilo really deserved to be the sixth-highest paid CEO in the country, given that the company's sub-prime mortgages were already showing clear signs of toxicity, with skyrocketing foreclosure rates.

Suddenly I had show host Carl Quintanilla and the other guests, including David John of the Heritage Foundation, shouting me down, saying that Mozilo had built the company from nothing and shareholders should be happy to give him every penny of his $42.9 million in compensation.

Looking back, it's hard to find a clearer example of the business press blindly glorifying highly paid CEOs. As we all know today, Mozilo's reckless subprime adventures were a disaster for the company and the country. Four months after that CNBC show, Countrywide no longer existed."
Now BOA owns Countrywide.