Saturday, May 13, 2006

Just because

It's the disparity stupid!

The Seattle Times has a brief (and by no means comprehensive) article about the state of the economy, or how is it that record setting stock markets and profit margins aren't making people feel better about the economy.

Experts agree that U.S. economic growth exceeds historic norms. In late April,the Commerce Department reported a sizzling first-quarter annual growth rate of4.8 percent in gross domestic product (GDP), the broadest measure of theeconomy. Unemployment, at 4.7 percent, hovers near all-time lows.

Like I said- it's the disparity stupid!
The same week that the robust GDP numbers came out, the government also reported that worker compensation pay and benefits increased in the first quarter at an annual rate of only 2.4 percent, the slowest rate in seven years. That figure, Bernstein said, suggests that workers' wages aren't keeping pace with gains during past economic expansions.
So wages aren't keeping up with inflation (nothing new there), employers don''t want to pay higher wages because they 1) have to keep up with globalization and 2) are paying more towards healthcare (all while employer provided healthcare is becoming more rare- 45% of Americans don't have health insurance at all).
Let's look at some numbers:
In 2004 (the last year that census numbers aravailablebe for) the number of people living in poverty rose to 12.7% or 37 million people. That was the 4th straight year in a row that the number went up. The US also has the largest percentage of people living in poverty in the developed world. How's that for the American dream? (And why do I have to get my numbers from British newspapers?)

The minimum wage of $5.15 an hour has not risen since 1997 and, adjusted for inflation, is at its lowest since 1956.

The top 20 per cent of earners take over half the national income. At the same time the bottom 20 per cent took home just 3.4 per cent

The United States has 269 billionaires, the highest number in the world

These statistics all use the government's guidelines for poverty thresholds which haven't been changed since 1955 and don't include health care, child care, housing and transportation (according to Duke Professor David Brady- who may have to go on my hot brains list). If Brady's numbers were used instead, the poverty rate is closer to 17%.
But back to the Seattle Times article. If we are in an economic boom with low unemployment- why aren't wages climbing faster?
"As the expansion progresses, wages tend to catch up to productivity growth, and eventually the growth rate of wages exceeds that of productivity. ... We are moving into that phase," Lazear told the Hudson Institute, a conservative policy-research center.
Martin Regalia, chief economist for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, said he thinks the economy will slow in the second half of this year.
So if the economy is looking at a near-future slowdown and wages have yet to catch-up, what happens next?

And what about the middle class (I should put that in quotes since the middle class is on it's way to Dodo level extinction). Yet another article in the Seattle Times claims that middle class families are going into debt not by racking up expensive purchases like plasmaTVs, but on basics like housing and healthcare.
In the past five years, the costs of medical care, housing, food, cars and household operations rose 11.2 percent, the study said. Many families are trying to make up the difference by borrowing, said Christian Weller, author of the report and a senior economist at the center. "Very little can be explained by frivolous consumer spending," Weller said.
How screwed up does our country have to be that there are record corporate profits while average families are going deeper into debt just trying to maintain their lifestyle? We have levels of economic disparity in this country that haven't been seen since right before the Great Depression, and war spending isn't pulling us out of the hole this time.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Data Mining, DNA and the private KGB

Weeks ago I told you all that Greg Palast belongs on my hot brains list. His latest article just proves that brains and balls make him dreamy. Now it's time to learn about ChoicePoint (or how to privately outsource domestic spying so that you avoid nasty constitutional problems).

They are paid to keep an eye on you -- because the FBI can't. For the government to collect this stuff is against the law unless you're suspected of a crime. (The law in question is the Constitution.) But ChoicePoint can collect it
for "commercial" purchases -- and under the Bush Administration's suspect
reading of the Patriot Act -- our domestic spying apparatchiks can then BUY
the info from ChoicePoint.
The same private company that is selling your phone records and credit card purchase information to Big Brother is also -SUPRISE- collecting DNA samples from as many Americans as they can.

And now ChoicePoint and George Bush want your blood. Forget your phone
bill. ChoicePoint, a sickened executive of the company told us in confidence,
"hope[s] to build a database of DNA samples from every person in the United
States ...linked to all the other information held by CP [ChoicePoint]" from
medical to voting records.
Wow! Now the gorvernment will have one stop shopping for keeping track of those nasty little people we like to call citizens.

What would they possibly want to do with both your medical records and your voting records. Huhm. Let's see-

Do you like employing that so-called free speech part of the constitution? Ever take an anti-depressant? Wait till government paints you as a mentally unstable nut bag with medical documents to back them up after you publicly declare your support for the other guy.

Do you think that family planning is a good thing? Wait till the government can tell everyone you know or work with exactly what measures you use for family planning based on your private medical records. Ever have an abortion, or maybe an std? Your boss will love to get that information from the feds so that he can know how you spend your free time. What about potential employers? It would be so much easier if they could find out in advance what kind of health issues you have so they know not to hire you if you are going to increase their insurance costs.

But what would they do with your DNA? Think about it and read the entire article here.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Nothing funnier than the real thing

Chicks In Chain Mail (I am told) is da bomb. Perhaps also a fashion statement; just keep the sword in view so you dont't get busted for carrying a concealed weapon!

Pro or Con?

I have to admit it- I love the Stranger's new pro or con polls. Last week it was honkies, this week functional alcoholics! Like DeeK said about honkies- some of my best friends are functional alcoholics, so I guess I'm pro!

And it turns out that honkies are the root of all evil.

How does a UNIX Guru have sex?

The subject of this (Fursday) post should offer a clue to my relative absence. Even the post could be a little geeky:

How does a UNIX Guru have sex?
unzip; strip; touch; finger; mount; fsck; more; yes; fsck; fsck; fsck; umount; sleep

What would Republican Jesus do?

Fursday Funnies- Now with Romance!

Fake romance novel covers - click title for more and enjoy!

NSA wiretapping and date mining

You've all heard by now the news that the Decider has been monitoring phone records of thousands of Americans. No- you haven't? Then go read this.

On one happy note, my phone company (the people in charge of both home and cell and internet, who have been bilking me for fat wads of cash for years) Qwest, is the only company that refused to participate because they weren't sure of the legal ramifications.

My cell phone contract is up in a few months- guess who I'm sticking with.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Assistance required!

So Mephistopheles and I are having a battle of the cheesiet love song lyrics.

I need help. My knowledge of sappy 70's love songs in no way matches the Devil's.
I pulled out Anne Murray and Celine Dion in hopes of scorched earth policy to end the battle, but he countered with Bacharach.

Please, readers, poster, commentors and lurkers- send my your suggestions. Only you can end this war of the cheese before velveta covers the planet.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

More proof for the Super Jumbo Healthcare Post

I know. I am a giant slacker but mid-terms and migrains are preventing me from writing anything of substance.

Think of it this way- I am just adding fuel to the fire of reason so that by the time I actually finish the damn healthcare plan you all will be ready to torch the old style of private medical insurance like cars in a poor Paris suburb.

On that note:

An estimated 2 million babies die within their first 24 hours each year worldwide and the United States has the second worst newborn mortality rate in the developed world, according to a new report.

That's right. For all of our culture of life crap and fetishizing babies and mothers, we sure don't seem to give a damn about the babies that are born.

hat tip to Shakespeare's sister.

It ain't Kinsey, but..

it seems about right.

Your fearless leader is 56% gay. I don't know what that means. I prefer boys generally, though there are the occasional girl crushes and flings. I don't think I'm a BUG (bi until graduation or those college girls who get free drinks by making out with each other) or a LUG (Evergreen's version- but lesbian until graduation or they find some nice boy to have babies with).

I think of myself more as a sexual opportunist or maybe pansexual. If I am attracted to someone (regardless of their gender) I'll flirt. To use the ubiquitous Seattle phrase- it's all good.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Another one bites the dust

Let's see......

Porter Goss- abruptly out of the CIA over the weekend

Now the #3 CIA guy and good friend of Goss- Dusty Foggo is out too.

But Scott McClellan just keeps hanging on. He and new press sec Tony Snow are now going to share duties.

And Goss' replacement is a military man, Air Force General Michael Hayden, which puts an active military officer in charge of civilian intelligence. Great. Forget about personal liberties folks and welcome to the country formerly known as a democracy.

Warning: Brazen Hussies Make Boys Soft!

It's a day ending in y- so I must write about sex. What can I say- it's my favorite hobby (sex, not the writing about it).

This inane article at the Washington Post is:

A) The crappiest piece of investigative reporting ever
B) One more attempt to prove that girls who like sex are bad for boys
C) A really bad excuse to put Weezer lyrics in a newspaper article
D) All of the above.

Adam Skrodzki, a tall, redheaded senior at the University of Maryland, bench-presses a respectable 280 pounds. He fights fires in Howard County as a volunteer and plans to join the Secret Service in the fall. In short, he's a man's man.

Or so he thought until last fall, when he hooked up with a sophomore -- at her urging.

But on this night, their first in bed, his body was telling him something else. She used every trick she knew, with no success. Adam panicked.
The author goes on to explain that studies of the number of young men who have erection difficulties are hard to come by, yet still seems to think that:

It seems that for a sizable number of young men, the fact that they can get sex whenever they want may have created a situation where, in fact, they're unable to have sex. According to surveys, young women are now as likely as young men to have sex and by countless reports are also as likely to initiate sex, taking away from males the age-old, erotic power of the chase.
That's right, us whoring hussies who like sex and are willing to say so diminish boys ability because boys no longer get the thrill of the chase.

Our insipid reporter does talk to a professional or two who say that stress, eating habits, health and increased awareness of drugs to help the problem may be adding to the numbers of young men who are seeking treatment, but then goes right back to blaming us girls.

One can argue that a young woman speaking her mind is a sign of equality. "That's a good thing," says Sawyer, father of four daughters. "But for some guys, it has come at a price. It's turned into ED in men you normally wouldn't think would have ED."
And she's not alone in blaming the girls.

Helen Czapary, the Maryland junior, has been in a couple of similar situations, and suspects she knows what Skrodzki's partner thought: "It was my fault. Maybe I was, like, pressuring him."

Skrodzki, the bench-pressing man's man, let his partner of last fall think these things after his malfunction. He's not particularly proud of that.

"She didn't know what to do," he recalls. "She said something like, 'I can't please you.' I let her think that to conceal my reputation."
Now, several successes later, with this girl and others, "I'll take my share of the blame."
Right- so after his hard-on returns he can actually admit it wasn't the girl's blow job skills that were lacking, but only after his pimpaliciousness had been restored.

I'm gonna go out on a limb here and say that boys who can't get it up with a girl because she expects to be satisfied and is able to express that probably don't have enough maturity to be having sex with anyone. Any boy worth getting naked for knows there is more than one way to get a girl off and they don't all involve the cock.

It really is all about the sex

The New York Times Magazine has a fantastic piece on the forced-pregnancy folks and why they are actively trying to prevent access to birth control methods.

I think this just proves that they are not pro-life, but anti-sex.

Many Christians who are active in the evolving anti-birth-control arena
state frankly that what links their efforts is a religious commitment to altering the moral landscape of the country. In particular, and not to put too fine a point on it, they want to change the way Americans have sex.

But what are the ramifications of a society where pregnancy can be planned. Recent studies have shown that since the birth control pill became available the standard of living hasn't just increased for women who could finish school and start a career before popping out rugrats- but also for the men who don't have to drop out of school and get a job to support those rugrats.

And how is that a bad thing?

And then there are the creepy father-daughter purity balls. First- euwwwww. Come on people- the best way for a father to protect his daughter is to teach her that she has more value than her hymen. But let's put this in a little bit of historical perspective. In the good old days girls matured later. Today the average age for a girl to get her period is 12.8, one hundred years ago it was 15.5. In 1890 the average age at which a girl got married was 22. Now it is 25.

So girls used to wait 6 t0 7 years to get married (and we assume lose their virginity). But now the sex for marriage only people expect girls to wait over 12 years between reaching sexual maturity and having sex for the first time. Young women are expected to go to college, get a degree, start a career and then find a nice young man to give their virginity to. We expect them to act like adults by getting an education supporting themselves through college, but they must remain child-like and pure regarding their own bodies. Is it any wonder that one third of all teenage girls get pregnant when we put this kind leash on them?

But really- they keep saying it's all about a culture of life, not at all about keeping those wanton hussies in check. We know that abstinence only programs not only don't work, but make kids less likely to use protection when they do have sex and and therefore more likely to become unexpectedly pregnant. Having children that young interrupts education and leads to less earning potential, not good for babies or parents.

What is the gain from any of this except higher poverty rates and lower education levels? How is that a culture of life?

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Miss Indiana Wetpanties!

My friend, The Naughty Professor, and I are planning a trip to the Yucatan peninsula this summer and are thinking of a visit to a newly discovered archeological site in northern Guatemala.

I have this "uhm" problem with archeological sites. I get a little excited (man you should have seen how wiggly I got at the Roman Forum). Think of it like funeral sex. You are surrounded by decay and death and all your little brain can think of is defying the inevitable.

So the Naughty Professor has called me Miss Indiana Wetpanties. I am good with a whip, but I think that just makes me Laura Croft. I haven't got the chest hair to be Indy- thank god.

Cause I just can't go an entire week without a Colbert tribute

Here's a lovely little musical tribute to the guy with the biggest balls of them all!