October 31, 2011
Reader Update - 10/31/2011
Regular readers know that real life occasionally intrudes on our blogging here at Planet Moron. For example, I've become very busy at work lately and have found little time to devote to making juvenile snarky comments providing unique political insights. I have tried to explain to Mrs. Moron that I am attempting to sell some T-shirts save the republic but she just keeps harping on about making the mortgage and possibly something about food. You know how impractical women are.
Still, I am not planning on any extended hiatus, just a schedule of something closer to one to three posts a week. As much as I hate turning away traffic (as I've mentioned before, clicks are the crack of bloggers), I hate wasting your time even more, so for those of you who check several times a day, you can probably throttle that back a bit for a while (and that includes you Homeland Security employees).
In other breaking news, the Obama Administration remains miraculously scandal free.
You probably didn't know that.
October 24, 2011
CONSENSUS WATCH – 10/24/2011
An ongoing series dedicated to vigorously monitoring emerging threats to The Consensus that global warming is real, caused by humans, and must be addressed at all costs. Because without consensus, scientific conclusions would remain vulnerable to new data.
Everything you thought you knew about global warming is about to change. Scientists at the Berkeley Earth Project conducted a study of available temperature data and came to a shocking conclusion:
We’re sorry we had to be the ones to tell you, but we didn’t want you to have to hear it on the street. But it appears there is some evidence that the earth’s climate has warmed slightly over the past 150 years.
As is custom with Consensus-supporting studies, the results of the Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature papers have not yet been peer reviewed or published in a respected journal, but rather were released in the far more legitimate venue of a newspaper Op-Ed piece.
While you could point out that many of even the most vocal Consensus skeptics agree the earth has warmed at least slightly, and that the lead scientist on the study specifically said in his Op-Ed, “How much of the warming is due to humans and what will be the likely effects? We made no independent assessment of that,” or that the Berkeley study itself concedes that the “human component of global warming may be somewhat overestimated,” none of that is important. What is important is you can generate headlines like these:
The skeptics are clearly on the run now. The evidence is all around you.
For example, a new computer model run by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration found that global warming might result in a drop in water levels in the Great Lakes. Or possibly a rise.
Do you want to be the one to have to explain to your children why they have to live in a world where the Great Lakes themselves are slightly lower or maybe higher than they are now?
Well, do you?
Likewise, a new study by the National Center for Atmospheric Research came to the disturbing conclusion that sea ice is “as likely to expand as it is to contract for periods of up to about a decade.”
Is driving an SUV, using a microwave, and being able to afford heat in the winter really worth that?
And the evidence mounts: The U.S. Geological Survey released a study today finding that:
“In none of the four regions defined in this study is there strong statistical evidence for flood magnitudes increasing with increasing GMCO2 (carbon dioxide concentrations).”
Yes, you read that right. And it gets worse:
“One region, the southwest, showed a statistically significant negative relationship between GMCO2 and flood magnitudes.”
Just because you stubbornly refuse to pay $21 billion to hire an additional 230,000 EPA bureaucrats to monitor your energy use, some innocent little girl in the Southwest somewhere at this very moment is probably living in a house not devastated by a flood.
But thanks to the scientists at Berkeley Earth Project, you have your proof.
So the next time someone starts questioning The Consensus, you look them straight in the eye and say, “Here’s your consensus, buddy: Temperatures appear to have risen slightly, humans may or may not have played a role, and if humans have played a role it might not actually matter much.”
And then see how long it takes them to realize they were wrong and finally start making some changes for a better world.
It’s not easy being green.
Now you have a chance to show your support for The Consensus with the Shut up, that’s why T-shirt, the perfect answer to anyone who dares to question the science behind global warming.
In addition to the T-shirt we also have a fashionable beach tote and a set of stackable mugs, so you’ll have the opportunity to show the world that you’re smart enough to know when not to ask too many questions.
And while you're at it, make sure the world knows you won't allow yourself to be bullied by facts with our extensive line of CONSENSUS WATCH MERCHANDISE!
We also have the classic Consensus Watch coffee mug, bag, and beer stein (along with assorted T-shirts, sweatshirts, and other garments): "Consensus Watch Because without consensus, scientific conclusions would remain vulnerable to new data" plus a complete line of "Stop raping the planet! You may, however, touch it inappropriately," items (shirts, coasters, stickers, buttons)
All proceeds raised from the sale of Consensus Watch merchandise go towards ensuring that we never run out of gin.
October 21, 2011
GOP: Getting Over Principles
Republican Presidential primary candidate, Gary Johnson, takes the nation’s fiscal crisis seriously believing large and immediate cuts in spending now will be better than the fate that awaits us if we choose to all but ignore the problem with modest changes to spending. He also suggests a simple, unifying philosophy under which Republicans could rally:
“I wish the Republican Party would become known as the party of choice. That very simply you could identify where a Republican would come down on any issue as, well, Republicans are always going to support your ability as an individual to choose, whether it be education, whether it be what it is you eat or drink, whether it's what you put in your body or don't put in your body, how tax dollars get spent.”
That is why he has no chance of securing the GOP nomination.
You see, what Republicans need is a standard bearer with the credibility and moral authority necessary to make a principled argument against returning Barack Obama to the White House.
Take for example, Mitt Romney, who has made it a central pledge of his campaign to repeal President Obama’s federal health care law. As far as Mitt Romney is concerned, Obama’s individual mandate and other affronts to the notion of individual liberty and freedom, have no place in federal law.
That’s because they belong in state law, which “under our federalist system” enables states to be “laboratories of tyranny.” (Note to self: Double-check quote.)
Likewise, Texas governor Rick Perry is particularly well equipped to go after President Obama for his outrageous use of federal taxpayer dollars to invest in government-favored private businesses. Who does Obama think he is? The governor of Texas? As Perry notes, it’s “fine for states” to direct state taxpayer dollars to government-favored private businesses since the governor is closer to the citizens and knows how they would want to invest their money if only they were as smart as he was. This is based on the enduring Republican principle known as, “It’s okay if we do it.”
For his part, Herman Cain is smack in the middle of the Republican mainstream in distinguishing himself from Barack Obama with his intense distaste for taxes which is why his signature plan is to add a large new one.
And then we have Newt Gingrich, who in the most recent Republican debate made his case for faith-based morality:
“How can you have judgment, if you have no faith? And how can I trust you with power if you don't pray?”
Clearly, this will appeal to “values voters” sick and tired of Barack Obama, who unlike the devout, praying Newt Gingrich, parades shamelessly in public with his first and only wife, as if there’s nothing wrong with that.
That just has to end.
So, if you believe rights are best trampled at the state level, vote Romney!
If you prefer your taxes be squandered by your governor instead of your president, vote Perry!
If you believe the only way to reign in taxes is to add a new one, vote Cain!
And if you look forward to being lectured on morality by a serial philanderer, vote Gingrich!
But Gary Johnson? What, are you crazy?
He wants to legalize marijuana!
October 20, 2011
We Have To Admit We’ve Considered Lobbying for The Creation of The Crime of “Felony Failure to Use a Turn Signal”
An organization called “Fight for the Future” is raising the alarm that a senate bill increasing penalties for online copyright infringement could, if passed into law, result in the imprisonment of Justin Bieber for five years.
Like most music fans, you’re probably thinking, “I’d give him five years just for “U Smile.”
Also, “That’s an outrage! Probably.”
For the record, we here at Planet Moron are not entirely unsympathetic to the notion of copyright enforcement. In fact, we copyright the material on this site, which we think of less as an attempt to protect our valuable intellectual rights and more as a desperate cry for help.
Be that as it may, this latest bill (S. 978), sponsored by Senator Amy Klobuchar, who represents the great state of Vested Commercial Interests, wants to elevate the crime of online copyright infringement from a misdemeanor to a felony.
This really only makes sense. Common misdemeanor crimes include such trifles as hitting someone over the head, sexually assaulting them, or killing them. How can those be compared to uploading the latest episode of Charlie's Angels (Better Hurry), or, doing as Justin Bieber’s mom did, uploading numerous videos of him singing other people’s songs?
People like that have to pay.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation makes the point that the intent of the law is to make prosecuting these crimes more attractive by making them more glamorous felonies and suggests that might not be the best use of our justice system.
You want to rethink that position?
October 17, 2011
I Am The .0000003%
As an idealistic young man, I too once participated in an “Occupy Wall Street” movement.
It was the early eighties. I had just graduated college. Sure, I could have gotten a degree in something practical, like Early French Romance Poetry, or Latin as a Second Language, but was I thinking about the future? No, and so I followed my heart, and got a degree in finance with an emphasis in accounting.
Ah, the self-indulgence of youth.
As luck would have it, I graduated straight into the teeth of a serious recession. Like today’s protesters, saddled with thousands of dollars in student loans and facing bleak job prospects, I decided to march on New York and occupy Wall Street.
By getting a job.
I wasn’t alone, though. Thousands of my comrades occupied jobs on Wall Street as well, intent on overthrowing the status quo. In so doing, we managed to bring down many existing power structures by helping to provide the capital necessary to fund many radical new ideas such as the personal computer.
No one person could do it alone, but working together in a voluntary fashion, with each participant pursuing his or her own self interest, these rebels of the eighties managed to raise the capital necessary from institutions and individuals from around the globe sympathetic to the cause, providing the funds to hire and employ thousands at such companies as Apple, Microsoft, and Dell. Ultimately, revolution came through the advent of superior products meeting consumer demand and thus cleaning out the old centers of power at such companies as Digital Equipment Corporation, Wang Laboratories, and Data General.
As Thomas Jefferson might have put it, “The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time, with the red ink of failed business models.”
I have since moved on to support the “Occupy DC” movement, by occupying a desk at my job each day at a private investment firm where I am currently engaged in helping to provide capital to a young software company. It plans to use the investment funds we provided to double its workforce.
I do this less out of a deep-seated moral conviction to help others and more out of a deep-seated moral conviction to pay my mortgage. To achieve this I engaged in perhaps the most radical process of all:
A mutually agreeable negotiation with the person who owns my desk absent the threat of force or coercion in which he chooses to provide a salary and benefits in exchange for my labor.
And let me tell you this, I will absolutely refuse to vacate my desk unless and until its rightful owner tells me to.
It's just something I feel strongly about.
Crazy? Maybe just a little. But somehow between my boss pursuing his own self interest free from government intervention, and my pursuing my own self interest, and the executives, other investors, employees, suppliers and customers each doing the same we’ve created a spontaneous order of benefit to each participant and in which each participant bears the risk for his or her own individual failure and success.
I am one individual American of three hundred million fellow citizens taking personal responsibility for my actions and decisions with no expectation that I should be able to make others pay for my failures.
I am the .0000003%.
I paid my fair share and then some for the roads "the rest of us paid for."
I am the .0000003%.
I readily admit that I did not "do well on my own," but neither did I force anyone to help me either.
I am the .0000003%.
I've made many stupid mistakes, and I paid for each and every one.
Let the world know that you are the .0000003%. And when you oppose the Wall Street bailouts, it’s not because you just want your own bailout, it’s because you don’t think taxpayers should be forced to bail out anybody else’s bad decisions.
October 16, 2011
Weekend Pictorial – College Football Pregame Edition
What could people possibly be waiting in line for at 8:59 AM on a Saturday morning?
The release of the iPhone 4S?
A DOE solar energy loan giveaway?
The answer is actually more pathetic:
It was the highly anticipated routine 9:00 AM opening of the Rathskeller, a famous dive bar in State College, Pennsylvania, home of the Penn State Nittany Lions.
I had just come from my favorite local coffee shop (following a 200-mile drive up from Washington, DC) and so had a muffin and a coffee with me. Regardless, I fell into line, walked by the sign that said, “No outside food or beverages allowed,” gave a “you obviously don’t need to see my ID” nod to the bouncer, ordered a shot of whiskey, and settled in to enjoy my Macgyver Irish coffee..
Joined later by some friends, I went through all the normal motions of a pregame college Saturday tradition, one I have followed for longer than I care to admit, with one exception:
I decided to skip the game part.
For years, Penn State has saddled its fans with ever rising ticket prices, parking fees, a building spree that has pushed tailgaters farther from the stadium and a web of increasingly petty and nonsensical rules including one that forbids setting an EZ-Up tent on pavement and another that forbids the drinking of beer on grassy areas. That resulted one wet Saturday morning in our party having to set up our tent on the median, but having to stand in the rain to drink our beer.
At least when professional sports teams vacuum money out of your wallet they try to throw you a bone, say, more comfortable seats or upgraded beer choices and food. At Penn State you squeeze yourself into the same awful bench seats (seemingly engineered to properly handle the average sized Japanese female), the same awful food and NO beer!
While the stadium still fills up, we did notice an old favorite bar of ours unusually deserted that afternoon:
Regardless, I’ll still make my way back up there another Saturday this fall.
I’d hate to not miss a game.
October 13, 2011
Let Freedom Ring! However, You’re Going To Need a Permit For The Bell. – October 2011 Edition
“Let Freedom Ring! However, You’re Going To Need a Permit For The Bell,” is a periodic series in which we explore the new and exciting ways in which the notions of freedom and liberty are being interpreted in our modern and progressive world.
Displaying the American Flag For a Banquet Being Held at a Local Restaurant.
When 80-year-old Marti Warren attempted to bring an American flag into an Oxford, Alabama Olive Garden for a planned Kiwanis Club banquet, alert restaurant employees moved quickly to stop her in order to:
“Avoid disrupting the dining experience for all other guests.”
But for their quick thinking, imagine the mayhem that might have ensued had Ms. Warren succeeded in displaying the American flag, what with its provocative stars and inflammatory stripes. No doubt the unfamiliar textile, which the club had planned to be the object of some kind of allegiance “pledge” would have resulted in the complete breakdown of the social order tearing at the very fabric of our cultural bonds and making it really hard to get that order for Venetian Apricot Chicken in anything like a reasonable amount of time.
Setting up a Haunted House in Your Neighborhood
OUT: A delightful treat for the local kids and a harmless way to build community spirit and help collect money for charity.
IN: Code violation.
For six years the Stelle family has spent the weeks before Halloween creating a haunted house in their Freemont, California neighborhood and together with friends and neighbors have managed to put on a frightfully good time for local children.
That is why Freemont officials have ordered it destroyed.
Apparently, the Stelle family forgot to get a permit to build the haunted house partly because it never occurred to them they needed a permit to build a haunted house. What is the building code for a haunted house, anyway? Does it have to be Werewolf accessible? Provide ample broom parking? Be nondiscriminatory towards all ghosts regardless of whether or not they’re friendly?
That is unclear, but what is clear is that the Stelles and their co-conspirators have six days to comply with Freemont haunted house ordinances and tear the terrifyingly unpermitted structure down.
It’s for the children, you know.
Aging TV Star Makes Increasingly Bizarre and Outrageous Comments in Public.
OUT: Look on in pity in hopes she gets the help she needs.
IN: Give her a new TV series.
Roseanne Barr made some news last week when she suggested that bankers who refused to turn more of their private property over to the government should be beheaded. Some have suggested she was only joking, and come to think of it, an avowed socialist appearing on a Russian television program suggesting bringing back the Guillotine to execute the bourgeois is quite the knee slapper. In fact, so much so, that NBC has decided to pick up her new sitcom, “Downwardly Mobile,” in which the multi-millionaire actress will play a woman living in a trailer park.
Being Told by Bureaucrats That You Have to Tear Down Your Children’s Tree House
OUT: Using the opportunity to teach your children the importance of questioning the mercurial nature of power as wielded by the state.
IN: Using the opportunity to teach your children the importance of unquestioning obedience to the mercurial nature of power as wielded by the state.
After having built an elaborate tree house in his yard, Mark Grapin was informed that he should have gotten a permit to build the tree house as it is considered an “addition,” and further, since it was technically in his “front” yard (he lives on a corner lot) he couldn’t’ get one anyway and must tear the tree house down. Having already lost one appeal, Mr. Grapin has one chance left. Asked what he would tell his kids if he loses, the distraught dad said what many a patriot has said before when confronted with the petty tyranny of the state:
“Daddy makes mistakes. We tried our best. I made a mistake by not knowing enough.”
It’s like Thomas Paine reincarnated.
October 12, 2011
Maybe The Researchers Had Iron Poor Blood
For years, those advocating the use of vitamin E for the enhancement and maintenance of good health have urged people (pdf) to avoid taking large doses of only the alpha form, as it can actually lead to such unintended outcomes as an increased risk of developing prostate cancer.
That is why a crack team of 21 expert researchers decided to conduct a large study on vitamin E in which participants took large doses of only the alpha form to see what outcome that might have on the risk of developing prostate cancer.
The startling conclusion:
Now, before you start criticizing these esteemed men of science for fashioning a study designed to test a hypothesis no one was actually advocating, consider this:
They are all much better educated than you.
They include 14 with MDs, two with PhDs, two with DOs and one with an MD and an MHS. We’re not sure what some of those mean either, but they sound pretty darn impressive to us, and helped to ensure that the study would achieve the single most important goal of all modern scientific research: The production of panic-inducing headlines:
And isn’t that a lot more fun than some boring old headline like, “Study Finds Pretty Much What Was Already Known,” or, “Esteemed Researchers Place the Lives of Their Innocent Subjects Needlessly at Risk by Subjecting Them to a Regimen Known to be Dangerous.”
You bet it is.
Oh, and sorry about the prostate cancer.
And while this study could have served a useful purpose in spreading more widely the information that consumers interested in supplementing with vitamin E should ensure they get not only the alpha form, but also the gamma form (not to mention beta and delta) so that they aren’t doing themselves more harm than good, these researchers came to a different conclusion:
“The lack of benefit from dietary supplementation with vitamin E or other agents with respect to preventing common health conditions and cancers or improving overall survival, and their potential harm, underscore the need for consumers to be skeptical of health claims for unregulated over-the-counter products in the absence of strong evidence of benefit demonstrated in clinical trials.”
We would also add the need for consumers to be skeptical of study claims made by unregulated over-the-top researchers in the absence of strong evidence that they have demonstrated an ability to use Google.
October 05, 2011
"Hey, Hey, LBJ, What Have You Done For My Self-Esteem Today?"
Like those before them in the 1960s, today’s young people have taken to the streets all over the nation, particularly “Wall Street,” to protest a grave social injustice they all suffer under:
Having to pay back their student loans.
At least, that is the main message one gets reading through the complaints posted on “We Are the 99%” web site. Well, that and assorted bouts with mental illness, drug use, and apparent belief that Medicaid doesn’t exist.
There are also a fair number of complaints about working 60 to 80 hours a week which we here at Planet Moron would have more sympathy for were it not for the fact that we refer to working 60 to 80 hours a week, “the 1990s.”
But really, is there a more oppressed class in today’s America than the recent college graduate? After having spent other people’s money getting an education unattainable to most, they now suffer under the tyrannical demand that they actually give that money back under the terms they had originally agreed to.
It’s pretty greedy of those banks to want that money back, particularly since most of it doesn’t even belong to them but rather belongs to the people who hold savings and checking accounts and CDs with the bank.
Maybe even some of the parents of these students.
But why should anyone have to pay for school? As one aspiring student puts it:
“Knowledge should be free.”
And by “knowledge,” she means instructors, books, classrooms and utilities, and by “free,” she means, “you should pay for it.”
After all, it benefits society. Those art history degrees with minors in LGBT diversity studies could come in handy should China ever want to compete with us in the lucrative and growing field of total self-absorption.
Incidentally, these protests should by no means be confused with the Tea Party protests of the past couple of years which were astroturfed events funded by the Koch brothers and populated primarily by Nazis. No, the “Occupy Wall Street” protests are completely grassroots oriented and are instead funded by George Soros, backed by powerful unions, and have very few if any Nazis present.
Socialists, yes, Nazis, no.
What does this whole movement remind you of? If you said “the Arab Spring,” you might just have a future in the Democratic Congressional leadership.
The similarities are striking. Consider this women’s story:
“My fiancee convinced me to go to college, graduated with 2 degrees. 40k student loan. Had job for 5 months before losing it because of “season ending”. Student loans were due the following month. Got married. Husband kicked me out and divorced me after 3 months of marriage, leaving me helpless. Been almost 2 years, current BF works 50 hours a week, we have a 4 month old daughter who is on medicare. We can barely afford to pay rent, buy food and diapers. I am hounded daily by the loan company demanding payment,… They do not care that I am unemployed, they want full payment NOW.”
Here is a women brutally forced to live with the consequences of a series of poor life choices she made. How is that any different from an Arab youth taking to the streets and risking his life being shot in order to protest for his inalienable right to free speech?
Answer: It isn’t.
In fairness, many of these protesters oppose the bailouts of Wall Street and the banks, a policy we were also against. However, the lesson we hoped would be learned would be that it is bad policy to shield individuals from the consequences of their actions by bailing them out with other people’s money. The lesson these protesters seemed to have learned is that that is actually a really great idea, and they want in on it.
While there are many problems with that approach, the final one is that you eventually run out of other people’s money.
In totally unrelated news, I’ve started reading Atlas Shrugged.
October 03, 2011
Weekend Pictorial – Art on the Avenue 2011 Edition
We had a Planet Moron family outing Saturday to the annual “Art on the Avenue” festival in the Del Ray section of Alexandria, Virginia.
In a desperate attempt to butch up the widely derided fanny pack, a local artist has created the “urban holster.” Like the “European satchel” which attempted to make it okay for a man to carry a purse, the urban holster appears to be riding a new trend that hopes to rebrand items that are not considered particularly masculine.
You can try this yourself. Too embarrassed to tell the bartender you want a wine spritzer? Tell him you want a “greenhouse gas grape bomb.” Do you drive a Toyota Prius? No you don’t. You drive “canned lightening.” You like to wear lipstick? That’s a .44 caliber cartridge of color, pal.
It could work.
Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds
Question: Who did the most drugs? The artist? Or the Hippo?
Tots for Tyrants!
What did my son make a beeline for the moment I turned my back? A balloon promoting the reelection of our embarrassment of a congressional representative. Not even two years old, and already he’s rebelling. Mrs. Moron later claimed she “lost” the balloon while picking up a boot that had slipped off his foot.
Hey, “accidents” happen, right?
Does it Come With Corruption Cole Slaw?
“Pork Barrel BBQ” had a stand set up in front of their restuarant. They had a stand set up rather than just open the doors to their restaurant because the restaurant, which was started in 2009 with an expected completion date of this past summer, still isn't open.
We think maybe they're taking this whole government-themed thing a little too far.
Regardless, it was a fine, if wet day, and we probably spent as much money on art as we did on food.