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While I have always abhorred committee-designed food products aimed at dumbing down cooking (in part by convincing home cooks that they are too dumb to cook without fucked-up, weird-ass "convenience" products), I find myself pushed right near to the edge of hatred WITH THE INTENSITY OF A THOUSAND NOVA SUNS!!! by the very existence of this new abomination product, this "Philadelphia Cooking Creme."

Here, before I go off like a lunatic, read this item by a more reasonable person, from whose site I snagged that pic.

The TV commercial itself, part of what they say is a pull-out-all-the-stops binge of ad-o-malia about "creme," is disgusting. It is in its every detail cynically aimed at its target customer. Watch as a not-too-young and yet not-too-old Woman With a Family smiles she prepares a delicious dinner by dumping a package of "Cooking Creme" into a pan of chicken bits and veggies, (which themselves look like they came pre-prepared from a package), stirs for a moment and declares dinner accomplished. The product, the "creme," is cream cheese thinned out with various additives and enhanced with "flavor profiles." It is Abomination.

OK. Deep breath. But I need to say at least this: "creme" is not pronounced the same way as "cream." Also, it is not an English word at all. Kraft would have pissed me off only maybe 60% as much with this dumb product if they had called it "cooking CREAM" instead of "cooking CREME." But remember smiling Woman With a Family from the TV ad? She's so dumb that she thinks it's all fancy and French when it's spelled "creme." Or so Kraft wants you to believe. 

Anyone who craves chicken with some creamy goo on it may say so in comments here, and I will happily post a recipe matching that description but using better and less expensive ingredients.

On Wisconsin!

Feb. 21st, 2011 06:18 pm
mbranesf: (Default)
People should read this sensible post about the political situation currently ongoing in Wisconsin. But before you leave to do that, let me say a couple things:

1) Though I haven't lived in Wisconsin for 21 years and would probably never move back (because I find its climate to be entirely inhospitable), I grew up there and am a son of a blue collar labor union family. My dad and his dad before him got to raise their kids in a dignified, reasonably middle-class manner because they were part of organized labor, because they had collective bargaining rights, and because they could say "Fuck no! I am NOT working for minimum wage! I am NOT working without health insurance! I am NOT working like a slave!" We weren't rich, but we didn't live in abject poverty either.  I don't have many friends who have that background, and even those who are normally big liberals on everything else somehow think unions are icky or have outlasted their purpose. I have politely explained to several of them that they don't know what the fuck they're talking about and that they need to get their big  elitist heads out of their asses. Were it not for organized labor, there never would have been an American middle class, and this country would now more closely resemble some of our South American neighbors where a tiny rich class lives in gated compounds surrounded by armed guards to protect them from the masses who would happily cut their wealthy throats.

2) The new Wisconsin governor concocted this so-called budget "crisis" himself by giving away a bunch of tax-break gifts to his political masters. The state was due for a budget surplus this year but, as Republicans always do, he erased it with gifts to his friends, and is now using his "crisis" to beat people who actually get shit done. Fuck him and his deficit. If it's that big a problem, go get the money back from all the plutocrats and kleptocrats who have been living high for the last three decades. 

3) My mom, who still lives in Wisconsin, is a supporter of the teabagger movement. Wisconsin teabaggers look with admiration to the supposedly "booming" Southern states where they don't have much in the way of "liberal" things like labor unions. Yet they'd be the first people to scream bloody murder if public services and the results of public services in Wisconsin actually declined to the appalling levels that are normal everyday life in the South. Vast swaths of the American South aren't even "First World" on the human development index. Wages for laborers who actually make stuff are way lower on average than in what remains of the industrial north. The five states that don't let teachers collectively bargain are all Southern and they all rank in the 40s (of the 50 states) in academic achievement (as measured by test scores, which Republicans normally love). Yeah, the South is "booming" all right, but it's on the backs of poor people and what little remains of a middle class, and an ever-growing permanent undereducated, underemployed underclass. Is that something that Wisconsin should admire? Fuck no. Wisconsin used to lead  or nearly lead the nation in almost every quality of life measurement (save for its horrid weather). 

4) I'm a kid who graduated from the public schools in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. I got a great education there. Not all the teachers were great, but most of them at least did their jobs as well as anyone in the vaunted private sector does, and many of them with a lot more dedication and love of their mission. And for a fuck lot less money than a lot of private sector losers that I can name. If the Republicans actually complete their mission of destroying public education, then this country might as well just cut the shit, accept reality, and decline into its destiny: total second-rate has-been status. While all our international competitors pour more and more resources into education, science, research, industry and infrastructure, we pull back and back from all of that. Wisconsin's douchebag governor personifies this trend. 

For these reasons, and many more, I stand with the people in my ancestral homeland who are sticking up for what's right and fair and who are reviving and relighting that state's great old progressive fire.


Jan. 25th, 2011 06:47 pm
mbranesf: (Default)
Some random thoughts that come to mind in light of the public conversation after the attempted assassination of Gabrielle Giffords:

1) Everyone seems to agree to that more civility, a more measured tone, is called for in our political culture. This evidently means that progressives must accept most of the share of blame for the deterioration in our public discourse even though it is primarily personalities in the formerly fringe/now mainstream right wing who promulgate hysterical rhetoric. While I find this to be an odd development--that we must accept at least the half the blame for their douchebaggery--it has made me consider my own speech. I've decided that for the time being I will refrain from some of the more negatively-toned political statements that I make from time to time here and elsewhere. I will, however, still periodically identify closeted homos (like Bryan Fischer of Focus on the Family) when they advocate their homophobic agenda, and I will still maintain my stance that everyone who voted for any Republican for any office in any recent election cycle voted, in effect, for bigotry.

2) While it may be true that Giffords' shooter is "crazy," I find it odd that everyone seems to have agreed that his action had absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with politics, no politics at all, no way, nothing to do with it. Instead, everyone has agreed with the bizarre premise that mental illness exists in a total vacuum, completely divorced from any possible influence or interaction with the "sane" world, a mental singularity into which no real-world considerations can possibly enter and propagate. Hence the point of view, which no one seems to have the will to dispute, that "crazy people are just gonna do crazy shit. End of story." But these are the uncomfortable facts: he was evidently preoccupied with crazy anti-government conspiracy theories; he was fixated on Giffords; Giffords is the most prominent member of the government where he lives; he went to a town hall conducted by Giffords and shot her. He did not just go to some random location and shoot a bunch of unknown civilians for purely "crazy" reasons. The shooting of Giffords was a political assassination attempt regardless how "crazy" the shooter was. The other night I listened to people on NPR fall all over themselves to make it clear that that no way, no how are there any politics entwined with this story. None. And this on NPR, the public radio network that the Fox News founder describes as "Nazis." If even the liberal, commie Nazis of NPR aren't going to identify an assassination as an assassination, then I guess no one will. A pattern is forming. We saw an example when that other crazy dude flew his little plane at that IRS building. Again: no politics, no terrorism. Because it's only politics if a leftie does it, and it can't be terrorism unless it's from a Muslim. And we have had for a long time the ugliest example, the OKC bombing, which has also been whitewashed of its political associations. Yeah, he was just crazy, not political. Not at all.

3) Progressives who are shocked and outraged that Olbermann is gone from MSNBC might want to reconsider how the political left ought to behave. I didn't watch Olbermann very much because I don't think that progressives ought to conduct themselves like right-wingers. I didn't like the Air America radio network either for the same reason, and wasn't sad when it folded. To rant and rave like a Limbaugh or a Beck is not going to advance our causes. Indeed, it creates the very situation we're in now where we somehow are being made to share the blame for the bad political culture that is the stock-in-trade of the right. While I probably share most of Olbermann's views and would acknowledge that he traded in facts rather than just making up shit out of whole cloth like his Fox counterparts, his act wasn't really any better than theirs. 
Because the mass-intellect of America as a whole is kind of on the dim side, with only occasional flashes of insight, it really shouldn't be a surprise that there has emerged a fairly large political movement none of the members of which have ever seen Pecker and who are completely humorless about being called "teabaggers" (even though they started it by sending tea bags to the White House; um, yeah, maybe run a quick Google-check before naming your movement next time; I would have seen that coming a mile away). I had been thinking lately that if this were not going on in real life, then it would be really funny...but it wasn't. Until now! 

LOL! That's Christine O'Donnell, the Republican Par-tay's fave for VP Biden's former Senate seat in Delaware. Well, that's not quite true. Actually Republicans who once considered Delaware a realistic pick-up in November are pissed as hell (at their own dumb-ass primary voters) that this crazy creep is now their candidate. Karl Rove fell all over himself the other night blasting her, basically doing the Democrats' work for them. I can't really stomach pulling up any real quotations from Rove, but he basically said that she is a really sketchy character who will certainly move DE from the easy GOP-pick-up column into the easy Dem-hold column this year, basically finishing off even the slim chance of a Repub takeover of the Senate. 

I have looked into her history a bit and it seems to me that she is sort of a dumb person's Sarah Palin. A Palin for people who like to gorge themselves at the Palin trough of right-wing fanaticism but can't quite grasp the delicate nuances of Palin herself. A Palin for people who need their rhetoric more fully pre-digested for easy comprehension. A less "elitist" version of Sarah Palin. A Sarah that talks to them at their own level. Since she has little chance of being elected, and would be a totally inconsequential Senator even if she were elected, I don't worry too much about her teabagger policies. Instead, I like making fun of her dumb-ass attitudes on sex (masturbation is not the answer, boys).

Or it would be fun to make fun of them, but then I always remember that there are lots and lots of people out there laboring under O'Donnell-style freakiness, and a lot of those people are probably experiencing real pain as a result. Teabaggers and "social conservatives," those people who think government has no business offering Social Security or Medicare but who do think that it is the government's business what you do in your bedroom or inside of your uterus, have a deep psychotic dysfunction when it comes to sex. They and their ancestors over the ages have been so successful at promulgating sexual paranoia and psychosis as normal that everyone else on Earth is in the weird position of having to stay quiet about it or sounding all "kinky" and "explicit" and "offensive."  Christine O'Donnell, like her kith and kin, profess to reject any role at all for non-procreative sexuality (despite the fact that nearly all sexuality ends up being non-procreative), and she is on record some time ago as opposing (male) masturbation:

"You're going to be pleasing each other. And if he already knows what pleases him, and he can please himself, then why am I in the picture?"  --Christine O'Donnell

This is, of course, one of the oldest and rustiest saws in the insecure-hetero-chick toolbox, and it's completely laughable...or would be if some people didn't sincerely suspect it's true. Here's the deal, Christine (and all your friends): ejaculation is a physical imperative for human males and it will happen on a routine (if not daily) basis one way or another no matter what you think about it. So get over it. This has been the case since the dawn of humanity, hundreds of millennia before the emergence of your prudish religions and their conception of how everyone ought to live. Looking at just one age cohort, my own (dudes in their late thirties), I don't see a single one of them who has literally tens of thousands of children, so I know for a fact that every single one of them has probably expressed lots and lots of non-procreative male sexuality, sometimes with partners but probably the vast, vast majority of times all by themselves. This is, in fact, the norm. Not O'Donnell's silly view on it, (which happens to match the Catholic Church's official position on it). 

Here's another fact which may astonish social conservatives: even gay males, who supposedly live 24/7 the "Homosexual Lifestyle" in "the Gay Community" (which presumably includes lots and lots of daily anal sex with multiple partners--ask Rick Santorum about that) do not achieve the majority of their ejaculations with their partners any more than straight dudes in general or straight-partnered dudes do. I am sure that there does exist some number of guys, straight and gay, who still sincerely want to bone their partners of ten or twenty or thirty years every day and somehow manage to be granted consent for that, but for the other 99.9999999999999993 percent of us, there is the right hand (or the left if you are a weirdo...--kidding!!)

I recommend to Palin...err, I mean O'Donnell, the following websites. While they are full of cliches--debunking the idea that jacking off makes you go blind is almost as hoary as saying it does--and not necessarily brilliant, they might provide some basic insight into how these things work. This site purports to be a "Male Masturbation Handbook" aimed at young men (even though it seems to be single fairly short item...I'll show you a handbook!), while Jackinworld covers some of the same ground but with a lot more content, some of it interesting and some not. When "Beast" Obama finally sets up the concentration camps that some of the more extreme righties have been warning us of, people like O'Donnell will probably be made to look at websites like those with their eyes forced open Clockwork Orange-style. Just saying.

Unlike many other people, I will not be congratulating, supporting or "understanding" the difficult "personal journey" that has resulted in Ken Mehlman, former chair of the Republican National Committee and the head of W's re-election  campaign in 2004, in coming out as gay. Indeed, I think Mehlman is perhaps the most troubling figure ever to emerge in the so-called "gay community." When I consider how he was an architect of the campaign to re-elect the country's most disastrous President--using the tactic of whipping up anti-gay-marriage hysteria across the country in order to get the fundies and other nitwits to turn out in droves to vote against gays and for W on the same ballot--it makes me shake with rage. When I hear that he will now be an advocate for marriage equality, it makes my stomach turn. While the country is chockablock with crazy homophobes and marriage bigots, it is Mehlman--a gay guy--who actually did the filthy work that has made attaining marriage equality the incredibly difficult task that it is. Because many of things that I'd like to say were already said a couple weeks ago, in a much better way than I could, by Mike Rogers on BlogActive, I will quote at length from that:

So, how can Ken Mehlman redeem himself? I want to hear from Ken that he is sorry for being the architect of the 2004 Bush reelection campaign. I want to hear from Ken that he is sorry for his role in developing strategy that resulted in George W. Bush threatening to veto ENDA or any bill containing hate crimes laws. I want to hear from Ken that he is sorry for the pressing of two Federal Marriage Amendments as political tools. I want to hear from Ken that he is sorry for developing the 72-hour strategy, using homophobic churches to become political arms of the GOP before Election Day.

And those state marriage amendments. I want to hear him apologize for every one of those, too.

And then there is one other little thing. You see, while you and I had the horrible feelings of being treated so poorly by our President, while teens were receiving the messaging 'gay is bad' giving them 'permission' to gay bash, while our rights were being stripped away state by state, Ken was out there laughing all the way to the bank. So, if Ken is really sorry, and he very well may be, then all he needs to do is sell his condo and donate the funds to the causes he worked against so hard for all those years. He's done a lot of damage to a lot of organizations, while making a lot of money. A LOT of money. It's time to put his money where his mouth is. Ken Mehlman is sitting in a $3,770,000.00 (that's $3.77 million) condo in Chelsea while we have lost our right to marry in almost 40 states.

THEN, and only then, should Mehlman be welcomed into our community.

I'm a little less generous than that. I don't think there is much of anything Mehlman could do to make me want to welcome him into "our community" ever after what he has done. In fact, if there existed some kind Gay War Crimes Tribunal, I'd call for him to be brought before it and tried for treason.

Oh, and those homophobic churchy groups that Mehlman and his friends mobilized in 2004 to beat back the Homosexual Agenda and help W barely win his election? Here's one of them just a few days ago commenting on this very case, taking current RNC Chair Michael Steele to task for being nice to Mehlman after it was confirmed that he is a "practicing homosexual." Be careful, RNC: it looks like some of your dimwit Bible Troops are starting to get restless with all these gay-ass shenanigans going on at your highest levels.
"Aww, Chris, don't generalize. They don't all think murder is funny," someone might say. And I might reply, "Well, too bad, I am going to tar them all with the same brush just like they do to gay people whenever they feel that their sham heterosexual marriages are on the rocks." Hence: the Tea Party evidently advocates and celebrates and even laughs at the murder of gay people. My evidence for this remarkable blanket condemnation of every single member of anywhere from eleven to seventy-nine percent of the American population is encapsulated in this post on America Blog-Gay, which details how one Tim Ravndal (an American name? doesn't there need to be a vowel more in the middle of that orthographical mess, Tim? "V" followed by "N?" Doesn't look very Mayflower to me, dude, sure you're really an American?) went on Facebook to complain how it's "unconstitutional" to let me get married and went on to pal around with a pro-murder psychopath.

Matthew Shepard

As one can see from the Facebook screen-shot copied on the America Blog page,  this Ravndal douche--the Montana state Teabagger president-- was goaded into making jokes with a homophobe scumbag derived from the facts and iconography of Matthew Shepard's murder. As anyone who knows me at all knows very well, this ongoing hate campaign against Matthew Shepard by right-wing political elements really fucking pushes my rage button. And when such remarks come from two men who are plainly closeted homosexual lovers, it makes me steel my resolve to expose them as the hypocrites that they are.

While I think it's great that the Montana Teabagger high command has removed Ravndal (it's hard to even type that name, it's so "unnatural" and "un-American") from its leadership and stated that they do not tolerate bigotry, I am mystified at the statement from Big Sky Teabagger Board Chair Jim Walker that, "I do believe Mr. Ravndal when he explained that he was in no way intending to promote violence and that he was not thinking about nor condoning the murder of an innocent victim in Wyoming in 1998 when he responded to some very disturbing comments made by another individual."  What exactly about that Facebook exchange makes one think that Ravndal was not condoning such murder? He asked for the fucking manual. What manual would that be? Would it be the one that explains how to beat to death and hang on a fence a faggot?

The formal union of the Teabagger movement and the pan-prejudiced-white-male-cry-baby-piece- of-shit-right-wing was announced by Beck and Palin et thugs in Washington a few days ago. This nonsense in Montana is just one local example.

Just wait.
I've been concerned for about a decade that certain trends are ripening America for a fascist era, if not fascism of the 20th century European variety with brown-shirted thugs and genocide, then perhaps an American variety festooned in flags and crosses and founded on the phony-baloney state religion of national security and the very American (and wholly fraudulent) assumption that rich and powerful people somehow "deserve" to be that way because they "pulled themselves up by their bootstraps" (whatever the fuck that means--can we get some fresher metaphors, please?)...even when they didn't.  Some observations in no particular order that make me think of this lately:

#1: Sarah Palin, whom many people still take seriously as a Presidential contender, has associated herself with "Doctor" Laura Schlessinger, noted homophobe, racist and entitled cunt, by encouraging Dr. Laura not to retreat but to "reload." This was about the fallout from Schlessinger's little "nigger" rant, aimed at a perfectly reasonable black woman who called into her radio show. Two things seemed to have been missed here: 1) While some people seem to have only just heard of the vile Laura, she has been on my screen for many years because of her combination of vicious homophobia (and other prejudices) and dismissive "counseling" of people--basically, it's your own fault if you have a problem and do not agree with her worldview. Her stock in trade is a kind of reductive reasoning where all members of the groups she doesn't like are all of piece: ALL black people are engaged in "black thought" (she has said those words), etc. Saying "nigger" on the air isn't even the tip of her dirty iceberg. 2) The catalog of ridiculous shit that this woman has said over the years is really staggering, but what's even more staggering is that it has come to pass that a Presidential candidate has risked associating herself with a fringe rightwing media loon. And what's even more staggering than that is the fact that no one seems to think that's a big deal! It's a measure of how far we have drifted that it is really not even any kind of risk for a Presidential candidate to do this. Generally, one would think that a politician with national ambitions would avoid (whatever her own personal views are) getting the rotten-meat stink of a talk radio nutcase all over herself and potentially turning off every thinking voter.  But there's the problem: voters do not any longer seem to see a problem with this. Can you imagine the patrician George Bush the First (not W, but the good one, as Bushes go) or the gentlemanly Bob Dole, if Twitter had existed in 1990, going online and speaking directly to bottom-feeding radio scumbags? Even if they'd agreed with all the shit Laura says, they never would have actually talked to her in that way, much less encouraged her activities.

#2: The American right wing (formerly the "extreme right," now just the "right") promulgates the notion that their "rights" are being violated by our black president and his legions. Repudiating Dr. Laura's behavior somehow takes away her First Amendment rights, and Palin agrees with this. Evidently in their world, to respect their freedom of speech, one must either agree with what they say or stay silent about it. If one speaks up against it, then it's the (black) Man trying to take away their fundamental freedoms. They also like to drag out the tired old canard that their opponents are engaged not in any kind of reasonable debate but in name-calling and stereotyping?  What!?  Like "nigger" and "black thought" and "faggot?" And so what if we are, if all Dr. Laura cares about is First Amendment rights? The First Amendment neither states nor implies that if I am to oppose her point of view then I need to present some kind of "argument" that she and her ideological kith and kin will judge to be "reasonable" under the constraints of their tortured logic. Indeed, if I instead prefer not argue at all and simply characterize her as a moronic, savage troll and rabid bitch (and describe her ally Palin as a bobble-headed fool), then that is well covered within my First Amendment rights. Watch carefully in the coming weeks and months the progress of their case that Americans rights are being taken away by the vast Obama plot. This is what they will make their political fortune on because the dumbass public will gradually come to accept it even though they can't point to one credible example of something that has happened in real life that points to this.

#3: Blaming the Other for all your problems on a mass scale is a necessary precursor to the ascent of fascism and we have that all over the damned place now, so much of it that it's hard to sort out from the general background radiation of dumbassity. During every even-numbered year since 9/11/01, the right has drummed up in various ways passions over the Holiest of Holies, the political gift that keeps on giving, the attack on New York and DC, in their effort to win elections. It didn't work in '06 and '08 because the country was so weary of their dreadful mismanagement of everything from botching the wars to  busting the budget to running the economy into a ditch. But now in '10, they seem to think they will rekindle that old time 9/11 fire and they are doing it through blatant, out-and-out Muslim-bashing. Even W and Cheney did not trade in that, but now we have the spectacle of Republicans all over the country, even in hinterlands where they have no idea what a dense city like Manhattan looks like from the ground, campaigning against the "Ground Zero Mosque" and say, with no sense of shame, that perhaps we do need to restrict the religious freedoms of certain Americans because ALL of these people could at any time become terrorists. And as all REAL Americans know, terrorists are the scariest, worst thing in the world and they are planning to kill you right now. This would be disgusting in any year, but now they have a face for their fear even scarier than the distant Osama bin Laden: the black face of President Obama, whom a fifth of Americans think is a Muslim. Not only do Muslims wants to kill you, they imply (and literally say), but you need to consider that the actual leader of the country is secretly one of them and in cahoots with them to kill "real" Americans. Keep an eye on this trend as well.

Phenomena like these, when combined with our country's jacked-up, out-of-whack economic conditions and class structure, seem to me to create a very worrisome concoction.

Spam report

Aug. 19th, 2010 09:53 pm
mbranesf: (Default)
Last week I ranted and raved about how Blogger won't let me use my M-Brane Gmail email address as my account address on my Blogger account and how I am stuck using the private-lame-business address that I stupidly used when I created my Blogger account in my pre-M-Brane days. That account is a stupid old AOL address, and it appears that AOL is far, far worse than other service at spam blockage despite their claims to the contrary. 

I went to AOL itself (I don't normally visit mail websites, using instead the built-in Apple Mail client on my MacBook to gather up all of our emails from all accounts in its in-boxes) to see if there was some kind of setting I could adjust to improve spam blockage. Indeed, I was able to switch from "medium" blockage to "high" blockage, which they claim will eliminate virtually all spam. It does seem to help a little bit. Apple Mail says that my AOL spam box has accumulated over 600 spam messages in the last week. But about 200 of them have still gotten through, all of which I have forwarded to AOL's abuse-reporting address.

While I am still getting way too much spam, I seem to have at least stopped the recurring message with the image of the Octet of Douchebaggery (Canterbury) that was driving me insane. I am not sure if spam blockage or abuse reporting did the job on that. Or maybe it could have been me actually replying to the message with very crazy, mean and brutal messages of my own.
I need some advice from someone with more Google-fu than I have to help me finally kill an old email account that has become almost nothing but a spam collector.  To summarize, like many people, I had AOL service back in the day. Then I downgraded it gradually until it was nothing but a free email account that I used for non-fun, work and household business-related crap. I would have gotten rid of even that ages ago, but I made the mistake of using it as my email address when I started my Blogger account a couple years ago. I could drop it and reroute the two or three legitimate correspondences that still come to the AOL box to my mbrane Gmail box, but Google inexplicably says that I cannot use a gmail account as the email account for Blogger? WTF? Blogger is a Google product. I can't use a gmail account for a g-product?  It makes no sense but I cannot find a way around it. They stymie me every time.

What is driving to me distraction is this fucking picture of these fucking douchebags that arrives in at least three spams every day on that AOL account not matter how many times I unsubscribe or forward it to AOL's abuse address:

I know it's nuts to be so enraged about it, but it makes me so crazy to see it every day that is has developed into a personal fantasy vendetta against the actual people in that picture. Why do they look like that? Why are they standing that way (especially the chicks at either end of the pic)? AND WHY ARE THEY ALL WHITE!? This Canterbury thing claims to be some kind of big-time professional leaders organization. Get some brown and black people in there then. Now. 

The only way that I will ever be free of seeing a pic of this octet of douchebaggery is if I can kill my ties to AOL, and the only way I can do that is if Blogger will accept a replacement main account address. Help me, Obi-Wan Kenobi. You're my only hope!
I've been advised more than once to not let myself become too exercised over the excesses of the Westboro cult, that grotesquely inbred family from Kansas that forms a so-called church based entirely upon homophobia. They're the ones famous for their "God Hates Fags" signs and stickers.  They are, of course, a tiny group of people and are regarded as patently absurd by nearly everyone. So why bother worrying about such losers? The vast hinterlands of America, are after all, crawling with regular everyday garden variety bigotry, so why pay attention to the fringiest of the loony fringe?

Because they cross a line that I cannot stomach seeing crossed by their practice during the recent war years of picketing military funerals. For them to try to turn what has got to be the worst moment of a parent's life--burying his or her son as a casualty of war--into a petty platform to propagate their hate agenda has got to rank as one of the most disgusting things that we are expected to put up with as Americans. For them to claim on their announcements that a soldier died to protect their freedom to act this way is a fucking lie. If that were true, then the war and the sacrifice of everyone who has died in it was truly for nothing. And for them to make this claim on an announcement that declares that God himself is at war with America, and to end it by exclaiming "Thanks God for IEDs" must offend any halfway reasonable American regardless of politics or religion.

On Monday morning, these scumbags plan to defile the memorial for Petty Office Jarod Newlove at the Catholic Church at 9622 20th Ave SW in Seattle WA.  That same day, they plan to set upon the memorial for Lance Corporal Shane Martin at the Catholic church at 19222 State Highway 249, Houston TX. I hope that in both place, people find a way to turn out in some kind of mass large and obstructive enough to deny the Westboro pieces of shit the ability to approach these events and spare the families of these fallen servicemen the sight of such filth anywhere near their memorial services.

Yeah, I get it: it's just a handful of evil lunatics. But what they represent pervades the culture in various other ways. They showed up on my radar years ago with their website counting the days that Matthew Shepard was burning in hell. The hate-invocation of Shepard by homophobes continues to this day in all kinds of places. It shows up on the floor of the US Congress as when, last year during debate on the Federal Hate Crimes law that bears Matthew's name, Congresswoman Virginia Foxx (Cunt-NC) said the whole story of what happened to that kid was a "hoax"...while Shepard's mother was there to witness final debate and passage of the law. In more obscure places, one sees thing like internet posts from the likes of godawful hack "writer"/"publisher" Nickolaus Pacione saying, "I think homosexuality of any kind is an abomination. I know that you ... worship Matt Shepard. The fag didn’t die on the cross for you." So it's really not just the Westboro freaks who are like this. They may be an an extreme and tres sickening manifestation of it, but their dumbassity can be found in many other dirty corners and right out in public on the floor of the House.

And I'd just leave it at that and write them off as a bunch of dumbass losers, but the funeral picketing is taking it too far. I hope that more people will keep tabs on such activities and try to disrupt them by some sort of peaceful but very disruptive means whenever possible. 

NOM: Losers

Jul. 29th, 2010 10:15 pm
mbranesf: (Default)
 The person who made this sign to display at a recent NOM "rally" is a piece of shit:

Also, NOM itself is fucking pathetic with their sad little "One Man One Woman" tour. When the COUNTER-demonstration outnumbers by five and tens time the size of their demonstration, then that's some really sad crap. Sad for them, anyway. To me it's hilarious iwhen they manage to draw together literally tens of people (like 45 or 50 at a recent in Wisconsin) and then 400 supporters of marriage equality appear to counter them.

Courage Campaign has been running a "NOM Tour Tracker" site to keep tabs on these creeps and let people know when they might attempt one of their dumb hate rallies in one's own town. While NOM itself is a pitiful pile of crap of an organization, it's probably wise to keep notes on the movements and activities of such groups because they tend to be magnets for potentially dangerous psychotics such the douche who made that sign, which I take as advocating the murder of my partner and me.

(Also, I noticed that the sign says something at the bottom about a "Cross Bearer Ministry." I don't know what that is, but if it's those people who tow around the big wooden crosses on wheels, then that makes it all the more stupid.)
I have had the opportunity to encourage several more editors to beware of the first-rights-reselling writer discussed in my earlier post, just in the short time it's been up. But meanwhile, over on the M-Brane blog, I was taken to task thus by one "Geraldo":

"You only pay $10.00? That's less than a cheeseburger deluxe. You really should pay professional rates, or at the very least strive to pay semi-pro rates or a decent flat fee. Sometimes writers make a living at this, and it's a known fact that, in some circumstances, reprints can be submitted for the lifetime of a writer's career. How can a writer live on ten dollars? Unless you are just a hobbyist publication, then it is understandable."

My reply there to this comment was perhaps overly harsh, especially the concluding "give up on your dream" statement, but I am admittedly rather prickly about this topic. Yeah, sure, I'd love to pay more for fiction for M-Brane, and I would if I could. And I expect to be able to do so one day. But as things stand right now, the thing makes no money at all (literally zero revenue in the last month), and I subsidize its minimal costs out of pocket and I don't even have to fucking do it! I do it out of love, same reason writers write short stories. Pay the bills? Make a living? On short fiction? Give up that dream right now.
For the past few days, I have been contemplating a dilemma in my capacity as editor of M-Brane SF Magazine. I discovered, to my great irritation, that a writer whom I have published a couple of times sold me first rights to his stories when, in fact, they had been previously published not just once but two times and three times. I don't take reprints, and if I did, I would 1) expect to be informed by the writer that the submission was previously published; 2) I would want to acknowledge in print the previous publisher;  and 3) I sure as fuck would not contract for first English rights on the story. 

For people not in the writing and publishing world, this may sound like an obscure and technical issue, but for me it is one of honor and integrity. This writer is a douchebag for misrepresenting his work as new, and he has made me look like a douche for publishing it as new. I have uncovered numerous instances of this kind of chicanery involving this writer and a number of other zines. I have informed the affected editors so that they can decide for themselves whether to do as I am doing and ban from consideration any future submissions from this person. I am sure there are many other publishers whom I have not yet informed because I am sure that I have not uncovered every instance of this situation. If this were some newbie writer who didn't know what he was doing, and had only done it once or twice, I could maybe forgive and forget. But this is a person with literally hundreds of credits (many of them evidently duplicative under false pretenses).

Despite my rage over this and my natural impulse to call out liars when I spot them, I think I have made the correct decision by not yelling this person's name far and wide and instead just dealing with it directly with the affected parties as I discover them. Word spreads among the zine publishing community. My research into this fraud happened to lead me to a blog that is evidently almost wholly devoted to hating this writer, and does so with great bile and personal nastiness. That sort of thing is not my bag, and I will not participate in it. But I will make sure to take any opportunity that presents itself to shut down yet another market for this particular writer. I have already closed about ten of them. 
Did you hear about the French McDonald's commercial focused on a gay teenager, and how Fox News thug Bill O'Reilly said it was tantamount to having ads inviting al Qaeda to McDonald's? GLAAD has this protest-to-Fox-News campaign in process, which includes a petition text that one may send to various Fox News executives (emails provided). While I support the idea of protesting about that ludicrous TV channel in general due its very existence and its generally offensive tone and character and the disagreeable sight and sound of most if its on-air personalities, and while I did actually send off my own abbreviated version of their petition letter to a couple of those emails, I will be shocked if any Fox people or O'Reilly himself apologize over this.

Why would they? Hating gay people is the stock-in-trade of media outlets like Fox, it's the very stuff of life for them. And while deriding gay people is great for them, deriding gay kids is even better. O'Reilly is by his very nature a jerk and a bully and a bitter old man, and gay teens are practically tailor-made for bullying in the kind of world Fox would like to create. Embedded below is the ad with the gay kid. Even though it's for a fast-food chain that I like about as well as O'Reilly, this ad is sweet and its appearance here causes the unprecedented situation of me applying both the "douchebaggery" (for O'Reilly) and "anti-douchebaggery" (for McDonald's) tags to this single post. 

I won't go on at length about this one. You can, if you really want to, read the details here at TPM . The gist of it is that the Family Research Council claims that their "research" has proven that the repeal of the dumbassed Don't-Ask-Don't-Tell law for the US military will ipso facto result in a lot of gay-perpetrated rapes of innocent str8 servicemen, blah, blah, blah-blah, blah. Also, if you dig pain, like to puke, and you crave even more exposure to sociopathic fucknuttedness, over on the right hand side of the TPM page is a link to another article about one of these dickbags claiming that Hitler and his whole Holocaust operation was a gay project.

The only reason I mention the whole dumbassity here at all is that I don't think I have yet bothered to highlight the Family Research Council in particular as one of the most bugfuck, batshit, looney-tunes, froot-looped boatload of gibbering morons that ever blighted this vale of tears. Even in a land stacked to the rafters with psychotic bigotry, they manage to stand out from the heap of worn-out discarded old shit, like a sleet of bat guano overlaying an attic full of someone's redneck grandpa's Klan memorabilia. To borrow some verbiage from the venerable Harlan Ellison, "I do not think I demean them much by perceiving them as creeps, meatheads, clods, fruitcakes, nincompoops, amoeba-brains, yoyos, yipyops, kadodies and clodhoppers."

In case you didn't bother to click over to the TPM article and decided to just take my word for it, I am copying here the picture that they used of one Peter Sprigg, "Senior Fellow for Policy Studies" at the Family Research Council. Don't let the haircut fool you: in fact, it's a dead giveaway. Peter Sprigg is almost certainly a bitter closeted homosexual. They all look and act more or less like this when they get into these kinds of jobs where they can work out their personal pain by amping up mouth-frothing insanity against their own kind. Remember this image. If you don't see Mr. Sprigg himself, you will see someone exactly like him someday and you will know the truth.

Once in a while, when I think there is no other good way to explain a problem or circumstance, someone does it perfectly, and I say to myself, "A) Why didn't I think of putting it this way, and B) Why isn't everyone in the country talking about this right now?"  Such a moment just happened when I found this item by Tim Wise in which he speculates, with totally reasonably examples, on how Americans might view the teabagger movement differently if it consisted of black people (or Arabs) instead of white right-wing douchebags.  Click that link and read it. 
As my current (soon-to-be-former) city of residence, Oklahoma City acknowledges the fifteenth anniversary of the bombing of the Federal building just a few streets away from where I sit now, I am struck by the irony of a gun-wielding mini-mob doing an Angry-Little-Dick-White-Man demo in DC and by local wingnuts seriously advocating establishing a citizen's militia in Oklahoma. Also, I am disgusted by one of our Congressman, Tom Cole, claiming that the bombing was "not a political event" and accusing one of his colleagues of "exploiting" it for political purposes by mentioning that this act of terrorism was conducted by right-wing extremists who wanted instill in the government a fear of the "people." Let me ask this: if that bombing was not a political event than what the fuck was it? Terrorism, by definition, is a political act. That's what it's for, asshole. Politics. What, were the 9/11 bombers just evil thugs who wanted to blow up building and kill people just for the fun of it? Is that seriously what people like Cole want us to believe? While reasonable people deplore the tactic of terrorism, it's entire basis is politics.

The Oklahoma City bombing was conducted by anti-government extremists, the ideological descendants of the Klan and the Birchers, people inspired by the The Turner Diaries, the political kith and kin of the douchebags carrying signs depicting the President of the United States as a monkey and threatening to use their guns to protect their so-called "liberty." McVeigh's descendants now lie that their taxes have been increased, that the government has taken over their lives, that Obama is coming for the their guns, and believe it when Glenn Beck and other bilious turds of that ilk claim that the evil government is readying concentration camps in which to intern all the good patriots of Palin-land. How sad it will be if the present-day Okie angry dickless dudes actually do succeed in setting up their militia. I wonder what the survivors of April 19, 1995 will think about it. 

A few months ago when I wrote my NaNoWriMo novel, I set in it an alternate America where much of the country had been overtaken by a new extremist political party which did indeed start creating new state militias for the purpose of resisting the Federal government. Based on how things seem to be proceeding in the real world, I thought it was a possible development, but I didn't think it would really start so soon. I still think (or at least hope) it won't really come to that. But if it does, will Obama deal with it with the way Lincoln did?
Though I said last night that I was done commenting on health care reform and on the politics of our dying country in general, I won't let this item pass. I  reprint here something from the Huffington Post. I'd like to draw your attention to the last line of it in particular, and just say one more venom-filled "die!" to the teabaggers. 

Abusive, derogatory and even racist behavior directed at House Democrats by Tea Party protesters on Saturday left several lawmakers in shock.

Preceding the president's speech to a gathering of House Democrats, thousands of protesters descended around the Capitol to protest the passage of health care reform. The gathering quickly turned into abusive heckling, as members of Congress passing through Longworth House office building were subjected to epithets and even mild physical abuse.

A staffer for Rep. James Clyburn (D-S.C.) told reporters that Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (D-Mo.) had been spat on by a protestor. Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.), a hero of the civil rights movement, was called a 'ni--er.' And Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) was called a "faggot," as protestors shouted at him with deliberately lisp-y screams. Frank, approached in the halls after the president's speech, shrugged off the incident.

But Clyburn was downright incredulous, saying he had not witnessed such treatment since he was leading civil rights protests in South Carolina in the 1960s. 

"It was absolutely shocking to me," Clyburn told the Huffington Post. "Last Monday, this past Monday, I stayed home to meet on the campus of Claflin University where fifty years ago as of last Monday... I led the first demonstrations in South Carolina, the sit ins... And quite frankly I heard some things today I have not heard since that day. I heard people saying things that I have not heard since March 15, 1960 when I was marching to try and get off the back of the bus."

"It doesn't make me nervous as all," the congressman said, when asked how the mob-like atmosphere made him feel. "In fact, as I said to one heckler, I am the hardest person in the world to intimidate, so they better go somewhere else."

Asked if he wanted an apology from the group of Republican lawmakers who had addressed the crowd and, in many ways, played on their worst fears of health care legislation, the Democratic Party, and the president, Clyburn replied:

"A lot of us have been saying for a long time that much of this, much of this is not about health care a all. And I think a lot of those people today demonstrated that this is not about health care... it is about trying to extend a basic fundamental right to people who are less powerful."

I will also point out again that these people brought that unflattering "teabagger" monicker upon themselves by not vetting the name of their organization before launching it AND having as their first major action sending fucking teabags to the White House. And it seems that some of these POS losers have embraced the insult anyway (see below). I mean, come on! Even if you hadn't heard of teabagging from the sexual (and faggot) "underworld," who didn't see the relatively sanitized Pecker version of it? Oh. Wait. Yeah. Douchebags who would join the Tea Party, that's who. Never mind. Jeeeeeeeezus! Gotta run (got some teabagging to do with my bf--we're faggots, ya know). 


Anybody who knows me and my partner knows that we haven't had access to affordable health insurance in years. It had been a dream of mine since I became interested in national affairs way back when I was a little kid that the country that I was taught to believe was "The Best!" would someday move out of the middling ranks of the planet's countries and finally have universal health care. Well, that's obviously not  going to happen, and I have decided to withdraw from giving a fuck about American politics and concentrate on my fantasy world instead. But....

...If the health care bill actually does pass the House on Sunday, we will be happy. But not because we believe in some fantasy that we will be able to get insurance despite our non-employer coverage and our pre-existing conditions. That probably won't happen for years, if at all, anyway. So why will I be happy? Because Republicans, conservatives, birthers, ditto-heads, Fox News-viewers and fucking teabaggers will be UNhappy. That's all it is for us now. We just want those assholes to be defeated. When they say healthcare is NOT a right, they are insulting us personally. Fuck them. We don't even care what the bill actually does anymore so long as it makes Republicans cry and whine in defeat. Pure politics.
"Where is your smile?...The stupid, idiotic smile everyone else seems to be wearing!"
--Kor, from the Star Trek episode "Errand of Mercy"

Though I have not read the book itself, I was delighted to come across this review of Barbara Ehrenreich's recent book Smile or Die: How Positive Thinking Fooled America and the World. Like the reviewer, I found it intensely refreshing, even liberating, to know that someone finally had the guts to take a swipe at a fraudulent concept that has built a phony-baloney multi-billion-dollar industry and duped far too many people into believing that all life's problems are best solved just by wishing real hard and grinning a lot.

Years ago, when I was chef at the Saint Louis Art Museum, we endured a brief period where we were beset by a goofy Napleon-complex manager who never tired of making the claim that "it takes twelve more muscles in your face to frown than to smile." Whether that's true or not (I'm sure it's not), it was his standard admonishment to everyone and his way of trying to enforce the fascism of phony good cheer on everyone. In a restaurant situation like that, service personnel who are any good at their jobs at all will automatically adopt a reasonably pleasant and good-natured demeanor, including smiling, when approaching customers, but this dude never let up on his dimwitted  theme under any circumstances. I could be sitting in the back office entering inventory data into my computer and be criticized for not smiling while doing that. Why so glum? What's the matter with you? And so on. To not be deliberately forcing a broad smile at all times automatically meant that there was some kind of problem, and that the problem was my fault, and that I was an asshole for having the problem, and I should fucking fix it by smiling. 

This sort of nonsense seems to permeate a lot of workplaces, which is one of the many reasons why am I unsuited to having a day job and need to get fully self-employed again ASAP. At my current job, there was an incident which is what set me off writing this post in the first place. Every other Friday, an "in-service" meeting is held. Attendance is mandatory. Though I do not attend anyway unless I happen to scheduled for work on that Friday. I was there last Friday, and part of the purpose of the meeting was to watch the video Fish! If you don't know what Fish! is, maybe you have a spare few hundred dollars to buy a copy or maybe you, too, work for a douchey company that will show it to you as a "motivational" training tool. It's a short film about the Pike Place fish market in Seattle and how they turned around a failing business by adjusting their attitudes and starting to have fun at work. Easy, right?  I can see why my boss found this appealing, because he seems like someone who, by nature, would very much like to incorporate a lot of yelling, shouting, cheering, hooting, hollering, throwing objects, and jumping around like a giggling jackass at work all day. Sadly, the fun-loving culture of the fish crew cannot be transplanted into just any work environment (least of all ours). Indeed, one of the fish crew members says during the video something to the effect of, "If you just try to copy us, then it won't work." But watching that video is not actually what pissed me off during this in-service. What pissed me off was the fact that the boss, during his lengthy intro to the film, was throwing pieces of candy at us. So throughout the meeting, it was necessary to constantly catch pieces of candy or be hit in the head with them. And we had to smile the whole time, too, or be called out for not smiling enough. 

Ok here's the deal: fuck that. As a fully grown adult, I don't find candy to even be appropriate as an item in the room during a work-related meeting, and having it thrown at me is just about the last thing in the world that is going to make me smile. While I do like there to be a positive, pleasant atmosphere of cooperation and conviviality in a work place, I do not enjoy juvenile behavior, particularly not from people even older than I am. It doesn't make me smile. I am not even going to pretend it makes me smile. I am not going to wear a fake smile at work because someone is bugging me about it all the time. And you know what else? Just changing one's attitude does not always (or even usually) fix problems: you actually have to do something about them sometimes. So if things aren't going well at work or in life, it's probably not actually caused by you because you didn't smile enough or wish hard enough for good things. But it might require some actual work to fix it. Amazing how doing something sometimes gets a result.