Friday, February 07, 2014

Nobody Asked Me, But...

1) Kudos to Google for tweaking Vladimir Putin’s nose today by quoting the non-discrimination clause of the IOC charter.
2) Another chip of my childhood has fallen off my façade. RIP, Ralph. Heaven now has completed the best baseball announce crew in history. His was one of the first voices I can remember from childhood, and between him, Bob Murphy and Lindsey Nelson, he made watching a perennially losing team worth watching.
3) The winter Olympics do start today amidst more concerns for security than any Games I can remember, even the Salt Lake City ones that happened just after 9/11.
4) Want to lose weight? Stop eating so much on the weekends. Find an incentive to keep you otherwise occupied.
5) Earth, from Mars
7) All due respect, India, but WTF do you mean, “back up plan”?
8) This diplomat. I wonder if she’s a Bush holdover?
9) I can think of one, Joe. Her name is Hillary. I doubt you can beat her without tearing the party apart. But hey, I would have said the same thing about Obama in 2007.
10) It was fifty years ago today…where to start to talk about the Beatles and their impact on my life. I remember that Sunday standing in front of the RCA 17 inch black and white television – that’s right, television. Not security monitor, television – and strumming an air guitar to “I Wanna Hold Your Hand.” In a sentence, that pretty much sums up the impact. I learned that night to dream about something bigger than I could ever imagine previously. And it’s made all the difference. No one since has had the kind of earth-shaking effect on the culture on the planet. Michael Jackson came close, but by the time he was a dominant global force, the weird stories about him started to come out and his impact was softened. The Beatles made rock and roll clean-cut but still sexy. Even Elvis couldn’t pull that off.

Thursday, February 06, 2014

Just How Badly Do We Need Obama to Step Up On This?

Now our national power grid has become a matter of national security:

A top former energy official claims that an attack on an American power grid was terrorism.

One or more snipers opened fire in April, knocking out 17 transformers that send power to Silicon Valley, the Wall Street Journal initially reported.

Officials moved the flow of electricity to another site to stop a blackout.

But the man who chaired the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission at the time, Jon Wellinghoff, tells CBS News it could be an omen for a future attack. "We have risks on physical security that were evidenced by this attack that have not been addressed that need to be addressed in my opinion, immediately," he said.

The FBI does not believe it was an act of terror.

No, it was probably just a disaffected gun nut, to be sure.

But it’s a really good excuse for Obama to make good on some vague campaign and executive promises he has made with respect to the power grid.

Infrastructure in this country is a joke. It should be the laughingstock of any decent civilized nation apart from ours. It’s tragic that most of the bridges in the nation are one good jolt away from collapsing. About the only infrastructure that is in any decent shape is the nation’s highways and even there, only where a Congresscritter decided to bring a little pork home and name a stretch of interstate after himself (looking at you, Bud Shuster)

The power grid is especially vulnerable and we only need to go back to August 2003 when a third of the country went dark for the better part of a week because of a software glitch in Ohio. This is not just about finding new energy supplies or upgrading the grid itself to a smart grid, but of decentralizing the grid and encouraging people to become energy producers, not just consumers.

You want to see the nation come together, fight global warming, and conserve energy? Get them to become their own utilities. When they realize there’s a profit to selling power back to the grid, they’ll be turning off lights in rooms, buying LED and CFC bulbs, putting timers and motion sensors in hallways and rooms, and upgrading to smart thermostats in no time at all.

And He Didn't Even Need a Gun!

Wednesday, February 05, 2014

Today In Exploding Conservative Heads

Clay Aiken is running for Congress, challenging a Republican stronghold in North Carolina.

Welcome News

It’s nice to see a CEO realize that a product is not in keeping with the mission statement of a corporation:

CVS Caremark (CVS:US), the largest provider of prescription drugs in the U.S., plans to stop selling cigarettes and tobacco-related products across the nation by Oct. 1 in an effort to support the health of its patients and customers.

CVS, operator of 7,600 pharmacy stores in the U.S., would be the first national pharmacy chain to take this step, the Woonsocket, Rhode Island-based company said in a statement today. The decision will cut annual revenue (CVS:US) by about $2 billion, equating to 17 cents a share, CVS said.

The move comes as public health officials try to educate about 42 million U.S. adult smokers about the dangers of the habit. Last month, a report from the acting U.S. Surgeon General, Boris Lushniak, criticized the “fraudulent campaigns” by cigarette companies, weaknesses in regulation and a rebound in smoking depicted in Hollywood films. The study, which came half a century after smoking was first linked to lung cancer, cited new evidence that common ailments such diabetes, arthritis and impotence can be linked to tobacco use.

The CVS by me also sells beer, so I suspect that won’t be long for the shelves either.

There is a deep background issue lurking that I suspect CVS may have thought about in coming to this decision: lawsuits. After all, tobacco products are a known carcinogen, and while smoking in general has decreased over the past decades, there has been a recent and alarming rise in teen smoking, as the snippet above suggests.

The tobacco manufacturers have been sued and settled, so it would be a long, hard fight to go back to them and say “Stop it, now!” but a potential avenue for fixing the problem would be to go after the retail and wholesale distributors of the product, whose law firms are, shall we say, less stellar? It’s actually a clever way of enforcing the liability issue without seeming to go after the manufacturers and igniting…see what I did there?...a backlash from the right wing and morons who smoke and feel it’s a god-given right.

One could make the case that the retailers are knowingly selling a dangerous product, despite the numerous warnings and measures taken by stores to enforce that only adults get the product. After all, they don’t sell crack legally, and it would be a first step to having tobacco put on a controlled substances list.

Monday, February 03, 2014

Kudos Are In Order

Steve Kornacki, host of MSNBC’s UP with Steve Kornacki has done signal reporting on the Chris Christie story, going far back into his professional history to point out that the image of Christie as a non-partisan, tough-as-nails prosecutor has some very large holes in it.


He makes the case, in fact, that Christie may have been one of the US Attorneys who sucked up to Alberto Gonzalez when Gonzalez politicized the US Attorneys’ staff.

A Couple of Thoughts on The Feetsball

Long-time readers of Simply Left Behind know that I hold no great passion for football. I think it lost its greatness when it decided it was more important to print money from municipalities and teevee than to play the game on the field. It’s become a great gay gang grope.

So I understand that last night was the final game of this cycle of Hunker Games, and featured a rout by the feetsball players from Seattle, beating the feetsball players from Denver, 43-8.

Me, I watched The Kitten Bowl, then The Puppy Bowl, and even tuned in The Fish Bowl to drive away the ennui of a perfectly good Sunday night on the TV, wasted because a piss-poor example of Americana sucks all the air out of the room.

But I have a few observations around the game I’d like to make:

1) A huge uproar came about because Bruno Mars was the halftime show. Given that the NFL audience is starting to a) age ungracefully, and b) winnow away to real sports, it was understandable that the powers that be threw a pale imitation of James Brown by way of Michael Jackson up on stage for the show. I actually watched it. I thought he was pretty good.

2) I wanted to watch the commercials but every time I tuned in there were 22 men standing around on a patch of grass. However, that said, when did Bob Dylan decide to sell out? Not only is it a car commercial, but it’s a lie: Chrysler is a distinctly non-American car company.

3) Continuing on the commercials theme, note to rightwing Freepers: America is built on immigrants.

4) When I heard Percy Harvin would be in the line-up for the Seahawks, I knew that Denver couldn’t possibly win the game. This was touted as a match-up of the best defense (Seattle) versus the best offense (Denver) in the league. Harvin just made Seattle a better team, period.

5) Denver just looked old, but I don’t think Seattle will repeat next year. Maybe 2016. Maybe.

6) To the tourists who came to my fair city: So long and thanks for all the money, suckers!

7) The best matchup of the evening came before the game, when President Obama schooled Bill O’Reilly. He went into the lion’s den and kicked the crap out of Leo.

8) Finally, it’s nine days to pitchers and catchers…HOORAY!