The Delusional Governor of our State of Texas

This may become a regular feature for me. I can't seem to get away from this. Apologizing to the rest of the world (or at least the nation) for the paucity of intellect displayed by our sitting Governor; the longest sitting governor for the State of Texas (I'd be ashamed, but I've never cast a vote for the man. The rest of you, though...) Sometimes I wonder if this man ties his own shoes in the morning, or if he has to have someone else do it.

Case in point. I'm watching Hardball last night (as I do virtually every night) and I nearly fall out of my chair as the Governor tells a New Hampshire child on national television (!?) that we teach creationism alongside evolution in Texas.


(courtesy of TFN and NPR)

Now, I know that this has been his goal for about the last decade or so, it's why he's appointed a series of young-earth creationists to chair the SBOE; but apparently he hasn't kept track of what his appointed cronies have been forced to accept recently. The entirety of intelligent design (aka, creationism) has been rejected by the SBOE in a unanimous vote. There will be no creationism taught in Texas schools. There cannot be, no matter how many times he appoints creationists to the SBOE, as it is a violation of the separation between church and state.

The Governor's campaign for the White House is a train wreck, and an embarrassment to thinking Texans (and yes, we do exist) everywhere. The national political pundits are probably drooling at the chance to have a real circus to report on; it's good for ratings.

[I can only imagine what the behind the cameras dialog was like when McCain ran against Obama or Dole ran against Clinton; "Where's the drama? I'm supposed to attract viewers with this?"
]

The kind of divisive political piety that he displays (and is detailed here for those who haven't been paying attention) Will play well in certain areas of the nation, but be alienating to the majority of voters. He'll do great in the Midwest (and a good portion of the old South) he will not favor well anywhere in the Southwest outside of Texas, and won't play at all in the North.

The outcome that the administration is hoping for is facing off against a Rick Perry or Michele Bachmann. That campaign they'll be able to phone in since neither one of them is even acquainted with "Mainstream America", and will be easy to trip up on the most basic of scientific inquiries (young earth creationists generally are) not to mention their willingness to gut all social programs, especially health care programs, in the name of fiscal responsibility. It will be the simplest of matters to rally the middle in lukewarm support of an Obama second term in the face of that kind of challenge.

The only thing Obama is terrified of is the jobs numbers not getting better; perversely, it's the only thing the opposition has to hope for, since they can't seem to find a candidate that will satisfy the crazies (Like Chris Christy points out in this video http://www.youtube.com/watch?&v=y83z552NJaw) and be marketable to the rest of us.



Jon Huntsman knows where the center is;

Former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman, another contender for the GOP presidential nomination, took to Twitter almost instantly, seeming to mock Perry for the creationism comment, as well as for his recent statements on climate change: “To be clear. I believe in evolution and trust scientists on global warming. Call me crazy."

(courtesy Texas Tribune)
Doubt seriously that the Republicans will give him the time of day, though.

AISD superintendent should "Form a Line"

The Superintendent of AISD issued a vaguely worded threat today;

At a speech Tuesday morning Austin schools Superintendent Meria Carstarphen said that she would not propose job cuts, declare a financial emergency or call an election to raise property taxes in the coming year as long as the school board and employees continue to ‘hold the line” on some of the tough decisions made this year.

The All Staff Convocation, streamed live to schools across the district from the Preas Theater at Austin High School, was the third such speech in Carstarphen’s three-year tenure - and the second virtual one. Teachers reported to their campuses this week. The first day of school is Monday.

"Hold the line" means sticking to the school closings and teacher layoffs that were proposed last year. A plan that is mapped out here;

An AISD task force of district staffers, parents and community members has identified nine schools that could be closed or revamped to help the district run more efficiently: Barton Hills, Brooke, Joslin, Oak Springs, Ortega, Pease, Sanchez and Zilker elementary schools and Pearce Middle School.

On January 25, Becker, Blackshear, Dawson and Govalle elementary schools were added to the list for consideration.

Under the proposals, the first schools could close in 2012-13.

I find it quite telling that all of the schools (but one, and that one in downtown) are in South and East Austin. As usual, Terrytown gets what it wants, and the rest of us must suffer for them.

But we're in a budget crisis, we have to cut somewhere!? Budget crisis? Here's my opinion on the subject.

Fire every non-teaching employee above principle. If you want to work for the school district and not teach, we'll accept your charitable donation of time, just like the board members (this goes double for the Superintendent and her assistants) If you want to keep your job at the school district and get paid, you better find a class that you can teach. We should only be paying people to staff the schools themselves, and sell those multi-million dollar facilities that the district occupies downtown. Should more than make up the shortfall. Want to tighten belts? Tighten your own first, or face a vengeful public.

Nothing worse than a bunch of hogs, lording it over the rest of the farm animals, telling the rest of us how we need to make sacrifices. You first.

Pick a President on the Internet?

Went looking for sites that took advantage of the internet in the candidate selection process recently. I knew about http://www.selectsmart.com/president/
Politicians have already indicated their 2012 presidential aspirations. This matching quiz includes President Obama, top members of his administration, Obama's most vocal critics (Boehner, Cantor, etc.) and likely White House prospects (Palin, Pawlenty, Jindal, etc.). You may select a position for every issue, or just select issues important to you. The political figures' positions are based upon their voting records, special interest group ratings and their statements in the public record. In cases where there is no known public record or statement, these politicos are not given a score on that issue. We add candidates, revise their views and include new issues as they become known or change. Check back often for updates.
...from previous elections. However, I was pointed to http://www.opencongress.org/ (hardcore debate site, I'm told) and VoteEasy (from Project: Vote Smart) as other resources that do the something similar.

The problem is, who to trust? The fractious nature of the American populace is the stumbling block. It's not just that they have different sources, it's that those sources use different facts. They think they're entitled to different facts. Reality just doesn't work that way.

To me, this is just another example of why we need an election process that is more open, and publicly funded. I don't want to have to pick over Iowa's leavings when it comes to opponents for the status quo. What they select will most likely not be electable, an we'll end up with Romney against Obama as a compromise candidate; the status quo vs. the status quo. That's not a race, that's yet another yawnfest. Maybe something like this...

http://www.americanselect.org


The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Elliot Ackerman
www.colbertnation.com
Colbert Report Full EpisodesPolitical Humor & Satire BlogVideo Archive

Something more "content neutral". Rather than having to sell yourself to your nutjob left or right base (about 2/10's of the population, combined) you can appeal to the middle directly. An interesting approach to the problem, to say the least, if not exactly original (saw something similar started last election that never got any traction) let's see if it goes anywhere.

Maybe we should use this guy's theories (also on Colbert. It's been a good week for election theory there lately) to pick the candidate we need;
A First-Rate Madness: Uncovering the Links Between Leadership and Mental Illness

The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Nassir Ghaemi
www.colbertnation.com
Colbert Report Full EpisodesPolitical Humor & Satire BlogVideo Archive


Probably the most interesting interview I've seen in awhile (Much as I like The Cars' revival album) on Colbert.

Heading off Potential Embarrassment for Texas. Again.

I'd like to disavow any association between me and Gov. Perry in advance of his declaration to run for the office of President of the United States. Word has surfaced that he's planning to announce his intention to run for the office this Saturday at an appearance in North Carolina.

I just want to make this clear, not only do we not share political views, I don't acknowledge that he comes from the same state that I do.

The State of Texas that I come from doesn't aspire to discriminate against gays, doesn't want to interfere in the health choices of it citizens, and doesn't care which religion (or lack of religion) its citizens ascribe to.

The secular State of Texas. I'm not sure if he's ever heard of it even though he's been elected to run it more often than any previous governor.

If you aren't from 'round here, and plan on writing about the governor, I recommend that you read this article in Texas Monthly (in fact, you probably should subscribe. It is the National Magazine of Texas, after all) those of us who have had the misfortune of being unfairly characterized by the press covering Texas leaders in the past will thank you for it, and it will save you from thinking he's just another version of George W. Bush. He's much worse than that.

Obamacare = Romneycare = Failure

Got an email today from one of my preferred activist efforts, concerning the effects of Obamacare, and the waivers being issued until they are phased out. DownsizeDC: "Americans Beg for Mercy in front of Unelected Bureaucrats" They reference an article at the Boston Globe, written by John Sununu (who clearly needs to take a class in creative writing. Talk about cludgy wordsmithing) that runs something like this;
Companies now face a September deadline to apply for protection. After that, they’re out of luck. According to the administration, without the special treatment, health care premiums for 3 million workers would have gone up by 10 percent or more. A note to social engineers of all parties: If you have to protect 3 million people from a brand-new law, it probably wasn’t very well written in the first place.

That this was an unintended consequence is clear from the fact that the law never contemplated a need for waivers in the first place. In a stroke of bureaucratic magic, HHS simply granted itself the power, and started dispensing the passes. Only when independent groups started pressing for transparency did things begin to shut down.

The broader lesson here is that the constant need for special waivers is symptomatic of poorly written public policy. It’s a signal that the cost of compliance is unreasonably high; the benefits are hard to measure; and either legislators or regulators have failed to do their homework.
If you want to go to DownsizeDC and send a message to Congress, by all means do so. Save all of us some money, get them to change the laws now, before we spend the next 10 years litigating a system that might work. Still...

I find this breathless hysteria about Obamacare to be a bit of a yawn. Is it bad law? Probably. It's yet another over-long bill that doesn't do what it claims to do, and wasn't written or read by the legislators who passed it, or the executive who signed it (and who's name is used to identify it) but the problem with the hysteria over Obamacare is that it is fundamentally the same as Romneycare (or a few other state level insurance systems) and the people who want us to be breathlessly terrified don't seem to have a real problem with those other programs; in all likelihood because they were created by people from their party, the Republican Party.

When it comes to stories about the problems with the Health care system in the US, I found this article to be more enlightening;
REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL candidate Tim Pawlenty was right. While he backed away from the nice term he coined — ObamneyCare — the health reforms enacted by then-governor Mitt Romney in 2006 and President Obama in 2010 have much in common, although both would deny it.

Their main strength is that more people get insured. In Massachusetts, the percentage is up to 98 percent, the highest in the nation. Obama projects that about 95 percent of people will be insured nationally in a decade. But both Romney and Obama punted on crucial issues of cost and deeper systemic reform.
and
Yet there is a real debate to be had on health insurance, though not between Romney and Obama. On one side, Republican conservatives want to turn government programs such as Medicare and Medicaid into vouchers. Citizens would get a flat sum. If the cost of decent coverage exceeded the voucher, well, good luck. This approach would certainly reduce government costs. It would also reduce care.

On the other side, Democratic liberals point to nations with national health insurance, where the efficiencies are such that everyone is covered for about 10 percent of GDP compared to over 15 percent (and rising) here. Sooner or later, as costs keep exploding, the real choice for America will come down to vouchers versus true universal health insurance. It’s too bad that this debate will be largely offstage next year.

From RomneyCare vs. ObamaCare
In a nutshell, none of the systems work as intended (related this information to you ages ago) and we're going to have to re-constitute them into something completely different if we want them to work.

The real shame here is, we already wasted a year not-arguing over Obamacare (because we didn't know what was in it until after it was passed) which was essentially adapted from systems that aren't working in several states, and we'll spend an additional several years not-arguing over systems that might work that could replace the systems that are bleeding this country dry. Let's hope that someone with sense just does what needs to be done at some point, and let's the rest of us know where we can get access to it.

Personally, I'm tired of the obstructionist political maneuvering, and would relish some real debate over what is really needed to establish universal access to preventative care; as well as some realistically priced health insurance that really did provide insurance for my health, and didn't just pay my doctor bills each month.

Upgrading The Electorate

Dan Carlin's latest Common Sense (of the same title) inspired a bit of nostalgia on the part of yours truly. That wasn't his goal, but his unreserved backing for a change in how we elect our public officials (one that doesn't involve corruption at the outset) combined with his wistful thoughts on whether or not it was possible to get a better class of voter in the US (5 defining characteristics of stupidity was cited, if not directly endorsed) brought back to mind the long held belief of mine that most Americans (possibly most humans) are impenetrably stupid. When I mention this belief in a group setting, I'm generally guaranteed to get an earful, so I've learned over time to keep that opinion to myself. But nothing in my nearly 50 years of experience has ever come close to convincing me that this belief is not based on fact.

[more on this subject can be found at on cato.org; 25% of the population should ethically consider themselves able to cast a meaningful vote.]

Which brings me to the conversation on the Dan Carlin forums that brought up a second point of nostalgia. Invariably new podcasts bring out new listeners, most of them with ideas that they think are fresh and unheard of viewpoints; and they're certain we'll understand just how great they are once they tell us. This podcast, since it was about campaigns and the budget, brought out the usual chirpy optimistic observation from a new poster, "You wanna take money out of politics? Take the power out of Washington".

If I had a nickel for every time I heard "take the power out of Washington" back in my Libertarian Party days, I'd have a lot of devalued coinage on hand. This was a mainstay of a good portion of simplistic libertarian thought. It's as ridiculous a proposal as saying that laws cause crimes, so if we had no laws we'd have no crimes. While it is true that there would be no crime if there was no law, people would still die at the hands of other people, and value would still be taken from people without compensation. Consequently the injustices would still occur, we'd just call them something else.

Government is power, so you will never remove power from government. Corruption and government have walked hand in hand since the first politician agreed to do a favor in exchange for support. The question is how to reduce the obvious corruption in the current system. I don't see any way out of this that doesn't include a completely public election process, including financing. This is a new opinion of mine, at variance with pretty much all of the regular LP types. The concept of buying my politicians never did sit well with me, even when I was one of the rank and file. I understand the concept of money is speech in the current system, and I even agree with the recent Supreme Court Citizen's United ruling as far as it applies to the current system;
Money is only 'speech' if money is allowed to be contributed to candidates. If money is not allowed to be contributed; if in fact, money changing hands means jail sentences for both parties (and it should. Bribery is a violation of current law) and all elections are publicly funded, then money is no longer a speech issue at all.

Either we can bribe to hearts content, or no bribery should be allowed. Laws attempting to control who bribes and who doesn't should be struck down.

(My comment on TexasLP Chair Pat Dixon's article on the subject)
But the current system is at the heart of the problem of an uninformed electorate, and any effective solution is going to have to modify that system.

I'm becoming convinced the only solution that will fix the problem is public funding of elections with some real vicious teeth on laws against gift giving. Basically, they get their wages, they get their office, and if anyone gives them money for any reason, they (and the giver) get jail-time. Don't know how else to fix this problem. No money changes hands. No money, for any reason, at any time, or off to jail with the both of them. I have not one problem with locking up every industry exec and every congressman for illegal activities, when it comes right down to it. Every. Last. One.

There's a local radio host (Jeff Ward, 3pm KLBJ AM. Best radio show in Austin) who has a lunar mantra that runs along the lines of I want serving in office to be the most unpleasant job you can imagine. I want people to hate serving in office so much that they can't wait to leave the job when their time is up. That's where I've been for years. I want them to hate it. I want to have to draft people to serve as congressman, and have them cry as we stuff them on the bus to go to DC. I want them to do the jobs we send them for, and then leave as soon as they get it done because it's that unpleasant to be doing that job.

We hound their families and their friends to make sure they aren't serving as blind trusts for officeholders. The most unpleasant job, for all concerned. People beg, BEG to be allowed to not do the job. We'll have to publicly finance those campaigns, because there won't be any other money to be had.

That's what wielding the kind of power an officeholder has should feel like. A 2 year (or 4, or 6 year) long colonoscopy, while we are lodged up their collective asses watching every transaction that occurs.

What about the nostalgia? You said there'd be nostalgia! Got ahead of myself there, sorry. The nostalgia came in the form of the following libertarian pipe dream (and I'm dizzy enough already without pipe dreams) But it does bring back memories of a simpler time;
My contention is that you get back to first principals of liberty first. If the courts do not allow Washington to affect to such large degree the private affairs of individuals, especially in their means of business, you reduce the stakes. If you reduce the stakes then both the impact of corruption as well as the cost of corruption goes down.

I see Freedom and Liberty as the road back to equality and prosperity. I think with each passing day, more and more Americans are coming to believe that. I hope that within my kids lifetimes they will see a reversal of the current trend.


(From the Dan Carlin forums)
It's beautiful. He has a dream. I remember a young, inspired Libertarian, with dreams much like that. Thought that all we needed was freedom to make things better. Then he started studying recent history, and came to the realization that the jaded in Washington were using the calls to 'deregulate' industries as excuses to line the pockets of themselves and their cronies. Watched in disbelief as a President elected on a conservative wave of sentiment for better, smaller government, spent more money than any President before him, got us into the longest war in US history (started a land war in Asia. What a Moron. Or he would be, if the sentiment of the people could have been resisted. I don't think it could. It was the genius of Bin Laden to get us into Afghanistan in force. He'd just watched it consume the USSR. Think we'll fare better in the end? I don't.) and did nothing while the largest economic crash in US history happened all around him.

This (no longer capitol L) libertarian had a brief glimmer of hope when Obama was elected. Not that he thought there was any real chance of anything vaguely Libertarian coming out of that administration, but there was Obama's acknowledged history of drug use that made him think that hypocrisy on the drug war would come hard, and there were the limp-wristed promises of ending wars to inspire optimism. Which was promptly dashed when Obama simply maintained the status quo on all fronts, and even accelerated on others. Even took the time to pass a Republican piece of legislation with his name on it (Romneycare relabeled as Obamacare) just to prove where his heart was.

The final nail in the coffin (no longer libertarian, now just Objectivist) came when the idiots that cast ballots in the last election believed all the lies of the Republicans running for office. That they would reduce government, repeal that horrible health care act (that they would have voted for, had a Republican been in office) and release bunnies, kittens and doves on the capitol lawn, to go with the rainbow Jesus put there. People so stupid that, here in Texas where the government is still bad, they voted in even more Republicans than we had before and gave them a super majority.

These legislators, rather than do the jobs they had been sent there for, promptly passed social conservative laws against gays, muslims, etc. to please their bases, and have yet to do anything meaningful on the subject of fixing the economic system they were sent there to address. The next Presidential election is shaping up to be more of the same.

What I think is this country needs honest debate. The only way to get it is to take apart the current election system, top to bottom. No money changes hands. People who give money to politicians go to jail for treason. Politicians who take money from people go to jail for treason. A two year series of debates is established, which all candidates for office are required to attend. No barriers to entry. If you want to be candidate, you file and you are. You miss one (or two) of the mandated debates, you're out.

We could even structure it like that great American pasttime, American Idol. Vote candidates off that we don't like, preliminary to the final nominations and elections. All of it covered on broadcast television and streamed on the internet (on pain of revocation of transmission licenses if not) so that 'the people' will understand what is at stake, or at least have to work to avoid it.

Because much as it pains me, bursting bubbles that contain libertarian (or conservative, or liberal) pipe dreams is paramount to getting any real work done in political circles. The world just doesn't work the way the ideologues think it does.

Discord Over Harmony Schools

This is an example of real harm resulting from the religious posing of Texas leaders.

Harmony schools are charter schools in Texas; they are unquestionable successes in the realm of schooling, in fact. Two of their high schools were named in Newsweek as "miracle schools" representing the best of the best to be had in education in the entire United States, much less in Texas.

But that's not good enough for those conspiracy theorists out there who see different as threatening and Muslim as terrorist. Almost since the day they opened their doors, Harmony Schools have been the target of hate groups throughout the state.

Led by the Texas Eagle Forum, a conservative pro-family organization, Harmony's critics have issued a flurry of legislative alerts in recent weeks that said the state's $25 billion endowment for "our children's textbooks" was imperiled by "Turkish men, of whom we know very little other than most are not American citizens."

They gathered enough momentum that earlier this week some conservative legislators cited the concerns when they voted against a key budget bill — and almost killed it.

But one conservative protector of the endowment, the Permanent School Fund, says the criticism of Harmony is unfounded.

"There is a lot of misinformation, a certain level of fear and a small helping of bigotry that needs to go away," said State Board of Education member David Bradley, R-Beaumont.

Bradley said he would be the "first to sound the alarm" if there were anything to be alarmed about. But the board has not received substantive complaints from parents of the 16,000 children that attend any of the 33 Harmony campuses across the state, he said.

"The only thing these guys are guilty of are high scores and being Turkish," Bradley said.

(from Austin-American Statesman)

Love the way the article soft-pedals the Texas Eagle Forum. They are a hate group, and should be rightly labeled as such. I have yet to hear of anything they support that isn't related in some fashion to the stupid people observation I made in the last post.

So, not content to simply make themselves look like idiots, they want to incur unnecessary costs on the cash strapped school system, and the even more cash starved charter schools.

House General Investigating Committee Chairman Chuck Hopson, R-Jacksonville, said his committee has started a preliminary look-see into Harmony “and all the other charter school operators in the state.

“It’s nothing criminal. We just want to see whether they are spending our (state) money wisely,” he said. “There have been some concerns about (Harmony) building schools without competitive bidding, and about other issues, but we are going to looking at every one of the charters.”

(from Austin-American Statesman)
Harmony schools are on record in that article as "welcoming the investigation" but I can't imagine a group in their position daring to even suggest that the waste of time and money involved in investigating superior schools (for any other reason than to determine and duplicate their superior tactics) might not be welcome. Jack-booted fear mongers tend to not react well when their authority is questioned...

The Root of All Anti-Evolutionism

The title and this clip are from an article I had up on a Firefox tab for awhile now. the page format is ridiculously hard to read, but here's the gist;
...for me the primary issue is literalism, the secondary issue is education. You take a stupid person and force them through college and they’ll buy into the mainstream system instead of dumb countercultures. You allow a smart person to remain outside of the system and even with their own native intelligence don’t expect them not to deviate into weird idea-space. This is obvious insofar as Isaac Newton was certainly smarter than anyone reading this weblog, but he was wrong when it came to all sorts of scientific questions and you are correct, because the system of science upon which we rely upon today maps more closely onto reality as it is than it did in ~1700. Isaac Newton may have been a Creationist in 1700, but if he was reborn today he would almost certainly not be, because most smart people put more credence in the cultural wisdom of the smart than that of the stupid.

Also, it looks like Creationists have attained such critical mass among movement conservatives that the political and the theological are hard to disentangle. There are many smart and well educated conservatives who are Creationist, because literalism has become common enough that the peer-group norms have shifted.

From Discover Magazine
Several graphs in the article quantify data from the Religious Landscape Survey which show that it's not religious people who reject evolution.

...it really is stupid people.

So it should come as no surprise that the SBOE is going to open up the question of teaching evolution in science classes, once again. Texas government suffers under a larger than average share if ignorance, idiocy and stupidity. This has been true (apparently) since Sam Houston left office with the statement "I love Texas too well to bring civil strife and bloodshed upon her." after Texas had voted to secede from the union. I had hopes that we had reversed this trend in recent years, but the sitting head of the SBOE is determined to continue it.

Cargill was elected to the board in 2004 and is up for re-election in 2012. Her tenure is already off to a rocky start with some of her fellow Republicans after her comments earlier this month that the board has only six "true" conservative Christians. There are 11 Republicans on the board.

"Right now, there are six true conservative Christians on the board, so we have to fight for two votes. In previous years, we had to fight for one vote to get a majority," Cargill said during a July 7 meeting of the conservative group Texas Eagle Forum.

From The Huffington Post
Her measure of True Conservative Christian? Young Earth Creationists. Stupid people.

Thankfully they have less than a majority of stupid people in the SBOE, and it appears that more level heads did prevail, this time.
Today the State Board of Education voted to adopt the Texas education commissioner’s recommended list of science instructional materials. Special interest groups and activists off the state board failed in their efforts to force publishers to change their instructional materials to include arguments against evolutionary science. In addition, the board voted unanimously to reject the adoption of instructional materials from a New Mexico-based vendor that promoted “intelligent design”/creationism.

From TFN Insider
But, as the post goes on to note, next year brings a review of the health standards for education (can you say "abstinance only"? I knew that you could) in Texas, so don't expect this fight to end anytime soon.

Perry's Religious Road to the White House?

Before the rest of ya'll learned to despise the man who served as the 43rd President of the U.S. (not to be mistaken with his father, a man of the same name) George W. Bush was a lauded Governor of Texas. I didn't have much of an opinion of him, one way or the other. I'm not into sports, so W's ownership of the Texas Rangers meant little to me, and that single fact (combined with his father's having been President) seemed to gain him the governorship.

I thought Ann Richards a better governor at the time, although his wife was visible doing good things for education in Texas. I'm not sure what he did to be lauded as governor. I never saw him do much more than make feel good speeches and cut ribbons (kissed a few babies, too) There were rumors of his drinking and whatever use even then, but he seemed to be pretty harmless in the scheme of things (little did we know) willing to be the figurehead that is the sole job of a Texas governor.

His Lt. Governor was a little-known climber by the name of Rick Perry; a literal political chameleon who changed party to Republican when he saw that it would give him an 'in' as Governor of Texas when his predecessor moved up to the White House. Not only did he change parties but he became a devout, embracing religious right causes calculated to win favor amongst his supporters; a man that has wielded religion as a cudgel at every opportunity, to the detriment of the state. Instead of being the figurehead that governors are relegated to by the Texas constitution, He's subverted the office by orchestrating the creation of a tollway commission which he controls, a foreign run for profit company that charges Texans to drive on roads that they pay to build with their own taxes.

I could go on painting this picture, but you probably get my point already. As much disdain as I have for W; I'll take a coke-sniffing, drunken buffoon of a governor over an actual crook and hypocrite any day of the week.



So it should come as no surprise that the same Rick Perry that changed parties in order to secure the governorship, and that has found religion useful in holding the governor's office in Texas for longer than any other governor in history, is intending to use religion as his vehicle to run for the White House.

From a TFN insider blog article;
New reports of closed-door meetings and conference calls indicate that religious-right kingmakers are coming together in support of a presidential bid by Texas Gov. Rick Perry. One of those closed-door confabs occurred two weeks ago, when Gov. Perry spoke before a virtual “who’s who” of religious-right leaders gathered in the North Texas city of Euless (just outside Dallas), EthicsDaily.com reports.
Given that he's consistently used religion to gain political favor during his several terms as governor, it should be no surprise to Texans that their governor is planning to use religion to attempt to gain the White house. The next step on this road appears to be a prayer meeting scheduled for August 6th (TFN has an open letter you can sign on to if you want to stand in opposition to this event) The no-holds-barred blurb for the event runs like this;
We believe that America is in a state of crisis. Not just politically, financially or morally, but because we are a nation that has not honored God in our successes or humbly called on Him in our struggles.

According to the Bible, the answer to a nation in such crisis is to gather in humility and repentance and ask God to intervene. The Response will be a historic gathering of people from across the nation to pray and fast for America.
Of course, when you rent a stadium, and plan on filling it with the devout on the pretense of praying for the future of America (that future America being lead by one President Rick Perry, no doubt) calling your event a prayer meeting sounds like pious bullshit.

What Governor Good Hair has failed to take into account is that there are laws against using religion this way in the US (one might be forgiven for not knowing this, considering how often religion is misused in this fashion) and has been sued over his event's blatant mixing of church & state;
The federal lawsuit seeks to declare Perry’s participation in the prayer rally and his proclamation unconstitutional, to enjoin his further involvement, and to order corrective action. FFRF seeks to stop further publication of the proclamation, to declare the use of the official state seal of Texas unconstitutional, to order the governor to withdraw permission for the AFA to use his written and videotaped promotions (“Gov. Perry’s Invitation Video”) and radio recordings at their website, to remove links from the governor’s website, as well as enjoining Perry from issuing and disseminating further Day of Prayer proclamations or designations.

(from the FFRF press release)
Here's hoping they have better luck with this one than they did with the National Day of Prayer lawsuit. Thankfully it won't be up to the elected (and resultantly biased) courts of Texas. This is a federal issue, it will go to federal court. Yes, I imagine he'll make hay over being told he can't use religion to win the White House. Whatever it takes to shoot this pretender down, I'm all for.



The case has been dismissed;
The Freedom From Religion Foundation’s lawsuit challenging Texas Gov. Rick Perry's sponsorship of an Aug. 6 prayer event at Reliant Stadium in Houston was dismissed July 28 by U.S. District Judge Gray Miller, who ruled that the plaintiffs lack standing.

FFRF and five of its Houston members sued to block Perry from continued endorsement of the Christian event titled “The Response.” Miller (appointed in 2006 by President Bush) declined to grant a restraining order against the governor and dismissed the suit, saying that the plaintiffs had not been coerced into attending the rally. The judge did not address the merits of the case.

FFRF plans to appeal to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals or to reconfigure the case so that it may be heard again. FFRF maintains that coercion into a religious practice is not required in order to bring suit under the Establishment Clause.

“Government endorsement of one religious view that excludes other religions and nonbelievers is enough,” said Dan Barker, FFRF co-president.
Suits brought against the government are routinely dismissed on standing these days. It has become nearly impossible to even bring a suit against the government and not have it dismissed on standing, much less win a case against the government.

...Which is why they are planning a protest the day of the event at Reliant Stadium, since Gov. Good Hair is still making noises like he's planning on attending as the governor, not a private citizen.

The future of Power Generation

Reposted here for information purposes only (upping the reference links. You are welcome) I posted this to a zombie thread earlier today, only discovering afterwards that the subject of the thread had be subverted in favor of brain ingestion...

...But this subject is near and dear to my heart. So having looked up these references, I felt it to be a true waste not to post them somewhere they might get noticed. Still looking for that place...


http://www.physorg.com/news/2011-02-solar.html

"Chemical engineers are now able to take these new chemicals, like nanomaterials, and we're trying to create the technologies that can meet the global challenge of, say, energy sustainability. We're taking chemistry, we're inventing new ways to actually make materials that can't be made any other way," he continues.

With support from the National Science Foundation (NSF), that's what Korgel and his team are doing to create solar cells that are light, flexible, efficient and--often the biggest obstacle--affordable.

"It's challenging to get high efficiencies of conversion. For example, the basic single junction solar cell is fundamentally limited to an efficiency of 30 percent. So, if you made a perfect solar cell, the highest efficiency would be 30 percent," explains Korgel at his Austin lab.

Currently, manufacturing cells with anything near that level of efficiency requires high heat, a vacuum and is very expensive. Korgel's approach, using nanotechnology, is completely different.

"What we're doing right now in my research group is making nanocrystals. We're focused on 'CIGS'--copper, indium, gallium, selenide--and we make small particles of this inorganic material that we can disperse in a solvent, creating an ink or paint," he says.


...or perhaps...

http://inhabitat.com/oregon-wave-power/

America is getting its very first wave power farm! Ocean Power Technologies, a New Jersey-based firm, is currently installing giant buoys off the coast of Reedsport, Oregon. Once all ten buoys are in place, developers hope to use them to harness the energy of wave motion and generate power for hundreds of area homes.

Each buoy will measure about 150 feet tall by 40 feet wide and weigh in at about 200 tons. A float on each craft rises and falls with the rolling of the waves, driving an attached plunger’s up-and-down movement. A hydraulic pump then converts that movement into a spinning motion, which drives an electric generator. The electricity produced by the generator moves from sea to land via submerged cables. Right now, developers are finishing up construction on the first buoy, and it will take about 60 million big ones to finish up all ten. Once the entire system is in place, about 400 homes will derive their power from Oregon’s coastal waters.

“wind power”, electricity from waves, energy from waves, Ocean Power Technologies, Portugal wave farm, Reedsport, wave power, wave power in Oregon

Construction of the first buoy is an encouraging development, but the system still has some challenges to overcome. For one, wave power currently costs about six times that of wind power (although once the technology is optimized it should see comparable prices, especially because waves are more predictable than wind or solar power). Secondly, keeping the buoys in place and free from damages caused by big waves can be tricky. And so far, wave power’s history doesn’t paint the most promising picture: The world’s first commercial wind farm opened in 2008 in Portugal, but power production was suspended due to financial difficulties. Moreover, two years ago, a Canadian-produced wave power device sank off Oregon’s coast.

Still, if engineers can master the art of cost-effective wind power, it would be a huge boon for the renewables field. Waves are both free and predictable, so harnessing them to generate electricity would be great. Other wind farm projects are currently underway in countries like Spain, Scotland, Western Australia and England. If all goes according to plan, Oregon’s wind farm will see completion by 2012.

....my personal favorite...

http://cleantechnica.com/2009/04/18/spa ... d-solaren/

Now PG&E in California, is planning to take their ability to tap renewable energy to a whole new level: solar power in space.“Solaren says it plans to generate the power using solar panels in earth orbit, then convert it to radio frequency energy for transmission to a receiving station in Fresno County. From there, the energy will be converted to electricity and fed into PG&E’s power grid.” ~ Next100.com

Solaren hopes to begin launching before 2016. The satellites will deploy the solar panels so they dock automatically together in orbit, resulting in an orbital power plant weighing roughly 25 tons if back here on Earth.

The advantages of space solar power include:

* energy that can be harnessed at all times, even at night or when it’s cloudy.
* baseload power delivery that makes efficient electricity possible for meeting customer demand.
* an underlying technology that is mature since it is based on communications satellite technology.

Before all this happens however, PG&E needs approval from the California State Legislature, through the California Public Utilities Commission for this Solaren Space Based Energy Contract. Currently, Solaren is preparing to launch space rockets containing the solar panels and they have been working with United Launch Alliance (a joint venture of Lockheed Martin and The Boeing Company) on such launches.Solaren Corporation, is a start-up company nearly a decade old based in southern California that:

* consists of a number of aerospace engineers.
* has headquarters located in Manhattan Beach and Los Angeles County, California.
* expects to launch four or five heavy-lift rockets containing the solar panels.

A competitor of Solaren is a company called Space Energy formed to harness solar energy from space using similar techniques. Solar energy from space has never been captured commercially, mostly because the cost was always considered too high. Daniel Kammen, professor in energy and resources at the University of California, Berkeley, told the Guardian: “The ground rules are looking kind of promising … it is doable. Whether it is doable at a reasonable cost, we just don’t know.” ~Telegraph.co.uk

Source: Clean Technica (http://s.tt/12uxE)

To Know the Truth

Woke up from a nightmare a few minutes ago. In my nightmare, something was discovered in the desert that was said to answer the question "is there a god?" to look at this thing causes instant death, but in the moment of death it is said that you will know the answer to this question.

Well respected leaders of various factions go to see this thing, only to die (pick your favorite names out of a hat in descending order) with the last words "it's true" on their lips. Both groups, skeptics and believers alike, claiming that this thing confirms their belief. That there isn't a god. That there is a god.

Do you go look? People are dying by the thousands on the belief that this thing answers the question. Does it matter?



This is what happens when you fall asleep watching Dylan Ratigan and Michael Shermer (The Believing Brain) discussing the latest doomsday predictions on MSNBC. To me, this is the essence of Heisenberg, and an example of Schrodinger. No, of course the world's not going to end. But because you can't know what will happen tomorrow until it becomes today, people will line up based on their tendency to believe either X or Y position on the subject of god.

I just don't understand why it matters enough to spend money on the subject. If the world ends tomorrow, will god care that you gave money to the right organizations? Really? Of all of this, I find that assertion hardest to believe. This is bad news for the religious organizations hoping to part me from my money, when it comes to the subject of the (latest) predictions of doomsday.



When I woke up and watched the rest of the show, only to see Willie Geist pitching his book Loaded, I was reassured by the sarcasm that all was indeed right with the world.

(yawn) I think I can sleep again now...



Got a comment from a poster over at dancarlin.com suggesting that this sounded like a Twilight Zone episode; how would I complete it? Thinking I might engage in a creative writing experiment, and see how many endings could be spawned, I wrote this paragraph;
You choose to make the trek, to take the hajj. After weeks of travel, you find yourself in the remote location that your guide tells you the object can be found in (he smirks when you pay him his final fee. Why is that?) traveling the final few feet to the location seems to take as long as the journey up to this point has taken. In front of you is a mound of stinking corpses which conceals the mystical object; a tribute to the common man's need. Apparently you must climb the pile. A final indignity to be suffered before gaining the knowledge you seek.
Apparently there aren't any creative writing types on the Dan Carlin boards; or maybe they just don't hang out on a thread titled Atheism is not a Belief System. In any case, I gave it a week or so, then completed the story in the fashion that came to me in the shower a few days after having the dream;
You climb the stinking pile of bodies. As you step on the face of what was once probably an attractive woman; someones cherished child, perhaps a loving wife and mother, before she became just anther corpse in a pile of tribute, you realize that you are mere inches from the top. Mere inches from the cherished knowledge, the answer to that most important of questions, is there a god?

For one last instant you pause. Even in the reeking atmosphere it feels so good to breath, to feel the pulse in your veins. But the knowledge. The knowledge will be worth the sacrifice. The task must be completed.

You struggle the last disgusting few inches, and your head crests the top of the pile. Suddenly you realize that the object is before you. Your first thought is "that's it?" but the thought is erased by the agony of your heart convulsing in your chest. The pain is unbearable and you release your grisly handhold in the hair of the last person to gaze upon the object, but this causes you to loose your footing and you topple back down to the bottom of the pile.

The thought occurs to you that you are dying, and you still don't have your answer. You rage at the injustice of it all, to come so far only to be robbed of the promise. The whispers all said that the answer would be given. Where was your answer. But your rage is impotent, the pain is flowing out of your body, and you vision begins to cloud.

Laying there gazing into the dimming distance, you see a figure approaching you. Could it be?

As the figure begins to form from the haze, you notice that it is crowned with horns, and is shaped as a satyr, but reddish in color. The demon chuckles softly to itself and speaks. "You were a fool to sacrifice the greatest gift in the universe, the gift of life, for such fleeting knowledge. Little good will it do you now" He reaches down for you.

Your last breath comes out as a whisper. "it's true"

The End of Liberty Dollars?

Years ago, I set up a Google alert for "Liberty Dollar" (and NORFED. Norfed was the name of the company that started Liberty Dollar Silver) because I wanted to keep track of what was being said about the currency in the mainstream media. Not a lot, until recently.

A week ago today, I got a note from Bernard Von Nothaus, founder of the Liberty Dollar, stating that he had been convicted of various crimes relating to the creation and running of the silver barter currency, and was appealing the conviction.
Dear Liberty Dollar Supporters,

I sincerely regret to inform you that I was found guilty on all four counts regarding the Liberty Dollar in less than an hour on Friday, March 18. The only explanation is that a strong, anti-liberty person took control of a weak-willed jury and pushed the verdict through in record time in spite of well worded Jury Instructions. A government forfeiture hearing immediately followed the conviction. PLEASE NOTE: Your property is at risk so please continue to read these emails and take action so the government does not steal your property. An appeal is planned but that will take years. More news to follow. An unofficial, but most interesting account of the trial is available via Heather's blog at:
http://www.liberty4free.com/Liberty%20D ... 0Trial.htm
God help you and our country as American descends into a hellish hyperinflationary future without the benefits of the Liberty Dollar.
I am very sorry our efforts to return America to value failed.

Thank you so much for your support.

Bernard von NotHaus
Monetary Architect
Ever since then I've gotten a slew of articles. Got notice for one in Mother Jones referring to Bernard as a Pot Priest. I think that was the funniest I've seen. The scariest I've seen was this one.
U.S. Attorney calls currency minting 'terrorism'

Here's a novel of an expansion of the federal government's use of the word "terrorism," from the triumphant statement of a North Carolina U.S. Attorney, Anne Tompkins, who just won a conviction against a man who minted his own currency:
Attempts to undermine the legitimate currency of this country are simply a unique form of domestic terrorism,” U.S. Attorney Tompkins said in announcing the verdict.

“While these forms of anti-government activities do not involve violence, they are every bit as insidious and represent a clear and present danger to the economic stability of this country,” she added. “We are determined to meet these threats through infiltration, disruption and dismantling of organizations which seek to challenge the legitimacy of our democratic form of government.
The convict, Bernard Von NotHaus, who runs the National Organization for the Repeal of the Federal Reserve and Internal Revenue Code, and now faces 15 years in prison.
Minting barterable rounds, rather than commemorative rounds, is a terrorist act? Oh really? What do you call a US currency that contravenes all US law relating to the value of our currency? If you doubt the veracity of this claim, simply reference the wiki on the subject. The constitution specifies that "gold and silver" are "legal tender". Where is the amendment changing this law? How is bartering with gold and silver not in the realm of constitutional behavior, but using a visa card funded with digital federal money based on nothing is Constitutional?

I get it, the guys with guns say it's so, so it is. It's a lot like tax law. Still, I'd really like an explanation beyond the "because I said so" that bad parents offer up as an excuse to their children.

I stopped participating in the LD community when the Feds declared the practice illegal. I traded a good number of rounds for goods and services over the years prior to that. Any merchant that came to me and wanted deposit-able federal dollars (the banks refused to take gold and silver and insisted on fake money. Riddle me that one) I gladly traded them paper for silver. To this day, I search my change for the increasingly rare pre-80's piece of federal money that has silver content in it, so that I can set it aside to get its real value assayed. I'd still take real silver and gold over fake paper, anyday.

...and I wonder at governments that accuse honest businessmen of fraud, while conducting a fraud on their own.



If you had Liberty Dollars in the warehouse, your property is about to be forfeited. Here's the skinny;

URGENT ACTION: Bad News for your Property!

Dear Liberty Dollar Supporters:

Thank you, thank you, thank you for the 100s of replies. The two most common words re my conviction were "sorry" and "sad." I wholeheartedly agree and am sorry I can't reply to every email. URGENT we have no time to lose to protect your property from gov theft!

Please do NOT let the government steal your property!!!

I have just learned that the government will aggressively defend against any claims once the judge decides on April 4th whether or not the property in whole or in part is subject to forfeiture. This means that the government may steal your property i.e. the silver that backs the paper or digital Liberty Dollar Warehouse Receipts 'without just compensation' i.e. fair market value! Please stand up for your Fifth Amendment!

URGENT ACTION IS REQUIRED IMMEDIATELY!!!

Unless you are identified as an "interested party" on the official record prior to the April 4th Forfeiture Hearing on Monday morning, you may not have standing with the court to redeem your Liberty Dollar warehouse receipts or the gov process may be so encumbered that the government prevails and steals your property.

You do not have to identify the total value of your paper or digital Warehouse Receipts that you are holding to qualify as an "Interested Party." So, even if you are holding just one $1 Liberty Dollar silver certificate, you are qualified as an "Interested Party" and encouraged to register - IMMEDIATELY.

Registering is easy, fast and free: Simply email the statement below to Assistant US Attorney Thomas R. Ascik <thomas.ascik@usdoj.gov>, the government attorney who is trying to steal your property. And send a CC to me <Bernard@LibertyDollar.org> and I will send all the emails to the attorney who will represent you after you sign an attorney/client agreement. Your CC to me is very important! Please do NOT forget to CC me so you will be on the list to have your property or its fair market value returned to you.

EMAIL THE STATEMENT BELOW to Thomas Ascik with a CC to me. Be sure to include your name and address:

I hereby certify that I am the bearer of Liberty Dollar warehouse receipt(s) and an interested party in any forfeiture action regarding my property. I demand the return of my property or its fair market value in a timely manner and to be informed with sufficient time to reply to any and all actions until my property is returned.
INCLUDE YOUR NAME AND ADDRESS


Please note that you will need to sign an attorney/client agreement and agree to pay a contingency fee prior to any legal services. NO FEE is required at this time.

But that may not be enough! If you are holding a serious amount of paper or digital Warehouse Receipts, I strongly encourage you to attend this Forfeiture Hearing on April 4, 2011 at the Federal Courthouse, 200 W Broad St. in Statesville, NC. I know the time is short, the distance is great and the cost is dear; but that is the best suggestion I can make at this time for anyone with a serious amount of paper or digital Warehouse Receipts. If you do appear, you will be called as a witness and officially recognized as an interested party in the court record.
NOTICE: There is a small chance that the Hearing may be continued (postponed) so please email me for the latest info for the Hearing.

Please do NOT let the government steal your property!! At the very least, email Thomas Ascik and send a CC to me to protect your silver. Stand up for your property and continue to be a part of the Liberty Dollar effort by demanding the gov return your silver or its fair market value.

Now Anybody can be a "Unique Terrorist" Please read this open letter to America calling for your cry out about my conviction.

Click HERE for a list of recent articles regarding the BVNH conviction.
Please get your article published and contribute to this public outcry or encourage someone to do so.


The US government has gone after all the alternate currencies that I ever heard of, and they've been successful in shutting them all down. The only remaining e-Metal investment firm that I know of is Goldmoney.com, and they wisely got themselves associated with British banking interests as soon they saw that the US government was taking an interest in e-Metal alternative currencies.

Liberty Dollars isn't the only group working out asset return strategies with the government. e-Gold is also in that process; a process that is now entering it's third year. So don't hold your breath on getting your money back, let alone soon.

http://blog.wired.com/27bstroke6/2008/07/e-gold-founder.html
http://blog.e-gold.com/2008/07/a-new-beginning.html
http://mashable.com/2008/07/21/e-gold/
http://e-gold-exchange-news.blogspot.com/

Fascist Form Letters Rule the Day

Posted my thoughts on Kay Bailey Hutchinson's form letter endorsement of federalizing Texas law enforcement here. At that time I thought John Cornyn (Texas' other Senator) was savvy enough to understand not to send form letters endorsing legislation, to people who are on file as being opposed to the same legislation. Apparently I'm mistaken.

Campaign for Liberty, Downsize DC and EFFector all sent messages out requesting that we contact our representatives and express our desire that the PATRIOT ACT provisions be allowed to sunset, about the middle of February. I dutifully sent of a few lines of text that day;
Repeal the Patriot Act. Do NOT renew any of its provisions. Do not follow the House in this. Refuse to extend the Patriot act. This is the 'patriotic' thing to do...
Not my best writing, but I thought it was pretty clear my thoughts on the subject. Today, I get this message in the mail;
Dear Mr. Steele:

Thank you for your recent letter regarding efforts to strengthen our nation’s ability to investigate and prosecute terrorism while protecting our constitutional liberties. I appreciate having the benefit of your comments on this important matter.


Recent events across the country, including in our home state of Texas, remind us of the real threat terrorists pose to our national security. The USA PATRIOT Act (P.L. 107—56) was signed into law on October 26, 2001, and contained specific provisions that enable the United States to carry out the War on Terror. This legislation broadened the authority of law enforcement officials to intercept wire, oral, and electronic communications and permitted them to share grand jury and wiretap information with intelligence, defense, national security, and immigration officials. Additionally, the USA PATRIOT Act enhanced border security by increasing the number of immigration inspectors, Border Patrol agents, and Customs Service personnel and authorized funds to purchase equipment that improves border security technology.


During the 111th Congress, Assistant Attorney General for the National Security Division David Kris testified in support of renewing critical provisions in the USA PATRIOT Act. Renewing this important legislation ensures that law enforcement officials have the resources necessary to complete their goals and increases our nation’s security without compromising our civil liberties. As you may know, three key provisions of the USA PATRIOT Act were set to expire on February 28, 2011, and on February 15, 2011, the Senate overwhelmingly voted to pass the FISA Sunsets Extension Act (H.R. 514) and reauthorize these critical intelligence tools for three months.


I appreciate having the opportunity to represent the interests of Texans in the United States Senate. Thank you for taking the time to contact me.


Sincerely,

JOHN CORNYN
United States Senator


517 Hart Senate Office Building

Washington, DC 20510
Tel: (202) 224-2934
Fax: (202) 228-2856
http://www.cornyn.senate.gov

Please sign up for my monthly newsletter at http://www.cornyn.senate.gov/newsletter.
Well, at least his secretary knew how to do a mail merge. Still, I would have appreciated some feigned disappointment at being unable to comply with my request. Some heartfelt commiseration? But braggadocio about extending provisions of legislation they didn't even read before they passed? Provisions which have been shown to have been abused, repeatedly, by the organizations entrusted with the enhanced powers?

Loved the invite at the end. Did you know, if you mail Senator Cornyn you get added to his list automatically? Going to start reporting him as a spammer shortly.

Who exactly do these people represent? It certainly isn't me.

Blizzard Customer Survey? Oh, Yeah. I Have Feedback...

So I was selected to fill out a survey after the little 'problem' yesterday. The problem that lead to my cancellation of my World of Warcraft subscription. It's going to be boring around the house for awhile, but I'll be damned if I'm giving any more money to a company that has so little regard for it's player base.

The Customer Service representative that gave me the e-mail address wowreportedpost@blizzard.com so that I could protest the temporary ban; I give him high marks. He did exactly what he should have done. The moderators that banned me, and the drones that attacked, though? They represent exactly what is wrong with the World of Warcraft community, and that community is doomed to cannibalistic failure unless it changes.

There are serious issues in the current version of the game. Effort/reward is far skewed towards the wasted effort side of the scale. Endgame play is confined and cramped, in a way that has never been present before in the game. Months of endless grinding is required to get the 5 faction reputations necessary to get a set of epic gear, unless you happen to be a member of a large guild. There is no acknowledgment of the casual player in the game. Casual play is a virtual impossibility once you hit endgame. I could go on, but I'm sure the average player knows what I'm talking about, and if you don't play you aren't going to care.

There are serious issues in the community as well. The high-handed nature of the actions of the moderators in my case is a prime example of the basic problems in the community. In fact, there really isn't a community, in the natural sense of people working in concert for a goal. There are just guards and inmates. The guards look for examples to make to keep the other inmates in line. The inmates conspire to get away with behaviors that are officially banned; by going outside the game to communicate, to exchange gold, etc.

I was limited to 1024 characters for my response in the Customer survey. This is what I wrote;

Your prison guards (forum moderators) decided I didn't need to be playing Blizzard games anymore by permanently banning me from the forums. None of my posts warranted censure for 72 hours, much less permanent banning. Because they are prison guards, and I questioned their authority, they exercised it. But there are other games out there. I will be playing them instead.

I offered sincere suggestions for improving gameplay on the forum, and I was routinely attacked by drones in the forums for daring to be unhappy with their game. But I'm not the only one, and I don't participate in activities that don't bring me joy. If Blizzard will not change Cataclysm, if they are not interested in player feedback (and on the forums, they are not. If they were, I would still be there) then I have to go elsewhere to find entertainment, because I'm not going to just endure the monotony.
Then I realized I would run out of space. So here I am. I have agitated in the forums, repeatedly, for real community policing tools. The ability for players in the game to isolate the bad players from the good ones, to allow natural behavior patterns to reinforce good behavior and punish bad. To get rid of the guards, in essence.

But it goes beyond that, and I think I'm beginning to understand why I'm dissatisfied in World of Warcraft these days. I shouldn't have to go where they tell me to go, and do what the developers want. They, like their moderator stooges, have acted in a high-handed fashion, artificially limiting endgame play, and manipulating access to areas of the game that they don't want us to spend time in. When players balked at going into Cataclysm dungeons, they took away Dungeon Finder access to content that wasn't part of Cataclysm. Was that in the patch notes? No, it wasn't. But they did it. When players suggest, over and over, that they want easier access to older parts of the game...

They end up banned, like me.

Well, they can erase me from their forums, but I know the truth; and lucky for me, I never trust moderators. Most of my arguments were written here before being copied to their forums. So if you'll allow a moments crudity, let me just say; DELETE THIS, MOTHERFUCKERS!

Also, I pulled this image from the Google cache. Like most images, it's worth a thousand words.


Thank you to the players that put this ranking on the thread. I'd be proud to raid with you any time.

...if I'm still playing.

Blizzard No Longer Interested in Complaints

In the continuing saga of my issues with Cataclysm, we hit a new chapter. I tend to spend a lot more time on the forums now, or I did until recently. I find myself flying around Azeroth, boating around Azeroth a lot more of late; and when I'm trapped on a taxibird or a boat, essentially unable to do anything in game other than watch the scenery go by (and contrary to forum opinion, transit times from one area to another can be upwards of 30 mins) I tab out of the game and surf the forums for responses on my various threads, or drop hints on other players threads concerning community policing tools, the artificial scarcity of materials for the various professions, the lack of rewards for legitimate time spent, etc. Whatever seems appropriate for the discussion at hand.

Started a new thread a few days back. I have been trying to create a new 'main' character to play, I'm going to pick one of about three that I'm grooming. All of them have very low fishing skills, and while many players may not think this is a problem, or simply suggest that I just get to grinding on fishing...

[Grinding is the term used to describe the monotonous effort required to achieve particular goals in an MMO. Rather than introduce a level of difficulty to play, most games simply require that a certain action be taken several times. It's gotten rather ridiculous of late, some of the professions now require that you perform certain actions over a hundred times, perhaps several thousand times, in order to achieve a single goal. This introduction of monotony into the game keeps some players (I'm one) from attempting certain parts of the game, thereby making the reward look more attractive and desirable to the rest of the players. While I do love my Wintersaber mount, I would not recommend the average player embark on the month-long quest grind that (used to be) required to get the mount. Oh, it's cool. Even I don't think it's that cool.]

...the idea struck me that if I could just get quickly to the old hubs in the previous expansions of the game (these are the cities of Shattrath and Dalaran) I could use the daily fishing quests still present at the old 'endgame' hubs to speed up the 'grind' of leveling fishing, and add some short-term goals to what could turn into a month long attempt to level fishing.

This idea keyed into the storyline ideas that I had come up with previously. Re-route the now inexplicable portal to Blasted Lands from the major cities, to the Caverns of Time and involve the time tasked Bronze Dragonflight in the efforts of the bypassed game expansions, so as to give the story some sort of reason to go where it has to go if you are leveling a new character.

So I started a new thread titled "Dailies in Dalaran and Shattrath" and proposed just that, that a portal be created that lead from the new hubs to the old game hubs, so that players could go quickly from new to old for the purposes of leveling or questing. I was immediately set upon by Blizzard drones on the forum. Apparently using the word 'portal' in a thread tips over the hornets nest, and no amount of elaboration will ever cut through their noise.

"Blizzard is not going to put the portals back in Shattrath & Dalaran"

Great. Don't want them back, they didn't serve the purpose that I'm suggesting anyway. After about seven ridiculous pages of being flamed (more on that in a bit) I hit upon the idea that hearthstones were the answer, and my final post to the thread made the suggestion that the Bronzes give players a "Time Displacement Stone" at level 58 for Shattrath, and at level 68 for Dalaran. Give the stones a 12 hour cooldown, so that you can't just shuttle back and forth between the two areas, but could go there once a day to do dailies (there are plenty of other items in the game that have 12 hour cooldowns, it's hardly a unique idea) or to get your hearth set there or whatever. Any player over 68 could just go through the portal to the Caverns of Time and get the stones. Problem solved. No portals to Shattrath or Dalaran, but access provided that doesn't take 20 mins in game to complete.

So, why is this not the end of the story? This is the fun part. The thread was deleted, and my account was banned for 72 hours. Why, you might well ask? Obscenity. That's right, obscenity.

One of my posts, which I wrote when I was responding the many, many flames in the thread, included my statement that I...

well, I'll just post the notice.
Origination

Forums / Comments

Ban Type: Obscene Language

Expires: Saturday, February 26, 2011 11:16:34 PM UTC (in 2 days, 3 hours)

Ban Reason: Suspended from the World of Warcraft forums for a 72 hour period for posting / masking obscene, vulgar or inappropriate language on the forums.

(Current) - Feb 21, 2011 7:44:18 PM------------

Not having portals is kind of a downer but it doesn't really effect my play. My Death Knight and Priest, both leveled from 1(55) to 85 after the portals went away, just never went to Shatt or Dal and remain parked in SW at all times. On the flip side my Hunter is perma parked in Dal, because I don't feel like moving her, and I never see more than five or six other players there when I log into here. Taking portals away has just turned those areas into ghost towns.However I don't see the portals coming back anytime soon so I suggest you do what everyone else does at the point and pretend those places don't exist.

No, I'm going to @#*#!. @#*#! constantly, apparently.
The term in question is bitch. Not "you bitch", which could be construed obscenely, since it calls into question the sexual practices of the person so labeled, but rather "to bitch" as in "Strongly Complain". Yes, dear reader. Blizzard doesn't want to hear your complaints. They are obscene, and they will get you removed from the forums.

The wife and I had a good giggle the other day. In-game chat is governed by the same ridiculous adult language filter that the forums are governed by. I have turned it off several times, but the default setting is on, and it gets reset every time there is a patch. So I've just left it on for awhile now. One of her clients had been phished and had lost access to her email account, which was being used as part of a 419 scam (she was telling me because I had gotten an email from this person, and I knew she wasn't trapped overseas) She told me that it was a 419 scam because the IP address pointed to @#$^!ia. That's Nigeria for the slow reader. Country names are obscene, apparently. We laughed and chatted back and forth, testing variations on a theme. Couldn't be stingy, as in @#$$^!dly. You could say black in spanish (Negra. Never mind that the slang term that is considered obscene is a bastardization of the term the Spanish sailors attached to the slaves they were transporting, which was a description of skin color) so at least you can name colors in the game, if you speak Spanish. Can't see any words that contain the 4 letter combination for that most favorite of American curses. The French love it too (Excrement! Just doesn't have the same ring to it) I wonder if they have weird problems trying to block the word merde from appearing? And cheese and rice don't you dare misspell continuous. That would be catastrophic! Any number of innocuous words or partial words are blocked by this annoying filter system. And some words, like damn, are left completely unfiltered (apparently calling for god to smite your enemies isn't a obscenity any more) which probably has more to do with the combination of letters and their appearance in other words in the language than any thing else.

So, when the word bitch was filtered out, I went back to check the text and edited it, but decided that bitch was the appropriate word for the kind of complaint I wanted to lodge, and that people were just going to have to figure out that the 5 letter symbolism represented the word bitch, and that represented a complaint.

...and now I'm banned for complaining. So watch yourselves, Blizzard subscribers. You'd better be happy in your grinding gameplay; if you are not, don't think of complaining. You most certainly should not bitch about it. Learn from my example, eh?



Permanently banned from the forums now. Prison guards are so predictable. They reviewed the 72 hour ban, and in light of this blog post, decided I was a trouble maker. Into permanent solitary I go.

Said it before, there are other games to play...

Senate 3-year PATRIOT extension thwarted

...By Rand Paul.
Now the fight shifts to the U.S. Senate, where Rand Paul is prepared to lead the battle to defend the Bill of Rights.

Last night, the Senate tried to sneak through a 3-year extension under unanimous consent, but Senator Paul prevented this by standing up and objecting.
(from a C4L e-mail broadcast)




Let's see if he can prevail. Here's a link for DownsizeDC's campaign to repeal the PATRIOT act. Time to let your Senators know how much you want it gone...

https://secure.downsizedc.org/etp/campaigns/129

Murglesnout and the Philosophy of Game Design

You might not have noticed, but I've had a few issues with the current release of World of Warcraft. I seem to be at odds with a good many players, and clearly I'm in disagreement with the deciding input on the design team. I actually think my issue with the designers can be simply summed up though.

Murglesnout. That's right, Murglesnout sums it all up.

What is Murglesnout? Murglesnout is the most common fishing drop in ocean water in Cataclysm. Fishing in ocean water is the only place to get Deepsea Sagefish, the reagent for the best healer food short of the ridiculously hard to get fish feast (which requires 10,000 catches, pool fishing only. 50 days to get, best guess, with a good guild fishing every day. Not too long, right?) in the current version of the game. The catch is that to get a good stack of sagefish, you also get two stacks of Murglesnout, which is vendor trash in the current game. Basically, two thirds of your time fishing is a complete waste of time (there is a recipe coming out with 4.0.6. Gives no buffs though. If you are leveling cooking, great. Useless otherwise) a philosophy in this version of the game that seems to carry across all facets of the game. Whether it's archeology creating vendor trash for 105 items (why can't these things be equip-able trinkets? There is a scarcity of trinkets in this game at all levels) just so you can get those 27 items worth working for, or dungeoning and world PvP, there is an expectation that players will return again and again to the game even though there is little return on time spent, and a serious level of frustration.

I'm actually beginning to find my stride with the new mechanics, and I even consider the changes to some classes as major improvements (sans druid changes. Druids have been nerfed, and there's just no other way to describe it. I don't even want to play mine anymore) but the time spent/reward earned factor is grossly out of balance in this game.

I'm spending more time writing than I do playing, again. That should be a sign all by itself.



Posted here on the forums. Posted it in General, they moved it to Professions.