Saturday, October 29, 2016

Nope. No Bias Here...

Wow. Just wow. This is rather stunning, really...

Screenshot because, well, you know...

This is the CNN main webpage as of about 6:30 Saturday evening. The story about the FBI re-opening the Clinton case is framed as "strange" and "unprecedented", with a bonus story calling for the FBI to ditch Comey. At the bottom of the page is a graphic showing, allegedly, how a (formerly) right-leaning area is now trending left, and how that portends abject failure for Trump and the Republicans.

We're still hearing dribs and drabs about the circumstances that caused Comey to re-open the investigation. From the sounds of it, disgraced NY congresscritter Anthony Weiner, recently estranged from Clinton's closest advisor Huma Abedin, had documents that pertained to the FBI investigation closed in July on a computer that was under investigation for an unrelated matter. "Tens of thousands" of e-mails dealing with Clinton - which we have to wonder how many were classified - wound up on a completely unrelated device, with unknown security.

That, Madame DeFarge, is "strange" and "unprecedented."

The media is actively working with the Clinton campaign to get her elected. How hard will they work to investigate wrongdoing on her behalf once she's in power? We saw the media perform more actual "journalism" "investigating" Melania Trump's speech as it pertained to speeches given by Michelle Obama than we've seen in the entire eight years of Obama's presidency. Imagine that. The media acting in a critical manner and doing investigative journalism. Compare and contrast that to the ridiculous lengths they're going through to cover for Hillary Clinton.

I want an adversarial press, not a supplicant one - Vote Trump.

That is all.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Um, How About No?

Found something worth dusting off the ol' keyboard for. And, guess what, it's more rampaging media hypocrisy and narrative pushing...

Rio 2016: US Muslim fencer 'doesn't feel safe' due to anti-Muslim sentiment in America
An American Muslim fencer, who is the country’s first Olympian to wear a hijab, says she does not feel safe in the US due to the country’s increased anti-Muslim rhetoric.

Ibtihaj Muhammad, 30, is currently in Rio de Janeiro preparing to represent the US in sabre fencing. She is ranked eighth in the world and is gearing up for her first Olympics after missing the 2012 London games because of a hand injury.
One of the events she cites for why she doesn't feel safe is "the shooting in North Carolina." Now, I assume she means this story, where a nutjob murdered three people in cold blood. Those three people happened to be muslim, yes, but the reason he killed them--aside from being bats**t crazy--is that they had repeatedly parked in his (assigned) parking spot.

Now, a couple asides. 1. No, parking on someone else's parking spot shouldn't get you killed. I refer to the "bats**t crazy" comment; 2. I hope this dude fries. Shouldn't have to say that, yes, killing someone over a gorram parking spot is crazy, wrong and deserves the fullest punishment allowed by law, but yeah, there it is...

With that said, though, there is absolutely nothing in this story - or any other - that points to the victims' religion as the reason. The guy was an unstable loon, period. It's sad, it's tragic, but to try and twist this into some sort of horrible case of muslims being targeted? That, it's not. He mentioned, once, about the women's headdress; apparently this is enough to convict him of a hate crime (forgetting, of course, that the Dallas shooter's admission that he wanted to kill white cops was "murky"...)

It's what I think we ought to call the "Columbinization" of a news story. Even today, you run into people that still think the two killers in Columbine were poor outcasts, picked on by the beautiful people in the school until they just couldn't take it any more and snapped. Except that never happened. That was a handy narrative and it made for a compelling story, and only suffered from one small problem: it was completely fictitious.

Fast-forward to the whole Michael Brown fiasco. There are still plenty of places, today, where they fully and honestly believe that "hands up, don't shoot" is absolute gospel truth, that poor, unarmed youth Brown was just walking down the street, minding his own business, when some evil racist cop walked up and shot him in the head for the sole crime of being black. Even Harvard Law School bought into it. Again, completely fictitious. Three separate investigations backed Officer Wilson's version of the day's events, where Brown attacked Wilson in an attempt to gain the officer's handgun.

In the immediate aftermath of one of these events, it is understandable that certain elements - often nearly all - will be incorrect. In the rush to be first to report, fact-checking and vetting of sources goes out the window. However, for events to be misreported a decade later (in the case of Columbine)? That's clinging to a false narrative. Just like they're trying to do now with this "muslims aren't safe in America" crap.

But then again, we're talking about her, aren't we?

That is all.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

I Know Anecdotes Are Not Data...

I'm refraining from making any sorts of comments on the recent happenings in Minnesota and Louisiana. We still don't know enough of the details at this point, and the camps are already so tightly drawn that direct evidence - on either side, mind you - will be discounted, downplayed, or otherwise ignored if it doesn't fit a preconceived notion.

No matter what your preconceived notions are.

What got me, though, was the concept that "you don't know what it's like" - that a non-black person has no idea what it's like to be unfairly (to their mind) targeted by law enforcement. And, of course, it got me to thinking. I'm second-generation Italian-American. I'm certainly not hispanic or black, and I don't qualify as "non-white" on any checkbox anywhere. I started thinking about it, and realized that, among other reasons, I have been pulled over for the following:
  • Taillight or license plate light out (on several occasions; only once was the light actually out)
  • Yelling out the window
  • Window tint too dark (even though the front windows - the only ones with restrictions on the tint level - were down)
  • Radio too loud (numerous times)
  • Squealing tires (twice)
  • Flipping a cop the bird (I wasn't)
  • Driving through a parking lot
  • Having a license plate that was similar to one reported stolen (had a gun in my face over that one; the plate reported stolen was from a different *STATE*, too)
And, my all-time favorite:
  • License plate too dirty. 
I kid you not. My wife can verify this actually happened.

I'm not counting the many times I was pulled over for speeding or failure to come to a complete stop, even when those times were - to me - suspicious (like, going 5 over on the highway or rolling through a stop sign at 3AM). These are also the only incidents I can remember; I'm sure there are others that time has seen fit to drop from my memory. I  remember chatting with a friend a long time ago and recounting the number of times I had been pulled over for BS reasons, and it was well into the teens if not 20s.

What's the common denominator? In a good number of cases, I was acting like an idiot. None of the cases above happened when I was a new parent and driving a Honda Accord sedan or Dodge Durango SUV. I was careful, cautious, and wasn't out at 2 AM looking for something to do. In the vast majority of the rest of the cases, it happened on a Friday or Saturday night, and within 30 seconds of the officer sticking his head in the window of my vehicle (and determining that I had not been drinking), I was let off with a verbal warning.

You know what *really* helped me? My retired-MA-State-cop dad sat me down, right before I got my license, and gave me a few pointers on what to do when I got pulled over:
  • Stay in the car. 
  • Keep your hands on the steering wheel.
  • Turn the interior light on (at night, of course).
  • Stay in the car.
  • Roll the window down
  • Address the officer as "sir" or "ma'am"
  • Don't make any sudden movements - ever.
  • Stay in the car.
  • Inform the officer of what you're going to do *before* you do it - as in, "my wallet is in my left rear pocket, I am going to reach for it now to retrieve my license as you have requested."
By adhering to these guidelines, I kept tickets to a minimum and I honestly think that my dad's advice had more to do with this than his status as a retired cop. Also, in the case of one of the squealing tires, I was racing a Camaro and blew right by the cop. He pulled out and I *immediately* pulled over and followed the above protocol. When he asked me what the $%&# I thought I was doing, I responded "Being an idiot, sir". When he stopped laughing, he thanked me for my honesty and gave me a verbal warning.

I'll contrast this with one time I was in a car driven by a friend of mine. He was speeding, but only like 10 over on the highway; it was a Friday night and we were going to the beach to cruise for a bit. He starts mouthing off to the cop, "Why'd you pull me over? I was only going 10 over, just like everyone else."

He got a ticket.

Now, look. I know I'm not one of the aggrieved groups that tend to garner extra scrutiny by law enforcement. It's not a stretch to see that certain groups catch the eye of John Law faster than WASPs - or even eye-talians. And yeah, it's got to be infuriating to get pulled over simply because you're a different skin tone than the rest of the people in an area, I can grok that. It sucks, yes. But I can attest that the police pull over everyone for BS reasons. BTDT, got the T-shirt.

And it's tempting to say something. The time I got pulled over for going 5 over the speed limit, it was on a 65-MPH limit, three-lane, divided highway - in the middle of the afternoon. . The entire time the cop had me pulled over, I think two cars went by us. Obviously he was bored and was looking for something to do - or hoping he'd catch someone, I don't know, smuggling maple syrup in from Vermont. Sitting there on the side of the highway, with three other people in the car, waiting for this guy to finish doing, well, whatever he was doing, was annoying as all get-out.

I've had a gun put to my head, got yanked out of a car and been arrested as a result of traffic stops. It happens. Even to kids from the 'burbs. While I'm sure that certain groups are singled out more often than others, pretty much *all* males through the age of 30 are suspect - and let's face it: quite often, we've done something to deserve it. The way I look at it is, the times I've been pulled over for BS reasons are evened out by the times I've been flying down the highway at 20+ MPH over the speed limit and had a cop just look over at me, wave his hand in the universal "slow down" motion, and then go on his way without stopping.

And yes, I reiterate that anedotes != data, and I'm sure there are many out there that look at my list, chuckle bitterly and think "hey, sounds like last month." It's not meant to be a "I know what you experience," by any means; more like a "I do have some frame of reference, but perhaps not scale." I might not know just how bad it is - I'm pretty sure I don't - but I have an idea what it's like.

It does make you wonder, though - if we realized that we had more in common than not, we might start questioning the power structure and things like "qualified immunity" - and of course, the powers-that-be don't want that...

That is all.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Hypocrisy...

It's fair to say my single biggest pet peeve is hypocrisy. And I'm seeing a lot of it, lately.

  • Folks who went apeshit insane when Obama was called by his full name are more than happy to call Donald Trump "Drumpf." What does that even mean? It sounds idiotic, and doesn't give the speaker much credibility.

(For the record, I feel the same way about "Obummer" or "Obambi" or any of the other stupid plays on Obama's name. "Shrub" was idiotic, too.)

  • I won't get into the Hillary/FBI thing for a number of reasons, but I do want to address one thing: The idea that "nothing" has been found because they declined to prosecute? Okay, fine. We'll give you that. However, you have to admit that Reagan and Bush were innocent in Iran/Contra - that was $50 million, and neither Reagan nor Bush were prosecuted. If one is true, the other certainly is as well, right?
  • So, California just passed another round of gun control, where they made the "bullet button" illegal. The bullet button that they insisted be present in any magazine-fed rifle in the *last* round of gun control in CA. They're also banning all magazines in excess of 10 rounds, and requiring people to turn them in. Without, it seems, remuneration. Two, two, two amendments in one. 
Where's the hypocrisy, you ask? The CA legislature exempted itself from CA's gun control 5 years ago...
And, just in general, "Because [other guy] did it too" is a logical fallacy. It's even worse when the two situations are not comparable. 

That is all.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Vacation AAR...

...or, It's Been A While, But I'm Still Alive...

Yeah.

With the recent happenings in the news, I really haven't been feeling it in the ol' blog department, sorry. I'm unhappy with the state of what passes for political discourse in this country; dumbfounded that the choice comes down to a reality TV star and someone who, in a just world, would be serving time for treason; and heartbroken that, yet again, we have a terrorist wreaking death and destruction that gets blamed on inanimate objects.

Plus I went on vacation.

One thing those of you that have moved away from home can appreciate is that it pretty much automatically cuts your vacation time down, dramatically. You still want to see family and friends from the old place, so a few times a year you make the trek back from whence you came. I actually had a "first" this trip - I managed to make the trip without GPS.

It's about 500 miles from the new house in Virginia to my old neighborhood in MA, give or take a few miles. It takes us through Maryland, Delaware and into New Jersey, where we break from the GPS directions and split off onto the Garden State Parkway to do *around* NYC rather than through it. It adds about 20 miles to the journey but probably saves a half-hour of sitting in traffic, plus the pucker factor of driving 95 through NYC. The trip typically takes anywhere from a little over 8 hours to as long as 13 (that was the Sunday after Thanksgiving the year I moved).

So, the schedule for the week looked like this:

Saturday: Up at dawn to drive North.
Sunday: Father's Day breakfast with my family, then the Red Sox game at Fenway with my wife's. Got to run the bases with my kids, which was pretty much the highlight of the trip.


Not too many more of these opportunities, I fear. Before long, TheBoy will most likely have a job, so we'll have to plan trips around his work schedule. I remember growing up, my vacations with my mom & dad pretty much ended after high school, so we might have 2-3 more years.

Monday: Beach day!


Tuesday we headed up to the cabin in Maine, and spent the next couple days on the lake:


Interestingly enough, both kids managed to get in touch with their MA BFFs, and we took a total of four kids up to the cabin. In years past, we've harped on the kids to contact their friends when we had a trip north planned. Typically we start nagging a couple months out, and it culminates in frantic calls and pleading texts on the ride up. This year, because things were so hectic, we didn't even mention it; yet both kids independently got in touch with their best friends in MA and arranged for them to come along. We have found that, counter-intuitively, having more kids actually makes life easier - the kids pair up and leave each other alone.

Friday we left Maine in the late morning, drove down to MA and dropped the friends off, then went to my folks for the afternoon. Stayed for dinner and conversation after, then headed back to VA around 9 PM. Other than a spot of construction-related traffic literally two towns over from where my folks live, it was a smooth, quick ride home and we pulled into our driveway around 5 AM. It was exhausting, but a great trip overall. We never seem to have enough time to see everyone we want to see, and this trip proved no exception...

Glad to be back home and sleeping in my own bed, that's for sure!

That is all.

Friday, June 3, 2016

Friday Car Pr0n #122

Getting back to "Jay's Mythical Garage" and "what Jay would do if he won crazy stupid money in the lottery to fill said mythical garage," here's another in a series of cars that I would love to pick up and/or make *better*...

 [Pic from actual, honest-to-goodness DMC website...]

Here's the kicker: Low-mileage variants are selling, used, for insane amounts of money. Cars that, quite frankly, were never that great to begin with are selling for 2-3 times the original price. Base price was around $25K, which was comparable to a new Corvette. Interestingly enough, used Deloreans are *still* the price of a new Corvette. I blame Back to the Future and/or The Wedding Singer...

Obviously, the Renault 2.8L V6 would have to go, but what in its place? As a recent Mopar fan, the Hellcat V8 would be amazing to stuff into the DMC - 700+ horsepower might cause those gullwings to take flight, though... Going back to the Corvette, the stock 6.2L V8 in the new 'Vettes puts out 455 HP to start; might be a place to look as well. Of course, we could get all kinds of crazy retro and stuff a Grand National turbocharged 3.8L V6 under the hood, if we wanted power that stayed relatively true to the original...

I think whatever was chosen would have to be an American engine, most likely an 8 cylinder. It would be wrong to have the DMC making Ferrari-like rumblings or ultra-quiet Mercedes AMG madness, as would one of the twin-turbo Japanese 6s like the Supra or Skyline GT-R. Maybe go with a Chevy 350 like would have been done in the '80s?

It's a fun hypothetical, isn't it?

That is all.

Monday, May 30, 2016

The Cost of Freedom

I'm going to re-post something I wrote a few years ago for today, because it's every bit as relevant now.



I talked to a good friend of mine last night for a couple hours. He's a former Army Captain who was well on his way to retirement but got out for family reasons, and shared a few details last night I had not known. He had been the commanding officer responsible for presenting the flag to the mother of a private killed in a training accident. He had been present for a half dozen or so honor details, laying to rest a soldier lost in Iraq or Afghanistan. He told me that he had lost 33 friends and acquaintances between the first and second Gulf Wars and Afghanistan.

The title of this post was something said to him at last year's Memorial Day parade by a retired Major. He addressed the group of veterans gathered to march in the Memorial Day and reminded them that if they were here today, it was not about them. It was about those that can no longer march in parades; those who will never again taste the freedom they fought so valiantly to preserve.

Freedom is not free. It has cost many everything they have.


Requiescat in pace


For those that never came back, as least not vertically, please remember.

Remember, today and everyday, what the true price of freedom is: Soldiers' lives.

That is all.

Friday, May 13, 2016

Friday Car Pr0n #121

Woo. Been a while since I posted anything. I've been trying to wrap my head around political and other stuff, and haven't been able to say much without incoherent sputtering. With that said, here's the latest in the car pics. Continuing with a trend, here's another car that would find its way into the other Jay's Garage...


Third generation Toyota Celica. Learned to drive standard on one of these. Liftback, not coupe. Dunno why I loved the car so much, other than it was a 5-speed and rear wheel drive and just a stupid fun car at a time when cars really weren't all that much fun. Growing up as a child of the 1980s, I watched the Thunderbird go from the bloated '70s land yacht to the neutered six-banger in the '80s. Dodge eschewed pretty much all V8s in favor of 4-cylinder turbos. And GM? Putting the Iron Duke 2.5L I4 in the third generation Camaro is an abomination unto Nuggan.

When gas economy forced out the big V8, pure raw power was out. Cars like the Celica, Nissan 280 ZX, Volkswagen GTI and others started to fill the niche. They weren't as powerful as the generation of muscle cars that preceded them, but they could be made to corner pretty well; if you couldn't pin your buddy to the passenger seat through raw acceleration, you could make him grab blindly for the oh s**t handle as you tore around corners.

And I'm not telling whether or not I got the inside rear wheel of my '86 GTI off the ground in a tight corner...

That is all.

Monday, May 2, 2016

The *Real* Problem With HB2...

Ever since North Carolina passed House Bill 2, we've been treated to celebrities voicing their displeasure with the law, municipalities threatening to cease all business with the state of NC (even when none existed previously), businesses denouncing the state and other assorted noise condemning the action. As usual, there's plenty of heaping piles of hypocrisy around - there are plenty of cases like the link where a company that refuses to do business in North Carolina is happy to work in middle eastern countries.

But that's not my issue.

No, the real problem as I see it is simple. The real problem with HB2 has been completely and utterly ignored. I've seen folks on "my" side of many issues make the claim that the actions in NC are much like what the gun grabbers do: They've passed a law based on what someone *might* do, much like gun grabbers pass laws about guns.

The problem, as I see it, is that there is anything in the past sentence after "law."

The real issue, as I see it, is that the state of North Carolina has passed a law that addressed, well, nothing. Anything that might happen that HB2 would prevent are already illegal - does it matter what plumbing the person in the stall next to you has if they're peering over the top of the stall at your junk? Is someone intent on kidnapping a child for whatever sick purposes they have in mind going to give a hairy rat's patoot that they aren't allowed in that particular bathroom?

It's a completely useless law that doesn't change a damn thing and only adds to a growing pile of unnecessary litigation. Period. Full stop. No matter what your views might happen to be on trans-gendered people, homosexuals, whatever, HB2 is just plain government overreaching. It's no different than the flag-burning amendment crap that was all the rage back in the late '80s. Look, if someone wants to burn a flag, that's their right (assuming, of course, that it's *their* flag to begin with). I don't like it, but guess what? The First Amendment is never so useful as it is protecting the speech we don't like.

Here's the thing: If a person of [opposite gender] walks into your restroom, if they go into a stall to do their business (or to a urinal if so plumbed), what in blue blazes does it matter? If they're staring at your junk, that's actionable. We don't need another law taking up space to prevent them from walking in. We have laws that cover stalking, being a pervert, etc. Use the damn laws that are already on the books. Don't just start flinging new ones around.

But then again, no one ever made a name for themselves proposing that we simply prosecute the breaking of existing laws...

That is all.

Friday, April 29, 2016

Friday Car Pr0n #120

Been a hectic week, so car pr0n is all we get, sorry...

One of my personal favorites when it comes to automobiles in general are the sleepers. You know, the cars that look perfectly normal but have a ridiculously oversize engine stuffed under the hood. Or a redonkulous blower/turbo/supercharger. Nitrous. JATO. That sort of thing. With that said, here's one similar to a car a friend owned:


1971 Oldsmobile Cutlass S. His was tan, with a black vinyl top. Rather than the stock Olds mag wheels, it had plain aluminum hubcaps and whitewall tires, too. Under the hood, though, was an Olds Rocket 350. A respectable 325 horsepower (remember, the holy grail for muscle cars at the time was a 1:1 cubic inch to horsepower rating) gave the "S" way more power than it needed.

And the power hit the rear wheels by way of a Hurst Dual Gate shifter, sometimes called the "His and Hers". Park, Reverse and Neutral were standard, but then the shifter split. On one side (the "Hers", remember this was still the 1960s when it rolled out) was the standard D-2-1 configuration that required no input from the driver. On the other side, pre-dating "autostick" type transmissions by several decades, was a 1-2-3 configuration that required the car be placed in "1" at a stop, then manually shifted into second and third.

We were out one night and my buddy had had a couple too many, so he let me drive his Cutlass. It had transmission problems and wouldn't shift right, so he advised me to take it out on the highway and floor it - this often solved the problem. I hit 90 MPH (the statute of limitations on speeding should be up, right?) and backed off, thinking that the car had finally shifted out of second and into third.

He chided me, because the car had only shifted into second gear at that point...

That is all.

Friday, April 22, 2016

Friday Car Pr0n #119

Okay, so the mythical parking garage I'm going to build when I hit the SuperMegaPowerAwesomeBall is going to have a generous section for oversize vehicles. Like this Roadtrek:


Oh, sure, there'd be a larger motorhome no doubt, either a diesel pusher or a larger Class C, but one of the sleek Class B's like the RoadTrek would be an awesome road trip machine. Consider, too, that there would most likely be multiple homes involved, I could see spending quite a bit of time on the road. The size of the Class B makes it *much* easier to maneuver on the highway and even in small cities, but it still has enough comfort to stay overnight in a campground, WalMart parking lot or truck stop/rest area.

Sure, for longer exploration or week-long stays I'd want a larger motorhome with bump-out sections for the bed and couch/dinette and a lift on the back for the Harley. But to travel between the cabin in Montana and the ranch in Texas? Take the family out to California to visit their cousins and see the U.S. at the same time? I think the Class B would be just the thing. The true appeal is that it's just large enough to sleep 2-4 of us, but small enough to navigate most anywhere smaller than NYC/Boston/DC.

No worries, other options will appear as well...

That is all.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

More Things About Which I'm Curious...

We're hearing an awful lot about the terrible financial burden being placed on both college students and their parents to finance higher education. Some politicans {cough}feelthebern{cough} blame banks for the burden, as though evil bankers are running around putting guns to the heads of college students and forcing them to take loans at 180% interest.

Then there's stories like this:

Massachusetts man fights $250G student loan debt for his 3 kids
A Massachusetts man who owes about $250,000 he borrowed to put three children through college has won a major court victory in his effort to have the debt forgiven.

The Boston Globe reports that a federal appeals court has urged a bankruptcy judge to consider a settlement with the company that holds the loans to allow Robert Murphy, of Duxbury, to erase the debt.
Really, there's just so much wrong with this story, I don't know where to begin. On its face, it seems like a loving father that got in too much debt putting his kids through college. I can see that happening, especially if his kids got into prestigious Ivy League schools and didn't qualify for financial aid.

Except for this story that sheds a little more light on the situation. Like this:
Murphy sought to discharge the $246,000 he still owed on a dozen Parent Plus loans he took out between 2001 and 2007 to send two of his children to Loyola University Maryland and a third to the University of Connecticut and Bridgewater State.

“If I knew I was going to be in the situation I am today, I wouldn’t have borrowed,” Murphy said. Even though he was unemployed when the government issued him most of the loans, he said, he believed he’d find another high-paying job and be able to repay them.
Wait, wait wait... "Most" of the loans were issued when he was unemployed? He took on a minimum of a little more than half that debt after losing his job? And was unemployed for 14 years? Holy lack of personal responsibility, Batman!

But that's not what got me going. What got me going was that this guy spent nearly a quarter of a million dollars sending three kids to college, and one of the kids went to state schools.

No one else sees the real problem here? Bridgewater State - NOW - is under $10K a year for tuition, fees, and books. U Conn out of state (but in New England) is $20K a year. Assuming a 50:50 mix, let's say $50K of dear old dad's debt is from the one kid going to state schools.

That means the other $200K is split between the other two kids. $100K each, or $25K a year, in 2001 dollars. I tried to get a handle on whether this is reasonable or not, so I looked up the cost of Loyola University Maryland. Take a guess what a year costs there. Just guess.

$43,800.

It's $58,800 when you tally up room & board, meals, fees, etc. That doesn't even factor in books, so easily over $60K a year once you factor in books and other educational costs. $60K. Sounds like dad got off light.

Why is no one talking about the elephant in the room? Why is no one questioning why on earth it costs a gorram CADILLAC EVERY YEAR to go to a private university? Politicians complain about the loans, about the interest rates, etc. but no one bats an eye at a school charging over $60 grand a year? FWIW, Harvard is about the same price. U. Mass Amherst is $28K a year (in-state) with tuition, fees, room and board. A middle-of-the-road state school is nearly $30K a year?

Check this out, for U. Mass. In 1996, tuition and fees (MA schools "held tuition constant" while raising "fees" every year so they could claim, with a straight face, that "tuition" hasn't increased...) were $5,500. In 2015-2016, they were $14,100. In 20 years - one generation - the cost to go to U. Mass Amherst has very nearly tripled. The average cost of a car in 1996 was $16,000. If the price of cars kept pace with state college tuition, a new Toyota Corolla would cost $48,000. Instead, it costs $17,300, a tiny fraction of an increase in 20 years.

So, no. I don't buy it when some mealy-mouthed politician says that banks are the problem behind the high price of college.

But no one's asking why the price of college has tripled in a generation. No one. Bernie Sanders wants to give college away for free - sure, Bern, tell us how that's going to work. You've got college tuition kicking the living snot out of inflation, but magically it's going to become free thanks to... um... your magic unicorns? All of a sudden administrators and professors are going to administrate and profess for free? Pull the other one, it's got bells on.

But yeah, the real scandal is that a college loan interest rate is very slightly higher than that of a new car...

That is all.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Triple "S"...

The dreaded "Special Snowflake Syndrome." I don't know if I'm just noticing it more lately or if things are changing, but the number of people I see out in public completely and utterly unaware that there are other humans in their little life's play seems to be growing.

Like this douchebag:


He's not in a parking space. That's the entry way to the local warehouse store. Because people often buy large, heavy items like furniture and appliances, the "curb" isn't - so jackass parked there. There are parking spaces galore, but none were apparently close enough for Senor Jackass, so up on the curb he goes.

Of course, this same area is frequently a site for other SSS's. I see people who pull up, leaving their running automobile directly in the travel lane while they load their purchases into it. It is not uncommon to see vehicles half-out into the main travel lane, either; it's like they just randomly decide "Oh, here's a good place to stop" because in their minds, there are no other humans on the planet.

The worst, in my opinion, are the ones that will sit in a running car right next to an empty parking space while someone else runs into the store for a quick errand. There's nothing as exciting as moving around one of these mouthbreathers only to find one of their kindred spirit blithely backing out of a parking space without even so much as a cursory glance. Ah, excitement.


And yet people think we'll have "self-driving" cars any time in our lifetimes. Um, no. Unless the government takes a very active role in getting "human driving" cars off the road, it ain't gonna happen. All it's going to take is one erratic human to screw up an entire line of self-driving cars to cause all sorts of mischief and mayhem.

I think Mencken said it best: "No one ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American public"...

That is all.

Friday, April 15, 2016

[Insert Incoherent Sputtering]

Bono: send Amy Schumer and Chris Rock to fight Islamic State
Never one for holding back on an opinion, Bono has come up with a new way of destroying Islamic State – not with bombs, but with belly laughs. The U2 singer said sending comedians such as Amy Schumer and Sacha Baron Cohen would be an effective alternative to airstrikes.

Bono was speaking in front of a Senate subcommittee on Tuesday 12 April, during a wide-ranging discussion on the Middle East and the refugee crisis. He said: “Don’t laugh. I think comedy should be deployed. It’s like, you speak violence, you speak their language. But you laugh at them, when they’re goose-stepping down the street, and it takes away their power. So, I’m suggesting that the Senate send in Amy Schumer, and Chris Rock, and Sacha Baron Cohen, thank you.”
Okay, let's start with the first WTF. What the bloody hell is *BONO* - a washed-up, has-been former celebrity who used to, at one point in his career, been able to sing - doing appearing before a US Senate subcommittee on ISIS and terrorism? Really, WTF? Did someone think that "Sunday, Bloody Sunday" made him an expert on terrorism?

Or, more likely, did they think that bringing in a celebrity that Boomers and GenX'ers are familiar with would generate more interest in the hearing, and bring attention to their attempt to "Do Something About This"?

Secondly, this is the crappiest load of crap anyone ever crapped. Look, I know it's in vogue to send in washed up singers after terrorist attacks and all, but really? You think sending comedians - female Jewish comedians, at that - to combat a group known for beheading, crucifying, drowning and even immolating those it disagree with is a good idea? Honestly?

What's funny - not in the "ha,ha" way - is that my last post centered on Bruce Springsteen and his *SUPER* brave stance on NC. Specifically, it's over NC's alleged mistreatment of the trans-gendered community in how people who identify with different genders can or cannot use certain restrooms. Whether you agree with Springsteen, North Carolina, or are somewhere in between, there is one unmistakable fact:

Every single person that this "law" allegedly affects would be brutally slaughtered by ISIS. 

You are born a male but identify as a woman? Here in America, you *might* face some prejudice and be forced to use a male bathroom. In Syria, Iraq and other areas dominated by ISIS? They throw you off a gorram building. Perspective. Get some. Dealing with prejudice is never fun. Dealing with homicidal maniacs, though, is decidedly less fun.

It's quite telling who Hollywood thinks we should treat more harshly, isn't it? North Carolina gets boycotts, threats, and hatred. ISIS gets a standup routine.

No, Bono, No. We don't send entertainers. We send B-52 bombers. Lots of 'em. We kill these crazy bastards until they give up. If they don't give up, we kill enough of them that they cease to be a threat. Period. Mockery certainly has its place, but it also has its time. When ISIS is actively controlling large parts of entire countries and sponsoring terrorism around the world is not the time to fall back on an aggressive campaign of sarcasm and potty jokes.

It's time to be shooting these evil mo-fos in the face and bombing them into oblivion, THEN we can mock their failed ideology.

That is all.

Monday, April 11, 2016

I'm Curious...

Bruce Springsteen cancels N.C. show over anti-LGBT law
The LBGT community in North Carolina just got a big show of solidarity from none other than Bruce Springsteen.

The rock icon announced Friday on his official website that he is canceling Sunday's scheduled show in Greensboro to protest the state's newly passed House Bill 2 — dubbed the "bathroom law" — which dictates which public restrooms may be used by transgender individuals and prevents LGBT individuals to sue over human rights violations in the workplace.
First off, I have a problem with this being called an "anti-gay" or "anti-LGBT" law, but that's a post for a different time. I'm afraid this is going to lead to every establishment open to the public having to make 16 - 20 different bathrooms, leading to an ever-escalating "bathroom equality war" where we have new and unique special snowflakes that need to be catered to. Honestly, the bathroom is binary: you have an innie or an outie. Period. I don't see why this is an issue at all.

Secondly, to get something else out of the way: Springsteen has every right in the world to cancel his concert. Happens all the time, often over illness or weather-related or any other number of instances. It's his show, his rules. If he honestly feels that strongly, good on him for taking a stance.

What I really want to know, though, is this: What do you suppose the Venn diagram of "people that applaud Springsteen's decision to cancel his show in NC" and "people who think Christian bakers should be forced to make cakes for gay weddings" looks like? I'd wager that's pretty close to a circle. To be intellectually honest and consistent, if you think someone that provides a service (whether that be a baker or a singer) should be forced to provide said service to their public regardless of how they feel about said public, then Springsteen should have been forced to put on that concert.

The whole "Christian bakers need to be forced to make cakes" business is ludicrous to say the least. It's a free-market solution in search of a problem: I'd wager there's plenty of bakers out there perfectly happy to take your money in exchange for a cake. I'd wager there's plenty that would make a cake for the Lord High Chuthulu as long as your money's green. If a baker feels so principled that they would turn away perfectly good cash money, well, power to them. Maybe they'll make their business up making cakes for other small-minded people.

Then again, I have to wonder about the mindset of someone that would want to eat a cake prepared by someone they forced to make it...

That is all.