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Thu Apr 23, 2015 at 02:54 PM PDT

A sad irony in the death of Walter Scott

by anyman

I just saw the dashcam footage of the police officer stopping Walter Scott, which took place in the moments before Scott took off running and ended up in the park where he lost his life.  Since this particular footage came with audio, it was capturing the radio (or music player) in the patrol car during those moments.  And the song captured in those minutes before Walter Scott lost his life was "What It's Like" from Everlast.  I think if the officer actually knew and understood the lyrics, he may not have shot first and acted the way he acted.  Probably wishful thinking, but that's my theory.  Lyrics and music below the fold....

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Tue Jan 06, 2015 at 09:45 AM PST

MLB Umpires and the NYPD tantrums

by anyman

I realize that MLB and community policing are vastly different animals, but I thought there were a lot of parallels between the 1999 MLB Umpire labor action and the current NYPD "protests".  For those who don't follow sports (and I rarely follow baseball anymore myself), back in 1999 there was an upcoming labor dispute between the union representing the Umpires -- The Major League Umpires Association (MLUA) -- and the collective league(s) of Major League Baseball (MLB).  One of the biggest points of contention was the ever-shrinking strike zone, which MLB wanted to be called more closely to the way the rules were written but which MLUA members insisted was being called correctly.  

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Tue Aug 05, 2014 at 10:11 AM PDT

$8 million per day

by anyman

$8 million per day.  This is the total of US tax dollars which go to Israel every single day on average.  This is simply an extrapolation of the $3 Billion (with a B) which is guaranteed to Israel, it does not count the extra aid and support which is typically approved on a case by case basis (or just as a rider to another bill, because our Congress is all too happy to pile more money onto our best friend in the whole world).  Most estimates are that we give them $13 million per day, which translates to about $4 Billion per year.  Keep this in mind as the pictures of mangled children and civilians keep coming in from Gaza, and think about what else we could be buying for $8 million per day.  

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For those unfamiliar with Tim Minchin, he is an Australian comedian and musician who is both amazingly funny and supremely talented on the piano.  He is also an atheist, which makes his writing of a Christmas song ironic in a way, but I hope you can agree that he's captured the spirit of the season, if not the religious message at the center of it.  I would encourage everyone who has not heard of him to check out his other works, especially if you like comedy and/or music!

I really like Christmas.
It's sentimental I know, but I still really like it.
I am hardly religious.
I'd rather break bread with Dawkins than Desmond Tutu to be honest.
And yes, I have all of the usual objections to consumerism; to the commercialization of an ancient religion.
To the Westernization of a dead Palestinian press-ganged into selling Playstations and beer.
But I still really like it.
I'm looking forward to Christmas though I'm not expecting a visit from Jesus.

I'll be seeing my dad, my brothers and sisters, my Gran and my mom.
They'll be drinking white wine in the sun

I don't go in for ancient wisdom.
I don't believe just 'cause ideas are tenacious it means that they're worthy.
I get freaked out by churches.
Some of the hymns that they sing have nice chords but the lyrics are dodgy.
And yes I have all of the usual objections to the mis-education of children.
Who, in tax exempt institutions, are taught to externalize blame, and to feel ashamed, and to judge things as plain right or wrong.
But I still like the songs.
I'm not expecting big presents.
The old combination of socks, jocks and chocolates is just fine by me.

Cause I'll be seeing my dad, my brothers and sisters, my Gran and my mom.
They'll be drinking white wine in the sun

And you, my baby girl.
My jet-lagged infant daughter.
You'll be handed 'round the room, like a puppy at a primary school.
And you won't understand, but you will learn someday, that where-ever you are and whatever you face, these are the people that make you feel safe in this world.
My sweet blue-eyed girl.
And if, my baby girl, when you're 21 or 31 and Christmas comes around
And you find yourself 9,000 miles from home, you'll know whatever comes...

Your brothers and sisters, and me and your mom, will be waiting for you in the sun
Whenever you come, your brothers and sisters, your aunts and your uncles, your grandparents, cousins, and me and your mom
Will be waiting for you in the sun
Drinking white wine in the sun
Darling when Christmas comes
We'll be waiting for you in the sun
Drinking white wine in the sun
Waiting for you

I really like Christmas. It's sentimental, I know....

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I'm sure many here are familiar with the works of Phil Ochs.  This is one of those songs I try to get non-activist friends to listen to and they indulge me because we are friends but I rarely get acknowledgement of the message Phil is trying to convey here -- namely that the spirit of the season is not "Where would Jesus shop?" but rather "Who would Jesus help?"  The lyrics are pasted below, and all copyright is with whoever owns Phil Ochs' works.  I've tried to paste a YouTube video of the song below the fold.

Christmas shoppers shopping on a neon city street
Another Christmas dollar for another Christmas treat
There's satin on the pretty dolls that make the children glow
While a boy is walking ragged in the cold Kentucky snow

No, they don't have Christmas in Kentucky
There's no holly on a West Virginia door
For the trees don't twinkle when you're hungry
And the jingle bells don't jingle when you're poor

There's lots of toys for children when the Christmas time is near
But the present for the miners is a stocking full of beer
In the dark hills of Kentucky there's one gift that may be found
The coal dust of forgotten days that's lying on the ground

No, they don't have Christmas in Kentucky
There's no holly on a West Virginia door
For the trees don't twinkle when you're hungry
And the jingle bells don't jingle when you're poor

Let's drink a toast to Congress and a toast to Santa Claus
And a toast to all the speeches that bring the loud applause
There's not enough to give, no, there's just not enough to share
So let's drown the sounds of sorrow with a hearty Christmas cheer

No, they don't have Christmas in Kentucky
There's no holly on a West Virginia door
For the trees don't twinkle when you're hungry
And the jingle bells don't jingle when you're poor

Have a very merry Christmas and a happy New Year's Day
For now's a time of plenty and plenty's here to stay
But if you knew what Christmas was, I think that you would find
Christ is spending Christmas in the cold Kentucky mine

No, they don't have Christmas in Kentucky
There's no holly on a West Virginia door
For the trees don't twinkle when you're hungry
And the jingle bells don't jingle when you're poor

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Thu Dec 05, 2013 at 10:12 AM PST

Shooting messengers

by anyman

I tried staying out of the "is Ted Rall a racist" flame wars that have been going on for at least the last week.  I had been a fan of his work since the GWB years, but I will say Mr. Rall did himself no favors by defending himself so antagonistically when he received negative feedback for his posts here.  I've followed his cartoons for over a decade, and I've seen plenty which I either did not find funny, or found them distasteful.  My impression of his work is that he's critical of everything that everyone in Washington does, and for that reason I can understand why he would not have been included on the comics page of a site which holds Democrats to such high esteem such as Daily Kos.  I've disagreed with quite a number of his cartoons, likewise I've found plenty more to be spot on in their observations.  But I would also never presume to tell someone who took offense that their offense was misplaced.  Therefore, if someone cannot get past the message Ted Rall is trying to convey in his cartoons because they are offended at the depictions of the characters, it is not my place to tell them they should get over it, or that their feelings are not valid.  That is not the purpose of this diary...

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I used to belong to a forum devoted to the SF/Fantasy literature genre in which a Republican activist once told me that if we (meaning Progressives/Liberals) wanted to enact gun regulations, we should offer something in compromise.  I've been thinking about this for some time now, that if we are going to be passing laws restricting the rights of one group in the name of public safety, we should begin passing laws that affect other groups -- also in the name of public safety.  Well, I'd say that all the recent laws restricting access to abortion and voting would more than adequately suffice for compromise, so I am proposing the following changes to gun regulations with a brief synopsis of why each is important below the "fold":

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