Friday, January 30, 2015

Trial balloon deflates


There has got to be a job out there that requires nothing more than being a native English speaker and being familiar with the customs and inappropriate abbreviations in the English-speaking world. A job where you get to live abroad and all you have to do is check foreign tourism agencies publications to make sure they don't accidentally embarrass themselves.

(via RCS on FB)

UPDATE: apparently the photo is fake. oh well.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

I don't get it

All of Sarah Palin's speeches are pretty strange and incoherent. What is different about this one that is getting conservatives to turn against her?

Nasrallah's gift to Netanyahu

I wonder if this is just what Netanyahu needs. If there is a crisis at home, he can use that as an excuse to back out of his badly-considered address to the U.S. Congress (which seems to be backfiring pretty badly for him). Bibi can now formulate a military response that is timed just right for there to be an  emergency at home that forces him to cancel the U.S. trip while claiming that the cancellation is all Hezbollah's fault.

Still Calling

Brendan is back to blogging again. We shall see if he goes back to bugging the hell out of congressional staffers.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Who I blame

The snowstorm predicted in our area turned out mostly to be a bust. My suburb got maybe 2 inches of snow and Philly proper got virtually nothing that stuck. The roads are clear. It is perfectly safe to drive around our area. Because of all the hyperventilating about the "storm of the century" throughout the day yesterday, last night a lot of local schools announced they would be canceled today. Which meant that parents like me were facing a snow day childcare issue this morning with no weather-related reason to stay home from work.

A lot of my friends, both those with kids and those without, are pissed off at "the weatherman" for telling them there would be a big storm when there was not. But keep in mind that predicting the weather is really really hard. Predicting with perfect accuracy is currently impossible. I'm sure  meteorologist would much rather be right, so they do their best based on the measurements and models they have. It doesn't always work because there are too many factors that go into any weather system. They still do a much better job than weather predictors have done at any other point in human history. So lay off them.

The people to heap scorn on are the newscasters and their enablers on social media who hyperventilate any time they hear the word "snow." Not every storm has to be the one "of the century" or a "-mageddon". It is possible to tell people we might get a lot of snow the next day without treating it as it might be the end of civilization as we know it. Snow is actually normal weather in this part of the country. We can treat it like a normal thing, even while telling people there is a chance that the snow might pile up and disrupt travel for a short period of time. It doesn't have to be anything scary or alarming. It can just be something to take into account.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Well that answers the UN representative's question

The UN sent a representative to Kazakhstan "to monitor how Astana upholds the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and association." Freedom of speech activists who hoped to attend a public meeting about the representative's visit were rounded up and jailed.


I simply don't understand why people clean out the shelves of grocery stores when a big snowstorm is forecast. Even if we assume the big storm that everyone is currently hyperventilating about comes to pass, at worst, I might not be able to get groceries for a whole day. Snow can make travel difficult in the immediate aftermath. But then roads get plowed, trains start running again. It is extremely rare for things not be to mostly up and running within 24 hours from the end of the storm, and I don't think I have ever experienced things being completely knocked out for more than 48 hours because of snow.

Maybe there are other people don't have enough food in their house to delay their grocery run by a single day or two, but I find it hard to believe that many people are in that situation. Seeing the people in the grocery stores, you would think they were expecting not to leave their house for a week.

Runs on things like batteries, generators, road salt, shovels, fire wood, et cetera prior to a snow all make sense to me (even if I am not someone who tends to stock up on anything based on a forecast). When people clean out the canned goods, it just seems like they are playing out some zombie apocalypse fantasy.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Biggest clown in the car

Donald Trump on the GOP presidential field: “It can’t be Mitt. Mitt ran and failed!”

So says the man whose companies have gone bankrupt four times and whose main qualification for the presidency is his business experience.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

ending the filibuster for the Supreme Court

When Harry Reid et. al. nuked the filibuster for judicial nominees, they exempted nominees to the Supreme Court. That is, under current rules, Supreme Court nominees can still be filibustered even as nominees to every other federal court cannot be. At the time, the exemption was explained because, the explainer explained, no one would ever actually filibuster a Supreme Court nominee, so nuking that filibuster was not necessary. Which was completely absurd. If no one would ever try it, then why create an exemption to allow them to do it?

It's also simply wrong. There's absolutely no reason to believe that the minority party would not filibuster a lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court. Imagine, for example, if Justice Scalia suddenly died and Obama appointed some well known liberal to replace him. Do you really believe that Mitch McConnell would not use the filibuster to stop the nomination out of respect for some alleged tradition? I don't think there's any question that in any high-stakes SCOTUS nominee--where the justice to be replaced is different from the ideology of the president, guaranteeing that the nominee would change the current ideological slant of the court--the minority party would be willing to filibuster.

So the Supreme Court exception to the current no-filibuster rule makes no sense. But this also makes no sense. Why would the Republicans take the Supreme Court filibuster off the table now? Are they really so confident that they will regain the presidency in 2016? Have they looked at the electoral map recently? And are they really willing to bet that none of the five justices in the current conservative majority won't die or become incapacitated during Obama's remaining two years in office? That's insane. I can't believe they will really get rid of the Supreme Court filibuster for at least the next two years.