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Monday, February 15th, 2016
1:41 pm - On pets, and how to not lose them because of money -
My cats are both home and on the mend, with various meds and instructions for bedrest. That is not what this post is about. This post is about money.

Dove Lewis Emergency Veterinary Hospital is not cheap. It can't be cheap because the things they do and the people they employ are not cheap. They have 24/7 coverage by multiple veterinarians with highly advanced training. ICU vets, ER vets, cardiology vets, surgery vets. Twenty-one doctors in all, each with an alphabet soup of titles and qualifications after their name.

They have expensive machines that do expensive things and produce expensive results. They have expensive drugs and an expensive location. Their bills are expensive, and for almost everyone I know, including myself, an average emergency is an unbearable expense

But not being able to pay for that expense is worse. So, so much worse. It means leaving one's beloved pet in pain, in decaying health, in avoidable conditions that will permanently cripple, blind, deafen or kill. It means failing at one's duty to care for and protect these creatures that we have taken into our lives.

There are funds set up that Dove Lewis can tap into for those in financial distress. They can't cover things like lab tests; just bare-bones treatment. It caps at $750 per person and can only cover a few people a month. When it runs out, nobody can use it until the next month. It's wonderful; it's just not nearly enough.

That's why there is pet health insurance.

Randomly googling around shows some pet health insurance for about $12-$15 a month. That's three decent beers or a dozen shitty ones. Now, nobody wants to give up beer, even a small portion of one's monthly beer allowance, but this is your pet we're talking about here. Even the shittiest pet health insurance can make the difference between an un-payable vet bill with a suffering or dead pet, and a healthy, living pet. The deductibles for the lower-end pet insurance can still be a few hundred bucks, but it's far, far easier to hit up some friends/apply for Dove Lewis's credit program/pawn your TV for a couple hundred bucks than it is for a few thousand.

Pet health insurance is fucking wonderful.

Get pet health insurance.




-

And hey, if you can, donate to the fund that helps those in need save their pets.

https://www.dovelewis.org/donate/form/

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Wednesday, February 10th, 2016
6:44 pm - Adventures in computer-human relations.
So I am refinancing my mortgage, and the lender wanted me to take an online class. I am testing out their AI to see how ... uh, "flexible," it is with its answers.

Every single one of these was accepted and graded as correct.









































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Monday, February 16th, 2015
1:02 pm - Family Matters
He introduced me to comic books.

At least, he left unguarded his stash of such wonders as Zot!, Batman: The Dark Knight Returns and The Trouble with Girls. Deep in my grandmother's suburban basement, far enough from Cleveland to only see black people if they were Cleveland Browns, I discovered that my prior knowledge of comic books was woefully immature, stuck in a haze of toy company advertisements and storylines that served to prop up said ads. Turtles that were somehow, through age and mutations, flexible enough to be ninjas. G.I.s that were all nicknamed "Joe." Free four-page shit from the inside of cereal boxes.

He was always a cool uncle; a status helped tremendously by the fact that he was the youngest in his generation, as I was the oldest in mine. I inherited all his clothes, got his bike when he got a moped, and one day he took me into a record store, where I learned that my record collection, while admittedly pretty awesome, was woefully small, and sadly lacking in some new beast called "Punk Rock," though admittedly it was the mainstream flavors of Punk that appeal most to suburban white kids. Stuff a cool uncle would like, when he was barely old enough to drive and not yet old enough to drink.


Mysterious, too. He didn't talk much ... and we all knew why.


I don't know how homophobic his immediate family was, my mother and his brother and parents. I don't know how intolerable the late 80s were for him, but it was bad enough that he vanished one day, rumored to venture off to that fantastic realm that only exists on television (at least to midwesterners): California. Private detectives were hired, inquiries were made, and years later the internet was searched.


Searched often and repeatedly, by a curious little boy who wondered where his cool, mysterious uncle wound up.


Years turned into decades, and family moves on. His mother (my grandmother) died, and he inherited part of a cottage that has been in our family since the Great Depression. More lawyers were called, more internet searches, more silence. No word.


His funeral is in a few days.


In the end, we never did track him down. A twenty five year search ended when some bureaucrat looked up his next of kin. AIDS, meth and homelessness was the destiny of my cool teenage uncle, dead in the communal bathroom of a single room occupancy hotel.


In magical San Francisco, California.

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Monday, June 30th, 2014
10:46 am - On today's U.S. Supreme Court decision, and how to make somewhat it less shitty.
I can't say I'm surprised at today's US Supreme Court ruling. Pissed, but not surprised, given how non-human persons have been treated in recent years.
Here's a couple bits of advice if you want to be useful in a time like this:
1) Donate to Planned Parenthood and similar organizations. They will probably be the best bet to provide for those who just lost a specific type of health care. They are quite likely the ONLY source for many of them. https://secure.ppaction.org/site/SPageServer?pagename=pp_ppol_Nondirected_OneTimeGift
2) Don't get your information from HuffPo, Jezebel, talk radio or FW: fw: re: re: FW: re: emails. Read the actual ruling yourself, it's only 95 pages long, most of which are background and filler. It can be found here. http://apps.washingtonpost.com/g/page/politics/supreme-court-decision-on-affordable-care-act-contraception-mandate/1131/
3) And finally, learn to live with this. The high court has spoken, and that is where these issues go to die. Don't torture yourself with petitions or angry letters to Congress or  donating to political action groups that pledge to somehow fix this. They can't. The only way to overrule the US Supreme Court is to get them to do it themselves (unlikely, until a few of them die off), or amend the Constitution (info on how to do that is here. As you can see, it's just not plausible): http://www.archives.gov/federal-register/constitution/article-v.html
3b) As for trying to pressure the companies into not being dicks, this case is much, much broader than just Hobby Lobby. Nearly 90% of all businesses in this country count as "closely held," and thus qualify for the religious exemption (http://m.washingtonpost.com/blogs/the-fix/wp/2014/06/30/a-lot-of-people-could-be-affected-by-the-supreme-courts-birth-control-decision/) Trying to lobby each of these companies is a task even Sisyphus would call unproductive. Let it go.
----
That's my advice from my admittedly very privileged position. Donate to PP, read the decision directly, and otherwise let it go.
---
There is one other option many people bring up: lobbying for government-funded birth control. Which, in theory. Could work to protect those who will be hardest hit by this ruling. Here's why you should let it go:
1) Geography. The places that have local governments most open to this concept likely have businesses least likely to be puritanical dickwads. Persuading the Portland city council will do fuck-all for vulnerable people in Amarillo, TX. Saving a dozen people here at the expense of thousands of people elsewhere is just wrong-headed. Planned Parenthood, being a national organization, is not as hindered by this.
2) Cost. The cost of 50 state-by-state campaigns (or even just the 38 states needed to amend the Constitution in one scenario) dwarfs the cost of just paying for the medical care outright through donations. In a perfect world, we wouldn’t have to make an either/or call, but we live in an often-shitty world, and some financial triage is necessary.
3)   Time. Planned Parenthood (and similar agencies) can put your cash to work today. Even assuming the highly unlikely event of success in a national activism campaign on this issue, an uphill battle against every southern congressmember, teabagger and religious whack-job activist in the country would take years. Some people don't have years.
------
The only thing worse than losing a battle is to keep losing it over and over again. Sanity did not prevail today, but perhaps our pocketbooks can. This is the battle you can win. This is the good you can do. This is how you, specifically, can help.
Here, again, is that donation link so you can help some scared and vulnerable people whom you will never meet and who will never thank you, and you are a fucking rock star for donating anyway. We don’t need recognition; we need to help.
-Dave

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Tuesday, March 25th, 2014
10:29 pm - Your e-cigs are not helping.
Yes, e-cigs are probably way better than sucking on a rolled-up pile of tar-soaked cancer leaves, but stop pretending that you are sticking it to the man with your alternative smoking source. "Big Tobacco" isn't running scared.
This ... this is just embarrassingly obvious. Seriously, guys, where the fuck did you think this stuff was coming from? Elves? Space-cowboys?
Occam's goddamn razor is usually right. So, here's some tidbits from Forbes about how to cash in on this.
-------------
Blu eCigs is owned by Lorillard (Newport cigarettes and a half-dozen other brands)
VUSE e-cigs are owned by R. J. Reynolds (Camel, Pall Mall, Kool, Winston, Natural American Spirit, etc)
Vype e-cigs are owned by British American Tobacco (Dunhill, Lucky Strike, Kent, Pall Mall, Kool, Benson & Hedges, etc.)
MarkTen e-cigarette are owned by Philip Morris (Basically every remaining cigarette brand)
___________________

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Friday, December 13th, 2013
1:56 pm - Local warning - suspect at large.
DANGER - This man has been accused of breaking into area houses during the holiday seasons in prior years.

He remains at large, and if prior years are of any indication, he may attempt another wave of break-ins this year. This mugshot was created through examination of images and forensic work by Dr Caroline Wilkinson of Manchester University on behalf of authorities.

He is described as a swarthy man with a a broken nose that did not heal properly, and grey hair. He has posed as a preacher in the past, and tends to blend in with local homeless populations. He is suspected of having (now very old) ties to the Navy or perhaps the Merchant Marine. He speaks with a foreign accent and does not appear to know English as a first language.

Warn your friends and family.

saint-nicholas

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Monday, November 25th, 2013
7:55 pm - A note to my grandfather.
My maternal grandfather was given up for adoption by parents that proceeded to have and raise six more children. While living a couple doors away. He never gave much stock in blood relations, and now I think I know why.




That concept eventually became a family tradition - His six known descendants went on to make their families rather than inherit them. His three offspring don't keep in touch, and the cousins produced by them are largely strangers to each other.




Tom Guerin was buried 35 years ago; a year short of the retirement he planned to spend with his bride, a love he won over the staunch objections of her mother, herself widowed before her time. He was penniless. Irish, of peasant stock. A veteran in the years after the war - a time when the nation was becoming less grateful and the masses of haunted men increasingly seen as a burden.




When Tom asked Cathy out on their first date, she ordered the most expensive thing on the menu. He, absolutely unable to pay for anything more, ordered coffee. The gambit failed to make him bow out for financial reasons as thoroughly as it failed to show him as a wealthy spendthrift. Lois, Cathy's mother and a daughter of the American Revolution (descended from a hero of it at that) said the only way they would walk down the church aisle together is if her coffin was following them.




His last words to his wife, as they drove to the hospital, were "you know how damn much I love you?"




Tom's heart, damaged by years of smoke and scotch, labor disputes and family bickering, the Asian theater of the second World War, and a lifetime of punching above his weight class, gave out.




RIP grandpa.



I was three years old when you died. I never truly knew you. But I grew up, and I have tried my best to be a good man.

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Monday, September 30th, 2013
8:33 pm

They came from Kansas. New York. Texas.

Some bribed people to pretend to be their guardians, lied about their age or just waited until they received orders in the mail.

They left high school sweethearts. Aged grandparents. Family farms.

The training was grueling. The troop ships, somehow worse. Months of waiting. Isolation, disease and dread. Time passed.

The final seconds of their life were a cacophony of pain and sound.

They don't get much. Flags from a grateful nation. Mowed lawns. Some plaques in a far-off land. A quarter million American graves and "tablets of the missing," in countries like France,the Philippines, Belgium and Tunisia.

We will never bring them home, and in a couple hours, we plan to close the 24 cemeteries overseen by the American Battle Monuments Commission.

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Wednesday, September 11th, 2013
9:31 am - Laos early morning observations

First he carefully lays his carpet on his tiny spot of sidewalk and arranges his wares before the tourists awaken. Priorities.

The row of braided strings is a meager lot, the single color products of limited resources. The spot is uncontested, being far from any trees or buildings and having no hope of shade from the brutal Laotian sun. He straightens his tiny space as much as he can, picking stray debris from the half-square-meter spot.

The last thing he does is tie two pink rags over the horrific scars where his legs used to be.

-------------

Monks and cats move about in the early morning, saffron robes and white fur contrasting the pungent pools of the broken sewer. A sex worker runs in spurts of anxiousness, her sandals slapping the asphalt evert twenty feet or so when she has to slow down to catch her breath. Several ornate arches rise in the background, looking trapped behind the rickety chain-link fence.

----

Posted via LiveJournal.app.

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Monday, June 3rd, 2013
10:05 am - Test

Ignore this

Posted via LiveJournal.app.

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Thursday, May 2nd, 2013
3:39 pm - Watch. The. Fucking. Show.
I just watched the season finale of The Americans. The plot revolves around KGB officers deep under cover in the USA during the early Reagan years. It purposely keeps the exact date vague because it's not important. This isn't about macro events and a cheap script hammered together from the timeline on a 1980s history book; it's about people. Complex people.

The character development is phenomenal, the moral ambiguity is so frickin' mufti-layered that you need a flow-chart to keep track of it all, and the gut-wrenching personal situations make for more emotional connection (and pity) than any show roster I can remember.

There are no cartoonishly bad people. There are no two-dimensional good guys. No events that are naked ratings-grabs. No stupid ticking time-bombs or implausible gadgets. In fact, every single thing about this show is plausible. So hyper-realistic that each scene could very well have happened and simply not been declassified yet.

The cast is made up of a lot of people you will recognize but may not be able to name; the solid supporting casts of the last several decades. The competent people who have allowed others to star. There are no megastars wading through a set surrounded by "props that breathe," there is just a vast and deep field of professionals doing a solid job. Nobody is outshining or dragging down the rest.

The best comparisons I can think of is the first season of Dexter meets the first season of Mad Men, co-written by George R.R. Martin (without the food porn aspect), directed by whoever does Breaking Bad, and edited by people who just completed a marathon of watching The Sopranos and the B&W era of M*A*S*H*.

Every episode is better than the previous one. It just builds and builds without ever going too far. Yes, this is me saying that you probably have to watch two or three episodes before you get hooked. It's worth it.


It's been renewed for 2014. On FX (and of course, on the Internet in all the usual ways, legal and illegal).

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Friday, April 19th, 2013
10:15 am - On the NRA, and gun owners' lack of desire to join it

The NRA represents this nations gun owners. Well, some of them. A few of them. Not that one. Nor that one. Those three? Nope. Keep looking.

8%.

The NRA represents roughly 8% (and I did round up for that number, some estimates are closer to 5%) of the gun owners in this country. By a staggering margin, gun owners simply want nothing to do with that fringe group of feces-flinging lunatics. Why?

It's not party politics: The NRA is an unabashedly Republican organization, and a lot of gun owners are Democrats. But only about 10-12 million. The rest of America's gun owners are straight-up GOP types, and they are still thumbing their nose at the NRA.

It's not the cost: NRA memberships cost $35 per year, and in exchange for that you are guaranteed enough discounts to more than recoup that cash. An afternoon at the range with my old service pistol costs me about $150 in ammunition, provided I only take one gun and use my friend's farm as a range. A city gun range adds another $20-$40 to that total, and taking my rifles out can tack on another $50 each ($200 if it's one of the more costly ones). An NRA membership discount would shave a couple hundred dollars a year off the ammo costs for this hobby. A significant amount for a measly $35. EVERY gun owner would be financially better off with an NRA card in their wallet. Yet they won't join.

It's not about how much people use guns: Sure, there are millions of people with an old dusty relic in their closet that hasn't been fired in 30 years. They count as gun owners too, even if they don't care. But there is a class of people in this country who have to handle guns every single day who thumb their nose at the NRA, even though the NRA wants to give their family a lot of money: police officers. The NRA will give our nation's 1,100,000 cops $25,000 if they die in the line of duty. Unquestionably, these are people who should, on paper, fork over the $35. Yet by and large, they don't.

It's not about machismo: Some of the most stereotypically "tough guy" jobs in this country are the police, firefighters, military and "first responders." And for them? Membership in the NRA is free. (It's free for the tough women in those jobs as well, I just phrased it that way because I'm talking about a stereotype). You would think that free membership (and death insurance) would be worth the cost for these 10,000,000 folks. But they obviously don't agree.

It's not about gun control: Shockingly, the overwhelming majority of NRA members themselves favor some kind of gun control. Some of these are people who got their lifetime membership when they were young (it's a very common "coming of age" gift in hunting communities) and have since changed their minds. Others are folks who gave in to the financial benefits. But overall, 40% of Americans feel gun control laws should either stay the same or get less strict. These 125 million people are in-line with the NRA's ideals, yet they refuse to join.

So why don't gun owners join the NRA?

They hate the NRA's leadership, the NRA's positions and the NRA's reputation.

Why do NRA members not simply fire the people running it, if their members so routinely disagree with them?

It's because they can't. The NRA is not a grassroots organization. It's a corporation. It has a board of directors,  and that board, not the "members," selects the leadership. The board is appointed by a nominating committee. The nominating committee is ... somebody. The 4.5 million "members" are more like an employee or a product. They are inventory, not owners.

I'm going to wrap this up now, because there is a gun show in an hour and I want to score a sweet deal on a 1911 in .45 ACP.

Without giving jack shit to the NRA.

Because I'm part of the 92%.

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Tuesday, April 16th, 2013
10:27 pm - Already the Plunderathon emails come pouring in. This year, it's different.
Because there isn't a Plunderathon on 2013. That makes replying to the yearly horde much easier.

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Tuesday, April 2nd, 2013
9:45 am - On Best Korea's terrifying use of Photoshop, uness you live in the Pacific NW.
With all the giggles and snide jokes about North Korea's threats to use their totally-not-photoshopped-for-realz-u-guys! missiles on the USA, I just want to remind everyone that ten years ago, the U.S. government widely circulated reports on NK's missile system having the range to reach just a small sliver of the Pacific NW.

Including Portland.

Ten years ago.

In 1998, their launch of the Taepo Dong 1 missile basically caught everyone completely off guard. The thing about crazy, secretive military dictatorships is they often have crazy, secret military projects nobody knows about because they are crazy and secret and run by the military.

A 2003 U.S. Navy report I am flipping through right now said NK's missiles that have a proven and demonstrated range of basically plunking down in the middle of the Pacific could have their range increased to basically Seattle, Portland and parts of Alaska simply by reducing the weight of the warhead and adding a solid fuel stage, just like the solid fuel stage they developed and used one year ago when numerous other countries verified that the Kwangmyŏngsŏng-3 did, in fact, achieve polar orbit.

As to lightening the nuclear payload, well they have been getting better at nukes, having set them off in 2006, 2009 and having most likely set off a 6 kiloton nuke in February 2013. All of this coupled with missiles that kinda-sorta-maybe can strike a small sliver of the American mainland.

That sliver being Portland, Oregon and the somewhat less interesting-to-me city of Seattle.

All of those tests caught observers off guard because of their aforementioned crazy secret military nature.

HILARIOUS I KNOW, RIGHT?

Of course, they also called their own missile program "No Dong" at one point, so ... yeah. We are probably OK.


(EDIT) -
Also, before anyone chimes in and says I missed the threat of North Korean nuclear submarines: their navy is generally a "green water" navy at best. They can't even sail most of their ships from one side of their country to the other. OUR navy played tag with the only other superpower ever to exist on the planet, and did it well, for half a century. I have utter faith in our navy's ability to park a hunter/killer sub ten feet off the aft of every existing NK sub and just troll them. Paint dicks on their bow. Pin a "kick me" sign to their propeller. Fuck, I trust our navy to be able to STEAL their propeller while they are underway at full steam and leave a note saying "I.O.U. one funny-looking fan thingy TROLLOLOL."

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Friday, March 29th, 2013
10:03 am - Pre-coffee musings on Rush Limbaugh's conceession of marraige equality.
Two main blowhards have given up. Rush Limbaugh, King of Talk Radio, and Bill Reilly, crown prince of the Spin Zone, have both admitted the marriage equality issue is lost to them. This issue is almost fucking over.

If so, I believe this will be the first Civil Rights struggle I will have had the pleasure of seeing the beginning and the end of, will have had the pleasure of being of voting age, and can say I voted on the right side of history. I can feel good about this. I can chalk this up as the kind of story I will tell other people's grandkids (and perhaps tell my future cats and dogs).

But let's never forget that the majority of our country was on the wrong side of history at various points during this debate, and even my high-and-mighty near-utopia left-coast state amended our constitution for the sole purpose of being dicks to people on this issue in 2004. Oregon, with our awesome mix of liberalism, progressivism and libertarianism, still somehow manages to be a state where it is illegal for some people to get married just because a lot of us object to their bedroom habits.

We have, now, within our state boundaries, enough bigots to change our fundamental governing framework in the name of hatred. This will be an important thing to remember the next time we have a major issue before the voters.

Unless we fix this soon, we will go down in the history books as one of the bigot states that had to be sorted out by nine people in funny robes 3,000 miles away.

I know two shills for the infotainment industry are not the agents of change, and their opinions quite literally mean nothing on matters of law, but they are at least the harbingers of change. A litmus test of just how much fight the other side has in them.

http://politicalticker.blogs.cnn.com/2013/03/28/rush-limbaugh-concedes-conservatives-lost-marriage-debate/?hpt=hp_bn3

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Tuesday, March 19th, 2013
9:47 am - Bullshit detector calibration time:
Today is the ten-year anniversary of the invasion of Iraq. This is just a reminder that there was significant controversy at the time, and ultimately we found conclusively that the reasons we were given to invade were false.

This should serve as an opportunity to calibrate our bullshit detectors. Our ability to sniff out bullshit is a critically important part of our democratic process, and frankly we are bad at it in this nation.

Ten years ago, were you fooled? How about the political party you supported at the time, were they fooled? How about the politicians you support now, were they fooled? If you and yours were suckers, take this chance to dump those politicians, ratchet up your skepticism levels and become a better citizen. And hopefully you will be on the side of truth next time. Hopefully, the side of truth will become large enough to win these controversies next time.

Here's a wiki article that should provide some perspective, at least as far as our national parties and generally bullshit-sniffing abilities go:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2003_invasion_of_Iraq#Legality_of_invasion

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Monday, December 17th, 2012
12:04 am - Is now the time for alcohol reform?
All across the country, people are getting drunk and beating their wives. They are getting drunk and killing people on our highways. They are killing themselves one sip at a time. Jobs are lost, families are shattered and lives are ruined. This happens disproportionally to the poor, minorities and people in the inner cities, but all of us are at risk every day.

Some places, such as reservations and parks, have banned alcohol in an effort to mitigate the problems, but people drive to areas of the country where alcohol is legal and buy it. Some states have placed arbitrary limits on the alcohol content of beer cans, but people either just drink more of it, or drive to less restrictive states. In most places, it is illegal to carry alcohol openly. There is so much alcohol in this country that we have more bottles of booze than humans.

In all fairness, some people do need alcohol for medicinal reasons, such as treating antifreeze poisoning. Most people who medicate with alcohol though are making up excuses to drink it. It makes them feel like grown-ups.

Rarely, people do feed their families by brewing and distilling, both with permits and illegally. By a vast margin, these craft brewers are hobbyists who don't need to brew their own and could simply go to a bar or liquor store, which is safer and easier to regulate.

During the last prohibition era, drinkers made their own alcohol with great ease, and many homebrewers know that if alcohol is banned, brewing clandestinely will be common and unregulated. Those that didn't make alcohol were able to simply buy it on the black market.

Some folks fondly look at their great-grandfather's drinking stein, which is functionally identical to modern drinking steins, and wonder why people want to take it away. Other people look up from the neck of the bottle they are sharing with close friends and hope that this is a tradition they will be able to continue.

Many people have beer in their fridge, yet never drive drunk or become violent with beer. These people are still effected by anti-beer laws designed to curb such behaviors and are demonized by anti-alcohol activists. They may support anti-DUI laws, age limits and even licenses for bars and liquor stores, but likely would be ever wary of the slippery slope to another prohibition era.

Often, there are gatherings where companies can sell their beer to people (they still have to card them), and some times people who have their own beer sell or give it to each other (they are still not allowed to transfer the beer to minors, but there is no law that makes them have to card each other). This is often mistakenly cited as a free-for-all unregulated environment.

Some people say alcohol has no legitimate use other than to get drunk, though millions of people who enjoy a single beer or glass of wine with dinner disagree.

For safe drinkers, purchasing alcohol still contributes to our overall alcohol culture and helps fund the corporations that profit from alcohol abuse.

None of these aspects make the reality of alcohol-related travesties any less real. The alcohol in this country absolutely is part of the equation that hurts millions of people and kills thousands every year.

What solutions are there?

Passing a law saying people can only have a six-pack in their fridge, but can have as much beer in their basement as they want wouldn't help. It would just be annoying, and very, very silly.

Acknowledging that people have legitimate uses for alcohol, but insisting nobody needs high-octane stuff like brandy or scotch, doesn't seem to make much sense. It may take marginally longer to get drunk without full-strength liquor, but not significantly. Many fraternity parties in 3.2% states have proven that.

Making responsible wine drinkers wait a few days before picking up their purchases won't make people less likely to drive after drinking it. If they already have a well-stocked wine fridge at home but simply want to pick up a style they don't already have, making them wait is just an idiotic idea.

And if you, personally, happen to enjoy alcohol yet never, ever drive or fight or otherwise bring harm to others, then you really won't understand why society tries to solve the DUI epidemic or the booze-fueled domestic violence problems by restricting your booze. It will seem pointless. It will seem arbitrary. It will seem ineffective.

But most of all, it will seem punitive.

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Wednesday, December 12th, 2012
12:01 am - The One that Got Away - the Gospel of Jesus bar-Abbas of Jerusalem
Well shit, I just lost two chapters by hitting the wrong button. Ah well.

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Tuesday, November 6th, 2012
10:14 am - Finally

Ok, it's over. Now here is what America should spend the next four years doing:

DEMOCRATS: make friends with Fox News. It's the only way to avoid another massively partisan, scorched-earth shitfest. They aren't going away and they are too big to ignore. Suck it up and make friends. Also, start grooming a few people for the 2016 ticket. Biden's been doing a great job being Obama's comic relief, but the election is over and he needs to put his big boy pants on now. He was an articulate man for decades but he's a little rusty. Convince Hillary Clinton to retire; she is very polarizing and she is unelectable for the same reason the Tea Party is. Never forget that her primary campaign was the source of all that "secret muslim" crap we have had to put up with for the last four years. Also, notice how fun it's been watching the NRA try to claim Obama was banning guns when he wasn't? Notice how you won elections when you promised not to? Keep that up, it's working.

REPUBLICANS- No matter who wins today, I guarantee Paul Ryan didn't bring in enough votes to have been worth it. Likewise, nobody swung to support Sarah Palin, Dick Cheney or Dan Quayle. And everyone slept through whoever Dole's #2 was. You keep putting forth VP picks that are aimed at repairing rifts in the party, rather than rifts in the electorate. We actually do pay attention to your VP picks, and the nation as a whole hasn't warmed up to one of yours since the 1980s. Try this: mention your prospective choices to some comedians. If they look too happy about it, you should pick someone else. Also, don't just pack the primaries with clowns again. Seriously, that was a bad move. Lastly, we know you are very religious, and we are mostly fine with that, but the hyperchristian people in your ranks are only attractive to your own party. They won't win, and the religious right will vote for your party even if you don't have a hyperchristian candidate.

THIRD PARTIES- Get more money. A lot more. If you don't have $200,000,000 by the summer of 2015, give up on the presidency. You keep up this sad fight every year, holding debates with yourself because you can't get invited to the real ones, talking about policy you will never implement and acting like you have a chance of getting 270 electoral votes when you are on the ballot in half a dozen states. We won't elect a president who is that bad at math or risk assessment. Here is what you CAN do: pour all your resources into races you can win. A US Senate seat can be won for as little as $6 million. That's a very powerful office and it lasts longer than the presidency. A House race can cost half that. Gubernatorial elections are more costly, at $20 million or so, but they bring with them an excellent chance to become visible leading a government, commanding a National Guard and dealing with crisis. Get a few House and Senate seats, use them to raise funds and awareness for a gubernatorial seat, and when you are strong enough as a party, THEN try a presidential campaign.

EVERYONE ELSE- Realize that most of our hatred at each other is manufactured. The half of the country you don't like is always going to be there. You can't change them, they can't change you, and you probably would quite enjoy having lunch with each other. Politics used to be considered impolite conversation at the dining table because otherwise friendly people would stab each other with forks. You are more than just the sum of your political stances, so ring up one of those bitterly divided family members and invite them over for a goddamn sandwich.

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Wednesday, August 15th, 2012
1:19 am - On the nature of divisive topics:

Heliocentricity is not a divisive topic, because all that it takes to settle it is knowledge. Ditto the germ theory of disease, Newtonian mechanics and several other issues.Topics that divide us generally fall into two categories: a situation where a lack of knowledge exists, or one where knowledge is simply not enough to convince the true believers.

Most internet arguments, and indeed, almost all lingering arguments anywhere, are this last category. Evidence has been gathered, vetted, distributed and absorbed yet people still hold fast to their positions through emotional attachment. Opponents mostly try to fix this through providing more evidence, which is futile.

The easy advice is to stop posting self-righteous lists of factoids that supports your side of a controversy. It's nothing but masturbatory use of a computer, and there are much, much, more satisfying ways to masturbate using a computer.

Once knowledge is out there, and the argument doesn't go away, the only purpose to such discourse is to anger everyone and create an environment where we equate political opposition to intellect.

The other side does not disagree with you because they are stupid, they disagree with you because they disagree with you.

And the other side has their own masturbatory lists of information, which are equally useless in persuading you.

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