31 August 2009

They're not getting their 25¢ back.

You really must visit http://thereifixedit.com/

26 August 2009

The end of an era.

AP Photo 1958
(Ted's still a law student, John's a senator and Bobby's Senate counsel.)
He was rich and good-looking, and he could have been a Paris Hilton.
It's true he got into the Senate on the strength of the Kennedy brand, but he used that opportunity to become a legendary champion of civil rights — that is, the rights due all citizens in equal measure.
He was politically far bolder than his brothers. Even they admitted he was more politically gifted.
He'll be missed.

25 August 2009

HandiMeth™.

I haven't been timid about professing my support for decriminalizing marijuana. I think cannabis should be regulated similarly to alcohol and tobacco. That doesn't mean I favor decriminalizing all drugs.
To wit, meth is some nasty, nasty shit. It's a bigger and longer high than crack. It's neurotoxic and highly addictive, but abusers are quickly desensitized to its effects, requiring larger doses. Meth makes abusers ultrahorny and irresponsible. Meth eventually makes some addicts monstrous — berserk and psychotic. The physical & mental deterioration of meth users begins quickly and much of it is largely irreversible.
The New York Times reports:
...drug users are making their own meth in small batches using a faster, cheaper and much simpler method with ingredients that can be carried in a knapsack and mixed on the run. The "shake-and-bake" approach has become popular because it requires a relatively small number of pills of the decongestant pseudoephedrine — an amount easily obtained under even the toughest anti-meth laws...
The new formula does away with the clutter of typical meth labs, and it can turn the back seat of a car or a bathroom stall into a makeshift drug factory. Some addicts have even made the drug while driving.
The pills are crushed, combined with some common household chemicals and then shaken in the soda bottle. No flame is required.
I concede I was pretty impressed by the resourcefulness. Then I learned it's a mod on an old German military field recipe. Apparently the Wehrmacht thought it was a great idea to dispense methamphetamine tablets to soldiers, and it's been alleged that Hitler took injections of crank every day. Knowing Hitler was a tweaker does kinda explain a lot, doesn't it? When the soldiers didn't get their regularly scheduled "Pervitin" pills, they didn't just quit — they found another way to get their fix, because that's what addicts do.
In a textbook example of The Law of Unintended Consequences, it was the "possession of precursors" laws that revived the older process. When sales restrictions were placed on over-the-counter pseudoephedrine decongestants, like most US manufacturing, about half of all US meth factories relocated to sunny Mexico, where there are few or no government restrictions on the means of production, and assloads of Sudafed are available to anyone with the purchase price, no questions asked. The precursor laws made it possible for arrests based on possession of meth ingredients, so cops didn't have to wait until there was actual meth produced. Result: more busts, higher prices and lower convenience.
The rediscovered DIY shake 'n' bake process requires less pseudoephedrine, and all the other ingredients are readily available at stores like Walmart.
It's safer than the traditional "red, white, and blue" process because it decreases the possibility of injury to the household and bystanders from explosions during production. The end product itself is no safer, being no less toxic, explosive or corrosive; but at least the possibility of harm is limited to the immediate area of the user, as opposed to the whole house, the ersatz daycare center, or half the motel.
I'm not sure how they'll be able to use precursor laws for this new process. What are they going to do? Bust you for possession of Sudafed, a cold pack, and an empty 2-liter bottle?
Actually, yeah. They probably will.

Ugly economics.

WaPo reports that yesterday President Obama went golfing in ultra-posh Martha's Vineyard with Robert Wolf. Mr. Wolf is the president of UBS Americas. UBS is the Swiss bank at the center of three federal investigations of illegal tax evasion schemes.
From Martha's Vineyard, the Times also reports Obama intends to stand behind George W. Bush's man (and Wall Street favorite), Republican Ben Bernancke, and nominate him for a second four-year term as chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank, the semi-private entity which guides US monetary policy.
Mr. Bernancke is apparently a leading scholar on the Great Depression. That must be convenient. Interesting that he didn't see this one coming.
Granted, stocks are bouncing back nicely, but unemployment is at 9.7%. Wall Street and industry have been well served by the citizens, but they still aren't hiring them.
New York Times reports Citigroup, a bank that got a $45,000,000,000 TARP bailout, intends to pay $130,000,000 to just 2 Citi employees. Citi contends that these two traders are exempt from the TARP compensation rules. Reuters reports that Citi will lose another $44,000,000,000 over the next 18 months. Expect them to plead poverty and demand handouts once again.
Is this an example of the “sweeping overhaul of the financial regulatory system, a transformation on a scale not seen since the reforms that followed the Great Depression”? Because...I'm not feeling it.
Obama's tone-deafness here is astonishing. Making economic pronouncements on a golfing vacation with your banker buddies from a jet-setter's playground. Really? What's even more amazing is Obama's disappointing "incrementalism" philosophy and his "stay the course" mentality.
Obama is proving to be a profoundly conservative and unimaginative leader.

23 August 2009

Can I spit this out?

I love ethnic food, and I love Kansas City's annual Ethnic Enrichment Festival. Terrible name, though. We call it the ethnic cleansing festival. Yeah, I know.
Usually everything is pretty good, albeit much of the spicy or foreign flavors are clearly toned-down for its audience. That's understandable. As a matter of principle, I pretty much refuse to buy anything that's easily available elsewhere. That means no Chinese food, bratwursts, tacos, that sort of thing.
This year the Philippines booth was serving halo-halo. I've read of it, Dale whipped up a praiseworthy batch on an episode of Top Chef, and I've had a similar Asian dessert of crushed ice, fruit and condensed milk at Sung Son that I really enjoyed. What could possibly go wrong?
Oh god it was unspeakably nasty. From beneath, it looked like somebody chundered a bean burrito.
Granted, that's not a fair way to characterize any food.
That thing at the top was supposed to be flan, but tasted more like a hunk of scrambled egg. Those other things that look like beans are beans — just canned beans, not the sweetened preserved type I expected. Missing from the photo was the cheery chunk of green gelatin (it sank.)
All my friends are good sports and obligingly tasted it; thus, the $3 wasn't entirely wasted — their expressions of horror were priceless.

22 August 2009

"What we've been doing has not worked."

Mexico effectively decriminalized possession of small amounts of drugs. This is gonna make our own fedarales' heads asplode.
Until now, Mexico, like the US government, believed prohibition is the solution. Absolute prohibition = absolute solution. It's impossible to prove this theory wrong because it's impossible to attain absolute prohibition in an otherwise free society.
People have always like getting wasted, many will take some astonishing risks to get wasted, and there's little you can do to stop some who are truly determined to get wasted from doing so. Prohibitionists take that fact as proof that they need to be more militarized and increasingly suspicious and intrusive toward the public, while being less constrained by laws designed to protect the innocent. Only then can they attain the success that the people demand.
Except...the people aren't demanding this.
Thirteen states and I have no idea how many municipalities have decriminalized simple possession (nonviolent offense, drug quantity so miniscule there's no evidence of dealing) for first-offenders. Federal law enforcement disregards the will of the people when it comes to state and local laws permitting marijuana use, medical or otherwise.
Besides wasting a lot of money busting, prosecuting, and incarcerating people for simple possession, the more disturbing trend is the palpable levels of contempt between police officers and the public that is apparent wherever I go in this country.
Mexico realized they not only a problem with drugs, but perhaps more worrisome — a more serious problem with law enforcement. I needn't acquaint you with the practice of Mexican cops arresting people just to shake them down. You probably already know that drug cartels are actually run out of some Mexican prisons. Admittedly, I was surprised to learn that Mexican law enforcement actually break cartel members out of prison. Mira:
"Suspected members of a drug cartel disguised as police." Suuuure. Whatever you say, esse.
Anyway, Mexico's reforms are based on Portugal's template.
...in 2001 [Portugal] became the first European country to officially abolish all criminal penalties for personal possession of drugs, including marijuana, cocaine, heroin and methamphetamine. At the recommendation of a national commission...jail time was replaced with the offer of therapy. The argument was that the fear of prison drives addicts underground and that incarceration is more expensive than treatment — so why not give drug addicts health services instead? Under Portugal's new regime, people found guilty of possessing small amounts of drugs are sent to a panel consisting of a psychologist, social worker and legal adviser for appropriate treatment (which may be refused without criminal punishment), instead of jail.
The question is, does the new policy work? At the time, critics in the poor, socially conservative and largely Catholic nation said decriminalizing drug possession would open the country to "drug tourists" and exacerbate Portugal's drug problem; the country had some of the highest levels of hard-drug use in Europe. But the recently released results of a report commissioned by the Cato Institute, a libertarian think tank, suggest otherwise.
The paper, published by [libertarian think tank] Cato in April, found that in the five years after personal possession was decriminalized, illegal drug use among teens in Portugal declined and rates of new HIV infections caused by sharing of dirty needles dropped, while the number of people seeking treatment for drug addiction more than doubled.
"Judging by every metric, decriminalization in Portugal has been a resounding success," says Glenn Greenwald, an attorney, author and fluent Portuguese speaker, who conducted the research. "It has enabled the Portuguese government to manage and control the drug problem far better than virtually every other Western country does."
- Maia Szalavitz, Time Magazine, 26 April 2009
Well, it's pretty hard to argue with success, but I'm sure the prohibitionists will. They are already telegraphing their next step — testing for "drugged drivers." From the Office of Drug Control Policy's blog:
According to NHTSA's National Roadside Survey, the number of drivers with BACs at or above the current legal limit has declined 70% since 1973. The same survey, found that more than 16% of weekend, nighttime drivers tested positive for illegal, prescription, or over-the-counter medication.
Um, "over-the-counter" means "not contraband," but let's just ignore that. There's also this:
At a press conference hosted by the Nevada Highway Safety Patrol on drugged driving in Las Vegas, Director Kerlikowske spoke about the scope of drugged driving in the United States and the need to prevent this dangerous behavior. According to a recent national survey, 11 percent of weekend nighttime drivers tested positive for illicit drugs — five times as many as were under the influence of alcohol.
Wow! That's a lot of positive tests isn't it? Sounds like an epidemic!
These guys got a false positive when they tested air. AIR, ferchrissakes. Hershey bars, Tylenol, and manner of other perfectly legal and benign substances resulted in false positives for narcotics 70% of the time.
Shit the bed! Randomly guessing would be accurate about 50% of the time.
You may be thinking, "Meh. Even if I got pulled over and they got a false positive for drugs on a field test, nothing's going to happen to me because I'm innocent."
Tell that to Donald May. He got pulled over for expired tags, in Kissimmee, Florida. The cop removed a white substance from Mr. May's mouth and field tested it for crack. The field test was positive for cocaine, Mr. May was arrested and taken to jail, and his car was impounded. He was unable to post bond, so he sat in jail for three months while Florida farted around with the laboratory test. That test eventually returned negative. The substance was indeed breath mints, just as Mr. May had maintained all along.
While Mr. May was in jail for possession of candy, he lost his job, his apartment, and the police sold his car.
So at this point, Mexico has a more sane, reasonable, and progressive drug policy than the United States...which is where my head asplode. Oh, and the title of this posting is a quote from Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, admitting in Mexico City during a visit in March that decades of US drug policy have been ineffective.
Admitting you have a problem is the first step, right?

21 August 2009

Pet salvation.

Joe.My.God calls Eternal Earth-Bound Pets, USA the "best scam ever."
I beg to disagree.
For only $110 the prospectively raptured Christian buys 10 years of reasonable assurance his or her beloved pets will remain cared for should the rapture occur within the next decade — a distinct possibility given our arugula-eating, NPR-listening, gay marriaging, abortionist Antichrist president who was born in Africa is only one year into his first term.
The company gets a non-refundable upfront $110 premium with zero possibility ever having to meet their obligation.
That's not a scam. It's genius. It's a workable contractual agreement where everybody gets exactly what they want. It's capitalism.

20 August 2009

Welcome home, dumbshit.

John Yettaw returned home to Falcon, Missouri yesterday. He's the chuzzlewit whose stalking of Burmese Nobel Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi caused her to be sentenced to an additional 18 months of house arrest, effectively sidelining her from the upcoming elections.
Nice going, moron.
Mr. Yettaw's motives were not entirely clear. But he told Mrs. Aung San Suu Kyi that he was a Mormon and prayed extensively while he was in her house, one of her lawyers said.
Sorry. I meant, nice going, mormon.
Pornchai Kittiwongsakul/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
I had some other stuff written about what a toenail-chewing tard this self-important nutbag must be, but deleted it all when I realized this picture really is worth a thousand words.
Here's seven more words that will surprise you not at all: four marriages, six kids, lives off disability.
When he got caught, it was actually the second time in two years he'd swam the lake to get to her. And he says he'd happily do it again.
Will someone please put this jughead under house arrest?

19 August 2009

I thought Scotsmen had spines.

I think there are indeed circumstances where it is appropriate to release dying inmates from prison.
When the inmate is an intelligence officer of a hostile terror-sponsoring state who murdered 270 civilians in a commercial aircraft bombing — that really isn't one of those appropriate circumstances.
The good news is that Abdel Basset Ali al-Megrahi, the mass-murdering piece of shit who bombed Pan Am 103 over Scotland, has advanced prostate cancer and only a short time to live. The bad news is that Scottish authorities are probably going to put him on a plane home to Libya today so that he can get a national hero's welcome and die a free man, peacefully at home.
His 11 Scottish victims died at home, but in a fiery inferno of jet fuel or in the bottom of a crater beneath piles of twisted metal. Nor did he afford his 259 airborne victims the pleasure of dying peacefully at home. Most spent the final two minutes of their lives in unimaginable terror and physical agony as they plummeted Earthward to certain death. Yes, some died in the explosion, depressurization, and breakup; but most were conscious and killed on impact. Horrible.
The bombing also destroyed Pan Am as a company, ruining thousands more lives.
On behalf of the 189 Americans who died at al-Megrahi's hands, Secretary Clinton is on the record saying it would be "absolutely wrong" for the Scottish Justice Minister Kenny MacAskill to release al-Megrahi. It's almost a certainty that the craven MacAskill's going to release him anyway. Contemptible.
Al-Megrahi was sentenced to a life term, and has been in prison since 1999. He has never admitted responsibility. The gaggle of despots and morons also known as the Arab League refers to al-Megrahi as a "political hostage." In 2002, Libya, his state-sponsor, offered millions in compensation to the Flight 103 victim's survivors, contingent on the US government's lifting trade sanctions lodged against Libya. The next year, Libya "accepted involvement for the actions of its officials."
If it was up to me, I'd have al-Megrahi flown home to Libya...and dropped off over Tripoli at about 31,000 feet.
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
UPDATE: In releasing the unrepentant mass-murderer, MacAskill — in full sanctimonious prick mode — informed the (overwhelmingly American) bereaved their feelings were irrelevant, then stated that Scottish trial verdicts are properly subordinate to his personal religious beliefs.
Some hurts can never heal, some scars can never fade. Those who have been bereaved cannot be expected to forget, let alone forgive...However, Mr. al-Megrahi now faces a sentence imposed by a higher power.
With all due respect, fuck you, and fuck your "higher power" you self-righteous asshole. The loved ones had a right to feel that there was at least a little bit of justice.
I'm sure another thing they'll also never forget and never forgive the fact that you permitted this monster to serve about 15 days per murder.

18 August 2009

Total eclipse of the flowchart.

And you can check her work:
Jesus, that video is even dumber and more pretentious than I remember.
Please to enjoy the literal version:

14 August 2009

Good news for Virgin Airlines.

WaPo reports "U.S. airlines on Saturday will begin asking travelers to provide their birth date and sex for the first time under a new aviation security requirement, federal officials said Wednesday." (Emphasis added for hilarity.)
I had the feeling that if TSA screeners were allowed to demand that we remove various articles of clothing, their demand for droit de seigneur wouldn't be far behind.
Alas, it's too late for me. Federal regulations required that I have sex for the first time as a condition of boarding the monorail at DisneyWorld. At least that's what the conductor said.
I guess from here on out I'll be taking the bus, until security regulations require that I blow the driver.
Yeah, that really is a picture of a TSA screener two-handing some old lady's boob. Hawt.
In the defense of the fine folks at Homeland Security, I suppose it's equally fair to point out that no white female septuagenarians have hijacked an airplane since we've federalized airport screening.
Admittedly, I initially questioned the authenticity of that photo is because the screener isn't obese, which I just presumed was a requirement for the job. Apparently, it isn't, although she is on probation until she gets that weight up.

Instructions unnecessary.

My guess is that the designer was fired before the execution of this masterpiece.

08 August 2009

Ima sperymentin agin.

Tonight I made basil ice cream. It was a pain in the ass.
It tastes exactly...exactly like marijuana.
Cool, creamy marijuana.
It makes me want to shoot the sheriff.

07 August 2009

Well I'll be damned.

So TV pitchman Billy Mays was found to have cocaine in his system at the time of his death?
I'm shocked. Shocked, I tell you.
Hell, I wouldn't have been surprised to hear he had solid booster rocket fuel in his system.

A crusty salute to John Hughes.

If Sixteen Candles is on TV I will always stop and watch. That movies kill me — especially Long Duk Dong [GONNNG!]. "Automobeeeeeeele?"
Yeah, it was an obnoxious stereotype — that's the genius part. Hughes could take a predictable stereotype and make it unpredictably funny. Gedde Watanabe gets a lot of credit for that one too. Brilliant. As much as I like that one, I really don't like Hughes' other famous teen movies. I think they try to mean too much.
Hughes is much better with movies that are just a few days of swirling insanity. For that reason, I'll always stop for Planes, Trains and Automobiles too. It's actually funnier when I'm watching it with my father, who laughs so hard he freaking cries. He used to be an airline pilot so I reckon it's gotta feel like Ozzy Osborne watching This is Spinal Tap. Hughes also wrote the National Lampoon Vacation movies — and those rival Betsy Ross's flag in terms of American iconography.
But before Hughes did all this, he wrote a piece for National Lampoon magazine, one I read when I was very young bastard, and even then I recognized it as a work of breathtaking genius. J.D. Salinger was lavished with praise for being an adult that could back get inside the head of a teenager. Hughes got inside the head of a teenage girl and it was as pitch perfect in its own way as The Catcher in the Rye. It's a short story called My Penis, and it's about a 16-year-old girl who wakes up one morning with...
Well, I don't want to ruin the surprise. It's totally not safe for work, but do check it out. And don't miss the companion piece, My Vagina.