Saturday, April 19, 2014

Religious Profits

Easter is a time of religion (except when it is a time of bunnies laying colored eggs) when the great religious profits of our age rise in all their shiny glory. Note, I said "profit" not "prophet" because Easter is a time when the great churches shear their flock.

The Lakewood Church (pictured above) is, according to Forbes, the richest church in the United States. While nominally Christian the church really preaches from the gospel according to Gordon Gecko. The church bought a sports arena that once housed the NBA Houston Rockets and seats 16,800 suckers. Pastor Joel Osteen has used religion to become a multimillionaire living in a $10 million mansion.
God wants us to prosper financially, to have plenty of money, to fulfill the destiny He has laid out for us. ~ Joel Osteen
The second richest church in America is also located in Houston. While the church itself only seats 4,500 souls it has numerous other profit centers including a shopping mall and private school. Pastor Hector (Ed) Young harangues his parishioners into ponying up their income into his pocket.
There are many pastors who take million dollar salaries from their churches. One man who really enjoys the perks of a religious life is Kenneth Copeland (also Texas). In addition to a seven figure salary his church has bought him a $17 million private jet and a $6 million, 18,000 square foot mansion (above) with a private airport.

Not to be outdone by their Texas brethren, the Catholic Church in Orange County, California is spending $100 million to buy and refit the ostentatious Crystal Cathedral (above) from televangelist Robert Schuller's bankrupt ministry because the diocese's current cathedral is supposedly outdated at 50 years old. For perspective, Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris is 660 years old while the Metropolitan Cathedral in Mexico City is 200 years old. But, you know, you can't spend that kind of money of the hungry, homeless, sick or elderly because what sort of message would that send God.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Back to Reality

I've been away from my keyboard for a couple weeks enjoying the Alaska Folk Festival in Juneau. During that time I diligently avoided depressing shit like news. (Although, I did find out about a plan to dig up a fertile salmon fishery to mine pebbles. The Alaska government has some sick puppies in it.) Now that I'm back I can see the world has been able to maintain its absurd level of insanity.
  • Russia - Putin, attempting to copy Hitler is all things great and small, has sent agent provocateurs into eastern Ukraine to create incidents to justify a military invasion. The question remains where will he stop? Meanwhile, hedge fund managers are planning how to make money on a war between Russia and the US.
  • Stabbings - Maniac school stabbings appear to be a new trend. Few people are pointing out that this is a major improvement over school shootings.
  • Neo-Nazis - Some Republicans sympathize with the Jewish center shooter.
  • Militia - Most Republicans defend the Nevada rancher who wants to graze his cattle, for free, on land he doesn't own and is staging an armed rebellion to defend his right to steal fodder.
Makes a guy want to crawl under a glacier somewhere and listen to a fiddler.

Thursday, April 03, 2014

Radical Republicanism PR

Radical Republicans always have difficulty with the public relations. As always, allow me to help them.

Guns Galore in Killeen, TX (even the name of the town has "kill" in it) has provided the weapons for both Fort Hood shootings. They shouldn't be shy. This is the kind of publicity that will attract gun enthusiasts from throughout the country.
Suggested slogan: "Your go to store for all your mass murder needs."
Kentucky Senate candidate Matt Bevin has withdrawn as the keynote speaker at a cock fighting convention. Bevin is claiming to an ignorant hillbilly who didn't understand that cock fighting was the only reason they were getting together.
Bevin should embrace the controversy. He should proudly declare that cock fighting is a treasured Southern tradition, like lynching blacks, and that Northern liberals have no right to deny Kentuckians of the God given right to their blood sports.

Charles Koch whines that he is being picked on over his continuing efforts to turn the United States government into a wholly owned subsidiary of Koch Industries.
I really don't have much advise except, if you don't want people saying you and your brother are the biggest sons of bitches in the history of the United States then you should stop behaving like a couple of solid gold assholes.

Tuesday, April 01, 2014

Creationism: April's Biggest Fools

One thing you have to hand to creationists, they are extremely creative getting around scientific "fact" in pursuit of their myths.

Light Is Slowing Down

In Cosmos, Neil DeGrasse Tyson makes the obvious point that stars which are billions of light-years away from earth could not have been created 6,000 years ago. But Creationists have already addressed that issue. They theorize that the speed of light is slowing down. They prove their theory by comparing the speed of light estimated by astronomer Ole Roemer in the 1670's when he studied the orbit of the moon Io around Jupiter with the speed calculated by high-tech equipment today. According to their theory, light is fractionally slower now than it was 350 years ago. Creationists conveniently ignore any ancient speed calculation (Like Christiaan Huygens' estimate of 131,000 miles per second) that doesn't fit their theory and declared the phenomenon oddly stopped 50 years ago when measuring equipment got good. Creationists say that the speed of light was a quintillion miles per second in the year 4000 BC.

Noah Solves Everything
Every question involving geology or paleontology is solved with one thing. The Grand Canyon didn't need millions of years to erode, it was made by the Great Flood. Plate tectonics? No, the flood just moved everything. Fossils? All the dinosaurs drowned while Noah floated safely above them. (Actually, there is a school of creationism that claims Noah did save baby dinosaurs but they all died.) The Flood buried plants and created oil and coal deposits almost immediately.

Things Happened Fast Back Then
According to creationists the Ice Age was short and quick, just 250 years and happened while Stonehenge was being built. Neanderthals were created, lived, and died out in less than 100 years. The first twelve Egyptian dynasties get squeezed into that same 250 years and they were throwing together their massive pyramids with amazing speed using dinosaurs. While biblical patriarchs were living hundreds of years, Egyptian pharaohs had the lifespan of crickets. And any archeologist that says different is a Satanic liar.

Monday, March 31, 2014

Opening Day

For the 138 year, a new baseball season is beginning. A few fun tidbits are in order.

Longest Games
On May Day, 1920, the Brooklyn Robins (soon to be called the Brooklyn Dodgers) faced off against the Boston Braves in the second of a three game series. The game lasted 26 innings and was called a 1-1 tie when it was halted due to darkness. Both pitchers threw complete games. Oddly, the next game they played, after taking Sunday off, lasted 19 innings.

In terms of time, the longest game lasted just over eight hours in 1984 between the Chicago White Sox and Milwaukee Brewers. That game was halted after 17 innings and finished the next day. On April 18, 1981, the minor league Pawtucket Red Sox faced the Rochester Red Wings. That game started at 8:25 pm and the teams played continuously (32 innings) until 4:07 am on the 19th when the league president finally got in touch with the umpires and told them to stop the insanity. The players got a couple hours sleep before they played an afternoon game later that day. The game was completed in late June when they played one last, deciding inning.

Worst Base Running

In 1926, the Brooklyn Dodgers were again playing the Boston Braves. They had the bases loaded with the powerful Babe Herman at the plate. Herman lined an extra-base hit off the right field wall. On second base, pitcher Dazzy Vance held up until he was absolutely certain the ball had not been caught, On first base, lead-off hitter Chick Fewster raced towards second and was right behind Vance heading towards third. At the same time Herman sensed triple all the way, put his head down and ran like the wind.

Vance, ever cautious, got to third base and decided to stop there. Fewster also got to third shocked that it was already occupied. All the time Herman kept running and slid into third base at the feet of Vance and Fewster. With three confused Dodgers on the base, third baseman Eddie Taylor tagged everybody and waited for the umpire to sort out the details. Result: double play with pussyfoot Vance declared safe at third.

Miguel Cabrara recently signed a contract that will pay him an average of $31 million a year until the year 2023. Here is a brief history of baseball's highest paid players.
  • 1916 - Ty Cobb, 29, is the first player to be paid $20,000 in a season. He led the league in runs and stolen bases that year.
  • 1930 - Babe Ruth, 35, saw his salary peak at $80,000. That amount would not be reached again until 1949.
  • 1949 - Joe DiMaggio, 34, was the first person paid $100,000 in a season. He only played half the Yankee's games that year and retired after the 1951 season. No salary hit six figures again until Willie Mays in 1963.
  • 1976 - Hank Aaron, 42, was paid $240,000. It was his last year.
  • 1977 - Mike Schmidt, 27, more than doubled Aaron's salary at $560,000.
  • 1980 - Nolan Ryan, 33, was the first player paid a million dollars.
  • 1997 - Albert Belle, 30, was the first player paid $10 million.
  • 2009 - Alex Rodriguez, 33, signed the largest contract in baseball history at $33 million annually.
Man-Child Pitcher
Of all the oddballs to have played baseball, the oddest might be Rube Waddell. If a fire truck drove by, Rube would drop what he was doing, including pitching, to run after it. Opponents were known to place toys on the field to distract him. Managers would assign babysitters to Rube on the days he pitched so he wouldn't get lost on the way to the ballyard and they wouldn't pay him all at once but only a couple of dollars at a time. With money in his pocket, Rube would disappear for week long drunken benders.

But Rube Waddell was a hell of a pitcher. In 1904 he set a record of 349 strikeouts in a season that was not beaten until Sandy Koufax in 1965. The following year Rube had a league leading 1.48 earned run average leading the Philadelphia Athletics to the American League pennant. His drunkenness forced him from major league baseball in 1910. Two years later Rube was playing minor league ball when a devastating flood hit the town of Hickman, Kentucky. Rube heroically worked saving lives, nearly drowning in the process. Rube got pneumonia and then tuberculosis. At the age of 37, only four years after leaving the majors, Rube Waddell died of consumption.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Chris Christie Cover-Up Tutorial

Chris Christie is really fucking up his cover-up of the Bridgegate scandal. He obviously needs help.

1. Never Target a Scapegoat Who Can Fight Back
Any cover-up needs a good scapegoat, someone upon whom all blame can be leveled. The best scapegoats are dead people. In the Kennedy Assassination cover-up the scapegoat was a conveniently corpsed, Lee Harvey Oswald. Dead scapegoats are capable of superhuman feats because nobody can prove different. Alternatively, you can scapegoat some poor loser who is completely unable of defending himself.

Christie ladled all the blame on his Deputy Chief of Staff, Bridget Kelly. To color the accusation he described her as an insecure slut incapable of rational thought. She's a bad choice. Kelly is an experience political operative who knows how to defend herself. At the beginning of the scandal Kelly was a loyal Christieite willing to take the hit for her boss, secure in the knowledge that her loyalty will be repaid in time. By scapegoating her, Christie has turned a loyal friend into a formidable enemy. A better scapegoat would have been some low-level civil engineer with drug problems who has recently died.

2. Don't Be an Arrogant SOB
People love a good scandal but they are willing to forgive sincere contrition, or even fake contrition. Christie tried this tack, briefly. But contrition fits him like a tutu. He's back to his old in-your-face ways that only works as long as you can keep the trains running on time. Or the bridges don't back up.

3. Be an Ignorant Simpleton
This tactic has worked wonderfully for centuries. Ronald Reagan mastered this role during the Iran-Contra scandal. Even Reagan's most fervent supporters agreed that Reagan was the Forrest Gump of politics, a good-hearted simple-minded fool who didn't understand what was going on around him.

Christie has tried an odd variation of this tactic. His position is that he was so focused on the grand issues, like the origins of the universe, that he couldn't be bothered with the minutia of day-to-day governance. He claims ignorance because the petty problems of the people of New Jersey are beneath him. It's an interesting tactic that I can't see working.

4. If All Else Fails, Tell the Truth
Chris Christie would rather wear a tutu in public than resort to that.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

White Man's Wampum

Dan Snyder owns the Washington NFL franchise. He is a billionaire. He is also a racist SOB. He has been given many opportunities to change the name of his team from Redskins, the Native American version of "darky," to, literally, anything less insulting. He has continually refused even though he'd make millions by selling new versions all the team's worthless trinkets.
People actually buy this shit, now on sale for $17.99.
Back in October, Snyder tried to use history to justify the name, noting the 1932 Boston Redskins had a Native American coach (Actually, the coach, William Henry Dietz, was probably a white man masquerading as an Indian). What Snyder neglects to mention is that the team name was chosen by the team's new owner, George Prescott Marshall. Snyder forgot to mention that Marshall made his head coach wear a feathered headdress and dance on the field. Snyder also neglected to mention that Marshall was a renown racist who for three decades refused to hire any African-American players and his legacy, the George Prescott Marshall Foundation is specifically forbidden from spending any money supporting "the principle of racial integration."
We'll start signing Negroes when the Harlem Globetrotters start signing whites. ~ George Prescott Marshall
The legacy of the Washington Redskins is one of vile racial prejudice.

In the subsequent months Snyder searched far and wide for Native Americans willing to trade their pride for money. He found a few by promising a Redskins Foundation that has already taken a page out of the 19th century by trading 3000 coats to Plains tribes in exchange for supporting the demeaning nickname of the Washington franchise.

However, Native Americans are not now worshiping Dan Snyder as their Great White Father in Washington. Surprising.

In fairness to Snyder, the Cleveland Indians still have their horribly racist cartoon logo, Chief Wahoo, which is just as bad.