Monday, February 28, 2011

Use a Camera, Go to Prison

A bill has been introduced in Florida to make taking any unauthorized photograph of a farm a first degree felony. Felonies in the first degree are the most serious class of crime. Armed robbery, burglary with assault, and kidnapping are examples of a first degree felony. In Florida, a first degree felony is punished by up to 30 years in prison.

Soon, doing this
would earn you hard time.

Certain to suffer would be places like Lady Hawk Farm which makes its living from vacationing tourists. One ornery neighbor could send their entire clientèle to the slammer for a quarter century. Hat tip to DailyKos.

This Is the Mayor's House

In most every city in the United States the mayor is expected find his own place to live. It's our little nod to egalitarianism. There are a few exceptions.

New York City
Gracie Mansion is a 200 year-old rattrap on the East River. Okay, it probably doesn't have many rats but laws regulating the use of public property in New York means that neither Rudy Giuliani nor Michael Bloomberg could house their mistresses there.

Los Angeles
The Getty House was given to the City of Los Angeles in 1975 so George Getty could take a tax deduction on one of his lesser homes. It's conveniently located just a couple miles from City Hall, meaning LA mayors hate it. The Hancock Park District wasn't ritzy enough for Dick Riordan while current mayor want to build a wall to keep his neighbors at bay.

Manoogian Mansion is located along the Detroit River in the finest neighborhood in Detroit. The worse thing I can say about the place is that Kwame Kilpatrick used to live there.

As nice as Detroit's mayoral mansion is, Denver's is over the top opulent. It has a multi-level swimming pool, a heated driveway, fire pole access to the master bedroom, and a pink grand piano. It was built by a cable TV magnate with no imagination (he called the place "Cableland") and donated to the city in 1998. No Denver mayor has been egocentric enough to sleep even one night there and the current mayor is desperately trying to sell the monstrosity.

At the other end of the spectrum, when Cory Booker was first sworn in a mayor of Newark in 2006 he continued living in a troubled public housing complex, not because he had to but because he choose to stay close to the people most needing attention.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Wisconsin and Peaceable Assembly

the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances. ~ First Amendment to the US Constitution
After hours of threats of arrest the Capitol Police in Madison have retreated and declared they will not remove the citizens who have peaceably assembled in the capitol building. This is a victory for the rights of a free people in a democracy.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Wisconsin Assembly Stolen

The Republican majority in the Wisconsin Assembly snuck in a seconds long vote on the most important issue before them at 1am this morning. They managed to pass their union killing legislation but gave Democrats around the country campaign fodder for the next decade, if they are wise enough to use it.

Republicans didn't accomplish anything that couldn't have been done with normal legislative decorum. At a time people in Libya are fighting and dying for freedom Republicans acted in a way that can only make Moammar Gadhafi jealous.

If they think acting like thieves in the night will encourage the Democratic state senators hiding out of state to return the Republicans are fools. The foul stench of this will spread across the state and offend all but the most radical Tea Party Republicans. 

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Adventures in La La Land

There is so much raging insanity among political leaders I am wondering if I am in some sort of Lewis Carroll nightmare.

Libya's leader has determined that the protesters that he is murdering by the thousands are just helpless teenagers who have had drugs slipped in the Nescafe by Osama bin Laden.

Miscarriage Defined as Murder
Georgia's top legislative priority (HB 1) declaring "prenatal murder" as unlawful would, among other insane things, require the investigation of any miscarriages to determine whether "there is no human involvement whatsoever in the causation of such event." Any human involvement (for example, smoking cigarettes) is, by definition, murder.

Ambassador to China at Play
Jon Huntsman is the United States ambassador to China and wants to be the next Republican president. Huntsman figured he'd get himself some anti-Commie creds by participating in "Jasmine Revolution" protests in Beijing. Of course, that is about as diplomatic as pissing on Hu Jintao's shoes but Huntsman was only thinking about improving his chances in the South Carolina primary.

Citizenship Test Fail
The official process to become a naturalized US citizen is a joke. Partly this is because of the bureaucratic inertia that still requires asking if an applicant had been a Nazi concentration camp guard. (Anyone under the age of 90 was too young.) Mostly it is because the citizenship test is a filled with false, misleading, and just plain inane questions. The Department of Homeland Security claims they spend six years consulting with scholars. But it is clear they then ignored the scholars and allowed some dolt who failed third grade civics to write the questions.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

America's Out of Whack Economy

This chart is all over the place and rightly so. Nothing so succinctly explains the current problems in the United States especially when compared with a half-century ago.

Distribution of Wealth in 1950
Top 20% of the population - 42.8% (currently 85%)
Middle 20% of the population - 17.4%
Bottom 20% of the population - 4.5%

We can also look back over the past 100 years. Source: Business Insider, plus 14 other charts.
See also Who Rules America.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Wolrdwide Helter Skelter

Helter Skelter ride, Brighton
The dizzying speed and intensity at which events, and governments, are passing around the world is breathtaking.

Tunisia and Egypt. Bahrain and Yemen. Libya and Wisconsin. It's impossible to make sense of this whirlwind of history just as it is impossible to tell which way the wind is blowing inside a tornado. But there seems to be a few common threads.

The global price of food has skyrocketed this past year. It is up by 25% overall but grains have risen over 40%. People around the world are literally being priced out of the ability to feed their children. 2011 may well be the year of worldwide food riots, perhaps even food wars.

Also, leaders from Mubarak to Gadhafi to Walker share a complete deafness to the voices of their own people. Each believes he is loved like a god and each believes he has godlike infallibility. Compromise, even listening to opposing viewpoints, is unthinkable to them. Each would rather die, or kill, than admit being wrong.

Intransigent inevitably leads to conflict.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Who Was America's Greatest Presidents?

Gallup did a poll asking who was America's greatest president. The results prove that America's educational system is deeply flawed. Clinton third? Reagan first? Washington fifth? I mean, really??

Defining "greatest" as most influential, here is a better ordering.
  1. George Washington - You know, Father of Our Country. Managed to united 13 feuding states into a single union. Put a lesser man in the office first, say John Adams, and the United States would have never survived.
  2. Franklin Roosevelt - Kept the country from unraveling during the Great Depression. Many of his programs continue to survive despite Republicans best efforts and those that have been lost (the Glass–Steagall Act) have been sorely missed. 
  3. Abe Lincoln - Held the nation together during its Civil War. Another man (like Buchanan) would have given up the fight or not fought at all and the United States would have been torn asunder. Then there was that abolishing slavery thing.
  4. Thomas Jefferson - Doubled the size of the nation. Was a vital counter-weight to the anti-democratic Federalists.
  5. Ronald Reagan - Bankrupt the Soviet Union (although bankrupted the US in the bargain). Mostly he's here because a third of the nation has deified him and that has to count for something.
Honorable Mention:  Eisenhower (mostly for what he didn't do during the Red Scare of the '50's), Teddy Roosevelt (busted up monopolies), Monroe (Era of Good Feeling, Monroe Doctrine), Lyndon Johnson (pro: Civil Rights Act; con: Vietnam War).

Who Doesn't Make the Cut: Clinton (Come on, what did he do?), Kennedy and Obama (Not enough time in office).

Hat tip to Rising Hegemon

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Workers of the US Unite

Forgive me if this sounds all Teaparty subversive, or Commie subversive, but the fight in Wisconsin is one all Americans who work for a salary should care about.

The Republican Party has been at war with the working class since 1980. The parasitic class - those who live off of bonuses, stock options, capital gains, and trust funds - is working hard
Actually, they just hire sycophants to do the work.
to bleed the vast majority of the American people dry.

The great enemy of the dilettante class is a united workforce. While the rich band together in corporations, workers who attempt the same thing are denounced as evil. While the rich join together to play roulette with the price of food, workers who want basic health insurance are called greedy.

Ben Franklin's warning in 1776 is no less valid today.
We must, indeed, all hang together, or most assuredly we shall all hang separately.
Either stand up or kneel, the choice is yours. The world is watching.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Children For Sale in PA

A Pennsylvania juvenile court judge brokered an agreement with the builders of a couple of for-profit youth detention facilities. He would send the children who came before him to their kiddie prison, in chains, on the lamest of excuses. In exchange he received $2.6 million in "finders fees."

Judge Mark Ciavarella is getting twelve years in prison. The hundreds of children railroaded by Judge Ciavarella in his "Kids for Cash" program get a lifetime of traumatic memories. Two of the men who profited from the detention facilities, Robert Powell and Robert Mericle, have copped pleas.

Another man, Gregory Zappala (Powell's partner), has not been accused of any wrongdoing. I am certain this has absolutely nothing to do with the fact that Zappala is the son of a former state Supreme Court justice and the brother of the Allegheny County DA. Of course, Zappala continues to profit from the illegal acts as his kiddie prisons continue to operate profitably.

Read Also: No one, well almost no one, is comparing the Zappala family to the Corelone family. That doesn't mean the family wouldn't make a fascinating study for anyone with the time, resources, and superhuman fearlessness to investigate the Zappala family.
--The detention scheme was lucrative.
--The children were the real victims.
--Powell tried to escape Judge Ciavarella's shakedowns by hiding out in Costa Rica.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Random Thoughts on Global Revolt

From South Africa to Libya, from the Persian Gulf to Wisconsin, the world is in turmoil as the people revolt against their ruling classes.

Commodities and the Price of Food
They were careless people, Tom and Daisy--they smashed up things and creatures and then retreated back into their money of their vast carelessness, or whatever it was that kept them together, and let other people clean up the mess they had made. ~ The Great Gatsby

The world is a complex place but insofar as commodities speculation has driven up the price of food the flint that has set these dry tinders alight was in the hands of Goldman Sachs, the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, and the super rich dilettantes who gambled with the prices of the world's food supply.

The Bahrain Massacre
There is no flag large enough to cover the shame of killing innocent people. ~ Howard Zinn

We may never know how much blood was shed in Bahrain because the king is a frightened child before his people and how much was shed at the behest of the Fifth Fleet's need for a secure anchorage.

The Wisconsin Contagion
The employer who declines to deal with organized labor and to recognize it as a proper element in the settlement of wage controversies is behind the times. ~ William Howard Taft, 1909

Balanced somewhere between gut feeling and wishful thinking is a belief that the mass protests in Wisconsin will start a wildfire across the United States and a resurgence of organized labor as a force for the rights of working people in the United States.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

IBM's Watson on Jeopardy

Lissen to my story;
'Tis a story true;
'Bout a might man, --John Henry was his name,
An' John Henry was a steel-driver too--
Lawd, -- Lawd, --
John Henry was a steel-driver too.
I've been watching the match between two Jeopardy champions and the IBM computer called "Watson." It hasn't been much fun. The first two days were mostly self-congratulating commercials from IBM.
One day Cap' Tommy told him
How he'd bet a man;
Bet John Henry'd beat a steam-drill down,
Jes' cause he was th' best in th' lan',--
Lawd, -- Lawd, --
'Cause he was th' best in th' lan.
But the little bit that was game was mostly horrible because the heartless machine was beating the shit out of the humans.
White Man tol' John Henry,--
"Niggah, dam yo' soul,
You might beat dis steam an' drill o' mine
When th' rocks in this mountain turn to gol',--
Lawd, -- Lawd, --
When th' rocks in this mountain turn to gol'."
The machine is not flawless. It is cowardly when it comes to wagering. While the machine is relentless where there are several clues that allows it to triangulate an answer and it has superhuman reactions, but if the question requires even the tiniest intuitive leap the machine is as helpless as a poorly tuned Yugo.
John Henry, O, John Henry!
Sing it if yo' can,--
High an' low an' ev'ry where yo' go,--
He died with his hammah in his han',--
Lawd, -- Lawd, --
He died with his hammah in his han'. ~
Construction Crew Version
A man ain't nothing but a man. His machines may be faster, stronger, and even able to process information quicker. His machines may be able to calculate permutations to a depth no human synapse can achieve. But these machines still cannot look at a falling leaf and infer gravity.  They can out tote and tally their creators but these machines still cannot reach any conclusion that was not first deduced by a human.
Artist: Palmer Hayden

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Badger State Pharaoh

Wisconsin's Governor's Mansion (pre-protests)
Wisconsin's governor is prepared to call out the National Guard against state employees. Governor Scott Walker is stripping state workers of the right to negotiate salaries and working conditions and that troops will be ready to address any protesters.

Coming after the events in Cairo it is interesting to see if the Wisconsin National Guard will show the same restraint and respect for the people's rights to free speech as the Egyptian Army. Or does Walker intend to break up any strikes or protests with an overwhelming show of force?

I don't think Gov. Walker is so stupid as to give state workers a Tahrir Square moment, although he does have a reputation for limited cerebral function. However, I would love to see a line of tanks on Lakewood Blvd trying to stop protesters from reaching the governor's palace mansion.

How the Hell Should I Know
Ed Garvey blog
Scott Walker Watch

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Ice Hockey: Half-Century of Greats

Since today is "Hockey Day in Canada" I thought I'd look at the greatest hockey players by decades.

This was when there were only six teams in the National Hockey League and the best teams were from Montreal and Detroit.
Jacques Plante (G) - Montreal - Was the first goaltender to regularly use a mask. 
Doug Harvey (D) - Montreal
Jean Beliveau (C) - Montreal
Ted Lindsay (LW) - Detroit
Gordie Howe (RW) - Detroit - Played 32 seasons, from 1942 to 1980, scoring 15 goals in 80 games at the age of 51.

In 1968 the NHL doubled in size, denuding the vibrant minor league systems of their best players.
Bobby Hull (LW) - Chicago - Led the league in goals seven times during the decade.
Andy Bathgate (RW) - 4 teams - Tough choice. Could have gone with Howe again but his best seasons were in the 1950's. Andy is the only player on this list I actually saw play in person when he was in the Western Hockey League at the age of 37.
Stan Mikita (C) - Chicago
Pierre Pilote (D) - Chicago
Glenn Hall (G) - Chicago & St. Louis

Bobby Orr (D) - Boston - The greatest defenseman to ever play the game. Bobby is the one flying through the air after scoring the tying goal that led to Boston's 1970 Stanley Cup victory.
Guy Lafleur (RW) - Montreal
John Bucyk (LW) - Boston
Bobby Clark (C) - Philadelphia - I could have gone with Phil Esposito but I just always liked Clark better. He was scrappier.
Ken Dryden (G) - Montreal

Wayne Gretzky (C) - Edmonton & Los Angeles - The Babe Ruth of hockey. The greatest there every was.
Mark Messier (LW) - Edmonton
Mike Bossy (RW) - New York Islanders
Paul Coffey (D) - Edmonton & Pittsburgh
Patrick Roy (G) - Montreal

Dominic Hasek (G) - Buffalo & Chicago
Jaromir Jagr (RW) - Pittsburgh
Luc Robitaille (LW) - 3 teams
Mario Lemieux (C) - Pittsburgh - Ended up saving hockey in Pittsburgh and owning the franchise.
Ray Bourque (D) - Boston

Sid Crosby (C) - Pittsburgh - An artist on ice. Scores with the finesse of a painter. In the white uniform above.
Alex Ovechkin (LW) - Washington - Crosby's equal but does it through brute force and boundless energy. Red uniform.
Jarome Iginla (RW) - Calgary
Nicklas Lidstrom (D) - Detroit
Martin Brodeur (G) - New Jersey - Holds the record for most win.

The worst NHL player ever may have been Bill Mikkelson. In three seasons his plus/minus was -147 in 147 games. Meaning his just stepping on the ice was worth a full goal for his opponent.

San Diego Gulls
As long as I doing this, here are a few records for the Western Hockey League team of my youth.
  • Most Goals & Most Assists - Len Ronson
  • Most Goaltender Wins - Jack McCartan
  • Best Player - Willie O'Ree (pictured)

Friday, February 11, 2011

Egypt: the Next Day

The only difference between yesterday and today is that yesterday Mubarak could have left with some small shred of dignity, with the illusion that he had voluntarily left office for the good of the country.

Today there is no such illusion. There was a coup d'etat today and Mubarak was given the option of leaving the Presidential Palace under his own power or being dragged out by his heels.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Mubarak Exceeds the Bounds of Stupid

Hosni Mubarak, severely dumber than the guy below, has greatly increased the possibility that Egypt will devolve into chaos by allowing the rumor he was leaving circulate all day only to pour cold piss on it in the evening.
Way smarter than Mubarak.
Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable. ~ John Kennedy, 1962
It would have been far better to say nothing at all than to do what he did today. By his concerted non-actions Mubarak is certain to enrage the people even more. The demonstrators will not be going home and today's scattered strikes may turn into a general strike tomorrow. Fridays have been the days when major actions occur.

The opportunities that the army would, or even could, quell the demonstrations with a show of force have mostly disappeared.  It is unlikely the generals have the stomach for slaughtering the population and it is very likely the rank-and-file would rebel if given those orders. If the army intervenes at all it will more likely be in a coup deposing the Mubarak/Suleiman kingdom. (The Egypt 1952 scenario.)

It is possible that the army will stand aside, regardless of the orders from its generals, and allow the demonstrators to march on government buildings and simply take over. (The Velvet Revolution scenario.) It is also possible that the army will split between pro-general and pro-public factions and Egypt will devolve into civil war. (The Russian Revolution scenario.) I suspect that Israeli military strategists are hoping for this outcome as a violent civil war will destroy Egypt's military.

Then there is the distinct possibility that the raw anger Mubarak has created by his ham-fisted approach to governance will cause the simmering rage among the Egyptian people to boil over into unforgiving violence. (The French Revolution scenario.) If this happens then Mubarak will die on Egyptian soil as he wishes, perhaps hanging by the neck from a makeshift scaffold or perhaps hacked into bits and thrown into the Nile.

Whatever the result, Mubarak threw gasoline on the embers of the Egyptian Revolution and has made his stated goal, the slow rewriting of the Egyptian constitution, quite impossible.

The Fall of a Pharaoh

Yesterday, the Egyptian government was threatening martial law. Today, Hosni Mubarak is stepping down. This is a wonderful example of the success of peaceful protest over brute force.

There is a lot for ahead for the Egyptian people, the privileged classes will not surrender their monopoly on power as easily as Mubarak did. Indeed, Mubarak is being sacrificed by the Egyptian aristocracy to quell the revolutionary ardor. If the people want a say in their lives and government they will have to continue their struggle.

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Justice for Sale

I was going to call this the dirty little secret of the Supreme Court but the fact is this is not a secret at all. Everybody in Washington knows that Justice Clarence Thomas sells his Supreme Court decisions.

If you want a favorable vote from Thomas the first thing you have to do is drop a few bills into the lap of his co-conspirator wife.

Now, I'm not criticizing Thomas, you can't expect him to be any better than his nature (crooked little pervert) but it does disturb me how cheaply he prostitutes himself. He sells out for just a couple thousand dollars when the going rate for a Supreme Court justice ought to be six figures.

Thomas, along with Antonin Scalia, does what he can to promote and encourage a culture of corruption throughout the American judiciary because he knows if the money is to continue to flow its putrefying stench must infuse all the courts of the land.

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Great Rivers of the World in Trouble

Even creationists agree that life on earth requires water and life on land requires fresh water. Of all the water on earth only 0.3% is fresh water in rivers and lakes. Around the world that resource is being stressed beyond the limits.

Amazon River
Manaus, Brazil
The mighty Amazon River, normally twelve times larger than the Mississippi River by volume, is suffering its second 100-year drought in the past five years. Major tributaries like the Rio Negro are mere trickles. The Brazilian rainforest is dying at an alarming rate.

The cause seems to be human rainforest destruction, an area the size of Texas has been stripped of trees, and climate change that seems to be evolving parts of the rainforest into a savanna habitat.

The Nile
The Blue Nile, flowing from the Ethiopian highlands, provides 85% of the Nile's flow. The White Nile, coming out of central Africa, adds 15% to the flow. The deserts of Sudan and Egypt contribute nothing to that wondrous river yet they receive and use nearly all of the Nile's water.

Ethiopia wants to develop her share of the river, a notion that terrifies Egypt. The fact is there is not enough water in the longest river on earth to serve all the humans who need it. There is the very real threat that the future will see wars fought over Nile River water.

Ganges River
The sacred Ganges begins in the glaciers of Nepal and Tibet, glaciers that are shrinking yearly. It is feared that by the end of the century the ice fields feeding the Ganges will have disappeared. This could reduce the flow of the river by two-thirds.

While this will leave one-third of India's population short of water the effect on Bangladesh will be substantially worse. Reducing the flow of the river will cause brackish water intrusion on the freshwater delta. Add in a rise in sea levels and this nation of 160 million is endanger of disappearing from the face of the earth.

Mekong River
Vientiane, Laos
The Mekong has the same source, Tibetan glaciers, as the Ganges and will have the same fate. China is building a series of eight dams on the upper reaches of the river. When completed they will deprive the downstream nations (Laos, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam) of a vital resource.

Colorado River
If you don't believe that a nation can consume all of the water from a great and mighty river system, this is all that the United States leaves of the Colorado River as it flows across the border into Mexico.

Monday, February 07, 2011

Ronald Reagan In Perspective

His accomplishments in war, the conquest of a tiny Caribbean island.
His accomplishments in peace.
His contribution to nutrition - calling ketchup a vegetable for school lunches.
His legacy.

Sunday, February 06, 2011

The AOL Buyout of HuffPost

It a shame.
Now that a dotcom relic has spent a third of a billion dollars to buy Huffington Post it will cease to be an occasionally useful source for interesting, marginally reliable information.

AOL needs this deal to turn a profit since the rest of the company is a money losing pile of shit (it lost $8 per share last year). This is something that HuffPost reported on just last month. (Aside: I bet that last link disappears shortly.) A sign of how little faith Arianna has in the deal's financial success is that she is taking the buyout in cash, not stock.

AOL's need for profit means they will go to LCD (Lowest Common Denominator) with their content. There will be lots more Lindsey Lohan gossip and a focus (according to Arianna herself) on cars, music, and games. There will also be a lot less of anything boring (intelligent) or controversial (liberal). Prediction: In six months Huffington Post will be a slightly edgier version of TZM. Id est, mostly worthless.

Saturday, February 05, 2011

Egypt Ruling Party Shake Up

The story that there has been an shake up of the Egyptian ruling party, all except Mubarak himself, reminds me of a story.
A Russian baron and his family are traveling the Taiga in winter when it is set upon by a pack of wolves. The baron whips the horses on but the wolves are closing in and will soon overtake them. The baron shoves his servant out of the sled, hoping the wolves will stop to eat him.

It works. For a while, but soon the wolves are again on the chase. Desperate, the baron looks at his lovely wife, kisses her passionately, and shoves her out of the sled.

The baron drives the sled on even faster but only a few wolves stop to maul his wife. The rest continue after the sled. There is now only the baron and his young son remaining. His son, his only son, the heir to his title and property is clinging to the baron as the wolves and now snapping at the traces of the sled. The baron puts his arm around his young son and throws the boy into the middle of the wolf pack.

There is no complex moral to this story. Mubarak is willing to sacrifice everyone close to him just to survive in power a few more days but it won't matter. In the end the wolves ate the baron too.

Texas Killer Hides Out

Would that this were so.

According to a posting at DailyKos, George Bush Jr. had to cancel a lucrative speaking gig in Switzerland this past week because he was afraid of accusations of criminal torture that were going to leveled against him in Geneva.

I doubt anything would come of it, governments still believe in the divine right of kings - that presidents get a free pass for any outrages against humanity they have committed.

Still, it is fun to think Bush is hiding out in Texas, afraid to travel abroad for fear the long arm of justice might grab him.

Friday, February 04, 2011

When Disagreeing With a Bureaucrat Is a Crime

From the Raleigh News Observer

David Cox and his neighbors want a traffic signal at a North Raleigh intersection. The city traffic engineer says it's not needed. So Cox and his neighbors put in the time and effort to do a detailed study of traffic at that intersection to support their case and sent it to the North Carolina Department of Transportation.

That is American citizenship at its finest. People taking the time and effort to diligently research an issue and then calmly and responsibly petitioning their government for redress. Except Cox was too diligent and the North Carolina DOT is charging Cox with practicing engineering without a license.

Cox never represented himself as an engineer. But DOT bureaucrat Kevin Lacy says Cox's report "appears to be engineering-level work" and Lacy demanded the engineers licensing board investigate Cox.

You see, Cox is a layman who took the time and effort to read engineering studies and (gasp!) make recommendations. These are things which DOT's Lacy claims is  technical work only a licensed engineer may do.

Lacy says he is not trying to "hush" Cox up. (*Note: Whenever a bureaucrat says he is not trying to hush someone up he is totally trying to do that.*)

Many years ago the City of San Diego paid an engineering firm a shitload of money to make sewage treatment recommendations. The firm simply repackaged an old report and claimed it was new. I was with the Sierra Club and wrote an unflattering synopsis and analysis of that report.

I had senior members of that engineering firm approach me asking where I got my engineering degree. I'm not an engineer but I do know how to translate bullshit jargon into standard English. In North Carolina, I would have probably found myself in the dock for understanding engineerese without a license.

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

The Five Egypt Factions

There was blood throughout all the land of Egypt. ~ Exodus 7:21
There are five factions in the Egyptian Revolution. On the side of Mubarak there are the wealthy elite of Heliopolis and Zamalek and there are the criminal thugs who work for the elite as police or goon squads. On the side of rebellion are the Muslim Brotherhood, hated and feared in Israel and therefore among American neo-cons, and the great majority of the Egyptian people.

The fifth faction is the army. The generals have all been made wealthy by corruption. The rank and file are not thugs but regular, everyday Egyptians. So far, the soldiers have refused to fire on the protesters but they have followed the orders of their generals and not protected the people from the pro-Mubarak hooligans.

Eventually, the soldiers will have to decide - do they obey their generals and attack the masses or do they side with the Egyptian people and attack their generals?