mytopleft

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Almost makes me want to be a Russian

Victor Davis Hanson has the right idea here, wondering what it would be like if President Obama talked about our foreign enemies the way he talks about Republicans:
Imagine if Obama declaimed of the Iranians in Tehran that “those aren’t the kinds of folks who represent our core American values,”  in the manner he once attacked John McCain for calling for border security in 2008. Could not a worldly Obama at least go after the intolerant Saudis for spreading Wahhabi-hatred worldwide and for sending subsidies to radical Sunni terrorists, in the detailed way he once deconstructed rural conservative voters of Pennsylvania? He might have taken apart these dogmatic religious absolutists in the following manner: “It’s not surprising, then, they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren’t like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations.” All such invective seems to sum up current Saudi society far better than it does the people of Pennsylvania. Could not the president finish by noting that their madrassas encourage divisions and discourage cooperation, just as he boldly lectured an Irish audience about the problems with Catholic parochial schools?
Unfortunately, the president is much tougher on his domestic opponents than he is on those who mean us harm on the international scene. And don't think that Iran, Russia, China and  North Korea, among others, don't know it.

Food porn coming. Touch me there.

Yeah, I got holiday food porn coming, in which you will learn the secrets of home-made baked beans. Not to mention ribs, wings, burgers, dogs and all kinds of other all-American good shit for your July 4th celebration. Naturally, you won't get these instructions until it's too late for your July 4th celebration, but it all works for Labor Day cookouts, too. So you got that going for you.

I'm sorry, senators making sense? Hot damn!

What are the odds for bipartisan support in the U.S. Senate for something that makes sense? Normally, I would say zero. In fact, normally I would say that the odds for either party in the Senate supporting something that makes sense would be zero, forget about a sensible bill that gets bipartisan support. Well, shut my mouth and slap my grandma, there is a bipartisan bill in the Senate that would finally get rid of the dumb-ass Renewable Fuel Standard, which mandates, among other things, that gasoline include 10 percent ethanol.
WASHINGTON, DC – Today, U.S. Senators John Barrasso (R-WY), Mark Pryor (D-AR) and Pat Toomey (R-PA) introduced “The Renewable Fuel Standard Repeal Act” (S. 1195). The bill would repeal the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) in its entirety.“The Renewable Fuel Standard is fundamentally broken and beyond repair,” said Senator Barrasso. “Instead of delivering meaningful environmental benefits, it’s driven up food and fuel costs for American families.  This flawed program will also inevitably lead to widespread lawsuits against American manufacturers. When Congress enacts bad policy, the right response is to scrap it and start over.”“The Renewable Fuel Standard isn’t working for consumers, refiners, or livestock groups,” said Senator Pryor.  “These mandates are unworkable and need to be overhauled. Repealing the RFS will allow us to develop a new policy for advanced biofuels without driving up Arkansans’ gas and food prices.”
It is astounding how wishful thinking can become policy and, then, how hard it is to remove said wishful thinking from policy. Ethanol is stupid as a fuel, at least if made from corn, which is the current favored source in the U.S.  Without government-mandated use of ethanol as a fuel, no one would make it, because it makes no economic sense.  It takes as much energy to make a gallon of ethanol from corn as that gallon of ethanol delivers as a fuel, it takes a lot of water to support the process,  thus depriving actual agriculture of that water, it results in higher food prices, the ethanol produced delivers less energy per gallon than the gasoline it replaces and, great news for consumers, it fucks up your engine:
Corn-based ethanol is widely recognized as harmful to both the economy and the environment. Once hyped as a solution to high energy costs, global warming and reliance on foreign oil, ethanol is increasingly seen for what it really is: a political boondoggle. Even after receiving billions in subsidies, the ethanol industry still relies on government mandates to survive.Consider the economic implications. Ethanol is known to accelerate damage to car engines and fuel systems, especially among older vehicles. To meet its annual production targets, the EPA is pushing for a 15-percent ethanol blend, or E15 — an amount considered by AAA to be harmful to most car engines. Even at 10-percent levels, ethanol is causing corrosion, engine damage and other costly repairs.The costs of ethanol are not limited to engine problems. Ethanol contains one-third less energy by volume than gasoline. This means drivers must make more trips to the pump than they would with pure gasoline, resulting in poorer mileage and higher fuel costs.
Food prices are also significantly affected by turning corn into fuel. Today, 40 percent of the U.S. corn crop is used to produce ethanol, fueled by a combination of tax credits, import tariffs and production mandates. In turn, retail food prices have risen at home and abroad. World corn prices have more than doubled in the last decade.
On top of all that shit, it's actually bad for the environment:
Environmental groups have slammed on the brakes in their support for ethanol as well. The release of greenhouse gas emissions from forests and grasslands converted into cropland can offset any environmental benefits from using ethanol. A recent study by the National Academy of Sciences found that the use of ethanol “is likely to increase such air pollutants as particulate matter, ozone and sulfur oxides.” 
This is what passes for smart policy at the Environmental Protection Agency.

This about sums it up

Raised By Wolverines, who has co-blogger authorship rights here but apparently is a lazy sack of poo and rarely posts (hint hint, nudge nudge, wink wink) sent me an email recently about two projects, each with a different agency, that he had been contacted about. One of them sounded great -- a project that allowed work from home, fairly long-term and good hours. Naturally, everything turned out to be not as advertised:
[An agency we both have worked for] contacted me early this morning about a two day, heavy hours project Thursday and Friday.  Maybe even work on Saturday.  I was thinking: "Cool.  Quick way to earn another $600."  At noon got the waiting on further word from client email.   At 2 pm, got the client does not need us email, we are sorry.
And just thirty minutes ago got an update from [a project manager at another agency we both have worked for].  The 3 month stay at home project is now a 4 week maybe you will get to work from home project. 
And then [the first agency mentioned that we both have worked for] sent me email and conflicts for long-term project starting Monday which has been postponed twice.  I sent it back and asked does this mean it's a go.  Response was the following: "It is still lined up to kick off on Monday.  Please know that we share any information as soon as it is provided to us."  Not exactly a ringing endorsement that the project will begin then.
This kind  of encapsulates why temping really fucking sucks. The money's not bad when you're actually working (at least if there's overtime, which is more and more unusual these days), but you can't count on anything. I hear young temps say they like the "flexibility," but as the above email demonstrates, the flexibility is all to the advantage of the agencies and the law firms they pimp for. For temps, it just means you have to be flexible because every time you talk to an agency, you have to remember Rule No. 1: they're lying. This is not my idea of a good thing.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

An anniversary often overlooked

Including, almost, by me. On June 25 , 1950, North Korea invaded South Korea, marking the beginning of the Korean War. The United Nations got involved, and there were a lot of troops from other countries involved in defending South Korea, but most were US troops, which is why I refuse to link to the Wikipedia site, which continually refers to "UN forces" even though the troops are almost invariably American. Fuck internationalism, this was a US operation.

In  any event, it would appear that sombebody didn't forget. Somebody doing some hacking out there:
Websites in both North and South Korea were hacked Tuesday, the 63rd anniversary of the Korean War. A number of South Korean government and media websites reportedly were brought down, including that of President Park Geun Hye and the South Korean Office of Government Policy Coordination.
Anyway, my dad's first war started 63 years ago today. Somebody should notice.


Sunday, June 23, 2013

You would think liberals would learn from stuff like this

Note: This has been in the draft folder for a while, so "recently" is a relative thing in this post.

The website Chiefexecutive.net recently put out its annual list of most business-friendly states. No surprises, the five states considered least business friendly are bluest of the blue:

46 New Jersey
47 Massachusetts
48 Illinois
49 New York
50 California

And yeah, in this context, being 50th is bad. It also really comes as no surprise to me that none of the states in the top 25 are "blue" states. There are some purple states, but not a single one run by liberals. The top five most business-friendly states?

1 Texas
2 Florida
3 North Carolina
4 Tennessee
5 Indiana

Some of those states have voted blue in recent years, but none are governed by blue fucks anymore. Certainly no one would group them ideologically with the bottom five. Wonder what that means? Well, for one thing, it means you can put the top five on a list of "good places to get a job" and the bottom five on a list of "states most likely to go bankrupt in the next couple years." After you make up those two lists, come talk to me about the wonderful social programs in those blue states. Because, oh yeah, those bottom five states also will rank high on the list of "states where people with jobs and brains are leaving for other states." Just sayin'.



Gotta respect tradition

Friday was the summer solstice, which in ancient times was a big deal and now marks the official start of summer. In honor of the ancient traditions, every year for the summer solstice, this year included, a bunch of hippy-dippy Druid wannabees gather at Stonehenge in England and engage in the ancient tradition of . . .


. . . littering.

Wouldja look at that

We just passed 60,000 views all-time for Eff You. Thank you all for coming by, and I hope you keep coming and tell your friends. I'll keep trying to make it worth your while.

Actually, there is such a thing as a stupid question

Whoever said there's no such thing as a stupid question never worked with temps. We get proof of this regularly, when the associates from the law firm handling this case come by about once a week so that the dingbat at the front of the room can ask a couple really stupid questions. Confidentiality prevents me from revealing the actual content of the questions, but trust me on this. There is such a thing as a stupid question, and this person always has two whenever someone from the firm comes by. A couple days ago, it was a partner with a couple associates in tow. We don't get partners very often, because they're busy billing at astronomical rates and really don't have time to talk to temps. This guy seems OK, though, and comes by about once a month to let us know what's going on. He only comes to give us the 30,000-feet view of the case. Naturally, as on every case I've ever been on, there is one person who will then ask this big-picture guy a down-in-the-weeds stupid question that probably makes him question whether these temps can actually handle this. To his credit, he always says something that sounds like an answer and does not include the words "who ties your shoes in the morning?" Ironically, the stupid-question person sits right next to the person with the one-idiot-per-day quota, which makes me think the quota person always gets more than one idiot per day in her life.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

I think we're going to die here

Thursday was one of those good news/bad news days at work. The partner from the firm who occasionally gives us updates on the case came by with the news that the government has issued more subpoenas, the case has gotten even bigger and it will not be going away anytime soon. I guess that's good, since that means continued employment and the hours are lucrative if exhausting. On the other hand, this is the most boring case I've ever been on, with no interwebs, to boot. Still, I guess it's a net positive. Money changes everything, as the song goes.

Update: Video added:


Sauce for the goose, bitches

Apparently, the ganders don't like it:
Dozens of lawmakers and aides are so afraid that their health insurance premiums will skyrocket next year thanks to Obamacare that they are thinking about retiring early or just quitting.
The fear: Government-subsidized premiums will disappear at the end of the year under a provision in the health care law that nudges aides and lawmakers onto the government health care exchanges, which could make their benefits exorbitantly expensive.
Sorry about the link to The Politico, but that's where it was. In any event, the Congress critters don't like the idea of losing their taxpayer-funded health insurance. Can't imagine why. I'd like to get some, except I happen to be a taxpayer and am opposed to pretty much taxpayer-funded anything except roads, defense and border security. Seems to have worked until about 1916.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Finally, I agree with a Clinton

Chelsea Clinton apparently wishes that her maternal grandmother had never been born, an I agree. Let's face it, no grandmother, no Hillary. Sounds good to me.

I take from this that Chelsea is serious about running for some kind of elective office, since she is, in this interview, kissing the ring of Planned Parenthood, which all good Democrats must do before seeking office. The nation's biggest killer of unborn children must receive their homage before any true Democrat is allowed to run for office. Chelsea just chose a weird way to pay that tribute, since she apparently wishes she'd never been born:
From the stage at the recent Women Deliver conference, former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s daughter Chelsea revealed that her much-admired maternal grandmother was the child of unwed teenage parents who “did not have access to services that are so crucial that Planned Parenthood helps provide.”
Planned Parenthood primarily provides abortions. They also provide a lot of free contraceptives. One way or the other, the goal of Planned Parenthood is to prevent parenthood. Had the unwed parents of Chelsea's grandmother actually had access to Planned Parenthood services, as Chelsea apparently so devoutly wishes, Chelsea wouldn't be here, because her grandmother either would have been aborted or she would have been a luckless sperm cell caught on the wrong side of a free rubber courtesy of Planned Parenthood. Since all that means Hillary Clinton also would not have been born, I am OK with it, but it seems like a weird statement for somebody to make. Does the entire Democratic Party wish their parents had aborted them? If so, I may finally have found common ground with Democrats. Think that's too harsh? Refer to the title of the blog.

Not looking too settled, is it?

For reasons not entirely clear to me, this paragraph apparently does nothing to raise doubts at the New York Times about how "settled" climate science is, despite the fact that the paragraph in question appears in a global warming story in the New York Times:
The rise in the surface temperature of earth has been markedly slower over the last 15 years than in the 20 years before that. And that lull in warming has occurred even as greenhouse gases have accumulated in the atmosphere at a record pace.
The NYT declines to mention that by "markedly slower" they mean "nonexistent," They do, however, admit that the real world is baffling so-called climate scientists, many of whom are no such thing. James Richard  Hansen, [update: I was thinking of Richard Lindzen at MIT; my bad]  the Goddard Space Center hack who is the leader of the global warming pack and, coincidentally (nudge nudge, wink wink), is in charge of one of the primary networks for measuring global surface temperatures (subject, of course, to adjustment by algorithms that supposedly account for unidentified variables even decades after the fact and, of course, which algorithms are not released for public or scientific peer review, despite the fact that the algorithms consistently adjust historic temperatures down while adjusting recent temperatures up to create a steeper warming curve. Funny how that works.) has a Ph.D. in astronomy. Not physics, not meteorology, certainly not climatology. This is your leading climate scientist, while Richard Lindzen, and atmospheric physicist and head of MIT's climatology department, is a "denier"? Yeah, right.

Anyway, the clueless New York Times, to which I normally would not link, apparently has forgotten that the science is settled, since some English major at the NYT wrote this paragraph:
The slowdown is a bit of a mystery to climate scientists. True, the basic theory that predicts a warming of the planet in response to human emissions does not suggest that warming should be smooth and continuous. To the contrary, in a climate system still dominated by natural variability, there is every reason to think the warming will proceed in fits and starts.
It seems to me if you remember that the science is settled, then motherfucking nothing should be "a bit of a mystery" to climate scientists.  Further, "the basic theory that predicts a warming of the planet in response to human emissions" is a false statement, because the models actually predict a linear rise in temperature. The models, of course, are really fucking wrong, but hey, the science is settled, right? And by the way -- yo, Clapper, blow me!

Actual temp conversation of indeterminate number

Wonderful conversation this morning:

Temp No. 1: I hadn't even gotten to work this morning before I ran into my idiot for the day.

Temp No. 2: How do you work with temps and stick to a one-idiot-per-day limit? 

Welcome, Cayman Islands!

We have received a visit from the Cayman Islands recently. It is, of course, our first, so we give them a hearty welcome. As always, we try to give a little background on the newest country visiting Eff You. Most of this shit comes from Wikipedia, and I'm not linking, so figure it out.

A British Overseas Territory in the western Caribbean, the Cayman Islands are made up of three main islands: Grand Cayman, Cayman Brac and Little Cayman. Located south of Cuba and northwest of Jamaica, The Caymans are considered geographically to be part of the Western Caribbean Zone and of the Greater Antilles, not to mention a major worldwide financial center. The Caymans also happen to be a recent visitor to EffYou, so give a warm welcome to our friends from the Cayman Islands. Heres hoping we all one day need to use the Caymans for tax-evasion purposes. You getting all that, Clapper? Then blow me!

Thursday, June 20, 2013

You can't get a better gun-control turnout than this in California?!?!?!?!

Hey, maybe San Bernardino is one of those secret pockets of conservatism in California, but I doubt it. In any event, a pro-gun control rally held on the six-month anniversary of the Newtown, Ct., shootings in San Bernardino managed to draw a whopping three people. This, apparently, is not embarrassing, because three people today clearly means more tomorrow. Right? Not according to Curt Lewis, a useful idiot for Obama for America, er, Ostentatiously Fucking America, er, Organizing for America, a 501c(4) organization that was certified as tax-exempt by the IRS in less than a month while hundreds of conservative organizations waited up to 3 years for the same certification -- or to be turned down. But that's for another post.

In any event, Curt Lewis seemed to be encouraged by the turnout for the event.
The protest drew three members of Organizing for Action, a nonprofit group that supports President Barack Obama's agenda, to the National Orange Show Events Center.
"It's three people today, but it will be 23 next time, and we'll see the time after that," Lewis said.
Yeah, right. Shut up, this shit is embarrassing for the no-guns crowd. Even if he's right and they get 23 next time. We're talking about southern California, people. You can't turn out thousands to make ignorant noises against guns, then you suck.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

OMG, it's food porn!

Yes, yes, we finally have some food porn. Took me a while, and, to tell the truth, I damn near forgot to start taking pictures for the post, so the step-by-step is not as illustrative as some cooking shows might be. On the other hand, none o those cooking shows have me, so I guess it balances out.

Today we make calzones, a fine Italian dish that is often abused. Calzones usually involve a cheese-meat-vegetable mixture of some sort wrapped in a pizza-dough crust. Many people put marinara sauce (spaghetti sauce) inside the calzones, which is barbaric. You can drench the calzone with sauce after cooking, or dip each piece in sauce as you eat it if you like, but the sauce stays on the outside. That said, we begin.

First, of course, you must make dough for the crust. You will need one package of yeast, one teaspoon of sugar, a teaspoon of salt, a tablespoon of olive oil, a cup of warm water and 2-1/2 cups of flour.


 Yeah, not everything is in the picture. Did I mention I almost forgot to take pictures? You don't like it, refer to the title of the blog. And Clapper, blow me. (Sorry, I could not resist the urge to throw in a gratuitous insult to the Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper, who apparently is reading everyone's blog, among other things.)

Mix the yeast with the water in a bowl, and add the oil, sugar and salt. My recipe says "small bowl," but it never talks about moving it to a large bowl to blend in the flour, so I start this mixture in a large bowl. Anyway, get it all mixed in nicely, with the yeast and everything dissolved, then stir in one cup of flour. Get it smooth, all lumps stirred out, etc., then gradually stir in the remaining 1-1/2 cups until the dough is smooth and workable (meaning it doesn't stick to your hands every time you touch it). You might have to add a small amount of water to blend in all of the flour. I find that the second cup of flour stirs in well, but the final half cup should be spread on a cutting board or other smooth surface and kneaded into the dough. This is fine, since you have to knead the dough for about five minutes until it is nice and elastic. At that point, you put the dough back in the large bowl, pour a tablespoon of olive oil over it, flip it  rub it around the bowl to coat the entire surface of the dough with olive oil, then set it aside to rise. Looks like this at that point:


 Unimpressive, I know.

Now we make the filling. You will need 3/4 cup of ricotta cheese, 1-1/2 cups of shredded cheddar cheese, about a cup of diced pepperoni, a tablespoon of basil and, if you like, a half cup of mushrooms, onions, or something like that. I chose not to add any of those things today.


 Anyway, mix all those things together while the dough is rising, then cover and refrigerate. Looks like this:


 It takes about 45 minutes to an hour for the dough to rise. You want it to double in size. So go drink a beer or two, mow the front yard, play with the kids, whatever. At some point, the dough will now look like this:


 Yeah, it's a lot bigger. Punch that sucker down and divide it into four pieces. In turn (not all at once unless you have a really big rolling board), roll each part into a circle on a floured surface:

 I think a marble rolling pin is best, but use wood if you think you must. (By the way, this is probably a good time to start preheating the oven to 375.) After each piece is rolled out to the desired size (don't ask me what the desired size is -- how big do you want the damn thing to be? Actually, I recommend about 8 inches in diameter, because you don't have enough filling to make four calzones bigger than that.), put one-fourth of the filling onto the crust.


 You will do this four times, folding the crust over and pressing the edges together. Put the assembled calzones on a greased cookie sheet or, as I did, a greased pizza pan.


 Beat one egg in a small bowl. Get a basting brush.


 Use the basting brush to slather the calzone crusts with the beaten egg. Makes them brown nicely.


 OK. I assume you took my earlier advice and preheated the oven to 375 degrees. If not, turn it on now. I'll wait. Drink a beer while the oven preheats. Seriously, do you people not listen to me? Once the oven is ready, pop those suckers in for about 30 minutes. When done, they should look like this:


 For sauce, you can either pour marinara sauce over your calzone, or you can put some in a bowl to dip each piece as you cut up your calzone and shove it in that gaping maw you call a mouth.


By making four calzones, it is simpler, but they are large. You can cut them in half, and a single serving then looks like this:

Drizzle sauce and add the vegetable of your choice as a side (unless you shove vegetables inside during the making) and you get this:


Anyway, don't bug me now. I'm eating. Bon appetit.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

I think I know how temp agencies will survive Obamacare, and you won't like it

We have discussed repeatedly at this site whether the mandates imposed by Obamacare on firms that employ more than 50 full-time employees are going to fuck temp agencies and, by extension, temps, such as here and here and here. The thinking at the time was that temp agencies would have to either have to limit temps to 29 hours a week -- not a viable option, really -- or turn us into Form 1099 independent contractors -- a pain in the ass for temps and a legally dubious move on the part of temp agencies, given the IRS rules on 1099 contractors. Turns out there is a cheaper, viable solution that I think temp agencies will employ. Problem, of course, is it sucks for temps. But then, Obamacare sucks all around, so why should this be different. Let's face it, life in Temp Town sucks, so why should this be any different?

In any event, I believe my fears regarding the demise of the temp industry were misplaced. There is, within this clusterfuck of a law, a way for employers to offer their employees a cheap, qualifying plan that allows them to avoid the penalties they might otherwise incur for not offering their employees suitable health insurance. It is, of course, a plan that no one would actually want in a free-market kind of atmosphere, but let's not get carried away here. We now live in the world of government-mandated health insurance, so it should come as no surprise to learn that the temp employer's saviour is neither insurance nor likely to foster good health.

Behold, I give you the "skinny plan."  Trust me, this is not insurance you would buy in the real world:
ObamaCare's individual mandate is supposed to nudge healthy workers to buy comprehensive coverage, either out of a sense of propriety or thrift — not wanting to throw away money to pay a tax penalty.
But a new, low-priced health plan developed by insurers to cover run-of-the-mill medical costs — but not hospitalization or surgery — would let workers dodge the penalty and leave them with a clear conscience.
What most young, single people want in the way of health insurance is catastrophic coverage: low-cost, high-deductible insurance that leaves routine health care costs to the insured -- doctor visits, routine prescription costs that fall below the deductible amount -- while covering big costs, like hospitalization or major injuries that send the insured to the emergency room. For most people, this makes sense. It's like owning a car: you don't want your insurance to cover your oil changes and tire rotations, but you sure as hell want your insurance to pony up for accident damage.

Well, these skinny plans do the opposite. They're like buying auto insurance that covers inspection costs, oil changes and tire rotations, but is nowhere to be found when an accident happens. All the plans do is "help defray the cost of up to six visits to the doctor, x-rays, generic drugs and preventative care, the Wall Street Journal reported." This is, to use a term of art, fucking worthless as health insurance goes. But Obamacare has essentially outlawed buying the kind of catastrophic insurance that everybody except old people want, so this is probably what Temp Town is going to get.

In any event, these skinny plans are likely to cost only about $50 per month, so temp agencies probably will go with this. It makes sense for them, even if the coverage is worthless to temps. Seriously, if you don't get hurt or really sick, do you spend $600 a year on routine health care, like normal doctor visits and prescriptions? Most people don't. And this is just individual coverage, people. Your family is fucked. If you are healthy, it makes more sense to eat the penalty for not buying insurance -- it's only $95 or 1% of income in 2014, $325 or 2% of income in 2015, and $695 or 2.5% of wages in 2016 and thereafter. Of course, the IRS can only collect the penalty by withholding your tax refund, so, if you do your withholding so you have no refund, then you pay no penalty.

In the end, the skinny plans are not like insurance at all. They're like a pre-paid maintenance plan. Insurance is designed to cover extraordinary costs from unusual events, like when you get hit by a bus and have lots of hospital expenses. The skinny plans don't cover that, but they'll pay for lots of doctor visits. Let's face it, most people don't go to the doctor every other month. So who the fuck wants to pay for coverage that only covers that crap? Stupid.

On the up side, skinny coverage gives temp agencies a way to stay in business. So smile -- you get to keep clicking. Which, I guess, is kind of like telling galley slaves they can keep pulling that oar. Sorry, kids, that's the best I've got.

Government spies wish they were this hip

Don't worry, people, the government isn't trying to spy on you, they just want to "tap it:"

Hat tip to Hot Air

Friday, June 14, 2013

Yo, Clapper, you getting all this?

It would appear that the Department of Homeland Security National Operations Center has a desktop reference manual to let its agents know what search terms to look for as they monitor the citizenry's Facebook postings, emails and what not. A site called Activist Post has put up a lot of information that apparently was reported in The Huffington Post, to which I decline to link. Not clear to me whether HuffPo obtained the release of the information, but they reported on it. In any event, there is now online a version of the DHS Analyst's Desktop Binder. This binder, it would appear, included a list of search terms the DHS uses in its online spying activities.  While I suppose this will make me a rising star on the DHS "watch this guy " list, here are ALL of the terms in the Analyst's Desktop Binder:

Domestic Security

Assassination
Attack
Domestic security
Drill
Exercise
Cops
Law enforcement
Authorities
Disaster assistance
Disaster management
DNDO (Domestic Nuclear
Detection Office)
National preparedness
Mitigation
Prevention
Response
Recovery
Dirty bomb
Domestic nuclear detection
Emergency management
Emergency response
First responder
Homeland security
Maritime domain awareness
(MDA)
National preparedness
initiative
Militia
Shooting
Shots fired
Evacuation
Deaths
Hostage
Explosion (explosive)
Police
Disaster medical assistance
team (DMAT)
Organized crime

Gangs
National security
State of emergency
Security
Breach
Threat
Standoff
SWAT
Screening
Lockdown
Bomb (squad or threat)
Crash
Looting
Riot
Emergency Landing
Pipe bomb
Incident
Facility

HAZMAT & Nuclear

Hazmat
Nuclear
Chemical spill
Suspicious package/device
Toxic
National laboratory
Nuclear facility
Nuclear threat
Cloud
Plume
Radiation
Radioactive
Leak
Biological infection (or
event)
Chemical
Chemical burn
Biological
Epidemic
Hazardous
Hazardous material incident
Industrial spill
Infection
Powder (white)

Gas
Spillover
Anthrax
Blister agent
Chemical agent
Exposure
Burn
Nerve agent
Ricin
Sarin
North Korea

Health Concern + H1N1

Outbreak
Contamination
Exposure
Virus
Evacuation
Bacteria
Recall
Ebola
Food Poisoning
Foot and Mouth (FMD)
H5N1
Avian
Flu
Strain
Quarantine
H1N1
Vaccine

Salmonella
Small Pox
Plague
Human to human
Human to Animal
Influenza
Center for Disease Control
(CDC)
Drug Administration (FDA)
Public Health
Toxic
Agro Terror
Tuberculosis (TB)
Tamiflu
Norvo Virus
Epidemic

Agriculture
Listeria
Symptoms
Mutation
Resistant
Antiviral
Wave
Pandemic
Infection
Water/air borne
Sick
Swine
Pork World Health Organization
(WHO) (and components)
Viral Hemorrhagic Fever
E. Coli

Infrastructure Security

Infrastructure security
Airport
CIKR (Critical Infrastructure
& Key Resources)
AMTRAK
Collapse
Computer infrastructure
Communications
infrastructure
Telecommunications
Critical infrastructure
National infrastructure
Metro
WMATA

Airplane (and derivatives)
Chemical fire
Subway
BART
MARTA
Port Authority
NBIC (National
Biosurveillance Integration
Center)
Transportation security
Grid
Power
Smart
Body scanner

Electric
Failure or outage
Black out
Brown out
Port
Dock
Bridge
Cancelled
Delays
Service disruption
Power lines

Southwest Border Violence

Drug cartel
Violence
Gang
Drug
Narcotics
Cocaine
Marijuana
Heroin
Border
Mexico
Cartel
Southwest
Juarez
Sinaloa
Tijuana
Torreon
Yuma
Tucson
Decapitated
U.S. Consulate
Consular
El Paso
Fort Hancock
San Diego
Ciudad Juarez
Nogales
Sonora
Colombia
Mara salvatrucha
MS13 or MS-13
Drug war
Mexican army
Methamphetamine
Cartel de Golfo
Gulf Cartel
La Familia
Reynosa
Nuevo Leon
Narcos
Narco banners (Spanish
equivalents)
Los Zetas
Shootout
Execution
Gunfight
Trafficking
Kidnap
Calderon
Reyosa
Bust
Tamaulipas
Meth Lab
Drug trade
Illegal immigrants
Smuggling (smugglers)
Matamoros
Michoacana
Guzman
Arellano-Felix
Beltran-Leyva
Barrio Azteca
Artistic Assassins
Mexicles
New Federation


Terrorism

Terrorism
Al Qaeda (all spellings)
Terror
Attack
Iraq
Afghanistan
Iran
Pakistan
Agro
Environmental terrorist
Eco terrorism
Conventional weapon
Target
Weapons grade
Dirty bomb
Enriched
Nuclear
Chemical weapon
Biological weapon
Ammonium nitrate
Improvised explosive device
IED (Improvised Explosive
Device)
Abu Sayyaf
Hamas
FARC (Armed Revolutionary
Forces Colombia)
IRA (Irish Republican Army)
ETA (Euskadi ta Askatasuna)
Basque Separatists
Hezbollah
Tamil Tigers
PLF (Palestine Liberation
Front)
PLO (Palestine Liberation
Organization
Car bomb
Jihad
Taliban
Weapons cache
Suicide bomber
Suicide attack
Suspicious substance
AQAP (AL Qaeda Arabian
Peninsula)
AQIM (Al Qaeda in the
Islamic Maghreb)
TTP (Tehrik-i-Taliban
Pakistan)
Yemen
Pirates
Extremism
Somalia
Nigeria
Radicals
Al-Shabaab
Home grown
Plot
Nationalist
Recruitment
Fundamentalism
Islamist

Weather/Disaster/Emergency

Emergency
Hurricane
Tornado
Twister
Tsunami
Earthquake
Tremor
Flood
Storm
Crest
Temblor
Extreme weather
Forest fire
Brush fire
Ice
Stranded/Stuck
Help
Hail
Wildfire
Tsunami Warning Center
Magnitude
Avalanche
Typhoon
Shelter-in-place
Disaster
Snow
Blizzard
Sleet
Mud slide or Mudslide
Erosion
Power outage
Brown out
Warning
Watch
Lightening
Aid
Relief
Closure
Interstate
Burst
Emergency Broadcast System
Cyber Security
Cyber security
Botnet
DDOS (dedicated denial of
service)
Denial of service
Malware
Virus
Trojan
Keylogger
Cyber Command
2600
Spammer
Phishing
Rootkit
Phreaking
Cain and abel
Brute forcing
Mysql injection
Cyber attack
Cyber terror
Hacker
China
Conficker
Worm
Scammers
Social media

Get a good look? Next time you go on Facebook, remember not to use words like response, initiative, exercise, recovery, crash, police, recovery, facility, gas or burn. Not to mention worm, storm, aid, erosion, or any of a host of other everyday terms on the list. Still think the government is your friend?

I'm sure that James Clapper, the Director of National Intelligence, has no interest in monitoring your communications, and that the government is collecting massive amounts of data on everyone's phone calls, emails, social media posts and what not for benevolent purposes. I'm sure that this list of search terms that DHS analysts are supposed to use is only intended to defend us against terrorists who hope to assault this country using snow, blizzards, and sleet, or maybe Crest toothpaste. On the other hand, maybe we should all just end all of our emails, Facebook posts, tweets and whatever else with "Yo, Clapper, blow me." Might overwhelm the system.

Sorry,  have to go. A couple guys in black suits and really dark sunglasses are at the door. Gotta go see what they want.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Mighta jumped the gun on hope for Turkey

Not looking good for the home team in Turkey:
ISTANBUL (AP) — Turkey's prime minister issued a "final warning" to protesters on Thursday, demanding they end their occupation of a park next to Istanbul's Taksim Square that has ignited the largest political crisis of his 10-year rule.
Despite the ultimatum by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, thousands of activists camping out in Gezi Park dug in for a potential culmination of their two-week standoff with authorities.
The Associated Press seemed hopeful that a Rodney King moment could be reached and that everyone would just get along, because the dictator "was to meet late Thursday night with some representatives of the protesters occupying the park."  The AP did not seem to notice what it reported later in its own story:
"We have arrived at the end of our patience," Erdogan told local party leaders in Ankara, the capital. "I am giving you my final warning," he said, directing his comments toward the protesters."
No offense, AP, but that doesn't sound like he wants to sing "Kumbaya" when he meets with protest leaders. Sounds to me like he is going to tell them to go home or get ready for him to go big.


Don't they look like they just want a hug?

Just a reminder

You know, if you like this blog, you could do your Amazon ordering through the widget over there to the right. It won't cost you any extra, and it throws a little jack my way, which is always a good thing. Just sayin'.

Does Obamacare still suck if you can't afford it?

The Associated Press apparently just noticed that the Affordable Care Act might be misnamed:
WASHINGTON (AP) — It's called the Affordable Care Act, but President Barack Obama's health care law may turn out to be unaffordable for many low-wage workers, including employees at big chain restaurants, retail stores and hotels.That might seem strange since the law requires medium-sized and large employers to offer "affordable" coverage or face fines.But what's reasonable? Because of a wrinkle in the law, companies can meet their legal obligations by offering policies that would be too expensive for many low-wage workers. For the employee, it's like a mirage — attractive but out of reach.
No shit, Sherlock. Nobody read the fucking thing before they jammed it down our throats, and now people are starting to realize that maybe it sucks. And it hasn't even kicked in yet. Look forward to a big post on how bad it sucks. Maybe this weekend. I want to include lots of links on how bad Obamacare sucks, and believe me, they're there.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Hope for Turkey?

In recent years, Turkey has been moving toward being an Iran-like Islamic state in contrast to its secular history. Recently, protesters, who were not originally concerned with the Islamification of Turkey, have been speaking out against the Recep Tayyip  Erdogan regime and its authoritarianism. Don't know who put this video together, but thanks to Legal Insurrection for pointing the way:




Gotta get my ass to North Dakota

Somebody just put out a list (and by "just" I mean relatively recently, as I've had this link for several days but have been working my ass off and been too busy to post, but I digress) of the states with the most bars per capita. This is important information. I was shocked that Virginia, where I went to college and never thought we lacked for bars, is last in the nation by a whole bunch. I was considerably less surprised to find that Maryland, where I live now, is No. 42. Maryland, after all, is always low on good lists and high on bad lists, like tax burden. But that's another post.

So anyway, Eater.com gives us the list, including this handy-dandy graphic if you're trying to decide where to live:


Information for life, people.

Forecast: Partly sunny with widely scattered DOOM!

My impression lately has been that there appears to be work out there in the market, but that there is a disturbing trend toward JD-only projects at low rates, such as here and here. Well, things just got even worse. Below is a post from The Posse List advertising a project that is not JD-only, but does not require DC bar and pays $2-$3 below current market rate, which is already $4-$5 below the pre-crash market rate:

[An agency I've never actually worked for, although I tried once] is Currently Staffing a Document Review Project in Washington, DC Project Details:
Location – Washington , DC
Start Date – Monday June 10th 2013
Duration – 1-3 months
Schedule – 40 hours per week
Rate – $28.00 per hour
Project Type: Document Review - relevancy and privilege issues
Project Requirements:
Bar Membership – Candidates need to be barred in any US jurisdiction, active and in good standing-
Availability beginning Monday 6/10/2013 and not have vacation/travel plans during the duration of the project.
Experience – Previous document review strongly preferred
 How to Apply - READ CAREFULLYSimply reply back to: [the recruiting email of the agency]   (please do not change the subject line), attach your resume as a MS Word file (even if you know we have it already), and indicate that you meet the requirements listed above
 What Happens Next?When we receive your resume and email indicating how you meet each of the requirements listed above we will review the resume and call you if we believe there is a good potential that you would be selected.  Once we have spoken to you and obtained your permission we will send the resume to our client.  Once we hear from them we will let you know if you were selected for the project.  We will not send your resume ANYWHERE without your express permission to do so.
Okey-dokey. The trend of not requiring DC Bar membership continues, as does the downward pressure on rates and the lack of overtime. None of this bodes well for anything but DOOM! Exit strategy, anyone?

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Let's remember why we need to spy on ourselves now

Govt has to scrape all your phone calls and emails because govt forgot to enforce immigration law on 20 expired visas in 2001.

If you've lost ABC . . .


. . . probably no one will notice, since they have only slightly more viewers than CNN, or Australian rules football on ESPN 14, or where ever they air that now (great stuff, BTW), but ABC has an "imagined letter" from Barry to George W. Bush, apologizing for being a dickwad:
And now for the purpose of this letter (I know you are rolling your eyes and saying, "just get to the point," but you know me: I can be a little long-winded at times): I wanted to say I am sorry.I am sorry that, as a United States senator and presidential candidate, I was critical of you about so many things I now, myself, am doing.
I am sorry about saying Guantanamo would be closed immediately and it was a blight on America. It is still wide open for business.
I am sorry for criticizing you and your administration for intrusions on American's privacy and invasions into personal liberties. My NSA took what you did and put it on steroids.
I am sorry for criticizing the way you waged the war on terror. I have personally approved a number of drone strikes and actually have said it is OK to kill an American on foreign soil without due process. I know you are probably saying, "Aren't you the expert on the Constitution?" but, as you know, being president is hard work.
Go read the whole thing, which is pretty astounding if you consider that it is ABC News, which stands for All Barry Cocksuckers. Maybe that is finally changing as it becomes more and more apparent that the emperor has no clothes and, more important in the American context, that the son of a bitch thinks he's emperor.

Leno seems to think it's funny

For four years, we've heard from comedians that they don't tell jokes about Obama because, well, there's nothing funny about Obama. Or, they're afraid to. He's soooooooooooooooooooooo serious and important, or something. Or, maybe, they're so liberal they're afraid that joking about an eminently jokable (is that a word?) president who happens to be half-black makes them racist. Yeah, fuck that. Finally, in recent weeks, Jay Leno has found the scandals swirling about the White House to be worthy of a couple wisecracks, as Newsbusters points out:

JAY LENO: Well, let's see what's going on. Hey, Snoop is back in the news. Not Snoop Dogg, Snoop Obama. Yeah, Snoop Obama. A big change at the White House today. They closed the gift shop and opened a Verizon store. Yeah.
Well, this has become a huge controversy after it was revealed that the National Security Agency seized millions of Verizon phone records, and of course this has caused a panic among civil libertarians, constitutional scholars and cheating husbands everywhere. Oh my God.
How ironic is that? We wanted a president that listens to all Americans - now we have one. Yeah.
Actually, President Obama clarified the situation today. He said no one is listening to your phone calls. The president said it's not what the program is all about. You know, like the IRS isn’t about targeting certain political groups. That's not what it's about!
I mean what's going on? The White House has looked into our phone records, checking our computers, monitoring our e-mails. When did the government suddenly become our psycho ex-girlfriend? When did that happen? When did that happen? When did that happen?
You know, I'll tell you, if Obama wants to put this snooping thing to good use, how about spying on the IRS next time they throw a $4 million party. Why don't you do that one? Yes, exactly, exactly. Find out about that. Yeah.
Good to see Barry finally getting at least a little of the derisive treatment that the previous 43 presidents got.

I don't know who she is

But she's hot. And she's right.


Many people, mostly Democrats, would claim that the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was none of the things she mentions and was the biggest step ever for African-Americans. Of course, it was Democrats who filibustered those bills, Democrats who imposed the policies that the bill was intended to void and Republicans who made the passage of that bill possible. Republicans voted for the bill in much higher percentages than did Democrats, and the bill never would have passed the Senate or the House without Republican support, even though the Democrats held 67 seats in the Senate and 248 seats in the House, both huge majorities. They could do anything they wanted to without the Republicans. Except a big chunk of them didn't want to. So even that is not really a Democrat accomplishment.

So let's look at today. Anything to contradict her contention that the Democrats are just a condescending candyman when it comes to African-Americans?

See? I can agree with liberals

I can't believe I'm going to link to Mother Jones magazine, but that seems to be the case. Keep your eyes peeled for boiling seas, rivers running with blood, etc., etc.



Anyway, Mother Jones is reporting that
the Justice Department was due to file a court motion Friday in its effort to keep secret an 86-page court opinion that determined that the government had violated the spirit of federal surveillance laws and engaged in unconstitutional spying.
It would appear that Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee [truth alert -- they oversee the intelligence committee. It does not mean that the members of the committee are intelligent, although I wholeheartedly support Sen. Wyden, generally a screaming liberal, on this.]  has been bitching since 2011 about the feds spying on the American public. Wyden thought Americans were being spied on by their own government in an unlawful fashion, and he fought the Office of the Director of National Intelligence to get declassified a couple statements he wanted to release. The statements were:
* On at least one occasion the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court held that some collection carried out pursuant to the Section 702 minimization procedures used by the government was unreasonable under the Fourth Amendment.
* I believe that the government's implementation of Section 702 of FISA [the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act] has sometimes circumvented the spirit of the law, and on at least one occasion the FISA Court has reached this same conclusion. 
So the situation is this: the government is collecting boatloads of data about the communications of ordinary citizens. A court found at least some of that activity to be unconstitutional. The government is fighting to keep that opinion classified so that the public will not know that some of what the government is doing to the public is unconstitutional. Meanwhile, the president says:
If people can’t trust not only the executive branch but also don’t trust Congress, and don’t trust federal judges, to make sure that we’re abiding by the Constitution with due process and rule of law, then we’re going to have some problems here.
 No shit, Sherlock. We already don't trust you! These scandals with the IRS, the DOJ, and the White House itself over its lies about the Benghazi incident have undermined this administration's credibility to the point of nonexistence, and now Barry's position is "trust us"? Really? Because you need this information from millions of innocent American citizens to catch the occasional terrorist? Kind of like you need to frisk paraplegic grandmothers to keep would be terrorists off domestic flights? Why not, as Mark Steyn suggests, just pay attention to what's right in front of you? The Army and the FBI ignored Maj. Nidal Hasan, despite multiple warnings, right up until he was shooting up Fort Hood. Taking the phone records of American citizens didn't help there, did it?
As for Major Hasan, who needs surveillance? He put “Soldier of Allah” on his business card and gave a PowerPoint presentation to his military colleagues on what he’d like to do to infidels — and nobody said a word, lest they got tied up in sensitivity-training hell for six months.
If Barry still thinks America trusts its government, maybe he should look to Facebook. Hat tip to Instapundit for both of these:





Friday, June 7, 2013

The most transparent administration EV-AH can eat me

OK, so we learned on Wednesday from a British newspaper (because the American media is still too busy sucking Barrys' schwantz to go after this kind of stuff) that the "National Security Agency is currently collecting the telephone records of millions of US customers of Verizon" under a secret order granted to the FBI April 25 by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court. The authority lasts for three months, ending on July 19. As The Guardian reports:
Under the terms of the blanket order, the numbers of both parties on a call are handed over, as is location data, call duration, unique identifiers, and the time and duration of all calls. The contents of the conversation itself are not covered.
We are talking about the data on phone calls by roughly 120 million people. That's a whole lot of secret surveillance. Wish that was all of it:
The National Security Agency and the FBI are tapping directly into the central servers of nine leading U.S. Internet companies, extracting audio and video chats, photographs, e-mails, documents, and connection logs that enable analysts to track foreign targets, according to a top-secret document obtained by The Washington Post.
The Post reports that the program, apparently known as PRISM, relies upon the voluntary cooperation of various internet service providers.
The technology companies, whose cooperation is essential to PRISM operations, include most of the dominant global players of Silicon Valley, according to the document. They are listed on a roster that bears their logos in order of entry into the program: “Microsoft, Yahoo, Google, Facebook, PalTalk, AOL, Skype, YouTube, Apple.” PalTalk, although much smaller, has hosted traffic of substantial intelligence interest during the Arab Spring and in the ongoing Syrian civil war.
So pretty much every company involved in moving your shit around on the intertubes -- email, blogs, IMs, whatever -- is promptly shoveling that shit right over to the NSA so the federal government can get up in your Kool-Aid. And the Post -- really deep in the article, to ensure that most people don't read that far, states that "President Obama presided over exponential growth in a program that candidate Obama criticized." Ain't that the way of it? The other guy is eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeevil for doing something, but once you get the chance to do the same thing, it's cool. Fuck that.

Basically, my view on the whole thing is that if the government is reading my emails, my blog, or whatever
is that if they don't like it, fuck 'em. Come and get some, y'all.