Friday, August 19, 2011

Pukkelpop Festival Storm Disaster

At the Pukkelpop festival in Belgium last night a very intense storm wreaked havoc on the concert goers and campers.  A stage collapse, reminiscent of the Indiana State Fair disaster last week, and reportedly 5 people were killed.  This video clip shows a band onstage performing to rain soaked crowds, when debris from the storm gust front begins pelting the stage.  As it begins to hail, concert goers and performers flee.  Not a good place to be in a big storm.  Why the concert continued is a mystery to me.  Guess Belgium doesn't get severe storms?  Sad and very scary event. The remainder of the 3-day festival has been cancelled.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

The Texas Miracle? Not So Much.

The Texas Miracle, that's the phrase you will be hearing more and more of in coming months as our Governor Rick Perry makes his run for the White House.  The whole "miracle" thing makes for a catchy political phrase, but there is no miracle going on here in Texas. 
You will hear Perry point to how great Texas has fared during the recession, but you will never hear him say we still have higher unemployment than 25 other states including New York, most of New England and  our neighbors to the north, Oklahoma.  Nor will you hear Governor Perry relate how much of the employment in our Miracle State is in low paying jobs.  37% of the jobs created in the past year are at or below minimum wage.  The Texas miracle for jobs?   Well, we lead the nation in minimum wage earners - 550,000 of them to be precise.

And the climate for business in Texas, it's terrific unless you want an educated work force.  Out of all 50 states we rank number 41 for jobs requiring a post-secondary education.  Luckily, Perry and the Texas legislature are cutting an additional $2 billion from the state education budget.  I guess that is being done to attract more low-tech companies or perhaps just to put us on a level playing field with a 3rd world country.

But hey, we have lower taxes than most other states!  So, the rich can keep even more money and the poor, well they will have more to spend on things like health care.  Now in health care we top the list, the list of most people without health insurance.  A whopping 26.9% of Texans have no health coverage.  It's a miracle we don't have more considering Rick Perry's attitude on government spending.
Meanwhile as an LGBT Texan, I would like to relate to you the Miracle Worker's positions on a few points salient to our community.
Take a look at the basics, like our state's Sodomy Law (2106).  Well, Perry says, “I think our law is appropriate that we have on the books," to heck with the Supreme Court, whom he dismisses as “nine oligarchs in robes".  Every time proposals to expunge the law have been put forward, he has declined to support any of them.

He even criticized the federal hate crimes law for including LGBT people saying that President Obama overstepped his authority by “making homosexuality a protected class”.  Tell that to any of the hundreds of Texans who have been victims of gay bashing.  I suspect they would all be delighted to be part of a protected class, considering they were attacked strictly because of their sexual orientation.

He also comes down squarely against same-sex marriage.  "Gay marriage is not fine with me," Perry said in an interview Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council.  If you will remember that group was recently classified as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center.  Nice folks, and the same ones Governor Perry palled around with during his prayer day extravaganza in Houston.  So if you are gay or lesbian and you want to marry, Perry suggests, “…if there’s a state that has more lenient views than Texas, then maybe that’s a better place for them to live.”

Well, Governor Perry, as one of "them" let me tell you something and since I understand you didn't do very well in college,  I will put this in simple language even you can understand.

I have lived in Texas all my life, and I am not about to move and relinquish my state to a wise-cracking hate-mongering empty suit like you.  I know lots of the people you so flippantly dismissed as "them" and I will let all my gay and lesbian, bisexual and trangender and straight brothers and sisters know just the kind of man you are. In fact I encourage them to let all their friends on Facebook and Twitter know this as well.  I will be damned if I will see your intolerant and ignorant face in Washington as anything but a tourist, and personally I would be just as happy if it was you who left Texas.  Now that would really be a miracle!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

America Spreads It's Craziness to Australia

Fundamentalists are not content to spread their brand of crazy here in the US.  Now they are going overseas to let people know just how intolerant and psychotic their faith is.  Sorry Australia, she somehow escaped from the asylum.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

The Folks Rick Perry Prays With

Brand New Hotel to be Imploded in Las Vegas

MGM Resorts has requested permission to demolish the still unopened Harmon Tower in the City Center complex.  Construction defects found altered plans for the 49 story hotel and it was topped out at 27 floors.

The company is in litigation with the construction contractors Perini Building Company who says they can fix the structural problems.  Clarke County is considering the request.  

Of the many hotels that have been imploded in Las Vegas to make way for bigger and newer properties, I would guess this is the first one that was demolished before a paying guest even set foot on the property.  Know when to hold 'em and know when to fold 'em or in this case implode them!

S&P Downgrade Proves Boon for US Treasuries

As I suspected the S&P downgrade had little to do with real economics and more to do with politics and retaliation for being hauled before Congress.  Though the Ratings agency lowered US Treasury ratings to AA+ from AAA, the market for those bonds is stronger than ever. 

Motivation becomes the real question for their downgrade, and I am still banking on the whole revenge aspect.  What is even stranger is their upgrade of China.  Read more at Bloomberg.

10 Things You Need to Know About Rick Perry

Monday, August 15, 2011

The Twisted Logic of Rick Perry

In a desperate attempt to cover the fact that most of th4e jobs Perry claims to have created in Texas were at or below minimum wage, he made this amazing statement.
"How many times have you heard the story about a minimum-wage worker who made their way up to upper management? The mail room employee who eventually ended up running the company?"
He spouted this tripe at the National Conference of State Legislatures last week. 

By making a statement so grossly over general, he might as well have been saying, "how many times have you heard the story of a child born in the US who ended up running a company?"  He is just plain ridiculous.

The Insanity of Eugenics is Still With Us

As a fan of Star Trek I am familiar with the whole "Eugenics War" concept.  The idea was that mankind began trying to breed a superior race of humans by selective breeding. If the idea sounds familiar, it might be because the Nazis tried it with the whole "Master Race" thing, but what a lot of people don't realize is that Eugenics is not a foreign concept.

Back in 1898 there was a world's exposition held in Omaha, Nebraska of all places.  The Trans-Mississippi Exposition was a grand affair that featured exhibits from around the country and across the globe.  Much of the entertainment was provided by ethnic exhibits of strange peoples from far off lands, however one of the exhibits featured the idea of "better families" for a better future.  The exhibit showed how superior breeding could result in superior human beings.  The term Eugenics had yet to be coined.

Several scientists were working on the idea of selective breeding of human beings around the turn of the 19th century.  The idea caught on and states began enacting Eugenics Laws which prohibited anyone who was "epileptic, imbecile or feeble-minded" from marrying or in some cases undergo forced sterilization.

Sadly these grotesque laws stayed on the books well into the 20th century in some states.  Not surprisingly, much of their implementation was racially motivated.

Case in point, Elaine Riddick of North Carolina who had an unplanned pregnancy at 13 and after delivering the baby was forcibly sterilized on the ruling of the Eugenics Board of the State of North Carolina in 1968.  Today she is fighting for compensation for this inhuman act.  She was deemed "feeble minded" and given no choice in the operation. 

So the next time you hear the word "eugenics" or see some story about the inhumanity of the Nazis and their selective breeding, pause for a moment to remember that they were not acting alone, and that our country participated in that same kind of "human experimentation".  Seeking to create a master race, whether by decree of some megalomaniac dictator or by scientists is equally misguided.  Natural selection as far as human beings are concerned has worked very well for thousands of years, and tinkering with it has been shown to produce some pretty bad results.