Saturday, August 02, 2008

Screwed: The Undeclared War Against the Middle Class

The book of the week is "Screwed: The Undeclared War Against the Middle Class -- And What We Can Do About It" by Thom Hartmann.

I enjoyed this book a lot! It's a fast read on a very serious subject: where did the middle class come from, where is it going, and why is it essential to maintaining democracy?

Hartmann shows how the Middle Class was built in America with the development of the independent citizen-farmer, dependent not on employers but on himself (...and the land taken from Indians.) This system started collapsing around 1890 as corporations took control of the transportation network, slowing strangling the farmers. The Great Depression was one result. The Roosevelt, Truman, and Eisenhower administrations created a new Middle Class by educating veterans, improving health care, and other reforms that lead to historic prosperity. The Reagan Administration and its successors in both parties tore that down, creating rules and conditions that value corporations over people. This not only destroys safety nets for working people (from progressive taxation to antitrust legislation to Social Security) but also destroyed the empowered, educated middle class that is crucial to a functioning democracy.

Read it yourself, and think for yourself: here on Amazon. You will learn a lot.

See excerpt on Amazon

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Girl Genius ... is Genius!

Setting a rather high comic, writing and artistic standard for other webcomics, Girl Genius is steampunk/magery/adventure, humor, romance ... but mostly fun! This has consistently been one of my top two favorite webcomics for over a year, and it's racked up all sorts of awards, so don't deprive yourself!

Girl Genius is an ongoing adventure story in which the characters grow, change, run around the landscape quite a bit, and occasionally even die. Because of this, we recommend that new readers start the Girl Genius story from the very beginning. Trust us, it makes more sense that way. The good news is that the entire archive is now available for online reading!

You can also use the more traditional (but much less free) method of reading the graphic novels, which are available from bookstores, comic shops, a growing number of public libraries and of course our own online shop. Graphic novel collections are published roughly once a year.

Of course, there's always the Story So Far, which should bring you up to speed to some extent.

Oh, and please be aware that we recommend Girl Genius for an audience of teens and up. Why? Well, let's see...we have lots of running around in Victorian underwear, occasional innuendo, a certain amount of violence and the occasional "damn!" Will this deprive us of future happy meal toys? Probably. Are we having fun making our story our own way? Oh, yes! A lot of our readers still say they read GG to their kids, (and, of course, our kids like it,) but now you can make an informed choice. Thank you!

And don't forget Othar's Twitter!

Populargate: McCain Denounces Latest Obama Scandal!

Belle Aire - Republican Presidential candidate John Sidney McCain the 3rd denounced Senator Barack Obama for being popular today.

"People like Obama," McCain muttered angrily in the oak-paneled foyer of one of his eight mansions. "My friends, do we want a president who is popular?"

Pundits agreed. "Obama has consistently said going into Iraq was a mistake," noted Republican strategist Karl Rove. "Most Americans agree with him on that, but it could inhibit us from invading other countries that have oil. Do we really want to limit our options to what makes sense?"

"I opposed the 2008 GI Bill," explained McCain, "Because it was popular. Helping veterans is popular, so I vote against it whenever I can. That's what being a 'Maverick' means - if the American people are for it, then I'm against it!"

"I want to do unpopular things!" proclaimed McCain. "I want to name Supreme Court justices that will overturn Roe v. Wade. I want more jobs in Michigan and Ohio and all across America to go to China. I want to increase Bush's tax cuts for the rich! On campaign finance reform, I actually broke my own McCain-Feingold law!"

"But above all, I want to keep sending your children to die in the desert. Because that's unpopular, and America wants an unpopular president."

McCain's campaign staff then unfurled a banner with McCain's newest motto: "McCain: Don't Vote For The Popular Guy."

digg this story

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Agent Orange Equity Act of 2008

The Agent Orange Equity Act (HR 6562) is supposed to restore equity to all Vietnam veterans that were exposed to Agent Orange". The VA has blocked some servicemembers who could not prove they'd "set foot" in Vietnam, even though they may have been exposed to the deadly chemical on Guam, while serving in the Navy, etc.

read more | digg story

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

The Theory Of UnIntelligent Design (THUID)

The Theory Of UnIntelligent Design (THUID) is a scientific alternative to the discredited theory of "evolution".

THUID postulates that the development of intelligent life on earth cannot have occurred by blind chance, but only by the direct intervention of an Outside Direct Designer (codenamed "Odd"). This Odd being discloses its very nature in the details of the human structure.

For example, would an intelligent Designer include the appendix - an organ whose sole utility is inconvenience and occasional painful death?

What of dental caries: a phenomenon unknown before the development of human intelligence, yet almost inevitable when our human desire for sweets is coupled to the brainpower that ensures a steady, unhealthy supply?

And let us not even BEGIN to talk about the humorous side of human reproduction!

Suffice it to say that ALL EVIDENCE shows that the marvelous human being has CLEARLY been designed by a GREAT DESIGNER that is unfortunately lacking in brains.

Please support this SCIENTIFIC study of humanity as it battles the twin unscientific principles of EVOLUTION and of INTELLIGENT DESIGN.

Our School Children Must Learn The Truth!

5 Tiny Mistakes That Lead To Huge Catastrophes

Hey, we all make mistakes!

But some of us make really BIG ones ....
From the ace reporters of Cracked Magazine (yeah, I know ... sue me!) we learn that, no matter how bad you screw up, you probably can't even get the bronze in the screw-up Olympics:
"A lot of you are probably reading this at work and despite that, a lot of you are probably also drunk.

That's because most of us have jobs where, if you maybe screw up here and there, it's not the end of the world.

Or at least that's what we'd like to think. It turns out some of the biggest, costliest disasters have resulted from some random employee making a single tiny mistake. Such as ... ...."

read more
---- digg story

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Carbon-Free and Nuclear-Free: Carbon-Free and Nuclear-Free: A Roadmap for U.S. Energy Policy

The Institute for Energy and Environmental Research is offering a free and important book Carbon-Free and Nuclear-Free: Carbon-Free and Nuclear-Free: A Roadmap for U.S. Energy Policy, laying out a strong argument that:

  • It is possible to physically eliminate CO2 emissions from the U.S. energy sector without resort to nuclear power, which has serious security and other vulnerabilities.
  • A zero-CO2 economy is possible without purchasing offsets from other countries (that is, without purchasing from other countries the right to continue emitting CO2 in the United States)
  • It is possible to accomplish the above at reasonable cost.

Read for yourself, and then decide for yourself:

Toll I-90 to Turn Mercer Island into Gated Community ?!?

Some Seattle-area politicians want to toll the I-90 bridge, as a means of paying for important fixes to the I-520 corridor.

This would mean you'd have to pay to get in to or out of Mercer Island!

Wow! Let's overlook the unconstitutionality of this proposed restriction on the right to travel. While there's little wrong with tolls per se, as long as you have a reasonable alternative, as applied the toll keeps Seattle residents from getting to Mercer Island at all, and vice versa, without paying. That such tolls were imposed in the past doesn't affect the inherent wrongfulness of imprisoning people in their home towns unless they pay to get out. Of course, that's an inherent problems with tolls, HOT-lanes, and the like.

By predicating government services on the ability to pay, they take us further down the road of a pre-1776 society, one in which a small aristocracy lives well and the rest of us scrape by, tugging our forelocks as the toffs zoom by. A lot of people think that the England of "A Christmas Carol" and "Oliver Twist" was a happy place ... .

But, I digress. I just think it's funny that local politicos want to turn that pleasant small town into a government-enforced gated community. It'll be hard on Mercer Island's residents who, contrary to local folklore, include a lot of low- and middle-income people. There's a reason that the Mercer Island Thrift Store is popular among the locals.