Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Talk about Big Brass Ones

Obama is hot stuff. It's like he's walking around with his middle finger always up in the air.

I don't know why he doesn't just go on TV and tell the Republicans to fuck off.

Now he's going to re-establish diplomatic relations with Cuba. Go Barack go. It's about time; it really is but I can hear the howls of indignation from the right wing loony toons already.

They're going to be tipping all over each other while trying to decide if they hate the idea because them Cubans is a bunch of dirty Communists, because Obama is acting like a dictator or because that damn black dude is just too uppity.

I think I'll just sit back and enjoy the show.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Let's Talk 2016

Yes, I know, it's not even 2015 yet but you know that the race for the White House in 2016 is already starting to gear up.

On the Democratic side I do not believe that Hillary Clinton is going to get the nomination and I'm not even sure that she is going to run. As for Joe Biden, nominating him would be roughly equivalent of handing the family finances over to your drunken uncle.

I would like to see either Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts or Mario Cuomo of New York seriously consider a run but I'm not sure either is contemplating doing so. If I had my choice it would be Elizabeth Warren.

Of course the Republican side has been a lot scarier recently with the stable of crazies declaring for the nomination getting crazier and crazier each year.

For 2016 we will probably have Rick Santorum, Ben Carson and Ted Cruz making short runs outside the lunatic fringe with Mike Huckabee and Rand Paul staying just inside the fringe.

Bobby Jindel would like to be considered but given the mess that Louisiana is in I suspect that's more of a joke than anything even Lewis Black has come up with recently.

As for Rick Perry, he's almost as loony toons as Santorum.

Let's remember who really runs the Republican Party and they are not going to let the nomination go to someone that will virtually guarantee that not only will the Blue Wall remain intact but that it would possibly even expand.

The business elite rulers of the Republican Party are going to insure a candidate that will be competitive in the current collection of swing states and might even be able to loosen up a few Blue States at least so that the Democrats have to spend time and money there.

If nothing else they will bury a fringe candidate that looks like he is going to cause trouble in adverse advertising dollars.

So, who do you think is on the short list? I can think of three names and there might be others.

First is Jeb Bush.

How can the Republicans go wrong with a vintage Bush? JB has the experience having been governor of Florida, a big swing state that the GOP would love to have in its column.

Second is Chris Christie.

This is a bit of a risk. Christie tend to walk to the beat of his own drummer and could alienate some people with his manner. Another problem for Christie is that a poll, just after he won the governor's race in New Jersey, showed he would LOSE New Jersey to Hillary Clinton.

Third, we have an old favorite, Mitt Romney.

If the good old boys of the GOP could just pick the next president, I suspect that Mitt would be their boy. The problem is that Romney would still need to win a general election.

More Delusion on the Religious Right

The Family Research Counsel has the solution to the issue of Transgender Rights. They "think" a Constitutional Amendment regulating sexual identity is the way to go. I put "think" in quotes because I find it hard to believe that these have a brain to "think" with.

Aside from the simple fact that it is really, really hard to amend the Constitution, who else but a bunch of religious fruitcakes would even consider this.

What these people always fail to realize is that if there were enough support for an amendment, there probably wouldn't be a need for one. Cries for amendments always emerge when the Federal Courts make a decision that someone doesn't like.

Here are other amendments that aren't going to happen either.

1. An amendment to outlaw abortion or limit abortion to very narrow cases.

2. An amendment to define marriage as being between one man and one woman and thus eliminate any question of a constitutional right for gay couples.

3. An amendment to return prayer to the public schools.

On the left an amendment to overturn Citizens United isn't going to happen either.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Ferguson Missouri

If you've been following the case in Ferguson we have a black teenager shot by a white police officer.

This is one of those stories that has wildly varying claims about what happened and who did what.

Witnesses claim that the teenager, Michael Brown, had his hands in the air and was trying to surrender when the police officer, Darren Wilson, shot him.

The reason Brown was initially approached by Wilson appeared to have been an incident where Brown allegedly robbed a store by basically walking out with some merchandise.

As usually the media has been all over the map.

There were significant, often violent, protests in Ferguson over the shooting. A Grand Jury was convened to consider whether or not the police officer should be indicted for Brown's death.

After wading through volumes of testimony and forensic evidence, the Grand Jury declined to indict Darren Wilson.  The jury consisted of seven men and five women, nine of them white and three black. Nine votes were required for an indictment. What the vote actually was has not been made public.

What can I say? Clearly the Grand Jury was not convinced that an indictment was warranted. From what I've heard the eye witness testimony tended to support Brown being shot down unjustifiably while the forensic evidence seemed to indicate that Wilson's version of the events was closer to the truth.

If that's true then I can understand the reluctance to indict because eye witness testimony is notoriously unreliable.

I didn't hear the evidence so I can do is rely on the decision of the Grand Jury.

Friday, November 07, 2014

6th Circuit Upholds Gay Marriage Bans

Let the games begin!

As expected the 6th Circuit Court has upheld Gay Marriage Bans in Michigan, Ohio, Tennessee and Kentucky.

It doesn't sound as if the court found the states arguments particularly persuasive as the 2-1 decision stated that Gay marriage is almost inevitable. What the court did state is that the issue should be settled by the democratic process and not by the courts.

The 6th Circuit has apparently forgotten that a key role of the courts is to protect the rights of the minority under the law from the tyranny of the majority. A "let the democratic process" settle it approach in the days of Jim Crow would almost certainly have kept blacks disenfranchised and segregation in place.

I wonder if the court is using this as an excuse to kick the question up where it belongs at the Supreme Court?

In any event now the SCOTUS has no excuse not to address the issue. If they hurry up they can still get it on this years docket.

I think Gay Marriage should be legal across the country. The waste of resources over this question is ridiculous. Let's settle it and move on already.

If the SCOTUS upholds state bans, the battle and waste of resources will continue. The way to put an end to it is to declare Gay Marriage a right under the 14th Amendment because it's the right thing to do.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Ebola, the Short Term and the Long Term

In New York and New Jersey Governors Mario Cuomo and Chris Christie have decided that healthcare workers returning from working with Ebola patients in West Africa will be quarantined until it's been demonstrated that they're not carrying the Ebola virus.

This is in response to a doctor who had been in Guinea working with Doctors without Borders coming down with the Ebola virus in New York City.

The move apparently caught officials in both New York City and Washington by surprise.

While this may seem like a logical response to protect the citizens of New York and New Jersey it has a down side. It places another potential obstacle in getting healthcare help to West Africa (as if there weren't enough already).

Now, in addition to the obvious dangers and hardships involved, doctors and nurses would face forced quarantine upon returning home. If enough places established such regulations, and Illinois and Florida have already indicated they'll follow suit, it could place a serious limit on medical help getting to West Africa where it's desperately needed and the disease is still spiraling out of control.

This is the concern of the so-called experts in the area who contend that the best protection for everyone else is to get the epidemic under control in West Africa.

In other words, we may have a case of "short term" versus "long term" strategy.

It's quite possible that if the outbreak in West Africa isn't contained, we could be seeing the start of a global catastrophe. In other words, playing ostrich and not worrying about it because "it's way over there in Africa" could be a enormous mistake.

On the other hand, outbreaks in New York, Dallas and Western Europe aren't going to make things any easier and would still deflect medical help from West Africa.

The White House is trying to make like a good global citizen but I'm not sure that strategy is correct. The best way to get the disease in West Africa under control is with a vaccine or a cure. That's the real long term solution. Having pockets of infection in the US and Western Europe isn't going to help that process and might very well hamper it if people really get all bent out of shape over this thing.

I have to say that in this particular case I'm going to go with Cuomo and Christie. If someone is willing to face going to an Ebola infested area, I don't think there's a high probability that a few weeks of quarantine on the way back is going to change their mind.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

The Hayflick Limit

What exactly is the Hayflick Limit? I'll tell you.

Basically the Hayflick Limit states that the maximum number of times that cells may divide is finite and somewhere between 40 and 60.

Prior to Leonard Hayflick's experiments in 1961 cells were thought to possess the ability to divide an infinite number of times.

So, what does this mean to you? It means you're not going to live forever. The Hayflick Limit essentially limits how long the human body can repair itself before it gives out. Hope that your limit is closer to 60 than 40.

Oh, by the way, it also pretty much rules out any chance of people living to ages near 900 like in the Bible. The simple fact is that ancient peoples exaggerated everything about their cultural heroes including how long they lived.

In a Persian epic poem several Shahs are said to have had extremely long lifespans. Zahhak lived 1000 years, Jamshid 700 years and Fereydun 500 years.

In China Zeng Pu supposedly lived for 800 years during the Yin Dynasty and Zuo Chi lived for 300 years during the Three Kingdoms Period.

Similar legends can be found in Japan, Korea, the Roman Empire, Poland and the Czech Republic.

All of these lifespans are as impossible as those in the Bible.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Even More on Ebola

Oh this just gets better and better.

Now we're being told that the nurse diagnosed with Ebola that took the Frontier Airlines flight with a 99.5 degree temperature CALLED the CDC to check if it was OK.

Whoever it was that talked to her looked at the chart which said the threshold temperature was 100.4 degrees and told her it was OK for her to fly.

Did we farm out the CDC to the lowest bidder while I wasn't looking?

So the guys watching the hen house continue to demonstrate that they are not taking this thing seriously enough. Even the CDC says she should not have gotten on the plane so who the hell did she talk to? The receptionist?

The Keystone Cops have nothing on these turkeys.

More on Ebola

Now a second healthcare worker in Dallas has contracted Ebola and this ditz got on a Frontier Airline flight from Ohio to Dallas AFTER she detected a 99.5 degree fever.

Almost like clockwork articles appeared about how hard it is to contract Ebola on an airplane while the CDC was trying to get in contact with the 130 people also on the plane.

In the meantime consider this, the common flu is also spread by droplets of fluid and can infect people up to six feet away if someone sneezes or coughs. Ebola is spread the same way so why isn't it just as contagious as the flu?

Would you want to be on an aircraft for 2 hours sitting next to someone with the flu?

Again I'm concerned that the information we're getting has been dumbed down in an effort not to cause confusion or panic. Unfortunately that's exactly what's happening because of the contradictions in what we're hearing and the fact that most of us are capable of thinking for ourselves.

People keep trying to compare this virus to Aids or the flu and that's just not going to work. Anyone with at least half a brain can see it's not like Aids or the flu.

Again, concern doesn't mean panic but WHO is estimating that within a few months we'll be seeing 10,000 new cases a week in West Africa. Somehow we need to do better than that.

As for the US, enough with the slow role and self-monitoring. We need a blood test or we need to isolate people that have come in contact with people with Ebola.

Don't ask me what we're going to do about the 130 people on the Frontier flight or the hundreds more in the airport that may come in contact with Patient #3 because I don't know.

At a news conference this morning a Texas Presbyterian Hospital spokesman said they didn't have a systemic problem at the hospital. You'll excuse me but two healthcare workers becoming ill and one so untrained as to get on an airplane after symptoms appeared says that you DO has a systemic problem.

Monday, October 13, 2014

The Ebola Outbreak

The Ebola outbreak in West Africa has now claimed 4,000 lives and shows no sign of ending anytime soon.

In the US the first diagnosed case of Ebola was a man returning to Texas from Liberia. The patient was originally misdiagnosed at a Dallas hospital (they were probably too busy saying "how about them Cowboys") and sent home with antibiotics.

The man later died from the disease and now a healthcare worker that treated that man at the same Dallas hospital has been diagnosed with the virus. This is the first case of someone catching the virus in the continental US.

Three other false alarms, one in Frisco Texas, one in Boston Massachusetts and one at Newark Airport in New Jersey, made temporary headlines.

So what's the deal here? Should we be worried? Worried yes, in a state of panic, despite attempts by Fox News and other to create one, not so much.

My biggest cause for concern is I'm detecting a bad case of "too much arrogance and not enough caution" from Center for Disease Control (CDC) spokesmen.

They're making it sound like they have everything under control despite not seeming to be doing very much. The healthcare worker in Dallas should shake them up because either (1) the safety protocols were broken which is bad or (2) the safety protocols aren't as effective as we'd like to think which is REALLY bad.

All in all there are far too many people making statements and writing articles about how there's really nothing to be concerned about. When lots of people start telling me I have no reason to be concerned, I get concerned. Don't tell me, show me.

Tuesday, October 07, 2014

And the Right Wing Goes Bonkers

Of course the rejection by the Supreme Court along with the rapidly piling up string of victories for Gay Marriage is driving the Right Wing absolutely crazy.

They're delusional in the best of times but this seems to have really driven them over the edge.

Stacy Swimp, A Michigan Pastor, predicts "complete chaos and lawlessness" leading to "broken families" and "escalated crime." Funny, but none of this seems to have occurred in the states where Gay Marriage is already legal. The fact is that the gay population, at 2%, is too small to have much of an affect on anything.

Peter LaBarbera of Americans for Truth About Homosexuality (!?) - Thanks to the Supreme Court "We live not in freedom but in tyranny" and "Now is the time for civil disobedience on a massive scale."

Well. the fact that a court decision can be enforced says we live under the rule of law which is by definition not tyranny. As for "civil disobedience on a massive scale," not a snowball's chance in hell because no one is going to be negatively affected by these decisions.

Gay Marriage is legal in the entire Northeast and nothing, absolutely nothing, has changed except for the better.

Travis Weber of the Family Research Council - According to Weber the court decisions are based upon "poorly constructed, very poor analysis."

Of course the arguments against Gay Marriage all sounded like "sound and fury" coming from a complete moron. The bottom line is that opponents of Gay Marriage simply have no valid arguments.

Bryan Fischer of the American Family Association - According to Fischer the Supreme Court's decision not to hear the appeals was "unconscionable, unconstitutional and un-American."

All you can do with ridiculous howls like that are laugh. No one with a triple digit IQ could possibly take this twit seriously.

Sandy Rios of the American Family Association - Rios thinks "we're going to see riots in the streets," "we're going to see starvation" and "we're going to see a complete breakdown in terms of law."

Funny, but I seem to have missed all of these things going on in New Jersey and New York where Gay Marriage is already legal.

But my favorite is Right Wing talk show host Janet Mefferd who accuses the entire US Judicial System of being "lawless" and doesn't understand why "more Christians aren't yelling and screaming" over this lawlessness.

Christians can yell and scream all they want and it isn't going to change a thing. The mixture of ignorance, arrogance and sheer chutzpah of someone that calls the judicial system lawless is breathtaking isn't it?

A common thread through all of these howls of indignation is an attempt to drum up fear in the under 80 IQ trailer park evangelical Christian base. Fear is how religion and authoritarian politicians keep the white trash and other riff-raff they wheezle out of money they can't afford to give in line.

Unfortunately there's not much one can do about that. These people don't know how to not be afraid.

Gay Marriage Bans in Nevada and Idaho Fall

The 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that same sex marriage bans in Nevada and Idaho violate the 14th Amendment rights of gays.

In a unanimous three judge decision the court declared "Idaho and Nevada's marriage laws, by preventing same-sex couples from marrying and refusing to recognize same-sex marriages celebrated elsewhere, impose profound legal, financial, social and psychic harms on numerous citizens of those states."

The court went on to say that neither state offered any legitimate reason to discriminate against gay couples. The states presented the argument that Gay Marriage would somehow devalue traditional marriage leading to more out-of-wedlock births.

The court rejected the argument stating "This proposition reflects a crass and callous view of parental love and the parental bond that is not worthy of response. We reject it out of hand."

Ouch. Attorneys trying to defend Gay Marriage bans are not only loosing they're getting spanked by the courts for the idiocy of their arguments.

Like I've said, if social conservatives were smart enough to see how ridiculous their positions are, they wouldn't be social conservatives.

I think that's now, given the SCOTUS refusal to hear the appeals from the five states Monday, something like 32 states that have either legalized Gay Marriage or had their bans struck down. I'm loosing track.

More on the Cowards in Robes

Apparently the pro-gay forces are looking upon the court's decision as a positive thing while the anti-gay forces are livid.

Every anti-gay marriage organization is howling at the moon over the SCOTUS letting the lower court decisions stand.

As I read through the statements blasting the court by people like the AFA and NOM I'm struck by both the consistency of the arguments and how wrong headed they are.

The common threads running through almost all of the statements are:

(1) That legalizing Gay Marriage is a "redefinition of marriage." Well, actually it's not a "redefinition" it's an expansion. Just like the legalization of inter-racial marriage was an expansion.

(2) That the courts are defying the rule of law and the will of the voters. No, it's the purpose of the courts to define the law and to protect the rights of the minority. The will of the voters is OK as long as it doesn't violate the law.

This is a point that conservatives can't seem to grasp. The law, and especially the Constitution, trumps the will of the voters.

(3) That legalizing Gay Marriage negatively impacts Freedom of Religion. This is the old zero sum game argument that somehow rights and freedoms are finite and to expand one persons rights must by necessity reduce the rights of someone else.

The only way to describe this argument is that it's total horseshit.

The whole idea that the legalization of Gay Marriage somehow impinges upon the Freedom of Religion of people who's religion says homosexuality is sinful is ridiculous. If your religion says that homosexuality is a no-no, that's between you and your religion. The rest of us are free to ignore it.

What Christians actually are asking for is the privilege to define morality. They are essentially demanding that everyone else recognize their definition of what's immoral. No, it doesn't work that way because Christianity has no authority in a secular republic like the US.

The acceptance of any religion's teaching is purely voluntary. That's the real meaning of Freedom of Religion. You are allowed to accept or reject the tenets of any religion. When you get right down to it, trying to force the idea that homosexuality is immoral violates the Freedom of Religion of those who's religion, or lack of religion, says no it's not.

So what about non-discrimination laws which force Christians to sell things to gays for events they may disapprove of such as a gay wedding? There's an old saying that one man's rights end where the next one's begin. Again Christians are asking for a privilege. The privilege to discriminate against a class of people because their religion says that class is sinful.

Personally I don't think we're obligated to accept such an ignorant, hateful and bigoted philosophy like that. On the other hand, why force the issue? Take your business someplace else.

Anyway, after thinking about it, the SCOTUS, by not taking these cases is essentially validating the lower court decisions that bans on Gay Marriage violate the 14th Amendment. How can they possibly rule that they don't later after Gay Marriage has been legal in the affected states?

Monday, October 06, 2014

Cowards in Robes

The Supreme Court has declined to hear the appeals of five states of lower court decisions which struck down their prohibition on Gay Marriage.

The immediate effect of this will be the probable legalization of Gay Marriage in Utah, Oklahoma, Virginia, Wisconsin and Indiana. I say probable because I'm sure Gay Marriage opponents in those state are already trying to figure out a way to prevent that from happening.

While that may sound like good news, the cowardly action by the court means that the pitched battles in the individual states will continue with all the waste of resources and raising tempers that entails.

The time is long past for a decision by the Supreme Court on this issue. The fact that the four votes needed to hear a case couldn't be found sort of indicates how divided the court must be on this issue and how uncertain the outcome might be.

The court is clearly waiting until the consensus of public opinion becomes so overwhelming that their final legalization becomes something of a ho-hum.

Like I said, cowards in robes.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Everything is Better with Bacon

According to Bryan Fischer of the American Family Association, "...the sheer fact that we freely allow the sale and consumption of bacon is absolute proof that we are, in fact, a Christian nation."

So, only Christian nations sell bacon?

Personally, I think Fischer is an idiot. Here's a news flash for you Bryan, it's not all that difficult to buy bacon in Jerusalem and it's certainly not illegal. The non-kosher grocery chain Tiv Ta'am sells bacon, ham and shellfish.

There are also Chinese, Russian and Thai restaurants that sell non-kosher entrees. I've eaten non-kosher meals in Tel Aviv hotels including bacon on a cheeseburger which violates all sorts of Jewish dietary laws.

But if you accept Fischer's logic, the fact that Israel freely allows "the sale and consumption of bacon is absolute proof" that Israel is a Christian nation.

Like I said, I think Fischer is an idiot.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Obama on ISIS

The president gave his strategy speech tonight. He outlined four points.

1. Additional airstrikes into Iraq and, if necessary, Syria
2. Increased support to Iraqi forces including advisory personnel on the ground but no combat units
3. Counter terrorism actions to cut off ISIS manpower and funding
4. Continued humanitarian support

Obama talked about leading a "broad coalition" but gave no specifics about the composition of that coalition. I've heard the French are ready to participate in bombing runs. I don't know how true that is but I've heard nothing about Arab participation or other European Union support.

I'd feel a lot better about this if Egypt and Saudi Arabia were sending support as well as the US. Rumor has it that Iranian advisers are already on the ground with Iraqi Shiite militias.

This is a quagmire. I don't envy the guys who have to go there and get caught between Sunni extremists that have probably infiltrated Iraqi forces and Iranian led Shiite militias.

Like I've said before, the basis for a three way civil war was established when the British established the Kingdom of Iraq without regard to national or ethnic considerations.

There was no mention in the speech of who was going to pay for all of this. You'll excuse me while I tighten my grip on my wallet (as if that's going to do any good).

Tuesday, September 09, 2014

Rick Santorum - Lack of Religion is also a Religion

Rick Santorum is a nut. His latest idea is that removing religion from the classroom is not neutral because the lack of a religion is also a religion.

Sure Rick, and not collecting stamps is a hobby and bald is a hair color.

This has been tried before. It's nothing new and the very idea has been laughed out of court.

You see when Rick and other right wing Christians talk about "religion," what they assume is Christianity. They forget that there are lots of religions.

Rick wants to teach Christianity in the public schools to have a free exchange of ideas rather than force secularism on everyone. The problem is being silent about religion is NOT the same thing as promoting no religion.

Rick doesn't really want a free exchange of ideas, he wants Christianity taught as the only moral option.

If he really wanted a free exchange then Islam, Hinduism, Wicca and even Satanism would have to be presented as alternative religions. Atheism would have to be presented as an alternative to all religions.

I can just imagine the howls of indignation from Christians if Christianity were presented as only one option among equals.

Thursday, September 04, 2014

32 States ask Supreme Court to Settle Gay Marriage Issue

Fifteen states where Gay Marriage is legal, led by Massachusetts, and 17 states where it is illegal, led by Colorado, have petitioned the Supreme Court to settle the issue once and for all.

The question is heading there anyway so why burn up all of the resources addressing the question in the lower courts?

The SCOTUS should stop hiding in the closet on this one and do what needs to be done.

How would the court rule? Good question. If it rules that bans on Gay Marriage are illegal that pretty much settles the legal question and Gay Marriage would become like abortion access with Conservatives snipping at the edges.

Unlike Abortion Access though, I see this as a rapidly dying issue as time goes on.

If it rules that Gay Marriage bans are constitutional, the fight will continue at the state level with supporters trying to overturn existing bans and opponents trying to re-institute bans in the states where it is now legal.

In other words, things would be even worse than they are now.

We're talking about less than 2% of the population here. I don't see how legalizing Gay Marriage across the board can cause any harm. I can see a lot of harm in wasted resources if the court doesn't legalize it.

Besides, it's the right thing to do, so let's legalize it and move on.

Wednesday, September 03, 2014

What's Wrong with this Picture?

Note the following graph.

While Individual Income Taxes as a percentage of GDP have risen slightly from about 7.5% in the early 1950s to about 8% in 2014, Corporate Income taxes as a percentage of GDP have dropped from about 5% in the early 1950s to less than 2% in 2014.

Yet we continue to hear corporation CEOs and the right wing wing nuts cry about high corporate taxes. Here's a hint, they're greedy lying bastards.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Lake Mead

In 2008 I was in Las Vegas. We took a tour to Lake Mead, the reservoir behind the Hoover Dam, and I noticed the water marks of the rocks surrounding the Lake indicating that water level was fairly low.

A day or two later, in exchange for some show tickets, we were working our way through a time- share presentation of some very, very nice new high rise buildings. I had no real interest in a time-share (although the apartments were REALLY nice) but I remember asking the sales guy where all these high rises were going to get water and he simply said "Lake Mead" as if it was obvious.

Given what I had seen at the lake and looking at all the new construction, I had some doubts about how obvious a solution that was.

Now I see on the Internet that Lake Mead is at an all time low and they're predicting water shortages and even possibly "dry days" by 2015. This comes as no real surprise to me given what I've seen in Vegas.

I wonder how the strip is going to make out when there are days when you can't take a shower?

This is only the first effects that we're about to see from climate change rendering the water supply in the western states more and more iffy.

I wouldn't panic just yet, but the problem is Conservatives refuse to even recognize the fact that there is a looming problem.

In the final analysis this is an engineering problem and there is (hopefully) an engineering solution. But we're not going to find that solution until we get engineers looking at the issue and that's not going to happen until we recognize that an issue exists.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Is the NSA's Collection of Metadata Unconstiutional?

Before we get to the answer, let's carefully articulate the question.

First of all, what is metadata?

Metadata is summary information about communications. Generally it includes (1) the calling number, (2) the receiving number, (3) when the call was made and (4) how long the call lasted.

Note that one cannot tell with absolute certainty from metadata who actually talked to whom but one can establish a fairly high probability. Nor can one know what was said. One only knows the duration of the call.

This information is generally the property of the service provider and not the property of the people communicating.

Second of all, what's the so-called reason for the collection? The NSA claims it's to protect against terrorist activity.

Finally, the Article of the Constitution that it may be violating is Amendment IV which states "The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers and effects against unreasonable searches and seizures shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized."

Now, clearly the NSA had no warrant "particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized."

They were scooping up information wholesale. So how the hell could this possibly be Constitutional?

For two reasons. The first is that, as mentioned above, the information collected is not the property of the caller or person being called. It's the property of the service provider and they apparently freely provided this information.

If you don't know that using the telephone, sending an e-mail or logging on to the internet is being recorded by someone, somewhere and then that information is being used to sell you stuff or send you offers, you're an idiot or you're not paying attention.

So why should you have any expectation of privacy at all when engaging in these activities? This is certainly a question that will be raised during the court case. Now one could claim that this metadata is a "paper" or "effect" or that one does not surrender expectations of privacy when using the provider service. I suppose we'll see.

The other issue is the word "unreasonable." What the hell is an "unreasonable" search or seizure?

Normally it's a search or seizure without "probable cause." And what is "probable cause?" It's knowledge or information that would lead a reasonable person to conclude that a crime is being committed, has been committed or is about to be committed.

Obviously, when you are collecting every piece of information available, you cannot possibly have "probable cause" for everything you're seizing.

So, is there any exception to the "probable cause" requirement?

Yes, there is. In two Supreme Court decisions, U.S. v. Martinez-Fuerte, related to roadblocks to check for illegal immigrants, and Michigan v. Sitz, related to DUI checkpoints which stopped all or random vehicles to check for driver intoxication, the SCOTUS balanced "state interests" against "4th Amendment protections" and concluded that the interests of the state outweighed the minor 4th Amendment inconvenience of the seizure or stopping of vehicles with no particular probable cause related to that vehicle.

In other words, the seizure was not "unreasonable" despite the lack of "probable cause." However, the court made it clear that a "search" still required "probable cause" such as a driver smelling of alcohol at a DUI stop.

So, now we have to differentiate between the "seizure" of the metadata and the "search" of the metadata. I'm not even sure that such a distinction in this case can be made but, assuming it can, then I can see an argument along the lines of the "seizure" being in the state's interest to protect against terrorism but the "search" of the data requiring probable cause.

Of course then the agency would have to demonstrate to a court that this wholesale gathering of information is an EFFECTIVE method to combat terrorism which they may or may not be able to do.

Just about every agency and board that has reviewed the NSA activity has concluded that it's unconstitutional and one court has said that it is probably unconstitutional as well.

The NSA is far and away the most arrogant agency I've ever had the misfortune to interact with but they also have lots and lots of very smart people with lots of access to lots of things that we don't know about.

The Roberts Court also strikes me as one that looks for legal excuses to do what they want to do anyway. It really wouldn't surprise me if by the time this thing got to the Supreme Court they didn't have some sort of excuse to say it's OK if they want to say that.

I also don't count out the NSA presenting classified evidence in closed sessions, real or fabricated, that the public won't hear about for 50 years. In other words, despite everyone being so sure that this violates the 4th Amendment, it wouldn't surprise me at all if the SCOTUS said it didn't.

Friday, August 15, 2014

FIFA to be Sued over Refs

A Colombian lawyer, Aurelio Jimenez by name, says he intends to sue FIFA over the poor performance of the refs during the world cup.

According to Jimenez he suffered "moral damages" over poor decisions by the ref in the Colombia v. Brazil quarter final. "I felt very bad, I was heartbroken, my cardiac rhythm was altered and my relatives took me to the emergency room at the hospital. I was surrounded by my grandchildren who were crying a lot."

The 74-year old Jimenez says "I decided to sue FIFA in the Colombian judiciary system because in the past world soccer championship in Brazil, there were many wrongdoings related to referees who damaged many countries and their selections, among them the Colombia team. Moreover, FIFA's referees caused big moral damages and distress to Chile, Uruguay, Colombia, England, Uruguay, Mexico and Costa Rica."

Well, yeah, but don't "moral damages" sort of go with the territory in sports?

I'm not touching this one with a ten foot pole and I suspect, if he does file suit, that the Colombian courts will toss it out. Buy, hey, I know how he feels. There have been times when I felt like treating an NFL ref or two to a good old fashioned tar and feathering.

Then I remember that it's just a game (Here's hoping I don't find myself eating those words this NFL season).

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

The Bridal Boutique and Gay Marriage

A bridal boutique in Bloomsburg Pennsylvania refused service to a Lesbian couple (Is gay marriage legal in Pennsylvania? Ah yes, as of May 20, 2014) because it would "break God's law."

Needless to say it touched off a round of criticism of the shop and reportedly some folks even placed malicious phony reviews of the shop on its Yelp Page. I didn't see any obvious phony negative reviews. The one negative review I did see sounded legitimate.

I did see a few "reviews" criticizing the shops gay stance and since you have to provide a rating in order to place a comment, I suppose one could argue that these are phony reviews.

However there only were four reviews, all of the 1-star variety. Three clearly related to the shop's gay marriage stance and there was one very negative review from six weeks prior cataloging a litany of issues with the shop's service.

But I digress.

As far as I know there is no anti-discrimination law in Pennsylvania that covers LGBT individuals so the shop is in the clear legally. They're not in the clear in terms of people refusing them business due to their medieval attitude.

Which brings me to reactions to the criticism, which appears to amount to the three negative reviews on the Yelp page.

According to Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council (FRC), people criticizing the shop for refusing service are demonstrating "intolerance."

Yes Virginia, this is what it has come down to. Criticizing "intolerance" is itself "intolerance" if the bigot in question claims his "intolerance" is based upon his religious beliefs.

So what it all comes down to is the question "does an individual have the PRIVILEGE to discriminate based upon his religious beliefs?" Note that I refuse to call it a right as this sort of thing reeks of the privleges claimed by the Throne and Church during the Dark Ages.

In some cases we do extend that privilege to churches. So, to be consistent, should we extend it to individuals? Personally I don't think so. I'm not even so thrilled in some cases where it's extended to churches.

Now, one thing I found very interesting was a quote from the shop owner who reportedly said "providing those two girls dresses for a sanctified marriage would break God's law."

I'm not going to pass judgment on that opinion but the dresses WEREN'T for a sanctified marriage. They were for a CIVIL marriage. I think this is a safe assumption since any church that would sanctify a gay marriage wouldn't be recognized by the shop owner as a real church anyway.

This is something that Christians are apparently too simple minded to understand. When gay marriage is declared legal, we're talking about CIVIL marriage. Marriage is a legal institution that does not require religious sanctification. Churches are allowed to refuse to marry gay couples if it "violates" their religion in every state where gay marriage is legal.

I wonder if someone should point this out to the owner of the bridal boutique.

Friday, August 08, 2014

Why Conservatives are Losing

Matt Barber is a staunchly anti-gay right wing Christian. He's also, in my humble opinion, a complete asshole that epitomizes the delusional conservative and illustrates why conservatives are losing, and will continue to lose, the culture wars.

Barber is upset with Target stores for supporting gays. He is so upset that he is calling for people to boycott Target stores, “I hope people will go into Target stores across the country and tell them that they are no longer going to buy products there because Target has joined in the attack on the institution of natural marriage."

Now Barber is well within his rights to be upset with Target and is also within his rights to boycott the store and ask others to boycott it. An economic boycott is a form of "freedom of speech." It is a method of expressing disagreement with a company's policies by hitting them where in hurts the most, in the pocketbook.

That's not why I think Barber is an asshole.

I think he's an asshole because what he takes for granted as his right he would openly deny to others. When gay rights activists called for a boycott of Chick-Fil-A over its donations to anti-gay political groups Barber expressed outrage that liberals were "intimidating" the restaurant chain.

When a similar boycott was organized against the Charity Give Back Group, also over donations to anti-gay political groups, Barber called it "economic terrorism."

And therein lies the arrogance of the conservative. They believe they have the privilege to decide how other people should live and how other people should act. They would like to impose their morality on everyone else. They're also convinced that they have "privileges" (they call them rights) that, according to them, no one else seems to have.

That's not to say that liberals aren't sometimes guilty of trying to enforce their opinions on everyone else. The difference is liberals are usually trying to remove restrictions while conservatives are usually trying to impose them. The other difference is liberals are usually motivated by harm to a third party while conservatives are usually motivated by their concept of so-called morality.

Wednesday, August 06, 2014

The Middle East

I realized while reading about the latest chaos in the Gaza Strip that I didn't really know that much about the history of the conflict in Palestine. So, I did a little research.

It's probably convenient to start around 1915. The problem was the British were in the middle of WW I and needed both (1) Arab military support against the Turks and (2) Jewish/Zionist political and monetary support on the home front especially from people like the Rothschilds.

Unfortunately it appears the left hand didn't know what the right hand was doing (or didn't care). While Sir Henry McMahon seemed to promise Sharif Hussein the Palestine region (there was no Ottoman province called Palestine) along with other Ottoman Empire Arab territories as a homeland in exchange for military support, Arthur James Balfour told Lord Rothschild "His Majesty’s Government view with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, and will use their best endeavours to facilitate the achievement of this object..." in the Balfour declaration.

To be fair the British claim they excluded Palestine in the promise to Hussein because the area wasn't exclusively Arab and Balfour stated in his declaration "...nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine..."

Of course this hedging by the British just made things worse and both sides believed the British had double crossed them. From 1920 to 1940 or so the Arabs, Jews and British took turns fighting each other in what amounted to a three way bitching contest during the Palestine Mandate granted to the British under the League of Nations.

The British took time off for WW II but then things picked up in 1945 pretty much where they left off with a three way pissing contest. The British finally threw up their hands and gave it up in early 1948 dumping the whole mess in the lap of the United Nations.

The UN came up with a partitioning plan which called for a Jewish State comprising 53% of the area, an Arab state comprising 46% and an International Zone containing Jerusalem and Bethlehem. The Jews were allocated more land than the Arabs despite Arabs being in the majority (1,270,000 to 610,000) because large scale Jewish emigration from Europe was anticipated.

The Arabs didn't want to have anything to do with this plan. Just about all Arab states voted against it in the UN and as soon as it was adopted they started a shooting war with the Jews in Palestine that has pretty much been going on with short periods of relative quiet ever since.

The core of the problem lies in the Palestinian refusal to accept the existence of the State of Israel. In 1948 they argued why should Arab land be given to the Jews to compensate for crimes committed against the Jews in Europe?

While that argument may have had some merit in 1948 (but VERY little because the Palestine Mandate in 1920 made it clear that a Jewish State was to be established in Palestine), 66 years later it's a bit of a moot point. Realistically each side needs to recognize the other and figure out a way to divide up the territory as equitably as possible.

Everyone else needs to go in the corner and be as quiet as possible.

Monday, August 04, 2014

The Dominoes Continue to Fall in Florida

A third Florida judge, this one in Broward County, has declared the Florida ban on same-sex marriage unconstitutional.

Broward County Judge Dale C. Evens joined judges in Miami-Dade and Monroe counties who have also declared both not recognizing out of state same sex marriages and the Florida ban unconstitutional.

Also like the other two decisions, an immediate stay was issued pending the expected appeal.

GOP Committee Report on Benghazi

Are you ready for THE REPORT? Because ready or not, here it comes.

After two years of Republican accusations and recriminations and spending $3.3 million to catch the Administration and the State Department red handed, the Republican led House investigation has found...



NOTHING! Absolutely freaking nothing. No wrong doing by the anyone in the Administration or the State Department before, during or after the incident.

Just like the IRS "Scandal" it was pure delusional horseshit. This is more evidence that the GOP consists of a bunch of lying, ignorant SOBs that no have business leading a playground sing along never mind a country.

Yet we will still hear the right wing nutcases claiming delusional nonsense about Benghazi. What's next? Obama kidnapped the first born of the committee members so they would hide the truth? We'll either get total idiocy or total silence. I'm hoping for total silence.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Why the Intelligent Design Argument Doesn't Work

The Intelligent Design Argument, which I still see with discouraging regularity on the internet, is the same as Paley's watch argument.

Basically the argument goes that when you see a watch, or a car, or an airplane or any other complex construct, you know immediately that it is designed and didn't come into existence through natural processes without human intervention.

Therefore, given that life is infinitely more complex than a watch or a car or an airplane, then it must also have a designer who is much more intelligent and powerful than a man.

Here's the problem. When you first see a watch or car or airplane you actually know nothing about it. But you do know about thousands upon thousands upon thousands of other similar objects. You know how they were designed and built. Therefore it is reasonable to infer that this watch or car or airplane was designed and built in a similar fashion.

You can't make the same sort of inference with the Earth's biosphere because this is the only biosphere that we know about. We can't infer anything about this biosphere from our knowledge about other biospheres because we don't know of any other biospheres.

So, why can't we use our knowledge of the design of inanimate objects to infer design of the biosphere?

You can't do that because inanimate objects don't biologically reproduce. You can't get a little car by putting together two big cars. It ain't going to happen. You are literally comparing two classes of object that have absolutely no similarity.

Therefore any sort of inference about the Earth's biosphere based upon inanimate objects is totally meaningless.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Gay Marriage Ban Overturned in Florida Keys

A circuit court judge in Monroe County Florida, which consists of primarily the Florida Keys, has ruled that the Florida ban violates the 14th Amendment. The ruling only applies to Monroe County and will undoubtedly be appealed.

The sole anti-gay marriage argument appears to have been that the results of a referendum in 2008, which outlawed Gay Marriage and Domestic Partnerships by a 62%-38% margin.

Judge Luis M. Garcia reject the argument saying "The court is aware that the majority of voters oppose same-sex marriage, but it is our country's proud history to protect the rights of the individual, the rights of the unpopular and the rights of the powerless, even at the cost of offending the majority."

The point is simple. Rights guaranteed under the Constitution are not subject to popular vote. If Gay Marriage is protected by the Constitution, then any and all referendums are irrelevant.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

The World Cup - Final

In the 113th minute a goal that was a thing of sheer beauty by Marion Gotze wrapped it up for Germany over Argentina 1-0.

I think the best team won and at least the hosts can take solace in the fact that it wasn't Argentina walking off with the gold.

Third Place Game
Brazil v. Netherlands

Germany v. Argentina

The win by the Germany brings me to 15-1 for the elimination rounds and 27-5 overall. I'm going to quit while I'm ahead. Oh yeah, that's right, there ain't no more.

So that's all she wrote. It's over for four years until the next tournament in Russia. I can't wait but I'm not doing any more picks. I'm going to leave that up to the drunken chimps.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

The World Cup - 3rd Place Game

When it rains it pours. The tournament continues to be a disappointment for the host as they lose the third place game to the Netherlands 3-0.

This is one of those things you just have to throw away and move on. I'm sure Brazil will be back. Two years from now we'll have the Olympics in Brazil as well and there will the opportunity to rebound.

Third Place Game
Brazil v. Netherlands

Germany v. Argentina

So all that's left is the final tomorrow. The win by the Netherlands brings me to 14-1 for the elimination rounds and 26-5 overall. If I didn't know better I would think I know what I'm talking about.

In 2010 I finished 13-3 for the knockout rounds and 24-8 overall so even if I get tomorrow wrong, I'm still going to do better this time around.

Of course last time I got the championship game right.

I looked back over my posts from 2010 and I was having a lot more fun with that tournament. Oh well, I guess I was more focused back then.

Wednesday, July 09, 2014

The World Cup - Second Semi-final

Brazil's nightmare just got a little bit worse as Argentina moved past the Netherlands via penalty kicks.

After 120 minutes of 0-0, Argentine keeper Sergio Romero blocked the first and the fourth kicks by the Netherlands to lead Argentina to a 4-2 win.

So it will be Germany v. Argentina in the final.

If you're a Brazilian fan, who do you root for in the final? Germany, the team that humiliated your side in the semi-final or Argentina, your biggest rival?

I suspect that rooting for Argentina would be like a Giants fan rooting for the Eagles or a Bears fan cheering on Green Bay. In this situation you swallow the defeat and yell like hell for the team playing those other guys.

If you're Brazilian, I'm betting the rule is still you root for Brazil and whoever is playing Argentina.

Brazil v. Germany
Argentina v. Netherlands

I managed 2-0 in the semi-finals which brings me to 13-1 for the elimination rounds and 25-5 overall.

Of course you know this means I don't have a prayer of getting either the 3rd place game or the final right.

Third Place Game
Brazil v. Netherlands - Netherlands

While I don't think either team is going to have its whole heart in this game, I suspect Brazil will have less of it. On the other hand, they might look on this game as a chance for some redemption. I'm still going to go with the Netherlands.

Germany v. Argentina - Germany

Overall the Germans have impressed me as a more complete team and a team that is running like a well oiled machine. Besides, fate can't be cruel enough to have Argentina win the cup in Brazil.

Tuesday, July 08, 2014

Quote of the World Cup

After Germany made it 5-0 in the semi-final, the color announcer had the quote of the tournament.

"Go be aggressive and kick SOMEBODY, go and do SOMETHING to influence this game!"

The World Cup - First Semi-final

All I kept saying was "oh my God" and "you have got to be kidding me." If anyone had suggested that Germany was going to beat Brazil, at home, in the semi-finals of the World Cup, 7-1, with the sole Brazilian goal coming at the 90th minute, I would have laughed in their face.

Portugal beat North Korea 7-0 in 2010. But that was Portugal and North Korea. Brazil doesn't lose 7-1 and especially not at home.

OK, it happens.

The Buffalo Bills lost four Super Bowls in a row. The first one, 20-19 to the Giants,  was the only close one. Then 37-24 to Washington, 52-17 to Dallas and 30-13 again to Dallas. The Denver Broncos have lost 39-20 to the Giants, 42-10 to Washington, 55-10 to San Francisco and 43-8 to Seattle. The Giants lost to the Ravens 34-7 and the Patriots lost to the Bears 46-10.

It happens.

In 1940, the Chicago Bears beat the Washington Redskins 73-0 in the NFL Championship game.

It happens. That's why you have to play the game.

So after one semi-final, I'm 1-0 and 24-5 overall. Eat your heart out drunken chimpanzees, orangutans and pet goats.

Brazil v. Germany
Argentina v. Netherlands

Saturday, July 05, 2014

The World Cup the Quarter Finals

Not exactly a scoring bonanza. On Friday it was Germany advancing past France 1-0 and Brazil beating Columbia 2-1.

On Saturday it was Argentina over Belgium 1-0 and, in penalty kicks, the Netherlands ended Costa Rica's Cinderella story 4-3 after playing to a 0-0 draw.

France v. Germany
Brazil v. Columbia
Argentina v. Belgium
Netherlands v. Costa Rica

Yes, that's 4-0 you see there. Now we move on to the semi-finals.

Brazil v. Germany - Germany
Argentina v. Netherlands - Argentina

I'm going to go with Germany. I think the loss of Neymar is going to be too much to overcome and Lionel Messi has made me a believer so I'm going with Argentina.

Of course if I get Argentina right and Germany wrong, I get my dream match of a Brazil v. Argentina final. No matter what happens, it should be interesting.

Oh yeah, overall I'm 23-5 which ain't bad at all.

Tuesday, July 01, 2014

Meanwhile in Kentucky...

In Kentucky, District Court Judge John G. Heyburn II expanded on his earlier ruling that Kentucky must recognize same sex marriages from other states by striking down Kentucky's ban on Gay Marriage.

As for Kentucky governor Steve Beshear's latest argument against Gay Marriage, that it was too expensive to allow gay couples to marry, Heyburn said “These arguments are not those of serious people,” and went on to say they were “at best illogical and even bewildering.”

Heyburn then landed two of the best quotes I've heard in a long time, “In America even sincere and long-held religious views do not trump the constitutional rights of those who happen to have been out-voted.”

“Assuring equal protection for same-sex couples does not diminish the freedom of others to any degree… hopefully, even those opposed to or uncertain about same-sex marriage will see it that way in the future.”

In other words, despite what the right wing loonies are trying to tell you, it's not a zero sum game. Insuring rights for one group does not diminish rights for another group.

What it may do is taking away PRIVILEGE from another group. The privilege to eat the bread another man has toiled for; the privilege to discriminate against someone of a different color or different beliefs and the privilege to deny to a segment of the population rights enjoyed by everyone else just because you happen not to like them.

The World Cup Day 19

Tom Howard kept the US in the game but you can't let them knock on the door without them eventually getting through. It was Belgium in extra time 2-1.

As for the Swiss, they tried like hell to justify my picking them as the sleeper upset of the round of 16. Of course the same could be said if I had picked Nigeria, which I thought about, or Algeria which, to be honest, I never even considered. Argentina eventually broke through in extra time 1-0.

So, at the end of the round of 16 (my picks bold, winners in italics).

Brazil v. Chile
Netherlands v. Mexico
Columbia v. Uruguay
Coata Rica v. Greece
France v. Nigeria
Argentina v. Switzerland
Germany v. Algeria
Belgium v. USA

That's 7-1 which isn't too bad. Now we go on to the quarter-finals. We have, in the order to be played starting Friday July 4th.

France v. Germany - Germany
Brazil v. Columbia - Brazil
Argentina v. Belgium - Argentina
Netherlands v. Costa Rica - Netherlands

I'm really looking forward to the two games on Friday and I'm back to salivating over a possible Brazil v. Argentina final. Lionel Messi could establish the foundation of his legacy by bringing home to Argentina a World Cup from Brazil.

Monday, June 30, 2014

The World Cup Day 18

To be honest I expected these two games to be less than exciting. I thought France and Germany would move on with little strain. Wrong again.

I have to admit the French looked a tad lethargic but that would be taking credit away from Nigeria who played tough. The French finally broke through late in regulation scoring once and bouncing a ball off a Nigerian defender for 2-0 win.

Then we had Germany v. Algeria. I was starting to look up the schedule of trains to Munich because it was that intense. The Germans looked sluggish but I suspect a lot of that had to do with the Algerian defense being all over them.

Finally Germany managed a goal in the second minute of overtime. They appeared to put it away with a second goal in extra time but Algeria wasn't finished quite yet. They managed a score with less than a minute remaining making the final 2-1.

The play of the Nigerian and Algerian sides today epitomized what's great about the World Cup. They both came so close, so close, to turning the Futball world on its ear.

After three days of the round of 16 (my picks bold, winners in italics).

Brazil v. Chile
Netherlands v. Mexico
Columbia v. Uruguay
Coata Rica v. Greece
France v. Nigeria
Argentina v. Switzerland
Germany v. Algeria
Belgium v. USA

So, it'll be Germany v. France on Friday. July 4th along with Brazil v. Columbia. So, especially if, as expected, the US loses tomorrow, we'll be hearing about the Harald Shumacher collision with Patrick Battiston in the 1982 semi-final match between the two teams (yes, 1982 again) constantly over the next couple of days.

I don't call it a foul because, despite the violence of the collision, no foul was called.

If the US manages to win, that will of course dominate the news here in the US and pretty much go unnoticed by the rest of the world.

Ok, so I'm 6-0. Argentina v. Switzerland is my wise guy pick. I'm hoping the Swiss can work some magic tomorrow. As for Belgium and the US, all logic says that Belgium is a fairly safe pick but hey, that's why you have to play the game.

The quarter-final round is going to be really tough. So far we have:

Brazil v. Columbia
France v. Germany
Netherlands v. Costa Rica

If I get both games right tomorrow, I might just retire while I'm way ahead. The reality of the situation though is I already know who I would pick in those three games.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

The World Cup Day 17

Wow, just wow. In the 88th minute Wesley Sneijder of the Netherlands simply smashed a goal kick rebound into the net and the Dutch won it in extra time on a penalty kick 2-1.

In the second game, with 24 minutes left and a 1-0 lead, Costa Rica was reduced to 10 men when Oscar Duarte got his second yellow card of the game. Costa Rica managed to hold off Greece until the 1st minute of extra time when Greece tied the score 1-1.

Costa Rica then managed to hold off 30 minutes of overtime pressure and go on to win in penalty kicks 5-3. Talk about cardiac kids.

After two days of the round of 16 (my picks bold, winners in italics).

Brazil v. Chile
Netherlands v. Mexico
Columbia v. Uruguay
Coata Rica v. Greece
France v. Nigeria
Argentina v. Switzerland
Germany v. Algeria
Belgium v. USA

So after two days I'm 4-0. Excuse me while I go and polish my four leaf clover because I could have easily been 1-3.

So, where do I think we're headed? I don't know. I have to take a good look at France playing in the South American heat.

I think Columbia v. Brazil is going to be an absolutely fascinating game. My other big question mark is Argentina v. Switzerland. I hemmed and hawed a lot on that one before ultimately going with the Swiss but this is by far the game I have the least confidence in.

So that means it'll probably be the only one of the last four games I get right. No way that happens. If Germany loses to Algeria I'll make like it's 1982 and hop the next train to Munich.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

KFC and the Scarred Little Girl

It was the kind of thing that could get your blood boiling. A 3-year old Mississippi girl named Victoria, severely scarred by an attack from her grandfather's pit bulls, was asked by an employee as a Jackson Mississippi KFC restaurant to leave because her appearance was scaring the other customers.

Her grandmother, Kelly Mullins had just ordered the little girl mashed potatoes because they were soft when she was told the girl's appearance was disturbing other customers and they were asked to leave.

The nation was shocked, the Internet was shocked, even KFC was shocked and pledged a full investigation plus $30,000 to help pay for Victoria's medical bills by way of apology.

GoFundMe set up a site to collect donations and collected over $132,000. The family set up a Victoria's Victories facebook page.

We all waited for justice to descend upon the foul perpetrators of this outrage.

Then, a slight cloud appeared on the horizon. The Leader-Call in Laurel Mississippi printed a story casting doubt that the incident ever occurred but used anonymous sources.

When the results of the two KFC investigations, including one by an independent investigator, were made public it turned out that neither came up with any evidence that the incident happened.

Then the Victoria's Victories facebook page disappeared after a post saying "I promise its not a hoax, I never thought any of this would blow up the way it has. ... Please do not believe untrue media. I have personally watched this family go without to provide for Victoria. They have not and would not do anything to hurt Victoria in any way."

GoFundMe has suspended the collection page and offered refunds to anyone who feels duped by the family. KFC appears ready to stand by its $30,000 pledge regardless of whether the story is true or not.

The family's attorney made the following statement, "Victoria's family appreciates the actions of KFC in their investigation of this matter...It is deeply disappointing that other parties have taken opportunity to attack Victoria through social and news media outlets. Victoria is an innocent child with very real physical and emotional scars.”

This is sort of a strange statement. No one is blaming the kid. Regardless of what went down she's clearly innocent and not a 3-year old criminal mastermind.

So what do I think? I honestly don't know. People under stress have been known to do some pretty stupid things but I just don't have enough information.

Regardless of whether the story is true or night, the child is innocent and still needs money for medical expenses. Hopefully most of the money collected will go into a trust fund for that purpose. I'm sure a local bank would be more than happy to administer it.

The World Cup Day 16

Brazil wins it by the skin of their teeth by penalty kicks 3-2 after playing to a 1-1 draw with Chile. Columbia handles Uruguay 2-0.

After one day of the round of 16 (my picks bold, winners in italics).

Brazil v. Chile
Netherlands v. Mexico
Columbia v, Uruguay
Coata Rica v. Greece
France v. Nigeria - France
Argentina v. Switzerland
Germany v. Algeria
Belgium v. USA

After one day, I'm 2-0. Only three more to outdo that drunken chimpanzee.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

The World Cup Day 15

The US advances despite a 1-0 loss to Germany because Portugal knocked off Ghana 2-1. So I pick up Germany and get a miss because Portugal is eliminated. In Group H Algeria came back to tie Russia so they'll advance with Belgium. I miss on that one too.

The standings at the completion of the Group round.

Completed Groups
Group A: Brazil (7), Mexico (7), Croatia (3), Cameroon (0)
Group B: Netherlands (9), Chile (6)Spain (3), Australia (0)
Group C: Columbia (6)Greece (1), Ivory Coast (3), Japan (1)
Group D: Costa Rica (7)Uruguay (6), Italy (3), England (1)
Group E: France (7), Switzerland (6),  Ecuador (4), Honduras (0)
Group F: Argentina (9)Nigeria (4), Bosnia-Herzegovina (3), Iran (1)
Group G: Germany (7), United States (5)Portugal (4), Ghana (1)
Group H: Belgium (9), Algeria (4)Russia (2), South Korea (1)

So I managed 12-4. That's not too bad.

So, on to the round of 16 when the orangutans and chimpanzees will get their chance for vengeance. Here we go.

Brazil v. Chile - Brazil
Netherlands v. Mexico - Netherlands
Columbia v, Uruguay - Columbia
Coata Rica v. Greece - Costa Rica
France v. Nigeria - France
Argentina v. Switzerland - Switzerland
Germany v. Algeria - Germany
Belgium v. USA - Belgium

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

The World Cup Day 14

Well, I got exactly what I needed in Group F. Bosnia-Herzegovina beat Iran 3-1 and Nigeria kept it close against Argentina 3-2. That means Nigeria will advance with Argentina.

In Group E I got exactly what I needed as well. France and Ecuador tied 0-0 while Switzerland beat Honduras 3-0 so both France and Switzerland will advance.

The standings after fourteen days (teams which have clinched moving on to the knockout round are in italics):

Completed Groups
Group A: Brazil (7), Mexico (7), Croatia (3), Cameroon (0)
Group B: Netherlands (9), Chile (6)Spain (3), Australia (0)
Group C: Columbia (6)Greece (1), Ivory Coast (3), Japan (1)
Group D: Costa Rica (7)Uruguay (6), Italy (3), England (1)
Group E: France (7), Switzerland (6),  Ecuador (4), Honduras (0)
Group F: Argentina (9)Nigeria (4), Bosnia-Herzegovina (3), Iran (1)

Groups with Games Remaining
Group G: Germany (4), United States (4), Ghana (1), Portugal (1)
Group H: Belgium (6), Algeria (3), Russia (1), South Korea (1)

So, I'm starting to look a lot smarter than your average chimpanzee. Of the first 6 groups I picked 10 of the 12 teams to advance. I also have Belgium which has clinched a spot so the absolute worst I can do is 11 right. But that won't happen because Germany is not getting eliminated tomorrow so a minimum of 12 looks pretty good.

As for the last two spots, I doubt Portugal can climb out of the hole they're in so either Ghana or the US advances so no help there. I'm hoping Russia beats Algeria though which would give me 13 out of 16 which isn't too shabby.

While I was Writing about Utah...

While I was writing about Utah, a Federal Court in Indiana struck down that state's ban on gay marriage.

The right wing nut jobs are going absolutely bonkers.

According to Tony Perkins this is all Obama's fault. Exactly how that works out is a bit beyond me but they blame Obama for everything they don't like.

Jeff Allen, an Indiana based pastor, said "Federal courts in Utah and Indiana on Wednesday blatantly overthrew the will of the people and subversively imposed same sex marriage on the citizens of both states."

I suppose pointing out that the rights of citizens under the Constitution are not subject to popular vote would be a waste of time wouldn't it?

Allen thinks that "elected leaders and Christians" should "defiantly rise up and engage in civil disobedience."

Knock yourself out dude. While you're defiantly risen up, read a book on civics to understand how stuff actually works.

Utah and the Tenth Circuit

The Tenth Circuit court literally reduced to kindling the shaky edifice that was Utah's defense of its gay marriage prohibition struck down by the district court.

"We hold that the Fourteenth Amendment protects the fundamental right to marry, establish a  family, raise children, and enjoy the full protection of a state’s marital laws. A state may  not deny the issuance of a marriage license to two persons, or refuse to recognize their marriage, based solely upon the sex of the persons in the marriage union."

The state advanced four justifications for banning same sex marriage contending that it furthers the state's interest by:

(1) “fostering a child-centric marriage culture that encourages parents to subordinate their own interests to the needs of their children”;
(2) “children being raised by their biological mothers and fathers—or at least by a married mother and father—in a stable home”;
(3) “ensuring adequate reproduction”;
(4) “accommodating religious freedom and reducing the potential for civic strife.”

The court immediately made the point that the first three are in fact all based upon a "link between marriage and procreation."

The court then went on to say:

"The common thread running through each of appellants’ first three arguments is the claim that allowing same-sex couples to marry “would break the critical conceptual link between marriage and procreation.”

"The challenged restrictions on the right to marry and on recognition of otherwise valid marriages, however, do not differentiate between procreative and non-procreative couples. Instead, Utah citizens may choose a spouse of the opposite sex regardless of the pairing’s procreative capacity. The elderly, those medically unable to conceive, and those who exercise their fundamental right not to have biological children are free to marry and have their out-of-state marriages recognized in Utah, apparently without breaking the “conceptual link between marriage and procreation.”

In other words, just cut the crap already.

As for the fourth justification:

"Appellants contend that a prohibition on same-sex marriage 'is essential to preserving social harmony in the State' and that allowing same-sex couple to marry 'would create the potential for religion related strife.'"

I find it incredible that they actually put this on the table. Obviously they're as delusional as Tony Perkins and the morons that thought they were going to get 10 million people to show up to force Obama out of office.

"Even assuming that appellants are correct in predicting that some substantial degree of discord will follow state recognition of same-sex marriage, the Supreme Court  has repeatedly held that public opposition cannot provide cover for a violation of  fundamental rights."

In other words, screw you, bring it on.

I can hear the Religious Freedom howls already from the wing nuts. But the court also said this:

"We also emphasize, as did the district court, that today’s decision relates solely to  civil marriage."

"Plaintiffs must be accorded the same legal status presently granted to married couples, but religious institutions remain as free as they always have been to practice their sacraments and traditions as they see fit."

Stack up one more precedent for the good guys on the road to the Supreme Court.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

The World Cup Day 13

Day 13 was unlucky for Italy as they lost to Uruguay and were eliminated. In the other Group D game los Ticos and England played to a 0-0 draw. Uruguay will advance with Costa Rica.

In Group C Greece justified my faith in them by beating The Ivory Coast 2-1 while Columbia handled Japan 4-1.

The standings after thirteen days (teams which have clinched moving on to the knockout round are in italics):

Completed Groups
Group A: Brazil (7), Mexico (7), Croatia (3), Cameroon (0)
Group B: Netherlands (9), Chile (6)Spain (3), Australia (0)
Group C: Columbia (6)Greece (1), Ivory Coast (3), Japan (1)
Group D: Costa Rica (7)Uruguay (6), Italy (3), England (1)

Groups with Games Remaining
Group E: France (6),  Ecuador (3), Switzerland (3), Honduras (0)
Group F: Argentina (6)Nigeria (4), Iran (1), Bosnia-Herzegovina (0)
Group G: Germany (4), United States (4), Ghana (1), Portugal (1)
Group H: Belgium (6), Algeria (3), Russia (1), South Korea (1)

So, how am I doing?

I'll show them goats, orangutans and chimpanzees yet.  Of the 10 teams that have clinched a trip to the next round, I picked 8. Which isn't too bad. I mean, Costa Rica over Italy and England and Spain eliminated in the first round? If you picked those, my hat is off to you.

Six spots left.

In Group F, Nigeria needs to beat, tie or lose by only one goal to Argentina OR Iran has to lose or draw with Bosnia-Herzegovina and Nigeria is in. In Group E I need Switzerland to beat Honduras and Ecuador to lose or draw with France.

Should be interesting especially considering how well the South America teams have been playing. They've clinched five spots in the round of 16.

Monday, June 23, 2014

The World Cup Day 12

The early games were in Group B were the only thing left to decide was first and second. The Netherlands beat Chile 2-0 to take first and Spain completed a disappointing World Cup by beating Australia 3-0.

In Group A Brazil clinched 1st by beating Cameroon 4-1 and Mexico advanced with a three goal barrage in the second half defeating Croatia 3-1.

The standings after twelve days (teams which have clinched moving on to the knockout round are in italics):

Completed Groups
Group A: Brazil (7), Mexico (7), Croatia (3), Cameroon (0)
Group B: Netherlands (9), Chile (6)Spain (3), Australia (0)

Groups with Games Remaining
Group C: Columbia (6), Ivory Coast (3), Japan (1), Greece (1)
Group D: Costa Rica (6), Italy (3), Uruguay (3), England (0)
Group E: France (6),  Ecuador (3), Switzerland (3), Honduras (0)
Group F: Argentina (6)Nigeria (4), Iran (1), Bosnia-Herzegovina (0)
Group G: Germany (4), United States (4), Ghana (1), Portugal (1)
Group H: Belgium (6), Algeria (3), Russia (1), South Korea (1)

So, how am I doing?

Of the 8 teams that have clinched advancing to the second round, I picked 6. Only three more to go in order to do better than a drunken chimpanzee selecting randomly. Or, maybe not selecting randomly. the drunken chimp could know more about soccer than I do.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

The World Cup Day 11

Oh that hurt. Oh that REALLY hurt. With a score in the 95th minute Portugal came back to tie the US 2-2. That keeps everyone alive in Group G.

In Group H, Belgium beat Russia 1-0 and Algeria beat South Korea in a wild one 4-2. So Belgium clinches a spot in the knockout round.

The standings after eleven days (teams which have clinched moving on to the knockout round are in italics):

Group A: Brazil (4), Mexico (4), Croatia (3), Cameroon (0)
Group B: Netherlands (6), Chile (6), Australia (0), Spain (0),
Group C: Columbia (6), Ivory Coast (3), Japan (1), Greece (1)
Group D: Costa Rica (6), Italy (3), Uruguay (3), England (0)
Group E: France (6),  Ecuador (3), Switzerland (3), Honduras (0)
Group F: Argentina (6)Nigeria (4), Iran (1), Bosnia-Herzegovina (0)
Group G: Germany (4), United States (4), Ghana (1), Portugal (1)
Group H: Belgium (6), Algeria (3), Russia (1), South Korea (1)

Germany, with a 3 point and 5 GD lead over Ghana and a 3 point and 8 GD lead over Portugal, is all but in. It would take a catastrophe of unprecedented proportions for them not to advance.

The US is in control of its own destiny. A win or draw against Germany, or a draw between Ghana and Portugal, and they advance.

Now we all know that Ghana and Portugal are not going to draw and the US probably isn't going to beat or draw Germany after leaving so much on the pitch against Portugal. That means things should be as exciting as hell next Thursday.

The US has only a 2 GD over Ghana so if they lose, and Ghana wins, that gets wiped out. If either game is by 2 goals or more, Ghana advances. If both games are by one goal then it depends how many goals are scored. If the US scores more goals, they score the same amount of goals, or Ghana scores one goal more, the US will advance. If Ghana scores two or more goals more, Ghana will advance.

You got that?

It's a tougher road for Portugal. The US has a five GD lead over Portugal. So, not only must the US lose and Portugal win, but they need to make up five goals which is unlikely but, hey, that's why you have to play the game.

Group H is much easier. Belgium is in and the winner of the Algeria v. Russia game will advance with them. If it's a draw, Algeria advances unless, by some bizarre twist, South Korea not only defeats Belgium but also makes up a 3 GD.

So, how am I doing?

Six teams have clinched advancing and I picked 4 of those 6. Only five more to go in order to do better than orangutans selecting the winners randomly.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

The World Cup Day 10

Iran played tough against Argentina but finally gave up a goal in the 2nd minute of extra time to Lionel Messi and lost 1-0. Ghana and Germany played to a 2-2 draw and Nigeria beat Bosnia-Herzegovina 1-0.

The standings after ten days (teams which have clinched moving on to the knockout round are in italics):

Group A: Brazil (4), Mexico (4), Croatia (3), Cameroon (0)
Group B: Netherlands (6), Chile (6), Australia (0), Spain (0),
Group C: Columbia (6), Ivory Coast (3), Japan (1), Greece (1)
Group D: Costa Rica (6), Italy (3), Uruguay (3), England (0)
Group E: France (6),  Ecuador (3), Switzerland (3), Honduras (0)
Group F: Argentina (6)Nigeria (4), Iran (1), Bosnia-Herzegovina (0)
Group G: Germany (4), United States (3), Ghana (1), Portugal (0)
Group H: Belgium (3), Russia (1), South Korea (1), Algeria (0)

So Argentina clinches a spot in the knockout round and Nigeria, with a 3 point and a 2 GD lead on Iran, will most likely go with them.

The US is in a position to clinch moving on if they can beat Portugal. Of course that's a really big "if." If they lose to Portugal they'll be faced with the daunting task of beating the German team. A draw with Portugal would give the US a 3 point lead over both Portugal and Ghana with a 2 GD lead over Ghana and a 5 GD lead over Portugal.

So, of the 5 teams that have clinched spots in the round of 16, I chose 3.

Friday, June 20, 2014

The World Cup Day 9

In addition to los Ticos 1-0 victory over Italy, France rolled over Switzerland 5-2 and Ecuador beat Honduras 2-1.

The standings after nine days (teams which have clinched moving on to the knockout round are in italics):

Group A: Brazil (4), Mexico (4), Croatia (3), Cameroon (0)
Group B: Netherlands (6), Chile (6), Australia (0), Spain (0),
Group C: Columbia (6), Ivory Coast (3), Japan (1), Greece (1)
Group D: Costa Rica (6), Italy (3), Uruguay (3), England (0)
Group E: France (6),  Ecuador (3), Switzerland (3), Honduras (0)
Group F: Argentina (3), Iran (1), Nigeria (1), Bosnia-Herzegovina (0)
Group G: Germany (3), United States (3), Ghana (0), Portugal (0)
Group H: Belgium (3), Russia (1), South Korea (1), Algeria (0)

As noted in the previous post, with Costa Rica's victory over Italy they clinch an advance to the round of 16 and the winner of the Italy v. Uruguay game will advance with them. If it's a draw, then Italy will advance.

As for Group E, just about nothing is settled but France, with a 6 GD lead over Ecuador and an 8 GD lead over Switzerland, has all but clinched a spot in the knockout round. Switzerland would need a win over Honduras to have any chance of advancing and then would also need France to beat or draw with Ecuador.

So, how am I doing? Not too good if the truth must be told. Of the four teams guaranteed to advance, I picked only 2. Two of my picks, Spain and England, have been eliminated, and things don't look too good for Greece or Uruguay either, but we'll see.

Costa Rica beats Italy 1-0

OK, England is now officially dead. With Costa Rica's victory over Italy they clinch an advance to the round of 16 and the winner of the Italy v. Uruguay game will advance with them. If it's a draw, then Italy will advance.

Costa Rica, ranked #28 in the world by FIFA, now has wins over #9 Italy and #7 Uruguay to it's credit in this World Cup. They'll try and add #10 England to their trophy list Tuesday.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

The World Cup Day 8

Columbia beats the Ivory Coast 2-1, Greece, despite playing with only 10 men the entire second half, manages a 0-0 draw with Japan and England loses to Uruguay 2-1.

The standings after eight days (teams in italics have clinched moving on to the next round)

Group A: Brazil (4), Mexico (4), Croatia (3), Cameroon (0)
Group B: Netherlands (6), Chile (6), Australia (0), Spain (0),
Group C: Columbia (6), Ivory Coast (3), Japan (1), Greece (1)
Group D: Costa Rica (3), Italy (3), Uruguay (3), England (0)
Group E: France (3), Switzerland (3), Ecuador (0), Honduras (0)
Group F: Argentina (3), Iran (1), Nigeria (1), Bosnia-Herzegovina (0)
Group G: Germany (3), United States (3), Ghana (0), Portugal (0)
Group H: Belgium (3), Russia (1), South Korea (1), Algeria (0)

Columbia, with its win, and the draw between Japan and Greece, clinches a spot in the knockout round. Greece and Japan are both still alive. If Greece beats the Ivory Coast and Japan fails to beat Columbia, Greece will advance. If the Ivory Coast beats Greece then they will advance regardless of what happens in the Japan v. Columbia game. If the Ivory Coast draws Greece and Japan wins, it will go to the tie breakers where the Ivory Coast currently has all the advantages.

England is almost dead but not quite. They can still advance if Italy beats both Uruguay and Costa Rica, they beat Costa Rica and they manage to make up an extra goal in differential and total goals over Costa Rica.

As for my picks, Columbia makes it at least 3 right but I also have at least 2 wrong. My best case is 6-2 out of the fist four groups and my worst case is 3-5.

The "Tea Party" is Composed of Morons

OK, I know that isn't exactly a news flash but a recent NBC/WSJ poll shows just how far out of sync the Tea Party is with the rest of the country and even the rest of the Republican Party.

Here are the poll question and results, with the occasional commentary (you just knew I couldn't resist).

Does immigration help or hurt the United States?
Tea Party: 68% Hurts, 19% Helps
Other Republicans: 47% Hurts, 40% Helps
Country at Large: 47% Helps, 42% Hurts

If you consider immigration across the board clearly it helps. However, some immigration is negative in nature. Illegal immigration generally hurts as does allowing people in with a radical agendas such as Ken Ham (from Australia) and Ray Comfort (from New Zealand). We have enough home grown crazies.

Support or Oppose Common Core?
Tea Party: 53% Oppose, 38% Support
Other Republicans: 49% Support, 42% Oppose
Country at Large: 59% Support, 31% Oppose

This one baffles me. I've looked at Common Core and it strikes me as fairly innocuous. Is it perfect? Undoubtedly not but most of the right wing nut case objections I've heard are based upon paranoid fantasy rather than thoughtful criticism.

Approve or disapprove of proposal to reduce greenhouse gases?
Tea Party: 74% Disapprove, 23% Approve
Other Republicans: 50% Approve, 47% Disapprove
Country at Large: 57% Approve, 39% Disapprove

This is an engineering problem. How to reduce greenhouse emissions without raising energy costs or causing other unintended grief? There will be an engineering solution and we'll all breathe better.

What to do about Climate Change?
Tea Party: 39% Concern is Unwarranted, 38% Don't Know, 16% Some Action, 6% Serious/Immediate Action.
Other Republicans: 7% Concern is Unwarranted, 31% Don't Know, 43% Some Action, 17% Serious/Immediate Action.
Country at Large: 13% Concern is Unwarranted, 24% Don't Know, 30% Some Action, 31% Serious/Immediate Action.

I'm off the fence on this one and I'm convinced that serious action is required.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

The World Cup Day 7

Spain is eliminated by Chile 2-0 who advances with the Netherlands into the Round of 16 as they defeat Australia 3-2. In the Group A game Croatia beats Cameroon 4-0.

The standings after seven days are (teams in italics have clinched moving into the next round):

Group A: Brazil (4), Mexico (4), Croatia (3), Cameroon (0)
Group B: Netherlands (6), Chile (6), Australia (0), Spain (0),
Group C: Columbia (3), Ivory Coast (3), Japan (0), Greece (0)
Group D: Costa Rica (3), Italy (3), England (0), Uruguay (0)
Group E: France (3), Switzerland (3), Ecuador (0), Honduras (0)
Group F: Argentina (3), Iran (1), Nigeria (1), Bosnia-Herzegovina (0)
Group G: Germany (3), United States (3), Ghana (0), Portugal (0)
Group H: Belgium (3), Russia (1), South Korea (1), Algeria (0)

So Group A is still a little open. Croatia, by beating Mexico, could jump ahead of them and Brazil could need at least a draw with Cameroon if Mexico and Croatia draw.

If the unthinkable happens and Cameroon somehow manages to beat Brazil, while Mexico and Croatia draw, then Mexico would come in by points 5-4 and Croatia would come in second by way of goal differential because right now both Croatia and Brazil are at +2 goals.

I suspect that's REALLY unlikely but hey, that's why you have to play the game.

If Brazil and Mexico both win then first will be determined by goal differential. Right now Brazil has a 1 goal advantage.

In Group B the Netherlands and Chile will both advance. The winner of their game will come in first and the loser second. If it's a draw then the Netherlands will come in first based upon goal differential.

In tomorrow's games Greece, England and Uruguay all just about have their World Cup lives on the line.

As for my picks, at least 2, and possibly 3, of my 4 picks in Groups A & B will advance. Group C looks so-so but could improve tomorrow if Greece beats Japan. Group D looks really ugly and Group E looks good. Groups F, G & H look so-so.

My pet goat Frankie, picking randomly, would be expected to get about 8 of the 16 right. Let's see if I can at least beat that.

Defending Champion Spain is Done

With a 2-0 loss to Chile, while the Netherlands defeated Australia 2-1, Spain has been eliminated. For the second consecutive World Cup the defending champs won't get past the group round.

Both the Netherlands and Chile will advance from Group B.

Group B: Netherlands (6), Chile (6), Australia (0), Spain (0)

The Netherlands v. Chile game will determine who will play the winner of Group A, which will probably be Brazil, in the first game of the Round of 16.

The final game today is Cameroon v. Croatia.

More Bad News for the Forces of Darkness

Right wing nut jobs like Tony Perkins keep predicting dire consequences and even open rebellion should gay marriage become the law of the land.

As usual, the right wing is delusional.

The Human Rights Campaign used Republican pollster TargetPoint consulting to conduct a poll on gay marriage as a special gift for NOM's while they "march" tomorrow.

Consistent with other polls they found support for gay marriage at a solid 56% while opposition was at only 37%. Even more interesting, the number of people STRONGLY supporting gay marriage was found to be approaching a majority at 44%.

As for the chances of a rebellion should gay marriage become legal across the country, it's just about zero. Only 18% agree with Perkins about a "firestorm of opposition" while a solid 59% disagree.

Fully 62% of Americans say the country wouldn't be that different if gays could marry and 74% said their life wouldn't change. Even among those that said things would be different 20% thought the changes would be positive.

The culture has come to terms with gay marriage. Only the Supreme Court, by doing something excruciatingly stupid, could upset this apple cart.

They've Got to be Going Crazy

I'm really glad I'm not a Conservative these days. These people have got to be going crazy the way the culture is literally running away from them.

A black president, gay marriage and transgender rights have got to be making them howl at the moon. And that's not to mention the steady rise of militant atheism.

They just don't get it. They don't understand why people don't think like them. That's because they're so narrow minded they honestly can't accept they might be wrong. There's a big "No Admittance" sign on their fat far-heads.

Normally being a Conservative is easy because you're so, so sure that you know the truth. Liberals tend to run around like ducks with an itch trying to weigh and balance every conceivable side of an argument. Put six liberals in a room and you'll get nine or ten opinions.

But when Liberals finally agree on a course of action, like the Northern states they call home, "they move with the steady momentum and perseverance of a mighty avalanche."

That's when the Conservative's pat little ethnocentric world begins to come apart. That's what's happening today.

Things will eventually settle down and stabilize until the next issue rears its ugly head. I wonder what that will be? Robot rights perhaps?

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

The World Cup Day 6

Well, two more draws today including a 0-0 draw between Brazil and Mexico. That was quite a game though including one of the best performances I've ever seen by a goal keeper. Gulliermo Ochoa made two or three utterly improbable saves to keep the game even.

In Group H Belgium came back to beat Algeria 2-1 while Russia avoided a loss to South Korea with a goal in the 74th minute to tie the game 1-1.

The standings after six days are:

Group A: Brazil (4), Mexico (4), Cameroon (0), Croatia (0)
Group B: Netherlands (3), Chile (3), Australia (0), Spain (0),
Group C: Columbia (3), Ivory Coast (3), Japan (0), Greece (0)
Group D: Costa Rica (3), Italy (3), England (0), Uruguay (0)
Group E: France (3), Switzerland (3), Ecuador (0), Honduras (0)
Group F: Argentina (3), Iran (1), Nigeria (1), Bosnia-Herzegovina (0)
Group G: Germany (3), United States (3), Ghana (0), Portugal (0)
Group H: Belgium (3), Russia (1), South Korea (1), Algeria (0)

As the second games proceed we can start playing with all the combinations. Right now both Brazil and Mexico are in good shape but a lot hinges on the Cameroon v. Croatia game tomorrow. If Croatia wins then they'll have a golden opportunity to go past Mexico with a win in the third game.

If Cameroon wins, they'll then have to either win or draw against Brazil. With a draw they'll need help from Croatia. I'm sticking with my picks of Brazil and Mexico.

The Group B games tomorrow should be interesting as well. If Spain doesn't beat Chile things are going to start looking really dim for the defending champs.