20
May
08

Mid-week misanthropy, vol. 4

Looks like we’re about a day early. Well, I keep hearing that change is good.


Most of us discovered in prepubescence that a dirty enough imagination can find sex (or poop jokes) in anything. Most of us, however, are past that stage — there’s enough real innuendo out there that we don’t need to fabricate awkward ersatz innuendo from whatever comes along, be it writing utensils (phallic, I suppose), water bottles (there’s a tit joke in there if you’ve entirely abandoned your dignity), or Starbucks logos.

Wait, what?

A Christian group based in San Diego found grounds for outrage over the new retro-style logo for Starbucks Coffee.

The Resistance says the new image “has a naked woman on it with her legs spread like a prostitute,” Mark Dice, founder of the group, said in a news release. “Need I say more? It’s extremely poor taste, and the company might as well call themselves Slutbucks.”

Here, for posterity, is the offending logo:

(Credit: Armstrong Photo; copyright probably held by the Star-Tribune.)

I can imagine that members of a Christian-whackjob group “advancing various conspiracy theories” don’t spend as much time surfing Internet porn as the rest of us — or at least are very insecure about it, and won’t admit to same. I can also imagine that they hold the science of biology in somewhat low regard. But neither is an excuse: that’s a fuckin’ mermaid, you dumbasses! Those aren’t legs spread wide and inviting. No girl bits in the middle. T’aint smut! You’d find more erotic material in a careful reading of Genesis.


Moving on: it seems that fat Brits are responsible for rising food prices, global warming, and Inkscape’s apparent inability properly to embed fonts in PDF documents:

(What, you don’t think that PDF font embedding is one of the greatest issues facing humanity? You’ve obviously never submitted a paper to an ACM conference.)

The London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine calculated the obese consume 18% more calories than average.

They are also responsible for using more fuel, which has an environmental impact and drives up food prices as transport and agriculture both use oil.

The result is that the poor struggle to afford food and greenhouse gas emissions rise, the Lancet reported.

Spiffy. This research frightens me — or perhaps it’s just ludicrously bad science reporting.

We begin with the (false) assumption that all calories are created equal:

The team found that obese people require 1,680 daily calories to sustain normal energy and another 1,280 to maintain daily activities – a fifth more than normal.

Apparently fat people don’t have metabolisms like the rest of us — they just burn calories at a constant rate, converting carbs, fat, protein, and roughage into heat and adipose tissue at a constant rate unfettered by their endocrine or digestive systems.

First of all the increasing demand for food, drives up production. This means that agricultural processes are using more oil to meet demand, which contributes to the rising cost of fuel. The cost of fuel is then passed on in the cost of food, making it more difficult for poorer areas to afford it.

(I give up: I can’t keep quoting single-sentence paragraphs three and four at a time.)

Hang on. So increased demand drives up production, rather than increasing prices? And increased supply increases prices? The food market doesn’t have a price curve, and the oil market doesn’t have a supplycurve? That ain’t how it works — at least, not in a free market.

I call bullshit.

Perhaps, instead, supply was artificially inflated by government handouts (yes, folks, this is another farm subsidies rant). Having nothing much to do with a shit-ton of corn in the pre-ethanol-hype age, food companies turned it into Twinkies and high-fructose corn syrup and the like: foods rich in simple carbs (which cause blood-glucose spikes, and promote liponeogenesis) available at artificially low prices. Then people ate them.


We’ll stay in the UK for the next chunk of idiocy.

A massive government database holding details of every phone call, e-mail and time spent on the internet by the public is being planned as part of the fight against crime and terrorism. Internet service providers (ISPs) and telecoms companies would hand over the records to the Home Office under plans put forward by officials. The information would be held for at least 12 months and the police and security services would be able to access it if given permission from the courts.

The problem isn’t that government thugs — er, I mean, security forces — aren’t getting enough data: it’s that they can’t find the right data among thousands of times more completely innocuous records. Even Scotland Yard’s chief of surveillance admits that those cops — er, plods — tasked to identify threats in the vast take of existing domestic espionage can’t do it. More information — and more information overload — is not the answer.

(Unless, of course, you want to stalk your ex-girlfriend. In that case, it works fine!)


And now we’ll stay with security theatre.

Before 9/11, airlines and security personnel — and I use the term “security personnel” loosely — might have let a nickname or even a maiden name on a ticket slide. No longer. If you have the wrong name on your ticket, you’re probably grounded. And there are two reasons for this: security and greed.

The Transportation Security Administration wants to be sure the same person who bought the ticket, and who was screened, is boarding the plane. But when there’s an inexact match, the airline can either charge a $100 “change” fee or force you to buy a new ticket. In an industry where every dollar counts, the exact-name rule is the government’s gift to cash-starved air carriers.

Funny how every time the government takes more power, large corporations seem to be in the best position to profit.

(And whose brilliant incompetence led to names on tickets being used for ID? Every comp-sci undergrad has that propensity beaten out of them within the first two weeks of an introductory databases course.)


Right-wing nutjob of the week: Patrick J. Buchanan

(Yeah, we can probably make this a regular feature.)

(Hat tip: Below The Beltway)

German tanks, however, did not roll into Poland until a year later, Sept. 1, 1939. Why did the tanks roll? Because Poland refused to negotiate over Danzig, a Baltic port of 350,000 that was 95 percent German and had been taken from Germany at the Paris peace conference of 1919, in violation of Wilson’s 14 Points and his principle of self-determination.

Hitler had not wanted war with Poland. He had wanted an alliance with Poland in his anti-Comintern pact against Joseph Stalin.

So, let me get this straight: Hitler wanted Poland as an ally against Stalin. Therefore, Hitler allied with Stalin against the Poles? How does someone who comes up with this baffling bullshit manage to tie his shoes in the morning?

But wait, there’s more!

The cost of the war that came of a refusal to negotiate Danzig was millions of Polish dead, the Katyn massacre, Treblinka, Sobibor, Auschwitz, the annihilation of the Home Army in the Warsaw uprising of 1944, and 50 years of Nazi and Stalinist occupation, barbarism and terror.

Yeah. The Soviets weren’t responsible for the Katyn massacre. The Nazis weren’t responsible for the above-mentioned concentration camps. It was those damnably proud Poles who refused to hand over Danzig. Of course.

Given that Buchanan is, in his fumbling way, trying to endorse a policy of negotiation (he praises Chamberlain for giving away Czechoslovakia and “averting war”), I’d be tempted to suspect that this is simply a crude attempt to sabotage Senator Obama’s foreign-policy claims. But really: who the fuck is going to take Buchanan seriously?


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