December 31, 2009

For the Damned Ignorant Pedants

There are some out there who don't believe that this is the end of a decade. The technical term for these people is "wrong." Not to be pedantic about it, but they are completely, totally, and unequivocally wrong.

For these poor deluded fools who mistakenly cling to the notion that we start counting at "1", I will point out that you weren't one year old until a year after you were born. We measure our very lives starting with "0!" And that kind of drives a stake through the argument that "no one starts counting at zero." Sorry 'genius,' but it seems that everyone actually does exactly that.

Thus, the 80's began in 1980, don't let anyone tell you different.

And if these poor misguided idiots think they can change that, I invite them to start by telling Granny she's really a year older than she's been saying. We'll send flowers.

Happy "Lead Rain" Day!

It's been ten years since the world didn't come crashing to a halt because the computer in your car thought it was 1900.  No, the machinery of civilization didn't even shudder, but one thing remains constant; the nimrods in South Florida who forgo fireworks in favor of firearms fired into the sky. Yessiree, nothing says "Happy New Year" like a bullet in the head.
In 2008, celebratory gunshots took the life of 11-year-old Joshua Arroliga. The Opa-locka boy was playing hide-and-seek next to a discarded sofa at his apartment building when one of his neighbors emptied a 9mm Glock's magazine into the furniture -- not realizing Joshua was hiding behind it.  - Miami Herald, 12/31/2009
Just remember, the Right to Bear Arms isn't a license to be stupid.  If you insist on using your firearm to celebrate New Year's - or anything else - make sure it's pointed at something impenetrable, like your own skull.

December 20, 2009


An interesting list of stories appeared on my RSS feed from the Sun-Sentinel.

My brain is telling me that a comedian who is a UM alumni got tired and cranky, and shot the man who was searching for lost boaters, who apparently were disposed of in a gruesome manner.

Silly brain!

Miami Herald; Everything but the Facts.

First, the Herald incorrectly reports about a show at the Broward Center. That's bad enough. The lack of research conducted by reporter Jose Pagliery was quickly pointed out by Herald readers, who left corrections - and a link to an accurate story - in the comments section.

But if that wasn't enough, the Herald re-posted the exact same story the very next day verbatim, all errors intact.

Pagliery reported that no performances were scheduled in the Broward Center's Amaturo Theatre, although Christine Dolen wrote about the show - and comedian Steve Solomon - in great detail on her Herald Blog "The Drama Queen." A Google search using the keywords AMATURO "DECEMBER 19" returned 400 hits identifying the performance and its star. It's also listed on the South Florida Theatre Scene.

Pagliery didn't even get the circumstances of the emergency right - that was left to the Sun-Sentinel and the South Florida Theatre Scene. At least the Palm Beach Post story was updated to include the performers name, as gleaned from the Sun-Sentinel.

Anyone still curious about why newspaper sales are plummeting?

December 13, 2009

All, or Nothing At All.

Delray Beach has had a tradition of decorating Old School Square for the holidays, a display of lights, a Christmas Tree, and a Menorah.  But this year, it was missing the menorah that stood for the faith of its Jewish citizens.

According the the Palm Beach Post, Delray city commissioner Adam Frankel noticed it, and contacted City Manager David Harden. The response isn't what he expected:
Harden wrote that a temple had sponsored a menorah in past years but had not contacted the city this year. He also attached a 2006 legal opinion from a city attorney. And Harden added that the city's tree-only display "has kept us out of any litigation on the matter and has avoided Old School Square having to allow things on their grounds they would prefer not to have there."
You see, David Harden had read a Supreme Court decision that ruled that once a city puts up a religious display is legally obligated to let other religious symbols up, such as the Ku Klux Klan erecting a cross.
Having only a secular display, such as the tree, puts the city at less risk, Harden maintained.

"I have no personal objection to menorahs whatsoever," he said. "But Christmas displays have been the subject of litigation, and the city needs to be cautious about how it handles the issue."
To muddy up the situation, the Palm Beach Post talked to a lawyer who cited a Supreme Court decision, but the Post didn't follow up and read the actual decision:
One legal expert said Delray Beach can legally have a Christmas tree without a menorah. That's because the Supreme Court ruled in 1989 that a Christmas tree is not a religious symbol, said David Barkey, Miami-based attorney for the Anti-Defamation League.
In 1989, the Supreme Court ruled, in the case of the County of Allegheny v. ACLU Greater Pittsburgh Chapter, that putting up a Nativity was a violation because of the specific manner it was displayed:
 ...the creche sits on the Grand Staircase, the "main" and "most beautiful part" of the building that is the seat of county government. No viewer could reasonably think that it occupies this location without the support and approval of the government.

Thus, by permitting the display of the creche in this particular physical setting, the county sends an unmistakable message that it supports and promotes the Christian praise to God that is the creche's religious message... The Establishment Clause does not limit only the religious content of the government's own communications. It also prohibits the government's support and promotion of religious communications by religious organizations.
As for Christmas Trees, while it is correct that the the court decided that a Christmas tree "does not endorse a specific Christian belief,"  the same decision also ruled that the menorah display alongside of it was acceptable:
The Christmas tree alone in the Pittsburgh location does not endorse Christian belief; and, on the facts before us, the addition of the menorah "cannot fairly be understood to" result in the simultaneous endorsement of Christian and Jewish faiths. On the contrary, for purposes of the Establishment Clause, the city's overall display must be understood as conveying the city's secular recognition of different traditions for celebrating the winter-holiday season.
The court did not adequately address the issue of how a Christmas Tree, which was created expressly to celebrate Christianity, could at the same time be said not to endorse the religion which created it.  The tree is intrinsically Christian, even the NAME binds it to Christianity.  It's a "CHRIST'S MASS tree", not a "secular tradition of wanton consumerism tree". The decision is full of weaselly phrases and half-considered arguments; it is not one of the Court's better moments, although not as bad as Plessy vs. Ferguson.

Is Harden correct in his belief that allowing two religious displays might invite other religions to demand decorations in Old School Square?  Yes.  But while he uses the worst case scenario - a racist hate-group - he ignores the opportunity for the community to unite in recognition that we all hold the winter season to be a time of celebration.  Personally, I think that outweighs the possibility that a hate group might have to be allowed to participate, too.

But if one flatly rejects the notion that Christmas Trees somehow are not a symbol of Christian faith, then Harden's real options is either to allow everything, and respect the numerous faiths and practices that comprise our melting-pot nation, or to allow nothing at all.

I say 'go for the dazzle.'

December 12, 2009

FPL Executives are F***ing Stupid

The Miami Herald story makes it pretty clear; the greedy sleazebags that run FPL are too stupid to realize that we actually fully understand why they're seeking a rate hike: it's because they want to make more money than they've made with their record profits to date. They've been raking in the dough while a large percentage of the population are either losing their jobs, or losing wages due to reductions in salaries, fighting foreclosures on homes whose mortgages now exceed the value of their homes, or declaring bankruptcy because of all that, but FPL executives want to add insult to injury by jacking up your rates.

OK, that's not the only reason. They also want a new jet.  From the Herald:
Florida Power & Light, embroiled in a controversial hearing to raise electric rates, says part of the 30 percent increase would pay for a new $31 million corporate jet to replace a 10-year-old jet in its three-aircraft fleet.
A handful of FPL executives are allowed to use the corporate jet for personal use, company officials said. Among them is CEO Armando Olivera, who told regulators that he used the plane for the Tallahassee hearing and often uses the company helicopter to travel between his hometown of Miami and his company's headquarters in Juno Beach.
So, FPL wants to ream us up the wazoo because Armando Olivera is too fucking stupid to move closer to his office.

Their stupidity is starting to hurt their employees:
"Most of my team see this as something of our company's own fault,'' said one FPL manager, who reported being among dozens of employees who were briefed on the plan orally to avoid a paper trail. "We failed to appreciate the plight of customers and yet we still are seeking to raise their rates, all in the name of long-term investment, when it is our shareholders who will benefit from all of this. A lot of my employees are demoralized and embarrassed before our customers.''
I bet.  When I was working for an idiot, I was demoralized, too.

So does FPL man-up, suck it in, and save their unreasonable requests for a time when people aren't losing their jobs and their homes and going into debt?  Fuck, no! 
FPL... has assigned James Ratchford, its director of development communications, to "plan and execute opposition research, media countermeasures and a social media campaign,'' according to an internal FPL document obtained by the Herald/Times.
That's lie, cheat, and smear to those of us who don't speak Sleazebag.
An FPL manager told the Herald/Times that ``under the watchful eye of my supervisors and management,'' Ratchford used computers untraceable to FPL to post blog comments about commissioners and the governor using aliases. Ratchford also conducted, or worked with others to conduct credit, property-records and criminal-background checks on commissioners Argenziano and Nathan Skop, along with Crist's new appointees, David Klement and Benjamin "Steve'' Stevens, the FPL manager said.
You know what?  I think at this point I am willing to pay more - to anyone who isn't FPL.  Let's give these morons the boot.

So here's how to tell if a commenter is an employee of FPL:
  • They indicate they support the rate hike.
  • They disparage those who don't support the rate hike.
  • They claim that raising your rate will save you money.
When you see comments that fit the above profile, call'em out on it. 

December 4, 2009

Notable Quote

From WFOR News:
Student: "Have you ever thought about legalizing prostitution, gambling, drugs, and non-violent crimes in order to stimulate some of the economy?

Obama: "That will not be my job strategy."