Month: July 2008

Interesting television from the Anglo world

I’m focusing more on the English speaking countries here so Britain and Australia bubble to the top of the list.

Here’s some of my favorites:

1) New Tricks – A funny cop drama where old coots are brought back to solve cold cases.

2) Life on Mars – A Detective Chief Inspector is hit by a car, is he in a coma or has he really been transported back to 1973?

3) The IT Crowd – Don’t worry, it’s not a lot of tech jargon. It is gut busting funny though. Supposedly a U.S. version is in the works but I’m not so sure it’d work.

4) Torchwood – The spinoff from Dr. Who. Now I’ll be the first to admit that I never watched the original Dr. Who. It just left me cold, I was much more a space sci-fi nut, still am. But Torchwood is very interesting.

5) The Librarians – This is an Australian Broadcasting Company production about a totally dysfunctional library staff headed by a neurotic. Having worked with library and archives folks I have to say the humor in this one is top shelf.

So there we have it, some very good stuff that isn’t on U.S. television. Fortunately if you follow the links it’s all online now.


Wow, I feel like I’ve drunk a pan galactic gargle blaster (Obligatory HHGTTG reference). But in my case it was lots of good wine, started off with some Rieslings which I absolutely love, then some red wine of a 1999 vintage that was very smooth. But right now I’m blasted out of my mind.

It’s Tuesday for crying out loud. Today I’ve had two beers and a little over a bottle of wine to myself. I can tell you it’s very hard to write this though. But it was worth it. Hopefully I didn’t completely screw this up.

In any case I’m feeling pretty damned good. But I know there might be some suffering in the morning so I’m drinking a few things of water and taking aspirin.

Troppe informazioni Martedì – il gas intestinali edizione (TMI #144)

1. Are your farts;
a. Silent but deadly
b. All sound, no fury
c. Loud and stinky

All depends on what I eat. Load me up with beer and broccoli and you get loud and strong gas. Apparently the bacteria in my gut have an affinity for those items.

Certain other foods are good for SBD’s though.

2. Have you ever farted in front of a lover? Who was the 1st one to do it? How did they or you handle it.

Yes I have.

Look, it’s a natural biological thing. Once foods make their way through the main absorption pathway they end up in the cecum (bowl) which is the interface between the small and large bowel and that’s where the bacterial fun begins. The large intestine has two functions, to absorb liquid and to compact waste. What we can’t digest gets processed by bacteria that live in our gut, specifically in the large intestine. And when those bacteria are having a feast they emit those gases like methane and the aromatic stuff.

And I’m not the only one. Keyron is a champion too, he’s just more nonchalant about it.

3. Have you ever farted and tried to blame someone else? Who and did you get away with it?

Nah, may as well own up to a masterpiece.

4. What food triggers you?

Vegetables in general which is natural since the fiber and cellulose content can’t be broken down by the normal digestion process. That’s when the aforementioned bacteria get involved. Those bacteria are in fact a species of E-Coli and when you die, it’s those bacteria that start eating YOU from the inside out.

Beer and soda are also good but they’re generally odorless because it’s just the CO2 and I much prefer beer to soda. I’ve pretty much cut out all the soda in my life.

Certain whole grain baked goods also trigger some gas formation since the larger carbohydrate molecules can’t necessarily be broken up by our upper gut, so the bacteria in the lower guy love a good complex sugar.

5. Varts (Vaginal Farts) Scary, or an indication of a good time being had by all?

I don’t have a hell of a lot of experience with this but I know how it happens so I’ll have to say a good time for all.

Bonus (as in optional): When you do fart with someone in your bed, do you cover their head with the sheet and hold them under?

That would be cruel. If the blanket is heavy enough though you can have a time delayed bomb. Lift the covers and watch out.

Letters to the Editor: Today’s anti-socialist

You know, I get a kick out of those who bitch and moan about the subsidies for school choice, for the poor, the unemployed, etc. They constantly complain that it’ll lead the U.S. into socialism as if that’s such a bad thing to begin with.

I wonder what Lawson’s take on Social Security and Medicare happen to be? In his views I fear that just because you reach a certain magical age you shouldn’t be entitled to any programs.

My biggest problems with our legislators aren’t the fact that they provide subsidies, not at all. Instead they consistently grant tax breaks to those who least deserve them. And the same is true on the national level, something changed from where we said lets give everyone the safety net they deserve to screw everyone and they’re on their own.

This change started back in the Nixon administration but then went full steam ahead under Reagan. Does anyone remember the Reagan plan to fix the food stamp program? He’d distribute bulk items like cheese, powdered milk, and get this, ketchup which was classified as a vegetable.

Under Clinton we saw the drawback of welfare benefits with so called welfare-to-work programs. Good idea and it does tend to work well in good economic times but let the economy slide and all bets are off.

Now under the Shrub (GWB) we see the dismantling of the state institutions and money being shuffled to faith based institutions to provide the services. My problem with that is the fact that there are always strings attached when religious organizations provided ‘help’.

Maybe it’s a bible quotation with your meal, or some other way to proselytize. Maybe it’s a refusal to help. Look at the interference put up by the religious over RU486, or their opposition to contraception. Look at the current battle to force insurance carriers that cover Viagra to cover contraceptives for women.

You know what, I get taxed out the wazoo but my biggest complaint about it is that it doesn’t fund the programs I think are valuable and necessary. I’d like to see energy independence, infrastructure rebuilding, tracked public transit, and last but certainly not least every citizen cared for by the rest of us.

The notion that the U.S is an individualistic society is in a word, bullshit. We’re not. When I think about it if I played the lottery and won say just $20 million or so there are several people I know who wouldn’t have to pay a mortgage anymore. The other thing is that I wouldn’t say a thing about it, just find out who holds the mortgage and pay it off. Probably pre-pay taxes for 20 or so years too.

I’m a big believer in the method of you help me, I’ll help you. And sometimes it’s very one way where I might help help you and expect nothing in return.

I have what one would consider fairly Christian attitudes for an atheist. Can’t help it, I spent 12 years in Catholic schools so some of it rubbed off on me. I do wish the actual Christians would get it though and I see that some of them do, even the fundamentalists. They’ve realized the folly of their ways in persecuting gay people, and opposing abortion and now are becoming more environmentally and socially conscious.

Apparently they’ve realized that you attract more flies with honey than you do with vinegar.

So Mr. Lawson, when is the last time you benefited from subsidization? You make no mention of the SUV subsidy handed out a couple years ago, or the big subsidies used to maintain the interstate highway system.

James Lawson: Stop all subsidies

01:00 AM EDT on Sunday, July 20, 2008

In response to Robert Davis’s July 8 letter, “Subsidize the poor, not private schools”:

Stop subsidizing altogether. Subsidizing only creates more of the same problem that leads to subsidizing to begin with. Stop subsidizing private schools. Let the people who send their kids to private schools pay for it. Stop subsidizing the poor. It only leads to more poor and is not helping them. It’s a vicious and cruel circle, but it’s the way life is.

We are all becoming a little “more poor” every day. Our elected officials can’t stop their unrestrained spending and government expansion.

At this rate, we will all eventually need to be subsidized. We will have a complete socialist society one day. No real safety, no private ownership, a step closer to authoritarianism — or worse, no liberty, no more Constitution, and no more United States of America. Our lives will be planned, by officials who produce nothing, who spend their time trying to figure out how to leach off the last remaining remnants of capitalism, until there is nothing left. Then, my friends, you and I, your children and my children are going to be in big trouble, and the last thing anyone will get is subsidization.


North Kingstown_

Today’s “Not based in Reality” Letter to the Editor

I have to thank the editors at the Providence Journal for publishing such thinly veiled screed against marriage equality in their Letters to the Editor.

The following appeared today:

Joanne Ciocys: Divorce and family planning

01:00 AM EDT on Friday, July 18, 2008

Rita Watson, in her July 6 commentary, “New rules for an open marriage,” presents variations of polyamory as nonchalantly as an ice-cream vendor might suggest toppings and mix-ins. Too bad she paid more attention to the perversion-of-the-month than to the sweet news that accompanies conformance to God’s marriage and family design, the one that works best if it is followed.

Polyamory which Firefoxes dictionary doesn’t seem to be able to find, translates roughly to many loves. I didn’t see Watson’s original piece but I can tell you that every divorce I’ve seen around me had its root in marital infidelity. Why? I’d say about half the population of this country has the attention span of a flea. Boredom sets in, sex gets to be routine and it’s time to find someone new. A lot of that is people settling too early.

In about 95% of the cases of divorce that I know of, the divorcing couple met as teenagers or in their early 20’s. That’s got something to do with it too since the age of maturity actually appears to be heading upward, to around 26 or so these days. I’m nominally to connected to a few early 20-somethings and I can tell you their maturity has a long way to go.

Ms. Watson expresses concern over the divorce rate, laments the absence of role models for youth, and suggests family-focused education devoid of abstinence programs, but including “sexual responsibility.” If, however, education were to restore the true definition of marriage, teach natural family planning (the most responsible, effective and safe method of reproductive cooperation) and, rebuild self-respect, an essential ingredient in healthy personal relationships, what might the societal rewards be?

What Ms. Ciocys fails to understand is that abstinence won’t stop the raging hormones in the young. It is my opinion that insistence on abstinence only drives kids to do exactly what their hormones are telling them to do.

Good example, I recall a story that said these girls who had promised to be chaste thought a little blow job wasn’t out of the question. So they’d do hand jobs, blow jobs, etc. I hate to tell them that they’re delusional, there’s a dick inside an opening in your body, it’s sex.

And boys, forget about it. I remember my teenage years well, young, dumb and absolutely full of cum.
Anyone remember “Every Sperm is Sacred”?

And before I forget, natural family planning is also known as the rhythm method. Know what the teachers in my Catholic high school used to call people who practiced the rhythm method? They called them parents.

Consider the following survey results from Physicians for Life: The divorce rate for NFP users is 0.2 percent; abstinence is STD-free and doesn’t cause unintended pregnancies; abstinence before marriage costs nothing and has no harmful side-effects; intact marriages produce happier, healthier, children; intact families are more likely to boost the economy than drain it.

The Physicians for Life are an interesting group. They’re a rather misguided lot. They are against for abstinence, against abortion, birth control, and euthanasia. In essence, they’re Catholics. And they’re not Physicians for Life, they’re actually Alabama Physicians for Life. Just thought I’d bring that little dose of reality into the picture. Deep ass Bible belt and they’ve got wacketry in their beliefs.

It is reasonable to conclude that happily married mothers and fathers are the best role models for their children’s future relationships. Marriage has not failed us, but many of us have failed marriage. Therefore, instead of adding false “flavors” to the mix, let’s invest time and effort in fixing the problems where they lie — in our self-indulgent behavior.


Best role models huh? Herein lay the anti-marriage equality part. The self-indulgent behavior, that’s another one use against gay people all the time.

That said, we’re a very individualistic society and self-indulgence is a very big part of that.

Why National Grid has a monopoly in Rhode Island

The following letter appeared in the Providence Journal today. There’s a wide misconception about what deregulation actually did in RI as opposed to what people thought it would do.

Rick Giannni: Why the National Grid monopoly?

01:00 AM EDT on Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Dismayed at the rate increase imposed by both National Grid and the Rhode Island Public Utilities Commission, I have a question to ask.

Why are Rhode Islanders tolerating this company that has a monopoly on electric and gas service? In the past, if you had a home telephone, you were forced to use the local provider. Now you can get home telephone service through various phone companies, your cable company and other companies.

So I ask the PUC this question: When will I ever be able to pick my electric and gas provider?

If we as consumers had a choice to pick the energy delivered to our homes by using alternate providers, it would force National Grid to become more competitive in its pricing. Until the legislature and the PUC step in to rectify this, we all have to get our gas and electricity through the National Grid energy cartel.



Unfortunately National Grid in both it’s electric and gas services is what is called a natural monopoly in economics circles. What it basically means is that it would foolish to setup duplicate systems. In the case of telecommunications, we figured out how to stuff more information down the same pipe so all it took were telephone and CATV lines.

This is why my video and phone services come via a net connection from Cox. Why pay Verizon for phone services when I can control my monthly costs via VoIP providers? Or for that matter why pay Cox for video service when there are a plethora of net based video services that don’t cost anything.

Of course now we’re seeing CATV providers like Time Warner and Comcast trying out metered bandwidth. I think the reason that irks me is because the companies mentioned KNOW their service is being used for the things I describe above. Did they not think that eventually the net would kill video and phone providers?

Back when the RI Legislature bent to the pressure of the electric and gas utility lobbies they deregulated the services, in the case of electric separating the distribution charges from the energy charges. The same theory was applied to natural gas distribution.

There are myriad problems with what the RI legislature did but I’ll discuss just a few.

Rhode Island is too damned small for deregulation to work. In essence the state reduced the role of the PUC and transfered regulation to the federal government.

The system was designed so any generating company could provide power to the consumer, while the consumer paid the distribution costs plus energy. It’s just that in the case of National Grid all the alternative energy providers are far more expensive than the incumbent. That’s just economies of scle kicking in there.

But the game is rigged so that National Grid NEVER absorbs a loss. Under regulation they absorbed the loss on a regular basis. I say this because I know that the burial of overhead power lines at India Point in Providence. National Grid fought tooth and nail to make the taxpayers responsible for paying for the burial. It was quite a spectacle.

I will say thought that National Grid did inherit a system in distress with regard to both electric and gas distribution. They’ve been replacing transformers, high tension lines, etc. over the past couple of years as well as replacing iron gas feeders with PVC. That’s what happens when you don’t perform due diligence.

And remember economies of scale? It’s because national grid is so big that they can offer what is the lowest rate per kWh of all the providers. But as there are economies of scale, there are also dis economies of scale. The bigger you get, the more expensive it gets to deliver your services.

When it was little Narragansett Electric it was a local company, and they did a fair job of keeping everything running. National Grid is feeling the pain and I say that’s a good thing. Maybe they’ll sell off the RI operations to an independent investors group who’ll stop the craziness.