Friday, December 25, 2009
Wednesday, December 23, 2009
Of course, it got progressively worse. Al Gore made an appearance to...do what no one seems to know. Probably to make more money, and a bigger ass, out of himself. You know your little soiree is fucked when Al shows up. Then the Prince of Wales shows up, talking apocalypse in the next seven months, trailing an entourage big enough to choke a Pharaoh, after spewing 2,600 tons of CO2 into the atmosphere just to get to the conference, while the average Briton spews 11 tons in a year, and the hypocrisy is lost even on him. These two sorta make your cause look ridiculous.
Then there were the riots. About what, no one seems to know. Save the planet; Storm a Starbucks. It doesn't make any sense at all.
And then, The One arrived and put the kiss of death on the whole thing. According to the tales being told, Obama was so desperate to a) get a deal that he could use for propaganda purposes, and b) get someone... anyone... to talk to him, that he basically threw a tantrum and then behaved as if the whole thing were some sort of made-for-TV drama -- with him as the star. He made an ass out of himself, declared victory (without explaining what that meant), and then left before anyone could discover the truth.
The only things missing were the giant "Mission Accomplished" sign and a carrier landing.
But, according to those who were there and covered the (fortunate) catastrophe of Copenhagen, the Savior of the Universe left a bad taste in a lot of mouths, and lied through his teeth to the American public, just so he could buff his 'image' and throw a bone to the foaming-at-the-mouth Left.
What an asshole.
You can read about it here and here.
What, pray, is the Feast of the Seven Fishes? Why, it's only the greatest Italian Christmas tradition...EVAH! Unfortunately, it's not actually, authentically Italian, more like an Italian-American thing (because we don't have purple feet!), but it's roots certainly do go back to the old country. My own family hails from Sicily (my father's side) and Naples (my mother's side), which are, traditionally, some of the poorest places in Italy. When the peasantry escaped their poverty in Italy to come to America, they brought the beginnings of this tradition with them, suitably modified for a new life (and new realities) in America.
See, for Italians, Christmas Eve is the really more important night. That's when The Vigil (La Vigillia) occurred; the actual waiting for Baby Jesus to arrive. For Italians, anticipation is usually better than the event, I guess? Anyways, it's almost a backhanded homage to the whole concept of childbirth. A commemoration of the greatest weapon in the arsenal of the Italian Mother; they torment their children their entire lives with "I spent hours, and hours, and hours in painful, awful, terrible, bloody, excruciating labor to give birth to you, you ungrateful wretch!" (You think Jewish mothers have a corner on the market on guilt trips?). Therefore, the emphasis placed on the labor rather than the actual birth...by women, anyways. So, I guess it's a (strangely masochistic) celebration of motherhood, and Christmas, and an excuse to get stupid fat, all rolled up into one. So, for some strange reason they never really made to clear to us during 10 years of a Catholic School education, Italians 'fast' for Christmas...by stuffing themselves with vast quantities of seafood.
It would break the heart of the most ardent tree-hugger to think of how badly we denude the oceans for a Christmas Feast! I actually snicker at that thought.
Anyways, there's the Feast. Now, depending upon which part of Italy your forebears supposedly came from, the tradition becomes slightly different, but the same motif about the number seven (a lucky number!) continues, each of the seven fishes represents one of the Seven Deadly Sins, or the Seven Hills that Surround Rome, the Seven Sacraments of the Church, The Seven Days of Creation in Genesis. Perhaps it's because Italians are inveterate gamblers, or maybe that was the number of broads Frank Sinatra once bagged simultaneously. Who knows why it's seven; somehow, seven is supposed to be the greatest number of all, and every red-blooded Goombah always has a reverence for the number seven.
The Feast itself usually begins at 3:00 in the afternoon; that's when the boiled shrimp gets served, cocktail style, a seafood salad (usually Scungilli Salad, conch), antipasti -- a variety of sliced meats, cheeses, and pickled vegetables --olives and olive-inspired canapes, fresh-roasted red peppers, hot Tusacn peppers in vinegar, and a host of hors d'oeuvres. We skip lunch so that we can partake of this pre-meal extravaganza. Wine gets passed around, too. Think of it as warm-up for the main event, which begins at 7:00. During this time, we sit around, stuff ourselves and reminisce about this, that and the other, and at some point it devolves into a round of good-natured ribbing that would appear vicious to the uninitiated, but if you're Italian you know what I mean. We laugh, we remember those who aren't here anymore, we talk about everything and anything, we tell the kids about 'the old days' before they get bored and go watch TV. It's Family Time.
Then the actual dinner starts, promptly at 7 P.M. (There's that number again!)
There's the fried shrimp, fried scrod, baked clams and mussels in tomato or Fra Diavlo sauce (a hot tomato sauce), Calamari (squid), lobster tails, scallops in the shell or in wine sauce -- all of which follows the traditional pasta course (usually lasagna, stuffed shells, manicotti or ravioli. Often more than one.). When my grandparents and great-aunts/uncles were still here, there was Baccala (salted cod, usually served in an olive oil and garlic sauce), but no one eats that anymore. It''s considered 'Old Timer' food. We weren't raised on it. And there is, as always, the freshest bread you've ever had in your life..
If that isn't enough for you, there's ham, and maybe even turkey. And these get served with your broccoli rabe (bitter broccoli, served with red pepper flakes...almost like Passover!), stuffed artichokes (blech!) and some sort of potatoes (never mashed!). By this time, you've been at the table for at least 3 hours, and have had two or three entire dinners.
There's a short rest for more wine and family chop-busting and camaraderie, the kids get to open (some) of their Christmas gifts, we take some photos...and then the desert trays come out.
There's cakes, pastries (connoli, Napoleon, pettit-fours), a selection of Italian cookies which always includes biscotti, pinioli (pine) nut cookies and anisette cookies (amongst others). Coffee time! There's fruits, nuts, candies, ice cream (always spumoni for the kids!), and any other desert you could possibly think of. Think of it as the Venetian Hour at your friend's wedding brought to your dining room table. Desert itself will last another laugh-filled 2 hours...at least.
By which time, you're ready for Midnight Mass. I don't go anymore, being an agnostic, and nowadays fewer in my family partake, but some still do. Those who don't, stay home and drink yet more wine and make sandwiches out of the leftovers.
Never was there a more disgusting, and yet thoroughly enjoyable, display of human gluttony! Nine hours at the table, broken up by endless ours of family conversation, celebration and fun. I'm not a big believer in the whole Christmas thing as celebration of the world's salvation, but I do believe that this one meal does more to cement families together than just about any other activity, save births, weddings and funerals.
This is, without a doubt, my favorite day of the year.
If you're not Italian, and you think you might like to try this wondrous tradition out next year (assuming we all have jobs and money, and that the Obama Administration hasn't begun that carefully-planned program of Street Executions against it's enemies, i.e. all of us) here's some background information to help you get started;
Seven Fishes Blog
Italians R Us
Dream of Italy
Merry Christmas to all!
Tuesday, December 22, 2009
Je$$e Jacka$$ and Al Sharpton have made a living denouncing the White Man as the most despicable sort of racist imaginable.
But One Billion Chinese somehow escaped their notice? Probably wasn't any money in it.
Having worked very closely with Asians (the real kind -- actually from Asia -- not the homegrown-born-in-Seattle-Asian-by-virtue-of-my-almond-shaped-eyes-yellow-skin-and-affinity-for-identity-politics Asians) when I worked for a Japanese company -- seven years in extremely close proximity with Orientals of all sorts -- there is no group of people on Earth who can match a Chinese, Japanese or Korean for good-old-fashioned racism.
The Nazis and the Klan are rank amateurs, by comparison.
This is a cultural phenomenon, which is primarily the result of a belief in their particular 'race' being the descendants of the Gods, and their nation or culture as being the center of the Universe.
Obviously, no system is hacker-proof. No data completely secure, ever. The nature of computing is such that complete, airtight security will almost never be possible. You need only look to your own desktop PC to see this; you're constantly bombarded with viruses, trojan horses, hijackers, phishing programs and a host of worms that you must constantly defend against with your puny anti-virus software. Only some of these things are exploited by the stereotypical geeky introvert determined to prove his intelligence and superiority over classically-trained Computer Scientists.
The vast majority of these things are created by people with malicious intent. The biggest threat comes comes from disgruntled programmers, who after often spending thankless years slaving to create software for a global conglomerate are unceremoniously dumped onto the unemployment line, usually without warning, "when the project is complete". Of course, they posses the technical expertise to exploit the very software they've created (and they use the trapdoors, landmines and shortcuts they left in the code to facilitate testing, a common programming practice), and they usually do it to merely tarnish their former employer's image. It's a bit of petty revenge.
But then there are the true criminals.
Cybercrime is one of the fastest-growing categories of crime in history. As more and more of human existence and commerce has been distilled into a series of bits and pixels, the cyber criminal has been right there to snap up the bits and pixels that fall by the wayside. Like a pilot fish to a cyber shark.
Many of these criminals work for cartels, gangs, or syndicates, or whatever euphemism you'd like to use, and some of them are also former IT workers treated badly by the industry, or co-opted by the criminals. They have the expertise, the skill, to crack any system on the planet. Because they very often built the damn things in the first place.
Since most of these gangs are overseas, in places like Russia and China, they are very often beyond the reach of U.S. Authority, or even protected by corrupt government officials in those countries. Right now, the money they stole could be financing drug deals, terrorism, slavery, and even worse, and the people who are being stolen from will have no legal recourse against Citi, and little hope of either recovering their funds or of seeing justice served.
Of course, this state of affairs was made infinitely easier by Wall Street's (and other industries) insistence on doing everything 'better, faster, cheaper', to the point where corners are cut so finely, and so routinely, that no one ever thought about cybercrime when they granted access to their systems to an unseen, anonymous, third-party 'consultant' in Moscow, Beijing, Mumbai or Abu Dhabi. All that mattered was the price tag. It's almost a given in the industry that when someone says "we'll save X", it's done with very little thought...and on as small a budget as possible.
They even work cheap to get cheaper.
I'm not saying Citibank would have been invulnerable if it was still hiring Americans to run their systems. I'm only saying that they'd have a much better degree of control over their systems and their customer's data.
Unfortunately, it's going to take some massive catastrophe for Citi, and all the other banks and brokerages, to realize that their policies regarding IT costs is going to come back bite them on the ass, big time. Probably right after a major terrorist attack in which someone discovers that some bank's systems were used aid terrorists without the bank's knowledge, or that billions have been stolen from right under their noses (like when half-a-trillion bucks disappeared in 20 minutes right in front of the Federal Reserve's cyber cops just before the last Presidential election. You wonder why they don't talk much about that, huh?).
Imagine the lawsuits that would engender?
Wall Street doesn't learn from experience. It only learns from lawsuits.
And then people like me will be able to write our own paychecks because the company was run by a bunch of short-sighted cheapskates who don't truly understand the systems they supposedly run. Just like when they fired all the COBOL programmers and then suddenly needed them again to 'fix' the Y2K problem. They all came back as 'consultants' with six-figure fees.
Sometimes, cheap turns out to be the more expensive option.
Over MY DEAD BODY!
You can read about it here.
It must be noted that whenever Islam actually builds anything (as opposed to simply acquiring, co-opting or stealing that which came before it, and then claiming to have 'invented' it, like an army of Al Gores wrapped in dirty laundry), it does so to denote triumph over it's enemies.
When Calph Umar took Jerusalem, he began construction of the Al Aqsa Mosque on the sight of the Temple Mount, and his successors continued the work until it stands as it does today. It was said that the site is holy to Islam, being the place where the pedophile Mohammed took his 'Night Journey' and ascended into Heaven, but this is disputed even within Islam itself. The site of the Temple Mount is the place where Solomon built his temple and where Abraham made his covenant with God. It is THE central location of the Jewish Faith. The mosque is now the central feature of the city, visible for miles, and it also stands to show that Jerusalem was, indeed, Under New Management.
The true purpose of the mosque was not to commemorate an event in Mohammed's life (it was merely a convenient excuse); it was to intimidate the Jews, to insult them, to let them know that they were a now conquered people, helpless even to defend or maintain their holy sites, they would be reduced to second-class status (dhimmis). Even today, Al Aqsa stands as a symbol of the Israel that was lost.
Even when Islam builds something of great beauty, it has the hidden messages of oppression and conquest built into it. The Alhambra in Spain, built by the Moors during their occupation of that country, is known as The Red Fortress. It's purpose was to display the power and wealth of Islam to the Spanish Christians, to rub their faces in the humiliation of their occupation and rule by foreigners, to show the grandeur and splendor of their rulers, people who were (supposedly)so sophisticated and wealthy that they could afford to expend money on a fortress with no central plan, no real purpose. That all that opulence was designed, built and paid for by oppressed Christian Spaniards and Jews is conveniently forgotten. It is supposed to symbol of Muslim advance and triumph.
The Hagia Sophia, once one of the most beautiful and grandest basilicas in all Christendom, was taken in hand by Mehmed II and converted to a mosque. The reconsecration destroyed or covered over much of what the Orthodox Christians who built the place had created. Only now, in recent times when the place is a museum, are scholars finding the great works of art, the architectural details, the remnants of the real, historical Byzantium, covered over by the Muslims, who are jealous and fearful that their religion should be outshined by any other, and who have the power to only destroy, never to create.
They are an insecure, spiteful little people who only build anything (and in this case, they're not even building anything -- I know that building, and I can promise you the mosque will be built by Union Labor, most of it Christian and Jew) in order to offend, oppress, insult and intimidate.
Building a mosque so close to Ground Zero is simply yet another example.
Don't buy the idea that the true purpose is to help foster some kind of inter-denominational 'understanding'. These people don't want understanding. They hate us, even when they say they don't. Lying is a way of life for them, and lying to us infidels is almost a diktat from their phony-baloney God.
What they want is to erect a monument in the shadow of Islam's greatest triumph. It's what they have always done, only the scale is muted...this time. When (more like if, at this point) something is finally constructed at Ground Zero, it will have this mosque at it's very doorstep, a small, painful reminder of what happened on September 11, 2001. It's just another, softer form of terrorism.
I loved George W. Bush, but there's one thing I still can curse him for; he left these people alive to continue to annoy us with their nonsense.
Monday, December 21, 2009
So, to atone for my sins, here are three blogs that are on my list of favorites that have been sadly ignored of late. Please stop by and say hello.
The Esteemed Mr. James Lileks' Daily Bleat.
The Adorable (and Nicely-Stacked!) Josephine at Lumpy Grumpy and Frumpy.
The Ever-Irreverant Michael M. Bates.
In the process of praising this government employee, the Prezzz made great mention of the fact that she is an avid elk hunter, who is one of those self-reliant, outdoorsy types, who hunts and skins and guts her own meat. A rugged individualist who still manages to, somehow, serve the public trust.
I guess that sort of stirring, inspiring, bit-of-Americana narrative doesn't hold true if your name is Sarah Palin, and you're opposed to government control of the healthcare system, huh?
JammieWearingFool posts this and this.
One is an example of the utter cluelessness of the modern Leftist; he criticizes his opponents on the Right as being Nazi sympathizers -- but fails to recognize that the Nazi Party was the ultimate expression of Leftist politics. Or maybe he just figures that you're dumb enough not to know that.
The second one is an example of the brazen stupidity of a man who simply has no brains, no class, and no sense of shame...only with more strident Nazi undertones. The democratic party could pass whatever healthcare monstrosity they desire right now, in a heartbeat, without breaking a sweat. They have the votes (in terms of numbers of democrats vs. republicans), but the margin is razor thin and many of their members won't make the Great Leap Forward because they are frightened of the inevitable result; they'll be politically dead. They'll be out of work. These people care more about their phony-baloney jobs -- and the ability to deal out political favors and federal cash that comes with it, and which is the real source of their power -- then they do about 'the uninsured'.
'The Uninsured' is merely a straw man, designed to hide the real purpose of 'Healthcare Reform', something to give it that certain Christian quality that's supposed to make it go down a bit easier; this is one step closer to American Communism.
The argument that Republicans are 'obstructing' anything is a smoke screen which is intended to obscure the truth; the democrats simply can't do that which their 'base' (i.e. the lazy, lame, halt and crippled) demand they do. Doing so means the taxpayers (the people who really count) send them packing, perhaps after a round of tar and feathers. So, they must construct a drama and create an enemy, to make the Great Lie more believable.
Anyone who opposes them, even opposition based on definite, reasonable, provable principles, therefore, must be a Nazi (the other force that nearly destroyed Communism, and therefore, the natural enemy of the Leftist), a term which evokes terror, fear and loathing on a visceral level. The Leftist elite does not demand reasoned response from it's minions, only that they react with the proper emotions when required.
These are the people that run your country, and this is what they are willing to do.
November 2010 can't come soon enough.
The democrats (small 'd' intentional) don't even attempt to hide graft anymore, it seems.
Don't congratulate yourself on your skill and cunning at having swiped a shitload of money from the Treasury for your state.
That money doesn't exist. It never will.
Or won't until the very Congress that 'gave' you these windfalls decides to raise taxes on your state's citizens to pay for it, or worse, the Treasury prints funny money which dilutes the value of the 'real' money your state's citizens earn, reducing their purchasing power and destroying their quality of life.
Your 'great negotiating skills' (yeah, like bribery ever required those?) will have to be paid for one day by the very people you supposedly represent. Don't be surprised when all this money you've gained mysteriously vaporizes into a Healthcare system that doesn't work, and when, in ten years time (maybe sooner), both Nebraska and Louisiana are back crying poor mouth, crushed by the expense of supporting Obamacare, complaining that this wasn't what they were promised or expected.
I wonder just who pulled one over on who?
Lefties really are well-meaning people. At least the foot soldiers are. It is said that the the left is a collection of the well-intentioned, but ill-informed being led by the well-informed but ill-intentioned. There is some truth in this. Your typical Leftie is concerned about...things...They care about...stuff. Ask them to explain their feelings and beliefs, and you'll most often get a mishmash of gobbledeegook which they 'learned' in sociology class, but which makes no sense whatsoever. The Leftist front-liner is a retard (or a college student or aging hippie, which is pretty much the same thing) or a ward of the state. Thinking is not required to be a Leftist, and it isn't their real talent...whining is.
They don't very often don't know why they care, they very often can't explain what they're concerned about, they just know that they are concerned (or believe they should be). It's an emotional compulsion; they are drawn to issues that elicit emotional responses and act accordingly, because being drawn to issues that require thought is apparently too hard. Add the herd mentality (people tend to want to be involved in activities which seem popular within their peer group), and you get the basis for most Lefty-influenced 'movements'.
Once the emotional and pack-mentality aspects take over, Lefties usually get into a bizarre pissing match with one another over who cares more than whom, which leads them into internal conflict (typically of the passive-aggressive sort which involves whispers, rumors, and eventually full-blown public exposure and humiliation of their enemies), and ever-more ridiculous displays of public emotionalism which take the forms of 'symbolism', 'solidarity' and 'support', which lead us to the next problem with Lefties...
None of this is ever directed into an genuinely-meaningful, or even just useful action. Meaningful actions require purpose (which is hard to formulate when your inspiration is emotional and not rational), and useful ones require personal effort. Lefties hate personal efforts because it's much easier to say you care and then demand someone else do something. Someone else must do the work, someone else must make the sacrifice, someone else must pay for whatever they advocate because, dammit, they CARE already!. The Good Lefty, having expended emotion, having made the symbolic-but-empty gesture to show she (it's usually a she, or a metrosexual) cares, believes they've done their part. There are people on the Left who make a living at this; they continue to 'advocate' for their emotionally-inspired-issue-that-will-require-someone-else's-effort-and-money-to-correct. They manage to skim proceeds from it from their brain-dead fellow travelers, and because they can scream loud enough and are politically-connected, from the taxpayer, which brings us to the next problem with Lefties...
They don't understand money. Since many of them don't really work, or worse, work in 'industries' which bring little in the way of positive gain to society (like the arts, media, academia, government, NGO's and so forth) they don't understand economics. They don't earn their livings doing something that involves the marketplace, they are handed the excess that the more productive society creates. This leads them to make several basic mistakes when discussing economic issues. The first is that wealth (they euphemistically call it 'resources') are finite. All resources, money, oil, air, water, food, raw materials of a thousand sorts, are always finite. It's why they can shout about 'peak oil', and the 'population bomb' and it's been the driving force behind socialism, communism and now the environmental movement. The second is that 'government' has money of it's own, independent of the taxpayer.
Since all resources are finite, Lefties are free to believe in a mystical unit of wealth which they refer to as 'the fair share'. They cannot tell you how much a 'fair share' is, only that everyone is entitled to one and those who typically do the least and add the least, are somehow entitled to a bigger 'fair share' than the productive who actually make the shares in the first place. When this sort of lopsided economics (wealth exists in finite quantities, everyone gets a fair share, some pigs are more equal than others) is applied in real life, you get a welfare state of entitlement programs which bankrupts a nation, and which requires ever-more oppressive taxation to support (which only certain non-Leftie-approved castes will have to pay. They always exempt themselves because while they may be economically retarded, they ain't stupid). Of course, Lefties never apply this sort of economic lunacy to their own finances. Which leads us to the next problem with Lefties, which is...
Screaming hypocrisy about wealth. They claim to despise wealth, to despise the people who possess it as thieves and rapists who have stolen it from 'the people', rather than earned it through hard work and intelligence. But, the ranks of the left are full of some of the richest people on the planet; George Soros, Bill Gates, Al Gore, Bill and Hillary Clinton, The Kennedys, John Kerry, all stalwart defenders of the downtrodden, have bank accounts the average working stiff can only look upon with envy. In many cases, they came into possession of this wealth by less-than-honest means; the Kennedy's built their fortune on Prohibition, George Soros was a Nazi Collaborator, John Kerry simply marries wealthy widows, Al Gore takes advantage of the mentally-challenged. The ever-expanding list of the glitterati that often act as surrogates, advocates and role-models for the left, the actors and actresses in Hollywood, the musical artist who advocates this or that policy, the athlete who couldn't tie his own shoes without a government program, are also good examples of this; they earn their living from practices and activities which involve the extraction of wealth from those who earn or create it. They are prime examples of a movement made up of people who add little of lasting value to society while taking as much as they possibly can from it. The Leftie screams about the money given to Wall Street bankers, calling it unfair and wasteful, yet never bats an eyelash at a guy who gets $100 million from another rich guy to hit a baseball, or to make a movie. Usually because the first is a minority (there's that 'some pigs are more equal than others' thing), or an artist (which means jack shit to anyone with half a brain).
Those people can be forgiven their hypocrisy because they give the Lefties the attention they crave. That's the real problem with the Left; it's full of needy, clingy, annoying people who crave constant attention. These people give them hope that someone takes them seriously -- all the while stealing money and votes with the classic strategy of un-anchored emotionalism, empty symbolism and making all things 'someone else's' problem. Until now, that is.
Now the Lefties have gotten wise to the scam, and they're angry. They've finally seen that their Paragons were little more than charlatans and they demand that that they get what they've been wanting for the last 100 years. It's why they rioted in Copenhagen, it's why Howard Dean opened a can of Whoop-Ass on Harry Reid on Health Care; They've waited for Communism long enough.
Because at root, this is what all the Leftist nonsense of the last century has been about; World Communism. They've dressed themselves up as 'Progressives", they've insinuated themselves into the fights for Equality, Social Justice and Civil Rights, they are at the vanguard of the Environmental movement. They believe (still) that communism can work. They believe that Communism will (finally) bring 'peace' to the planet. They believe that Communism will 'save' mankind (from what, they can't exactly tell you). Which leads us to the biggest problem with Leftists...
Despite all the evidence that everything they espouse usually fails, spectacularly, they keep trying. They believe that communism has failed not because it is a flawed system which takes all incentive out of the individual, and thus, society, but because we just haven't found the right communists to run the World State yet. All Communism will do is make us all equally miserable; Lefties more than others because they are not especially well-known for enduring discomfort and suffering... especially when it's their own.
The Left looks at Barack Obama and the current American Congress, and they believe they have, finally, found the right communists. But this bunch haven't moved quickly enough for the Left's tastes, and thus, all the brouhaha and infighting. This is just the beginning of a shitstorm that will, we can hope, finally expose this bunch of hacks for what they really are in a way that it will be impossible to mistake.