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Agnosticsherbet's Journal
Agnosticsherbet's Journal
October 31, 2013


If we are an Exceptional Nation
Do we not then have Exceptional rulers
Who sit their Exceptional arses
Upon an Exceptional throne
Supported by Exceptional companies
Led by Exceptional executives
That deliver Exceptional profits
To their Exceptional 1% investors
While the Exceptional masses
Wallow in Exceptional mystery
For the Exceptional scraps
Tossed them by Exceptional leaders
Of their Exceptional nation.


October 28, 2013

Psychologists Propose Horrifying Solution to PTSD in Drone Operators

Psychologists Propose Horrifying Solution to PTSD in Drone Operators
Drone operators often kill their targets from a continent away, but studies suggest that even thousands of miles of distance cannot mitigate war's devastating psychological effects. But just wait until you hear how researchers propose preventing PTSD, alcohol abuse and thoughts of suicide in drone operators.
The latest issue of GQ features a stunning read, written by Michael Powers, about former Air Force drone sensor operator Brandon Bryant and his military service. One of the first pilots to speak out about his experience with the drone program, Bryant paints a frightening portrait of death-dealing from a distance, and the psychological trauma wrought by his nearly six-years of service as a drone operator.

It's a captivating read – one definitely worth reading in its entirety – but we were particularly struck by the section exploring Bryant's PTSD diagnosis, which he received just a few months after his heavy conscience led him to leave the Air Force:


These effects [PTSD, alcohol abuse, suicidal ideation] appeared to spike at the exact time of Bryant's deployment, during the surge in Iraq. (Chillingly, to mitigate these effects, researchers have proposed creating a Siri-like user interface, a virtual copilot that anthropomorphizes the drone and lets crews shunt off the blame for whatever happens. Siri, have those people killed.)

I think that putting Siri in charge of all that death and destruction is wrong headed an, ultimately, will fail. The article reveals evidence that it isn't necessary to be there in the middle of it when the shit comes down. People sitting at a computer terminal in Nevada receive a "moral injury" when placed in these situation. Telling Siri to blow up those people will extract the same toll as operating the drone, guiding the missile, or putting a bullet through he head of another person. War is ugly, but it is part of what we are. Even our nearest relatives, Bonobos and other great apes, fight wars. When a war is necessary, putting these layers of insulation between the soldier and the act will just make unnecessary wars more likely.

If we don't perceive a high cost to an endeavor, we don't think about it quite so much.

If we must fight, then everybody should fight. Every citizen should pay the cost.
October 24, 2013

Here Lies Fox

October 21, 2013

Science Textbooks Publishers Stand Up To Creationists: We Donít Publish Fiction

Science Textbooks Publishers Stand Up To Creationists: We Don’t Publish Fiction
In a positive step for a flagging American education system, Texas science textbook publishers are keeping creationism out of their books. All 14 of the publishers who make science textbooks for classrooms in Texas have decided to exclude mention of religiously motivated “creation science” theories.

The Texas Freedom Network, a nonpartisan organization whose goal it is to promote religious freedom and civil liberties, has reviewed the latest textbooks written for Texas students and submitted to the Texas Education Agency and reports that the textbooks have resisted political pressure to include creationism or Intelligent Design when teaching about the subject of evolution.

In a statement by the Texas Freedom Network, they report their findings:

Materials submitted to the Texas Education Agency and examined by the Texas Freedom Network and university scientists show that publishers are resisting pressure to undermine instruction on evolution in their proposed new high school biology textbooks for public schools. “This is a very welcome development for everyone who opposes teaching phony science about evolution in our kid’s public schools,” Texas Freedom Network President Kathy Miller said. “Texas parents can applaud these publishers for standing up to pressure from politicians and activists who want to put their personal beliefs ahead of giving Texas students a 21st-century science education.” - See more at: http://www.classwarfareexists.com/science-textbooks-publishers-stand-up-to-creationists-we-dont-publish-fiction/#sthash.2ZQGPF6e.dpuf

This is a great step for education. I applaud fighting back against a state government attempting to force religion into education.
October 21, 2013

Fox News Allegedly Pushed Back Criticism With Phony Commenters

Fox News Allegedly Pushed Back Criticism With Phony Commenters
From NPR reporter David Folkenflick's "Murdoch's World," as quoted by Media Matters:

On the blogs, the fight was particularly fierce. Fox PR staffers were expected to counter not just negative and even neutral blog postings but the anti-Fox comments beneath them. One former staffer recalled using twenty different aliases to post pro-Fox rants. Another had one hundred. Several employees had to acquire a cell phone thumb drive to provide a wireless broadband connection that could not be traced back to a Fox News or News Corp account. Another used an AOL dial-up connection, even in the age of widespread broadband access, on the rationale it would be harder to pinpoint its origins. Old laptops were distributed for these cyber operations. Even blogs with minor followings were reviewed to ensure no claim went unchecked.

We all pretty much knew this was happening. It is good to see this finally getting a little attention.
October 17, 2013

Did the Continuing Resolution change "macro-PROCESS of debt ceiling raises, making them automatic"

"unless both houses pass a bill stopping the automatic hike."
That question was asked by David Brin on Facebook.

Yes, yes I know his name is a dirty word here, but please bear with me.

David Brins' Face book page
All right, this I did not predict. Apparently the bill that was passed last night altered the macro-PROCESS of debt ceiling raises, making them automatic unless both houses pass a bill stopping the automatic hike -- and that will be subject to presidential veto. If this is so -- and my cursory reading may be flawed -- then a major part of last night's action escaped attention from the media. THE major news, in fact. It means there will be no further brushes with default. Period.

He was answered by Doug Van Belle who said:
Just confirmed with Keith Gaddie, Professor of Politics at U Oklahoma and regular commentator on American Electoral Politics, something that David Brin asked about on his FB wall.

Yes, the bill that was passed last night does alter the macro-PROCESS of debt ceiling raises, making them automatic unless both houses pass a bill stopping the automatic hike -- and that will be subject to presidential veto.

Basically, that suicide bomb has been taken out of the hands of the Tea Party

I haven't heard that in the news. In fact, there seems to be some talkin' Smack about doing a part two of the government shut down and debt ceiling crises in January and February. If they did that, then there is no way that the debt ceiling is going to be used ever again.

Just wondering.
October 17, 2013

New Government Shut Down Coming, brought to you by the same fanatics that brought the last.

Conservatives Learned The Wrong Lessons From The Shutdown Debacle
For a certain block of House conservatives, the ones who drove Speaker John Boehner toward a government shutdown and near-default against his will, the lesson of the last few weeks isn't that they overreached. Not that they made unachievable demands, put their leadership in an impossible position, damaged their party's position with the public and left a deep uncertainty about whether the GOP conference can recover and legislate.

No, what they're taking away from the 2013 crisis is: They didn't go far enough.

They aren't angry with Speaker John Boehner for ultimately capitulating to Democratic demands. They're frustrated with their more mainstream colleagues who put him in that position.

Mind boggling isn't it, but the news just keeps coming. Check out this gem from Rep. John C. Fleming (R-LA).
GOP Rep Looks To Next Showdown: 'We’re Going To Start This All Over Again'

Pledging to vote against the plan to re-open the government until Jan. 15 and raise the debt ceiling until at least Feb. 7, Rep. John C. Fleming (R-LA) indicated that he's already looking toward the next showdown.

“I’ll vote against it,” Fleming said, as quoted by the New York Times. “But that will get us into Round 2. See, we’re going to start this all over again.”

Fleming was one of 144 House members — all Republicans — who voted against the deal that passed both houses of Congress on Wednesday. On Tuesday, he told reporters that Republicans wanted to use the looming debt limit deadline as leverage.

I am heartened at the work done by President Obama, Democrats in the Senate, and those in the House that worked to end this least session of the Cruz Crazies. I am disgusted that there are people in Congress who think Part II, III, IV, or whatever remake of he last crises is going to improve them. Their manufactured crises cost billions to our economy and food out of the mouths of or families. It is hardly over and t hey are out their revving up their engines to get back into what they see as some bizarre ass clowns Game of Thrones.

And I am sick of the notion that poor John Boehner just could not help himself when those big strong muscular studdly men told him to give them whatever they want because it was inevitable. Boehner was a willing participant, and he will be willing the next time.
October 11, 2013

General In Charge Of US Air Force's Nuclear Missiles Fired Over Personal Misbehavior

Source: Bussiness Insider

The top general in charge of the U.S. Air Force's entire arsenal of nuclear weapons has been relieved of his command, The Air Force Times reports.

Two-star Maj. Gen. Michael Carey commanded a total of 450 missiles and 9,600 people at locations across the U.S. as head of the 20th Air Force and Task Force 214.

Gen. James Kowalski, the commander of the Air Force Global Strike Command, made the decision following an inspector general’s office investigation into “Carey’s behavior during a temporary duty assignment."

Read more: http://www.businessinsider.com/general-in-charge-of-nukes-fired-2013-10#ixzz2hR9WaFH6

Read more: http://www.businessinsider.com/general-in-charge-of-nukes-fired-2013-10

Now, that should make us all feel safe and secure.
October 11, 2013

Who the hell are the 87 no labels? Well here they are.

At first glance, they seem to be a group of Democratic moderates (some would call them Blue Dogs, Third Way, Conservadems, etc., etc., etc.) and Republican Moderates (Rinos, traitors to the class, socialist wanna bees, Friends of Obama, I am not up on all the derogatory terms Republicans have for groups that are left of the Tea Party) but what they really seem to be is a caucus concerned with controlling spending (Fiscal Matters). There is a stated desire to stop fighting and start fixing, but other than fixing spending problems (fiscal stuff) I don't see a lot about their issues or desires yet.

It is pretty clear that the Republicans are from the center right region of the political spectrum, while Democrats are what would be called centrists or even Center Right like Joe Manchin and Scott Peters.

What this really looks like is that group back in the 60's-80's called Rockefeller Republicans. Most of that group came form the North East and they were fiscally conservative business oriented folk who tended to be more socially liberal. (Think old New England Money, sort of like the old Bogart movie remade with Harrison Ford "Sabrina."

I find that rather than toss invective, it is good to know who these power groups are. There are certainly enough of them so that, like the Tea Party, they could have considerable influence on the way the House does or doesn't''t do its job. Any one now can look at the main site and see if their Congressman is a member of this group.

A list of 52 are below. They do not include co-chairs Evan Bayh, John Huntsman, and Joe Manchin. Clealry form the updated numbers they are a growing faction or Caucus in the House. The claim 87 members now, and are expecting 100 by years end.

Democrats and Republicans Stand United
These 52 members showed up for America: Rep. Ron Barber (D-AZ); Rep. Andy Barr (R-KY); Rep. John Barrow (D-GA); Rep. Ami Bera (D-CA); Rep. Sanford Bishop (D-GA); Rep. Cheri Bustos (D-IL); Rep. Tony Cardenas (D-CA); Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-TX); Rep. David Cicilline (D-RI); Rep. Mike Coffman (R-CO); Rep. Jim Cooper (D-TN); Rep. Rep. Jim Costa (D-CA); Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-TX); Rep. Susan Davis (D-CA); Rep. Jeff Denham (R-CA); Rep. Charlie Dent (R-PA); Rep. Sean Duffy (R-WI); Rep. Sam Farr (D-CA); Rep. Mike Fitzpatrick (R-PA); Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI); Rep. Joe Garcia (D-FL); Rep. Chris Gibson (R-NY); Rep. Tim Griffin (R-AR); Rep. Lynn Jenkins (R-KS); Rep. Bill Johnson (R-OH); Rep. David Joyce (R-OH); Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-IL); Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick (D-AZ); Rep. Dan Lipinski (D-IL); Rep. Dave Loebsack (D-IA); Rep. Stephen Lynch (D-MA); Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney (D-NY); Rep. Pat Meehan (R-PA); Rep. Mike McIntyre (D-NC); Rep. Mike Michaud (D-ME); Rep. Mick Mulvaney (R-SC); Rep. Patrick Murphy (D-FL); Rep. Bill Owens (D-NY); Rep. Scott Perry (R-PA); Rep. Scott Peters (D-CA); Rep. Tom Petri (R-WI); Rep. Robert Pittenger (R-NC); Rep. Mike Quigley (D-IL); Rep. Tom Reed (R-NY); Rep. Reid Ribble (R-WI); Rep. Matt Salmon (R-AZ); Rep. Kurt Schrader (D-OR); Rep. Krysten Sinema (D-AZ); Rep. Steve Stivers (R-OH); Rep. GT Thompson (R-PA); Rep. David Valadao (R-CA); Rep. Todd Young (R-IN)

Now that we have some idea of who these people are, we can cuss them, discuss them, cast invective, or write them and tell them what we think.

Is your Congressman on the list?

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Hometown: San Diego/Ca/Nuevo Pacifica
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