The Omnibore

Say what you want about America, thirteen bucks still gets you a hell of a lot of mice!

I’m shocked. And stunned.

I’m thinking of changing the name of this blog to “Sunflower Asshats.” It looks like I’m not going to run out of material for quite some time.

This one is scary:
Arizona-style illegal immigration law to be pursued in Kansas.

This one is just kind of funny and sad at the same time:
Statehouse Live: Rep. Connie O’Brien issues apology for ‘olive complexion’ remark. “I’m, like, totally sorry because you thought I meant something I totally didn’t mean for real, except, like what I said is really pretty true so it’s totally not my fault at all and really I’m totally right.”

Am I a completely horrible person because I kinda sorta hope the evolution issue rears its ugly head again? Because that was awesome.

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Link Roundup

I’m home sick from work today, and have been catching up on things internetty from the past week or so.

The Good
Space Stasis. Neal Stephenson writes about rockets.
Cyberspace When You’re Dead. Oldish article about cyberspace and immortality, focusing on my college friend Mac Tonnies.
10 Historical ‘Facts’ Only a Right-Winger Could Believe. “Facts, including historical ones, are ‘biased’ against the right’s worldview.”
Who is Arcade Fire? I sincerely find it odd that apparently a great many people have never, ever, ever heard of Arcade Fire.
The King of Limbs. NEW RADIOHEAD ALBUM IN FOUR (4) DAMN DAYS!

The Bad
Obama assertion: FBI can get phone records without oversight. Just soooo much better than Bush.
Companies Warn That Higher Prices Are Looming.
KS GOP Rep. Connie O’Brien Says She Can Tell Who Is ‘Illegal’ Because They Have ‘The Olive Complexion’. I couldn’t resist.

The Ugly
Miss. license plate proposed to honor KKK leader. Includes the very best reaction quote ever: “‘Seriously?’ state NAACP president Derrick Johnson said when he was told about the Forrest plate. ‘Wow.'”
South Dakota Moves To Legalize Killing Abortion Providers. “A law under consideration in South Dakota would expand the definition of ‘justifiable homicide’ to include killings that are intended to prevent harm to a fetus[.]” WHAT. THE. FUCK.

Bonus: The Bad and Ugly

Swish and Flick

I’m taking a break from bashing on the state of Kansas.

Well, except for this: How about those #1 Jayhawks!

And now, for your viewing pleasure:

A Shot in the Dark

Am I wrong in being concerned that much of the real news these days is likely to be easily mistaken for an Onion article?

Kansas law change may allow even blind to carry concealed

In the state of Kansas, to carry a concealed firearm you need a gun — preferably something that fits nice under your jacket, in your pocket or perhaps in your purse.

You also need a license, the state’s seal of approval that you can hide a firearm on your person.

What’s less clear is whether you need eyesight. It certainly is suggested, unquestionably helpful. But following a change in state law, it is no longer clear whether it is required.

Kansas legislators during the last session approved a number of changes to the state’s concealed carry law. One of them was that people who are renewing their license no longer have to take any sort of test to prove they’re still proficient with a firearm.

The changes also removed language from the law that gave the attorney general the right to deny applicants a license if they “suffer from a physical infirmity which prevents the safe handling of a weapon.”

A spokesman for Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt — whose office oversees the concealed carry program — conceded this week that the office is uncertain whether it has the authority to deny a concealed carry license renewal for any physical reason, even if the applicant is blind.

Isn’t the entire point of concealed-carry–according those those who support it–to make us all safer? That if the Bad Guys show up to threaten our property and our women there will be a heat-packing super-citizen to save the day? How is that supposed to work if the person with the legal gun cannot safely handle one?

Before I go further I’d like to make a quick note here: I am not at all opposed to gun ownership. If people want guns let them have them, within reason (no one outside of the military needs assault rifles), even people who cannot safely handle firearms without assistance. Physical disabilities–even blindness–shouldn’t prevent someone from hunting or sport shooting, if they really want to do it. If someone is there to steady the weapon, direct where to aim, when to shoot, then where’s the harm (outside of the obvious potential things that can go wrong when anyone handles guns)?

Carrying a concealed weapon is an entirely different beast. It’s one thing to shoot at targets in a controlled setting with another person available for support–what happens in the real world? Someone who is blind and carrying a weapon won’t always have someone for support, and I would guess that without sight their ability to accurately perceive and assess potential threats is, unfortunately, impaired. In addition, wouldn’t a blind person with a gun have a greater chance of becoming a victim of crime than if they didn’t have one?

Listen: I’m a Bad Guy. I see a blind man walking down the street, so I decide to rob him. I go up, demand wallets and whatnot, and the dude pulls out a gun. Assuming he just doesn’t start blazing away, how difficult would it be for me to get the gun away from, or use my own weapon on him before he can react? If he does start shooting, he might get me, but he could just as easily hit someone else. Now, I don’t want it to seem as if I’m painting all people without sight as a bunch of meek fools–I’m certainly not. I’m just saying, outside of a controlled environment, in a situation where a even person with of all their senses can become easily confused and disoriented, is it wise or even reasonable to allow someone who cannot see what or whom they are potentially shooting to have a gun?

My father taught my brother and I about guns when we were kids. While I haven’t so much as touched any kind of firearm in over two decades, I still remember the Number One Rule of Guns he drilled into our heads (one which was strongly reinforced in the state-sanctioned hunter’s safety course I took in high school): Loaded or not, ALWAYS KNOW WHERE YOUR GODDAMN GUN IS POINTING. As a pure public safety issue, I would like to think this one should be obvious. I would even bet that most blind persons would agree with me.

I haven’t even touched on the deletion of the requirement of a proficiency examination prior to the renewal of a concealed-carry license, which was where this whole “Can the blinds pack heat” issue came from in the first place. What the fuck, Kansas? Even though I couldn’t even get my driver’s license renewed this past summer until I got some glasses, it would have been okay to renew a license to carry a concealed weapon. My eyes weren’t good enough to drive on the roads of the great state of Kansas, but they were good enough to endanger every person around me should some crazy shit go down.

Of course, those with the most influence over this matter are not nearly as reasonable as I am.

Jordan Austin, the Kansas state lobbyist for the NRA, said his organization likely would oppose changes that even stopped short of requiring full proficiency testing for renewals. For example, everybody who renews a concealed carry license must go to a Kansas driver’s license office to get their picture taken. All Kansas driver’s license offices have eye testing machines. But Jordan said the NRA likely would oppose any effort to make concealed license holders take an eye test upon renewal.

“I don’t ever see that being an idea that we would endorse,” Austin said. “It is not necessary. Why should you be required to maintain some sort of correct vision to exercise a right? You could have left your glasses at home, you could wear contact lenses. It is a subjective standard set by a government agency.”

For the NRA, Austin said, the issue comes down to the Second Amendment. He said recent Supreme Court rulings have affirmed that people have a right to own a gun for protection. He believes that right extends to people being able to carry a weapon concealed, and questions whether concealed carry licenses should even be a part of state laws in the future.

This guy might be all about defending the right of a blind man to carry a weapon for personal protection, but I guarantee you he’ll be the first to run if that man pulls it out to defend himself.

Fooling Enough of the People All of the Time

I could say I think Kansas’ new Secretary of State either doesn’t understand numbers or is a liar, but that presumes it’s not possible to be both. I don’t need to go into much detail about the man, because even if you live outside Kansas it’s likely you have heard of Kris Kobach, especially if you happen to live in one of the places on the verge of bankruptcy as a result of adopting his unconstitutional anti-immigration legislation.

Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach tells House Elections Committee voter fraud is a bigger issue than thought

Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach told legislators Monday that election fraud is far more widespread in the state than previously thought, but a critic of his bill on the subject sharpened her attacks over what she sees as its potential to suppress turnout among minorities.

Kobach released a report that his office has received 59 reports of alleged irregularities involving at least 221 ballots since 1997 — twice as many as documented by an internal report three years ago. And he suggested those reports represent perhaps only 10 percent of what’s actually occurred.

“It must be made clear that this report significantly understates the incidence of election fraud in Kansas,” the Republican Kobach told the House Elections Committee during its first hearing on his bill.

The measure would require voters to show photo identification at the polls, and people who register to vote for the first time in Kansas would have to provide proof of their citizenship. The bill also would increase penalties for election crimes and allow the secretary of state’s office to prosecute cases, along with the attorney general’s office and count prosecutors.

Kobach wants to require all voters to present identification to be able to vote. He wants to do this because, he says, voter fraud is a huge problem in Kansas. He ran his entire campaign on the single issue of stopping voter fraud. So, it may seem reasonable to assume this is just a guy who wants to ensure elections are fair, and what does it really matter to me–white, middle-ish class–if I have to show an ID when I vote?

Well, even a brief look at the linked articles above should be enough proof Kobach doesn’t give the slightest shit about voter fraud. His own numbers, produced by his office and given to the press, also show him to be full of shit. Again, here is what he says: There are “59 reports of alleged irregularities involving at least 221 ballots since 1997,” and “those reports represent perhaps only 10 percent of what’s actually occurred.”

That might sound bad (possibly 2200 cases of voter fraud!) except for this: For all intents and purposes, those numbers mean nothing.

First, by going to the Secretary of State’s own website, one can easily find the election results and statistics from every statewide election since 1980. From there, one can do what I did this morning: Addition. Totaling all the votes in every general election since 1998 along with the primaries during Presidential election years (I didn’t count all the primaries) I came up with a (probably very rough) total cast ballot count for the time period of 8,552,726.

Eight million, five hundred thousand, seven hundred and twenty six ballots cast between 1998 and 2010. (And that’s probably a very low count–lots of primaries left out, and no local elections. It’s possible the total is closer to ten million.) That makes 221 ballots (or even 2210, if we use the where-the-fuck-did-he-come-up-with-that “only ten percent” figure) out of over 8.5 million that are allegedly suspicious. Keep that in mind–these aren’t proven fraudulent votes, just possibilities.

To put that into actual numbers, the reported number of allegedly suspicious ballots is .002584% of the total number of ballots cast. If we are generous and give Kobach his mystery percentage, there we’re looking at one less zero, .02584% of all ballots.

Clearly, this is a huge problem for Kansas.

The report includes instances in which six non-citizens cast ballots in 2008 or 2009, and Kobach noted that in 2009, the secretary of state’s office discovered that 54 non-citizens were registered to vote. Seward County reported a case of a non-citizen being registered this year, and canceled the registration.

“Although most of these individuals may never vote, the fraud already has occurred,” Seward County Clerk Stacia Long, a Republican, testified.

Ah, non-citizens. Is it just me, or does Kobach and the many more like him seem like the type of people who would strip everyone’s basic rights just to prevent people they don’t like from having any?

And lady, I know you’re the county clerk and all, but if someone hasn’t actually voted, then the fraud definitely has not already occurred, nor will it if you cancelled the registration.

And why is this so very important?

But Mah said even if Kobach is right and roughly 2,200 ballots cast in Kansas since 1997 were fraudulent, the figure still pales in comparison to the number of votes that won’t be cast or counted if, as she contends, his bill suppresses turnout. She noted that a 1 percent drop in turnout represents more than 8,000 votes in a general election in a non-presidential year.

“You tell me, which is worse?” she said. “The numbers just don’t even line up.”

The “My Tummy Has A Happy” Genius Mix

To commemorate my lovely wife’s maiden foray into the world of food blogging, I present this Genius mix. Enjoy.

Cibo Matto “Know Your Chicken” (live video, crappy sound so turn it up, man.)

Cornelius “Another View Point”
Stereolab “Metronomic Underground”
Sleater-Kinney “Turn It On”
Deerhoof “Kidz Are So Small”
Sugarcubes “Hit”
Le Tigre “Hot Topic”
Sonic Youth “My Friend Goo”
The Pixies “I’m Amazed”
Björk “Triumph Of A Heart”

Nullify This

Teapublican lesson of the day:

The concept of “separation of church and state,” which has been affirmed and upheld many times by the United States Supreme Court, is nothing more than an offhand comment Thomas Jefferson made in some letter to some guy and has nothing whatsoever to do with our GLORIOUS AMERICAN CONSTITUTION HOLY JESUS BLESS IT.

The concept of “nullification,” smacked down by the United States Supreme Court every time they’ve seen it because the Constitution doesn’t even so much as hint towards anything like it, is the TRUE LAW of the land because Thomas Jefferson got pissed off about something and wrote about it and because he is a FOUNDING FATHER GOD BLESS HIM and because the Supreme Court is a bunch of fags or something and because AMERICA FUCK YEAH!

P.S. My favorite part of the article:

Idaho Republican Sen. Monty Pearce said the then-future president’s words underpin nullification advocates’ chief contention: States never relinquished final say over federal matters.
“He was at the Constitutional Convention,” Pearce said. “He understood how this whole thing was going to be set up.”
Actually, Jefferson was far away, in France, as the framers met in 1787 in Philadelphia to replace the Articles of Confederation.

Lawls.

Here I go again.

Sooner or later it is quite likely I’ll be back at it, whatever “it” may be.

Should be fun.

Hey Patriot!

The Angry Eagle is Disappointed in You

Sometimes it Hurts to Want Things

I’m not entirely sure, but I think this guy might want to be the county treasurer:

I would hate to see the speech for when he decides to run for state treasurer. For the sake (and, quite likely, personal safety) of everyone on that committee he better end up the nominee. However, if you think that was extreme and more than a little disproportional to the situation, then you really should see the speech from when he accepted his top regional salesperson award:

Link Dump

Stuff and junk. Enjoy.

A Chaplain and an Atheist Go to War

Hipster Hitler

How to Make Fried Beer. I think this would be lovely with some fried pickles.

OUR DAUGHTER ISN’T A SELFISH BRAT; YOUR SON JUST HASN’T READ ATLAS SHRUGGED.

Did ‘Star Wars’ become a toy story? Producer Gary Kurtz looks back.

Counterexamples to Relativity. Relativity is a liberal plot! Yes, this is real.

Aaaand… how about a video.

Good Morning!

How The World Nuked Itself Over 2,000 Times

[blip.tv http://blip.tv/play/AeaDFAI%5D

Watch the entire video.

Dude, not cool.

Um. WTF?

‘Punk’d’-Style Show A Hit, And Amiss, In Iraq

In this Baghdad version of Punk’d, famous Iraqis — actors, singers and sports figures — are invited to be interviewed at Al-Baghdadiya TV, one of five main channels in the Iraqi capital.

As the notable figure is on the way to the studio, the car stops at a routine checkpoint. Hidden cameras then capture the reaction as soldiers accuse the passenger of carrying a homemade bomb.

The soldiers, the driver and the TV host are all in on the joke. It’s the famous person who is being had.

But this is Iraq, not MTV. Here, it gets ugly fast. In one episode, a soldier screamed at the passenger in Arabic: “I’m going to shoot you. You’re a terrorist!”

Some guests cry; others faint. The guest on this episode, a well-known national soccer fan, grabbed a big brick and tried to attack soldiers with it.

“They will kill you,” the host screamed. “They will hang you!”

The scene dragged on for an agonizing 12 minutes, and that’s after editing. Eventually the soldiers kissed the guest and told him it was all a joke.

Seriously? I have an awfully quirky (some would say “completely fucked-up”) sense of humor, but this just creeps me the hell out. I understand Iraq and its people have an awful lot of trauma to process, but… Seriously? Damn.

“We Made Our Oath To Vavilov”

Researchers Fight To Save Fruits Of Their Labor

Buried amid the stories of World War II heroism is this one: With German forces blocking food and supplies to the Russian city of St. Petersburg — then known as Leningrad — a group of scientists guarded a rare collection of potatoes and plant seeds. They feared years of research into food would be ruined.

The potatoes and seeds survived. The scientists, refusing to consume their collection, starved to death. Now, 70 years later, their research institute is under threat again — this time by real estate developers.

A court has cleared the way for the Russian government to sell off acres of land used by the Vavilov Institute of Plant Industry, which grows hundreds of varieties of fruit and berry plants there. The gardens — in the picturesque village of Pavlovsk, 45 minutes from downtown St. Petersburg — hold clues to how different strands of fruit and berries can survive harsh climates and provide important vitamins.

The collection is rare, scientists say, one in a handful of places around the world where scientists carefully study fruit that could sustain through future generations even if temperatures warm and the world’s food supply is threatened.

A law gives clear authority for the government to sell off state-owned agricultural property that is deteriorating in order to meet the demand for housing. Government officials have visited the gardens, insisting they see little value, while suggesting the institute should just move its collection elsewhere. Scientists at Vavilov say moving thousands of plants that have been growing for decades would be impossible.

“They are doing everything right, from the point of view of the law,” says Sergei Alexanian, the institute’s vice director for foreign relations. “But we are talking about the morality.”

That this site needs to be preserved should be beyond debate. Not only is it important in a historical context, the scientists there are doing work that just might have a hand in saving the human race from starvation. Maybe it’s just me, but that seems a bit important. But what do I know, digging everything up and building condos is probably a much better idea.

The Decemberists “When the War Came”

Re-tooling

I’m thinking about what I want to do with this, where I want it to go. I’ll be back, but it might be a while.

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