Your Daily Mindjob
This is my personal blog where I'll offer up some political straight talk as well as thoughts on technology and pop culture. That should give me plenty to talk about. The world can give you one heck of a mindjob. Think like me and get your daily dose.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Welcome Back, Domestic Terrorism

Joseph A. Stack flew 25 miles to an IRS building off of I-83 this morning. He then dove straight into it, Stack, the only death so far. Investigators are still searching for more casualties. Associated with the tragedy was an approximately 3000 word manifesto expressing his thought process for such an act along with the events which lead to his decision.

He repeatedly edited and finally posted a 3000 word manifesto leading up to this morning's disaster. The letter, a rant about taxes and the government, spurred from years of hassles with the IRS. Unfortunately, the language in the document was more than your basic gripe about the IRS.

"Desperate times call for desperate measures."

Desperation and anger sums it up. That is the disturbed paranoia on the Right which has triggered some to consider behaving violently. To deny the existence of such an element is to deny the serious nature of the accusations anti-government groups have made. Those accusations are not without consequence.

The strange part in the tirade was that I could not pin down which side of the fence the guy sat on. Much of his suicide note is obviously anti-government and anti-taxes, yet at the end of the document, he invokes Communism. The letter is peppered with Tea Party style language and other phrases which hint he leans more Right than Left. Strange, indeed. But we should not attempt to rationalize the ravings of a lunatic.

Moments after his name surfaced, Tea Party enthusiasts jumped at the opportunity to use the attack on the IRS to elevate their own anti-government position. The real question to ask then is, will Tea Partyers mistakenly take this act of violence as a green light to take action against the government in a violent manner themselves?

What troubles me even more is how Tea Party supporters and Limbaugh/Beck listeners will sympathize with this man. These same people call critics of the war terrorist sympathizers. I'm sure they feel that this man's violent response represents a legitimate message being sent to the Obama administration. They will defend is insane suicide note as something that represents a growing source of frustration in this country. The problem is, there is no IRS squeeze being put on Joe Taxpayer. The notion has been manufactured and perpetuated via ideology and fear. The Obama administration cut taxes for people in this group.

What they won't say, however, is that the manifesto has clues which suggest Stack may have not been all that kosher when it came to his taxes. I'll get to that in a minute. First, let me focus on the Tea Party reaction to this act.

Search Twitter for Stack sympathizers. These are just some of the gems you'll find.

Mixed feelings? Main stream media misinformation? Well written and poignant manifesto? Tea Party martyr?

Some folks on the Right are even claiming Stack was a wacko from the Left. They claim to have read his manifesto, yet aside from a jab at George W. Bush and a small tirade about health care being a crisis, nothing about his manifesto stinks of straight Liberalism, only Tea Party anti-government angst. Those on the Right consider anyone who criticizes Dubya or our "wonderful" health care system a Leftist. Part of his manifesto actually hinted that he was possibly weaseling around tax laws in order to evade paying. See the part where he talks about tax law readings with neighbors and lawyers and the section where he had undocumented income. He made himself out to be a patriot of all things. Draping oneself in a flag definitely belongs in the Right corner, not the Left. He also made it relatively clear he had a negative impression of unions and of a Democratic politician, Patrick Moynihan. I would personally love to get my hands on some of the letters he claimed to have written to politicians in the past. Perhaps they might shed some light on his thought process and how this dreadful day came into fruition.

So let's give these sympathizers the benefit of the doubt and say Stack wasn't a member of the Tea Party movement. Take all his angst and make a list. All of it resembles things said at speeches during the Tea Party convention. Someone with anti-government angst focused against the IRS does not fit a Leftist profile at all. On the contrary, self proclaimed "true Conservatives" post this kind of nonsense on the net minute by minute. "No taxation without representation" is a tag line of the Tea Party movement, a quote elevated with some importance in the Stack manifesto. Tea Party jargon inadvertently justifies his state of psychosis.

What Tea Party folks need to realize is that their choice of words resonates with more than their own protesters. Talk of revolution and oppression by way of taxes speaks to these lone wolves with psychotic tendencies. It speaks to those carrying signs with swastikas on them and those who play the Socialism card far too often than is necessary. All of those signs we see at Tea Party protests are not the least bit light hearted. They have a clear message directed at a clear target. The Tea Party marks the target. The crazy ones use a scope and fire away. Then the Tea Party gets to act as though they aren't to blame.

Speaking out against the entire US government with vague complaints leaves the uninformed to come to their own ridiculous conclusions. You've fired up the wrong people and now we've suffered as a result. Time to tame your own followers. Time to keep your volatile language in check.

What is ironic is how things are looking to become a self fulfilling prophecy. What do I mean by that? The Tea Party movement and several wingnuts claim the US government will turn into a police state, the likes of which we haven't seen since Communist Russia. I don't think they realize that by advocating revolution and trigging men and women to wage attacks on US soil, they will actually justify actions which would police our freedom.

Some additional points:
He became a Texan, although it would appear he has roots in Pennsylvania. Texas does strange things to people. It's why I really try to avoid driving into Texas altogether. I do give him credit, however, for noticing the over-inflated ego present in Texans.

He complained about all this money lost, yet he had a small plane. Doesn't seem to be hurting that bad. Although it appears that in his younger years, hard times were upon him, real poverty and hard times, he knew not. Who among you owns a plane? Who among you facing hard times owns a web site? That also means he owns a computer and has a decent internet connection. If money is an issue, I certainly wouldn't be throwing it away on a plane and a hosted domain.

My final word:
If his message resonates with you, I am scared of you. I wonder if you will be the next to take your own life and possibly many innocent others. I worry that members of our military will act out in a similar fashion. B52's fly training exercises above the city I live in. Imagine what kind of disaster could ensue should one of our own who swore to defend this country drove a plane like that into the ground. I wonder if I will become a victim of your angst. A body count is nothing to be proud of. You really do terrify the rest of us. Whether you post at FreeRepublic, NewsMax, InfoWars, or any of the many other "Conservative" leaning sites, comments which endorse violence and sympathize with revolution need to be weeded out. Freedom of speech only gets you so far before you become a threat to the rest of society.

I should not fear for my own life on this scale. That is terrorism. Are you a threat? If your answer is yes, you deserve to be on the FBI watch list and no-fly list. It's not oppression or police state when we come after you. You seek to cause physical harm to fellow Americans. Nothing excuses that kind of behavior. Nothing.

This is your "revolution"? You've made Americans afraid again. The language you choose to use to speak to your audience has consequences. They are preparing to take desperate measures. Time to rein in your fringe and send a clear message that this is not the way to solve problems.

Palin vs Macfarlane...and Maher?

There is a small Twitter war brewing and for someone liberal like me, it's friggin hilarious.

The Back Story:
On the most recent episode of Family Guy, Sarah Palin and her Down Syndrome son, Trig, were the subject of a questionably low, but still fairly humorous joke. A new character in the series goes on a date with the eldest Griffin son, Chris. Chris asks the girl with Down Syndrome what her parents do. The girl responds that her mother is the former governor of Alaska.

There's the jab.

Palin went on Fox News to speak out against Seth Macfarlane and the show, Family Guy. Apparently the world is full of evil people. Yeah, I know. The poor gal hasn't looked in the mirror. Her snarky and bitchy comments from stump speeches and party affiliated addresses serve as evidence for her own evil streak.

But that's not where I'm going with this post. I'm taking it in a new direction. I'm calling out the Palin dittoheads.

Retweets on Twitter are quoting Maher as saying the following:
Palin’s Job at Fox Equivalent to Talking to Her Down Syndrome Baby

Made me laugh. Anyway.

Dittoheads at the FreeRepublic are going on their usual tangents, referring to Maher as scum, someone lacking intellect, and the like. By extension, these dittoheads are also referring to liberals in general, but specifically to Maher fans.

Hate to break it to you guys, but we feel the same about you wingnuts. We're not the ones opposing science.

So I have a proposition for the Sarah Palin dittoheads and ass kissers. Show me you differ with her on some issues. The entire thread I found on the FreeRepublic paints Maher fans as kiss asses who await his every word.

I'm a Maher fan, but I also do not agree with everything he has to say.

Proof? Sure.

On legalizing marijuana, I'm against it. Maher is adamantly for it. As a member of the medical community, I am against illicit substance use and abuse. Even if it were legal, I'd be against it. Medicinal purposes are different. Maher wants more than that. I don't. I really really don't. Potheads piss me off.

Along the same lines, Maher has a twisted perception of the medical community as a whole. He doesn't understand what makes people sick. He doesn't understand that more is involved in health care than eating healthy and all of that jazz. Maher goes on a rant like he has stock in Whole Foods. He has a thing against vaccines and medications. Those rants of his are crazy. Even his panel gets uncomfortable when he brings that crap up.

I have disagreed with some of his criticisms of Barack Obama, mainly with regard to the war on terror.

I have disagreed with Maher, to some extent, when it comes to religion. While I enjoyed Religulous, I consider myself more of an agnostic and have slightly more respect for certain people of Faith than he does. Yes, there are batshit crazy religious folks. Nuts are nuts. He and I are on the same page there.

There are several other smaller instances where I have shaken my head at the man, but he's a comedian, not a pundit, so he's there to make us laugh. I watch the show for a laugh. Republicans generally don't see Maher in that light. They consider him an entertainer with a following like Limbaugh can influence. Maher is something different, but I digress. No sense in trying to rationalize with a right winger.

So let's start with you, Palin ass kisser. What has she done or said that you personally disagree with as an "informed" voter?

That's the challenge. Who has the balls to step up? Who doesn't eat up every word the stretch mark-laden hockey mom says?

Sunday, February 14, 2010

The Mac OS X Path Bar

The Path Bar is, in my eyes, a new feature in Mac OS X. What is the Path Bar? It's a hierarchal listing of folders at the bottom of a Finder window. The hierarchy tells you where you're at and lists every folder above your current location. Prior to the addition of a Path Bar, navigating via a hierarchy came by the way of the Path toolbar item or by holding the Command key while clicking on the name of the folder at the top of the window. While those last two features still exist, the Path Bar makes life a little easier, at least for me.

At face value, that's all the Path Bar is for novice Mac users. Nothing more than a list. Well, fellow Mac fans, there's more worth knowing.

First, you need to familiarize yourself with basic Mac keyboard and mouse actions. The Command key is your best friend. Formerly known as the Apple key, most Command keys on new Macs are branded with the funny cloverleaf pattern Command symbol and the word "command." In terms of mouse actions, there isn't anything new to learn. Double clicking and right clicking are the only two skills you'll need for this lesson.

To enable the Path Bar:
In the Finder, with a folder open, select the View menu and select Show Path Bar.

Duplicate the current window:
So let's start with the first trick, but let me preface it with a quick story. An app called Clone Window was a useful tool in my repertoire, snugly positioned in my Finder window Toolbar. The purpose of the app was to open a duplicate window of the current folder. For anyone who moves files around, this approach, while somewhat more analog in nature, is much more comfortable than navigating in Column view. Well the Path Bar makes this task possible without any special add ons. What's especially useful about the Path Bar is that, unlike Clone Window, when the Toolbar is collapsed, the Path Bar hangs around.

To accomplish this simple task, find the folder you'd like to have open in two windows listed in the Path Bar. Hold down the Command key. Now double click the folder icon/name in the Path Bar. Presto. Two windows of the same folder are open.

(You might notice that Clone Window is still present in my Toolbar. I haven't parted ways with the app just yet.)

Let's take this trick one step further. You can Command click on any folder in the list. That means you can open any folder in the hierarchy in a separate window.

In this regard, several other features common to navigating the Finder and managing files and folders are applicable. By holding down Command and Option followed by dragging something from the Path Bar, you can create an alias or shortcut to said item. Option clicking and then dragging allows you to copy a file or folder. Go ahead an experiment.

But it doesn't end there.

I use it to eject discs too. This trick is especially useful when I'm doing software updates, whether system related or simply for installing a series of newly released apps.

Sure, you can click on the icon on the Desktop and eject. Sure, you can do a Command E or select Eject via a menu. Yes, you can even drag the disc to the Trash icon in the Dock. But where is the fun in that?

Mount a disc image or pop in a DVD or CD.

In my case, I mounted the disc image for Formulate Pro, an app for dealing with PDF forms.

Instead of clicking on the icon on my Desktop, I can right click (control click) or use my Secondary Tap on my trackpad to bring up a contextual menu. You'll notice that in my screen shot, Eject is listed in said contextual menu. Select it and go on with your life much more efficiently.

There you have it. The Path Bar is a very useful tool for Mac users. Don't let it go to waste.

Monday, February 8, 2010

"And the South shall rise again"

The morning George W. Bush was announced as the winner of the 2000 election, the first words out of my mouth were "We're going to have hard times ahead of us." In addition, I said we were going to have a war and that it would not be pretty. After eight years, I can honestly say we were put on the path towards hard times and we are now in wars that have not been ideal, not that any war is, but that things were done half-assed. Somewhere in between his first term and his reelection, I was someone who said a civil war was coming. Along the same lines, I was also hinting at the saying those below the Mason Dixon line know all too well.

"The South will rise again."

Only in the last few years have we seen a glimpse of this trend on the national stage with any regularity. Now we are seeing a large movement with principles coming from the old ways of the South. I'm speaking, of course, of the current Republican Party, but the Tea Party movement has benefited from these sentiments more than any other faction of the Conservative base.

A few of these signs rest in plain sight. The voting pattern in the 2008 election which put Barack Obama in office clearly had a slant towards McCain in southern states. The overwhelming caucasian demographic of the Republican party is another trend hiding in plain sight.

Let me toss out a few more.

The Tea Party movement specifically refers to their organized approach as a revolution. In recent history, there have never been more threatening words towards our own government by a group of people this large. They feel that as a party and as a people, they are at war.

Along the same lines, members of this particular flavor of the Conservative base feel as though it is their duty to take "their" country back. Let's set aside the fact that the 2008 election was democratic in nature and Obama ended up in the White House as a result of this democratic system. Let's set aside the fact that Americans are Americans, whether they sit Left, Right, or Center. Let's even set aside the possibility that many want to "take their country back" from a black man (who isn't completely black, but a mixed-race individual). There exists the same sort of southern "us against them" mentality which was around at the time of the Civil War. This North vs South thing is evident in the language chosen by the Tea Party movement.

These people are clinging to old ways. Whether it's a religious thing pertaining to gay marriage or a cultural thing related to race, people in the Tea Party movement are clamoring to return to the 50's. Suggesting that the notion is ridiculous by way of a question is simply asking the wrong question. I'll give you the answer. Yes, they do want the 50's. Why? "Simpler times." To a small town local yokel, that kind of life resonates.

As discussed by Rachel Maddow on MSNBC, a speaker at the Tea Party convention suggested having to pass a civil literacy test in order to be able to vote. Instead of granting the rights of all citizens in this great country to vote, a test of this nature has been used specifically to prohibit any black person from having a voice in any election. The test wasn't designed so that the uninformed were not allowed to vote, a notion admittedly present in the minds of many Liberals after W was elected when dumb shits were clearly to blame. While I understand the sentiment, that is not the nation of ideals we were founded on. The literacy test was designed as a form of selection, allowing certain people (white) to vote and others (black) denied. The suggestion to use a literacy test in any form is simply wrong.

The Secessionist movement, or perhaps simply the sentiment, is rooted in the same mentality of southern pride. Even the notion of "Big Government" is related to this idea that the South has this unspoken sovereign power to withstand the northern influence.

Even gun ownership has its own flavor of southern spice. There is a very apparent preparedness of gun toting rednecks to take up arms in some grand stand against the government. The only way you'd know about this sentiment is if you spend any time living in the South or take some time out of your day reading posts online by rednecks who own guns. They are under the impression that since Liberals are for gun control, it would be a quick battle since they, as rednecks, have all the guns. I'd hate to be the bearer of bad news, but gun owners come from many different backgrounds. I can shoot. Rachel Maddow can shoot. If you come shooting, rest assured, there will be people ready to shoot back.

Whether it's elite vs middle of the country, white vs minority (a statistic that will change soon given the growing hispanic population), redneck vs city folk, or Liberal vs Conservative, all show signs of the South rising again.

Anyone who lives outside of the South who enjoys their way of life should be afraid of this movement. Anyone supporting the Tea Party movement should make themselves aware of the language they choose to use among its followers. Such a violent sentiment will rip our nation apart and leave both our economy and infrastructure in ruins. While the Right has a very paranoid element to it, I admit that this post has a paranoid quality to it as well. I'm sad to say that the language on the Right is more pronounced than what you might think and the reality of a revolution in a violent form is a distinct possibility.