Welcome to Buster's Blog

Irregular commentary on whatever's on my mind -- politics, sports, current events, and life in general. After twenty years of writing business and community newsletters, fifteen years of fantasy baseball newsletters, and two years of email "columns", this is, I suppose, the inevitable result: the awful conceit that someone might actually care to read what I have to say. Posts may be added often, rarely, or never again. As always, my mood and motivation are unpredictable.

Buster Gammons

Friday, June 28, 2013

Tell Me More About This Fascinating Thing You Call States Rights

The Supreme Court gutted the 1965 Voting Rights Act by telling Congress to update the "pre-clearance" criteria for nine bad-actor southern states.  Until that happens (i.e. never), those nine plus all the other states can each do their own thing with voting rules.  Chief Justice John Roberts said, "Things have changed in the South."  Not that much.  Texas announced it would immediately move forward with a voter ID law designed to reduce the number of black and Latino voters.  (No more dogs and fire hoses, just the same sort of race-based ID laws that were the impetus for the Voting Rights Act in the first place.)

The Supremes also overturned DOMA and refused to rule on California's Prop 8.  Good!  The effect is that the federal ban on same-sex marriage is found to be unconstitutional and again it's all up to the individual states.  The feds can't prevent same-sex marriage in states that already allow it, but states that prohibit it may continue to do so.  That's a guaranteed cluster-fuck (pardon the imagery).  It's legal in one state, but what if you move to another where it's not?  How's that gonna work?  John Boehner, who stupidly chose to defend DOMA, said "It's my hope that states will define marriage as between one man and on woman."  Good luck with that, Orange Man.  Sooner rather than later, all state bans on same-sex marriage will crumble of their own stupid weight.  (As the lovely Mrs. Gammons says, "If you don't like same-sex marriage, then don't marry someone of the same sex.")

Using an arcane state law, Texas state senator Wendy Davis successfully filibustered for 13 hours to prevent a vote to adopt unconstitutional restrictions on abortion.  Texas and other like-minded states are so obsessed with defying Roe v. Wade that they gleefully pass bullshit laws and dare the federal courts to stop them.  A day after Davis's filibuster, Gov. Rick the Dick Perry ordered another vote on the same bill.  Here in Ohio, Gov. Kay-suck will likely sign the GOP majority's budget bill which de-funds Planned Parenthood and requires abortion providers to give an ultrasound and describe the fetal heartbeat to their patients.  Yeah, just routine, everyday stuff in the old budget bill.  (Jesus!  These dickheads actually believe they're "doing the people's business"???)

And don't forget the unworkable hodgepodge of gun laws (or lack thereof) across our fifty states.  The regulatory differences between, say, New York and Arkansas are enormous, yet firearms are equally dangerous and lethal in both states.  It makes absolutely no sense.

Do you suppose that our fabulous founding fathers really envisioned a union of 50 mini-nations, with 50 different sets of rules on everything from A to Z?  Really?  As you'll recall, it was an awful and extreme misapplication of "states rights" that gave us slavery and the Civil War.  Charming.

States may vary by size, population, climate and topography but, pretty much, people are people wherever you go.  Often, the "because-we-can" legal variations from state to state serve mainly to confuse and frustrate us as we live, work, travel, shop, etc.

There is certainly a place for states and localities to exercise certain rights, but for many things a consistent and uniform federal rule works best and works easiest.  Ooh, that sounds like "Big Government"!!

Judge John Hodgman Rules

"Jere" writes:  
My sisters post embarassing or incriminating photos about me on their Facebook feeds.  I would like them not to post anything with my name or likeness without my consent.

Judge Hodgman rules:
Because I went to Yale and thus am an honorary member of the N.S.A., I have reviewed all the Facebook photos and facts that you mention, and I must say they are not that embarassing!  But while there is no such thing as privacy anymore, it is still considered polite to pretend that there is.

I order your sisters to cease posting unauthorized details about your life and to henceforth simply mail them directly to:

PRISM Data Center
1839 Secret World Government Drive
Town-Name-Redacted, Utah

Sony's New Product

NSFW!  Hilarious, and outrageously profane.  No wonder I love it!

Fetal "Facts"

Michael Burgess is a Tea Bag GOP U.S. Representative from Texas.  He's actually a former OB/GYN with anti-abortion agenda.  He's also full of shit.  The strip is by Brian McFadden for the NY Times.

Paula Deen's N Word

"When they asked if I'd ever used the 'N word', I thought they meant NutraSweet."

N . . . N . . . N . . . 

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Two-And-A-Half Little Thoughts For Today

1.  In-laws are like seeds -- you don't really need them, but they come with the tomato.

2a.  Just because you can, doesn't mean you should.

2b.  Being within your rights is not necessarily the same thing as doing what is right.

Bill Maher on Legalized Weed, Cultural Change, And People Who Want Their Country Back

The current issue of Rolling Stone is devoted to "The New Stoned Age", an exploration of how changing attitudes toward pot and decriminalization may affect our society.  (Perhaps nothing illustrates those changes more than the octogenarian companion of my wife's nonagenarian mom asking us recently if we could possibly procure some weed -- for medicinal purposes, of course.)

The cover story was written by Bill Maher, one of my favorites.  The following excerpt was the best part, I thought:

"Legalization [of pot] is another of those issues, like gay marriage, that drives Tea Bag people crazy.  That Leave It To Beaver black-and-white 1950's image that Mitt Romney fit into so well is going away, and one reason is marijuana.  Bill Clinton once said, 'If you look back on the Sixties and think there was more good than harm, you're probably a Democrat.  If you think there was more harm than good, you're probably a Republican."  Well, for those people who loved the Fifties, pot played a huge role in the cultural revolution they detest.

"Republicans have been an uneasy alliance of Jesus freaks, gun nuts, generic obese suburbanites and the super-rich, but what really binds them together is this idea that life was perfect in Appleton, Wisconsin, in 1958.  As soon as President Obama was elected, this visual of a black guy who once smoked pot walking into the White House was just too much.  Whenever you hear them say, 'I want my country back' -- back from what?  Did Blackmanistan invade us?  They may want it back, but that America is gone forever."

They Have Learned Nothing

While most D.C. Republicans want to appear semi-open-minded on immigration reform, on the issue of safe, legal access to abortion, they're still a bunch of retrograde paternalistic old white men trying to dictate to women. 

Two days ago, House R's passed a bill which unconstitutionally reduces abortion access to a time period less than that established by Roe v. Wade.  Luckily, it'll be completely ignored in the Senate, and just in case it's not, Obama will veto it.  The bill's main sponsor, Rep. Trent Franks (R-Ariz), has claimed that rape results in "few" pregnancies (as if this friggin' guy knows, or that it justifies cutting access to the procedure).

Not to be outdone, yesterday here in Ohio State Rep. Ron Hood (R-Ashville) introduced HB 200.  It would require that doctors give an ultrasound to women seeking to terminate, and to describe in detail the fetal image.  It require doctors to tell patients that fetuses feel pain and abortion leads to breast cancer.  (Total horseshit, of course.  Essentially, the bill requires doctors to lie.)

Hood said he just wanted to "protect mothers from making a decision they may regret."  Whatever, Hoodie. It's the woman's decision, not yours.  And who the hell appointed you Lord Protector?  Piss off!

Across this country, the majority of women voted Democrat in 2012, in part because of the perceived Republican "war on women".  Franks and Hood are emblematic of so many time-wasting GOP assholes who've obviously learned NOTHING!

Monday, June 17, 2013

Buster's Backyard Wildlife Adventure

That's my wrist, with 3 or 4 barely visible scratches.  Obviously no biggie, but how they got there is, shall we say, unusual.

Today I cut the grass in my suburban yard.  The backyard has a several big trees and a large brick patio.  Standing on the patio, I'd just finished blowing the clippings off the bricks when I heard something come falling down through the tree branches.  In my yard, this happens all the time and usually what falls through the branches is another branch.

The falling object hit the bricks right in front of me, hard, with a loud WHAP!  But this time it wasn't a branch, it was a squirrel!  Went for the next tree limb, missed, and fell a good 15-20 feet to the patio, not the grass.  Stunned for a second, the little bastard shook it off, jumped up onto a chair, then the fence, then a tree, and was gone into the neighbor's yard.

Well, you don't see that everyday, do you?  I remember thinking these thoughts, literally:  "Holy shit, that squirrel damn near fell on me!  That would have hurt!"  And at that precise moment, I heard something else come falling down through the branches and, unmistakably, it was right above me.  I instinctively ducked and covered my head with my hands.

It was -- I am not making this up -- another falling squirrel!  WHAP!  This little rodent Wallenda hit me square on my bowed, semi-covered head, bounced/scratched/leapt onto the same fence and, like his fellow flopper, was gone.  And yes, it hurt, a little.

Sounds incredible, but Scout's honor, that's the way it went down -- two falling squirrels in almost the same exact spot in the space of 10-15 seconds.

I went inside to show the lovely Mrs. Gammons my squirrel wounds and she said I should get a rabies shot.  I said, no, these squirrels were clearly inexperienced freshmen without the skills necessary to acquire a deadly disease.  But if I start snarling and foaming at the mouth, you'll know I was wrong.


Thursday, June 13, 2013

I Survived The Derecho Apocalypse!

If you're in the dark green areas, it's just another day in paradise.  You'll be fine.
In the red areas, expect widespread power outages and costly damage to buildings, vehicles and livestock.
If you're in the pink area circled by the yellow line, I hope your affairs are in order because you're doomed!

I bet you did, too.  I appreciated all the advance warning, but don't you think they over-hyped yesterday's "derecho" just a little bit?  Some parts of the country were hit hard, but around here it was a routine thunderstorm.

Carl Levin, Official Clueless Old Fart

Last year in the U.S. military, there 26,000 reported cases of sexual assault among the troops, up from 19,000 the year before.  The overwhelming majority involve women being assaulted by men.  Of these known cases, the military sports a stellar 1% conviction rate.  That's because "chain of command" protocol says that the first review of such a report is by the accused's immediate supervisor.  ("Did ya rape her, son?"  "Sir, no sir!"  "That's good enough for me.")

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) offered a popular proposal to remove all sexual assault cases -- but only sexual assaults -- from the so-called chain of command, with initial reports being made directly to military prosecutors.

Yesterday, Sen. Carl Levin (D-MI), Chairman of the Senate Armed Forces Committee, scuttled Gillibrand's very sensible idea with his counter-proposal to keep sexual assault reports within the chain of command, but to skip a couple links by reporting them to senior commanders instead of immediate supervisors.  Oh, that's so much different!

Generally, I like Carl Levin but he's got his head up the Pentagon's ass on this one.  Makes him look like just another clueless old fart.  The chain of command is OK for administrative and battlefield decisions, but not for criminal cases like sexual assault.

I don't have a daughter but if I did and she told me she wanted to join the military, I'd have to advise against it.

Size Matters

I enjoy fresh seasonal fruit on my breakfast cereal, especially strawberries in early summer and peaches in late summer.  The other morning I was slicing strawberries onto my Wheaties.  It took just two strawberries to cover the whole bowl.

That's just unnatural.  A good local, ripe, juicy strawberry is a wonderful thing, and a fairly small thing, with a diameter approximately that of a quarter.  Sadly, it's also getting harder and harder to find the real deal.  You sure as hell can't get 'em at Krogers -- they sell strawberries with the size and texture of baseballs.

Chicken breasts have gone similarly gargantuan.  It used to be that a chicken breast filet was a bit smaller than your hand.  Now the fine genetic engineers at Perdue and Tyson have somehow made them bigger than King Kong's hand, and just about as tasty.

Attention, Wal Mart shoppers!  Size matters, and bigger is not always better.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Rand Paul 2016????

According to some people, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky) is a viable 2016 Presidential candidate.  They say his Libertarian positions appeal to many of today's young people.  Among the most appealing, of course, is Paul's pro pot-legalization position.

Many college-age folks have had flirtations with libertarian philosophy, myself included.  It's attractive to believe that government causes all your problems, and the world would perfect if only government would go away and let us enjoy all the true freedoms we're supposed to have, including . . .

The freedom to have no safety, security or protection.

The freedom to be ripped off, poisoned and polluted in the name of free-market capitalism.

The freedom to be hungry, sick, poor and uninsured.

The freedom to be pretty much on your own.  Good luck!

So that's right, kids -- legalized weed could be a wonderful thing.  If you get high enough, you could forget all the many reasons why you'd never, ever want to vote for that dumbass Rand Paul!

(Click the link for an excellent article by Michael Lind in Salon.com which essentially poses the bottom-line question:  "If Libertarianism is such a great fucking idea, why are there no Libertarian governments in this world?")


God's Quarterback Signs With The Patriots. Belichick Cannot Contain His Emotions.

Tim Tebow, the serially unemployed holy-rollin' evangelical football player, signed a 2-year non-guaranteed contract today with the New England Patriots.  If he makes the team, Saint Timothy will be the Pats 3rd-string QB.

Asked about how the team might make use of Tebow, Coach Bill Belichick simply could not curb his enthusiasm:

Calm down, Bill!  You might hurt yourself.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Verizon: "We Can Hear You Now"

That was Jimmy Fallon's line about the revelation that Verizon (and presumably all other telecoms and ISP's) has for some time allowed the NSA and FBI to "mine" their vast amount of electronic data.  This is being done in the name of national security and counter-terrorism/counter-intelligence.  It's been going on for at least the past 7-8 years.

This is one of those damned-if-you-do, damned-if-you-don't deals -- it's definitely sort of creepy, in a Big Brother-ish way.  Is there no privacy at all?  On the other hand, this is the modern world we live in, and it's our own technology and ingenuity which has led us to this point.

We should be concerned, but not paranoid.  No one is literally listening to our phone calls or reading every single text or email.  The number of transmissions is so huge, the mountain of data so enormous, that would be a full-time job for every person on the planet.

No, the spy-techies are engaged in something called traffic analysis, which searches for certain red-flag patterns in this mass of bits and bytes -- a few bad-guy needles in a colossal haystack.  And if they find them, it's probably better than not finding them, and we're probably a bit safer.  It's a trade-off.

Besides, you and I and 99.9% of the population are not the red flags.  We're not saying, writing or recording anything all that interesting.  With the possible exception of Buster's Blog, of course.

Already In A Hole, The Bishop Keeps Digging

John O'Grady is the president of the Franklin County Board of Commissioners.  Prior to that, he was the county Clerk of Courts.  On Saturday, he was to have been the commencement speaker at his alma mater, Bishop Ready High School.  He was listed in the program but he wasn't there at the ceremonies, and the school's principal made the speech in his place.

What happened to O'Grady?  Did he forget?  Oversleep?  Was he sick?  Hungover?

None of the above.  Bishop Frederick Campbell, the head of the Columbus Diocese who notoriously fired Watterson teacher Carla Hale for being gay, decided that O'Grady could not be permitted to give the commencement address because O'Grady wants to repeal the Ohio law banning same-sex marriage.

O'Grady is a Catholic with a wife and four kids.  Did the Bishop really believe O'Grady would talk to Ready's graduating class about gay marriage?  Puh-leeze.

It's clear that the Columbus Diocese has zero tolerance for any gay/lesbian teachers, administrators, coaches, janitors, or lunch ladies in their schools.  And if you're not gay yourself but support equal rights, the Diocese will not allow you to set foot in their hallowed halls of learning.

No longer does their prejudice apply just to who you are; it now extends to what you think.

Keep digging that hole, Bishop.  It's taking you straight to the dark ages.

Mal De Mer

Some people love cruise ships, and it's easy to see why -- the open water, the tropical ports of call, the romance.  Not to mention power outages, fires, rogue waves, viral diarrhea, missing passengers presumed overboard, and ships running aground and capsizing.  It's not just a vacation, it's an adventure!

The two biggest cruise line operators, Carnival and Royal Caribbean, have increased the total number of berths to over 300,000 on their combined 143 ships.  Their average cruise liner carries 2,100 people -- a small town crammed cheek-by-jowl into a floating pathogen tube, with everyone waiting in line for everything.

I've never been on a cruise.  Some say I don't know what I'm missing.  I say I'd like to keep it that way.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

"But We'd Never, Ever Try To Suppress The Vote"


At a recent public event in Texas, Dallas Tea Party leader Ken Emanuelson was asked by a black man, "What are you doing to get black people to vote?"

He replied, "To be honest, we don't want black people to vote, if they're going to vote 9 to 1 for Democrats."

Emanuelson elaborated by saying, "Oops!  Did I just tell the truth?  I'm sorry."

Just Hire Sister Mary Elephant

If he's smart, Bishop Campbell of the Columbus Diocese is paying attention.  But that's a big if.

A federal jury found that the Catholic Diocese of Cincinnati illegally discriminated and violated the rights of a teacher named Christa Dias when it fired her in 2010 for being unmarried and pregnant.  Dias conceived via artificial insemination, and like Carla Hale here in Columbus, she's lesbian.  Wow, that's the triple play of Catholic immorality!  Dias was canned for non-compliance with the "morals" clause of her employment contract, just like Hale.  And like Hale, Dias was a non-Catholic who didn't teach religion.

The Cincinnati jury saw through the bullshit, said church "law" did not apply, and awarded Ms. Dias $170,000.  If Bishop Campbell wishes to avoid the same fate, he ought to stroke a somewhat smaller check to Ms. Hale and reinstate her as a teacher immediately.

If, on the other hand, the Bishop insists on Pope-like Catholic purity from his educators and is willing to pursue ideological cleansing to achieve it, then his only option is a return to the bad old days -- hire only nuns and priests as teachers.

I think Cheech & Chong's Sister Mary Elephant may still be available.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

The Devolution Of Facebook

What hath Zuckerberg wrought?  A convenient way to share family photos and experiences (with the family plus the entire world)?  Yes.  A place to post corny jokes and upload funny cat videos?  Sure.  A platform for paranoid crackpots, racists, gun nuts, Bible thumpers, anti-government militia men, and various other problematic people?  Wish it was No, but it's most definitely Yes.

That's the devolution of Facebook.  It is over-populated by over-sharing, over-opinionated idiots who are more concerned with exercising their "free speech" rights than they are with preserving friendships and family relationships.  That's why so many early adopters, a.k.a. our kids, are now leaving Facebook -- they consider it to be obsolete, a haven for cranks and old farts.

Buster himself is an admitted Facebook failure.  I will not go stream-of-consciousness and puke up every last fucking half-thought bouncing around in my head.  But I do love my few remaining Facebook friends, because they do it right -- nothing major, just updates on the basic situation, without flame or controversy.  And I know I've gone snarky in the past about FB minutiae such as people describing their meals, but please continue.  Please!  I'd much rather read about your breakfast, lunch, dinner and midnight snack than some of this other crap.

All of which is preamble to this:  Yesterday, the lovely Mrs. Gammons just couldn't take it anymore and blew up ("un-friended") a few old FB friends.  One is a neighbor who's an occasional travelling companion and the mother of a couple of our son's buddies.  She's an otherwise good egg and a good friend, but when she goes on Facebook she's a hot-mess disaster.  When I first joined Facebook in 2009, she was among my very first  FB friends.  Almost immediately, she was my very first "un-friend".  Her post inviting me to "like" a page which was "praying for Obama's death" was all it took.  (Whatever your politics, what kind of hateful horseshit is that?)

Ever since, I've been happily ignorant of her FB drivel.  But, until yesterday, my dear wife still regularly visited our friend's page -- like a train wreck, it was awful, but she couldn't look away.  Advice to our friend about perhaps toning down the wing-nut rhetoric fell on deaf ears.

The last straws for Mrs. Gammons were these two brilliant posts:

"I'll continue to mix politics and religion, and will not shut up."  (Yes, and you'll continue to talk to yourself.)

"Today's immigrant is tomorrow's Democrat on Welfare."  (Wrong, but today's low-information Fox-bot is tomorrow's insignificant old white Republican douchebag.)

As someone once said, marvelously, about such matters:  "I am firm, he is obstinate, she is a pig-headed fool."  Mrs. Gammons could no longer suffer a FB fool.  Good for her!

Isn't it hypocritical for an obviously liberal blogger like Buster to rip on right-wingers who post crap on FB?  Maybe.  But I don't do my thing on FB.  You go to my blog, any blog, by choice.  You're not reading this unless you really want to.  FB is much less deliberate.  You can go to someone's page expecting one thing, and you may get quite another.  An ideological rant on Facebook for all to see is the equivalent of sending a political or religious email to your entire contact list -- intentionally provocative, and kinda thoughtless and rude.  Yes, we all have a 1st Amendment right to free speech, but Facebook is not the best place to exercise that right.  Think about it.