Monday, July 25, 2011

For the first time in a couple of years... a visual ID round!

Wednesday, July 27, 7:30pm

12 Steps Down
9th & Christian Sts.

A very special night is ahead indeed.

The New York Times is still lying on behalf of Gore/Lieberman '00

This weekend The New York Times, a newspaper which helped lie us into war against the Iraqi population and which on a good day is a scandal sheet dedicated to maintaining upper class power, printed an article about how Ralph Nader managed to get a refund from an airline depsite their usual anti-consumer practices.

It was impossible for the reporter to write this story - which had nothing whatever to do with any election anywhere at any time - without repeating the lie that somehow Nader's 2000 run "cost" Al Gore that election, a widely held belief which can only be held by ignoring simple logic and failing to apply grade school math.  As one of the official organs for the dissemination of elite opinion in the US, it seems the Times must necessarily continue to punish any non-corporate-backed candidates for any office for having the temerity to exist in our supposed democracy.

Given a small space in which to reply via "email" (in fact an online form) to the writer, I cobbled together the following:

"Nader had nothing whatever to do with Al Gore losing in '00.  The Florida GOP committed fraud before, during and after that election, the Supreme Court handed the election to Bush, Gore was a miserable candidate who lost every southern state including his home state and 10% of registered Florida Democrats voted for GW Bush - many times the total number of Floridians who voted for Nader.  This is aside from the fact that no one "owed" Al Gore a vote.  Nader's votes did not "belong" to Gore.  First the NYT ignores Nader every time he runs and then they lie about the impact of his runs after the fact.  The man has a fantastic lifetime of service to the general public and you can't write an article about him without starting it in reference to his alleged impact on a self-serving wanker like Al Gore?  The NYT is our News of the World, and I hope you have a similar fate."

There are the plain facts of the matter.  This is not a matter of opinion; what gave Florida to Bush was a combination of fraud and, according to exit polling,  more than 10% of Florida registered Democrats - about 220,000 voters - voting directly for George W. Bush, presumably for short-term selfish tax reasons.  People registered in all parties - this inlcudes a few Republicans - cast a grand total of less than 98,000 votes for Nader statewide.

Not that there would have been much difference between having any corporate, militarist Democrat in the White House as opposed to the equal with an "R" after the name.  Anyone with a memory longer than a mayfly might recall that Al Gore - the millionaire son of a Tennessee senator, following in the footsteps of his father in very much the Bush mold, a tobacco farmer with a stake in Occidental Petroleum - cast a deciding vote to invade Iraq the first time around, also based in a series of lies (Kuwaiti babies being torn from incubators, Iraqi troops massing on the Saudi border)  some 10 years earlier.  He spent his time in Congress voting for nuclear weapons to keep Oak Ridge, TN rolling in taxpayer dough (this is the fellow who wants to "save the Earth" we are to believe), when not advocating for censoring rock and rap along with his born again lunatic wife.

Why this jackass was supposed to have been a much better president than Bush is well beyond me.

It's been evident to me for decades that the Democrats are just the other wing of America's one militarist, corporate party.  The difference is that the Dems have tens of millions of people convinced that they are the ones looking out for the little guy, even as they slash social programs, send their children to die in illegal wars and shovel tax credits to corporate criminals.  Heck, Joe Lieberman was so stoked to thank his supporters that he quit the damn party.

Me?  I've proudly voted for Ralph four times now, beginning as a write-in in '96 after Clinton dicked over every union and environmental group in the country with "fast-track NAFTA."  He's probably about the only person in the country who is smart enough for the office and has the best interests of the little guy at heart.  He's been incorruptable for half a century and has never backed down from the good fight.  We might contrast this with the likes of Democratic (literal) poster boy Barry Obama, who is spending billions on unconstitutional wars against six countries, protecting American torturers and war criminals from prosecution, handed a trillion dollars to his Wall Street pimps and is trying to end Social Security and Medicaid/Medicare as we know it, just as Clinton ended welfare as we know it.  Bet on a Democratic president to do the dirtiest work of the Republicans and you'll never lose money.  I'll write Nader in a fifth time if I have to.  Fuck Obama.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Truncated summer quiz schedule for the week

Wednesday, July 19, 7:30pm
12 Steps Down
9th & Christian Sts.
Subject Round: THE BEATLES 

See the post immediately below about the El Camino Real quiz demise.

El Camino Real pulls the plug on the quiz... after serving quiz regulars who came out to play it

The quiz at El Camino Real is done.

After seating about 10 regular players the last time I was there - and after serving them drinks and taking food orders - the acting manager declared that there weren't enough people to warrant holding the quiz that night, and that there wouldn't be one for the rest of the summer, with the possibility of "revisiting" the quiz in the Fall.

Not going to happen.  I don't really need to be doing business with people who operate this way.

After some law and grad school graduations in May we lost a lot of regulars and semi-regulars and things had been touch and go in terms of turnout.  The decision to drop the quiz for the time being was a rational business decision and not by itself problematic.

El Camino has had a number of managers or acting managers since I started working there; in fact the manager who initially recruited me to quizzes there - they contacted me, not the other way around - was gone by the first night I showed up to do the quiz.  There is regular rapid turnover in most other positions and many nights I've had to explain to the staff who I was, what I was doing there with my equipment and that the customers expected prizes and I needed to get paid.  I just stopped trying to learn new staff names at some point because people would be gone very soon anyway.  It's a minor miracle that more than two years of weekly quizzes happened in this fashion.

A sincere thanks to everyone who played the last 20-some months.

These things are problematic:

- Seating and serving regular customers you know came out for an event and only after telling them that you aren't going to hold it.  What a dick move.  I think of the quiz players as my customers too and this is no way to treat you folks.  This is the second bar that cancelled the quiz after selling all of the quiz regulars a round of drinks.  How do people do business this way?

- Not bothering to contact me about this ahead of time.  Worse, helping me move a juke box to find a working outlet - the one I usually use was on the fritz - and then after that cancelling the quiz.  Whose thought process works this way?  No one could think "Hey, maybe we shouldn't be searching for an outlet and moving furniture for an event we're going to cancel..."?

The claim is that no one could find my contact info, which I've given at least 3 or 4 employees at different times with the assurance each time that it was being held somewhere accessable.  This doesn't explain not contacting me via the website - which I've announced there about 300 times - or doing a search for me online or even mentioning something to me in a previous week.

- Not bothering to mention the past few weeks after my repeated discussions with management that I would be distributing fliers in the neighborhood, putting listings in the papers and posting on the internet to promote the quiz that it was going to be cancelled "for the summer."  Instead I was encouraged in this direction and thanked for the effort.

So I apologize deeply for the cancellation if you've showed up; this was as much a surprise to me as to you.  Please send me some contact info if you were there for the quiz.  I'm trying to at least get paid for showing up that evening and bringing in people who spent money on food and drink.  They think because they cancelled with negative 5 minutes' notice that I'm somehow not owed any money.  It's been more than 8 days since I left phone and email messages for the ownership and no one has bothered recontacting me.

Just all-around terrible behavior over there.  Treating me this way is one thing, but your own customers too?

Incidentally I'm putting "for the summer" in quotes because A) I don't know how sincere that offer was and B) I don't have reason to expect anyone making such a statement will still be working there in the Fall if history is a guide.

Come September we're discussing options up at The Draught Horse and I might well end up there twice/week.  Stay tuned.

A gift from the Internet Gods... in other news, Scotland still not a country

Once in a great while the Internet Gods drop a gift in one's lap.

It appears that my cowardly internet stalker Lisa of quiz team Group W fame had her email account hijacked by a spammer while I was away on vacation. It was one of those non-blind CC attacks in which email addresses from one's contact list and/or recent sent emails is used as a spam list.

On Tuesday, July 12, 2011 at 12:13 AM I received in both my personal and quiz-related email inboxes spam from Lisa's AOL account which also drew the email addresses associated with the parody blog aimed at this one out of her contacts list. Lisa claims she has nothing to do with that blog.  But look at that gun smoke. By my estimation that's enough evidence to decide a civil case, what with the more-llikely-than-not standard of proof. This is good reason for Lisa not to give me cause to file one.

Part of the frustration involved in arguing with a person who hides behind multiple internet identities in multiple forums to attack me has been a base level of intellectual and other dishonesty. At least on the pages on her crappy TV show blog, where she has two whole pages devoted to calling me an "asshole," she must de facto admit that she is responsible for the content. The continuing lies and changing stories about which wilting comments she has made about me in which forums (including this one until I banned her comments for sockpuppetry) are immature and tiring.

In initially arguing the Scotland question while having several people yelling at me in a bar I made what is a social mistake pretty much only in the anti-intellectual United States; I pointed out that I knew the answer to a straightforward boolean status of a place being a country or not because I spent four years in a program for Comparative and Developmental Politics, and had the toolkit as it were for examining the question readily at hand.

Similarly if someone were arguing with a doctor about whether or not some bodily structure is a bone or not, I would expect that person to eventually point out that, hey, I went to frickin' medical school, so, uh, maybe I know this one. This isn't a substitute for explaining why that is - I have in fact wasted hours and days of my life patiently explaining to the extent that people will patiently listen the hows and whys of this fact on this site and at least three others, usually arguing with Lisa and her sockpuppets- and claiming that my mention of 10 years' experience in education and as a professional in geography education (!) is all just an "appeal to authority" argument is just more intellectual dishonesty on her end.

Lisa having dropped out of 10th grade, this seems to have hit a nerve, a large one connected to the lizard brain, and has sent her into enough of a fit to attack my quiz blog through a series of fake names, attack my internet sales venue, create a parody blog of this one (which she disowns) and two pages of direct attacks on me on another unrelated blog (which she really can't disown).

Coming from a working class background myself I get where some of the venom comes from, but honestly I wouldn't accept withering attacks on my education and intelligence from a Harvard professor - especially not Harvard, egad! - let alone someone whose formal education stopped in their early teens. (Coming from a working class background myself I should also point out that I'm not going to let an underachiever piss on my self-attained educational accomplishments and an income stream of mine in order to boost her self-esteem.)

I did at one point misstate that Lisa earned a GED; as she points out on the "asshole" page she did not. Had she done so she would have actually taken a series of high school classes to which most Americans are now exposed, and perhaps be vaguely familiar with the use of reference materials, standards of proof and maybe even social norms when discussing a topic. Lisa did take a "three-Rs" basic skills test to be declared whatever the State of New York considers minimally educated to enter the world, and so far as I know has escaped well into adulthood without encountering actual classes in the sciences, math and social studies beyond the 10th grade level. So thanks for the opportunity to set the record straight, Lisa, since we have you in print on this website and others giving your opinion of what my education prepares me to understand and explain.

Life lesson: People who live in the basement of someone else's house (owing to a lifetime of reduced socioeconomic standing based in a lack of educational achievement) shouldn't throw stones.

Lisa's wearying little pseudo-intellectual parlor trick is to switch between at least three mutually contradictory "methods" of determining what a country is in a hamfisted shell game. Whenever anyone tries to box her into one failed position and stick with it through a logic train in hopes of arriving somewhere, she'll drop one argument completely and run to another. If even one of them held water this might not be so pathetic.

1) A country is an area that was formerly independent, even if it isn't now. No, it isn't. Are Hawaii, Texas, Vermont, California, Bavaria, Sicily and Andalusia "countries" these days? Does anyone say that, ever? Would anyone like me to start accepting Vermont as an answer to Speed round questions requiring countries? Also Lisa claims repeatedly that "Northern Ireland is a country", even though that isn't even all of Ulster, and was never independent. So she's not actually using this standard all of the time even within the UK while making her other arguments.

Beyond this Lisa and others have started pretty much every argument with me by claiming that Scotland has country trappings now, such as a parliamentary body (Pennsylvania has two of those) or a land border (Maine, anyone?) or distributed paper [but not coin] currency that is graphically different (as do the 12 Federal Reserve Bank regions). Anyone who truly believed that "country" is a function of what used to be would not argue these points in their favor, let alone begin an argument there.

2) "The" dictionary says Scotland is a country. Well, there isn't one dictionary, is there? For every sloppy private publisher - we know that there isn't any body that regulates and coordinates these things, yes? - who claims that there are "four countries" in the UK another will define the UK as one country with "four territories" or something other. Because dictionaries contradict each other (assuming you want to read these entries the way that a religious fundamentalist reads a religious text, a problem by itself), even from one entry to the next, certainly from one edition to the next, all written by different people, Lisa selects dictionaries that, quoted out of context, support her and ignores all the ones which do not. Other people and I have asked her dozens of times how she determines which dictionary is then "correct", forsaking all others, and get no answer. She doesn't seem to have considered that there is more than one form of English in the world with different published reference works, and certainly has no answer for why this is a determination made in the English language and no other. Does she imagine that the global community discusses whether or not to recognize a country based in English dictionary definitions?

In any event in my Speed round quiz question I asked for 14 European countries meeting certain requirements on a list that included Spain, France, Portugal and so forth. That number 14 is important as it should in the mind of any sane person remove any doubt that there are too many subdivisions of actual countries for me to have expected their parts and not the whole as answers, and that only independent political entities were expected as answers. Even Lisa's team understood this and answered "UK" and not any parts thereof at the time. Any time she makes any fizzling arguments about supposed ambiguities in the term she takes special care to avoid this context while proclaiming loudly for three years that I was wrongly applying context. This isn't about the accuracy of my quizzes, it's about Lisa having psychological issues to work out with me as her inflatable punchy clown.

I maintain a geography reference work is preferable to a/any/some general dictionary/ies for answering a geography question. Silly me. In the United States, the official, federal government reference for these things is the CIA World Factbook, which clearly lists the United Kingdom as a "country" and Scotland as a "first-order subdivision." Likewise Pennsylvania and Ontario are "first-order subdivisions." There would be dramatic real-world consequences attached to the federal government also calling parts of other countries countries themselves.

God forbid I bring up the fact that I worked for a number of years in geography education and in fact for a stint even for the US Department of State.

3) The common person in a bar/ the listener determines what a country is. Somehow Lisa takes both sides of a series of ongoing modern and post-modern debates in linguistics and philosophy as to how meaning is determined. I don't think this is a conscious process on her part, I'm just describing what happens. Sometimes, after spending paragraphs or pages promoting the idea that the dictionary provides a proscriptive, definitive definition of what a country is, Lisa will then reverse herself 180 degrees and begin arguing that each individual listener creates the meaning of a word.

Why I'm the only one not allowed to be "the listener" in this situation and do the damn quiz job by marking the papers by one standard is left unstated, and likely unconsidered.

Lisa also like to use out of context quotes from political science articles that she Googles selectively to try and prove me "wrong." Sometimes this results in almost humorous misreadings of the text if one consults the original. Interestingly none of these sources mention the UK or Scotland directly, they are usually concerned with the appropriateness of the new recognition of nascent states. For all the Googling, she seems to have trouble finding anyone, anywhere who claims that Scotland belongs on a list with Spain and France. (You'll note too that these are issues of present and potential future, whereas argument #1 is that Scotland is a country because it was one in the past!)

Most pathetically, Lisa will quote varied lists that there could be said to be 19X or 20X countries in the world. What's astounding about this is that all of those lists display the United Kingdom and not Scotland nor any other part thereof as "countries."  This is easily understood as no body is currently representing itself to the world as the government-in-exile of a country called Scotland and there is therefore no international debate on the issue.

I believe we learned not to present directly contradictory evidence to our arguments the first day of 11th grade.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

I'm on vacation; just a 12 Steps Down quiz next week

Quizmaster John will be filling in for me at 12 Steps while I'm away.  I'll be back the following week.  Think of it as John 7/13*.  Stay cool, folks.

Wednesday, July 13, 7:30pm
12 Steps Down
9th & Christian Sts.
Subject Round: I don't know, ask John... 

* I had to look that one up once I typed it.  How unfortunate!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

This week's Subject round topics

Tuesday, July 5, 9pm
El Camino Real
1040 N. 2nd St.
(2nd St. below Girard Ave.)

Wednesday, July 6, 7:30pm
12 Steps Down
9th & Christian Sts.
Subject Round: CANADA