Please Add Me to the Hit List!

Please Add Me to the Hit List!

–Sept. 29, 2015

Dear Bangladeshi Islamic Extremists (members of Ansarullah Bangla Team and Ansar al Islam Bangladesh): 

I understand that you have expanded your hit list of bloggers to be killed due to their written commentary that you believe to be offensive to Islam. So far this year you have successfully butchered four Bangladeshi bloggers for their writing, and have now expanded your hit list to call for any and all true-faith Muslims to assassinate nine bloggers living in Europe and North America. 

Please add me to this list. While I do not wish to insult your faith or reverence for Allah, Muhammad and Islam in general, I question and take issue with your interpretation of your holy book, the Quran. I believe that any man should be able to question and debate your interpretation without repercussion. I also do not believe that Allah would sanction your killing of other Muslims, or anybody, for that matter, for challenging your interpretation. Nor do I believe that Allah would sanction the killing of anyone for drawing a cartoon of Muhammad or otherwise insulting Islam.

Allah is supposed to be God, for Christ’s sake, and there’s no way his proverbial skin could be that thin. If Allah truly has an issue with people questioning his Godliness, making jokes about Muhammad, or portraying him as a cartoon figure, I am positive that he can deal with the  miscreants in his own Godlike fashion.   

So, in protest of your blatant killing for the sake of religious censorship, I want you to look at this photo. That guy whoseth-4 12.17.01 PM head is in the toilet, I believe that to be Muhammad. Therefore I am obviously guilty of blasphemy and of offending Allah–peace be upon him–and therefore should be hacked to bits.

Come and get me.

Sincerely,

M.J. Moye

Muslims tend to take great offense at those who criticize Islam, question their interpretation of the Quran, or draw images of Muhammad. Many take their self-righteous sense of being offended so severely that they believe killing people who commit these offenses is justified. And while the majority of Muslims do not actively support such action, does not their noticeable lack of opposition to the practice mark them as silent accomplices?

What of the murder of innocent writers and cartoonists? Is that not the far greater offense? Sure the Western world expresses a brief surge of outrage every time writers and cartoonists are killed, but the media is generally loath to reprint or discuss the subject matter that led to the killing. Oh, we don’t want to offend the Muslim community, is the usual excuse.

Worse than that, though, is when the Western media is cowed by Islamic threats and self-censors material that may be deemed offensive to Islam. Remember Episodes 200 and 201 of South Park? Broadcast in 2010, it featured a character in a bear costume named Muhammad. A radical Muslim group sent South Park producers and broadcasters a photo of the nearly decapitated anti-Muslim Dutch filmmaker Theo van Gogh, with a warning that they would meet a similar fate. Muhammad was quickly censored out of the episodes.

Pussies!

In response a woman named Molly Norris organized an “Everybody Draw Mohammad Day” in support of free speech. The effort drew tremendous support, but also drew significant opposition from both Muslims and those of the political correct persuasion who felt the effort was a needless affront to the Muslim community. Meanwhile Ms. Norris was put on an Islamic hit list, and her name was later added to the same hit list that targeted Charlie Hebdo in Paris. She remains in hiding to this day.

Unreal!  

This is America, where freedom of speech is supposed to be sacrosanct. We’re going to let ourselves be bullied into limiting this freedom? We’re going to cave for the sake of Muslim sensibilities, the same sensibilities that believe murder for religious ideals is perfectly OK?

Screw that!

As I said in my letter to the hit-list Muslims, I do not wish to insult their religion. However, if they are going to target innocent writers and cartoonists and mark them for death for offending Islam, then I will join with those same writers and cartoonists. Plain and simply, religious beliefs that invoke murder or other egregious actions do not trump freedom of thought and speech.

And just to make clear that this blog and blogger are not specifically anti-Islam, the above letter would be proffered to any radical Christian groups that target people for insulting Jesus Christ and Christianity. But to my knowledge there aren’t any.

However, if there are any Radical Christians out there advocating death for those who insult Jesus, well, see that photo near the top of the page…that guy getting a swirly is Jesus.

Come and get me!

So, dear reader, what do you think? Are you willing to add your name to the list? Hash it out!

—Originally published Sept. 28, 2015 by Hash It Out!

Beware The Military-Industrial Complex?

Beware The Military-Industrial Complex?

—September 21, 2015

Former President Dwight Eisenhower famously warned Americans to “guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex,” because the “potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists, and will persist.”

Americans have certainly failed to follow that advice and “unwarranted influence” and “misplaced power” are vast understatements with regard to today’s military-industrial complex. Little doubt that Ike, who successfully led the American war effort against Nazi Germany during World War II, would be appalled.

th-8If the military-industrial complex was a single entity or corporation, an appropriate logo for it should include an image of a hammer and/or toilet seat. Easily identified symbols of the Pentagon’s 1980s era procurement of $400 hammers that cost about $12 retail and $600 toilet seats that went for about $21 retail.

While that procurement bungle led to congressional investigations and hearings after being exposed by the press, along with the subsequent Pentagon promises to clean up its procurement act, we doubt much has changed since then, and that the Pentagon still spends taxpayer money like a drunken sailor on leave. In fact, in 2000 and 2001 the Pentagon was under congressional pressure to account for more than $2 trillion in missing money, and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld publicly admitted on Sept. 10, 2001 that the Pentagon could not account for about $2.3 trillion in Pentagon funds. The 9/11 attacks happened the next day and the accounting oversight was quickly forgotten.

Although forgotten, this still means that taxpayers are on the hook for an amount equal to about $8,000 for every man, women and child in America. On the hook and paying interest on it, as it was ultimately just added to the government’s deficit.

And now we’re going to spend about $1 trillion on an advanced attack fighter jet program that many analysts say has been mismanaged to the point of being a “financial catastrophe.”

The F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program is the most expensive weapons system in world history, and one that has been plagued with problems and massive cost overruns since its inception. The F-35 is touted by its builders and the Pentagon as being the most lethal and technologically advanced attack aircraft in the world. And this might prove true, if the contractors can actually keep it up in the air and get its numerous advanced systems to work as advertised.

In 2013 the Pentagon’s Inspector General identified 719 issues that could “adversely affect aircraft performance, reliability, maintainability, and ultimately cost.” The IG’s “quality assurance assessment” faulted the Pentagon for losing control over its contractors and quality management procedures.

While many of those issues have been resolved, others, including “catastrophic engine failure” and “structural cracking,” have emerged and the existing fleet of aircraft remains severely restricted in its operational capability as testing continues. Testing that has thus far shown that the F-35 can easily be bested in close-range combat by a 1980s-era F-16, and that its high-tech weapons systems is hard-pressed to identify whether another aircraft is friend or foe. Contractor Lockheed Martin’s response to this leaked news was that the F-35 is designed for long-range combat and not “visual dogfighting situations.” That’s reassuring!  

Despite all this, and the lack of a working gatling gun (the high-tech system is still under testing and reportedly will not be air-operational for at least another year), the U.S. Marine Corps declared its version of the F-35 combat ready as of July.

The question is will the Marine Corps be able to keep any of them in the air. As of earlier this year, the amount of maintenance needed per jet to keepth-6 them air worthy allows for about 7.7 flight hours per month, or one sortie every 5.5 days. And that’s making our potential enemies lose sleep with worry….

Oh, and the aircraft are so high-tech that maintenance has to be conducted by the contractors who built the plane. Cha-ching! and little doubt that the $1 trillion estimated cost is going to rise.

Yep, beware the military-industrial complex because there’s apparently no accountability and obviously no lack of taxpayer money with which to feed the military-industrial complex trough.

—Originally published in Hash It Out! Sept. 21, 1015.

Who is This Carly Fiorina, and Is She a Contender?

Who is This Carly Fiorina, and Is She a Contender?

Looks like there’s a new emerging star among the field of 16 or so candidates seeking the Republican nomination for its presidential candidate. If political pundits are correct, Carly Fiorina was the top-dog debater during Wednesday night’s CNN-sponsored Republican presidential debate in Simi Valley, California. Ms. Fiorina, who has never held political office, reportedly trumped (pardon the pun) her more political astute colleagues on the stage, as well as front-runner Donald Trump, who has also never held political office.

thUntil recently, Ms. Fiorina’s candidacy–announced May 4–has not garnered much attention by the press, beyond recognition that she is the only female in the Republican field. However, the media spotlight, which loves a fight, honed in on her after The Donald made disparaging comments about her looks earlier this month. In an interview with Rolling Stone he said, “Look at that face! Would anyone vote for that? Can you imagine that, the face of our next president.”

The Donald, who has been rebuked for disparaging comments he’s made about other women–such as calling Fox News host Megyn Kelly a “bimbo”–later back peddled and said that he was talking about her “persona,” not her physical looks. He also claimed that his negative comments about women were being made in the context of him being “an entertainer,” implying that they are made for the sake of humor.

In rebuttal to Trump’s comments, and in a move that brought her more attention, Ms. Fiorina in a speech to the National Federation of Republican Women, said, “Ladies, look at this face. This is the face of a 61-year-old woman. I am proud of every year and every wrinkle.” And then, during Wednesday’s debate when asked to respond about The Donald’s original comment about her appearance, replied, “I think women all over this country heard very clearly what Mr. Trump said.” In short, Ms. Fiorina was essentially implying that Trump could kiss the women’s vote goodbye.

For our part we’re not going to comment on Ms. Fiorina’s beauty, or whether there’s a lack thereof; however, we do wish she’d quit jerking her head around so much while speaking. With her pencil-thin neck it makes her look like a hyperactive bobble-head doll.

During the debate Ms. Fiorina promoted her strong conservative leanings by emphasizing the need to significantly increase America’s military, defund Planned Parenthood, and keep fighting the “War on Drugs.” She also successfully jabbed and parried with her colleagues on the stage, with many pundits claiming that she bested Jeb Bush, Chris Christie and The Donald when she one-on-one sparred with them, and that she proved to be the best debater of the night.

But can she really take the Republican nomination?

Ms. Fiorina’s only other foray into politics was the 2010 Senate race in which incumbent Sen. Barbara Boxer defeated her by 10 percentage points. While Ms. Fiorina ran on the strength of her strong business credentials, which includes becoming the first female chief executive officer of a top-20 Fortune 500 company, it was those very credentials that likely lost her the Senate race.  As the Boxer campaign pointed out, during Fiorina’s five-year stint as Hewlett-Packard, 30,000 U.S. HP workers lost their jobs and the company’s stock price dropped 50 percent, all while her salary tripled.

Ms. Fiorina defends her record at HP by stating that she ran the company during a difficult time and had to make “hard choices,” but that those choices ultimately made the company stronger. She repeated this line during Wednesday’s debate and noted that she also presided over one of the largest mergers in corporate history.

Despite Ms. Fiorina’s rebuttals, her troubled tenure at HP, along with subsequent firing, will undoubtedly continue to haunt her during this campaign. Just go to the website carlyfiorna.org for an example of how badly this could haunt her.

—Originally published Sept. 18, 2015 by Hash It Out! 

Behold—or not—the Breast!

Behold—or not—the Breast!

A photograph of a group of uniformed female soldiers breastfeeding their babies went viral on the Internet over the weekend after being posted on Facebook. We commend these women both for their service to our country and for their motherhood.

And no, this blog is not seeking to hash out the issue of women in the military, because women serve admirably in the U.S. military, and have been legally allowed to serve in combat roles since early 2013 (though we do trust that nursing soldiers will be recused from active combat duty roles). This blog is about breasts and breastfeeding, and seeks debate on why they should even be considered controversial.

Take for example the photo of the breast feeding soldiers. Former U.S. Air Force soldier Tara Ruby staged the photo to commemorate the building of a dedicated nursing room at Fort Bliss, Texas. According to Ms. Ruby, support for breastfeeding female soldiers “wasn’t even an option or a consideration” back in the late 1990s when she served. In her Facebook posting with the photo, Ms. Ruby stated in part:

“I remember nursing my oldest in the shadows, hiding on toilets and where ever I could while in uniform. My second baby I was told to cover up, that no one wanted to ‘see that.’ I remember that breastfeeding wasn’t cool or the norm.”

After posting the photo last Thursday, Facebook reportedly removed the image and any copies circulating as a result of Facebook repostings. However, after Mr. Ruby and others reposted the photo again on Friday, Facebook has allowed the image to remain in circulation. The company has not responded to news organization requests for comments about the initial removal, but the company has a history of removing of photos of breastfeeding mothers, citing offensive content violating the Facebook Terms of Service.

Offensive? What is offensive about breastfeeding, let alone a breast?

The vast majority of women who breastfeed in public do so in such a discrete manner that the actual suckling is not even noticed, and the odd creepy voyeur hoping to catch a peek of nipple is likely to be disappointed.

And yet, despite discretion and the often barely perceptible hint of the actual breast and/or nipple, many people (and organizations) still take great offense when a mother tries to breastfeed in public. Due to complaints or management prudishness, women are still asked to leave stores, restaurants and other public places–essentially treated as pariahs–because of their breastfeeding.

However, in a rare example of sensibility, the federal government and all 50 state governments have enacted laws to prevent breastfeeding from being treated as “indecent exposure.”  Unfortunately, there is still a large swath of the population that seems to feel that breastfeeding is indecent, if not downright pornographic.

Breasts are beautiful, both aesthetically and functionally, and a mother providing natural sustenance to her child should be considered with reverence not with disgust.

What do you think? Hash it out!

–Originally published September 14, 2015 by Hash It Out!

Pause and Consider the Micro-World that Thrives Around Your Dock

Pause and Consider the Micro-World that Thrives Around Your Dock

While most people consider docks primarily as a platform from which to board a boat, many docks also serve as unique micro ecosystems teeming with marine life.

Take, for example, my own wharf. The T-shaped structure itself is comprised of three rock-filled cribs that support wooden beams and planking from above the high-tide line out 40 feet to end in six-feet of low-tide water where the top of the T provides a brace and anchoring point for a 30-foot wide floating dock.

It’s a nice little piece of wooden real estate above the water. So nice that sea gulls like to use it at times for their dining room table. The local green crab seems to be their favorite dish, but every now and then I guess they dine à la dumpster as I’ll find chicken bones instead of shells. A bit annoying, yes, but they don’t abuse it too much and I keep a push broom under the stairs leading from the embankment to the wharf.

A pair of kingfishers also like the wharf. I believe they and their ascendents live in a large copse of trees on the hill above the wharf. While a bit skittish, they sometimes alight on the top of the pilings as if to survey their hunting grounds before darting over the harbor to scoop up minnows.

A mink, and his likely ascendents, has claimed the wharf as his territory for years, but as a part-time claimant. For whatever reason he normally doesn’t make his presence known until late July or early August. At first his presence is only noticed because of the scat he leaves on the floating dock, usually by the bow of my overturned dingy and near a cleat on the dock’s south end, perhaps a marking of territory. I generally catch my first glimpse of him by mid-August, and by mid-September he will have grown so bold that I’ll often see him slinking through the crib’s rocks, swimming around the pilings, and even prancing down the wharf and up the stairs to explore the embankment’s rock wall. Like the leavings from the seagull, the scat is annoying, especially because it smells so horrific and sometimes gets on a line. Oh well, it’s his home turf and nothing a bucket of water won’t take care of.

As for fish, they seem to come and go. Minnows of various sorts can usually be found flitting about the pilings, some eel-like and translucent, others looking like baby bluefish, and then the most common ones looking like, well, minnows. Every now and then a school of mackerel will come in and do a steady weave around the outer crib and floating dock, individual fish sparkling as refracted rays from the sun capture their silver bellies and dance across their metallic-blue, wavy zebra stripes. A neighbor once caught a large flounder from his dock, but I’ve never seen nor caught one from my dock.

Last week a small school tropical-looking fish hovered off one end of the floating dock by the bow of my boat. I’d never seen them before and can only assume that they were pulled up here by the Gulf Stream, escaped its grip, and somehow made it to the shallow waters of our coast. They seemed lethargic or in shock, perhaps dulled by the icy waters or exhaustion from their journey.

Green crabs would seem to be masters of the wharf’s seabed, and are easily spotted as they pick for food among the rocks. My son used to fill up a bucket within a half hour with just a chunk of hot dog dangled from a string. They’re not tasty like their southern blue crab cousins, though, and thus soon found themselves back in the water. Once my son caught a baseball-sized lumpy looking rock crab. They might be as prolific as the green crab, but one wouldn’t know it because of their perfect camouflage.

Mussels and some kind of sea snail dominate the pilings and crib rocks, though on occasion I will spot a rare starfish. When I was younger, starfish seemed to predominate the pilings, but they seemed to have died off, whether as food for the crabs, or through disease or environmental change, I do not know.

Of algae, seaweed and seagrass, I know nothing, but they make the wharf area their home as well, and add color to the brown hues of the rocks, pilings and crib works.

And then there are the dock spiders. I prefer not to see them, and generally they oblige, but sometimes they seek an upgrade to their accommodations, from the dock to my boat. Oh well, it’s their world, too, so I just have to put up with it.

So, the next time you go boating, pause on the dock, and take time to consider the small world teeming with life that surrounds you.

—Originally published Sept. 9, 2015 by slidemoor.com

Waking a Sleeping Giant?

Waking a Sleeping Giant?

—September 8, 2015

Comedian Nicole Arbour can be considered this past weekend’s Internet provocateur, as her YouTube video “Dear Fat People” roiled the wrath of America’s plus-sized population. Nicole’s video had received more than a half-million views before being shut down on Sunday morning. In response, Arbour Tweeted that she must be “the first comedian in the history of @YouTube to be #censored.” YouTube reinstated the channel later that afternoon, stating that the suspension had been a mistake. The video reportedly had more than 18 million views by Monday.

In her video, Nicole starts of by saying that fat-shaming was made up by fat people, and that “If we offend you so much that you lose weight, I’m OK with that.” She goes on to say, it’s the “race card with no race. There’s a race card, there’s a disability card [and] there’s even a gay card, because gay people are discriminated against, wrongfully so. The gay card is covered in glitter.”

During the six-minute video rant, Nicole continuously encourages the “35 percent of North Americans who are obese” to lose weight with the use of comedic on liners such as, “Obesity is a disease? Yeah, but so is being a shopaholic, but I don’t get a fucking parking pass.”

Perhaps her most controversial–and no-doubt potentially offensive to those of the wider dimension spectrum–comments involve her descriptions of sharing a flight with the “fatest, most obese–I’m talkin’ TLC Special fat” family. Nicole notes that she had dutifully waited in the security line for more than an hour, and yet the fat family was ushered to the front of the line because their knees were hurting because of their weight. She takes further issue with the special treatment they are provided  when transported by golf cart to the boarding gate, and describes them as smelling like sausages, and sweating Crisco oil. Then she finds herself sitting on the plane aside the fat child of the family and describes having to physical push his fat out of her lap.

All-righty, then….  No doubt that this video fat shames. And no doubt that this video can be considered offensive, especially to the millions of North Americans who might be considered over-girthed. But it’s also comedy. Good comedy pushes boundaries, and perhaps as many people found it hilarious as those who found it offensive.

Nicole Arbour obviously knew all this when she made the video, as when she announces its title, “Dear Fat People,” she immediately exclaims how “some people are already really mad at this video,” followed by, “what are you going to do, fat people? What are you going to do? What, are you going to chase me? Really?… I can get away from you by walking at a reasonable pace.”

Well, Nicole might be able to walk away from the angry mob of proportionally challenged; however, she can’t escape their Internet counter-attack. Dozens of YouTube response videos excoriating the comedian and her video have been posted, led by TLC channel’s My Big Fat Fabulous Life star Whitney Way Thore, who calls the Arbour video “heinous,” among other things. “Fat-shaming is a thing; it’s a really big thing, no pun intended,” Thore says. “It is the really nasty spawn of a larger parent problem called body-shaming, which I’m fairly certain everyone on the planet, especially women, has experienced.”

And now the media is wading into the fray and examining fat-shaming and all sorts of day-to-day problems, including discrimination, that are faced by those in the plus-size club. There’s no such thing as “bad publicity,” so this will undoubtedly help Nicole’s career, as well as Thore’s.

The question is, though, has Nicole awakened a sleeping giant? Will the ensuing backlash lead to calls for the government to get involved and protect the dignity of the millions fighting the battle of the bulge? Will the corpulent become the newest marginalized group to seek out hate speech protection and claim that their civil rights are being infringed?

If you thought the Gay Pride movement was big, keep an eye on the Fat Power movement, cause it could become gargantuan.

Will the Real Harris Faulkner Please Stand Up!

Will the Real Harris Faulkner Please Stand Up!

—Sept. 4, 2015

A Fox News anchorwoman is suing Hasbro Toys for more than $5 million alleging that the company’s plastic “Harris Faulkner” hamster, sold as part of the popular “Littlest Pet Shop” line, shares her name and resemblance. The company’s portrayal of anchorwoman Harris Faulkner “as a rodent is demeaning and insulting,” states the lawsuit, filed earlier this week in a U.S. District Court. The rodent’s name wrongfully appropriates Ms. Faulkner’s name, which is an insult and impairs her professional credibility as a journalist, claims the suit. The physical resemblance allegedly shared by the plastic rodent and anchorwoman includes professional appearance, complexion, eye shape, and eye makeup design. Ms. Faulkner is also “emotionally distressed” and “insulted” by being associated with a rodent chocking hazard, as the toy packaging warns of the hazard for “young children.”

Ms. Faulkner has been a Fox News anchor for 10 years, and hosts the daytime show “Outnumbered” and anchors the weekly “Fox Report Weekend” show. Rodent Faulkner has been on toy shelves since 2014, and is sold as part of a package with another rodent, a hamster named “Benson Detwyler” (no word yet on whether any people named Benson Detwyler are consulting their own attorneys on the matter). The lawsuit seeks $5 million in damages, attorney fees and any profits the company made off the toy rodent.

How do we hash this one out?

Let’s consider the name first. There seems to be little doubt that the anchorwoman and rodent share the same name, and that the anchorwoman was named first. However, the anchorwoman’s full name is Harris Kimberly Faulkner. There’s no “Kimberly” in the rodent’s name, which certainly could be said to distinguish the two. The lawsuit also states that Hasbro “willfully” appropriated Ms. Faulkner’s name, which begs the question of how she might have come to that conclusion. Does she have the minutes from a Hasbro strategy session in which an employee suggests using that anchorwoman’s name for their new rodent toy?

And what of the name “Harris Faulkner,” does this lawsuit suggest that Ms. Faulkner plans to sue anyone who “appropriates” her name? Is the theoretical 15-year-old Harris Faulkner of Charlotte, NC in danger of being sued in 10 years when she starts making money as a writer for Cuddly Toy magazine. Or let’s say a porn star “appropriates” the name?–we suppose that there’s little doubt that this would lead to litigation from Anchorwoman Faulkner.

But what gives her the sole right to the use of the name? Her fame? Has she Trademarked it or something? Ms. Faulkner’s lawsuit does not make any claim to the Trademark of her name, but does assert that Hasbro has falsely claimed the Trademark for the rodent. Thus if neither party in the suit has legal title to the name, is the issue even open to consideration from the court?

That leaves the resemblance issue. What do you think, does the rodent look like the anchorwoman? Perhaps the anchorwoman has “image issues,” because we’re just not seeing the resemblance.

Professional appearance? Frankly, we just don’t think the rodent looks all that professional. Sure the rodent’s hair is nicely coiffed, but what’s with that giant butterfly hair piece (or perhaps more importantly, does the anchorwoman sport one of those, too)?

Complexion? If the anchorwoman has a two-toned face, we’re just not seeing it. For that matter, we’re not finding much of a match at all between the rodent’s skin and the anchorwoman’s.

Eye shape and eye makeup design? Not seeing that either. The rodent’s eyes are round and so bugged out that they take up more than 60 percent of her face, while Ms. Faulkner seems to have normal eyes appropriate for her face. As for the makeup, well, sure, the mascara is perhaps a bit similar, but there’s a noticeable lack of any underlining on the rodent’s eyes. And while not mentioned in the suit, the rodent’s eyes have a nice shade of blue, but we don’t see a hint of blue in Ms. Faulkner’s eyes.

Finally, what of the poor rodent? Perhaps Harris the Hamster should consider a countersuit. Say along the lines of defamation of character and slander?

—Originally published Sept. 4, 2015 by Hash It Out!