I’m going to meddle in Hong Kong’s politics

So if I don’t make it back?  Avenge my death.

How will you know if I don’t make it back?  Well, I guess you’d notice I’m not posting anymore.  But if you’re reading this, you already know nobody reads this blog.  So it’ll be real hard for anybody to notice I’ve stopped posting because the People’s Armed Police strangled me in a Kowloon back alley using a sharpened violin string.

Read the BBC article to get the background if you don’t know the story:

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-28994123

But in short, what’s the story?  Beijing wants political and cultural control of Hong Kong.  Because dominance is the Communist Party’s thing.  It’s what they do.  And fortunately for the Reds, there’s just enough turncoat rich assholes that grew up in Hong Kong who’ve realized they can make a shit ton of money helping Beijing by screwing their fellow Hong Kong citizens out of their freedom.

What’s that?  The Reds don’t want foreign countries “meddling” in China’s internal affairs?  Ah, I see.

Good news Ukraine!  China’s in your corner!  On the next UN Security Council vote, you can bet China’s got your back against Russia’s “meddling” inside your sovereign nation.

Oh, wait, no.  Uh, …

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A titanic symbol of global capitalism, ironically garnished

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This invasion is boring

I want to see raw mayhem. Where’s the burning cities? The millions of refugees streaming down a road, masks of suffering and terror, from one end of the horizon to the other? Where’s the expenditure of millions of rounds of steel followed by retreat followed by mass executions? Somewhere in Valhalla there’s two drunken Nazi and Red Army officers arm-in-arm screaming, “That’s not how you do it, pig!”

All ambiguity’s gone now. There’s no doubt. Russia’s invaded Ukraine. You could make excuses earlier, whatever you found most convenient: The rebellion started in Donetsk with ethnic Russians, but they’re Ukrainian citizens so it’s not an invasion; Russia only provided equipment, or volunteers to fight, not the actual army; and so on.

Well, the excuses are over now. Thousands of rebels armed with heavy equipment didn’t just magically appear more than fifty miles from the Donetsk front. They came across the border and I’ll bet my dog’s favorite toy that every single one of them is regular Russian army.

train_ukraine

Russian invasion of Ukraine circa 1944

It has to really suck being history’s invasion doormat. Just ask your Middle East or Balkans neighbor. Ukraine’s had the joy of getting run over by Scythians, Persians, Greeks, Romans, Goths, Mongols, Turks, Russians, Nazis, Russians again, and now Russians again.

But by the standards of any of the aforementioned dance parties, this invasion is positively lightweight. Vlad’s not looking to sack Kiev for the twelfth time.  So what’s he up to? Well, that’s the strange part.

You know, trying to determine what Vlad’s going to do next is probably just about the most interesting and frustrating thing you can do. He keeps you guessing. It’s one of the things that allows him to run circles around his weaker, indecisive Euro-trash counterparts.

But honestly, I think most of the time Vlad doesn’t know what he’s going to do either. And not just because he’s totally insane, although that’s certainly the case. I think he’s a master of the wait-and-see approach to all of life’s challenges. He takes a major step, evaluates how his enemies respond, and then determines what his next move is.

Western leaders used to be very good at this strategy too, remember Bismarck, Roosevelt, or De Gaulle. But the West’s leaders are now willingly enslaved by this afternoon’s three second sound bite and next Tuesday’s polls. So this kind of deep thinking is beyond their meager brains. Please remember kids, Western politics is a “game played by smart people”. Smart being defined as never thinking more than twelve seconds into the future, unless it’s about the next election. Either way, Vlad doesn’t have that problem.

So what’s Vlad likely to do? Probably for the first time since this all began, I think it completely depends on what Europe does. Because Vlad no longer seems to care what Ukraine does. He’s confident he can manage Ukraine alone.

He launched this invasion while he was in Belarus talking “peace” face-to-face with Poroshenko. It wouldn’t surprise me if a few minutes into these talks Vlad had sipped his vodka, shrugged, and blurted out, “Oh, Petro, by the way, I’m taking Novoazovsk as we speak. You’re fucked. Want a drink?”

UKRAINE--2-master675

Vlad the Unmerciful, Catherine Ashton (the decent but powerless hack of Europe), Lukashenko (Overload & Dictator of All Belarus), and Poroshenko (current holder of the second hardest job on the planet after bear baiter.

Ukraine can beat the rebels given time, but Vlad won’t allow that to happen. He’ll let them get just close enough to victory to ensure the rebels can’t completely ruin his idea of peace. But he won’t let Ukraine achieve total victory. He can’t allow them to do that for a whole slew of reasons we’ve previously discussed in other posts.

So he’ll keep messing with Ukraine until Poroshenko gives in and cuts some kind of one-on-one deal with Vlad. On terms that broadly favor Russia. I think the whole Belarus meeting, plus the simultaneous invasion, was meant to beat Petro over the head with this reality. This invasion is meant to bring about that end state.

But, no seriously but, Vlad’s also going to wait and see what Europe does. Don’t be surprised when if Europe mostly does nothing, that Vlad might try and keep the army advancing until Russia controls Novoazovsk, Mariupol, and ultimately creates a Russian land link all the way to Crimea.

If Vlad can get away with that, why wouldn’t he do it? As far as victories go, he’d be hailed in Russia as Peter the Great’s militant ghost. Because, hell, nothing can better distract Russia’s citizens from the reality that they’re living in an open sewer, fueled by Vlad, than one of Vlad’s immortal victories.

Will Europe allow it? Honestly, I have no idea. I’m not optimistic. But on the other hand, Europe’s been talking tough lately. Maybe they’ll pass another round of sanctions fierce enough to scare Vlad off. Or maybe they’ll do nothing because they’ll realize that winter’s coming and Vlad still has his hands on the gas pipeline valve. We’ll see.

But no matter what happens, even though this crisis has been shit to the goodness of humanity from the start? We should still take comfort that this invasion is boring. We’re still playing the same old silly games, but the overall body count is 0.0001% of what it once was. So at least there’s that. It’s not much, but we should take it.

Still, here’s hoping the Ukrainian army keeps doing its thing. Here’s hoping Europe steps up and proves they’re still alive. And here’s hoping one of Vlad’s belligerent mistresses cracks a bottle over his head on Saturday night. So that he’ll get mixed up inside his brain and make a cruelly dumb decision. Like ordering the army to invade Mongolia. Because why not?

We just need Vlad to make a mistake, one major mistake, that might be enough. Although maybe it won’t be enough. Apparently shooting down an airliner wasn’t a major mistake. So maybe we’re all just screwed. We’ll see.

ukrainian_covoy

To understand how far they’ve come, I submit the discipline of this convoy would have been beyond the Ukrainian army even two months ago, let’s hope it’s enough

Blow up Space! And other wise ideas.

We’re problem solvers here. We help people with problems. Which is unwise. Because we a lot of problems. I can’t get through a cup of coffee without getting bashed with a problem.

Like what do you do when you wake up and find one of your dogs has vomited on the carpet, but you can’t figure out which one did it to check to see if they’re okay?

Or how do you respond when sunrise hasn’t occurred but one of your guests has already threatened another guest with fatal bodily harm?

Well, typically I just shrug and resign myself to the faceless existence that is all our lives. Then go to work. Sweet.

Anyways, so we’re going to take all that in context and then help all of humanity with a problem. It’s what we do. Even though we shouldn’t. No really, we shouldn’t.

There’s been a lot of news articles lately about a topic people don’t care about: all that space junk that’s floating around in Earth’s low and high orbits.

What’s that you say? You don’t care? I know. But you should care. Because everything you use during your day somehow depends on said junk not ruining everything.

Soon, if it’s already not in progress somewhere, you’re not going to be able to brush your teeth without establishing a firm satellite connection that notes your location, plaque removal status, and overall dental health intent.

This information will get reported to a government agency for evaluation to establish you’re within set standards. Do you find such a wired future unappealing? Your recourse is to flee to the mountains & unplug. Or obey. Either way.

But at the very least if you currently use some form of GPS or television or like to know the weather, you’d better hope we figure out space debris. Because sooner or later it’s going to get out of control and then we’re really going to have a problem. Because satellites will blow up ten days after they’re emplaced.

And I’m not talking about that stupid movie Gravity. I never saw that piece of trash. I saw enough to know I hated it after the very first teaser. Mostly because I find the idea of putting both George Clooney and Sandra Bullock on screen mentally repulsive. It’s like paying the most machine engineered Hollywood leading man and woman and getting them to shove their hands inside your wallet while you’re in the shower. I can’t stand either of them, on or off screen.

Plus, I’m sick of movies that masquerade as theme park rides. Inside folks’ brains, they’re like: Wow! Look at how much debris was in that movie! All the action and ‘splosions! It’s like you’re floating in space! I love that, I’m floating! In space! I’m floating with George Clooney! This is so awesome!

No, no idiot, you’re not floating with George Clooney and Sandra Bullock. They don’t even know who you are. They have so much money they use $100 bills to clean their dogs’ vomit off the carpet. Now you just gave them more money. Why? Uh, [shakes head] the very thought of all that induces me to start loading a revolver.

Anyways, so humanity’s got to solve space debris. So there’s been some wacky solutions proposed in the news lately. Here are some examples:

– Send a robot up there to capture or push debris into the atmosphere to burn up. [we think this is most legit]

– Use a death ray from ground or space to zap debris. [cool]

– Send a big magnetic bar up there to attract metal and vacuum up the stuff. [really?]

– Ignore the problem. [we think this is most likely]

But all of these options are weak. They don’t fix the issue. We’re going to fix the issue. You’ll love our proposals!

I’m advised by the most belligerent minds this side of the Crab Nebula. So you know my ideas are golden.

When my guests first got here, they told me we had so much garbage in orbit it look like somebody vomited atop our world. It’s embarrassing. Time to get it fixed.

1) Blow up Space!

Currently, nuclear weapons are decommissioned via a complicated, expensive, and dangerous disposal process. Forget that. Instead, we shoot all those nukes into orbit and blow up substantial portions of space to remove debris. Then, we build more nukes and fire them up there too. We clean out the orbits in a sea of fire and armageddon. It’d be like a fireworks display for the whole planet. What’s not to like?

What’s that you say? This idea is horrific? It won’t work? I’ll add more debris or electromagnetic pulse the planet to the dark ages?

No, that kind of short sighted risk adverse thinking is what got us here in the first place. It’s time for action! [throws chair] We’re doing nothing to fix the problem. Time to let me try and recklessly fix it. Even if all I do is make it worse.

2) Blow up Earth!

Space debris will have a real hard time ruining our lives when there’s not an Earth left for it to harass!

PS – We’re already doing this.

3) Blow up Mars!

Hey, those assholes started it! It’s time for some payback.

What’s that you say? This has nothing to do with the problem at hand?
Who cares! We’re going to blow up freaking Mars! How awesome is that.

4) Return to the Stone Age

Without technology, we’ll not need anything functional in orbit. Everybody loves these apocalyptic disaster and/or zombie stories right? We can make it happen. Right now!

Please start by robbing your neighbor’s fridge for provisions. You go first! We’ll watch and then follow you right afterwards. 

5) Plan Arcturus

For a small nominal fee, several specific routine gifts, and the opportunity to become Overlord of All Humanity my guests will design, build, and operate a craft or weapon capable of clearing all non-functional debris from orbit. They say it’s an offer we can’t refuse.

No really, they say we can’t refuse. So seriously, we’ve got to do something. Quick. They’re not joking. They even let me write this post so you’d know they’re serious. But what they don’t understand is that nobody reads this blog. So their threats are futile. And I’m in a heap of future beatings once they find out. I tried to take all the phone books out of the house. And then they went and bought more. Where/how do you buy a freaking phone book!?

spacejunk_geo_2009237_lrg

Behold our beloved planet Earth. Floating open garbage can.

Don’t demand folks do stupid things just because other people are stupid

As you read modern news, more and more you’re confronted with the irrational. Things that just make no sense. Yesterday we confronted humanity’s downfall via the weirdo act of dumping liquid life over your skull. Now let’s dance the arts of demanding upon pain of torture that folks do stupid things.

So Burger King (home of the whopper) intends to buy Tim Hortons (home of the benign) for a ton of molten gold. This would create the planet’s third largest fast food giant behind Subway, McDonalds, and your local zoo’s cafeteria.

As is now common in massive mergers, the bigger company (Burger King) plans to move its combined headquarters to Canada where corporate taxes are lower. This tactic is called a number of things, but “tax inversion” seems the most common term. In other news, Burger King also announced they’d be passing their future corporate tax cost savings onto the average consumer by lowering their prices [insert appropriate laugh track].

The concept is simple. America’s corporate tax is 35%, depending on where you are in Canada, it could be almost 10% lower. So naturally Burger King wants to exist where they pay less tax. And so naturally the applicable politicians are demanding that the CEO of Burger King be strapped to a chair and fed burgers until he expires.

Fleeing your home country to pay less tax is either greedy (Democrats) or unpatriotic (Republicans). Or maybe your opinion of tax inversion depends on what you personally think of Obama or Boehner or Hollywood or falconry. Or maybe your opinion of tax inversion depends on how many episodes of Ellen you watch every week.

Now the federal government has decided that tax inversion must stop. So they’re looking at steps to end it while simultaneously demonizing the companies that engage in it. Some corporations are clearly beginning to feel the heat.

Walgreens just announced that their merger with Boots won’t involve them leaving the country for Switzerland. Probably because leaving the country for Switzerland for tax purposes is just about the worst public relations move you can make.

It’d be like broadcasting to the planet that you want to funnel your tax funds from the taxpayer and directly into some Iranian cleric’s stripper account. For a small fee, of course.

But what’s this really about? Well, like most things nowadays, you can’t talk about this issue without being labeled a Saint or Satan. So we’ll start with facts.

Facts:

– The corporate tax rate for Burger King at its Florida headquarters is 35%

– The corporate tax rate for Tim Hortons at its Ontario headquarters is 26.5%

– Both Burger King and Tim Hortons are public companies

– As public companies they have an obligation to make money for their shareholders

– Both Burger King and Tim Hortons had their stocks skyrocket yesterday upon news of the deal

– People like money

– Folks will follow the path of least resistance to acquire money

– If you try and fight the prior two bullets, expect to encounter problems

But wait, what’s this really about? Well, like most things nowadays, you can’t talk about this issue without being labeled a Saint or Satan. So we’ll also include a story:

Story:

– Like this blog’s degenerate author, you may have spent a significant portion of your childhood getting subjected to mental and physical torture by bigger or wiser kids

– You have one dollar provided to you each day

– You are a part of the hyper-nerd click

– As part of the hyper-nerd click, the bullies charge you a tax rate of 35¢ before lunch

– The boys in the uber-nerd click are charged a bully tax rate of 25¢

– You’re thinking of joining the uber-nerd click so you can keep that extra dime

– But if you do that, the hyper-nerd click will consider you greedy or a turncoat

– What do you do?

If you said you’d stay with the hyper-nerd click and pay the extra dime you’re a liar or a fool.

Oh, the hyper-nerd folks are pissed off at you? Who cares. They’re not your real friends. Why? Because if they were your real friends they’d help you gang up on the bullies to the point that your lunch tax rate was reduced to 25¢.

If they were your friends, they’d help you work the problem. They would not do nothing. And they certainly wouldn’t call you a traitor or a money hound for leaving them.

Think tax inversion is a coincidence? That corporations are just rotten? Things generally don’t just happen. Canada’s corporate tax rate was reduced 13% by Harper’s administration since it took office in 2006. This merger is exactly why they did it. To steal business and tax dollars from America.

What’s that, you think business can be tamed? That you can construct laws and enforcement mechanisms to the point that a company will willingly pay a higher tax because you made it so? Yeah, good luck with that.

Politicians have tried that since Rome. It never works. Why? See our example above. You can’t fight human nature. Folks will follow the path of least resistance to acquire money. It’s in our blood. Sorry.

America’s politicians can whine all they want. They can shout to the heavens in a cynical attempt to grab your vote in November. But the reality is that they are to blame for this. America doesn’t have a tax inversion problem. America has a leadership problem.

America’s corporate tax rate, structure, and implementation are a mess and have been for decades. This is not news to anybody with a brain in Washington. What have they done to fix it? Nothing. And now they want to demand, yes demand, that Burger King do something against its own self-interest to compensate for their failed political leadership? Apologies, I don’t buy it.

If you personally think Burger King is evil for doing this? Fine, I understand, no worries. Go protest outside your local franchise or eat only at McDonalds. That’s your right.

But don’t buy into the trash that’s spoon fed to you buy the morons who want your vote in two months. It’s their fault. 

It’s not effective leadership to demand folks do stupid things just because you’re stupid. Instead, Washington should either do its job or close its mouth. But I suspect it will continue to do neither.

Burger_King

Good morning, one safe, benign Canadian cup of coffee please. Milk and sugar, oh, no thanks, that’s too fierce for me, eh.

I don’t get it

No seriously, I don’t get it. If you get this ice bucket thing, like you actually can wrap your brain around it? Please contact us and describe what’s wrong with you.

So as best as I understand this nonsense [face palm] so like [furrows brow], you get challenged by somebody, and then you can give money to charity or dump ice on your head. I guess?

So the idea is to raise awareness? And to raise money for charity? But if you dump the ice, you don’t have to give any real money? So all you’re doing is increasing awareness?

But awareness can be a substitute for inaction, so what are you actually accomplishing? But what if you do both the ice thing and still give money? Are you like some super internet master, and, so, uh, …

This isn’t a freak phenomenon promoted by wacky cult members. Reasonable human beings are doing this. Folks with jobs, dreams, fears, kids, stalkers, boats, etc. And then they’re challenging their friends to do it.

Because nothing says you care about your friend more than challenging them to conduct a creepy bizarre ritual based upon a nonsense concept invented on social media by people with far, far too much time on their hands.

I’m becoming more and more convinced that my guests are entirely correct when they drunkenly boast:

“We created social media to distract and degenerate humanity’s already shit intellect so that one day we can liquidate and/or enslave you with minimal resistance, pig!” [throws chair]

Hey anybody ever volunteer at a soup kitchen? This simplest and quickest of charitable acts doesn’t cost you a dime. It’s usually over in three hours leaving plenty of time to go get wasted at the bar with your friends (not social media) afterwards.

Plus you’ll get shocked when you look across the table and realize you’re serving your human equivalent who is clearly high, hasn’t slept indoors in days, and given bad choices, a broken home, or just plain dumb luck: You could be them.

It’s a very rough thing to accept. But it propels you to action. Kind of like how dumping ice on your head does not.

Which brings us to the real point of this post. TAP is pleased to announce the Bone Marrow Challenge. Our goal is to end slanted pictures. Folks, we don’t want to alarm you, but scientists say 40% of America’s pictures are hanging crooked. This problem isn’t going to fix itself. We’re going to fix it. You can help us.

When you’re approached with the Bone Marrow Challenge you must either donate money to TAP’s Frame Nudging Charity or you have to shove your non-dominant hand into a pot of flaming coals and hold it there until your flesh is seared off and you have nothing left but bone marrow.

We challenge you! And we promise, our way guarantees you’ll actually donate money.

icebucketbree

A dumber and more bizarre human act than spending an intimate night with a plague infested talking rat named Steve

It’s gotten much worse in Ferguson

We used this picture many months ago to illustrate Russia’s tyranny prior to the Sochi Olympics.  You may recognize it.  It’s happening right now in Ferguson, Missouri. SpreadingOlympicJoy

Yesterday we touched on the shooting of unarmed men by police officers.

Now we can highlight other things you should never see in America, but that are happening before our eyes:

– Police pointing automatic weapons and sniper rifles at unarmed citizens exercising their right to freedom of speech

– Police covering those holding automatic weapons with armored vehicles originally designed to fight on the battlefield

– The unlawful arrest of two reporters for exercising nothing but their constitutional right

The reporters, Wesley Lowery of The Washington Post and Ryan Reilly of The Huffington Post, say they were arrested.  They were.  But the police have a different word.  They call it “detainment”.  This is the word the police use to cover themselves when they break the law and arrest somebody without probable cause.  They say they “detained” you and then set you free.  Like you’re supposed to be grateful to your government masters that they didn’t actually charge you with a crime.  Even though you committed no crime.

Said Mr Lowery:  “Apparently, in America, in 2014, police can manhandle you, take you into custody, put you in a cell & then open the door like it didn’t happen.”

Yes Mr Lowery, they most certainly can.

SpreadingOlympicJoy

This is the future of America, unless we spread the word, and fight to change it.

Make sure you think for yourself

So the Ferguson, Missouri shooting seems like an uncontroversial thing to write about. Nobody’s got strong feelings on this at all. It’s been a pretty quiet issue all things being equal.

I’m not wading into what happened. There’s only two men who know what really happened in Ferguson. One of them is dead. So they have to ask the cop. And maybe the witnesses. In the end, nobody’s going to ever get the truth. It’s the way these things go.

What really scares me though is the media’s narrative and the broader trends. Michael Brown, a young black man, was shot four days ago. It’s been front page news ever since. Every news outlet in the country is all over this.

But have you ever heard of Kevin McCullers? While backing out of his driveway on July 17th he was shot in the spine by a cop there to serve him a warrant for unpaid parking tickets. The officer claimed he believed McCullers was trying to run him over. The story never left the local news.

I’m not wading into what happened. There’s only two men who know what really happened to Mr McCullers. One of them is alive, but paralyzed. So they’ll have to ask them both. And maybe any witnesses. In the end, nobody’s going to ever get the truth. It’s the way these things go.

So why is one incident front page national news and the other incident pure local news?

In both cases an unarmed man was shot by a cop under disputed circumstances. 

Well, that I’ll wade into.

1) It’s considered a bigger deal when an unarmed teenager is shot than an unarmed middle-aged man

2) The most fervent race baiters in our culture are the media because they think it sells

3) A lot of people probably think Mr McCullers should have just paid his parking tickets whereas I’m pretty sure Mr Brown was not initially accused of any crime

We’ve written about the enforcers previously. My problem is that both these incidents should have been covered by the media equally. We have a racial problem in America of varying degrees, it depends on who you ask.

But you know what, we also have an enforcer problem in America. And our inflammatory media should be covering that facet more than just the racial aspect. But they won’t, because as mentioned, they’re race baiters and profiteers first. The broader public interest doesn’t excite them or their wallets.

Do you still not get what I’m saying? How about this:

The District Attorney Jim Martin says Mr McCullers could have avoided a shot to the back had he entered into a parking ticket payment plan. Wow, clearly here’s a civil servant deeply concerned that an unarmed free citizen was shot over a pittance. This is the contempt you are held by at least some portion of the folks who are paid by you, to serve you.

I’m not saying in these two specific incidents that both these cops are horrible human beings.  Maybe they both just made really bad mistakes.  People, cops too, are human.  And humans make bad mistakes every day.  Or maybe Mr Brown actually tried to take the officer’s gun and Mr McCullers actually tried to run the cop over.  Like I said, nobody’s ever going to get the real truth.

But what I am saying is that this kind of thing happens too often.  Across all races, all ages, all of the country.  Maybe it’s always been this way, and now we actually hear about it because of social media, the internet, etc.  Either way, it’s got to stop or a free nation we are not.

Don’t listen to the media’s take alone.

richardandhisteam

Make sure you think for yourself.