Monday, September 29, 2008

two turntables and a thetan

Overhead outside of the Uptown Theater while trying to buy tickets to the sold-out Beck show.

"Get clear! Passage across the Bridge of Total Freedom in exchange for 2 lower-level tickets within the first 5 rows."

"How much for general admission balcony?"

"Pre-clear audit with E-meter AND ARC-break assessment by certified operating thetan."

financial exotica

Just when you thought things couldn't get any worse for President W., they did. Even backed by Democrats, El Presidento couldn't convince enough members of his own party to vote for the Economic Stimulus Package to Save the US and Beyond. Next stop? Great Depression II? Too early to tell, but Bush's approval rating lost 10 percent of it's value almost instantly.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

pulpit freedom sunday

With malice toward none; with charity for all; with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in; to bind up the nation's wounds; to care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow, and his orphan – to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace, among ourselves, and with all nations. -- Abraham Lincoln, 2nd inaugural address.
I know we might be risking our coveted IRS status by doing this but what the hell, the country's in dire straights and what's a little prison time for civil disobedience? Service first, isn't that the slogan? We've never done this, endorse a political candidate, so bear with us, we're going to preach first, endorse later. It's a change, I hope, you can believe.

Frequent readers of this post should be able to guess our pick, but since when have we ever done things the easy way? Remember, it's a meta-sermon so we don't have to let you out in time for the 12 o'clock kickoff. You're free to leave before then, stop by Starbucks and Expresso yourself if you want, change into something more comfortable, settle in on the couch before you burn-in-hell for the rest of eternity! We don't care; our rapture may be your misery.

What do people want in a President? That's a bit like asking what do people want in a mate? The answers are all over the place. But there are some consistenciesa among us. People want the President to be, well, American. The Constitution requires it, but beyond that, what the hell does being American really mean? We seem to have a hard time agreeing on the definition. Is it being the Face of America. And if so, must that face look like the face of us, the voter? some mythical construct of the President?

The President should also be smart. Really smart is good. Really, really smart is probably better. But more than that, we want the President to make good decisions, decisions in the best interest of the nation as well as the rest of the world. One decision we don't want them to make is to push the big red button. If it comes to that, then the President will have failed in being the leader of the free world.

We don't really expect the President to solve our problems, not our day-to-day ones. We do expect leadership on the larger problems facing the nation. In general, the best we can hope for, and have come to expect, is a President that is open and honest with the scale of the problem and the sacrifices needed to solve them. Think about the great speeches of your favorite leader, American or not. Many of them just lay out the problem in stark terms, "today is our hour of need", "we have nothing to fear but fear itself", "our greatness lies not so much in being able to remake the world...as in being able to remake ourselves".

Presidents unable to article a better vision for the future and a clear path to get there are viewed as failures. Suffer fools gladly, but throw the bums out.

A common Latino prayer, "Just give me a chance to succeed.", pretty much sums up what we expect in a President, in our nation. Too often this success has come at the expense of others, not just within our nation, but others in the world. The unfettered growth of capitalism hasn't always resulted in free, democratic, and just societies. And, as the last few months have demonstrated, double-digit returns on investments aren't guaranteed forever; neither perhaps is a retirement filled with tennis, golf, and beaches on Isla Cozamel.

Vote your conscience but in doing so extend it beyond the bounds of your property, your family, and your idea of what America was, is, and can be. The last century could rightly be called The American Century. We are but a few years into the following century and it isn't looking too good for a repeat but we've got a long way yet to go. Your decision can help make the difference and

the odds are about fifty/fifty you'll find the right button.

ny times pulpit freedom sunday

Saturday, September 27, 2008

lost in space


Offering 4 levels of difficulty and small town values, the White House Corn Maze (Whitehouse, Ohio), is offering Sarah Palin as the simplest one to date. The maze gained national attention when John McCain, after disappearing for much of last week, was discovered by the Secret Service wandering around lost in the vast open spaces of Palin's mind.

corny fun

great amazon raft race


Remember those nutty, ulta-marathon American paddlers, the ones who raced 340 miles across Missouri last summer in a day and half? Well, recently, four of them (David Kelly, Carter Johnson, Mike Scales, and West Hansen) went down to Peru and raced in the Great Amazon Raft Race. For this race you have to build a balsa wood raft on the first day and then race it down the Amazon over the course of the next 3 days. The length of the race is uncertain, local lore has it at 130 miles and West Hansen, of the winning Easy Living team, indicated numerous GPS mileage measurements that put the race more in the 84 mile range. Danged Peruvians! Even developing nations are on the SI. 84 miles is ~130 kilometers, perhaps that's the issue.

One imagines that it's a bit like Huck Finn, but with piranhas (and SI units of measurement).

The Americans won the race over the locally favored Peruvian team. But finishing in an up note, les americanos shared the prize money with all the Peruvian teams who raced in the event. That's how we get the world to love us again - one river raft race at a time!

Image: Team Easy Living at the finish, Iquitos Times
Read more at:
iquitostimes amazon race wrap-up

Friday, September 26, 2008

new influx of federal dollars to city

News from City Hall
City of Kansas City, Mo.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Sept. 26, 2008
CONTACT: Mary Charles, city communications officer, (816) 513-1356
City awarded $7.3 million to combat housing/foreclosure crisis

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development today announced that the recently passed Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008 will provide the City of Kansas City, Mo., with $7,323,734 in funding to help stabilize neighborhoods hit hard by foreclosures and sub-prime mortgages. The state of Missouri will receive $42,664,187, and the City will have the opportunity to access a portion of that money for the same purpose.

"This influx of federal money will help us target those neighborhoods especially hard hit by the recent housing crisis by fixing or demolishing blighted property and providing assistance to low- to moderate-income homebuyers," City Manager Wayne A. Cauthen said. "It will not solve every problem in our urban core, but will bring relief to people who have suffered the most."

Housing and Urban Development Department guidelines allow state and local governments to acquire land and property; to demolish or rehabilitate abandoned properties; to offer down payment assistance to low- and moderate-income homebuyers; and to create land banks to assemble, manage and dispose of vacant land for the purpose of stabilizing neighborhoods and encouraging private investment and re-use of that property.
-----------------------
All of this sounds great but read closely. Regardless of the tag line, under current Housing and Urban Development guidelines the money isn't availabe to combat the housing/foreclosure crisis. The money can be used to help those who want to buy a house or demolish properties but isn't available to help refinance high-interest rate loans or restructure existing debt. Programs to help rewrite high-interest rate mortgages into more manageable debt needs to be forthcoming if the Main Street is to see relief.

The City has 18 months in which to spend this money. Congress will have to act quickly, which likely means no sooner than the first of next year, to rewrite HUD policies for real help to trickle down to Main Street. You thought this year was tough, wait till 2009. If we can make through that one, we'll recover.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

suitcase girls

The Republicans, school-yard bullies that they are, continue to toy with the Democrats. Within 48 hours they’ve figured out a way to convince much of Main Street that they (the ones largely responsible for the lack of oversight and much of the financial mess) are the ones who can save America from the demon, frivolous spending Dems. Tomorrow they’ll try to convince us that John McCain, and he alone, forged a compromise solution to save capitalism from doom and rescue retirement from the rubble of a collasped economy. Since they don’t take questions from reporters and have even less contact with Main Street it’s hard for them to hear all the mutterings (reporters) and shouts (Main Street) of “you pompous, self-serving jerks!”

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

spooky spectacular

The Bush Administration, which typically addresses the American people only when they want to scare us, trotted out the dude with the Harvard MBA to explain how Wall Street and Main Street can be friends forever. It was so compelling that John McCain had to stop campaigning so he too, could try to parse the intricacies of our complex, yet fragile economy, from El Presidento himself.

And just when you thought the '08 presidential campaign couldn't get any nuttier. If another hurricane happens to rear it's ugly head in the next few weeks, we might be reduced to 1 debate and lots of fallacious ads. Sounds like a Republican plan to me. Why debate the issues when you can just get throw sound bites to the news media and the masses.

Here's how it works. Make a very negative ad. Show it in a very small market. Make sure all the 24/7 media outlets know about it, and then start generating controversy even if you have to call the opposition. In fact, it's better if the opposition gets riled up. The controversy then begets more news coverage, much of it with links to the offending ad, or clips from on the morning and evening shows. You can expect to hear "Not God Bless America; God Damn America" many times in the next 5 weeks.

If there's an up side to the whole end-of-world-as-you-know it for the Republicans it might be this. The Republican VP candidate has all but disappeared from the news. This can only be good for the Republicans since her presence can only hurt the program.

Another upside would be that if we can save the economy then Bush/McGruff's retirement plans would remain viable. 700 billion dollars almost seems like a fair trade to get rid of these knuckleheads for good. Main Street may not be on board with a Wall Street buyout quite yet, but Main Street agrees on one thing; it's time for them to go.

don't be a dope

Lance Armstrong, the dude with all the yellow braclets and yellow jerseys, is staging a comeback to professional cycling. And in what has all the trappings of a Republican running for office, Armstrong is taking great pains to convince the world that he's clean, going so far as to create his own anti-doping program. For those who don't closely follow the sport, Mr. Armstrong is following in the footsteps of other cycling teams, Garmin-Chilpolte and Team Columbia in developing strict (stricter than WADA, the world anti-doping association) policies to prove to a dismayed public that cyclists are competing clean.

We find Lance's comeback to be stangely as much about clearing his somewhat tarnished name (former teamate Frankie Andreu and his wife, Betsy Andreu, both testified in a lawsuit that Armstrong admitted to using the blood enhancer EPO and other drugs; however Armstrong disputed these allegations and eventually won the lawsuit against a company that had suggested he cheated and refused to pay his a large cash bonus) as it is about competing to win.

It's not clear yet how Armstrong will compete in next year's Tour de France, for which team he will compete, and in what role. It's likely he'll ride for Team Astana under Johann Bruyneel, the director sportif for all 7 of Lance's Tour wins. However, as of Sunday, Alberto Condator, the current captain of Astana, became only the 3rd cyclist in history, and the youngest ever to capture the 3 Grand Tours: Tour de France, Giro DÍtalia, and Veulta a Espana. For once, we'd like to see Lance work for a teammate during a race.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

cue the bubbling cauldrons of hot oil


"Let's make America the best France ever." -- Brian Unger

Now that the country has decided to embrace Social Democracy (admit it Dems, this is what you've wanted all along) I say GREAT, now let's socialize the oil companies, take the excess profits and use it to rebuild our crumbling infrastructure and develop a viable alternative energy plan, one that doesn't involve a million or so causalities every decade or so.

If you're still trying to figure out exactly what all this means to you dear reader on Main Street, it's pretty simply. 99.999 percent of us are fkced. Best case scenario you get to keep tromping along with the day job, have enough money to buy food for the family, and pay your mortgage - if you have one - for the next 20 years. WooHoo! Let's hope you don't need to borrow a wad of cash to send your kids to college, fix the roof, buy a car, or expand your small business. Otherwise things should go on just as before.

Growth industries during the Great Depression.
Radio.
Newspapers.
Cigarettes.
Pulp fiction.
Crime.
Booze.
Illicit drugs.
Fishing in the afternoon.
Poverty.
Black lung.
And the Boy Scouts.
Prepare yourself adequately.

Monday, September 22, 2008

updates at 6

The USA hadn't won a Ryder Cup in golf since 9/11 so Ben Curtis and Steve Stricker celebrated Sunday's victory with a terrorist fist jab. They were immediately remanded to the Green Zone to work on a plan to bring golf back to the Iraqi people.

Paula Poundstone suggested that since US currency had weakened so much in recent weeks that perhaps it was time to put George Bush's face on a dollar bill.

President Bush, after hearing about the Fed's plan to assume 700 million dollars in toxic mortgages, suggested that perhaps it was time to refinance the White House. "After more than 200 years at 1600 Pennsylvania there ought to be some equity in this place we can leverage. Laura was thinking of redecorating before we get kicked out this joint for good."

Bill O'Reilly was nominated for, but White House Press Secretary Dana Perino won, the Emmy Award in the Best Fake News Show Category.

A recent Gallup Poll found that as funny as Tina Fey was on Saturday Night Live portraying GOP VP-nominee Sarah Palin, watching the real Sarah Palin field foreign policy questions during a live interview was even funnier.

Alaskan Senator Ted Stevens whose felony corruption trial begins Monday in the District of Columbia, has asked for the medical records of the chief prosecution witness, Bill Allen, who hit his head during a motorcycle accident in 2001. Senator Stevens' lawyers are expected to argue that the witness could not be of sound mind, or why else would he be involved in business dealings with a Senator hell-bent on building a bridge to nowhere.

In an effort to entice young Republican voters to come out in November, Vice-President Cheney has agreed to campaign for John McCain at Haunted Houses in key Midwest, battleground cities. In the weeks before Halloween, Cheney is expected once again assume the role of "Lucifer" he made famous over the last 7 years and threaten to draft any 18-21 year-olds who don't promise to vote Republican on Nov. 4th.

Upset that the Yankees won't make the playoffs for the first time in more than a dozen years, George Steinbrenner ordered that the nearly completed new stadium, as well as the old one, be razed.

Related: In an attempt to stave off what will surely be another disappointing year and to lift a 58-year old curse, the Chicago Cubs held Goat Day, whereby the first 20,000 fans through the turnstiles were given a free billy goat. However, during an extended rain delay, several Cubs, aided by drunk fans, butchered 3 of the goats and proceeded to barb-b-que them in the bullpen much to the amusement of Cub's manager Lou Pinella who said the stunt reminded him of the late Yankee great, Billy Martin.

A government watchdog group revealed that the recent financial crisis was set off, in part, by Ron Paul's attempt to corner the gold market by buying Mr. T's collection of gold chains. Both Mr. Paul and Mr. T suggest that in addition to a supply of gold, a diverified portfolio should include a number of Hummel figurines.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

cabin in the woods

A co-worker and I had a conversation about the Unabomber this week spurred by, of all things, the global financial crisis. I asked him, given the current status of the American Dream, was he ready to move his new Japanese spouse into a very tiny house. Bigger than those hotel coal bins the Japanese sometimes sleep in, but small by muscular weight-lifting-dude, of which he is one, standards. Not yet, he said, but he also said something that surprised me given his largely conservation bent.

Perhaps, given the events of this week, Ted was prescient my colleague suggested. Kazynsyki, he informed me, only targeted folks who he (Theodore) felt "were bent on destroying our society. And look where they've taken us."

Granted, I said, there's a lot to be dismayed about, but typically it's not in society's best interest for free speech to extend to the point of deciding who should, and who should not live. Especially if the major beef seems to be the your manuscript wasn't accepted by the journal.

Later, looking at photos of Ted Kazynsyki's cabin stuffed inside a warehouse and hearing that our government plans to buy $700 million dollars of toxic loans (who said pollution doesn't pay?) I began to wonder about the former Berkeley mathematician. Hmmm, if you allow yourself to forget, just for a minute, about the mail bombs, then perhaps there was more to Kacyzinki than your average homeless terrorist with a working knowledge of theoretical physics.

First. He had a home. Albeit it was a very tiny cabin in the wilderness on land he didn't own. Then there was the degree to which he took his hatred. A lot of us get dismayed about what folks are doing to the earth, but how many of us are willing to live in a tree for 2 years so they won't cut it down to build another sports stadium. Not many, especially since one you do leave, the chainsaws appear within 15 minutes. How about completely dedicating yourself to writing your life's work even if it does turn into a manifesto against all of society. All this while subsisting completely off the fat of the land with occasional restaurant dumpster supplements.

Living entirely on principle demands a certain amount of focus and if singular enough in purpose, the myopia becomes its own form of insanity. And Ted was at this long before The Focus Driven Life hit the bookshelves. If we all had such focus, there'd be even more problems, but it's not as though under the status quo we're lacking any evidence of problems.

video

Maybe there is something we can learn from the man-who-shuns-society-and-lives-deep-in-the-woods. And that is, we can probably learn to live with less. A lot less.

Will we green America or just green-wash the picket fences that line Main Street? There's a small but growing movement at this time, small enough to make the increase in bicycle commuters look like a tsunami by comparison, of people moving to small houses. Really small houses - 100 sq. ft. and smaller. Talk about reducing your carbon footprint, how about that of your home. The home entertainment center doesn't exactly fit into this lifestyle. Stockpiling can goods for the coming Armageddon, is even more impractical than before and without the stockpiles, there can be no weapons race.

Insanity isn't a line in the sand; it's a shifting dune. Only when the dunes encroach on the sawgrass of civilization do we recognize the fragility of the desert landscape and how intertwined both landscapes have become.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

fed offers bailouts to every american

Whoa. We found out what happened to the WB. It morphed into the CW back in '06. Sometimes we think we should go back to the rabbit ears. Unlikely and so last century as the candidates like to say. However, according Aaron Barnhart (see below) the WB is back. On the web. Which means totally gratuitous shows like the O.C. are available 23/6. When you're completely sick of hearing about the Wall Street woes, dial in the O.C. Watching it kills almost as many brain cells as smoking heroin but unlike H, this one's legal; be forewarned, it's just as addictive!

Even cooler, if you have the time, is that the WB is encouraging mashups of old WB shows. Someday we'd like to do that, but we'd also like to learn Italian, Spanish, become fluent in French and ride Alpe D'Huez. We'll see. Better things to worry about.

How about the economy? Let's worry about that. Ready to jump from a tall building? Me neither. Not yet, don't have enough to lose. Good thing the melt down didn't happen on 9/11 or you'd have seen replays of the jumpers. Or am I thinking of that video during the RNC?

Do you worry that you don't understand how our economy works? Well, guess what. No one does. Even the gurus in charge. Henry Paulson the Secretary of Let's-Try-Something-For-God's Sake. Not really. If they/he did, we wouldn't be in this mess. Their solution. Throw money at it. Lot's of it. Isn't that what you do when you have a financial problem? Try to find some more money. Give me money. I need money. Your problem loser, is that unlike the government, you can't print it at will. The Treasury can, they can print all they need before throwing it around like confetti. When you do that, it's called a felony counterfeit charge.



But here's what you really have to understand about the economy. If you want to eat, sleep in a house, drive a car, you'll have to get your sad ass to work every day, 'cause the government bailout that's available to each and every hard-working American - welfare - really, really sucks. Your other alternative is to live in a Unacabin. Folks have been know to manage in one of these for as little as $300 a year; however there is that weird side-effect that makes you want to whittle kitchen matches into mail bombs.

Photo: Cabin of Theodore Kaczynski aka the Unabomber by Richard Barnes
elsewhere:
the wb
aaron barnhardt on the wb and the cw


Friday, September 19, 2008

yikes!

The house of cards is shaky. Intuitively, everyone seemed to know that it was a fragile peace. It seemed that most of America, those with jobs and homes, were seemingly on track for early retirement, vacations in the Caribbean, and entrees garnished with foam. Don't think it's only the boomers who've been sucked into believing the good life is available for all. The top 3 shows on the CW (whatever happened to the WB?) are 90210, Gossip Girls (about the Upper East side of Manhattan, and The Privileged.

Don't think the worst is over. Congress is meeting to offer a buyout of many of those bad loans that caused the crisis in the first place. Essentially, Congress and the Federal Reserve will be tyring to keep the big firms afloat so there's money to lend to the minions. Unfortunately, without the money lenders - regardless of how corrupt and greedy they are, it's hard for small businesses to borrow money, harder for those who want to buy a house or car, to buy it. Harder to get a credit card at Sears or Nebraska Furniture Mart to buy applicances for the kitchen makeover. As the money dries up, so does the economy. And eventually jobs.

If Congress, the Federal Reserve, and the Big Money Lenders can reach a deal then just like after the Savings and Loan crisis in the early 80's, the government will be responsible for dealing with the bad loans that begat the whole process. Some in financial straits will be able to recover but many will not. Expect more foreclosures and more properties dumped on the market to be sold at auction at least through the next year. This won't be good for home values but it might mean if you're looking for a home, then the market the buyer's market will extend for several more years to come. All you need to be able to do is find someone to lend you the money to buy it.

Someday's you're really glad for the little things. Coffee. Granola. Yogurt. The day job.

If Sarah Palin isn't blinking then it's only because she's got too much sleep in her eyes.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

who's your daddy?

I've long had a fascination with bears. The big ones. Known as the grizzly down south, the brown up north - ursus arctos horriblus. It hasn't taken me yet down the Timothy Treadwell path, and lacking both Treadwell's curly blond locks and his death wish, it's unlikely I'd ever get far down that road. But I would really like to encounter a bear. In the woods. Someday.

The Republicans, who as a lot appear as wary of science as they are of Hollywood, except when figuring out new ways to send a drill stem 5 miles down into the Gulf of Mexico love to poo pah taking a scientific view of world. Regardless that science offers the only credible way to discover new information about how the world works. If not science, then what - a guess? McGruff the Crime Dog loves to tell the story of the bear DNA and how much it costs. He likes to get all folksy with the tale, "perhaps they needed to find out whose hands was in the honey jar?" Blah blah blah. McCain understands science as well as he understands the economy. He can't understand the economy because he can't understand science. The flyboy, who finished 5th from the bottom of his class at Navy must have skipped more than one calculus class to get hammered. Remember the last President who skipped classes to get hammered? He's still in office.

Turns out the bear DNA project, more rightly called the Northern Divide Grizzly bear project was supported by pretty much everyone in Montana. The Republican governor, the farmers, the ranchers, the environmentalists. Everyone. Why? The principle objective of the project was to determine how many grizzlies lived in the Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem considered to be one of the last strongholds for the grizzly. These data are important because as grizzly bear populations declined throughout the late 1960's and early 1970's, the Fish and Wildlife Service set guidelines on population management and development in the range of the bear to insure it's well-being. Well how do you know if the management is working if you don't count the bears? How can you de-list the bears unless you can show the populations have recovered?

Turns out grizzlies don't really care much about being counted. They don't really care for people, but will eat our food if we leave it scattered about in their native habitat. They avoid us mostly and keep to themselves. They stay up late and sleep even later. The don't like to be poked, prodded, or put in traps and hauled off to wear skirts and prance around a circus ring. And they don't like flyovers by black helicopters. So how then does one count the bears?

Barbed wire, that twisted strand of old west lore, has many uses, including pulling out small amounts of bear hair from the unsuspecting giant. DNA is then extracted from the hair and the sex, species, and identity of the bear can be determined. The technique, like a lot of science data collection methods, turns out to be a combination of simple, yet very effective techniques combined with state-of-the-art analytical machines.

Researchers stretch 100 feet of barb-wire around 4 trees in a remote wilderness area. The barb wire is high enough off the ground so that most animals go under it, but just high enough that a bear either has to step on it, or crawl underneath it to approach a lure pile. A lure pile is a scented pile of logs with no reward in the center - except stink. The bear is attracted to the smell, investigates, then pulls apart the log pile looking for food, and finding none, leaves. Bear skin is so thick and tough that the barb wire doesn't penetrate it, and when the bears enter and leave the lure piles small bits of hair get trapped on the wire. Researchers come along, catalogue the hair, bring it back to the lab where they extract the DNA and determine if the bears are related to any of the OJ posse currently on trial in Las Vegas.

Although this project was expensive, it's actually less expensive than previous techniques of helicopter flyovers and steel traps. Plus the public doesn't really dig the helicopters that much. Nor the bear traps. One reason this project was expensive was that the study area is huge. The bears are spread over 7.75 million acres of largely undeveloped, roadless wilderness. It took several hundred people to collect the 34,000 samples that make up the database and the cooperation of more than a dozen governmental partners, three states, and 2 countries. Who says the government doesn't work together to solve problems? The DNA analyses were likely but a small part of the overall budget.

The upshot of all this, and the reason the science-challenged Republicans ought to be celebrating is that there turns out to be many more grizzly bears than imagined. Almost 3 times as many as determined in previous counts. So many that they may in fact no longer have to be listed as endangered. So it's funny that the outcome is very much something the Republicans might embrace, the de-listing of a species, yet they mock it on the campaign trail. Development in an area with threatened or endangered species, especially a species with the public presence of the grizzly bear is difficult. Removing them from the endangered and threatened list would make things a lot simpler for many out west but even if that happens you still won't be able to shoot a bear from a plane. Unless you live in Alaska and have your own level of protection from the law.

elsewhere:
grizzly bear project with video

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

ctrl alt delete the black licorice

Here's another way to get unwanted crap in your body. Eat Lucky Country Aussie Style Soft Gourmet Black Licorice *. Not only will it keep you regular, but it'll increase your lead levels. You can buy Aussie Style Licorice at Walmart, CostCo, Whole Foods, Bed, Bath, and Beyond...well pretty much everywhere they sell products tainted with deadly toxins. Exactly how lead ends up in black licorice is anyone's guess. Here's a wild one. "The Aussies had a few tons of lead waste they needed to ship overseas and America seemed a good a place as any?"

We love black licorice but can't remember buying any of this brand and if we had purchased some of it, we would have Homer Simpsoned it long ago. YUMMMHMMMM. Licorice! We did buy some gourmet Norwegian black licorice many months back at a gourmet store in Milwaukee. All I can say is that it's made with real sea salt. Lot's of it! We still have our bag because, although it may be lead-free, it tastes like a dog biscuit. It (not the dog biscuit) might be good if you have the flu or something, but we're not entirely sure of the point of this candy except perhaps to torture folks held in the cargo hold of a sailing vessel.

*Note: the photo is not of Lucky Country Aussie Style Soft Gourmet Black Licorice but of ctrl alt delete licorice which is althogether a different snack.

eat food, not plastic


A new study that links levels of a plasticizer, bisphenol A, to increased risk of heart disease and diabetes is making the rounds. The Food and Drug Administration, who doesn't always exactly follow the precautionary principle, has recently said that yes, bisphenol A is found in a number of food items that come in contact with polycarbonate containers (hard plastic) and tin cans, many of which are lined with a layer of plastic. People eat, or drink, from these containers, and they end up with bisphenol A in their body. The FDA suggests that bishphenol A levels aren't high enough to warrant a human health concern, although more study is recommended.

More than 5 years ago, the Body Burden project, recently renamed the Human Toxome Project, illustrated that bisphenol A was just one of over 100 chemicals typically found in the human body. Plastics are ubiquitous in the environment, so coming in contact with bisphenol A can happen outside of consuming food packed in containers which may leach chemicals into the food. Follow the link below to find out other chemicals that may also be a human health concern.

That said, the issue here, in my humble opinion is more likely to be that folks who eat many things in plastic, don't eat healthy. Thus the increased incidence of heart disease and diabetes. After the genetic link, which is strong in both of diseases, it's diet. As we said a few days ago, "Don't eat food in styrofoam - or plastic."

elsewhere:
humane toxone project

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

no, it's not

Rather than continue to lose buckets of money in the over-priced stock market, some members of the uber-wealthy have decided to throw money at the over-priced art market.

Yesterday, Damien Hurst sold $127 million dollars worth of pickled pig's feet through Sotheby's and expects similar sales today. You can argue about the merits of the work as art if you want to, but I just know this pretty much invalidates an old saw. If you put a pig in a vat of formaldehyde, it's no longer a pig.

Monday, September 15, 2008

all-wheel drive

The Wall Street doom-and-gloom and banckrupcy filing of one of the nation's largest investment firms may be just what is needed to shake the USA from its Sarah America reverie. Forget the fact that the seeds of this fiasco can be traced back to the days of the Clinton Administration; Democrats would be remiss not to blame this latest crisis on the Republicans.

Play your best hand. It's the economy stupid.

President Clinton was able to the convince the baby-boomer middle-class that with a modest education, a little hard work, and more than a few credit cards, it was possible to have a car with the muscle to carry the spouse and the kids (and the mountain bike!) down rarely-traveled, 4-wheel-drive-only, Forest Service roads to the scenic overlook.

No vacation is ever complete without the scenic overlook and with the dash-mounted GPS and an entire set of pre-loaded topo-maps (only $49.99, one time offer with purchase of new Xtreme model) the ability to read what was in front of you was no longer a necessary. Just rely on the instructions emanating from the little magic box mounted on the dash. Turn right at the next cross-road, then proceed ahead with abandon. All this while earning 25 percent per annum from your mortgage hedge fund.

Don't think, just react. And really, what did it matter if the kids in the back seat were more interested in watching The Lion King for the 3rd time rather than constantly searching the forest for the improbable foraging black bear. At least they were quiet and no longer yelling to stop at McDonald's. It seemed like a fair trade - a scenic overlook in exchange for a Big Mac. Sure, the vacation wasn't quite the adventure narrated by Anthony Bourdain on the Lonely Planet Channel you initially envisioned, but it was better than scrimping, saving, and cutting coupons. And it sure as hell beat working for a living.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

liver failure

If everyone read the NYTimes, the Republicans wouldn't stand a chance come November. Should they read it, they might discover that half of the most emailed articles today were about the failings of Sarah Palin, John McCain, or both. The most damning of these was some pretty in-depth reporting on the how just exactly how Sarah Palin likes to conduct politics - that would be in secret and with a great deal of vengeance (see #9 below soon to be the most-emailed article!). No wonder Karl Rove's in love with her.

But they don't. No instead, many Americans are like the elderly over-weight group of white men and their families I sat across from in the Taco Bell in the hood yesterday while gathering a brief respite from Tropical Storm downpours that have pelted the Midwest for 3 days. Bubba, Bubba Jr., and Bubba brother-in-law were throwing around mocking phrases about "Barack Hussein" imitating Jesus and how, if elected, Barack, would surely have his Nigerian brother-in-law installed as Secretary of the Environment and gas prices would rise to $5 dollars a gallon. Forget the fact that that gas will reach $4.25 by the middle of next week, and that mocking Jesus, is well, kinda un-Christian for a bunch of conservative Christians. None of that matters when Sarah America will be on SNL field-dressing a caribou/moose/polar bear before the month's out.

Every day that the news is filled with hurricanes and soccer-moms is one less day that Americans have a chance to learn about the issues that face us in the very near future. All those windows blown from the Morgan Stanley building onto the sidewalks of Houston by Hurrican Ike might seem prescient in a 3 months when the economy is still woeful. All those opportunities to talk issues replaced by scary-ads about sex and kindergardeners mean we're losing the battle to educate our population. Every time the presidential election goes in the mud and comes up spitting bile the Republican win and the people lose.

--------------------------------------------------
Most emailed articles from the NYTimes for Saturday, Sept. 13th.

1. Bob Herbert: She’s Not Ready
2. Editorial: Gov. Palin’s Worldview
3. Paul Krugman: Blizzard of Lies
4. McCain Barbs Stirring Outcry as Distortions
5. The Key to Wedded Bliss? Money Matters
6. In Tangle of Young Lips, a Sex Rebellion in Chile
7. 36 Hours in San Francisco
8. Gail Collins: The Year of the Cloned Candidates
9. In Office, Palin Hired Friends and Hit Critics

10. The Bipolar Puzzle

Friday, September 12, 2008

playing politics is fun!


Awesome! I can't wait to display mine in a special diorama created expressly for the 2008 election. She'll be riding a gray wolf while shooting a polar bear with a harpoon. Trailing behind her in a snowmobile, will be a peckish, gray-haired, liver-spotted old man, who looks a little like a pig wearing lipstick.

who is sarah america palin?

Forget the softball questions from the likes of Charles Gibson. Want to find out who Sarah America really is? Then visit the dailysource.org web site. More information than you want and some you might just need.


Here's the video of Palin, as Governor, addressing a graduating class of divinity students at the Wasilla Assembly of Godin (her church at the time). It's the video where Palin has been fingered by some as saying some pretty inflammatory things such as, "God's will being done in Iraq", etc.

But if you watch the video, and check your outrage for a minute, you'll see she's just testifying they way they do in church, especially in an Assembly of God church. And she's talking to folks who will are getting ready to go preach to other folks so why expect her to suggest that the world is anything but God's will? Isn't she just underscoring the message taught to them in their school of divinity? Although I understand why she would say this to this crowd, my only real problem with the statement is that it sounds an awful lot like statements from others that go something like, "it's the will of Allah."

Yeah. Whatever. Seems like people do most of the damage in the world. Seems best to leave God/Allah out of it and work on yourself.

You might find her references to God offensive but they're really no different than the sermons of Rev. Wright whereby he condemns the shameful acts of America. You can argue all you want to about whether or not religion has a place in the White House or even in politics and I would very likely agree with you, but if you think Barack is going to leave Jesus behind and Joe Biden the Virgin Mary should they make it to 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. then I think you're sadly mistaken.
Elsewhere:
daily source: sarah palin
--------------------------
On a slightly related note. When I heard Barack Obama's retelling of a very old country porcine saw my first thought was, "he must be talking about McCain!"

Thursday, September 11, 2008

what does your 9/11 look like?

Regardless of what the Republicans might have you believe, it's pretty hard to forget 9/11. Same with the Oklahoma City bombings. Remembering means many things to many people. Give them that but sometimes it's best to be careful what you wish for, or it just might come true.
video
Video of Trinket, an installation by William Pope L. at Municipal Auditorium, Kansas City, MO

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

truck stop coffee kills!

So don't drink it. Same for the packaged food with the little trays that you can microwave.

Styrene, a Substance Used in the Manufacture of Some Food Packaging - Human Health Risk Assessment - The National Toxicology Program of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences is seeking public comments " ... on the recommendation from an expert panel on the listing status for styrene in the 12th edition of the Report on Carcinogens ... The expert panel recommended by a vote of 8 yes/2 no that styrene should be listed as reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen ... The two members of the panel who voted against the motion did so because, in their opinion, styrene should be listed as known to be a human carcinogen ..."

Document Title: The title of the September 8, 2008 Federal Register Notice is "National Toxicology Program, Report on Carcinogens, Request for Public Comments on the Expert Panel's Recommendation on Listing Status for Styrene"

Organization: Report on Carcinogens Office of the National Toxicology Program of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences

Source: September 8, 2008 Federal Register Notice

Web site: The September 8, 2008 Federal Register Notice is posted at
http://edocket.access.gpo.gov/2008/E8-20777.htm

Information about the NTP Report on Carcinogens is posted at
http://ntp.niehs.nih.gov/?objectid=72016262-BDB7-CEBA-FA60E922B18C2540

The NTP recommendation and scientific justification for styrene is available in Part B of the Expert Panel Report at http://ntp.niehs.nih.gov/go/29682
specifically at
http://ntp.niehs.nih.gov/files/Styrene_expert_panel_report_B_final_508.pdf

Contact: Questions may be directed to Dr. Ruth Lunn, RoC Office, NTP/NIEHS/NIH at 919 316 4637; e-mail: Lunn@NIEHS.NIH.gov

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

tour of missouri: stage 2

Tour of Missouri, stage 2, 126 miles, Clinton to Springfield.

The only cycling news in Missouri bigger than the fact that Mark Cavendish, once again decimated the field in a mass sprint to take stage 2 of the second annual Tour of Missouri is that Lance Armstrong is coming back to the field of professional cycling. His ride last month in the Leadville 100 was just a tease. Today he told vanity fair that it's for real.

Our guess is that Lance would like to prove that he wasn't a doper all those years when he was winning 7 Maillot Jaunes. It might also be coupled to fact that there currently isn't a pro cyclist who was as well-rounded as Armstrong in his day. In order to win the Grand Tours, and especially Le Tour, one has to be a good time-trialer and a good climber. You can forgo the mass field sprints and still win, but winning the field sprints won't get one to the top of the podium overlooking the Champs-Elysee. That's why, even though he's currently the best sprinter in the world, unless he learns to ride in the mountains, Mark Cavendish will have to be content with stage wins. There's nothing wrong with that. As of today, he's got 16 stage wins this year and a world championship to boot.

Caudel Evans, the Australian, who finished second in the last two Le Tours, will likely give Armstrong a battle next year. Alexander Vinokourov, who might contest the race, won't be invited next year, having been caught doping during last year's race. Same for the Michael Rassmussen. Out. All said, Armstrong, likely perceives this to be good time to launch a comeback.

It's also likely that some of Lance's teammates won't be in a hurry to power him up Alpe d'Huez until he proves he's back to form. In Armstrong's seven tour wins he was backed by some of the greatest teams ever assembled. It was not uncommon for Team US Postal (6 of the 7 wins were under Postal), and then later Team Discovery Channel, to completely destroy the peleton and match attack after attack on climbs and long stage races before Armstrong unleashed his Lance on the field.

In fact, it's not clear who the team leader of Astana will be now if Armstrong returns. Alberto Contador has what it takes to win again and should be the designated leader until Armstrong proves that he's not. Now that's something we'd like to see, Armstrong as a domestique. We think this prospect may have been what sunk his engagement to Sheryl Crow. Perhaps Astana Team Manager, Johann Bruyneel, will let Contador and Armstrong fight it out and decide mid-race who's got the best shot at the podium. Whatever the outcome, it'll be a boost to cycling as the average American, only cares about Americans. They may not know much about cycling, but they know the dude with the single testicle and the yellow bracelet.

First though, Amoury Sports Organization has to relent and let Astana ride again in the tour. There was much chatter this year that the French, were, well sick of les americains always winning had pulled a slick one to keep them out of last year's tour - won by Spaniard Carlos Sastre. This also might be a ploy by Armstrong to force ASO to let team Astana back in the field as Bruyneel was Armstrong's manager for all seven tour wins. When folks said it was all Armstrong, Bruyneel came back and within 2 year had put Contador in yellow on Sunday in Paris.

Monday, September 8, 2008

tour of missouri: stage 1

Tour of Missouri. Stage 1. 90 km. St. Joseph to Kansas City.

Mark Cavendish, the confident Brit, current world champion Madison rider, and arguably the best sprinter in the world (4 Tour de France stage wins in 2008) took stage 1 of the 2nd annual Tour of Missouri today in Kansas City. Cavendish, with ample help from strong Columbia teammates who controlled the peleton over the last 3 km, bested Tyler Farrar of Garmin Chilpolte and Liquidgas's Francesco Chicchi to notch his first win in the states. It was Cavendish's 15th stage win in 2008 proving if he's in a field sprint at the end, it's unlikely he'll be beaten. Cavendish walked away with 3 jersey's in his inaugural US race. The green sprinter's jersey, the white jersey of the best young rider, and the yellow of the race leader.

Expect Cavendish to notch a win or two more before the week's out. Tomorrow, a 125-mile fairly flat ride from Clinton to Springfield will likely see plenty of attacks and a break-away attempt or two. The flatness of these stages, however, given the quality of riders, really lends itself to a mass field sprint at the end. Anytime that happens, you can expect Cavendish to find a way to the front. However, Mark's weakness in time-trailing means that Wednesday's time trial in Branson could turn decisive.


Best legs of the day went to Brooke Miller, US National Road Champion who separated herself from the field with 250 meters to the finish and took home the women's criterium crown. The women's criterium was held on a closed loop that featured 1 hour of riding on a 1 km loop, followed by a 5 lap sprint finish. Although numerous attacks were launched, the tightness of the course and lack of hills, prevented any strong breaks. In the end, Brooke made it look rather easy. In an unprecedented show of generosity, the crowd offered up a $1000 cash prime, almost 1/2 the first place prize, that was given out on the 5th lap from the finish.

Race organizers were definitely pleased to add the dimension of women's racing to the burgeoning Tour of Missouri as it helped to keep the crowd entertained throughout the afternoon and primed for the end of the men's stage 1 finish. Kudos to the race organizers for attracting such a strong field to the race.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

warrior ant press: top 10 bush administration failures

Here's Warrior Ant Press's list of the top 10 failures of the Bush Administration. We had to do some lumping to keep it to ten. Sincerely, we don't care if El Presidento Bush has the approval rating of an unruly teenager and sometimes acts like one. We do care that he's presided over the wreckage of our country that looks like a combination of the Great Dust Bowl, the Great Depression, and the War to End All Wars. Four more years of McSame? Think about it.

1. It's the economy, stupid. Here's a typical quote of the Bush Administration (from yesterday's radio address) that tries to gloss over the bad news.

Nonfarm payroll employment decreased by 84,000 jobs in August, and the unemployment rate rose to 6.1 percent. While these numbers are disappointing, what is most important is the overall direction the economy is headed.
I guess we need more an economic policy than suggesting to the American people that they shop in response to the attacks of 9-11.

2. The housing crisis. Dream a little dream for me. Over 1 million homes in foreclosure and climbing. Homes values dropping 10, 20, 30, even 40 percent in some areas. The government underwriting the losses of Fanny Mac and Fanny Mae while protecting the profit of the banks and creditors who wrote bad loans underwritten with thin credit.

3. Torture, warrant-less wiretaps, and The US Patriot Act.

4. The Department of Homeland Security, it's idiotic color-coded terror scheme ("make it simple, so the President can understand it"), it's stategic planning in the wake of real, and imagined threats, and TSA rules on liquids, shoes, and laptops. You may not feel safer, but at least some one's getting frisky with you.

5. Where in the world is Osa bin Laden? We've started a war that we can't stop, when the real problem was about as easy as the Invasion of Grenada. Reagan foot-soldier my ass.

6. Corruption, malfeasance, and criminals: Lewis "Scooter" Libby, Brown, John Ashcroft, Alberto Gonzalez, Harriet Miers, Karl Rove, and Josh Bolten. "Rule of Law?" Fine for fledgling democracies and the middle class, but only if it suits us. And these are just a few of the knuckleheads you've heard of it.

Here's an exert from a 2007 report on Bush criminals by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Government.
The misconduct covered here tends to fall into four general categories: using power to benefit friends and family members, engaging in private activities that conflict with government positions and a lack of supervision over high-level personnel. For example, Margaret Burnette, Kyle "Dusty" Foggo, J. Steven Griles, David Safavian and William Myers used their positions to financially benefit friends, family members and political cronies. Lester Crawford, Darleen Drunyan, Angela Grimsley and Kevin Marlowe were indicted for conflict of interest crimes. Eric Andell, Brian Doyle and Donald Keyser could have been caught much sooner, had they been subject to greater oversight. Perhaps the most disturbing conduct from a good government perspective, however, falls outside of these categories: it is overseers, such as Lurita Doan and Janet Rehnquist, using their positions to undermine oversight.

7. Loss of sanity, sometimes referred to as organic brain disease. "I looked in Vladmir Putin's eyes and saw that he was a good man." "Saddam Hussein has weapons of mass destruction." "No one in my administration was responsible for the leaks." "We would never torture anyone."

8. Loss of transparency in our government. The Project on Government Secrecy by the American Federation of Scientists details more than 25 official Presidential Orders on White House secrecy, lists over 25 press briefings on why material should be kept secret from the people, and offers countless other orders, decisions, and memos from the Department of Justice, Office of the Vice President, and Pentagon on why the government's shit doesn't stink. Want to challenge any of the legal rulings? First you have to find out what's in them; sorry that's classified!

9. The loss of science in policy decisions. I think it's great that Jesus helped George cease being a spoiled-brat drunk looking for his next snort of coke. Jesus was cool, but most folks cause more problems when drunk, not sober. This President seems to be the exception. Global climate disruption is real. Understanding science can help policy makers make informed decisions about how to end our dependence on foreign oil. The alternative is number 10.

10. The invasion of Iraq. Over 1.2 million dead and over 3 million wounded in the region. The cost? Over 500 trillion, yes trillion, and climbing. All to settle a grudge and show his daddy he's finally a man. Maybe he's a man or maybe he's the worst President in U.S. history.

Enough. America. Enough.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

dancin' fools

Last word on the conventions. We promise.
First up the Dems.

Perhaps the only thing funnier than watching Democratic delegates trying to dance to 70's r&b is watching the Republicans trying to dance to smooth jazz and kornpone kountry. Kick it.

And now for an endearing message brought to you by the Party that likes to scare the living bejesus out of you.

Friday, September 5, 2008

top secret? not in this adminstration: updated

Another item you may have missed this week with all the hoopla about Sarah America. Harriet Miers, in case you've forgotten, was El Presidento Bush's counsel and a former Bush Administration hurricane (see m.o.i.: new names for hurricanes").

Bush aide's House testimony temporarily halted
LARA JAKES JORDAN – Associate Press
Published: Sept. 5, 2008

A federal appeals court has blocked former White House counsel Harriet Miers from testifying about the firing of nine U.S. attorneys until judges decide whether they have authority to wade into a battle that pits Congress against the Bush administration.

Miers is supposed to testify at a House Judiciary Committee hearing next Thursday.

In its ruling Thursday, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit said it wants to review arguments from both sides over whether its judges have jurisdiction to rule in the case.

The three-judge panel gave House lawyers until 4 p.m. next Wednesday to make its case on why the court should uphold an earlier ruling forcing Miers to testify. The Justice Department must submit its own argument — why she should not — two days earlier, on Monday.

The House committee wants Miers to testify and White House chief of staff Josh Bolten to turn over documents related to the 2006 prosecutor firings, which Democrats contend were politically motivated.

top secret? not in this administration

Stories you may have missed this week if you were out scouting on where best to place your deer caribou stand.

Item 1. Former Attorney General Albert Gonalez took classified documents home in violation of the law, especially troubling if you consider that as Attorney General, Mr. Gonzales should have had the highest regard for the rule of law. Oh wait. This is the administration that brought us John Ashcroft, warrantless wiretaps, and torture.

ERIC LICHTBLAU
Published: September 2, 2008
New York Times


The Justice Department inspector general, who investigated Mr. Gonzales’s handling of the documents, said he kept classified material at his home and in an office safe in violation of security procedures. The inspector general referred the matter to the national security division of the Justice Department for possible criminal action, but officials there declined to prosecute Mr. Gonzales.

Mr. Gonzales’s mishandling of the classified documents adds a new embarrassment to the long list of problems that tainted his tenure as attorney general. He resigned one year ago, after two and a half years in the job, in the face of growing criticism from lawmakers over his role in the N.S.A. wiretapping program and in the dismissals of nine United States attorneys.

The office of Inspector General Glenn A. Fine said in its report that Mr. Gonzales had mishandled 18 documents that were considered S.C.I. classification, or sensitive compartmentalized information, a security category for documents considered more tightly controlled than top secret.

The most sensitive material among the documents was Mr. Gonzales’s handwritten account of an emergency meeting at the White House on March 10, 2004, regarding the N.S.A. wiretapping program.

Item 2. Alaskan Govenor Sarah Palin referred to American troops fighting in Iraq were on a "task that is from God". Geez. Funny, isn't that what the enemy also says?

GENE JOHNSON
Published: September 3, 2008
The Associated Press

In an address last June, the Republican vice presidential candidate also urged ministry students to pray for a plan to build a $30 billion natural gas pipeline in the state, calling it "God's will."

Palin asked the students to pray for the troops in Iraq, and noted that her eldest son, Track, was expected to be deployed there.

"Our national leaders are sending them out on a task that is from God," she said. "That's what we have to make sure that we're praying for, that there is a plan and that plan is God's plan."

Item 3. Jack Abramoff was sentenced to 4 years on federal criminal charges of fraud, tax evasion and conspiracy to bribe public officials. Mr. Abramoff is already serving a 6-year term in Florida for fraud.
NEIL A. LEWIS
Published: September 4, 2008
New York Times

Beginning with the Republican takeover of Congress in 1994, Mr. Abramoff sat at the center of a lobbying conglomerate that bilked Indian tribes of tens of millions of dollars and then used much of that bundle to win favor with members of Congress. He provided members and their aides with gifts, the most infamous of which was a lavish golf outing to Scotland.

In asking for the reduction of his prison term, the government had cited his cooperation with investigators, which prosecutors said was, “wholly or partially credited for convictions of a Member of Congress, five high-level legislative branch officials, one high-level executive branch official and two other mid to low-level public officials.”

warrior ant press: hurricane naming contest winners


This year's winning entries for the first 2 storms of the century season.


Some winners from previous years.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

it's all about the kids


Rudy G. Before 9/11 he sucked as Mayor of NY City. After 9/11 he sucked as a Presidential candidate. But at least he's still got 9/11.

kill them, kill them all

Here's what I don't understand about the Republicans. Supposedly they're pro-life. All about the life. Grandma Palin, she's a double-blessing of life, with the Down and out-of-wedlock babies. I congratulate her. I really do. However, I might suggest that a marriage founded on a pregnancy isn't typically the strongest one for a life-time commitment. There are exceptions to everything. I wish them the best.

Speaking of exceptions. If the GOP is so pro-life, then why are they always bragging about killing things. Ducks. Pheasants. Moose. Bears. It walks. They shoot it. And that's not all. Criminals. Zzzzzz. Terrorists. Blam! Enemy combatants. BlamBlam! Innocent civilians. Boom Boom. The planet. Everything must die.

Seems like the only safe place from the Republicans is in the womb. Once you're born, it's open season.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

pickin' and grinin'



Before and after Jerry Reed, who passed away Sunday, made a living parodying himself in B-movies and sitcoms, he wrote many, many songs for the guitar. Chet Atkins, the smoothest picker this side of Les Paul, made a name for himself picking Jerry Reed tunes. Here's Chet on the melody and Reed on rhythm in this clip from Nashville 99 in a Reed-penned tune called Baby's Coming.

grandma and grandpa irresponsible

Agreed. The lives of the children should not be political fodder. I must remind you of a John McCain quote (he told it as a joke), "Why is Chelsea Clinton so ugly? Because her father is Janet Reno." That was 10 years ago when Chelsea Clinton was 18 years old. I guess a decade is long enough for folks to forget, that besides being a senile tyrant, McCain's a sexist homophobe.

The lives of the parents, especially if they want to be the Vice-President of the United States are another matter altogether. If, as a parent, Governor Sarah Palin didn't have the sense to tell her 16-year old daughter about birth control, then she (the GOP VP-nominee) acted irresponsibly and has absolutely no business anywhere near the White House. None. She wants to be a Charismatic Christian. Fine. Great. Sunday morning or around the kitchen table, Praise the Lord, Pass the Biscuits. But not on the White House lawn. Debate creationism? Sure. But in the religion, not the science, class. Just don't expect to take this myopia to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. It has no business there.

As a parent, who once had a 16-year daughter, I was all about suggesting that sex at that age wasn't a good idea but...please if you must, use birth control. And while you're talking, please also tell your children that it's not a good idea to drink, do drugs, and skip school. Good luck with all that Grandma Palin.

But for God's sake folks, Sarah Palin wants to be Vice-President of the United States! She was mayor of Wasilla, Alaska. A town of 5,000 people when she was elected. This was a mayor who's idea of progress was a big box store, a Target, and lo and behold, she stood up to the powers-that-be and got one! WhooHoo, what a reformer. Now the main street family businesses can expect to shrivel up and die. Her son is being shipped to Iraq and this qualifies her to be a National Security Advisor? and possibly the Commander-in-Chief? We, as a country, are not that friggin' crazy. Not yet. Anyway.

I've heard some conservatives say that because of the way she's handled her family affairs, they're excited about having someone who's had the same kind of problems they've had. That tells me that a lot there's a lot of shotgun Republican weddings, but again, I remind you, bad luck and dumb mistakes are not good qualifications for the Presidency.

This whole thing just underscores to me how cynical the Republicans are about these matters. It doesn't matter who's in the White House, because the fat cats run the show and everyone else (including if need be, the Vice President) isn't relevant.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

circus ponies and peanuts

The GOP is quickly proving that they are no longer relevant in this country. It's day 2 of their convention and they haven't even released a schedule of who is speaking when and where. Why? If you're doing the same old, same old, it doesn't matter. You don't even have to hold a convention except to seal the back-room deals with the lobbyists, war-profiteers, and religious zealots.

El Presidento will invoke 9/11 and lots of people will get teary-eyed about the Pledge of Allegiance and Silver Stars. Forget specifics America, here's a gob of doodo, now smile, act pretty, and salute!

No thanks. Enough. America. Enough.

Monday, September 1, 2008

is it good for jerry's kids?


The original interactive media event, the annual Jerry Lewis Labor Day Telethon.