Dark Bilious Vapors

But how could I deny that I possess these hands and this body, and withal escape being classed with persons in a state of insanity, whose brains are so disordered and clouded by dark bilious vapors....
--Rene Descartes, Meditations on First Philosophy: Meditation I

Sunday Trivia Answer

1) Ivy Baker Priest was Treasurer of the United States from 1953-1961, and then served as Treasurer of the State of California from 1966-1974. What is her connection with the classic TV sitcom, The Munsters?
Her daughter, Pat Priest, played Marilyn Munster, the "unusual looking" member of the family in The Munsters for most of the series's run.

2) If you take the ratio of box office gross to cost of production as your measure, what is the most successful film of all time?
Deep Throat

3) The 1966 proto-garage-rock hit "96 Tears", by ? and the Mysterians, was originally written with what working title? What suggestive title did the song then pick up before finally acquiring the title under which ? and the Mysterians rode it to the top o'the pops?
Originally, it was titled "Too Many Teardrops", which then changed to "69 Tears". That was deemed too suggestive, so the numerals were reversed to form the release title, "96 Tears".

4) What is the connection, if any, between the movie Caddyshack and the TV series Flipper?
The vocalizations of the gopher which is Carl Spackler's (Bill Murray) nemesis in Caddyshack are the vocalizations of a dolphin; the actual sound effects used are the same ones used in the series Flipper.

5) Who was the Mike Nelson who didn't have a bunch of robots as friends, and who played him?
The skin diving lead character of the TV series Sea Hunt, played by Lloyd Bridges from 1958-61.

Len on 02.28.05 @ 09:16 PM CST [link] [ | ]


My former co-blogger at Signifying Nothing, Prof. Chris Lawrence, rolls his eyes at Volokh Conspirator Prof. David Bernstein for plumbing new depths of pure blog-whoredom. (More blog-whoring for GMU Law School here.)

In another post at the VC, Prof. Volokh solicits suggestions for designs for VC-themed T-shirts and coffee mugs. In honor of Volokh Conspirators Prof. David Bernstein and Prof. Randy Barnett, I suggest selling merchandise covered in the words "Buy my book! Buy my book!" repeated over and over.

Brock on 02.28.05 @ 06:52 PM CST [link] [ | ]

FlashBlock extension for Firefox

If you're like me, you find blinky things on web pages distracting and annoying. Unfortunately, a great deal of web advertising is blinky, and therefore distracting and annoying. (It also eats up a lot of CPU time on this old 200 MHz machine I use for web surfing.) Much of this annoying blinky advertising is written in Macromedia Flash. But there's a lot of good web content written in Flash as well.

So you face a dilemma: If you uninstall the Flash plug-in, you don't see the annoying blinky advertising, but you miss the good content; if you want the good content, you have to put up with the annoying blinky advertising.

Enter the FlashBlock extension for Firefox. With this extension installed, Flash content is not loaded in your browser. A placeholder is put in its place, which you can click on to view the content if you so desire.

Trust me, it makes the Commercial Appeal site much more viewable.

Brock on 02.28.05 @ 06:31 PM CST [link] [ | ]

I'll see your Prof. Ward Churchill and raise you a Rep. Sam Johnson

In the latest salvo of the left vs. right "Your Nutjobs are Nuttier Than Our Nutjobs" battle, Matthew Yglesias, Kevin Drum, and others take note of remarks by Representative Sam Johnson (R - TX):

Speaking at a veterans' celebration at Suncreek United Methodist Church in Allen, Texas, on Feb. 19, Johnson told the crowd that he explained his theory to President Bush and Rep. Kay Granger (R-Texas) on the porch of the White House one night.

Johnson said he told the president that night, "Syria is the problem. Syria is where those weapons of mass destruction are, in my view. You know, I can fly an F-15, put two nukes on 'em and I'll make one pass. We won't have to worry about Syria anymore."

The crowd roared with applause.

Yes, it's a stupid game, but at this point the left is winning.

Brock on 02.28.05 @ 06:11 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Is Princess in First or Third?

US News Wire reports that The American Kennel Club (AKC) announced today the "Top 10" most popular AKC registered dogs in Miami in 2004. Here's a look at the city's statistics as they compare to the rest of the country:

MIAMI 2004

1. German Shepherd Dog; 2. Labrador Retriever; 3. Yorkshire Terrier; 4. Boxer; 5. Maltese; 6. Rottweiler; 7. Shih Tzu; 8. Golden Retriever; 9. Bulldog; 10. Chihuahua


1. Labrador Retriever; 2. Golden Retriever; 3. German Shepherd Dog; 4. Beagle; 5. Yorkshire Terrier; 6. Dachshund; 7. Boxer; 8. Poodle; 9. Shih Tzu; 10. Chihuahua

Karen on 02.28.05 @ 05:30 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Ok Abby....

I bought my "Decline Insanity" coffee mug in honor of your completing your dissertating. Let me know when you'll buy me my cup of coffee.


[Congrats again!]

Len on 02.28.05 @ 08:08 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Gem o'the Day:

Blog is such a ridiculous word. It always makes me think of something you might do after a night of hard drinking ("I really hit it off with this girl at the party, but then I blogged all over her sweater"). To make it worse, the word has mutated into other forms with equally nauseous connotations: blogroll (something you might find in the deli next to the head cheese), blogosphere (a geeky euphemism for a toilet bowl), and my favorite, moblogging. It's twice as much blogging! It's blogging with guys named Mo! Say it fast enough and you can't help thinking of the old "Homeboy Shopping Network" skits on In Living Color with Damon and Keenan Ivory Wayans.
--Matt Wood at Quixtar Blog

Len on 02.28.05 @ 08:01 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Ahead of the curve?

They’ll all be doing it soon. I’m just ahead of the curve.
--St. Louis Cardinals outfielder Reggie Sanders

The "it" that Sanders is referring to is working out--using Russian kettleballs. The description in the Post-Dispatch article calls them "cannonballs", but they also describe the balls as weighing 70 pounds. I was unaware that there was cannon shot that was that big, though I suppose some of the bigger siege guns might have taken shot that large. I'll defer to the expertise of any readers who know their artillery.

And Reggie just may be ahead of the curve; last year he was pioneering a 'do-rag with the Cardinals logo on it:

Sharp-eyed fans may have noticed that Detroit outfielder Dmitri Young wore a Tigers-branded do-rag under his cap last year. It isn't clear if any other players were similarly attired—if so, Uni Watch didn't spot them—but at least one player has joined in during this season's spring training: Reggie Sanders of the Cards. Traditionalists might disapprove, but the mere thought of Bud Selig being presented with a set of do-rag prototypes for his approval (and maybe trying them on!) is entertaining enough to justify this item's existence.
--Paul Lukas

Len on 02.28.05 @ 07:35 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Karen's Trivia Q Answer

Q: In the annals of the Observer Sport Monthly...this mishap which occurred in 1999 counts as number 8 in the top TEN "worst mishaps in the history of sports." What was this and who was involved in this disaster?

I watched this disaster event from the final round of the 1999 British Open on TV. It became one of the worst golf-nuclear melt downs of a "Title Certainty" to "Loser of the Year" awards EVER. (Greg "The Shark" Norman's "always the Bridesmaid, never the Bride" self-destructions in Golf Legendom nothwithstanding.) This 1999 debacle made the list of The Observer Sport Monthy Magazine's Ten Worst Mishaps in the History of Sport.

"Disaster # 8: Jean Van de Velde's final hole disaster at the 1999 open. Jean Van de Velde looked invincible as he stood on the final tee at Carnoustie holding a three-shot lead. A few minutes later, the 33-year-old Frenchman was rolling up his trousers to wade in to Barry Burn where his ball lay under water. That was after his first shot landed on the 17th fairway and his second, having struck a stand and a rock, ended in heavy rough. His third plopped in to the burn, his fourth was a drop, his fifth disappeared in to a bunker, his sixth rolled on to the green and his seventh, a putt from seven feet, found the centre of the hole. Van de Velde then finished last in a three-way play-off for the title with winner Paul Lawrie and Justin Leonard."

We argued endlessly about...If you'd been his Caddy...would you have handed him that "wood" when he asked for it to "go for the green"...or would you have first broken that club in half, then, smiling, asked him for his second choice of club instead. Merde!

To see the entire list click on the link above.

Karen on 02.28.05 @ 07:31 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Probably sexist, but too funny not to post.

Courtesy of Men's Health Magazine, an Online Eye Chart showing you how a number of vision problems present themselves to the patient. Make sure you don't miss the last line....

Len on 02.28.05 @ 06:46 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Master of Horror

It's called Torture by Bob Herbert (NY Times) is as chilling a tale as anything dreamed up by those Masters of Horror...Philip K. Dick, Stephen King, Clive Barker or Stephen J. Cannell. It's a true tale designed by a real Horror Master: George W. Bush:

"...Mr. Arar, a Canadian citizen with a wife and two young children, had his life flipped upside down in the fall of 2002 when John Ashcroft's Justice Department, acting at least in part on bad information supplied by the Canadian government, decided it would be a good idea to abduct Mr. Arar and ship him off to Syria, an outlaw nation that the Justice Department honchos well knew was addicted to torture.Mr. Arar was not charged with anything, and yet he was deprived not only of his liberty, but of all legal and human rights. He was handed over in shackles to the Syrian government and, to no one's surprise, promptly brutalized. A year later he emerged, and still no charges were lodged against him. His torturers said they were unable to elicit any link between Mr. Arar and terrorism. He was sent back to Canada to face the torment of a life in ruins.

Mr. Arar's is the case we know about. How many other individuals have disappeared at the hands of the Bush administration? How many have been sent, like the victims of a lynch mob, to overseas torture centers? How many people are being held in the C.I.A.'s highly secret offshore prisons? Who are they and how are they being treated? Have any been wrongly accused? If so, what recourse do they have?

President Bush spent much of last week lecturing other nations about freedom, democracy and the rule of law. It was a breathtaking display of chutzpah. He seemed to me like a judge who starves his children and then sits on the bench to hear child abuse cases. In Brussels Mr. Bush said he planned to remind Russian President Vladimir Putin that democracies are based on, among other things, "the rule of law and the respect for human rights and human dignity."

Someone should tell that to Maher Arar and his family.

Mr. Arar was the victim of an American policy that is known as extraordinary rendition. That's a euphemism. What it means is that the United States seizes individuals, presumably terror suspects, and sends them off without even a nod in the direction of due process to countries known to practice torture...."

So, do I think (in the back of my mind) about where our Government is taking our Country, perverting our most cherished ideals, freedoms and legal rights under the guise of "keeping us safe" ...you betcha' cause these are true stories of horror like no fiction I could dream up. (PS....Len... I'd keep that Law Degree...if I was you...never knowing when one may need things to protect oneself.)

Karen on 02.28.05 @ 06:39 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Thought for the Day:

As NYPD Blue leaves the air next Tuesday, the 12-year-old cop show will be laureled with words like "gritty" and "uncompromising." That feels half-right. NYPD Blue was uncompromising, all right, but only when it came to love scenes. The brainchild of David Milch and Steven Bochco, Blue was one of network television's great erotic experiments. Its nudity will linger long after its gumshoeing fades. Such brazen sexuality takes a certain degree of skill when one of your romantic leads (Dennis Franz) looks like a lightly medicated version of Captain Kangaroo.
--Bryan Curtis

Len on 02.28.05 @ 06:25 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Sunshiny Dreams of Golf...

I will be winging my way via United Airlines to West Palm Beach for a week of visiting In-Laws and Relatives (Ode-to-Joy to Clan Mac); R&R (much needed) and Golfing (much loved & enjoyed). Don't cha' just love all them free travel miles. *wink* This begins our official season of Round-Robin Men's Golf Invitationals for the Mac family at their respective Golf clubs. I get to relax, go beachy-keany, golf and shop with my sister-in-law. Charlie gets to golf an golf an golf to his heart's content.

However, as to fulfilling my weekly Bloggerie desires...my bro'-in-law has only a single phone line, no DSL. Could make it impossible to do much DBV posting. I will try. But there's stiff competition for use of said phone line for business modem dial-ups, work related e-mailing and daily usage as a Phone.

Ah...Just think of what I'll have saved up by then tho' for future postings. LOL And there is always the occasional Great Golf Story or Joke that I can throw yer way. So..until Sunday the 6th...I'm off to Floooooridaaaa. Hip-hip-hooray!!!

Now, even if you're not a Golfer...I can still make you sea-sick-green-envious about this trip by further detailing just what's the fun about these Golf Invitationals for us non-golfing-invitees or even social non-golfers: Click on the "more" button to read this...but only At Your Own Risk...

Karen on 02.28.05 @ 05:59 AM CST [more..] [ | ]

The Ways and Means of February

Since I am one of the Secretaries of the Ways and Means* Committee... I get advanced copies of these special reports.

{*Ways and Means is not to be confused with the Means and Ways folks who are soooo Means and use their wily Ways to promote Anarchy, Social Straight-Jackets and other Un-American things.}

Despite the Vicious Rumors by Puxatawny Phil of Six More Weeks of Winter --- and our suspicions this is another case of a journalist on the Government Propaganda Payroll --- the Committee members over at Ways and Means finally made it in for their February meeting and posted their Minutes of the Meeting:

Madam Chairperson: The February 2005 Meeting of The Ways & Means Committee is called to order. -gavel-
MC: Is Roberts Rules present?
Committee Of The Hole: Robert has been unable to attend, Madam Chair.
MC: Really, Bob's Never missed a meeting yet…what gives?
COTH: He's been dismembered by those rules-breaking Meanies…as we feared. But we shall enforce the rules as necessary. All in favor say "eye."
Committee: EYE!
MC: First on our agenda: February Biziness. Has everyone made it back from the Love Won Out™ event? Sheesh..these chastity belts do give ya a wedgie...{Tug and Adjust}
COTH: Well, we lost Maya Keyes at the Love Won Out™ Festival. She took a hard Left-Turn and ended up at a Pro-Gay rally instead. Sen. Keyes and his wife were given emergency resuscitation measures at hearing of this defection. It's all copasetic now. Not to Worry.
MC: Thank you COTH. On to February Biziness. Continue with the Report…
COTH: Thank you Madam Chair. This month Ways and Means is proud to continue with our efforts in these areas:
Ways to stop unauthorized cloning of pets and Ann Coulter. {One of her is more than enough for any Democracy.}
Ways to prevent Bill Frist from using Taser-Stun Guns on those Cats he is Herding in Congress. {Ouch!}
Ways to improve the Signage at the outer reached of Pluto and Charon…too many Vector and Black Hole collisions were reported there this month alone.
Ways to prevent hotmilitarystud™ wanting to meetlocalmen™ from so easily getting to be face2face™ with the Commander in Chief™. {a.k.a. Jeff Gannon.}
Ways to honor those The Invisible Men of Honor {with posters, websites and study guides, and presentation of awards to U.S. Army veterans and the National Buffalo Soldiers.} Once we can find them that is…they are after all, Invisible.

MC: Thank you Committee Of The Hole. Next the Committee Of The ½:
COT1½: Exciting developments to report Madam Chair. We plan to join Jose Canseco's search for more "Road Beef" to prevent those opening baseball season "Slump Busters" by keying in on every baseball players' superstitions. We will provide a helping hand to those Players who are struggling…by getting them "the ugliest girl we can find for them to have sex with."
MC: Do tell…
COT½: Mr. Canseco nobly points out in book, "Juiced", that while he never stooped to this tactic… "I'd rather go 0-for-40," he protested. But he tattled that many of his fellow athletes did seek out "slump busters."
MC: Facinating…I can't wait to read his book.
COT½: Mr. Canseco said that Golden Boy, Mark Grace, the former Chicago Cubs first baseman, who seems like the kind of nice guy and good sport you'd want to bring home to mom, defined a slump buster as making out with the "fattest, gnarliest chick you can uncover."
MC: WOW! Should we really be contributing to this service?
COT½: Anything for Baseball.
Committee: (Hip-Hip hooray!!)
MC: Thank you for that report Committee Of The ½. That concludes our meeting. I make a motion to adjourn.
COTH: I second the motion.
MC: All in favor say "eye."
Committee: EYE!
MC: Meeting adjourned. -gavel-

Karen on 02.28.05 @ 05:37 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Nuptial Engagements

I'll be best man Charles, I've done the speech by Giles Coren (London Times) is worth the read:

"I SEE THAT the Prince of Wales is planning to get married without a best man. I can’t believe it. I’d already written my speech. It was a corker...

To read more of this Coren speech, click on the "more" button.

Karen on 02.28.05 @ 05:20 AM CST [more..] [ | ]

Sunday Trivia

1) Ivy Baker Priest was Treasurer of the United States from 1953-1961, and then served as Treasurer of the State of California from 1966-1974. What is her connection with the classic TV sitcom, The Munsters?

2) If you take the ratio of box office gross to cost of production as your measure, what is the most successful film of all time?

3) The 1966 proto-garage-rock hit "96 Tears", by ? and the Mysterians, was originally written with what working title? What suggestive title did the song then pick up before finally acquiring the title under which ? and the Mysterians rode it to the top o'the pops?

4) What is the connection, if any, between the movie Caddyshack and the TV series Flipper?

5) Who was the Mike Nelson who didn't have a bunch of robots as friends, and who played him?

Len on 02.27.05 @ 10:09 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Karen's Trivia Question of the Week

In honor of my upcoming Holiday to warmer climes and lots 'o' golf...I have this sports related trivia question:

In the annals of the Observer Sport Monthly...this mishap which occurred in 1999 counts as number 8 in the top 10 "worst mishaps in the history of sports." What was this mishap and who was involved in this disaster?

Karen on 02.27.05 @ 05:20 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Why I wish I was a Canadian.....

This is from a mailing list I'm on. The person who posted this is, of course, a Canadian:

From a fellow Canadian, about the US's recent reaction to Canada saying, "We don't want anything to do with your missile defense system":

"Why would you want to give up sovereignty?" (US Ambassador to Canada Paul Cellucci) said. "We don't get it. We think Canada would want to be in the room deciding what to do about an incoming missile that might be heading toward Canada."

That was the response after Canada said, "Fuck you," to the United States' fruitbar plan to line the shores of North America with missiles. So the following is my message directly to Paul Cellucci. Here are ten reasons, sir:

Number one, Canada has missile defense already. It's a pretty cunning plan, and it's absolutely free. See, there's this country just south of us, you might have heard of it, that has painted a huge bullseye on itself over the last few years. What we do is just sit there and twiddle our thumbs and looks harmless. As a result, chances are any missiles heading to North America aren't heading to Canada, but to our southern decoy. Cool plan, huh? Perhaps there is this one branch of guys in North Korea that's thinking, "Hey, you know who has the power to topple our government at the drop of a hat? Canada." I'm willing to take the risk that they'll be aiming elsewhere, though. (But really, a stiff breeze has the power to topple North Korea's government.)

Number two, that missile defense shield is insane paranoia from the people who brought you "Weapons of Mass Destruction in Iraq!" and "No, Really, There's Weapons of Mass Destruction in Iraq!" Canada has always tried to maintain a policy of not doing things that don't make any sense. Oh, except Alberta. And British Columbia for the entire decade of the 90s, come to think of it. And you never can tell about Newfoundland...

Number three, Canada decided that its money was better spent fortifying its existing military. This must seem like a bizarre concept to a country whose military penis is so big it thinks other countries have military vaginas, designed to be penetrated with little resistance, and indeed with lubrication, so the seeds of FREEDOM! can be planted within. "Canada with its own military?" you say, "That's adorable." Well, you can feel free to chalk it up to weird Canadian nonsense like free health care for everyone and restrictions on private gun ownership, I guess.

Number four, sovereignty means being able to make your own decisions. It does not mean sucking America's dick. I had hoped you would have learned that after that whole "Hey United Nations, how about we erase Iraq from the map?" thing back in 2003, when the governments of other countries decided to vote for what they thought was right instead of voting for what America thought was right (and America turned out to be wrong, by the way). I do realize that one of those countries was France, so I guess you can mentally delete this number if you want. You racist cock.

Number five, related to number four, I find it amusing that you think Canada is leaving its fate completely in America's hands here, and is now relying on America's goodwill to keep it alive when - when, not if - the commies decide to rain missles down on Saskatoon. Canada's been around for 137 years, and you know what? Not one of those years was spent with American missiles protecting it. Come to think of it, America's been around for 229 years without American missiles protecting it, too. Still, I guess you never know when Osama bin Laden will become cabable of launching transcontinental projectiles from his Himalayan cave. The legacy of 9/11 lives on.

Numbers six through ten, George W. Bush is on the shield's side, so it's a pretty safe bet that being on the opposite side is the correct move. You can pretty much live your life by not doing whatever Bush thinks you should do. I used to apply that logic to my relations with an aquaintance before he went completely nuts, and it worked wonders for me. So now that he's gone so insane that doing the opposite of what he thinks you should do consists of simply being a normal, decent human being, my anti-role-model is Bush.

So in closing, Mr. Cellucci, go irrigate your colon with Clorox.

-- Mat Sherer
Can't argue with logic like that. Though Gawd only knows, the neocon death cult occupying the District of Columbia will try.

Len on 02.27.05 @ 11:09 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Out of the Mommy Trap and On to Utopia

I see Len has skipped all the philosophical musings about "Women Running The World" and gone right to humor...but, this article, the Mommy Trap investigates some of the myths and perceptions surrounding that most delicate of female decisions to be an "at home mother" or "a career woman" in today's modern society.

I, of course, perfer my own solutions and added touches of humor for every societal and daily home issue that arises. (See my Mom On Strike article and What If Women Ran The World musings.)

For more about this "Mommy trap" either read some snippets below hit the "more " button or click on the article link above.

Karen on 02.27.05 @ 09:45 AM CST [more..] [ | ]

Blog Meme o'the Day....

At least in the baseball blogosphere. From Throws like a girl via The Birdwatch, we ask the earth shaking question: "Say you're a big league closer; what song do you pick for them to play on the stadium sound system as you're making your entrance from the bullpen?"

Personally, I'm torn right now, but for me it'd be one of either Warren Zevon's "Lawyers, Guns and Money", or The Animals' "We've Got To Get Out Of This Place".

Len on 02.27.05 @ 09:44 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Grave Secrets

This Daily Herald article: You can take it with you by Robert McCoppin (Daily Herald Staff Writer) explores the stuff people want to....Well....to take to their grave...

"A fishing pole, a cell phone - even a snack. More families are burying prized possessions with loved ones. When Steve New's father died five years ago, he knew how he wanted to honor their time together. In his father's casket, next to the body, New put some of his father's favorite lures, a reel and photos of father and son fishing and hunting together. His friends, who'd also grown up fishing with his dad, brought their own photographs to drop in the casket.

Burying objects with the dead is nothing new. Ancient Egyptians interred food and everyday objects, even furniture, to use in the afterlife. An ancient Chinese emperor had an army of 6,000 terra cotta soldiers buried with him for protection in the hereafter.

The modern popularity of memorial mementos continues a trend toward personalizing funeral services, from wake to eulogy to burial. Preachers say it helps families and friends remember their loved ones' happiness and humor, not just their deaths.

Funeral directors have seen just about everything tucked into a casket at one time or another. Golfers go to rest with balls and clubs. Gamblers might take dice and a winning hand. One man, who was rarely without his phone, was buried with his cell. And some people are reunited with body parts they'd long since lost. Bibles and beyond..."

So...leave your comment here...to tell me: What would YOU like to take to your Grave?

Karen on 02.27.05 @ 09:04 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Thought for the Day:

Apropos of Karen's several posts mentioning "what if women ruled the world", I'll share something a friend recently forwarded to me:

If Men Ruled The World

Any fake phone number a girl gave you would automatically forward your call to her real number.

Nodding and looking at your watch would be deemed an acceptable response to "I love you."

Hallmark would make "Sorry, what was your name again?" cards.

When your girlfriend really needed to talk to you during the game, she'd appear in a little box in the corner of the screen during a time-out.

Breaking up would be a lot easier. A smack to the ass and a "Nice hustle, you'll get 'em next time" would pretty much do it.

Birth control would come in ale or lager.

Each year, your raise would be pegged to the fortunes of the NFL team of your choice.

The funniest guy in the office would get to be CEO.

"Sorry I'm late, but I got really wasted last night" would be an acceptable excuse for tardiness.

At the end of the workday, a whistle would blow and you'd jump out your window and slide down the tail of a brontosaurus and right into your car like Fred Flintstone.

It'd be considered harmless fun to gather 30 friends, put on horned helmets, and go pillage a nearby town.

Lifeguards could remove citizens from beaches for violating the "public ugliness" ordinance.

Tanks would be far easier to rent.

Garbage would take itself out.

Instead of beer belly, you'd get "beer biceps."

Instead of an expensive engagement ring, you could present your wife-to-be with a giant foam hand that said, "You're #1!"

Valentine's Day would be moved to February 29th so it would only occur in leap years.

On Groundhog Day, if you saw your shadow, you'd get the day off to go drinking.

St. Patrick's Day, however, would remain exactly the same. But it would be celebrated every month.

"Cops" would be broadcast live, and you could phone in advice to the pursuing cops Or to the crooks.

Two words: Ally McNaked.

Regis and Kathie Lee would be chained to a cement mixer and pushed off the Golden Gate Bridge for the most lucrative pay-per-view event in world history.

The only show opposite "Monday Night Football" would be "Monday Night Football From A Different Camera Angle."

It would be perfectly legal to steal a sports car, as long as you returned it the following day with a full tank of gas.

Every man would get four real "Get Out of Jail Free" cards per year.

Faucets would run "Hot," "Cold," and "100 proof."

Daisy Duke shorts would never again go out of style.

Telephones would automatically cut off after 30 seconds of conversation.
Actually, I feel compelled to comment on one of these items: "Ally McNaked"... WTF? Somebody actually thinks that Calista Flockhart is attractive (well, someone besides Harrison Ford, who I'm convinced has gone senile)? Is there really a subculture of American men who'd get into concentration camp victim porno? Scary....

Len on 02.27.05 @ 09:00 AM CST [link] [ | ]

The Cat Herders

The Washington Post had this Gem of an article about our very own Dennis Hastert (We, residing at Dennis Hastert Corner, are always interested in all things "Denny") and Bill Frist:

"GOP Odd Couple Reflect Chambers They Lead: Their Cohesion Could Greatly Affect Bush Agenda.

....House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert (Ill.) and Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (Tenn.) share many goals and, by most accounts, genuinely like each other. But in style, ambition and operating methods, they could hardly be more different....

...Republicans dominate the House, where Hastert has moved quietly but aggressively to consolidate his power, rarely bothering to explain his rationale or involve Democrats in making decisions. In the Senate, Democrats still hold enough seats to block Republicans on most issues, sometimes by using the filibuster. Their strength forces Frist to cajole, explain and persuade almost constantly, either before television cameras or secluded in his office with a handful of fellow senators.

Frist's job is "like herding cats," said James A. Thurber, director of American University's Center for Congressional and Presidential Studies. Mainly because of half a dozen moderate GOP senators, he said, "it's very hard to keep the caucus together in the Senate."

As for Hastert and his lieutenants, Thurber said, "it's brilliant in the House how they've centralized power."

A comparison of the two men, and the current state of the institutions they lead, suggests both the power and the limits of one-party rule...."

To read more, go to the article link above.

Karen on 02.27.05 @ 05:17 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Hopeful Cracks Appear

An Opening on Social Security, a Washington Post Editorial on Feb 26th, had this to say about Bush's beginning recognition that saying he's "open to good ideas" on how to really fix the Social Security financial shortfall might just include options he's previously excluded...why...because they are Good Ideas and might actually be the solutions we need.

"ONLY IN THE context of the glacial political minuet over Social Security could President Bush's comments last week that he might, perhaps, be open to the notion of raising the Social Security earnings cap be considered bold. Mr. Bush cracked that door open the tiniest bit, repeating his previous insistence that the 12.4 percent payroll tax could not be budged, but noting that "all the other issues are on the table." Asked specifically whether he would consider increasing the amount of earnings subject to the tax, Mr. Bush added, "I've been asked this question a lot, and the answer is, I'm interested in good ideas."

Republicans, who are not truly interested in "Good Ideas"...only "Political Ideas"...had this response:
"The reaction from certain quarters of the Republican Party to this welcome sign of presidential flexibility was as predictable as it was depressing. "We're not going to do that," House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Tex.) said. "That's a tax increase." Speaker J. Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) was only slightly less dismissive. Conservative interest groups, meanwhile, treated Mr. Bush's comments as heresy on a par with his father's move to break his "no new taxes" pledge. "President Bush needs to close that door to higher taxes, or risk losing the centerpiece of his domestic policy agenda," said former Republican congressman Pat Toomey, who is now president of the Club for Growth."

Some where...in the middle of all the Rhetoric IS the solution the Nation needs. But it's how to get there from here.

Karen on 02.27.05 @ 05:14 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Butterflies Aren't Free

Monarch Butterflys may be heading the way of the Platypus and other extinct creatures as the natives of Mexico consider the value of the "wintering home of trees" versus the "cash crop for timber" between "North America's most spectacular natural wonders and trees that could be sawed down and sold for $300 each."

"We can contemplate the butterflies," said Cruz, a lawyer. "Or we can send our children to school and feed our families" with the cash from the cut trees. "It's a tough choice."

The winter migration of monarch butterflies to Mexico, a stunning sight that draws vast numbers of tourists to mountain forests 100 miles west of Mexico City, has been devastated this year. One of the chief causes is logging that destroys butterfly sanctuaries, according to Mexican and U.S. environmentalists."

Karen on 02.27.05 @ 05:05 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Thought for the Day:

“Date Doctor” Alex Hitchens (Will Smith) is sort of the A-Team of male romantic problems: when a guy is at the end of his rope regarding the fairer sex, they call Hitch. He, in turn, coaches them through the process of wooing and winning the girl of their dreams. His success rate is such that he lives a life of relative prosperity and has even achieved a sort of urban legend status among the single women of New York City.

Hitch’s latest remodeling job is one Albert Brennaman (Kevin James), a shy, doughy accountant with an unrequited crush on his firm’s marquee client, heiress Allegra Cole (Amber Valletta). Desperate to show Allegra the depth of his feelings but utterly unable to express them, he seeks out Hitch. After an initial consultation, Hitch agrees to the project, confident in Albert’s prospects no matter how hopeless they may appear, especially to those of us in the real world who know chubby dorks rarely land the beauty queen.

But we’re talking about The Movies here, where the impossible can happen, dreams always come true, and the love of your life will always see the inner beauty lurking beneath your 44-inch waist.
--Pete Vonder Haar [on the film

Len on 02.26.05 @ 09:56 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Are You Bullshitting Me??

Only from the PC of Ben Macintyre (London Times) could this stunner leap from the page in This column is Great, Trust Me

"We all think we can identify it in others, we know we sometimes lapse into it. But what is bullshit?

THE WRONG sort of snow finally pushed Yuri Luzhkov, the Mayor of Moscow, over the edge. Enraged with Russia’s hopeless weather forecasters, he has vowed to fine them for any more inaccurate, misleading or unreliable predictions. As reported in yesterday’s Times, he admonished them in the following, memorable terms: “You are giving us bullshit.”

On the other side of the world, Harry G. Frankfurt, the moral philosopher and professor emeritus at Princeton University, would have smiled sagely at that remark. After decades of exploration in the thorniest thickets of philosophy, he has just published a slim treatise entitled On Bullshit (Princeton University Press), an earnest intellectual inquiry into this most pungent and slippery of philosophical concepts. His short theory of bullshit is a testament for our times.

We all think we can identify bullshit. We know when we are talking bullshit ourselves, and we have all been guilty of it at times, in the pub or the pulpit, though some of us produce more than others. Politics thrives on bullshit, while lawyers, advertisers, public relations consultants and talk show hosts produce the stuff in its purest form. Very occasionally, columnists have been known to lapse into it. Every language in the world has a word for it.

But what is bullshit? The concept is universally recognised, yet as Professor Frankfurt writes, “the most basic and preliminary questions about bullshit remain, after all, not only unanswered but unasked.” He begins, like all good philosophers, by defining what bullshit is not. Bullshit is dishonest, yet it is not necessarily mendacious. The bullshit artist may not tell you the truth (though he may do so inadvertently), but he is not deliberately lying. This is because bullshit cares nothing for truth or falsehood, accuracy or error, and that is its force and danger...."

Click on the article link to read more...it reeeally is GREAT.

Karen on 02.26.05 @ 07:37 AM CST [link] [ | ]

A Babbling Brook of Profundity

Much as I deride David Brooks (NY Times)...and he most certainly and often deserves it...he does have an intellect. Sometimes he even uses these brain powers to stray from the scripted path of Administrative Apologist and Lap Doggerie he's been so well trained to "heel" to all these years. He actually lets his own "Inner Gonzo" loose and says something quite profound. So, here it is today....David Brooks being Profound:

"This is the most powerful question in the world today: Why not here? People in Eastern Europe looked at people in Western Europe and asked, Why not here? People in Ukraine looked at people in Georgia and asked, Why not here? People around the Arab world look at voters in Iraq and ask, Why not here?...

....The head of the Syrian Press Syndicate told The Times on Thursday: "There's a new world out there and a new reality. You can no longer have business as usual."...

...It's amazing in retrospect to think of how much psychological resistance there is to asking this breakthrough question: Why not here? We are all stuck in our traditions and have trouble imagining the world beyond. As Claus Christian Malzahn reminded us in Der Spiegel online this week, German politicians ridiculed Ronald Reagan's "tear down this wall" speech in 1987. They "couldn't imagine that there might be an alternative to a divided Germany."

But if there is one soft-power gift America does possess, it is this tendency to imagine new worlds. As Malzahn goes on to note, "In a country of immigrants like the United States, one actually pushes for change. ... We Europeans always want to have the world from yesterday, whereas the Americans strive for the world of tomorrow."....

...Not all weeks will be as happy as this one. Despite the suicide bombings in Israel and Iraq, the thought contagion is spreading. Why not here?"

Karen on 02.26.05 @ 07:00 AM CST [link] [ | ]

It Ain't Funny & It Ain't True

US News Wire is reporting about Actress Neve Campbell, whose younger brother, Damien, has Tourette Syndrome, joining in the Association's new awareness efforts against the exploitation of Tourette Syndrome (TS) for laughs in the media and the Tourette Syndrome Association (TSA) is mounting a vigorous campaign to halt distortions of this much misunderstood neurological disorder.

""By reducing the stigma and misunderstanding associated to Tourette Syndrome, and educating people about its more common symptoms, this campaign will help foster acceptance and hopefully bring an end to discrimination for those living with TS," said Campbell.

A print public service announcement, "It Ain't Funny & It Ain't True; Exploiting Tourette Syndrome for Laughs" has already appeared in Variety and The Hollywood Reporter, and is now being provided to thousands of national newspapers, magazines and entertainment industry publications. Outreach to professional organizations of film and television producers as well as entertainment writers is also a high priority.

"Growing public awareness of a formerly little known condition has brought about a number of recent films and television program references which sensationalize and distort symptoms, said Judit Ungar, President, TSA. "These hurtful references and films are created to grab audience attention, and not to portray the disorder as it really is."

As for the potential damage of highly inaccurate, negative references to the disorder, the association charges that these encourage a climate of discrimination in such vital areas as employment, education and social acceptance.

On the positive side, Ungar notes that the entertainment industry deserves credit for spreading the word about the very existence of TS. Many a youngster and adult has been troubled by its symptoms without even being able to name the cause. In fact it has been said that more cases have been diagnosed by viewing or reading information from the media than in a doctor's office.

Neve is currently developing and producing a film, "A Private War," from a screenplay written by her friend, stuntman Peter Antico about his own struggle with Tourette Syndrome.

"I am truly excited about being able to make a movie that will depict Tourette Syndrome in a realistic and compelling way and really open people's eyes about what TS is and what it isn't," said Neve."

Karen on 02.26.05 @ 06:39 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Battle Politico Volley & Serve

Sometimes...when he's not being a Conservative jerk, a GOP sell-out Moron and a Shill for that Empty Suit of a President... Pat Buchanan has some interesting points to make in the royale battle of the politicos and pundits.

In this one : The Anti-Conservatives : "Who convinced the president that our democracy depends on a worldwide crusade?" He writes:

"That George W. Bush would seek to embed the Iraq War in the higher cause of global democracy was to be expected. That is the way of wartime presidents.....But Bush has gone Wilson one better. He is not only going to make the world safe for democracy, he is going to make the world democratic. Where Lincoln abolished slavery in the South, Bush is going to abolish tyranny from the earth: “So it is the policy of the United States to seek and support the growth of democratic movements and institutions in every nation and culture, with the ultimate goal of ending tyranny in our world.

Who and what converted a president who came to office with no knowledge of the world to the idea that only a global crusade for democracy could keep us secure?

Answer: 9/11—and the neoconservatives...America “goes not abroad, in search of monsters to destroy,” said John Quincy Adams, “She is the well-wisher to the freedom and independence of all. She is the champion and vindicator only of her own.” Under the tutelage of Jacobins who call themselves idealists, Bush has repudiated this wise core doctrine of U.S. foreign policy to embrace Wilsonian interventionism in the internal affairs of every autocratic regime on earth. We are going to democratize the world and abolish tyranny. Giddy with excitement, the neocons are falling all over one another to hail the president. They are not conservatives at all. They are anti-conservatives, and their crusade for democracy will end as did Wilson’s, in disillusionment for the president and tragedy for this country."

Karen on 02.26.05 @ 06:38 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Universal Success

After my outing to Pluto...I finally located, at the library, that back issue of Natural History Magazine (April 2004) with the article about the "particle viewer" and the Digital /Virtual Universe which allows a virtual roam around the galaxies and beyond.

This Digital Universe was created by NASA's supported Digital Universe Atlas and the Hayden Planetarium of the American Museum of Natural History. You can download this program at the Download site and take a tour of this Universe in 3-dimensions. Out to edges of our Solar Sytem, to the Milky Way and beyond to the most distant objects known in the Universe.

But the caveat is: "as you move among the stars in the vicinity of our Sun, you may find that it is all too easy to get lost." Try this program out and then you, too, can see how easy it is to lose your way out by Pluto and Charon. (Crappy signage out there in the boondocks of the Universe.) Plus, there won't be any Sassy Black Holes for you to have to deal with either.

It's a really entertaining program.

Karen on 02.25.05 @ 03:36 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Eyeing that six-pack for this weekend? Think again, guys.

As a plain text item, this has been making the rounds in email for a while. Kudos to the genius who thought of making a faux news article out of it.

Credit: an associate who has better sense than to want his name publicly linked with mine. :-)

Len on 02.25.05 @ 01:03 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Where I'm not going to find...

the next ex-Mrs. Len Cleavelin: Hannidate. Think of it as match.com for conservatives.

Frankly, any woman who has the bad taste to listen to Sean Hannity isn't going to get anywhere near me. Not that she'd want to.

Credit: SKBubba, who's also tooting his horn over his recent mention in Slate [in the same Josh Levin piece about bloggers and rappers that featured a mention of MadKane]. But check the picture of SKBubba in the "tooting his horn" hyperlink. Priceless.

OK, then. (™ SKB)

Len on 02.25.05 @ 12:56 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Memphis News: The Week In Review

The Statutory Disclaimer: The Memphis Community's Daily Fishwrap requires a free registration, or bypass it using BugMeNot.

2/18: Memphis news isn't quite All Senator John Ford All The Time, but you'd be forgiven for concluding that it was. Senator Ford's legal woes keep piling up. Disclosures from his recent Juvenile Court child support case piqued the interest of the State Senate Ethics Committee, which went so far as to subpoena Ford's Juvenile Court case file, which includes such juicy tidbits as the Senator's income tax returns. It may also make Tennessee legal history; while the Tennessee Constitution gives legislative committees subpoena power, this is the first time that any Legislature watchers can recall any legislative committee issuing a subpoena. Not as impressive as being the butt of a Jay Leno monologue, granted, but there's little that can top that. Later in the week, we learned that Senator Ford initially fought the enactment of an ethics law requiring disclosure by state legislators and officials of money received for "consulting services" performed for any entity doing business with the state, though eventually Ford wound up voting for the law (which ultimately failed anyway, when the legislative session ended before the House and Senate could iron out differences in their bills). By Wednesday, Ford was beginning his counteroffensive by charging that a local television reporter was harassing him, but this was only a mere distraction from intensifying interest in possible connections between Ford and a consultant doing work for TennCare, an allegation which, if true, could be a major violation of state law. Though the news for Senator Ford isn't completely bad; vagueness in the wording of the statutes governing residency in Tennessee may mean that he'll get a break on charges that he doesn't reside in the district he represents.

2/19: The city (through City Administrator Keith McGee) announces budget cuts will require the layoff of 2,100 city employees, including close to 200 full-time employees. Meanwhile the Memphis blogosphere (both sides of the aisle, you may note here) makes extended comment on the most noteworthy feature of the announcement: why did it come from the lips of City Administrator McGee, instead of those of Mayor Herenton? Steve Steffens weighed in on LeftWingCracker:

Remember, we can't start collecting signatures for a recall petition until 75 days prior to the filing deadline for the May 2006 election. However, I assure you, we WILL get this on the ballot because 2007 just isn't soon enough to get him out of there.
In addition to the layoffs, some city services are being cut back, including the imminent closing of the local planetarium and major cutbacks in the local museums (which receive significant funding from the city).

2/25: In legal news, a Shelby County Circuit Court jury awarded damages of over $50 million (if I'm adding correctly) to the family of two women killed when an SUV hit their Dodge Caravan head on. The award included $48.8 million punitive damages against Daimler-Chrysler, the manufacturer of the Caravan. And a federal jury begins deliberations today to decide whether former Shelby County Medical Examiner O.C. Smith lied to federal investigators about the unusual incident where he was found bound and gagged with barbed wire and attached to a bomb.

Len on 02.25.05 @ 08:51 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Vixen of Vipertude

The Darling of the GOP Vixens of Vipertude, Ann Coulter, is spewing forth her drachenfutter: Ire usually reserved for that errant hubby she apparently doesn't have - don't know - reeeeeally don't care neither.

So, who's the Vixen breathing her raging fire at the cave door to today? Why, as always, "LIBERALS", of course...Ann is LIKE SO BORING and one track minded she can't see those tree for that forest she's got rammed up there...plugging her _! But this time, in defense of the indefensible...Jeff Gannon, aka James Guckert, Ann is off with her hot breath and fumes with this tripe and mish-mashed hackery:

"...Are we supposed to like gay people now, or hate them? Is there a Web site where I can go to and find out how the Democrats want me to feel about gay people on a moment-to-moment basis?...

...Gannon got one (a White House Secret Service approved Press Pass), even though he writes for a Web site that no one has ever heard of -- but still big enough to be a target of liberal hatred! (By the way, if writing for a news organization with no viewers is grounds for being denied a press pass, why do MSNBC reporters have them?)....

...Finally, liberals expressed shock and dismay that Gannon's real name is "James Guckert." On MSNBC's "Hardball," Chris Matthews introduced the Gannon scandal this way: "Coming up, how did a fake news reporter from a right-wing Web site get inside the White House press briefings and presidential news conferences?" Reporter David Shuster then gave a report on "the phony alias Guckert used to play journalist" -- as opposed to the real name Shuster uses to play journalist. (You can tell Schuster is a crackerjack journalist because he uses phrases like "phony alias.") With all the subtlety of a gay-bashing skinhead, Matthews spent the rest of the segment seeing how many times he could smear Gannon by mentioning "HotMilitaryStuds.com" and laughing....

....Democrats in Congress actually demanded that an independent prosecutor investigate how Gannon got into White House press conferences while writing under an invented name. How did Gary Hartpence, Billy Blythe and John Kohn (Gary Hart, Bill Clinton and John Kerry) run for president under invented names? Admittedly, these men were not reporters for the prestigious "Talon News" service; they were merely Democrats running for president."

Needless to say, This trashy excuse for a journalistic hack of a Vixen is NOT on my list of women EVER allowed to Run the World.

Karen on 02.25.05 @ 08:34 AM CST [link] [ | ]

One of my guilty blogospheric pleasures...

is Query Letters I Love. I don't know exactly what these persons' jobs are, but it involves reading a lot of query letters pitching potential film projects. And some of them are seriously demented.

Like this one, which sounds like Shrek's Donkey meets the New Testament. We can only wonder which one will survive (though the schmaltzy ending wouldn't give me much hope).

Len on 02.25.05 @ 07:41 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Thought for the Day:

Jazz used to be popular music. People would go out to clubs, listen to the music, go home, and get laid. Simple as that.
--Steven Bernstein [Sex Mob slide trumpeter]

Len on 02.25.05 @ 06:02 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Political Shopping Salvos

Thomas Friedman (NY Times) is a SCREAM with this one called Honey, I Shrunk the Dollar and this opening salvo to the Bushies:

"I have just one question about President Bush's trip to Europe: Did he and Laura go shopping?"

Karen on 02.25.05 @ 05:55 AM CST [link] [ | ]


Speaking of Dental Work Sorcerers'...as I am about to enter another $$$$ month with more dental, ortho and oral surgery for my two teenaged daughters in my most immediate future...

US News Wire reports The Chicago Dental Society (CDS) will host their annual Midwinter Meeting on Friday, and high-tech and patient-friendly dental products, including treatments that could eventually make the drill extinct, will be on display:

"As we countdown to CDS's annual Midwinter Meeting, one of the largest displays of dental products in North America, here are a few of the exciting products to be highlighted on the exhibit floor.

Fruit and candy flavors for floss and toothpaste. Johnson & Johnson adds cherry, bubblegum, citrus and berry flavors to their floss line-up. Radius has released a cranberry-flavored floss made with silk, and Nature's Gate offers licorice and green tea flavors. Crest debuts Vanilla toothpaste.

Sonicare two-in-one toothbrush. Sonicare reveals a new electric toothbrush that includes a built-in liquid toothpaste dispenser. This new toothbrush releases toothpaste while you brush.

Improving cavity treatment. One dental tool gives patients more options than the standard drill by using air to drill through tooth decay. Another new innovation uses a small digital camera that takes a photograph inside the mouth and uses a special light to detect early decay on the tooth."

Where were these cool things and most equipped Sorcerers when I was growing up? And had to see the dentist...endlessly...for all them cavities, crowns, caps, root canals and stuff?

Karen on 02.25.05 @ 05:50 AM CST [link] [ | ]

We Are Asking and We Are Telling Update

"Congressional lawmakers today announced legislation to repeal "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," the military's ban on lesbian, gay and bisexual personnel." US News Wire reports. The report also states:

"Announcement of the bill follows release of a new Government Accounting Office (GAO) report analyzing "Don't Ask, Don't Tell." The GAO report conservatively estimates the gay ban has cost at least $191 million since its inception in 1993.

The report's financial estimate, however, includes only costs associated with recruiting and training enlistees to replace those discharged under the ban. The GAO analysis does not include costs associated with discharging officers or the nearly 800 specialists with critical skills who have been fired because of their sexual orientation. Administrative costs associated with discharges are also not included in the GAO analysis.

"Our homeland is more secure when every qualified, capable American who wants to serve is allowed to do so," said C. Dixon Osburn, executive director of Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN). "The choice we now face is clear: Spend $191 million on firing patriotic Americans or spend the same amount on a dozen Blackhawk helicopters or 800 sidewinder missiles. Our priority should always be defense and security. The Military Readiness Enhancement Act is the best proposal to do just that."According to GAO, the Pentagon has fired 322 language specialists who "had…skills in a foreign language that DoD had considered to be especially important.'"

SLDN reported in 2004 that at least three dozen of those linguists spoke Arabic, Farsi or Korean, language the Pentagon acknowledges are understaffed. Nearly 800 specialists, including intelligence analysts, divers and combat controllers, were fired despite having "some training in an occupation identified…as 'critical.'" Since 1993, more than 10,000 service members have been fired under the gay ban. During that same time period, many of the United States' closest military allies, including Great Britain and Canada, repealed their prohibitions on gay service personnel."

Karen on 02.25.05 @ 05:36 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Kennel Club Doggie News

We have counted down to this Final-Fret-Free-Friday-in-February. Have to think up something else for next month. *wink*

More in the Kennel Club & Doggie News Department: Canines compete to be top dog in Chicago
by Elisabeth Mistretta (Daily Herald Staff Writer).

This weekend Chicago plays host to the Blackhawk Kennel Club and The International Kennel Club dog show for over 150 breeds of pooches.

The Daily Herald even has a Learning the Lingo of doggie show terminology to help spectators enjoy the show. Details of show available.

In the ring:

Standard: Written traits and physical characteristics of each breed set and maintained by each breed's national club.

Conformation: Judges compare dogs to written breed standards, not to each other.

Gait: A sound and balanced movement indicates proper conformation and structure.

Stack: Positioning the dog in a specific stance.

Down and back: Usually a slight trot required on a diagonal from one corner of the ring to the other. Judges see the dogs front and rear movement.

Gay tail: Twisted or bent tail.Stripping: Thinning the dog's coat to enhance texture.

X-ing: Taking a dog for a potty break in a collapsible metal exercise pen with wood shavings in the center.

Snood: Fabric hood worn on the head and ears of long-coated breeds like the afghan hound and cocker spaniel to protect them from dirt.

About the shows:

Benched show: Dogs must remain in assigned areas, or "benches," when not competing so spectators can talk with breeders, owners and handlers.

Unbenched show: Owners and dogs can leave once their competitions are over.

Karen on 02.25.05 @ 05:30 AM CST [link] [ | ]

If you're looking for a new and different twist in your resume...

Pete at A Perfectly Cromulent Blog informs us that Troma Entertainment, cinematic home of New Jersey's only superhero (The Toxic Avenger and sequels) and preeminent producers of low-grade classic bad films, is looking for people to fill important production positions for their soon to be filmed next classic: Poultrygeist: Attack of the Chicken Zombies. Unpaid positions, so you better be able to live off your trust fund income for a bit, but you'll get a screen credit certifying your contribution to the enrichment of American Cinema:

Poultrygeist, a fromage to Takashi Miike, is the next planned offering in Troma Entertainment's thirty-plus-years-long tradition of wildly successful low-budget, high-concept, one-of-a-kind cinematic creations designed to satisfy the hunger for reel entertainment.

When the American Chicken Bunker, a military-themed fried-chicken chain, builds a restaurant on the site of an ancient Indian burial ground, local protestors aren't the only ones crying fowl! The previous tenants, fueled by a supernatural force, take "possession" of the food and those who eat it, and the survivors discover that they must band together before they themselves become the other white meat!

Film lovers have been starved for sustenance. The relentless diet of predictability and pretense Hollywood has been serving up just doesn't cut it. Poultrygeist is hearty food for thought.
In Poultrygeist, Troma takes on the the fast-food industry-skewering the soulless restaurateurs-in the world's first horror-comedy film to feature zombie chickens, American Indians and a bit of singing and dancing!

It's Poultrygeist!

Len on 02.24.05 @ 01:11 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Gem o'the Day...

(or, Why I Don't Take The Blogosphere Seriously):

But rappers' and bloggers' self-importance also has something to do with the supremely annoying righteousness that rides along with those who believe they're overturned the archaic forms of expression favored by The Man--that is, whitey and/or the mainstream media. Ninety percent of rap lyrics are self-congratulatory rhymes about how great the rapper is at rapping, the towering difficulties of succeeding in the rap game, or the lameness of wanksta rivals. Blogging is a circle jerk that never stops circling: links to posts by other bloggers, following links to newspaper stories about bloggers, following wonderment at the corruptions and complacency of old-fashioned, credentialed journalism.
--Josh Levin

Len on 02.24.05 @ 07:08 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Journalistic Illusions

Don Wycliff (Public Editor of Chicago Tribune) and I have exchanged many e-mails over this "Journalistic Privileges & Shield" laws regarding the Valerie Plame outing by Robert Novak (Chicago Sun Times columnist and CNN commentator) and the Judith Miller & Matt Cooper requirement to testify and/or reveal their government sources. Don is one of the first of many serious and respected news paper media people who immediately recognized the underlying issues and problems in asserting some "generic, wholesale privilege to all journalist" in cases such as the Plame matter.

Today's column, Shield laws offer illusory protection is a "home run" effort to further that discussion.

Don writes:

"...I yield to no one in my abhorrence of government by secrecy. Almost from Day One the Bush administration has been a particularly egregious offender in this regard. Indeed, I think it is only in a Justice Department made in the image of John Ashcroft that a hunt for leakers at the White House could have become a Javert-like pursuit of two reporters.

That said, I have to confess my doubts about the proposed federal shield law. I wonder whether in supporting such legislation we may be trading our birthright--the splendid informational anarchy fostered by the 1st Amendment guarantee of press freedom--for a mess of pottage. I wonder whether we may not be trading occasional outrages like the Miller-Cooper case for the everyday certainty of uncertainty that goes with being licensed by the government.

You see, if the government gives journalists the right to be exempt from the normal obligations of citizenship, the government, ultimately, will get to decide who is a journalist. Of course nobody will admit that this is the case. They'll contrive some body of journalistic wise men and women, a college of cardinals, who will set standards and thresholds and regulations and such. But somebody will have to appoint those cardinals and, in the end, it will be the government that's in charge....

...If you think it was just by accident that Jeff Gannon, a.k.a. James Dale Guckert, got cleared to attend White House news briefings and a presidential news conference that you or I would have had to endure probing up to a body-cavity search to be cleared for, then you probably would welcome having a government Ministry of Truth deciding who gets licensed as a news gatherer.

If you think bloggers have been more an annoyance than anything else and that the journalistic universe ought to be limited to newspapers and three TV network news departments, you may like the idea of a government overseer licensing the respectable and keeping the riffraff out.

I hope I'm wrong about all this. But I've never been one who believes you can have your cake and eat it too."

Thanks for saying it so well and following up on the earlier columns and thoughts by Clarence Page and Steve Chapman...Great Job, again, Chicago Tribune!

Karen on 02.24.05 @ 07:00 AM CST [link] [ | ]

My favorite recovering woman lawyer....

the lovely and multitalented MadKane, is pleased that she got a mention in yesterday's "Culturebox" section of Slate [Levin's thesis: bloggers and rappers are basically very similar types of individuals]. Interestingly, she makes no comment on Josh Levin's brief mention of the phenomenon she talks about just the day before: the seeming dearth of influential female political bloggers [Levin's observation: it seems that women aren't taken seriously in either the raposphere (™ Len Cleavelin) or the blogosphere unless they raunch up their acts--data points being Lil' Kim and Wonkette]. That latter post of Mad's is especially recommended for Mad's poetic takedown of Kevin Drum for some comments he made at Political Animal not very long ago. As a public service, Mad links to a number of responses to Drum's post if you're interested in following the debate.

Len on 02.24.05 @ 06:32 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Thought for the Day:

Lance: OK, you're giving her an injection of adrenaline straight to her heart. But she's got breastplates. You've gotta pierce through that. So what you gotta do is, you gotta bring the needle down in a stabbing motion. [Makes multiple stabbing motions]
Vincent: I gotta stab her three times?
Lance: No, you don't gotta fucking stab her three times! You gotta stab her once, but it's gotta be hard enough to get through her breastplate into her heart, all right? And then once you do that, you press down on the plunger.
Vincent: OK, then what happens?
Lance: I'm curious about that myself.

--Pulp Fiction

Len on 02.24.05 @ 06:17 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Swift Boat Weenies For Bush

Swifites Slime Again is Maureen Dowd's (NY Times) column today. And hoo-boy...I just HATE those Swift Boat Weenies and Liars for Bush.

Maureen writes:

"...USA Next, which has spent millions on Republican policy fights, has pledged to spend as much as $10 million on ads and other tactics to "dynamite" AARP and get Americans to rip up Social Security. It's hiring some of the same consultants who helped the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, who dynamited John Kerry, a war hero, by sliming him as a war criminal.

... Bush supporters in 2000, Swift Boat assassins can rid the president of any meddlesome adversaries now....

...It began with an almost comically hyperbolic Internet ad that briefly ran on The American Spectator's Web site, painting AARP as pro-gay sex - even though it's tough to think of AARP and steamy lust in the same hot breath - and anti-soldier. It showed a soldier with a red X across him, and two gay men kissing at their nuptuals, with the headline "The REAL AARP Agenda."..."

As I am soon to join that 50+ crowd of Baby-Boomer AARP'er's we'll just have to see about them Swift Boatie Weenie Liars...I'd like to Dynamite those jerks myself. LOL

To see what I said about them Swift Boat Weenies last fall... click on the "more" button.

Karen on 02.24.05 @ 05:50 AM CST [more..] [ | ]

H2O for People

Water For People (WFP), an international humanitarian organization, today announced the successful launch of its Phase II "Water For Africa" partnership with the United States Environmental Protection Agency, Office of International Activities and the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation. The partnership was formed to help bring safe and sustainable drinking water to the urban poor in African cities.

Water For People is currently hosting and facilitating an Eastern and Central African Peri-urban Project (ECAPP) workshop this week in Kampala, Uganda. Thirty participants, including heads of nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) from Kenya, Malawi, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia will share, learn and determine how to build on the success of the three-year "Water For Africa" Phase I, which focused on building local competencies and hygiene awareness. The initial approach aimed at filling the knowledge gap that exists between organizations trying to address water and sanitation issues related to the urban poor. Phase II is designed to stimulate thinking, to minimize the duplication of efforts and to deepen the relationships between Northern and Southern NGOs. Phase II also provides for more tangible pieces including some hardware.

One of the top priorities for the representatives from WFP is to examine how a Northern NGO becomes a real partner with a Southern NGO. The workshop will provide opportunities for participants to collaborate and explore interests and needs up front before the actual work is implemented in hopes that this higher level of partnership will generate positive, sustainable outcomes.

With the urban poor increasing at an alarming rate in absolute and relative terms, for approaches to achieve success, they must reach beyond the mere transfer of resources. Unlike rural work, the scope of urban projects encompasses the complexities of tenuous relationships, tremendous population density and a serious strain on local governments and infrastructure.

In PHASE II, WFP decided to hire an African evaluator to ensure representation and observation from a southern perspective. In developed western countries the purpose of education is to inform people about environmental issues as they relate to water and waste management. In the developing world, education is still connected to public health issues.

----US News Wire

Karen on 02.24.05 @ 05:28 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Journalistic Malpractice

Journalistic Malpractice By Robert J. Samuelson (Washington Post) has this to say about the "news coverage" of the Social Security debate:

"It's always necessary to do the math. By this I mean that journalists need to measure politicians' promises against underlying realities, as represented by numbers. But many reporters detest math. This math phobia partly explains why the media did such an abysmal job covering the debate over the Medicare drug benefit -- ignoring the program's long-term costs -- and why they're committing a similar blunder with President Bush's Social Security plan. They're missing the obvious: The plan doesn't address baby boomers' retirement costs.

Our central budget problem,...is the coming spending explosion in Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, driven by aging baby boomers and rising health spending. In 2004 these programs cost $965 billion...The Congressional Budget Office projects that by 2030 their costs will rise to 14 percent of GDP, or more than $1.6 trillion in today's dollars. Avoiding a (nearly) $700 billion annual increase in taxes or deficits would require comparable spending cuts in other government programs. It won't happen. The projected increase in retirement spending nearly equals all federal "discretionary spending" .... We're not going to eliminate all these programs....

Once you've done this math, you recognize that benefit cuts in Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid are inevitable. They're the only other way to limit massive tax increases or immense budget deficits. Moreover, the benefit cuts have to affect baby boomers, because they will be the people on Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid...

Judged by this arithmetic, Bush's Social Security program is a hoax. He's claiming to make Social Security sustainable. In 40 to 50 years, Bush's approach might work. But in the next 25 years -- when the real budget problem occurs -- it does little. Bush wants it both ways: He wants to appeal to younger voters by offering personal accounts; and he doesn't want to offend older voters (including baby boomers) by cutting their benefits. This may be smart politics, but it's lousy policy....

But the mainstream media mainly ignored the long-term costs...Call this journalistic malpractice....The malpractice continues. The disagreeable reality is that the baby boom's sheer weight will sooner or later force cuts in Social Security and Medicare. We ought to be debating them now and giving people warning. But almost everyone has a stake in denial, and the media are complicit. Personal accounts -- like them or not -- don't solve the real problem. If journalists were doing their jobs, everyone would know that."

Karen on 02.24.05 @ 05:24 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Animals Gone Wild

This is a US News Wire addendum to Len's "Tiger" post:

"One day after a California court wisely found John Weinhart guilty on 56 of 61 charges stemming from one of the most heinous animal cruelty discoveries- 58 frozen tiger cub carcasses and the decomposing remains of more than 30 other big cats-authorities shot and killed a 600 pound tiger loose in the hills of Southern California.

While the shooting of an escaped tiger today is tragic, it is also preventable. Sadly, violent, often fatal, incidents involving privately owned big cats are occurring at an alarming rate across the country.

The Captive Wild Animal Protection Coalition (CWAPC), representing 20 leading animal protection organizations, zoos, and sanctuaries, believes keeping wild animals as pets is dangerous for people and inhumane for animals. CWAPC tracks and reports on incidents involving captive wild animals and warns that the rate of human injury and death from privately owned big cats and other wild animals is increasing. In 2004, there were at least:

4 human adult fatalities

27 human adult injuries

13 human child injuries

307 animal fatalities

81 animal escapes, and

608 confiscated or displaced captive wild animals

In 2003, there were at least 33 incidents involving captive big cats. Of these incidents, 3 were human fatalities, 14 human injuries; hundreds more either escaped or were confiscated.

When animals escape the public is put in great danger, tremendous resources are tapped, and ultimately the animal often ends up shot and killed. It is estimated that there are between 10,000 and 20,000 big cats in private ownership in the U.S.-many more than remain in the wild-and there are no federal regulations banning this practice. And while big cats such as tigers are often in the headlines, other exotic animals including primates, bears, and reptiles can be equally dangerous and are kept in private hands in backyards nationwide. Tragic incidents will continue unless we end the private ownership of dangerous wild animals. In 2003, Congress enacted legislation to end the interstate commerce in big cats as pets. If future injuries and deaths are to be avoided, local and state governments must also bar the keeping of these animals, and ensure adequate enforcement of existing laws."

Karen on 02.23.05 @ 05:54 PM CST [link] [ | ]

How to read a wingnut

In the midst of a long post regarding the submission process at academic philosophy journals, John Holbo suggests a novel way of reading the wingnuts at Powerline.

Hey, did you read that nutty stuff over at Powerline today? And every day? Here's my advice. When you find yourself reading something by Hindrocket, some rant about how irrational and traitorous the left is, or the MSM; just sort of pretend you are reading a Spider-Man comic, and Hindrocket is J. Jonah Jameson yelling at Betty Brant, or Robbie. Or Peter. About Spider-Man. Because why does he hate on Spidey so? Spidey is so obviously not a menace. He's good. It's too bad we all know who Atrios is now. Otherwise we could imagine: what if Atrios is really, like, Hindrocket's secretary? I realize it is really a quite serious matter than the right-wingers have gone around the bend and apparently aren't coming back. Still, you've got to find a way to read their stuff with a sunny heart.

Brock on 02.23.05 @ 05:32 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Apparently, it was a tiger...

Earlier, we mentioned the big cat's paw prints found near the Reagan Library. California fish and game officials have just announced that USDA Wildlife Services officers have shot and killed a 400-600 pound tiger near Moorpark, CA. It is still unknown where the tiger came from.

Len on 02.23.05 @ 01:15 PM CST [link] [ | ]


Take a look at this picture. If this sub-compact Eurobox is trying to channel The General Lee, I don't think it's working. (Is it just me, or is it missing the Confederate flag on top? And so close to the Heart o'Dixie, too.)

Credit: Mr. Roboto. And while visiting TNF, go read Captain T's rant about Microsoft's ever-expanding hegemony in the Digital Rights Management area.

Frankly, once you've bought music legally, you should be able to do whatever the f*ck you want to do with it that's legal, and transferring it onto a different device for your personal enjoyment is legal, last I looked.

Damn the RIAA. Pretty soon they'll be hitting you up for royalties for the songs you sing during your morning shower. They're working on the technology even as we speak...

Len on 02.23.05 @ 08:59 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Old Mac Milt

As an Update to my ongoing kevetch about those Wormy, Diseased Apple Guys...

Yesterday the internal power supply part for the Performa 6300 MAC came via the U.S. mail. (Though supposedly Len's Tape is still MIA as far as I know...$#@%$ Post Office.) And with this part, Olde Mac Milt (the e-bay seller) sent DIRECTIONS about HOW to open this Chinese Puzzle of a hunk-o-junk. What a GUY...I have to give him an excellent e-bay rating and send him many Thanks!!

My Teenage Computer Geek (Lauren's boyfriend- Garrison), Lauren and I followed these directions flawlessly. We were able to swapped out that faulty internal power supply and Voila...Bob is my Haamsta (one of three)...it powered up that MAC.

The kids had a scream, laughing at what's on this virtual, computer scrapbook of memories from 1995-1997. A frozen section of time...like those time capsules...for us to review. It is Tooooooo Funny. It even has the girls toddler - preschool voices recorded telling stories. Now, if I can keep them out of Busy Town, Lode Runner and such...maybe I'll get to see what is there too. :-)

Problem is...we can access the Children's files without a Password. But, in these intervening 9 years, I no longer remember what our password would have been. Nor, apparently, did I write it down in anticipation of EVER being able to use this computer 9 years later.

So....All you Computer Geeks...anyone got any ideas how to bypass this password...or reset it without remembering what it was?? Looking for HELP from all you serious Wizards out there.

Karen on 02.23.05 @ 07:37 AM CST [link] [ | ]


I was taking a detour around some Spring Construction and Repairs going on here at Dennis Hastert Corner and ended up negotiating my way via the Outer orbit of Puto. Sheesh...musta lost my way cause I got caught orbiting that frozen rock from Hell and it's itty bitty little moon. And there I was...all by myself..not a soul in sight. Just lots 'o' radiation dust and other competing Black Holes. I'm mostly made of Black Hole material too---Stuff from all over the Universe fall inside of me, but most if it never makes it out to see the light of day again. But these were sassy Black Holes from the Universe of Beyond......they were jealous of me and my abilities to commune with Earth and Nature and Understand Stuff because I think therefore I am.

I tried to get them to Buzz off, but No Dice. Luckily I'd brought my CD's along with me, so I set those pesky Black Holes to dancing the night away. So if any of you felt the disturbance of those stars an heels being kicked up...I was just me keeping them Black Holes out of my face. Though our Full Moon might have lent me a hand but was too distracted by all the Crazees back here on Earth.

I wouldn't have been stuck so long in that vicious Orbiting Traffic jam of Vectors and Black holes, except I've lost my Navigational Star Mapping program. It's a downloadable Universe and you can navigate around inside of and visit other Galaxies. But, watch out, it does need lots of kilobytes of hard drive space and a kick-ass computer to run it. But now I've lost it. I will try to find it again (I think it was from those Scientific American folks from last year) and post where to download this amazing program. Though, I did find some very nice Road Side Assistance from Joe Rao at Skyway.

Oh, but "there's no place like Home."

Karen on 02.23.05 @ 06:58 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Music Trivia Answer

The question was: Name the artist and title of the musical composition which is used as the theme music to the Quentin Tarantino film Pulp Fiction?

Karen made a valiant try, though it looks like she looked in the IMDB soundtrack listing for Pulp Fiction and named every piece there. So the correct answer (sorta) was there, but I wanted it with a little more specificity.

The answer I was looking for was: "Miserlou", performed by the legendary Dick Dale ("King of the Surf Guitar") and His Del-Tones.

Len on 02.23.05 @ 06:51 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Thought for the Day:

Genius round the world stands hand in hand, and one shock of recognition runs the whole circle round.

Herman Melville said that in the winter of 1914, and Murray is keenly aware of it. Only a madman would call a legend of Bill Murray's stature at 3:33 a.m. for no good reason at all. It would be a career-ending move, and also profoundly rude.

But my reason was better than good...

* * * * *

BILL: "Hello?"

HST: "Hi, Bill, it's Hunter."

BILL: "Hi, Hunter."

HST: "Are you ready for a powerful idea? I want to ask you about golf in Japan. I understand they're building vertical driving ranges on top of each other."

BILL (sounding strangely alert): "Yes, they have them outdoors, under roofs ..."

HST: "I've seen pictures. I thought they looked like bowling alleys stacked on top of each other."

BILL: (Laughs.)

HST: "I'm working on a profoundly goofy story here. It's wonderful. I've invented a new sport. It's called Shotgun Golf. We will rule the world with this thing."

BILL: "Mmhmm."

HST: "I've called you for some consulting advice on how to launch it. We've actually already launched it. Last spring, the Sheriff and I played a game outside in the yard here. He had my Ping Beryllium 9-iron, and I had his shotgun, and about 100 yards away, we had a linoleum green and a flag set up. He was pitching toward the green. And I was standing about 10 feet away from him, with the alley-sweeper. And my objective was to blow his ball off course, like a clay pigeon."

BILL: (Laughs.)

HST: "It didn't work at first. The birdshot I was using was too small. But double-aught buck finally worked for sure. And it was fun."

BILL: (Chuckles.)

HST: "OK, I didn't want to wake you up, but I knew you'd want to be in on the ground floor of this thing."

BILL: (Silence.)

HST: "Do you want to discuss this tomorrow?"

BILL: "Sure."

HST: "Excellent."

BILL: "I think I might have a queer dream about it now, but ..." (Laughs.)

HST: "This sport has a HUGE future. Golf in America will soon come to this."

BILL: "It will bring a whole new meaning to the words 'Driving Range'."

HST: "Especially when you stack them on top of each other. I've seen it in Japan."

BILL: "They definitely have multi-level driving ranges. Yes."

HST: (Laughs.) "How does that work? Do they have extremely high ceilings?"

BILL: "No. The roof above your tee only projects out about 10 feet, and they have another range right above you. It's like they took the façade off a building. People would be hanging out of their offices."
--Hunter S. Thompson [from his last ESPN.com column]

Len on 02.23.05 @ 06:32 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Puppy Dog's Tails?

Paul Krugman (NY Times) Has a an excellent piece Wag-The Dog Protection about the utter lack of seriousness and efforts of this Administration to do what is necessary, spend what is necessary, block all leaks, fill all gaps, cover all holes in our National Security flaws.

Krugman writes:
"Consider, for example, the case of chemical plants.

Just days after 9/11, many analysts identified sites that store toxic chemicals as a major terror risk, and called for new safety rules. But as The New York Times reported last fall, "after the oil and chemical industries met with Karl Rove ... the White House quietly blocked those efforts."

Nearly three and a half years after 9/11, those chemical plants are still unprotected.

Other major risks identified within days of the attack included the possibility of terrorist attacks on major ports or nuclear plants. But in the months after 9/11, the administration flatly refused to allocate the sums that members of the House and Senate from both parties thought necessary to secure these sites.

And when the administration does spend money protecting possible terrorist targets, politics, not national security, dictates where the money goes. Remember the "first responders" program that ended up spending seven times as much protecting each resident of Wyoming as it spent protecting each resident of New York?

Well, it's still happening. An audit of the Homeland Security Department's (greatly inadequate) program to protect ports found that much of the money went to unlikely locations, including six sites in landlocked Arkansas, where the department's recently resigned chief of border and transportation security is reported to be considering a run for governor."

Karen on 02.23.05 @ 06:23 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Trivia Answers

The answers to this week's trivia questions:

  1. Charles Schulz, creator of Peanuts, was known to family and friends by a childhood nickname. What was this nickname, and what was its origin?

    "Sparky." His uncle gave him the nickname, after the horse "Spark Plug" in the comic strip Barney Google.

  2. Charles Schulz always hated the title "Peanuts," which was given to the strip by United Features Syndicate. What was the strip originally called?

    His strip originally ran in the St. Paul Pioneer Press, where it was entitled "Li'l Folks."

  3. What does Charlie Brown's father do for a living?

    Charlie Brown's father is a barber, as was Schulz's own father.

  4. Prior to its destruction in a doghouse-fire, Snoopy owned a painting by a famous artist. What artist was this?

    Snoopy owned a Van Gogh.

  5. Where was Snoopy born?

    The Daisy Hill Puppy Farm.

Len correctly answered questions 1, 3, and 5. Bryan at Why Now? answered 2 and 4, and mentioned that Snoopy replaced the Van Gogh after the doghouse fire, something I did not recall.

Brock on 02.22.05 @ 05:52 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Going out in style:

Via TalkLeft, we get Hunter S. Thompson's last wish: the gonzo journo wanted to be cremated, then have his ashes blown across his ranch by a cannon.

And for what it's worth, an article in the Boston Globe gives Thompson's attorney's take on the situation: in retrospect, the suicide makes sense.

If one of Hunter S. Thompson's last wishes comes true, the body of the late maverick journalist will be cremated this week and his ashes blasted from a cannon across his sprawling ranch in Woody Creek, Colo.

That will be the extent of Thompson's funeral, as he told friends and family, said George Tobia Jr., a Boston-based entertainment lawyer who has represented the author for the past 15 years. Tobia said he has spent a few hours every week, often in the wee hours of the day, fielding requests from and chatting up the man who created gonzo journalism.

In a phone interview yesterday, Tobia said only in retrospect does it makes sense that the 67-year-old author sat in his kitchen Sunday afternoon, stuck a .45-caliber handgun in his mouth, and killed himself while his wife listened on the phone and his son and daughter-in-law were in another room of his house. His wife had no idea what had happened until she returned home later.
In his last days, though it appears that Thompson was concerned with the disposition of his literary estate:
The one clue, in retrospect, that something changed recently was Thompson's decision that it wasn't so important that his papers and archives be sold to the highest bidder, money that would help him in later years. Last week Thompson told friends and Tobia -- one of the trustees of his estate -- that it was more important his archives not be sold piecemeal and that they find the proper home, such as at a university.

Len on 02.22.05 @ 12:20 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Ok, I'm an addict. So deal with it..... (or, I need to get out one trivia question...)

I let Brock do the weekly quiz this week (and a pretty good one it was, and not just because I knew the answers to three of the five questions right off the bat, and I think I have an idea of what the answer to question 2 is, but I'm letting someone else have that one), but I do have a question that's been burning a hole in my brain, so I'm just going to let it out:

Name the artist and title of the musical composition which is used as the theme music to the Quentin Tarantino film Pulp Fiction?

HINT: "Theme to Pulp Fiction" is not the correct answer. :-)

Len on 02.22.05 @ 07:26 AM CST [link] [ | ]

If you can't fight City Hall, at least you can fight Intuit....

A while ago I blogged about the fact that TurboTax for the Web didn't play well with Web browsers running Linux, resulting in the requirement that one tweak one's Linux browser (assuming one's Linux browser is Firefox, for which a clever hacker has developed a plug in which allows this tweak) to allow it to lie to the TurboTax website when it tells the website what operating system you're running.

Well, apparently TurboTax got tired of all the nasty emails. Lockergnome's Linux Fanatics newsletter reports today that TurboTax has tweaked its own website to permit the application to work with Linux based browsers. According to a spokesdroid for Intuit (the developers of TurboTax) Linux isn't the preferred platform ("The TurboTax experience isn't optimized for Linux"), but it does work now.

Thank you Intuit, for being responsive to your users.

Len on 02.22.05 @ 07:19 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Thought for the Day:

But the younger generation is supposed to rage against the machine, not for it; they're supposed to question authority, not question those who question authority.

And what's so frightening is that we're seeing the beginnings of the first post-9/11 generation -- the kids who first became aware of the news under an "Americans need to watch what they say" administration, the kids who've been told that dissent is un-American and therefore justifiably punished by a fine, imprisonment -- or the loss of your show on ABC.

President Bush once asked, "Is our children learning?" No -- they isn't. A more appropriate question might be, "Is our teachers teaching?" In four years, you can teach a gorilla sign language. Is it too much to ask that in the same amount of time a kid be taught what those crazy hippies who founded this country had in mind?

I know the Morals & Values folks want us to take time out of the school day for prayer and the Ten Commandments and abstinence training and at least two theories of evolution — the one agreed upon by every scientist in the world and the one that involves naked ladies and snakes — but, lest we forget, last month the people of Iraq risked death and danger to send a simple, inspiring message: America, get out of our country. But also, we want the freedoms you take for granted.

Now, I didn't mind being on the losing side of the last election. But as a loser, I guess I have some "unpopular" opinions -- and I'd like to keep them. I'd even like to continue to say them right out loud on TV, because if I just get up there every Friday night and spout the Bush administration's approved talking points, that's not freedom or entertainment. It's Fox News.
--Bill Maher, on reports that high school students approve of censorship

Len on 02.22.05 @ 06:36 AM CST [link] [ | ]

David Gergen on the Blog-o-sphere

David Gergen, professor of public service at Harvard's John F. Kennedy School of Government and editor-at-large for U.S. News & World Report, commented this past Sunday on the CBS Sunday Morning Program about the power of the bloggers in today’s politics.

Mr. Gergen worries that us Bloggosphererians are not fair, honest and polite in the style of real journalists... Who everybody KNOWS are always fair, honest and polite!! Must be all those strict journalistic standards and such....keeps them on the straight and narrow...at ALL times. LOL

Well, David Gergen, I have to say, we (Len, Brock and I) are the three most integratatious, bodacious and honestrarian bloggers in the entire Bloggospherian Community (fafblog notwithstanding). No Worries. We got it covered around here. Nothing But The Best at DBV. And we're polite too!....Thank you very much.

Karen on 02.22.05 @ 05:35 AM CST [link] [ | ]

The Destroying Angel

Related to Stories I've written but never Published, here is an interesting one about an EpiSims animation program that simulates a disaster if a Smallpox epidemic (a.k.a. The Destroying Angel) were to hit a town the size of Portland, Oregon. ---Courtesy of Scientific American, March 2005. --Chris L.Barrett, Stephen G. Eubank & James P. Smith.

My fiction story was a time-travel thriller/romance about bringing Smallpox into our currently non-vaccinated human population from the 18th century. (I was having fun with it.)

Karen on 02.22.05 @ 04:51 AM CST [link] [ | ]

More Jon Rowe...

Jon Rowe (Libertarian lawyer, Bogger and most brilliant "Thinker") has been "at it" again in this post The Ten Commandments and the Civil Law:

"I'm leaning towards the conclusion that the manner in which the Commandments were displayed was unconstitutional (even though not all Ten Commandments displays on public property ought to be considered unconstitutional; it depends on the context).

Certain pro-display arguments might convince me: for instance the argument that a display of the Decalogue is not an "establishment" of religion any more than the public display of text of the Koran, the book of Mormon or the Bhagavad Gita would be.

But it does pro-display forces no good to argue their case with dumb, historically inaccurate arguments that completely misunderstand and misrepresent the founding principles of this nation.

The fact is the Ten Commandments were an historical legal code -- for the Old Testament Jews. And for much of Western History, Christendom did indeed incorporate the Decalogue into its civil code. And this resulted in theocratic tyranny, exactly the type of thing that we rebelled against when we Declared our Independence in 1776. (Emphasize mine)

Jon goes on to make the credible and most logical connection between the purpose of our Constitution and Founding Fathers to avoid this co-mingling of State & Religious principles.
For instance, examine exactly what the Ten Commandments say and then ask how we might derive a "civil norm" from each. In the First, the God of the Hebrew scriptures forbids worship of any other God but He. David Barton, a shining star of the religious right and propagator of the "Christian Nation" theory, in an affidavit supporting the public display of the Decalogue, proudly gives us examples of colonial civil laws, dating back hundreds of years before the Founding, based upon the First Commandment (and other parts of the Bible) that give the DEATH PENALTY for worshipping "any other god but the Lord God."

This is quite frankly the antithesis of the theory of religious liberty that founds our nation. Also laughable is the attempt to draw some kind of connection between the Ten Commandments and the Declaration of Independence. If anything, these two theories need to be reconciled with one another.

For instance, the theory of religious liberty that founds this nation is part-and-parcel of the natural law of the Declaration of Independence, which many people regard as the organic law of the United States. According to such theory all men -- even those who would worship no God or twenty Gods, in the words of Jefferson and Madison, have unalienable Free and Equal Rights of Conscience and hence the right to worship openly as they please. This is the polar opposite of those colonial civil codes, based on the Ten Commandments, that demand the Death Penalty for worshiping "False Gods." "

I will also be watching with with interest the outcome and ruling by the Supreme Court on this issue. I agree with Jon that "not all Ten Commandments displays on public property ought to be considered unconstitutional; it depends on the context." It will be up to the High Court to lay out those contextual definitions and circumstances for diplays. Hopefully this will be something on which all the nine Justices can concur unanimously....would help to clarify and settle this most tricky "how to split the baby" kind of questions we wrestle with in our modern versions of King Solomon's disputes.

Karen on 02.22.05 @ 04:41 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Miracle Dog

"More than 26,000 companion animals are destroyed every day. One thousand every hour. Eighteen every minute. Thousands more die a horrible death on the city streets, alone and unwanted. America's "throw away, convenience-driven" society somehow makes it acceptable.

Randy Grim, founder of Stray Rescue of St. Louis, brings awareness to the plight of these animals, along with an amazing story of miracles and heroism, in his new book 'Miracle Dog: How Quentin Survived the Gas Chamber to Speak for Animals on Death Row'. The miracle of Quentin's survival, standing on top of 7 dead dogs when the gas chamber door was opened, is just the beginning. Today, Randy Grim and Quentin travel around the U.S. promoting the concept of animal guardianship and the need for no kill shelters.

Grim tells the story as no one else can -- with humor and passion. Alongside the story of Quentin's survival and the media frenzy following runs the embarrassing statistics about America's homeless dogs: why so many dogs are relinquished to shelters when only 12 to 14 percent nationally are adopted; the staggering number that are euthanized; and the sometimes appalling manner in which this is handled. For every two animals that have homes, there's one on the street. Living in a wild state, but with no knowledge of how to survive on their own, these dogs breed and die by the thousands in our cities. Guard dogs and fighting dogs that are abused and either escape or are turned out add to the problem. Grim's eye-opening account, based on a decade as a shelter operator and personal experience rescuing street dogs, provides a wealth of statistics for those interested in animal welfare.

In addition to managing a staff of over 200 volunteers at Stray Rescue, Randy Grim and Quentin have appeared on The Today Show, John Walsh, Animal Planet and have been featured in Guideposts, and People magazines. Grim has received the Guardian Award, the Red Cross Life Saver award, and the St. Louis FOCUS award."

U.S. News Wire --Andrew Kerman

Karen on 02.22.05 @ 04:35 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Space-li-ness is next to...

This March issue of Scientific American had this hygenic hilarity by Phil Scott (who it is reported showers daily in NYC) about the difficulties of staying clean, healthy and fresh in Outer Space.

While stating "NASA ranks comfort well below safety and health"...the International Space Station (ISS) has a ways to go before it resembles the crew of the Star Trek Enterprise who "might shower off with sound waves and don fresh uniforms coutesy of the ships replicators." The ISS has, according to Marsha Ivins, a shuttle veteran, "it's own odor, like 12 years in a sock closet." Euhhhh!

Aside from hand washing clothes with soap and using a "water-bag system and air drying" for real astronauts, high tech hygiene of the future may include "T-Shirts woven with silver thread. The metal inhibits bacterial growth...with results (though anecdotal) promising" as these garments were encrusted with body salts but did not smell. NASA is also testing silver laced bedding, blankets and other items.

So put that in your sock drawer and, Ummm...smoke it.

Karen on 02.22.05 @ 04:28 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Speaking of Fossils....

Appropos of the Trivia Q about "The Piltdown Man" hoax...Michael Shermer of Skeptic has this article published in the Marc, 2005, Scientific American about The Fossil Fallacy.

Mr. Schermer writes in part:

"Nineteenth-century English social scientist Herbert Spencer made this prescient observation: "Those who cavalierly reject the Theory of Evolution, as not adequately supported by facts, seem quite to forget that their own theory is supported by no facts at all." Well over a century later nothing has changed. When I debate creationists, they present not one fact in favor of creation and instead demand "just one transitional fossil" that proves evolution. When I do offer evidence (for example, Ambulocetus natans, a transitional fossil between ancient land mammals and modern whales), they respond that there are now two gaps in the fossil record.

This is a clever debate retort, but it reveals a profound error that I call the Fossil Fallacy: the belief that a "single fossil"--one bit of data--constitutes proof of a multifarious process or historical sequence. In fact, proof is derived through a convergence of evidence from numerous lines of inquiry--multiple, independent inductions, all of which point to an unmistakable conclusion."

For what I've previously had to say on this, you can check out my earlier post Creationism ID Nonsense.

Karen on 02.22.05 @ 04:25 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Those Wormy, Diseased, Apple Guys are "at it" Again...

Len and I have been sharing this ongoing computer kevetch...which preceeded his Every OS Sucks ditty by Three Dead Trolls in Baggie. But mine ire is and always has been about those Apple SOB's and the Performa 6300 nuclear-melt down in a box I was sucker punched into purchasing "because all the schools use MAC's...it's so compatible"...blah, blah, blah...

Well $3600.00 and 18 months later and it's logic board was fried, it had ongoing system freeze problems, it s monitor experienced "yellowing" burnout, and to add insult to injury...it's internal power supply went deader than that door-o-nails. Couldn't even boot this motha up nor retrieve any of my work, business or kids stuff off of this hell-on-wheels PC. And all this fun just cost additional money too. I've had this hunk'o'junk sitting in a packing box since 1997. Oh...that Steven Jobs...

Here's the latest Environmentalists target Ipod's built-in obsolescence :

"The iPod, which debuted in October 2001, has an internal, non-removable, lithium-based rechargeable battery. Like many iPod customers, New York City filmmakers Casey and Van Neistat found that after 18 months of use the battery's ability to recharge had eroded to the point where it would die after only an hour's use.

When the Neistat brothers contacted Apple's customer service department, they were told it would cost them $250 to replace the battery -- roughly what it cost to buy the iPod.

Protesters also turned up at the company's recent Macworld Expo in San Francisco. They have generated thousands of letters to Apple CEO Steve Jobs. And they are vowing to bring their complaints to shareholders at the company's annual meeting in April.

Apple now offers a two-year warranty on the battery for an extra $50. After that, customers have to ship the iPod to Apple and pay $100 to have the battery replaced."

Oh...what is guy is that Steven Jobs...what a Prince among Merchants...Bah and Humbug too. And what about my internal power supply? Hmmm....Steven Jobs? You can keep those wormy, diseased Apples to yourself, Steven Jobs....and when my kids iPods batteried poop-out...I'm looking for YOU!

Karen on 02.21.05 @ 05:03 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Trivia Questions

Len has graciously permitted me to post the DBV trivia questions this week.

I've been reading the The Complete Peanuts (1953-1954), so this week's trivia questions will be Peanuts-related.

  1. Charles Schulz, creator of Peanuts, was known to family and friends by a childhood nickname. What was this nickname, and what was its origin?
  2. Charles Schulz always hated the title "Peanuts," which was given to the strip by United Features Syndicate. What was the strip originally called?
  3. What does Charlie Brown's father do for a living?
  4. Prior to its destruction in a doghouse-fire, Snoopy owned a painting by a famous artist. What artist was this?
  5. Where was Snoopy born?

Brock on 02.21.05 @ 01:30 PM CST [link] [ | ]

The American Street

I (a newbie blogger) have not gotten to all the most fabulous internet destinational drop-in spots (yet). So, I love to stumble, fall, trip, careen right into some fun stuff like: The American Street and this one by PZ Myers.

Hey, anyone who can describe himself as hanging at a website called Chordate Developmental Stage and blog with Panda's Thumb and write things like Octopus Sex and Tentacle Sex and Cephalopod Dinner Etiquette...well, Nuff said right there.

But I might have to be careful of those Selachophobia Nightmares...they pop up in the most unexpected places. Plus, fafnir says they are visiting there until Friday....Hmmmmm....

Karen on 02.21.05 @ 09:13 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Karen's Trivia Q Answer

What famous 19th Century author was "suspectd" in the biggest scandal in British Archeological History. What was the nature of this Hoax?

Hat's off to Len ---though as a confirmed "Sherlockian" I'd have been a teensy surprised if he didn't know this one--- (Back to the drawing board *sigh*)

For decades, a fossil skull discovered in Piltdown, England, was hailed as the missing link between apes and humans. Entire careers were built on its authenticity. Then in 1953, the awful truth came out that the "Piltdown Man" artifacts were compete fakes...But who done it?

Some scholars believe that Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, author of the Sherlock Holmes stories, was the mastermind. Conan Doyle had a motive: desire for revenge against the British scientific establishment for ridiculing his spiritualist research. He also had the opportunity, since he lived just a few miles from Piltdown and frequently played golf nearby.

NOVA, a PBS series, had a wonderful special about this age old mystery called The Boldest Hoax. In "The Boldest Hoax," NOVA gets to the bottom of the greatest scientific hoodwinking of all time.

Karen on 02.21.05 @ 08:44 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Congratulations are in order....

Abby's done dissertating.

Well, not quite (I think). She says she's done with the first draft; my guess is that there's still quite a bit of editing to go. But she's probably over the major hump, and it's (mostly) downhill all the way from here (of course, that's easy for me to say; I've never dissertated). But go over to her blog and give her some love in the comments; she deserves it.

And then show her some real love and buy some Abby Stuff. (Note: Abby, I get paid once a month, and this month as most months I've got way too much month left at the end o'my money. So forgive me for holding off on buying my own Abby Stuff until next payday, which ain't too far off....)

UPDATE: Well, checking the comments it appears Abby's closer to being done dissertating than I'd have guessed; while the complete first draft is done, apparently several chapters have been gone over enough between her and her advisor that they're a bit farther along the process than "first draft" makes it sound. So the editing isn't nearly as extensive as I was lead to believe.

Cool! Now kick butt and take names in the dissertation defense!

Len on 02.21.05 @ 07:52 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Hot Blogosphere Fads Department....

Karen's already mentioned Podcasting, though she disclaims any ambitions in that direction (citing her alleged techno-ineptitude). But for those of you who are really interested in getting in on that action, Eric Janssen gives us a tutorial on podcasting over at Quixtar Blog.

I'm not planning to take DBV in that direction (I've got other priorities myself, not to mention that I've got a voice made for pantomime, which makes audio blogging kinda pointless from my POV), but I'm always surprised what my partners in crime here can come up with....

Len on 02.21.05 @ 07:45 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Why I've spent the last week in a state of low-grade paranoia....

Well, you have all these news articles referring to John Negroponte as the "NID".

And of course, in the back of my mind I can't forget that the NID was the recurring set of villians through most of the run of Stargate SG-1 (though I understand that they've been reforming their act the last season or two; unfortunately I've lost track of what's up in the SG-1 universe recently).

Len on 02.21.05 @ 05:33 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Surprising news

"Gonzo Journalist" Hunter S. Thompson dead of a self-inflicted gunshot wound at age 67.

UPDATE: Over at A Perfectly Cromulent Blog, Pete Vonder Haar has a couple pertinent comments:

So long, Dr. Gonzo. Strange as it sounds, you were one of the last voices of reason in these fucked up times.

How bad have things gotten when the man who fought Nixon tooth and nail chose this particular time to kill himself?
Though a couple of Pete's commenters speculate that Thompson may have been diagnosed with something, and basically decided to shuffle off this mortal coil on his own terms. Sounds reasonable; I wonder if we'll ever find out....

Len on 02.21.05 @ 05:25 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Thought for the Day:

You've got to hand it to William Shatner.

How many other actors can you think of that started their career on
The Twilight Zone and in movies with the likes of Spencer Tracy - and are still relevant to audiences today?

But there he is, Bill Shatner, in more spots for Priceline. And there he is, on the Fall Schedule in the new series
Boston Legal.

Years after TV went "color," years after Star Trek was cancelled, years after T.J. Hooker, years after passing the Trek movie baton to Patrick Stewart, after the SNL hosting, the conventions, the books, and the Howard Stern appearances, there he is, still standing.

Still working.

Still bringing us that slightly wooden love.

God Bless You, Bill.
--Mark Ramsey [October, 2004]

Len on 02.21.05 @ 05:22 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Karen's Trivia Q of The Week

What famous 19th Century author was "suspected" in the biggest scandal in British Archeological history? What was the nature of this hoax?

Karen on 02.21.05 @ 03:35 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Journalistic Priviledges

Michael Kinsley over a the LA Times has this to say: It's Been a Privilege.

"...Most farmers, like most journalists, are patriotic and well meaning. And not stupid, either. So how can they believe that their special interest in receiving large checks from the general taxpayer coincides with the general taxpayer's interest? Partly, it's self-deception — one of the more enjoyable human capabilities. Partly, though, it is self- selection. Farmers believe in the nobility of farming because people who believe in the nobility of farming become farmers.

And people who believe in journalism become journalists. Belief in journalism is not widespread these days. People think journalists are biased, that they make things up, that they are arrogant, self-involved, and self-important. But the folks who become journalists (including me) are more likely to regard journalism as a noble calling that serves the nation, its values and the world. That is why, even at this low point in public esteem, many journalists are unembarrassed to assert that they are above the law.

That is essentially what the journalistic profession is claiming in the current controversy over the special prosecutor's investigation of White House leaks. Judith Miller of the New York Times and Matt Cooper of Time magazine have refused to testify about who may have leaked to them the identity of an undercover intelligence agent. Last week, a federal appeals court ruling upheld a lower-court order that Miller and Cooper must testify or go to jail.

That is a travesty. These two public-spirited journalists promised anonymity to sources at a time when the law about "journalist's privilege" was unclear. Having made that promise, they feel obligated to keep it. If they shouldn't have made that promise, society should have sent them a clearer message to that effect. Before we start jailing journalists for keeping a promise, we need to decide when such a promise should or should not be made.

Journalists are claiming to be above the law in two different senses. First, there are laws requiring citizens to supply information under oath. Second, there are laws that can't be enforced without a journalist's testimony. Journalists are saying, in both cases, that whether to testify is up to us."

Karen on 02.21.05 @ 03:33 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Love Your Race?

It is Springtime and the Crazeeee's are out in FORCE:

U.S. News Wire is reporting this tidbit about the Daytona 500:

"One of the country's largest and most virulent anti-Semitic and racist hate groups plans to undertake a major recruitment drive at the Daytona International Speedway during NASCAR's Daytona 500 Race on Sunday, February 20.

Among other claims, the neo-Nazi National Alliance (N.A.) says it has arranged for an airplane to fly over the racetrack with a banner that reads, "Love Your Race" and promoting the group's Web site."

Where are those #@%$&!# Thought Police when you Reeeeally Need them?

Karen on 02.21.05 @ 03:30 AM CST [link] [ | ]

CNN's Blitzer gets BuzzFlash Cut

U.S. News Wire reports:

"Let's see: last week's BuzzFlash GOP Hypocrite of the Week, Howard Kurtz, was connected to the prior week's Hypocrite, Jeff Gannon/Guckert, and this week's honoree is connected to both of them.

Now, we're not implying that the sartorial CNN star, Wolf Blitzer, had a military studs' romp with Gannon/Guckert while on a "date" to view the moonlit Iwo Jima War Memorial. But boy, Blitzer sure joined Kurtz in going out of their way to make Gannon/Guckert appear to be a victim of an overzealous mob of Internet bloggers and websites like, well, BuzzFlash.

Blitzer, ever the polite one when dealing with a sensitive issue that might blow up in the face of the White House, had Gannon/Guckert on his CNN program. What was Wolf's first question? How about, "Should I call you Jim or Jeff?" And from there the questions got even more soft ball for the GOP shill by day, gay military hooker by night.

You see, Wolf's job is not to analyze the news, it's to accomplish two things for CNN: First, to make sure no hair is out of place on his beard; and second, to protect the White House's flanks at all costs or lose his fat paycheck and D.C. status."

Karen on 02.21.05 @ 03:28 AM CST [link] [ | ]

One solution to an interesting film review problem....

Pete Vonder Haar of A Perfectly Cromulent Blog is, in addition to being a blogger, a critic for Film Threat. In that capacity, he had an interesting problem in reviewing the latest Keanu Reeves vehicle, Constantine. Unfortunately, I've not had the opportunity to become a fan of John Constantine, the main character of the Hellblazer comic book series, but Pete is. And apparently, the disconnect between the John Constantine of the comic books and the John Constantine of the movie was so great, that to be perfectly fair to the movie, Pete was compelled to write two reviews. The first he styles his "Film Geek Review", where he reviews Constantine apart from the comic book backstory, merely as a horror/thriller (short form: better than the average mid-winter horror film). The second is his "Comic Book Geek Review", where he reviews Constantine as an adaptation of the comic series, and concludes:

The irony of all this is that Warner Bros. presumably adapted “Hellblazer” – in part – to get fans of the comic to see the movie, but they’ve made such a half-assed go of it that these same fans are going to be spitting venom for months. In fact, I’d almost recommend that those of you who’ve followed the exploits of the character created by Alan Moore (and fleshed out by the likes of Jamie Delano, Garth Ennis, Paul Jenkins, Warren Ellis, and Mike Carey all these years) avoid the film entirely. You’ll live longer.
I'll probably give this one a pass, at least until it's out in video, but at least since I don't have the background with Constantine I probably won't be spitting venom for any period of time.

Len on 02.20.05 @ 08:02 PM CST [link] [ | ]

And we squeak out again....

As if the Sumatran tsunami wasn't enough of a reminder how dangerous a place the universe can be, it appears that just the next day (December 27th) astronomers observed one of the biggest stellar explosions ever observed--probably the biggest within our galaxy since Johannes Kepler observed the famous supernova of 1604. The explosion took place on a super-magnetic neutron star (or "magnetar") called SGR 1806-20, which is located in our own galaxy on a different spiral arm, approximately 50,000 light years away.

Still, as far away as it was, the explosion "lit up" the sky here--at least it would have if your eyes were better attuned to gamma-rays rather than visible light. But the release of energy in the explosion--estimated to measure approximately 10,000 trillion trillion trillion watts--caused radiation to bounce off the moon and lit up Earth's atmosphere for a while. Not to mention the effects it could have on any nearby systems which have life on them (if any exist):

SGR 1806-20 is sited in the southern constellation Sagittarius. Its distance puts it beyond the centre of the Milky Way and a safe distance from Earth.

"Had this happened within 10 light-years of us, it would have severely damaged our atmosphere and would possibly have triggered a mass extinction," said Dr Bryan Gaensler, of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, who is the lead author on one of the forthcoming Nature papers.

"Fortunately there are no magnetars anywhere near us."
However, our friends at the comic strip "User Friendly" have figured it all out.

Len on 02.20.05 @ 07:40 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Great days in statutory interpretation:

We hear from a story in the LA Times that a Boise, Idaho, strip club owner managed (so far, at least) to get around a Boise city ordinance banning nudity in public by taking advantage of the ordinance's "serious artistic merit" exception. Now, on selected nights, the Erotic City "gentlemens' club" in Boise sponsors what it calls "Art Club Nights". On Art Club Nights, your $15 cover charge gets you a sketch pad and pencil, and the dancers take off their pasties and g-strings and get completely nude.

So far, they've not received any citations under the ordinance.

Len on 02.20.05 @ 10:46 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Important days in art history:

Today is the 103rd anniversary of the birth of American photographer Ansel Adams. This sample of his work, a picture of Japanese-American internees doing farm work at the Manzanar War Relocation Center during World War II, isn't one of his better known photographs, but it is one of the few which is in the public domain:

Len on 02.20.05 @ 09:33 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Thought for the Day:

From a scientific perspective, one of the most frustrating things about intelligent design is that (unlike Darwinism) it is virtually impossible to test. Old-fashioned biblical creationism at least risked making some hard factual claims -- that the earth was created before the sun, for example. Intelligent design, by contrast, leaves the purposes of the designer wholly mysterious. Presumably any pattern of data in the natural world is consistent with his/her/its existence.

But if we can't infer anything about the design from the designer, maybe we can go the other way. What can we tell about the designer from the design? While there is much that is marvelous in nature, there is also much that is flawed, sloppy and downright bizarre. Some nonfunctional oddities, like the peacock's tail or the human male's nipples, might be attributed to a sense of whimsy on the part of the designer. Others just seem grossly inefficient. In mammals, for instance, the recurrent laryngeal nerve does not go directly from the cranium to the larynx, the way any competent engineer would have arranged it. Instead, it extends down the neck to the chest, loops around a lung ligament and then runs back up the neck to the larynx. In a giraffe, that means a 20-foot length of nerve where 1 foot would have done. If this is evidence of design, it would seem to be of the unintelligent variety.

Such disregard for economy can be found throughout the natural order. Perhaps 99 percent of the species that have existed have died out. Darwinism has no problem with this, because random variation will inevitably produce both fit and unfit individuals. But what sort of designer would have fashioned creatures so out of sync with their environments that they were doomed to extinction?

The gravest imperfections in nature, though, are moral ones. Consider how humans and other animals are intermittently tortured by pain throughout their lives, especially near the end. Our pain mechanism may have been designed to serve as a warning signal to protect our bodies from damage, but in the majority of diseases -- cancer, for instance, or coronary thrombosis -- the signal comes too late to do much good, and the horrible suffering that ensues is completely useless.

And why should the human reproductive system be so shoddily designed? Fewer than one-third of conceptions culminate in live births. The rest end prematurely, either in early gestation or by miscarriage. Nature appears to be an avid abortionist, which ought to trouble Christians who believe in both original sin and the doctrine that a human being equipped with a soul comes into existence at conception. Souls bearing the stain of original sin, we are told, do not merit salvation. That is why, according to traditional theology, unbaptized babies have to languish in limbo for all eternity. Owing to faulty reproductive design, it would seem that the population of limbo must be at least twice that of heaven and hell combined.

It is hard to avoid the inference that a designer responsible for such imperfections must have been lacking some divine trait -- benevolence or omnipotence or omniscience, or perhaps all three.
--Jim Holt

Len on 02.20.05 @ 08:58 AM CST [link] [ | ]


This a fabulous Commentary Sunday. More gems than the Hassidic Diamond Merchant's Market are just popping up today in the Chicago Tribune:

Check out these two:

Steve Chapman revists The Valerie Plame v Press Confidential Sources issue.

Clarence Page is after the President's Media Lap Dogs, a.k.a Jeff Gannon, a.k.a. James D. Guckert and the Press pass issued by the Secret Service and connect this into the Plame Debacle.
Good going Chicago Tribune!!!!!

Karen on 02.20.05 @ 08:17 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Everyday Magic versus Personal Retreats

Andrew Sullivan chimes in today with this piece about Society: Society is dead, we have retreated into the iWorld.

Mr. Sullivan concludes:

"...Americans are beginning to narrow their lives.

You get your news from your favourite blogs, the ones that won’t challenge your view of the world. You tune into a satellite radio service that also aims directly at a small market — for new age fanatics, liberal talk or Christian rock. Television is all cable. Culture is all subculture. Your cell phones can receive e-mail feeds of your favourite blogger’s latest thoughts — seconds after he has posted them — get sports scores for your team or stock quotes of your portfolio.

Technology has given us a universe entirely for ourselves — where the serendipity of meeting a new stranger, hearing a piece of music we would never choose for ourselves or an opinion that might force us to change our mind about something are all effectively banished.

Atomisation by little white boxes and cell phones. Society without the social. Others who are chosen — not met at random. Human beings have never lived like this before. Yes, we have always had homes, retreats or places where we went to relax, unwind or shut out the world."

Now, me, on the other hand...I am always trying to find that everyday magic in the world I live in --- and the world can be an Oh, So Magical Place --- in every acquaintance, and every place, every possibility...I try for that glimmer of the hidden, spectacular mystery just waiting below the surface for a chance to be revealed.

Karen on 02.20.05 @ 07:19 AM CST [link] [ | ]

RBI's of the FF&B's

Maureen Dowd...twice in one day you ask?...Well, I was playing catch-up on my reading.

Today's Spring Baseball "eye opener" is called Where's the Road Beef?.

"We got a brutal glimpse into the thinking of a certain segment of the male species
....We also got a scalding peek into the locker room mentality in Jose Canseco's new book, "Juiced." In a segment called "Slump Busters," Mr. Canseco writes: "As everyone knows, baseball players are very superstitious. Players who are struggling start talking about how they need to go out and find something to break their slump. And often enough it comes out something like this: 'Oh my God, I'm 0-for-20. I'm going to get the ugliest girl I can find and have sex with her.' "

Mr. Canseco nobly points out that he never stooped to this tactic. "I'd rather go 0-for-40," he protests. But he tattled that many of his fellow athletes did seek out "slump busters."

What a lovely term used by our sports heroes, our boys of summer. "It could mean the woman was big, or ugly, or a combination of both," Mr. Canseco explains. He said that golden boy Mark Grace, the former Chicago Cubs first baseman, who seems like the kind of nice guy and good sport you'd want to bring home to mom, defined a slump buster as making out with the "fattest, gnarliest chick you can uncover."

And so are the many FF&B's uncovered in these Beefy Nighmare stories. Yuk!

Karen on 02.20.05 @ 06:47 AM CST [link] [ | ]

More Vintage Dowd:

The Master of the Understated herself, Maureen Dowd, has been at it again in this piece over at the Ny Times Bush's Barberini Faun about James Guckert, a k a Jeff Gannon of Talon News.

"Who knew that a hotmilitarystud wanting to meetlocalmen could so easily get to be face2face with the commander in chief?It's hard to believe the White House could hit rock bottom on credibility again, but it has, in a bizarre maelstrom that plays like a dark comedy. How does it credential a man with a double life and a secret past?...

I was rejected for a White House press pass at the start of the Bush administration, but someone with an alias, a tax evasion problem and Internet pictures where he posed like the "Barberini Faun" is credentialed to cover a White House that won a second term by mining homophobia and preaching family values?At first when I tried to complain about not getting my pass renewed, even though I'd been covering presidents and first ladies since 1986, no one called me back. Finally, when Mr. McClellan replaced Ari Fleischer, he said he'd renew the pass - after a new Secret Service background check that would last several months.In an era when security concerns are paramount, what kind of Secret Service background check did James Guckert get so he could saunter into the West Wing every day under an assumed name while he was doing full-frontal advertising for stud services for $1,200 a weekend? He used a driver's license that said James Guckert to get into the White House, then, once inside, switched to his alter ego, asking questions as Jeff Gannon. Mr. McClellan shrugged this off to Editor & Publisher magazine, oddly noting, "People use aliases all the time in life, from journalists to actors."...

With the Bushies, if you're their friend, anything goes. If you're their critic, nothing goes. They're waging a jihad against journalists - buying them off so they'll promote administration programs, trying to put them in jail for doing their jobs and replacing them with ringers...."

Well, Maureen has said it all...and so on point as usual. Now, here's a smart woman who qualifies as capable of joining the cause of "Women Who Could Run the World...I'd vote for her.

Even Dan Froomkin has much to say about this Jeff Gannon in his White House Briefing at The Washington Post.

Karen on 02.20.05 @ 06:00 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Bush Rhetoric Always Falling Like So Much Confetti

Where's the Faith In This Agenda?, By E. J. Dionne Jr., say how he:

".... recently reread one of the best political speeches of the 1990s. It was powerful because the leader in question not only discussed his own views but also offered a vision of who we are as Americans. He set his face against an empty conventional wisdom -- a "destructive mind-set" he called it -- and challenged "the idea that if government would only get out of our way, all our problems would be solved. An approach with no higher goal, no nobler purpose, than 'Leave us alone.' Yet this is not who we are as Americans." ....

I was inspired to revisit Bush's famous compassion address by my friend David Kuo, who made news this week with an article criticizing the administration's failure to follow through on its faith-based agenda. "From tax cuts to Medicare, the White House gets what the White House really wants," Kuo wrote in his essay on Beliefnet.com. "It never really wanted the 'poor people stuff.' "

The terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, inevitably altered the administration's focus, but they cannot fully explain why the "poor people stuff" received so little attention. Since Sept. 11, Kuo notes, the administration "has pushed an ambitious domestic agenda: Three huge budgets have been submitted, each of which had billions of dollars for other domestic 'priorities' but lacked any new money to pay for 'compassion agenda' promises, which are ever more in need of fulfillment."

Kuo is not some random liberal going after Bush. He was deputy director of Bush's White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives and was a compassionate conservative before the comcons were cool. In fact, Kuo was one of the people who persuaded me in the 1990s to take compassionate conservatism seriously.

Kuo's approach, then and now, was to criticize liberals for failing to see the promise of religiously based social action and to criticize conservatives for indifference to the poor. For Kuo, compassionate conservatism was not a political ploy. On the contrary, he was hoping its rise would encourage a serious dialogue across the lines of party and ideology about what a serious commitment to lifting up the poor would look like.

When I asked Kuo in 1998 to write an essay for a little book I edited on community and civil society, his title was characteristic: "Poverty 101: What Liberals and Conservatives Can Learn From Each Other."

To this day, Kuo speaks warmly of the president he served. "No one who knows him even a tiny bit doubts the sincerity and compassion of his heart," Kuo wrote on Beliefnet. In a phone conversation, Kuo insisted that his essay was not anti-Bush but "in support of what Governor Bush said in 1999."

This issue is personal for me, as it is for Kuo. Over the years I have organized conferences and edited volumes on the pros and cons of government help for faith-based charity. I still hope that liberals and conservatives might someday come together in acknowledging that alleviating poverty requires the energies of both government and the charitable sector, emphatically including our religious institutions.

Unfortunately, the president's new budget moves us no closer to that happy time. It cuts programs for the poor while insisting that no tax cut for the wealthy be left behind. The politician who spoke so movingly in 1999 about our "bonds of friendship and community and solidarity" and offered "a vision of the common good beyond profit and loss" was on to something important. Whatever happened to that guy? "

Karen on 02.20.05 @ 05:57 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Getting in touch with your inner "Mr. Wizard"....

No not Tooter Turtle's mentor, but rather Don Herbert, who personified science to many of us young Boomers back in our formative years with his incredibly informative household science show on NBC back in the 50's through the 70's.

Anyway, if you have kids and want to play "Mr. Wizard" for them at home, then the Science Toys website may be just what the doctor ordered. Not only are there complete directions for building a number of scientifically oriented toys with common household materials, but they also have a catalog site where you can buy some of the less common materials. And a book, Gonzo Gizmos, as well.

Looks like a good way to while away a rainy day with some younger kids....

Len on 02.19.05 @ 09:24 PM CST [link] [ | ]

As if the state falling into the sea isn't bad enough...

A member of a mailing list I'm subscribed to tells us that in his area of Southern California (suburban LA, if I remember correctly), the encroachment of suburbia on previously rural land has resulted in the equal and opposite encroachment of fairly wild beasts into suburbia; appearances by such things as coyotes and mountain lions aren't at all unusual. But apparently, just recently the footprint of a big cat was found near the Reagan library in Simi Valley. How big? Much bigger than a mountain lion, according to my acquaintance's report; the estimate is that it's well over 450 pounds. The current hypothesis is that it's an African lion, though how an African lion could have gotten loose in Southern California is what's puzzling everyone right now.

Presumably, the local wildlife parks and zoos have done a head count of their big cats....

Len on 02.19.05 @ 08:47 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Thought for the Day:

I read somewhere that 77 percent of all the mentally ill live in poverty. Actually, I'm more intrigued by the 23 percent who are apparently doing quite well for themselves.
--Emo Philips

Len on 02.19.05 @ 07:41 PM CST [link] [ | ]


Well, I just had a Skype call to Nigel in England....tooooo funny. Nigel's brother, Kevin (also a Brit) is one of my neighbors. But Kevin is Skype-less because he doesn't have DSL...so Nigel is working on him to change that...

Skype is really cool. A must try for all Techno-Wizards. %-)

So...What is Skype: It's an Internet based free telephone company called Skype –--We use it for work related long distance contacts i.e. calling work related business in Canada. Or to talk to people all over the world for free. It is free as long as you are talking to someone else on the Internet. The only time there is a cost is when you want to call someone on their land or cell phone number. Even then – the cost of their minutes is about half of other long distance companies.

You’ll need a head set and microphone that plugs into your PC. I’ve got one that goes into my USB port. ----A Playtronics USB Stereo PC Headset...cost about $50.00.

Check it out – you need a high speed Internet connection to download it. It is very easy to start. Once loaded – search for users by their name….so enter or search to locate any Skype number. Any one currently on this Internet system is able to talk to each other for free via the Internet. The sound quality is much better than a standard telephone.

The web site to download it for free at Skype.

One user is able to use his pocket PC PDA (Dell Axiom) that runs Windows CE – you can also download Skype into that type of PDA – it allows him to use his PDA as a mobile phone (to other Skype numbers) even though it isn’t a cell phone! Try it to see who you can find and who you might want to call via Skype.

Karen on 02.19.05 @ 06:14 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Wicked Poisoning

WHO would have done such a despicable thing??

The Chicago Tribune, National Correspondent, Dahleen Glanton, reports in this article Wicked's death a horse whodunit this:

"The story of the mysterious death of Wild-Eyed and Wicked sounds like it came from an Agatha Christie novel.

Someone sneaks into a stable at night and injects the award-winning saddlebred with poison. The horse has to be euthanized, and 18 months later, in an ensuing legal battle between the owner and the trainer, the carcass is exhumed. Now everyone is waiting to see if the horse's remains reveal clues to his death."

There should be a special place in one of those Nine Circles of Hell Dante referred to for the evil, heartless poisoning bast**ds who would do such a thing.

Karen on 02.19.05 @ 12:59 PM CST [link] [ | ]

More from the Hmmmmmm Department

AOL is reporting in their (cycling blurbs) about the uptick of Podcasts...

Tired of TiVo? Beyond Blogs? Podcasts Are Here, (NY Times) Kate Zernike:

"From a chenille-slipcovered sofa in the basement of their friend Dave's mom's house at the edge of a snow-covered field, Brad and Other Brad, sock-footed pioneers in the latest technology revolution, are recording "Why Fish," their weekly show.

Clutching a microphone and leaning over a laptop on the coffee table, they praise the beauty of the Red River, now frozen on the edge of town, and plug an upcoming interview with a top-ranked professional walleye fisherman. Then they sign off."

Interesting...will have to watch where this one goes. Though don't have no plans in that direction myself...techno-dweebie that I am...plus what would I have to say??? *wink*

Karen on 02.19.05 @ 11:52 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Going Postal: Flash News Update

See...You just HAVE to watch out for them "Life-er" Postal Workers. No sooner do I post my long lost Going Postal Memoires ...than this story takes the lead spot in the Kane County Chronicle:

STC Postal Worker Charged With Forgery reveals that:

"Bond was set at $300,000 Friday for a St. Charles postal employee charged with 11 felonies, including unlawful use of a credit card and forgery. Cindy M. Lucas... arrested Thursday after a resident on her mail route reported illegal use of her credit card at the Meijer and Lowe's stores in St. Charles.

St. Charles Police spokesman Paul McCurtain said nearly $4,000 apparently was charged to a new credit card stolen from the woman's mail. Lucas is charged with two counts of unlawful use of a credit card, eight counts of forgery, and one count of receiving a lost or misplaced credit card. ....Lucas, who delivered mail on the east side of St. Charles in the Fox Chase area, was identified Wednesday as making the transactions at Lowe's and Meijer after postal supervisors and the alleged victim reviewed the stores' surveillance tapes, police records show. McCurtain said additional charges against Lucas are pending."

Now, the Bulk Mail Postal Delivery Service I worked at...lo' those many years ago...was ever vigilant and on the look out for "stolen mail" or "valuable items" taking their turn in transit via the United States Postal Delivery Service. No Pillfering Allowed. Why else ----- the Thought Police Automatic Registration Act, Section G (a) 1.e (3) 6.000 notwithstanding--- would they have required Fingerprinting of all Employees in the first instance? But, I'm not making any charges or accusations or nothin'....as I say, apparently the quality and integrity of the average Postal Worker has declined in the intervening decades....but thank goodness someone at this St. Charles Post Office (and Lowe's & Meijer's) was on the ball and caught Ms. Lucas red-handed.

I always use the Geneva or Batavia Post Office branches...where I am SURE everyone working there is beyond reproach.

Karen on 02.19.05 @ 09:16 AM CST [link] [ | ]

First Amendment Update (faf where are you??)

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette had this one earlier this week about "Bush's choice for the Supreme Court could put First Amendment absolutists in a difficult dilemma."

The article called: Intellectual Capital:Are 'free speech' judges liberal had this to say:

"Even if Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist returns to the bench next week, it is expected that he will step down at the end of the Supreme Court's 2004-05 term, giving President Bush his first high court nomination -- or maybe two nominations if Bush decides to stick a finger in liberals' eyes and attempt to elevate Clarence Thomas or Antonin Scalia to the chief's chair.

Then we will see the ritualized retracing by the press and interest groups of the paper trail left by Bush's nominee or nominees, with their decisions (assuming they are sitting judges) pigeonholed into "liberal" and "conservative" categories. In the "liberal" column, especially in news reports, will be the category "free speech" or "First Amendment." After all, isn't the ACLU a "liberal" organization? But this is an oversimplification. On several fronts, First Amendment absolutists -- including some in the "liberal media" -- are out of sync with contemporary political liberalism."

Karen on 02.19.05 @ 07:10 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Blog Politics

Real Clear Politics commentary had this one about Blogosphere Politics By Michael Barone who writes:

"So what hath the blogosphere wrought? The left blogosphere has moved the Democrats off to the left, and the right blogosphere has undermined the credibility of the Republicans' adversaries in Old Media."

Mr. Barone concludes that "everthing" helps the Bushies and the GOP...would that it were not so.

Karen on 02.19.05 @ 06:58 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Going Postal

Speaking of the US Postal Service and Upcoming Deliveries...

And since Len DID NOT YET get the tape I sent via Two-Day Priority Mail.... I see I made my usual mistake. Shoulda' choosen "slow banana boat from China" via the Cape of Good Hope Route, then had it air lifted from California when it arrived. Woulda' been faster. Silly me...what was I thinking?

Some of you...Well All of you really, don't know that I used to work for the US Postal Service...way back when. There was this "jobs program" at Maine South High School, with school credit hours too, for good students to get a cushy early release from school if so employed. So, I got a job working for the US Postal Service Bulk Mail Delivery Center. This facility is still located at O'Hare International Airport....and a mere few minutes drive from Park Ridge. This was quite a $$$ job for a mere high-schooler and every time there was a "cost of living" adjustment in the economy upwards...so too did Postal Wages rise like yeasty-dinner-rolls for our consumption.

This is also why I KNOW the Thought Police have my number (and have had it for decades) cause, as a Federal Employee, I was of course required to submit my fingertips for fingerprinting to be kept on file in those Fingerprint Archives Of The Vast United States Government. *wink*

But this was a great job...we worked on the Bulk Mail Line. Occassionally we had to "help" on the Department for "Letter Sorting"...standing in front of a giant wall of pidgeon holes - each designated for a different Chicago zip-code - which we were suppose to "throw" the correct, matching zip-coded letter into the right hole. Probably, for those sentanced to a life time of this purgatory, it became a rote exercise at which hole matched which zip-code...but for an occassional fill in position in, was murderously slow and a night of painful brain death. A wrong flick of the wrist and a letter could go the long way round via LeRoy, through Carbondale, and back to the North Side of Chicago three weeks later for delivery.

Mostly, we worked on the Giant Conveyer Belts of Bulk Mail. There were these enormous chutes whence the mail off-loaded from incoming mail-planes (stuff from around the world) which would flood our belts and carried streaming mail towards us waiting Postal employees. Our Job was to sort this "bulk mail" into large oversized canvas hampers-with-wheels for their further destinational end-of-the-line mail delivery. Some things would get unceremoniously "Tossed" "Heaved" or "Flung" at these hampers. Note: Ever wonder WHY that box from overseas and all its contents got "mangled in delivery"...you can probably Blame ME and the US Postal Service Bulk Mail Delivery Center.

The "Best Days" were when Overseas Post Cards arrived. Most letters are sealed and do manage to make it to their destination "mangle free" --- though they have a whole Postal service in-house department devoted to mangled, broken, torn, squashed, squished, leaking, or address-less mail --- post cards can be viewed for the beautiful pictures on their front side. These were, of course, of exciting and exotic places that mere lowly Postal Employee High-Schoolers like us could only dream of someday escaping to visit.

There there were the "other Postal mishaps:

* large boxes and cartons caught in the chute requiring risky maneuvering by the male Postal-HE-MEN on site to dislodge...and resulting sometimes in cases of "more mangled mail".

*The mailed "weird items:"
- special delivery organ donor body parts
-medical supplies and fluids.
-live animal shipments...well, mostly still alive, we hoped and prayed, but not always. --- Sometime these packages would break open and animals, snakes, lizards would escape, requiring some deft maneuvering to catch and re-package same.
-Monstrously heavy packages --- who mails this stuff ---again a job for Postal HE-MEN.

All in all, it was great job. I enjoyed it. Met lots of interesting people. If you're going think "Going-Postal"...Well...I met some of them "Life-ers" too.

Karen on 02.18.05 @ 09:50 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Wallace & Gromit

While I was watching the Westminster Kennel Club Dog show earlier this week, they played a commercial for a upcoming feature-length movie for "Wallace & Gromit." This is the guy, Nick Park, from Aardman Animation who did the hit animation movie "Chicken Run"...but Wallace and Gromit...are BRILLIANT. Their website has these character sites to peruse, plus, there is a site for the movies, games, contraptions and more; a cute Xbox Game of Wallace and Gromit too.

There are only three episodes available on tape or CD of Wallace and Gromit. Our favorite's in descending order - not related to release dates- is FIRST..."A Grand Day Out." This is the one to get to the Moon because they've run out of "Cheeeeese" and Wallace is looking through his "Cheese Holiday" magazines. It's too funny. Watch for the sunglasses' wearing mice. :-)

Our next fav is "A Close Shave," about the sheep and wool rustlers...and Wallace's flame...Gwendolyn. Ahhhh...now there's a "Clay-Mation Babe" *teehee*

And third, but definitely not pulling up the rear by any means, is "Wrong Trousers," with the evil Penquin and one of Wallace's inventions gone awry.

Well....Can't wait for more Wallace and Gromit coming this fall! Hip hip hooray!

Karen on 02.18.05 @ 08:13 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Fit to be a souvenir of your visit to Graceland, but not for much else?

Over at Slate, Mike Steinberger gives us a rundown on various celebrity wines. Here's what he has to say about the wine that's currently being hawked in the name of Memphis's Best Loved Dead Rock Star™:

Elvis Blue Suede Chardonnay 2001, Jailhouse Red Merlot 2002, Blue Christmas Cabernet 2002, $10 for the chardonnay and the merlot, $17 for the cabernet
The thin, medicinal Jailhouse Red Merlot is bad enough to start a jailhouse riot. The cabernet is better, but not good. The chardonnay is too sweet, but that's not an uncommon problem in discount California chardonnays.

Len on 02.18.05 @ 06:39 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Cardinals Pitchers And Catchers Report Today

'nuff said.

Len on 02.18.05 @ 06:29 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Thought for the Day:

Maybe the good people of Staunton have never been in the position of being the lone Buddhist, or Jehovah's Witness, or Jew, sitting in an empty classroom drawing Sponge Bob, while the rest of the class is off playing games next door. But most first-graders are not subtle or critical thinkers; they just about understand "good" and "bad' and "right" and "wrong." Religion at this age is indoctrination, as it must be, but it's naive to believe that such indoctrination doesn't affect the outsiders. One mother, who herself teaches Sunday school but nevertheless opted out of the program, explains it better than I ever could: "I asked them whether Jesus was a Christian and they said 'yes.' When I said, 'Jesus was a Jew,' one girl said, 'But Jesus was a good person.' "
--Dahlia Lithwick, on released time religious education programs in public schools

Len on 02.18.05 @ 06:20 AM CST [link] [ | ]

The Screaming Monkey v Techno-Doggies (Part 1)

This week is Screaming Monkey Teacher's Institute Week...combined with one 'o' those Presidential B-Days. Half -day of school yesterday, NO school today, NO school tomorrow or Sunday, NO school Monday.. Oh, Joy! But I will manage somehow. Luckily for me our DSL router has wireless internet access for me...I can take my PC and ESCAPE the insane office antics if I really need to...and I'm a gonna REALLY need to. %-)

Plus, last Sunday we went from "Responsiblity Month" into "Irresponsibility Sunday" with a MESS in every room of my house...#@%*@...until I finally wrestled those Screaming Monkey's of my own into submission.

So, in honor of that and another Fret-Free-Friday-in-February, here begins the Battle of The Screaming Monkey v. Techno-Doggies stories. If you take a further peek...all my posts today are "battling stories", so I suppose this is also the "Battle Friday."

Were gonna start with: (Part 1): "The Screaming Monkey".

Click on the "more" button to read further. Plus, be sure to cast a vote on "Who Wins"; The Screaming Monkey or those crafty Techno-Doggies, post this in our COMMENT section. ;-)

Karen on 02.18.05 @ 05:20 AM CST [more..] [ | ]

The Screaming Monkey v Techno-Doggies (Part 2)

Continuing our Fret-Free-Friday-in-February Battle of the The Screaming Monkey v. Techno-Doggies stories.

Here is: (Part 2): Techno-Doggies Living the High Life.

Click on the "more" button to read further....Plus, be sure to cast a vote on "Who Wins"; The Screaming Monkey or those crafty Techno-Doggies, post this in our COMMENT section. ;-)

Karen on 02.18.05 @ 05:15 AM CST [more..] [ | ]

Gramm-Rudman v The Bush Budget

Jonathan Rauch has this gem of analysis of the "Bush Budget" ...but Hey, the Prez's...and he's trying ya know...it's just "haaard wooork" for all his pearly greymatter to cogitate upon. (And he ain't so good with numbers either.)

Here's snippet from Gramm-Rudman -- A Bad Idea Whose Time Has Come Again

"To understand how serious President Bush is about reducing the federal deficit, open his fiscal 2006 budget to page 364 and consider Table S-12, "Impact of Budget Policy." Here you can see that under present policies ("current services"), the deficit would be $361 billion in fiscal 2006, $303 billion in 2007, and $207 billion in 2010. You can also see the effect that Bush's budget would have on the deficit. Under Bush's plan, the deficit would likewise be $207 billion in 2010. But it would be $390 billion in 2006, and $312 billion in 2007.

Those numbers are not misprints: Bush's proposed deficits are higher than under existing policies. Between 2006 and 2010, his budget would increase the cumulative deficit by $42 billion. If you want to reduce the flow of federal red ink, a better plan would be to drop Bush's budget in the recycle bin and, simply, do nothing."

My own kevetch about about Bush's Budget numbers can be found at this link Timberrrr.

Karen on 02.18.05 @ 05:11 AM CST [link] [ | ]

The Denny v The Molly

House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R- IL) made the following statement:

"I'm pleased to join my colleagues here today who support taking a historic first step towards breaking one of the main shackles holding back our economy and America's workforce -- lawsuit abuse."For the last decade, the Republican Congress has worked to end out of control lawsuits. Today is the day we will pass common- sense legislation and put an end to Class Action Lawsuit abuse. I particularly want to praise the efforts of House Judiciary Chairman Jim Sensenbrenner for his relentless work. Without his stewardship, I don't think this achievement would have become a reality."I'm from Illinois -- the Land of Lincoln -- where downstate Madison County has the dubious distinction as a personal injury lawyer's paradise. There aren't palm trees or sandy beaches there. Instead, Madison County, Illinois, is home to very warm courtrooms where frivolous lawsuits are filed virtually everyday."

This is the exact topic of a Molly Ivins column about what she "affectionately refers to as Tort Deform. For those of you without benefit of a legal education, this is just right of "Cruel and Unusual Punishment" as defined by our most illustrious Constitution.

Molly has "captured the essence" of the Tort reform debate...and incongruities of the the "stated purpose" of all this hoopla versus who and what will really be affected by these measures. Molly writes in part:

"On Feb. 2, President Bush again referred to "frivolous asbestos claims."

Thus, the word that the U.S. Senate voted for "tort deform" last week came just a few days after the news that seven current and former executives of W.R. Grace & Co. were indicted on criminal charges of conspiring to hide from their workers and the public that the ore mined by the company near Libby, Mont., was a form of toxic asbestos.

Hundreds of miners, their family members and townsfolk in Libby have died, and at least 1,200 are sick from breathing the air polluted by the mine. Since the ore was shipped all over the country and was used as insulation in millions of homes, the total health effects are incalculable.

The executives and the company were indicted on 10 counts of conspiracy, knowing endangerment, obstruction of justice and wire fraud. W.R. Grace & Co. "categorically denies any criminal wrongdoing," a Grace spokesman said.

The indictments were based on tens of thousands of internal communications among the top health, marketing and legal managers at Grace about how to conceal the danger of asbestos in both the ore from the Libby mine and the products that were made from it. Their memos include discussion of how to keep investigators from studying the health of the miners, how to keep safety warnings off their products and how to hide the hazards of working with asbestos ore.

....W.R. Grace filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy...but a U.S. Justice Department intervened in a bankruptcy proceeding for the first time ever, alleging that before Grace asked for Chapter 11, it concealed money in new companies it bought...in a "fraudulent transfer" of money to protect itself from civil suits.

Bush's policy changes, once again, come as a timely reminder of what the tort legal system is designed to deter or punish.

Karen on 02.18.05 @ 05:07 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Memphis News - The Week in Review

This week's news from the Bluff City. Commercial Appeal articles require registration or BugMeNot.

Feb 11 - Two Memphis men were arrested on charges of counterfeiting, allegedly having printed $68,000 in counterfeit currency on a desktop printer.

Feb. 12 - According to an investigation by a Nashville TN news station, State Senator John Ford spent over $13,000 of campaign funds on his daughter's wedding, and paid thousands more from his campaign funds to the mothers of his children.

Also, the state will be investigating whether Sen. Ford received $237,000 in payments from consulting arrangements with a TennCare contractor, in violation of TennCare rules.

Somebody tell me why we keep electing this guy.

Feb. 13 - Retired Circuit Court Judge James E. Swearengen, the first black graduate of Memphis State University law school, died at the age of 72. Judge Swearengen presided in 1999 over the Martin Luther King Jr. conspiracy case, in which King's family filed a lawsuit against a Memphis cafe owner and against the government alleging a conspiracy involving King's assassination.

Feb. 14 - Reappraisal notices are coming soon.

Two bills in the state legislature are challenging the residency requirement for City of Memphis workers, passed in last November's election.

Feb. 15 - A group of about fifty protestors gathered to protest possible privatization of the Shelby County Jail.

Feb 16 - Reported cases of influenza in Shelby County have doubled in the last two weeks. In other health news, whooping cough is on the rise in Shelby County, and Memphis has been rated number two on the list of worst cities for asthmatics. Number one is Knoxville.

A statue stolen from a yard in Frayser turned up when the owner saw an article recapping the visit of the "Antiques Roadshow" crew to Memphis Cook Convention Center back in July.

Feb. 17 - Shelby County's yahoo school board member Wyatt Bunker wants to put anti-evolution warning stickers on county school science textbooks. Sigh.

A state appeals court in Jackson heard an appeal in the Anna Mae He custody case. In a controversial decision last spring, Circuit Court Judge Robert 'Butch' Childers terminated custody rights of the child's Chinese birth parents, Jack and Casey He, and granted custody to foster parents Jerry and Louise Baker.

Brock on 02.17.05 @ 08:42 PM CST [link] [ | ]

I'll lose 9%.... How much will you lose....

Courtesy of the Senate Democratic Caucus, here's an interesting Social Security Calculator which purports to tell you how much of your Social Security benefits you'll lose under the Bush Social Security Privatization Scam.

Len on 02.17.05 @ 07:25 PM CST [link] [ | ]

21 days and counting....

No, not to Spring Training (that's either already started or starting tomorrow (depending on which team and if you're going by when pitchers and catchers report) or about two weeks away (if you go by mandatory reporting and the beginning of the spring exhibition season)). Rather, you have 21 days to get your registration in and compete in The American Crossword Puzzle Tournament. If you're a committed (or commitable) cruciverbalist (credit: SadPunk for that one), look into it.

Credit, too, to SadPunk for drawing my attention to this event.

Len on 02.17.05 @ 01:11 PM CST [link] [ | ]

From the "Things that make you go 'hmmmmmmmmm'" department:

Over on Eric's Other (Work Related) Blog, he points us to an interesting court decision. Apparently, a Florida appeals court ruled that a woman's using a keystroke logger in order to get evidence of her husband's philandering violated Florida statutes against interception of electronic communications. Then inquired Eric:

So, let me see if I got this straight. It is ok for an employer to log, scan, record and monitor all of your communications while on the clock but it is not ok for a spouse to install some software that does pretty much the same thing?

Very interesting. What if you're married to your employer?
I'll invite Karen to comment on that one. First, because she's much closer to having been a practicing lawyer than I am (I "retired" a few years after she got her J.D, IIRC), and second because, if I'm understanding her explanation of the family business, there may be an interpretation under which she's married to her employer.


Len on 02.17.05 @ 12:53 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Because one good turn deserves another....

Karen's been passing me some recipes in our backchannel conversations (she seems to be operating under a delusion that, somehow, learning how to cook will make me desirable in the eyes of the opposing sex). She claims to have seen a picture of me (the one Abby posted after the last Bloggers' Bash), but I suspect that she's mistaken me for Brock (or maybe Aaron or E.J.) if she's seriously thinking that there's anything that would make me desirable in the eyes of the opposing sex. But I digress....

Anyway, in gratitude for all the recipes she's shot to me, I should really return the favor. Finally, QBlog makes that possible:

Michael's XSMargarita Recipe

2 Jiggers Jagermeister
2 Jiggers vodka
1 can Cherry or Fruit Punch XS energy drink(your Choice)
1 slice Kiwi
3 Ice Cubes

Mix vodka, jagermeister and XS in a glass. Add ice and a slice of kiwi.

Serve in Margarita or Highball Glass. Enjoy!
OK, then (™ SK Bubba).

Len on 02.17.05 @ 12:45 PM CST [link] [ | ]

This has to be....

just about the most completely content-free Website I've ever run across.

Via Rachel, who, much to my regret, never explains why Dish has a bed in the middle of the bar area. The last bar I went to that had a bed (actually, beds, plural), was a strip bar in Springfield, Illinois, at least a long time ago back when I was (much) younger and could actually afford (both financially and physically) to be decadent. And I don't think that the patrons at Dish are using the bed for the same purposes that the patrons at the Springfield strip bar were....

Len on 02.17.05 @ 12:34 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Pet Heaven or Pet Cloning

Genetic Savings & Clone launches a website to defend against the Anti-Pet-Cloning People and their Campaign to organize Animal Rights Opportunists against cloning pets. Genetic Savings & Clone had this to say:

"Genetic Savings & Clone (GSC), the world's only pet cloning company, today announced the launch of Defend Pet Cloning, a web site that responds to a new anti-pet-cloning campaign by the American Anti-Vivisection Society (AAVS). The AAVS claims that pet cloning harms animals, exacerbates pet overpopulation, and misleads grieving pet lovers. DefendPetCloning.org shows that GSC provides benefits to animals, both domestic and endangered, reduces pet overpopulation, and provides a valuable service to consumers.

GSC is proud of its achievement in using cutting-edge science to allow pet owners the option of duplicating a beloved pet. GSC believes that the AAVS campaign will do nothing to protect animals or consumers, and will inhibit valuable research."

I"m still gonna stick by my original opinion posted in Separating Fact From Fluff that Sami -and all my Pets- get to go to Pet Heaven on a "one-time-ticket-per-entry-only" basis.

So, there, take that Genetic Savings & Clone, Inc., how do you like them apples...Huh...?

Karen on 02.17.05 @ 11:05 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Gem o'the Day:

To me, the Canseco book has a lot to do with him not getting to 500 (career) homers. If he'd have hit 500, that would have been a sure entry to the Hall of Fame, and we might not be reading about this now.
--Don Baylor, former teammate of Jose Canseco on the 1988 Oakland A's

Len on 02.17.05 @ 10:52 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Now, indulge your superstitions and get academic credit for it....

From the BBC: Vatican university offers exorcism course

Len on 02.17.05 @ 08:14 AM CST [link] [ | ]

On the Rocky Top Brigade front

we have two related postings over at newsrack blog. If you want a taste of the best of the RTB's production in 2004, you can find that here. And you can also find a more-or-less-regular edition of the Volunteer Tailgate Party there as well.

Len on 02.17.05 @ 08:01 AM CST [link] [ | ]

One step closer....

The countdown clocks at the left are resolutely counting down to the various Important Dates leading up to the Holiest Holy Day of St. Louis's Civic Religion: the Cardinals' Home Opener. In addition to the near approach of the first Important Day (pitchers and catchers report to Jupiter), I noticed yesterday another Harbinger of the Approaching Baseball Season.

As you may or may not have heard, XM Satellite Radio last year came to an agreement with Bud "Your Milwaukee Used Car Dealer" Selig and the other Baseball Sachems, and is now the Official Satellite Radio Provider of Major League Baseball. You also may remember (from my mentioning it several times on this very page) that I am, myself, a subscriber to XM. While scrolling around the various channel selections yesterday, I noticed that XM finally got around to rearranging its channel alignment, moving a number of college sports channels a bit farther down the spectrum and reserving 16 channel slots for MLB. Basically, that amounts to one 24/7 talk station ("MLB Home Plate"), 14 MLB play-by-play channels, and one "MLB En Espanol" station.

It's getting closer.....

Len on 02.17.05 @ 07:27 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Thought for the Day:

Apropos of some operating system kvetching I was indulging in earlier this week (and a brief "Does Apple Suck Now, Or Does It Really Suck?" discussion that Karen wanted to start), it occurred to me that it would be appropriate to dust this one off. It's a bit out of date (we now have Windows 2000, XP and Windows Server 2003 proudly continuing the "the Windows OS sucks--and blows" tradition), but still accurate in the main:

Every OS Sucks
by: Three Dead Trolls in a Baggie

[spoken introduction]
You see, I come from a time in the nineteen-hundred-and-seventies when computers were used for two things - to either go to the moon, or play Pong... nothing in between. Y'see, you didn't need a fancy operating system to play Pong, and the men who went to the moon--God Bless 'em--did it with no mouse, and a plain text-only black-and-white screen, and 32 kilobytes of RAM.

But then 'round 'bout the late 70's, home computers started to do a little more than play Pong... very little more. Like computers started to play non-Pong-like games, and balance checkbooks, and why... you could play Zaxxon on your Apple II, or... write a book! All with a computer that had 32 kilobytes of RAM! It was good enough to go to the moon, it was good enough for you.

It was a golden time. A time before Windows, a time before mouses, a time before the internet and bloatware, and a time... before every OS sucked.


[singing--of sorts]
Well, way back in the olden times,
my computer worked for me.
I'd laugh and play, all night and day,
on Zork I, II and III.

The Amiga, VIC-20 and the Sinclair II,
The TRS 80 and the Apple II,
they did what they were supposed to do,
wasn't much... but it was enough.

But then Xerox made a prototype,
Steve Jobs came on the scene,
read "Of Mice and Menus," Windows, Icons
a trash, and a bitmap screen.

Well Stevie said to Xerox,
"Boys, turn your heads and cough."
And when no-one was looking,
he ripped their interfaces off.

Stole every feature that he had seen,
put it in a cute box with a tiny little screen,
Mac OS 1 ran that machine,
only cost five thousand bucks.

But it was slow, it was buggy,
so they wrote it again,
And now they're up to OS 10,
they'll charge you for the Beta, then charge you again,
but the Mac OS still sucks.

Every OS wastes your time,
from the desktop to the lap,
Everything since Apple DOS,
Just a bunch of crap.

From Microsoft, to Macintosh,
to Lih-- lie-- lih-- lie... nux,
Every computer crashes,
'cause every OS sucks.

Well then Microsoft jumped in the game,
copied Apple's interface, with an OS named,
"Windows 3.1" - it was twice as lame,
but the stock price rose and rose.

Then Windows 95, then 98,
man solitaire never ran so great,
and every single version came out late,
but I guess that's the way it goes.

But that bloatware'll crash and delete your work,
NT, ME, man, none of 'em work.
Bill Gates may be richer than Captain Kirk,
but the Windows OS blows!
And sucks!
At the same time!

I'd trade it in, yeah right... for what?
It's top of the line from the Compuhut.
The fridge, stove and toaster, never crash on me,
I should be able to get online, without a PhD.

My phone doesn't take a week to boot it,
my TV doesn't crash when I mute it,
I miss ASCII text, and my floppy drive,
I wish VIC-20 was still alive...

But it ain't the hardware, man.

It's just that every OS sucks... and blows.

Now there's lih-nux or lie-nux,
I don't know how you say it,
or how you install it, or use it, or play it,
or where you download it, or what programs run,
but lih-nux, or lie-nux, don't look like much fun.

However you say it, it's getting great press,
though how it survives is anyone's guess,
If you ask me, it's a great big mess,
for elitist, nerdy shmucks.

"It's free!" they say, if you can get it to run,
the Geeks say, "Hey, that's half the fun!"
Yeah, but I got a girlfriend, and things to get done,
the Linux OS SUCKS.
(I'm sorry to say it, but it does. It sucks. I'm sorry.)

Every OS wastes your time,
from the desktop to the lap,
Everything since the abacus,
Just a bunch of crap.

From Microsoft, to Macintosh,
to lih-lie-lih-lie... nux.
Every computer crashes,
'cause every OS sucks.

Every computer crashes... 'cause every OS sucks!

If you're interested in hearing this in all its glory, you can download a free audio file (.mp3, I think) at ampcast.com (scroll down to the "Every OS Sucks" entry). And if you have QuickTime installed, and want to see and hear the Special "Director's Cut" Version (contains 2.4 extra jokes), you can go to this page at the Three Dead Trolls in a Baggie website.

Len on 02.17.05 @ 07:12 AM CST [link] [ | ]

We ARE Asking and we ARE Telling...

In this report on U.S. News Wire, it is written that:

"...653 service members were discharged in Fiscal Year 2004 under "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," not counting the Coast Guard, according to Department of Defense figures released today. This represents the fourth straight year "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" discharges have fallen, a fifteen percent drop since FY 2003 and a forty-seven percent drop since the start of the Global War on Terror.

"The continued drop in 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' discharges at a time of war clearly shows that "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" is a law we don't need," said Kathi Westcott, Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN) Senior Counsel for Law and Policy. "These numbers clearly show that military commanders value good service members during a time of war, whether the service members are gay or straight."

According to the Department of Defense, three hundred twenty- five Army soldiers, ninety-two Airmen, fifty-nine Marines and one hundred seventy-seven sailors were discharged in FY 2004. Numbers for the Coast Guard were not released by the Department of Defense. These numbers represent the lowest annual "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" discharges since 1994 and the second lowest number of discharges in the last twenty years.

Despite this year's historic low, "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" continues to weaken U.S. military readiness by forcing out service members with critical skills. Recently released Department of Defense information found that at least 20 Arabic linguists have been discharged under "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" in the past five years. Congressman Marty Meehan (D-MA), a leading opponent of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" in the House of Representatives stated "Even one discharge of an able-bodied service member under "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" during a time of war is one too many. At a time when reservists' tours of duty have been extended and thousands of former service members have been involuntarily recalled, "Don't Ask Don't Tell" is stretching our troops to the breaking point. The Department of Defense should be focused on winning the war on terror, not advancing an agenda of discrimination."

Westcott added, "Who can support a law that is irrelevant, unnecessary and harmful? The fact is that gay and lesbian service members don't harm unit cohesion, and the continuing decline in discharge numbers clearly illustrates this fact. 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell's days are numbered."

According to a recent Urban Institute report, there are an estimated 65,000 lesbian and gay service members on active duty, and in the National Guard and Reserves."

Karen on 02.17.05 @ 07:04 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Oh...you're like sooo Falun Gong....

US News Wire reported last week (Hey...I've been busy...OK) that Friends of Falun Gong (FoFG), USA:

"... was disturbed to learn that on Sunday, Feb. 6 a wave of harassing pre-recorded telephone calls lasting several minutes was received by dozens of Falun Gong contact persons in the U.S., Canada, and countries throughout Europe. Some people received as many as six calls within a few hours, and have reported them to their local authorities and the FBI.

Recorded in both Chinese and English, the message contains propaganda demonizing the practice of Falun Gong and claiming that the Chinese government is defending "human rights" by "saving" people from the Chinese spiritual practice."

Almost as bad as those #@$%#@ Spammers we have to deal with here at DBV.

Karen on 02.17.05 @ 06:58 AM CST [link] [ | ]

American Jobs Blog

US news Wire is reporting American Job Blog Creator, Greg Spotts is attempting to:

."...obtain documents that may reveal preferential treatment provided to Wal-Mart, Sears, Foot Locker and other large retailers in Federal investigations of child labor law violations. Spotts' blog, titled American Jobs, explores the changing global economy from the perspective of the American worker..."

Mr. Spotts requested information from the Government, Alfred B. Robinson, Jr., Acting Administrator -U. S. Department of Labor - writing this as a portion of his request letter
"We request expedited treatment of this request, on the basis that (i) “there is a threat to someone's life or physical safety,” and (ii) “the requestor is primarily engaged in disseminating information and has established that the request is urgently needed to inform the public concerning some actual or alleged government activity.”

Karen on 02.17.05 @ 04:48 AM CST [link] [ | ]

The Power of the Almighty Dollar…

Yesterday, my Tom-Boy daughter, Cory…got herself dressed in girl jeans, Pink (PINK???) tee-shirt, put her hair up in a pony tail. I thought…is this MY daughter? Or a Step-Ford clone of my daughter replaced by Venutians while I hardly slept at all last night?

She usually dresses right out of the Boys Department in oversized tee-shirt or sports jersey, kahki zip-off 's for guys and mens Merrill shoes. No Pink, Purple or even vaguelyGirlie colors or stuff for this child.

“What Gives? sez I to said daughter.

“Oh…” sez she, “I wanted to look like a Girl today.”

“Reeeeaally?” sez I, incredulously.

”Yeah!" responds she. “They’re paying me 2 dollars today to look like a girl.”

Now I have to admit I WAS a Tom-Boy too. But I always liked girl clothes and stuff…it’s just that I would wear my favorite frilly pink and white lacy dress while I was sitting out on a limb in the cherry tree in my backyard. Or my best Easter frock and bonnet while I was up to my elbows in black goo from the nearest mud puddle. But what goes around…eventually comes around they always say. My mom always used to laugh (and pray) that Karen would get “a Karen” for my own daughter. Maybe I did…times three.

But if a mere 2 dollars can get Cory into “girl clothes,” maybe there is hope yet.

Karen on 02.17.05 @ 04:25 AM CST [link] [ | ]

I thought I'd Beg To Differ...but I Do Concur...

I reeeeeally hate to beg to differ with the Clergy an all...plus it can get that whole bee-in-your-bonnet nest of religious folks scared up at ya if you do...BUT...

Pimp My Faith, written by By Rabbi Marc Gellman in Newsweek, just touches a nerve here:

Rabbi Gellman writes:

"Think TV is a wasteland? Here are two reality shows that are hip and healing.... I hereby proclaim the Gospel of “Pimp My Ride” and “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition.” What I see in these two shows is a saving radiant glimmer of how television married to compassion (and a blown 450cc short block engine) can produce programs that are both hip and healing, both popular and profound."

Now, I do hereby confess a strange facination with Pimp My Ride. This show which my daughters often watch...along with a myriad of other MTV and reality drivel I'm forced to endure cause I have children, is actually interesting. The guys that do the "pimping" are very hip, funny and inventive...and incredibly kind and thoughtful of the person they are creating this "pimp mobile" for. Besides I've done some of my own mechanical stuff: tune-ups, tires, rebuilt carburators; rebuilt front end-chassis and tie-rods, auto body work...but those are stories for another day...

Rabbi Gellman finishes with this uplifing thought for his piece:
"What makes these two shows not just kind and weepy but actually luminous is the way they unselfconsciously obliterate the traditional ways we often treat the poor. First, both shows treat the needy without a hint of condescension or pity. They respect these people completely. It is that respect, more than the pimped-out ride or the new house, that is the real gift. Also the workers on both shows work with real joy. Charity is often seen as a dutiful burden, but in these cases it is a labor of love. Psalm 100 says, “Serve the Lord in joy.” I checked in vain the ancient commentaries for a reference to the joy produced by trunk-mounted bowling ball washers, but who knows what King David had in mind 3,000 years ago when he wrote that psalm?"
I do concur, Rabbi...and while I don't exactly know if I'd call the stuff I've done a "labor of love"..but I can still relate to the your words...

Karen on 02.17.05 @ 04:13 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Separating Fact from Fluff

I was buzzing around my usual suspects of on-line sites I visit, and found this info to post as a short update to our Westminster Kennel Club and Hound postings earlier today.

US News Wire is reporting about Pet Cloning and the concerns by the American Anti-Vivisection Society (AAVS) warning of this process dangers in this report called "Separating Fact from Fluff."

*Whew* much as I LOVE my Sami Hound...I don't want to go there. I intend to let her "RIP" when she's gone to Doggie Heaven...where ever that may be...

But, if I can ever get Charlie and Gary to cooperate I will post the battling accounts of the "Wild Screaming Monkey" versus the "Techno-Doggie's Living the High Life" stories...Stay Tuned...

Karen on 02.16.05 @ 01:55 PM CST [link] [ | ]

GOLF Dreams

I know it's early in the Golf Season (at least here in Chi-ca-gah...Punxatawny Phil and his six more week of winter...Bleh!!) But, for some of us the FUN never sleeps on the Putting Green, nor Tee Box neither. We just find ways to keep coming back to GOLF.

I only bring this up cause I'm trying to plan a Florida trip with Charlie to enjoy some golf with his brother & wife (Don & Geri). This is the start of some round-robins of the men playing at GOLF Invitational's at their respective GOLF clubs...and a few Boys GOLF weekends (the four brothers and their dad, Mac) thrown in for good measure. See...both my husband and I are very invested in keeping each other in "the style of living to which we have grown accustomed"...and that includes lots of GOLF.

Now, I'm not gonna bore ya here...So, only if you really like GOLF...or maybe play GOLF or you just want to know more about how insane I am about GOLF, click on the "more" button, and read on...

Karen on 02.16.05 @ 11:52 AM CST [more..] [ | ]

Well, at least a real dog won....

I noticed that one of my partners in crime here already mentioned the outcome of last night's Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show, so I needn't go into excruciating detail.

Very simply, I'm a German Shepherd Dog fancier, and every year I root for the GSD to take it all. And just about every year I get disappointed (no big deal, I'm a liberal; I've gotten used to it). But absent an appearance of the German Shepherd in the Best In Show qualifiers, I tend to pull for "a Real Dog" to win the top honors. "A Real Dog?", I hear you ask.... As a quick rule of thumb, that means "a dog that was bred for a purpose, not as an ornament for the effete upper classes." Which means that the winner of the Toy Group is right out (the Pekingese which won the Toy Group this year wasn't a dog--it was a waddling throw pillow), I have a distinct bias against a lot of the breeds in the Non-Sporting Group, and I tend to look askance at the the smaller terriers as well (so say, I generally pull against a Norfolk or Norwich Terrier...), though not without some cognitive dissonance, because terriers were originally bred for a purpose, though that purpose for some terriers has been obscured a bit by the fact that the smaller ones have tended to devolve into ornaments because they're too damn cute for their own good. So if something other than a GSD had to win, the selection of Carlee, the German Shorthaired Pointer, is certainly acceptable, and I won't sulk this year like I have some years. Like, say, 1988 when the Pomeranian won. A selection which hurt even more because the previous year's winner, Ch. Covy Tucker Hill's Manhattan, is a legendary German Shepherd Dog (and, alas, the last GSD to take the Best In Show at the Westminster).

Wondering about the vagaries of fate, though... I notice at the WKC site that they had a last minute change of judge this year, and the judge who had to bow out, coincidentally, was slated to judge the German Shorthaired Pointers. Given how subjective dog judging was, that turned out (though, of course nobody could predict that Carlee would be the beneficiary) to be a lucky break for the Best In Show winner.

Len on 02.16.05 @ 09:05 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Inane! Rambling! Rarely Updated! The BLOG!!!!

Well, two out of three ain't bad. This humble corner o'the blogosphere is often inane and always rambling, but I don't think anyone can accuse us of being rarely updated (if anything, I've detected the slightest hint by one commenter that perhaps we're a trifle wordy around here--the nerve of that suggestion!!! Of course we're wordy; doesn't this individual know that we're being paid by the word by The Great Left Wing Media Conspiracy--but I digress).

ANYWAY, all of that is apropos of telling y'all to go by Quixtar Blog and check this out....

Len on 02.16.05 @ 08:26 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Hounds and Creature-Features

Lots of Doggie News in the offing today following the close of the Westminster Kennel Club Show.

The Daily Herald has two doggie updates: The first about the Kennel Club winner in this article Raising the Woof about Carlee:

"posing like the very symbol of the Westminster Kennel Club, a German shorthaired pointer became America's top dog Tuesday night.The 5-year-old female with the soft eyes and gliding gait won best in show, beating out a popular Norfolk terrier, a champion bloodhound and a wobbling Pekingese".

Section 1 has this gem of a story about pooches called Do they need a good lawyer?. The article say, in part:

"The thought of hunters with bows trekking for kill through a North Barrington subdivision so alarmed Mindy Nelson that she hired an animal lawyer....

....Animal rights activists are fighting to expand animal legal rights, believing that pet owners should be compensated for the emotional distress they endure at the loss of the pet. There is also a push to give animals standing to sue. Animals suing? Pain and suffering? Don't laugh too loudly, said Amy Breyer, a Chicago attorney devoted exclusively to the practice of animal law."

I was rooting for the Dachshunds - of course - and I don't think Sami needs a Lawyer yet...because she has her own In House Legal Counsel.

For more fun than you can shake-a-stick-at about my "Creature-Features" from The Karen Files click on the "more" button.

Karen on 02.16.05 @ 06:57 AM CST [more..] [ | ]

Thought for the Day:

The last twenty-nine days of the month are the toughest.
--Nikola Tesla

Len on 02.16.05 @ 06:45 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Magicians, Wizards, Thinkers and Such...

I've noticed a slightly developing pattern here in my musings. As I write, I am discovering my own iconic references to my Magicians; my Techno-Wizards; my techno-weenies; my Thinkers (Brilliant legal minds); my Chef-no-Wizards.

Which remind of some most wonderfully creative and "magically inventive" stories and movies I enjoy.

These "magical tales" basically provide a story viewpoint of the real world through a "lens" of wonderment allowing the real to become surreal.

Some have become movies:

* Secret of Roan Inish ...about Selkies (Seals that transform into humans.)

* The Big Fish..magical imagery of the fathers' Tall Tales in life.

* Like Water for Chocolate...magical happenings to a family (similar to One Hundred Years of Solitude.)

Some are books:

* One Hundred Years of Solitude...awesome but odd story about the Buendia family full of vivid magical evocative imagery of everyday magic.

* The Animal Wife...Pre-Civilization romance about human superstitions and the "other" tribes of people.

I am sure there are others out there too..but these are a few that come to mind. Hope you get the chance to "enjoy the magic" in these too.

Karen on 02.16.05 @ 06:07 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Ode to My Magician

Dr. G and his partner Dr. T are the most fabulous Magicians.

(Dr. Emmanuel A. Giovannis and Dr. Steven Tirabaso; Doctors of Chiropractic Medicine and Sport's Related Injury Therapy at Body Solutions - no website yet - here in St. Charles)

I come from a family of back problems (Gramma Rose had severe Hypho-camphosis; Dowager's Hump; that left her half her size by the time she was 90.) I have this too...so it's a constant battle to keep my back flexible and prevent other strains on my shoulders and lower back.

But these magicians have the most awesome of latest techniques that really make a difference. One is their Anodyne Therapy: an infrared heat treatment originally designed to improve circulation in extremities for Diabetics...works wonders on back problems too.

Then there is their latest (they keep up and take classes in the newest stuff out there for their patients): The Graston Technique; stainless steel instruments (like various shaped ingots or bars with rounded edges) that properly used, help break down soft tissue adhesions in muscles, ligaments or tendons to help repair and provide greater flexiblity and motion.

In addtion to the usual heat packs, electro-stimulation, phsysio-manipulations and exercises...these new treatments are the BOMB..and so are the Magicians who perform them. Ahhh.... ;-)

(p.s. if you would like their Business address & phone number....just e-mail me and I'll get back to ya.)

As an Aside, Dr. G. and his long time girlfriend, Julie, have just gotten Engaged. So, Congratulations are in order...as they join the long line of predecessors in that road to a Lifetime of Happiness and Companionship. (Plus, there's the "wedding planning" madness for a TBA date some 6 months from now.)

All my Best to Dr. G. and Julie - Hip-hip-hooray!!!

Karen on 02.16.05 @ 04:49 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Liars, Lying Liars and the Lying Liars Who Keep Telling Lies:

Why do they LIE...Apparently must be 'cause they just can't help themselves.

Media Matters (among others) is reporting about the Outright, Fraudulent and Purposeful LIES by FOX News Washington managing editor Brit Hume, Nationally syndicated radio host and former Reagan administration official William J. Bennett, Wall Street Journal columnist John Fund, FOX News Live anchor David Asman, and CBS News Sunday Morning anchor and CBS Radio Network host Charles Osgood who "have all echoed Hume's false suggestion that FDR favored eventually "supplant[ing]" government funding of Social Security with private accounts, as President Bush has proposed."

The report further explains the following distortion and purpose of FDR in the creation of the Social Security Program back in 1935:

"Here's the full relevant segment from Roosevelt's message to Congress on Social Security and other similar programs from 1935: "In the important field of security for our old people, it seems necessary to adopt three principles: First, non-contributory old-age pensions for those who are now too old to build up their own insurance. It is, of course, clear that for perhaps thirty years to come funds will have to be provided by the States and the Federal Government to meet these pensions. Second, compulsory contributory annuities which in time will establish a self-supporting system for those now young and for future generations. Third, voluntary contributory annuities by which individual initiative can increase the annual amounts received in old age. It is proposed that the Federal Government assume one-half of the cost of the old-age pension plan, which ought ultimately to be supplanted by self-supporting annuity plans."

The syntax is a little ancient but the message is pretty straightforward. For 1935, people who would only take money out of Social Security and not put any in, should have their contributions covered half by the federal government and half by the states. Later on, those contributions should be replaced by the "self-supporting annuity plans" -- which Roosevelt has already defined ("Second...") as the actual Social Security system. Buried in the formality of his third point, FDR is talking about things we would later know as IRA's and Keoghs and 401k's.

But look at how Hume mixed and matched the original Roosevelt quotes on February 4th (and we're quoting this verbatim from Fox's website) "...it turns out that FDR himself planned to include private investment accounts in the Social Security program when he proposed it. In a written statement to Congress in 1935, Roosevelt said that any Social Security plans should include, 'Voluntary contributory annuities, by which individual initiative can increase the annual amounts received in old age,' adding that government funding, 'ought to ultimately be supplanted by self-supporting annuity plans.'"

Roosevelt said no such thing. The "voluntary contributory annuities" are the IRA's and Keoghs and 401k's. What "ought to ultimately be supplanted" was the special government contributions to Social Security on behalf of people born in the 1870's and earlier, and the "self-supporting annuity plans" constitute Social Security itself.

Strong>It's premeditated, historical fraud, but you will not see Hume nor Fox News backpedal from it (as Jordan did for his misdemeanor), nor apologize for it (as Jordan did), nor save their masters from its shame (as Jordan did -- of course there is no shame at Fox).

And so it continues with all those Lying Liars...don't ya just Love-Em?

Karen on 02.16.05 @ 04:06 AM CST [link] [ | ]

More Plame-Out A Happening

In this report by Carol D. Leoning at the Washington post in an article called Reporters Must Testify in Plame Case

Leonig writes:

"The three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington rejected the contention that the First Amendment protects the information being concealed by the journalists, saying that a 1972 U.S. Supreme Court decision said just the opposite. The judges also found there is no common law protection for journalists' confidential sources when a criminal investigation seeks to determine if a law has been broken and information about those sources is critical to that inquiry. "We further conclude that if any such common law privilege exists, it is not absolute, and in this case has been overcome by the filings of the Special Counsel," the panel wrote.

Tatel wrote that the purpose of the government leaks, based on a story that Cooper wrote in the summer of 2003, appeared to be to smear a person who alleged the Bush administration exaggerated the strength of its evidence justifying going to war with Iraq. "While requiring Cooper to testify may discourage future leaks, discouraging leaks of this kind is precisely what the public interest requires, " wrote Tatel."

I've argued much the same myself...that The First Amendment, while Most Awesome and Cherished and Deserving of Support...does not give anyone the absolute right to utter purposely harmful and life threatening stuff. As every Newbie "first year law student" learns there is no "right " to utter "FIRE" in a crowded theatre resulting in mayhem, injuries or deaths...just cause 'o' The First Amendment."

In my mind the Plame issue is a very narrow class of information and was specifically legislated to be a protected class..with criminal penalties. That said, it still takes judicial "adjudication" to decide whether this law applies to the facts and reporters involved. Why and how the prosecutors are after Judith Miller and Matt Cooper and not indicting Bob Novak is still a mystery to me (other than the political answer that Novak is a "friend" to the administration, and Miller and Cooper write for those "liberal rags" the NY Times and Time...it's hard to escape a politically driven motive for the way this playing out...yet the principle in law seems like a good idea.)

I further argues this in a letter to Don Wycliff (Public Editor Chicago Tribune.) To read further, click on the "more" button.

Karen on 02.16.05 @ 03:57 AM CST [more..] [ | ]

Tales Out Of School

Nicolas Kristof has "hit a home run" in the article in today's NY Times called Bush's Sex Scandal.

Mr. Kristof writes:

"You see, for all the carnage in President Bush's budget, one program is being showered with additional cash - almost three times as much as it got in 2001. It's "abstinence only" sex education, and the best research suggests that it will cost far more lives than the Clinton administration's much more notorious sex scandal.

Mr. Bush means well. But "abstinence only" is a misnomer that in practice is an assault on sex education itself. There's a good deal of evidence that the result will not be more young rosy-cheeked virgins - it will be more pregnancies, abortions, gonorrhea and deaths from AIDS.

But silence about sex only nurtured venereal diseases (one New York doctor, probably exaggerating, claimed in 1904 that 60 percent of American men had syphilis or gonorrhea), so sex education gradually gained ground. Then social conservatives had a brilliant idea: instead of fighting sex ed directly, they campaigned for abstinence-only programs that eviscerated any discussion of contraception."

So much of the Bushies Good Intentions end up in so many flawed programs and ideas...what a waste....and only 1,407 more days to go...

Karen on 02.16.05 @ 03:48 AM CST [link] [ | ]

If only I'd been ingenious enough back then....

During my late, lamentable career as a criminal defense lawyer, I represented a fair number of accused prostitutes. Never, however, did we think of trying this defense:

Len on 02.15.05 @ 04:25 PM CST [link] [ | ]

The Thought Police Are Regrouping As We Speak

James D. Miller over at Tech Central Station wrote this intriguing little piece called Will Blogs Produce a Chilling Effect? with this opening paragrah:

"Imagine that mind reading were suddenly imposed on humanity automatically transmitting all our thoughts to those around us. Involuntary telepathy would destroy countless marriages as wives learned of their husbands perverse fantasies. Bosses would fire millions after they found out what their employees really thought of them. Police would be inundated with reports of ordinary citizens contemplating hideous crimes. But eventually we would realize that all humans harbor evil thoughts and an equilibrium would emerge in which we forgave bad thoughts that didn't lead to terrible deeds."

Is there something on YOUR MIND that We Ought to Know About....James? Hmmmm?

The article is really about three powerful or political men who were brought down by their own utterances or damaged in their professional reputations: Eason Jordan, Trent Lott; and Harvard Law President and Prof. Larry Summers.

James Miller muses:
"I fear that blogs may soon make many Americans afraid to speak their minds. Imagine you're a manager of a company. Your new blog nightmare is that you will say something stupid in a meeting and this will be reported in a blog. Other blogs will report the initial comment and soon whatever group you have offended will pressure your company to fire you. Or perhaps your distasteful remark will go unreported until you're promoted to CEO. Then your employees, while blogging about what kind of boss you are, will literally tell the world about your past unfortunate utterance."

I wonder if I ought to begin to be worried about this...and if by what I say here at DBV, I could jeopardize my entire next-and-most Future Career as Supreme Ruler of the Planet Earth (see my What if Women Ran the World essay.)

But the more guys who take the Big Professional Tank, the Nose Dive of Tenure Death, the Golden Parachute of Early Forced Retirement...the closer and easier my goal becomes. Now, I only have to avoid the Thought Police, or their Designated Agents and I'm Home Free...or at least one step closer...

Karen on 02.15.05 @ 04:07 PM CST [link] [ | ]

The sweetest words I've ever read since October's bitter disappointment....

graced the subject line of Lee Sinins's stathead newsletter today: "Spring Training Starts Today"

Yes.... Pitchers and catchers reported today to spring camps for the Yankees, the Washington Nationals, and the Reds.

And the countdown clock on the left there keeps counting down....

Len on 02.15.05 @ 12:27 PM CST [link] [ | ]

About that Fish "Fry"

My Valentines Faux Holiday Update post was about the 'condition' of my Tiger-Barb Fish. Considering these "astonishing new" developments, I might just be needing this baby name guide when my most "preggers' Tiger-Barb fish let's loose with all those expected "Fry."

She's most likely going to need plenty of names to go around (and we don't want none of those stale, old, tired, non-Chi-Chi names for those "Small Fry". Nothin' but the BEST, I always say. (Don't I always say that?...can't recall....LOL)

Hat Tip to Abby for this too cool site link.

Karen on 02.15.05 @ 11:09 AM CST [link] [ | ]

More fafbloggerie

fafnir and Team fafblog (Giblets and The Medium Lobster) are "at it" again. They have some must read stuff, and faf has this one about "Homeland Joe" complete with its own "Ode." So I had to send him my compliments:

Dear Fafnir:

I wanted to write and tell ya how much I liked Homeland Joe. Specially the song...I really like singing too.

I don't know if you read your comment section (I put one there)...and just between you and me...I get kinda confused between comments and e-mailing...and I'm clearly addicted to both. Could be I was born with a case of that bloggin virus. Infected at birth. Cause I'm sorta like Giblets... with those God-like complexes, Supreme Powers, Hallucinations. Then there was my Napoleonic upbringing to consider....and my most Statuesque Personality (and I did give away my Pedestal a few years ago-so you won't be gettin' me back up there anytime soon)...but I do the best mal-adjusted things I can to get along. It works OK...no complaints so far.

Anyway, Faf, ya shoulda been "one of us gang 'o' lawyers." We'd have smuggled ya right through Law School and on to the Summa Cum Laude laced Pie-Bar-blog. I'm still saving the biggest Shark in My swimming pool for you just in case you every really need him for some legal stuff. (But I just can't look at him cause of the selachophobia an all.)

Obsequiously yours...O&E

I also sent faf my own song I wrote about that "taking God and Jesus out of Christmas" flap that was all the 'news' last holiday season. But, Be Warned: Don't go reading this if you're overly sensitive about God and all (I don't make fun of HIM...mostly Bill O'Reilly and Charles Krauthammer) but I just happen to think GOD has more of a sense of humor than people give HIM credit for.

So click on the "more" button to sing along to my ditty "Lookin' For God."

Karen on 02.15.05 @ 07:27 AM CST [more..] [ | ]

Involved in a power struggle at the office?

Gain an advantage by unleashing your inner MacGyver: Office Bricolage 2. What's "bricolage", you ask? According to the site, it's "Something made or put together using whatever materials happen to be available". Hence unleashing your inner MacGyver. The contest involves creating weapons from common office supplies.

No wonder the economy may be tanking. :-)

Len on 02.15.05 @ 07:22 AM CST [link] [ | ]

A web host, an HTML editor, and waaaaaayyyyy too much time on one's hands...

and you, too, can make a contribution to the sum total of human knowledge like:

Topher's Breakfast Cereal Character Guide

Though, as a trivia buff, I have to admit that it is interesting that one can go to a breakfast cereal character guide to learn facts like this:

Cracker Jack's were introduced in 1893. Sailor Jack and Bingo have appeared on boxes since 1918. Since 1912, more than 17 billion toys have been included as prizes in Cracker Jack packages. Every year, more than 100 million toy prizes, 3,500 tons of popcorn, 540 tons of molasses, and 750 tons of peanuts are used in producing boxes of Cracker Jack.
That's under one of the pages devoted to Ralston cereals (scroll down to Cracker Jack cereal). I'll disregard for now one of my pet peeves with the Cracker Jack folks, namely that Cracker Jack doesn't come in boxes anymore (that I've seen lately, at any rate), but in bags. That and the fact that the prizes in Cracker Jack are definitely declining in quality from the high quality kitsch that came in Cracker Jack in my youth, but I digress.

After taking in the wonders of Cracker Jack cereal, scroll down a couple of items further. Is it just me, or does the Ralston Scarecrow there bear a distinct resemblance to Ray Bolger in the role of the Scarecrow in the The Wizard of Oz?

Len on 02.15.05 @ 06:48 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Thought for the Day:

The only thing we can be certain about the future is that there is going to be more and more of it.
--J.B.S. Haldane

Len on 02.15.05 @ 06:22 AM CST [link] [ | ]


Had to do a write up of the most FAB BBC show called Manchild. This one is from: Episode Two; Season 2

...have you ever seen it? It stars Nigel Havers and Anthony Stewart Head (Buffy) and two other Brits as four middle aged friends. It's a dramatic comedy storyline of each man, at different points in their lives (divorced, never married, currently married, etc.) , and how they are dealing with their lives.

This one I just watched (but I haven't seen them all...very few in fact...cause I forget about it so very often...but with my TIVO set on "Season Pass" I can capture them more often) is about a situation like "Fatal Attraction" between the Anthony Stewart Head character and his interior designer. The action is his "benign decription" interspersed with "actual events as they took place." His friends are trying to sort out...where it all went "wrong" and whether they can help him. It is extremely funny....you should give it a try...LOL (FYI taping or TIVO is a MUST for British programs...cause their accents can be muuurder, plus the slang takes a once-over...maybe twice, till ya get it.)

Sent Len a tape of this brilliant, witty and well written episode - should get there in a day or so - It's a SCREAM...let me know if ya catch any of these episodes.

Just as an aside: used to know a guy, Alex, who was a salesman and worked for a parts supplier of ours...looked liked Nigel Havers twin, or at least like his younger brother. We were all on a Cruise ship in Cancun one year (compliments of said supplier...Alex riding shot-gun as host/planner of event) and many Brits were on board that particular cruise. In the casino they pissed Alex off mightily cause they kept calling him "Nigel." As in, "Ya gonna place yer bet, Nigel?" or "Ya having a run-'o' luck there, Nigel"...and everywhere he went...'Hey, Nigel, how's it going mate?"

Alex was annoyed and kept repeating, "Who the f**k is Nigel???" for most of the trip. So, I had to send a tape of a 1992 PBS, Masterpiece Theater Series: A Perfect Hero

("About Hugh Fleming, a World World II pilot, who is horrifically burned in a Battle of Britain dogfight. Intelligent, privileged and a lady-killer with a boyish charm, Fleming has led a golden life until the skirmish turns his Spitfire cockpit into a fireball. "A Perfect Hero" tells the story of how Fleming must learn to come to terms with not only his disfigurement and the effect it has on everyone him, but also the crippling sense of despair he feels--an emotion far more debilitating than his wounds.")

just to prove that Alex did, indeed, look like Nigel Havers.

Karen on 02.15.05 @ 06:16 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Oh...The Party Of The Five-Year-Olds' Continues:

The Bush Administration is still in the First Month of its Fifth Year and is acting just as any Five-Year-Old would.

It began on inauguration day with the $$40+ Million bash for the Bushies...plus sticking it to D.C. residents to be the grown-ups and both pay for and supervise this Five-Year-Old's mess making...to the tune of 11-15 million dollars worth of much needed Homeland Security money.

Just like every Five-Year-Old I know.

This NY Times editorial demonstrates how juvenile and dangerously close the Bushies are to causing a "World Temper Tantrum" of epic proportions in the Global Economy: Importance of Being Earnest.

It states in part:

"Lately, Mr. Bush has been talking the deficit reduction talk, but there's no sign that he is willing to walk the walk. In his 2006 budget, he pledges to slash spending, but largely in areas that would have only a small impact on the deficit and where cuts would be politically difficult, not to mention cruel, such as food stamps, veterans' medical care, child care and low-income housing. Meanwhile, he is pounding the table for more deficit-bloating measures - making his first-term tax cuts permanent, at a 10-year cost of as much as $2.1 trillion; putting into effect two high-income tax breaks that were enacted in 2001 but have been on hold, at a 10-year cost of $115 billion; and introducing new tax incentives to allow high earners to shift even more cash into tax shelters, at a cost that would ultimately work out to more than $30 billion a year when investors cashed in their accounts tax-free.

Just like every Five-Year-Old I know.

Bush should have to "eat his Deficit Spinach" with the rest of us Grown-ups at the table...he is after all Five-Years-Old this month.

Unfortunately, Bush is Just like every Five-Year-Old I know.

To read more "kevetching" that I wrote bout this last fall...still applies today...
Click on the "More" button for : The "Refuses to eat their Spinach Crowd"

Karen on 02.15.05 @ 03:42 AM CST [more..] [ | ]

Tripping on Trivia Answer

Trivia follow-up Question In reference to Lillie Langtry: What were P.B's (and NO they don't go with Jelly); and Can you name a few??

In the late 1800's and early 1900's in English society, Beauty was essential in a woman, conversation desirable, piano-playing optional. The best female guests managed all three....and a select few were called "Professional Beauties" or P.B.'s.

A Punch Magazine at the time describes two matrons at a piano performance:

First matron: "Do your daughters play, Mrs. Jones."
Mrs. Jones: "No."
Matron: "Sing?"
Mrs. Jones: "No."
Matron: "paint in water colors?"
"No," replies Mrs. Jones with a smile, "We go in for beauty."

and this

Gwendolyn: "Uncle George says every woman ought to have a profession, and I think he's quite right."
Mama: "Indeed! And what professions do you mean to choose.?"
Gwendolyn: I mean to be a Professional Beauty."

The "Professional Beauties" (numbering about a dozen or so) traveled in these rarified circles of the same 200 governing familes in England, the most coveted being an invite into the Prince of Wales' own Marlborough House Set parties. One description of the day held that "to make a ball successful, three men should always be asked for every lady - one to dance with, one to eat with, and one to stare - that makes everything go off well."

The P.B.'s were the creme-de-la-creme, and Graphic Magazine (of London) said:

" She does everything (as if) the wings of Mercury were attached to her...She is a sportswoman, an athlete, a ballroom divinity, a horsewoman, a huntress, a bold and skillful swimmer, she drives a pair of horses like a charioteer, plays lawn tennis, is at home on the race course or the deck of a fast yacht, she has all the dining refinements, is brilliant at a supper party, wields a bow as well as a billiard cue and an etching needle..."

What a Woman!!! Photos of the P.B.'s sold for a penny-a-piece to the public in fashionable shops.

Several most famous P.B.'s included Lillie Langtry, Lady Randolph Churchill (Jennie Jerome...Winston Churchill's mother), and Lady Cornwallis-West (who's son, George Cornwallis-West, became Jennie's second husband.)

Karen on 02.15.05 @ 03:21 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Trivia answers....

1) Apropos of the earlier mention of Lillie Langtry and Judge Roy Bean.... What is the connection between Judge Roy Bean and Bugs Bunny?
Tex Avery, the man who many credit as the "creator" of Bugs Bunny (in that Avery was the first director to give the wascally wabbit many of his signature lines and mannerisms), was a descendant of Judge Roy Bean.

2) Speaking of Bugs Bunny, how did he get his name?
He was named for Ben "Bugs" Hardaway, a Leon Schleshinger Studios animation director who came up with the idea of a "crazy rabbit antagonist" for Porky Pig. From just about the beginning, the character was known as "Bugs's bunny", and the name gradually morphed into the present name.

3) How many Academy Award nominations has Bugs Bunny recieved? How many Oscars™ has he won?
Two nominations (for "A Wild Hare", 1940, and "Hiawatha's Rabbit Hunt", 1943), and one Oscar (for "Knighty Knight Bugs", 1958) [UPDATE: Because I realize that there's some nit-picker who'll bring this up in the comments: Yes, I know that really you need to be nominated for an Academy Award in order to win it, so strictly speaking that should be three nominations (including the nomination for "Knighty Knight Bugs") and one win. So there.]

4) And how many Academy Award nominations have been received by Bugs' nemesis, Daffy Duck? And how many Oscars™ has Daffy won?
Trick question; Daffy has neither been nominated for nor won an Oscar

5) True or false: Bugs Bunny is the first cartoon star to receive a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
False; Mickey Mouse was the first. Bugs was the second cartoon star to receive a star.

Len on 02.14.05 @ 09:44 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Tonight is one of the more important nights in my sports year...

Namely, the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show.

One of the fun things about the annual Westminster is having them point out the new breeds which the American Kennel Club has recognized in the last year. This year this is one of the new breeds, the Neapolitan Mastiff:

Unfortunately, the picture above doesn't give you an idea of the most impressive feature of the Neapolitan Mastiff, it's unbelievably awesome jowls. This Neogram cover [the Neogram is the monthly magazine of the national breed club] gives you a better idea:

All I can think of is this dog must slobber like nothing any of us mere mortals has ever seen.

Len on 02.14.05 @ 08:47 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Valentine's Dinner with Charlie's Angels

For my Faux Holiday Charlie got me a funny book: "Bobby Bacala" (Steven Schirripa) from The Soprano's called The Goomba's Book of Love

Here are a few nuggets that will make you yearn for
the next season of The Soprano's:

"You might be a Goomba if...
a) you've ever eaten a sandwich on the toilet,
b) the photo in your year book is a mug shot,
c) you own a CD, DVD and VCR player but have never been to
store that sells those things.

You are definitely not a Goomba if...
A) you pay taxes,
B) you vote,
C) you shop at old navy,
D) you ever sit in the cheap seats,
E) you listen to country and western music.

You are definitely a Goomba if...
a) you would rather starve than eat a Domino's pizza,
B) you would rather starve than eat anything made with Ragu,
C) you'd rather starve than eat at The Olive Garden,
D) Your middle name starts with "The,"
E) you know a guy who knows a guy.

There were the most lovely Roses (Red for me, Peachy Pink for the daughters) and Cards (Charlie's a "card person" who likes to find "just the right card.") And we all had a most delicious meal at The Claddaugh, Irish Pub. Food was fab (per usual) and they even had a harpist for musical entertainment.

Ah...Valentines Day....and now February's half over.

Karen on 02.14.05 @ 07:32 PM CST [link] [ | ]

More Valentine's curmudgeonry

Heidi Bond has a good post on regarding what's wrong with Valentine's Day:

I don't have an inherent problem with people showing affection by giving gifts. But when the expectation is that today, you will show affection by giving gifts, you end up having a day that's less about affection and more about expectation. Valentines Day, at its worst, turns into a competition -- who can make whose friends greener with envy. "He must really love me, because he arranged this really elaborate meal," someone thinks. "I can't wait to tell Louise. I bet Harold didn't do anything this nice."

I'd like to add that this applies to the other Hallmark Holidays as well. And Christmas.

On the other hand, anything that pisses off the Saudi religious establishment can't be all bad.

My wife and I have a "no Valentine's Day" clause in the agreement. (Which, believe it or not, was her idea, not mine.) But I couldn't resist printing out an I Choo-Choo-Choose You Valentine on the inkjet printer. That's all the Valentine's celebrating I'll be doing this year.

Brock on 02.14.05 @ 06:25 PM CST [link] [ | ]

The war on cold medicine continues

Chris Lawrence, at my former blog-home of Signifying Nothing, notes that the Mississippi House of Representatives passed a bill that would restrict sales of pseudoephedrine: "Buying cold medicine could require showing photo ID, signing your name and talking to the pharmacist under House bills passed Thursday."

(I've blogged about this matter before, but my post was lost in the great Greymatter crash of 2/4/2005.)

Brock on 02.14.05 @ 06:07 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Liberals are from Mars....

Judge Richard Posner, in response to comments to his post on Social Security, writes

Some of these excellent comments put me in mind of the following crude but suggestive way of stating the difference between liberals and conservatives: liberals think that the average person is good but dumb, conservatives that he or she is "bad" (in the sense of self-interested) but smart.

I happen to think that the average person is both dumb and bad. What does that make me?

To clarify a bit, and put it a bit less crudely, I think that the average person is considerably less rational than the traditional economics models assume, although I think the traditional economic model has it about right with regard to how self-interested the average person is, given how flexible the concept of "self-interest" is.

(I leave it as an exercise for the reader to figure out which planet conservatives are from. :)

Brock on 02.14.05 @ 05:51 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Tripping On Trivia

We're on a Roll Here with Lillie Langtry, Jack The Ripper, Bugs Bunny and Judge Roy Bean.

What more could ya ask for I wanna know...LOL %-)

Had to do a follow up Trivia Question on Lillie Langtry. This must be a good supplemental Question ...if that totally awesome and smart, savvy Techno-Wizard, Len, can't figure it out. So here goes:

In reference to Lillie Langtry: What were P.B's (and NO they don't go with Jelly); and Can you name a few??

Karen on 02.14.05 @ 12:54 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Congratulations are in order:

Eric owns a certified-hero Wonder Dog. Go by and leave some props for Wendy in the comments.

And the picture is priceless.

Len on 02.14.05 @ 12:01 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Obscure Baseball Player Memorial Department

I've just read that right handed pitcher Nelson Briles just died at the age of 61. That immediately made my eyebrows raise, since Briles came up with the St. Louis Cardinals organization, making his debut with the Cardinals in 1965, and serving in the rosters of the 1967 World Champions and 1968 National League Champions. Briles served 14 years in the majors, pitching for 5 different teams, and racking up career numbers of 129-112 W-L, .535 PCT, 1163 K and a 3.44 ERA.

Len on 02.14.05 @ 09:14 AM CST [link] [ | ]

More Faux Holiday Updates

Well, well...things just keep getting more and more interesting around here as the Day progresses.

Me thinks one of my Tiger-Barbs is most Preggers. Her *fellas* (two of them...you try to figure out WHO to get fry-support payments from...)
are skulking behind the columns and plants on the left.

Preggers (57k image)

I put it (her) in a separation net...and we shall see what pops up...or "OUT" in this case. :-)
Could be some baby Tiger-Barb Fry are in the offing. Spring Fever and Romance are most certainly in the air here at Dennis Hastert Corner.

Karen on 02.14.05 @ 08:11 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Faux Holiday Update

Appropos of this Faux Holiday for that Saint Somebody or other... :-)

Hmmm...I've noticed there a too much fretting a going on around here. Any way, I had to dub last week Fret-Free-Friday-in-February (mostly for my friend, Linda, who comes from a family of very fretful people) but if you are already fretting about tonight...it works in your case too.

I don't like Faux Holidays myself...like Super Bowl Sunday, or Secretary's Day, or this Saint Somebody's Day.

BE WARNED: The Thought Police will be out in droves tonight looking for misplaced Thoughts...so keep yours Tagged, Bagged and NEVER leave them unattended!

Even, Maureen Dowd (NY Times) that witty and cleaver writer, has her "knickers in a bunch" over this evening's plans. "Chill Maureen...and have some chocolates...always works for me."

For a little humor...check out my past post about the Calendar my hubby gave me this year - that has lots of Nifty dates I can wrap my mind around in Calendar Days of Wine and Roses...or Something Else....

There is also one for Bill Maher about - what else on St. Somebody's Day... Diamonds: in Romancing the Stone.

I mostly just like Chocolates for Faux Holidays...but they work for any others days too... *smile.*

(Drat...I forgot to shop for Cory's Fifth Grade Valentines...now I have to run to Meijer's and be sure to drop stuff off at school today. Oh....I am such a baaad mother.)

Karen on 02.14.05 @ 07:09 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Thought for the Day:

"I am pleased," said Rowan Williams, archbishop of Canterbury, in reply to a reporter's question about the news that Prince Charles, heir to the British throne, is engaged and will marry Camilla Parker-Bowles in a civil ceremony at Windsor Castle at the beginning of April. The sons of Charles say they are "very happy" with the news (the children of Camilla have yet to speak publicly). Queen Elizabeth and her consort-husband, Prince Philip, are as well. "I am very, very pleased," said Nicholas Soames, a Conservative Party member of Parliament and a Churchill grandson. "I am delighted," said Prime Minister Tony Blair. "We're absolutely delighted," said Charles, of himself and his wife-to-be.

Many Britons, on the other hand, said they didn't give a damn about the forthcoming marriage. "Who cares," wrote one on a newspaper message board; "WHO CARES!!!" another. The largest group of respondents to a BBC poll, around 40 percent, agreed with that sentiment, while another two percent expressed "indifference" to the marriage. The oddly precise distinction between the groups—the non-caring and the indifferent—itself points to a curious characteristic of British public life.

When someone says "who cares?" what they often mean is "WHO CARES?" as in "I care very much and I'm not going to stop telling you that I don't care until you tell me you care as little about this as I do." Many Britons, you could say, live according to various adaptations of Descartes' formulation on human consciousness: "I don't care, therefore I am."
--Inigo Thomas

Len on 02.14.05 @ 06:52 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Timberrrrrrr..Bush Plans to Axe the 2006 Budget And Social Security

Here's a short list of major Buget cuts written by David Corn in Capital Games published in The Nation:

* Environment. Cuts the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) budget by 5.6 percent from $8.02 billion to $7.57 billion, culminating in an almost 10 percent cut over two years. Most cuts come in efforts to maintain and improve the nation's clean water infrastructure.

* Veterans. More than doubles the co-payment charged to many veterans for prescription drugs and would require some to pay a new fee of $250 a year for the privilege of using the Veterans health care system.

* Health Care. Cuts Medicaid funding by $45 billion over 10 years and eliminates 28 health programs, totaling $1.36 billion. These programs range from rural hospital grants (cuts $39.5 million) to emergency medical services for children (cuts $20 million).

* Job Training. Cuts federal spending on job training by a half-billion dollars. Federal job training programs, including dislocated-worker training, will be cut by $200 million. Federal aid to states for job training, including funding to train veterans, will be cut by $300 million.

* Amtrak. Eliminates all funding for Amtrak, calling bankruptcy proceedings as the solution for our nation's rail system.

* Low Income Home Energy Assistance (LIHEAP). Cuts LIHEAP by over 8 percent, from $2.2 billion to $2 billion.

* Parks. Cuts the National Park Service by 3 percent from $2.31 billion to $2.24 billion.

For more articles and reviews about the proposed U.S. Budget and Social Security Plans click on the "more" button.

Karen on 02.14.05 @ 05:26 AM CST [more..] [ | ]

Iraqi War Plan...US Budget

I was watching live feed of the C-Span coverage of hearings by the Senate of the Joints Chiefs of Staff of the Army about the Iraq War. The apparent purpose of this hearing was to attempt to get information get an idea about the Military's plans re: maintenance of U.S. troop level through out the coming year; the additional bazzillion dollars to be requested (Approx 4 Billion dollars per day at current troop levels) during Fiscal year 2006; and when..OH..when anyone at the Joint Chief's of Staff can guess, predict, reasonably calculate, assess and determine when the Itroops will be suficiently trained to replace our U.S. troops.

One interesting side-bar note occurred during the remarks by Senator James Inhofe (R-Okalahoma) speaking about Al Zarkawi's current presence in Iraq and the current notion that the former Baathist insurgents might be coordinating with these bin Laden & Al Qaeda associates. Inhofe made the remark that (loose quote here...I'm not working from a direct transcript), "it troubled him that people would say there was "not a connection" between Saddam Hussein and Al Qaeda or Osama bin laden." The Disconnect in this statement, and No One even commented on it, is not whether some Al Qaeda or Al Zarkawi operatives are working together NOW or since the destruction of Iraq's infrastructure and army, but the clear (and erroneous) impression meant to be conveyed that Saddam Hussein and Al Qaeda had a "working operational relationship" PRIOR to our invasion that justifies the "fighting global terrorism" blanket objective as one of the underlying justifications for the Iraq War (WMD's notwithstanding.)

This is just more of the bald-faced distortions made ad naeseum by the GOP, President, Vice President and Team Bush. As Bay Buchannan (CNN guest Cross-Fire Hostess) is so fond of remarking, "Perception IS Reality," (at least to her simpleminded kind...to me its more like: Reality is Reality, Bay) and this oft-touted trash is the Reality they wish to become embedded in the perception of the Mass-Consciousness of the American people.

Karen on 02.14.05 @ 05:07 AM CST [link] [ | ]

"Pre-Implosion" archives are back online....

The link on the sidebar points to the archives of this site prior ot the February 4 problems that led to the loss of this site.

Hopefully, I will get to separate index pages for Brock's and Karen's posts, but that's going to take a little while. For now, however, at least you can look through these archives if you are looking a favorite post you remember from prior to February 4.

Len on 02.13.05 @ 08:00 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Karen's Triva Q Answer to this weeks' question:

"Hats Off" to Bradford for getting this one right out of the gate:

Who are the "Man Eaters of Tsavo?" What were their monikers and in the movie (using these nick-names as its title) what currently famous stars appeared in this thriller?

The Man Eaters of Tsavo were two (mane-less) male lions, nicknamed "The Ghost" and "The Darkness" and were the subject of the 1996 movie of the same names...starring Val Kilmer and Michael Douglas. This movie was about the real life experiences of Lieut.-Col. J.H. Patterson, D.S.O. who encountered these man-eaters in Tsavo (near Uganda located on the eastern portion of Africa) during the 1890's.

In his experiences, presented as a lecture to the Field Museum in 1924 (here in the Windy City), Col. Patterson tells the tale of "these two most ferocious brutes (who) killed and devoured, under the most appalling circumstances, 135 Indian and African artisans and laborers employed in the construction of the Uganda Railway."

Col. Patterson's most remarkable account so impressed the Museum President, Mr. Stanley Field, that Mr. Field bought and restored the skins. (Patterson had made them into rugs) for display at the Field Museum...where they reside today. (Though owing to the altered condition the pelts...they couldn't be restored to their full size. Patterson had cut off portions of the hides when he made them into throw rugs -so they appear smaller than their original size. )

In my copy of the printed leaflet published by the Museum, the accompanying pictures show Col. Patterson seated next to the first man-eater he killed. It's huge paw alone is the size of Patterson's head. So...if you're ever in the Windy City...check out these man-eaters at the Field Museum.

Bonus Q:

Speaking of Royal Mistresses: What royal mistress to a former Prince of Wales...also had a small US western town named after her? And Who named the town?

"Hats Off" to Bryan (and to Len) for getting this one right.

Lillie Langtry was the former mistress of the Prince of Wales, Bertie. And Judge Roy Bean was her admirer who named both the Town of Langtry as well as his saloon "The Jersey Lily."

Len also reports...correctly:

"Unfortunately, Lillie never visited Langtry, Texas during
the lifetime of Judge Roy "The Law West of the Pecos" Bean, her admirer who
may have named the town after her (though the town may have been named
after a railroad boss, but Bean did name his saloon "The Jersey Lily" in
her honor), though I think she got there after Bean died. Lillie also,
got horizontal with Edward VII back when he was merely "Bertie",
Queen Vickie's eldest son (and therefore Prince of Wales). More interesting
from my perspective is that she also did the horizontal mambo with Sir
Robert Peel, founder of The Metropolitan Police (which is why they're
called "Bobbies", in his honor), Home Secretary, and PM.

Also more interesting from my perspective is that she was buddies with
Oscar Wilde and James McNeill Whistler. Whistler, you may be aware,
attended West Point for a while before dropping out or being expelled (I
believe for academic deficiencies). While at West Point, Whistler was a
classmate and friend of Marcus Albert Reno, who as a Major in the 7th U.S.
Cavalry was second in command of the regiment in the field, and a battalion
commander, at the Battle of the Little Bighorn, June 26, 1876.

Whistler was a legend at West Point for having, during a chemistry exam
(which he failed, not surprisingly), answered that silicon was a gas.
Supposedly, this led to the following exchange between Reno and Whistler
during a get together after their West Point days:

WHISTLER: You know, Reno, if silicon was a gas I would have graduated from
West Point and become a major general.
RENO: Yes, and then nobody would have ever heard of your mother.

This, if true, may be the only joke Reno ever cracked in his life."

FYI on Whistler's connection to Jack the Ripper. In Patricia Cornwell's 2002 book, Portrait of a Killer: Jack the Ripper Case Closed, Ms. Cornwell makes a very convincing case that Whistler's protege and student, Walter Richard Sickert (who became a noted artist in his own name) was none other than THE Jack the Ripper. It's fascinating reading...and Cornwell's theory is that Sickert's (as the Ripper) wrote "Ha, Ha, Ha's" into numerous Ripper letters which were an imitation of Whistler's own booming American laugh (unlike the staid British guffaws.) Many of these letter...thought to be hoaxes, Cornwell reports were tested by her forensics friends and experts, and many were done with art materials and art supplies...one even painted by hand with a paint brush.

Cornwell writes on pp. 3-5:

"Sickert despised the upper class, but he was a star stalker. He somehow managed to hobnob with the major celebrities of the day: Henry Irving, Ellen Terry, Aubrey Beardlsey, Henry James, Max Beerbohm, Oscar Wilde, Monet, Renoir, Pissarro, Rodin, Andre Gide, Edouard Du-Jardin, Proust, and members of Parliament." and "By the time of Whistler's engagement (to Beatrice Goodwin) his friendship (with Sickert) had cooled...and a shockingly unexpected and complete abandonment by the Master whom (Sickert) idolized, envied and hated."

It could be Sickert also knew "The Jersey Lillie" too.

Cornwell also reveal a sexual disfigurement that she credits in part for the psychology of a "forensic profile" that would be consistent with a "Jack the Ripper" killer. Great read...hope they make a movie to replace all the "Royalist conspiracy theories" that have been done to date.

Karen on 02.13.05 @ 01:04 PM CST [link] [ | ]

MadKane wants to change careers, again.....

After being a "symphony orchestra oboist, lawyer, food stamp application taker, [and] department store hosiery organizer", she's figuring that the next logical step is: White House Correspondent. And hey, if James D. "Jeff Gannon" Guckert can get White House press credentials, why shouldn't Mad?

If she pulls this off, I'll even watch White House press conferences, if she promises to sing her very own filks as part of her questions.... :-)

Len on 02.13.05 @ 12:31 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Thought for the Day:

If I were a wealthy woman, I could be considered eccentric. However, since I'm not, my friends just call me "weird".
--Leafy Rivers

Len on 02.13.05 @ 11:59 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Life's Hitch-Hikers

Greg Rivara, Managing Editor of our most wonderful Kane County Chronicle, had this piece today: Weather and a Bit of Fun.

So, I HAD to send him this note...us being such buds an all:

Dear Greg:

Looking forward to the new additions to our most wonderful Kane County Chronicle.

Especially, Ms. Susan Wassel...this is what we ( I ) need...more crosses between "Soccer Moms and 'Desperate Houswives'" zooming around the Tri-Cities area in their mini-vans. Can I get a ride...does she pick up hitch-hikers on this "road in life?"

%-) (Picasso version of a *smilie*)

I'm mightily *dissapointed* I didn't get an invite to kevetch in your paper...but then again...you KNOW while I cheerfully cop to being (moderately ) Insane...I am NOT Crazy.

p.s. You still owe me that cup'o'joe...but I'll "get over it."

Many cheers...Karen

Karen on 02.13.05 @ 08:49 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Karen's Trivia Q of the Week

I really am *trying* to come up with a question *someone* actually knows and can answer...So, here's my trivia question for the week. (It is, once again, a mix of factual history and movie trivia.)

Who are the "Man Eaters of Tsavo?" What were their monikers and in the movie (using these nick-names as its title) what currently famous stars appeared in this thriller?

Also a bonus Q:

Speaking of Royal Mistresses: What royal mistress to a former Prince of Wales...also had a small US western town named after her? And Who named the town? Ought to be "easy" for all you US history BUFF's out there.

Karen on 02.13.05 @ 07:46 AM CST [link] [ | ]

More Meatheads

Michael Kinsley (LA Times) is "at it" again in this most excellent post about Social Security;

Kinsley writes in The Meathead Proposition:

"Try to forgive my obsession, but here is another proof that President Bush's designs for Social Security cannot work. This one's not mine. I first heard it from the actor/director and liberal activist, Rob Reiner. Like the argument I have been hawking (see latimes.com/proof), this one doesn't merely suggest that Bush is making bad policy, it demonstrates with near-mathematical certainty that the idea he endorses cannot work. Period.

Bush might as well be proposing legislation that 2 plus 2 is 5. And if that happened, there would be no shortage of Republican pols prepared to endorse such a view...."

In an earlier public query Kinsley challenged all comers to refute his declaration that :
"My previous argument, in a nutshell, was that even if these private investments do better than the government bonds in which the current Social Security surplus is invested, this won't change the total amount being invested in the private economy, or increase the economic growth that comes from private investment, because the government will just have to go out and borrow elsewhere to replace the dollars it isn't able to borrow from Social Security."

To date: NO ONE has sucessfully refute this propostion or shown how the "Bush Plan" is anything other than a barely disguised proposal for the total train-wreck of the entire Social Security System...not the FIX he promises.

Karen on 02.13.05 @ 06:52 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Would They Someday Throw Away the Key?

Farouz Farzami wrote this chilling tale about her 36 day ordeal in and Iranian prison for writing points of view critical of Iran in her Web-Blog in this article called: A blogger's 'crime' against the Islamic state of Iran.

Farouz wrote in part this exchange with her interrogators:

"Do you accept the charges?" the interrogator asked.

"What charges?"

"That you have written things in your Web log that go against the Islamic system and that encourage people to topple the system," he said. "You are inviting corrupt American liberalism to rule Iran."

"I've tried to write my ideas and opinions in my Web log and to communicate with others in Farsi all over the world," I said.

He was displeased. "These answers will lead us nowhere, and you will stay here for years. Tell us the truth. How much have you received to write these offenses against the Islamic state? How are you and your fellow Web loggers organized?"

*Whew!* It is frightening to realize that for this "crime" Farouz could indeed be locked up for years...maybe for life...and have the key thrown away.

Karen on 02.13.05 @ 06:24 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Maya Keyes

I *was* tempted to crack a taste-less, meanie joke about Maya Keyes now no longer being the "black sheep selfish hedonist" in the Keyes family...but really it's too sad and somewhat tragic. (WHO could forget that Alan Keyes was our Republican Senatorial Candidate replacement after the infamous implosion campaign of Jack Ryan here in Dennis Hastert Corner...until he was "laughed out of town" on election day. Oh, the fun never sleeps in the Windy Outback.)

There was an op-ed recently in the paper (though I recycled it already and can't recall exactly who it's author was) but the topic...though related to parental educational opportunities...fits here also. It was about a woman facetiously claiming (she's a minority too) she'd done an excellent job assessing, reviewing and selecting the perfect couple to be born to...lucky her and her good choices. The point being that so much is expected without measuring the disadvantages of the "circumstances" of being born to poor, uneducated, lacking the means themselves parents...as if this were a "choice"for a pre-fetus to make as their successful "positioning" strategy to get up in the world.

Likewise, Maya did not get to "choose" her narrow minded, Bible-toting (and quoting) Heartless, River-of-Rectitude Father, Alan Keyes... Cause we sure KNOW she'd have done a better job than to PICK him. (LOL)

For those of you wondering what this is all about: Jon Rowe (a very smart Libertarian lawyer and blogger) posted a piece on his site about "Alan Keyes's daughter About to Become Homeless?" Jon wrote, in part:

"But Alan Keyes is a public figure and his daughter has a public website. Maya, openly and unapologetically Lesbian, was working for Dad, but then her protesting Bush's inaugural apparently was the straw that broke the Camel's back (she blogs on the details of the protest as well). He fired her from her job and now she claims that she's about to be homeless.

And Maya herself writes about on her web-blog at this link.

Karen on 02.13.05 @ 06:07 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Two Foxes in The Oil Hen House

Today's NY Times columnist, Thomas Friedman, had this to say in his No Mullah Left Behind piece:

"This is a perfect example of the Bush energy policy at work, and the Bush energy policy is: "No Mullah Left Behind."

By adamantly refusing to do anything to improve energy conservation in America, or to phase in a $1-a-gallon gasoline tax on American drivers, or to demand increased mileage from Detroit's automakers, or to develop a crash program for renewable sources of energy, the Bush team is - as others have noted - financing both sides of the war on terrorism. We are financing the U.S. armed forces with our tax dollars, and, through our profligate use of energy, we are generating huge windfall profits for Saudi Arabia, Iran and Sudan, where the cash is used to insulate the regimes from any pressure to open up their economies, liberate their women or modernize their schools, and where it ends up instead financing madrassas, mosques and militants fundamentally opposed to the progressive, pluralistic agenda America is trying to promote. Now how smart is that?

The neocon strategy may have been necessary to trigger reform in Iraq and the wider Arab world, but it will not be sufficient unless it is followed up by what I call a "geo-green" strategy."

Back in my "pre-blogging" day of kevetching in letters to the editor I wrote a little ditty I called "Two Foxes in the Oil Henhouse." Click on the "more" button to read further.

Karen on 02.13.05 @ 06:00 AM CST [more..] [ | ]

More things I didn't want to visualize....

Earlier this week, it was Jose Canseco taking a hypodermic and shooting Mark McGwire with steroids in his beefy backside. Now, Cardinals first base coach Dave McKay (who was with the Oakland A's during the period Canseco makes his allegations about) gives an interview with SLAM! Sports where he fills us in on some more things we'd probably rather not know:

Side effects of steroid abuse include heart disease, high blood pressure, clogged arteries, liver cancer, prostate cancer, breast growth, baldness and atrophied testicles.

McKay remembers A's players, after a trip to the showers, telling him in the early 1990s, that Canseco's testicles were shrinking.
Then again, that raises questions of why the other A's players were paying that close attention to Canseco's testicles...

Len on 02.12.05 @ 06:12 PM CST [link] [ | ]

From Bob Park....

and his always informative "What's New" newsletter this week:

Let's see if we've got this right: based on unfounded rumors of nuclear weapons in Iraq, the U.S. committed itself to a war that has so far cost the lives of more than 2,000 American troops and another 10,000 wounded. Perhaps 18,000 Iraqi civilians have been killed, and more than 6,000 military. This carnage has cost us $153 billion, and there's no end in sight. Although he had no weapons of mass destruction, we're told the Iraq war is justified because Sadam is a really bad guy. Kim Jong Il is no sweetheart either, and N. Korea is dancing in the end zone with its nukes.

Len on 02.12.05 @ 02:27 PM CST [link] [ | ]

A Linux PC, a microcontroller, and some Python hacking....

and you, too, can feed your cats with Linux.

And if you, yourself, want to feed the cats with Linux, via the web, just go here.

(Though, personally I have to wonder if they really have the feeder connected up anymore. This article is from the Linux Journal, and was picked up by a number of tech sites. If it's still online, Cotton and Tulip are two very fat cats, no doubt.)

Len on 02.12.05 @ 01:53 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Mark Morford asks the burning tech question of the day...

Why does Windows still suck?:

So about a year ago, the SO finally upgraded her Net connection to DSL, carefully installed the Yahoo! DSL software into her creaky Sony Vaio PC laptop and ran through all the checks and install verifications and appropriate nasty disclaimers.

And all seemed to go smoothly and reasonably enough considering it was a Windows PC and therefore nothing was really all that smooth or reasonable or elegant, but whatever. She just wanted to get online. Should be easy as 1-2-3, claimed the Yahoo! guide. Painless as tying your shoe, said the phone company.

She got online all right. The DSL worked great. For about four minutes.

Then, something happened. Something attacked. Something swarmed her computer the instant she tried to move around online and the computer slowed and bogged and cluttered and crashed, and multiple restarts and debuggings and what-the-hells only brought up only a flood of nightmarish pop-up windows and terrifying error messages and massive system slowdowns and all manner of inexplicable claims of infestation of this worm and that Trojan horse and did we want to buy McAfee AntiVirus protection for $39.95?

Four minutes. And she was already DOA.

My SO, she is not alone. This exact same scenario, with only slight variation, is happening throughout the nation, right now. Are you using a PC? You probably have spyware. The McAfee site claims a whopping 91 percent of PCs are infected. As every Windows user knows, PCs are ever waging a losing battle with a stunningly vicious array of malware and worms and viruses, all aimed at exploiting one of about ten thousand security flaws and holes in Microsoft Windows.

Here, then, is my big obvious question: Why the hell do people put up with this? Why is there not some massive revolt, some huge insurrection against Microsoft? Why is there not a huge contingent of furious users stomping up to Seattle with torches and scythes and crowbars, demanding the Windows Frankenstein monster be sacrificed at the altar of decent functionality and an elegant user interface?

There is nothing else like this phenomenon in the entire consumer culture. If anything else performed as horribly as Windows, and on such a global scale, consumers would scream bloody murder and demand their money back and there would be some sort of investigation, class-action litigation, a demand for Bill Gates' cute little geeky head on a platter.

Here is your brand new car, sir. Drive it off the lot. Yay yay new car. Suddenly, new car shuts off. New car barely starts again and then only goes about 6 miles per hour and it belches smoke and every warning light on the dashboard is blinking on and off and the tires are screaming and the heater is blasting your feet and something smells like burned hair. You hobble back to the dealer, who only says, gosh, sorry, we thought you knew -- that's they way they
all run. Enjoy!

Would you not be, like, that is the goddamn
last time I buy a Ford?

Len on 02.12.05 @ 01:30 PM CST [link] [ | ]

YO...Calling Maynard G. Krebs

This post's gonna go a bit backwards and forwards in the timing here...but bear with me here...it's tooo funny.

Friday...dubbed Fret-Free-Friday-in-February...Len's post about Gizoogle decided to Go South on me. I had told several people about this fun thingy...so I wanted to see if I could get it working again.

I sent Len this e-mail:

Dear Lenid-a-droma-drizzle:

For somma reason-izzle Gizoogle popped-a-wheeling on DBV and is no longa a tranzilatin our webzizzle pagoogles. I tries to be a re-loadazilling this link-a -zoogle...but tha' motha'faucka she's a not cooperizzling wit me.

Help...Now, git yohw a techiwizzling booti-licious meza-mindizlle to mah post...and sees what yousems can perco-li-zelle to correcto-fying-izelle this tranzilatin melt-dizzle. %-) K-ring-do-drizzle

CC: to Dearaz Biz-a-a-r-rock.

(Tranzilated backwards from Gizoogle means:
Dear Len:

For some reason Gizoogle stopped working for me on DBV and is no longer translating our webpage posts. I tried to reload this link to Gizoogle, but that darn link is not working for me.

Help...Now get your Techno-Wizard mind over to look at my post...and see what you can figure out to correct this translating melt-down. :-) Karen)

CC: to Dear Brock

Len wrote me back:
Very impressive. May I suggest a quick test that even you, techno-deficient
as you think you are, can accomplish.

Point your browser to:


And tell me what happens.

When you tell me the results of that test, I can tell you what's wrong.
However, extra brownie points if you figger it out on yer own (yer a smart
woman; I think you might if what I think will happen happens).

Cheers, Yer Techno-Wizard :-)

So, I answered him thus-ly:
YO Wizsard.:

Taht bichaz of a Gizoogizzle is tellin me "Weeebstiz doze not Responda." Then whehza I hiz--zaa the Reloadizzle buuutton. I gets the followilles mesamizzles:

Warning: mysql_connect(): Lost connection to MySQL server during query in /home/gizoogle/public_html/translate2.php on line 2

Warning: mysql_select_db(): supplied argument is not a valid MySQL-Link resource in /home/gizoogle/public_html/translate2.php on line 3

Duriziling my earlia trys...it was Errazilles 64 and 62.

We'aw Wizsard...what seaaze yosems??

%-) K-ring-do-drizzle

CC: to Dearaz Biz-a-a-r-rock.

(Again...Tranzilated backwards from Gizoogle means:
Dear Len:

That dang Gizoogle is telling me "Website does not Respond." Then, when I hit the reload button. I get the following messages:

Warning: mysql_connect(): Lost connection to MySQL server during query in /home/gizoogle/public_html/translate2.php on line 2

Warning: mysql_select_db(): supplied argument is not a valid MySQL-Link resource in /home/gizoogle/public_html/translate2.php on line 3

During my earlier trys...it was Errors # 64 and 62.

Well, Len what do you say? :-) Karen)

CC: to Dear Brock

Len wrote back:
I'm sorry, I'm not Barbara Billingsley; I don't speak jive. :-)

However reproducing here the experiment I recommended you do, I find that
Gizoogle does translate your "It's a Haamsta, Mr. Fawlty" post, but doesn't
translate the main index page (this time tells me "Fatal error: Maximum
execution time of 30 seconds exceeded in
/home/gizoogle/public_html/translate2.php on line 20").

I tend to interpret that as confirming my original hypothesis (which I
didn't mention to see if you got it on your own): our main page is simply
too big, and Gizoogle is choking under the mass of words (the other
possiblity was that the Haloscan calls in the header of the page were
causing Gizoogle to time out, but if that was the case then your "Haamsta"
post would choke it, too, which it doesn't).

I also note that translating the hamster post changed "About Brock" to
"'bout Briznock". My favorite is still "'bout B-R-to-tha-izzock", but
"Briznock" definitely grows on me.

Cheers, L.

Brock wrote back:
These were the sponsored links that Gmail served up for this message:

Snoop Dogg Tickets
Tickets for all UK dates; London, Manchester, Dublin and more!

Snoop Dogg Mp3's
Listen to Snoop dogg Online. 100% Free Online Music. Listen Now

Meet Snoop Dogg
Want to meet Snoop Dogg? We can make it happen

Brock Sides

Finally: I, a massive (and still D- grade techno-weenie) don't know what is wrong. Except that Gizoogle would translate the entire DBV...not just the sidebars, title and first posts...I'd get the whole shebang...so perhaps that is too much trazililating for poor 'ole Gizoogle to perform. My less-than-brillant idea was to try to create a new post....further up the food chain in the postings and hoping that would make this work again. But, first it required typing the entire DBV URL in the site window that popped up in my post...

And I never have gotten it working again for DBV at least. *SIGH* But its works for other URL's I can type in there...so some compensations for all that silliness. ;-)

I was tempted to give Len a 1/2 a point for the "Baraba Billingsley" reference...but this being a "esprit de l'escalier" moment" for me (my "In Other Words" dictionary refers tro this as " a witty remark tha occurs to you too late, literally on the way down the stairs. The OED of Quotations...maybe where we shall find "short walk off a long pier"...if only I had that book :-( ... describes this as 'an untranslatable phrase, the meaning of which is that one only thinks on one's way downstairs of the smart retort one might have made in the drawing room.'")

We might have to call it even (Len is currently up 3-2) because the only Hep-Cat from the 50's who mighta been able to decipher this Snoop-Doggy tranzilating would have been Maynard G. Krebs (played by our very own Gilligan in a previous life) on The Dobbie Gillis Show.

Karen on 02.12.05 @ 01:15 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Thought for the Day:

Which Service has the Dumbest Officers? *

* Or, conversely, the smartest enlisted people?

Len on 02.12.05 @ 09:48 AM CST [link] [ | ]

More Social Security:

Business Week has a viewpoint on Social Security for its upcoming February 14th edition:
Social Security: Pick The Best Part Of Every Plan: By Glenn Hubbard.

The only real problem, as I see it, is that NONE of the proposed plans, nor Mr. Hubbard's suggestions, addresses what to do with the actual cash shortfall for the existing program and beneficiaries. And all of the Social Security debate ignores the more URGENT problems with the cash shortfall for the previous Bush changes to the Medicare program.

In part this Business Week article states:

"Finally, contributions of low-income individuals to personal accounts could be matched in some proportion with public contributions to bolster future income in retirement."

What are these "public contributions" Glenn writes of except another word for TAX DOLLARS...which, if this adminstration wasn't in an "over my dead body" stance on anything that could actually correct the cash shortfalls, seems to be pretty lame to suggest at this point. So, unfortunately...I'm sending you back to the drawing board, Glenn.

Today, Robert Weiner, Democratic strategist and former chief of staff of the House Aging Committee under Chairman Claude Pepper (D-FL), sharply criticized the President's "Chicken Little" approach to trying to gain traction with the American people on this issue. US new wire reports Weiner saying:
"President Bush is using the Chicken Little myth in his radio address today when he asserts that 'by 2042 the entire system' will be 'bankrupt'. By that definition, the federal government is bankrupt right now -- spending nearly $500 billion more per year than it takes in, plus the off-budget items of another some $80 billion in the supplemental appropriations for the Iraq war."

Karen on 02.12.05 @ 08:10 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Infinity vs Vanity and The God Gene

OH...Crap...I was hoping not to have post this...not just yet any way...but they've gone and kept writing endless stuff about this "God and Evolution" issue over at the NY Times:

Nicholas D. Kristof (NY Times columnist) has this op-ed today: God and Evolution

So, I had to send him this one called "Infinity v Vanity": (I'll let ya know if he gets back to me on this one...sometime they get soooo many e-mails they don't always answer anything personally. Just auto-response answers to e-mails. These do not count in my book as an "answers" at all...just a form of "politeness" on the internet highway of life.)

Dear Mr. Kristof:

OH...Please not more about this abominable "God Gene" nonsense!!!

I have a much better one though...If I were writing the legal brief for the Celestial Court of the Universe, it would be phrased in "legalese" as "neither admits not denies the existence of a God." (Besides...what do I know...I have no special "TRUTHs" in this matter...and I'm mighty suspicious of those who claim they DO.)

Try this one on for size:

Have you ever come across Dr. Steven Wolfram's "A New Kind Of Science" published in 2002? Wolfram created a program "mathematica" of simple mathematical programs which run and mimic complex processes found in nature. (Full book text can be found at www.wolframscience.com - and do check out a few of the incredible pages of illustrations; like pp's 402-403, 415-416, and 426-427 - they are awesome!!)

He avoids the "God" implications in either Creationism or Intelligent Design, except by suggestion that if one believes in God as proved by the immeasurable complexity and variety found in nature, the truth may be that if there was a divine "plan" it may have been a "simple plan" after all. (This is the direct opposite concept of the ID people who posit an intelligent creator because of the diversity visible in the world.)

While I am not a mathematician, so many of the 1293 pages of equations fall outside of my ken, but the basic principles he explains and the models he illustrates are amazing.

The interesting point about the "simple plan" is how it can fit both views if one wishes to see a divine force or merely the work of nature. However, in my opinion, what is doesn't fit is the usual Religious narrative that attempts to squash that "infinite" creativity to the idea of a "human inspired" creation of only 6000 years in a theme of biblical literalism of creationism. I fail to find a reason for "Biblical Literalism" in all its forms, except as the propaganda agenda of so many organized religions as used to justify policies for themselves and against others (both other religious and non-religious groups.) How "telling" is that the Bible and Koran, as it was written by other mere mortal men years after events (now why didn't Jesus or Mohammed write down their own "talking points" or have their words scribed by others since they must have known the import of them to their adherents?) wish to present their views based on God's benevolent interest in us…seems mostly mere mortal vanity.

However, if one conceived of an infinite being, to whom time is infinite, processes unlimited, why would it make sense to limit its' "creativity" in creation to this unnaturally narrow frame of possibilities as described in the Bible by men? It fits so much better that this may have been the process of a few simple rules (if one like the notion of a divine plan) that can then spin out over endlessly vast amounts of time and space, evolving and following these paths into the most spectacular array of things…as we can see around us. What is the billions of years it would take...in comparison to this infinity of time to let this all take place. How much more beautiful it becomes as a whole if one can "ignore" the organized religious views as expressed so narrowly and see beyond to the fullest possibilities yet to come. This notion of "simple becoming diverse" is not heretical, anti-God idea (but it may be anti-Biblical if one wishes to claim the Bible as Fact rather than Faith.)

On the opposite end, if one were an atheist, this simple plan also fits as perhaps the fruitful outcome of some simple rules and the natural/organic processes inherent in formation of the Earth which has begun simply and, again, spins out over endlessly vast amounts of time and space, turning and following these paths into the most spectacular array of things…as we can see around us.

That because of these processes, played out over the millennium, we somehow arrived at modern, thinking, reflective humans can be an amazing thing, but why not part of a process of this "infinite" set of possibilities rather than the "penultimate" reason for all creation…which begins to look more like that vanity of the human creation than God's creational infinity.

Hope you get a chance to look over Wolfram's work. I'd be curious to see what your take would be on this idea after you've seen if for yourself.

Karen on 02.12.05 @ 07:29 AM CST [link] [ | ]

More Gonzales Plame Out

In this US news wire release a bit ago (been saving it…but, better late than neveragain…), it reports about the whistle blowers event held last January 26th, 2005 where:

"An unprecedented group of national security whistleblowers and family members of 9/11 victims will gather on Wednesday, Jan. 26, to demand that the government halt its detrimental practice of silencing employees who expose national security blunders.
The event (included) several 9/11 family member advocacy groups and public interest organizations file a friend-of-the-court brief in support of Sibel Edmonds' case against the government.
Edmonds, a former Middle Eastern language specialist hired by the FBI shortly after 9/11, was fired in 2002 after repeatedly reporting serious security breaches and misconduct in the agency's translation program. She challenged her retaliatory dismissal by filing suit in federal court. Last July, the district court dismissed her case when Attorney General John Ashcroft invoked the so-called state secrets privilege. The ACLU is representing Edmonds in the appeal."

Michael Froomkin (Law Professor & blogger) had this item on his web-blog about Gonzales' hand in obstruction in the Plame investigation. Froomkin wrote:
Do not forget that Gonzales — nominated to be the nation’s top cop — is the guy who when the Plame investigation was bearing down on the White House ensured that the guilty parties had all the time they could want to shred everything incriminating.""

Despite the hoopla over his being the first Hispanic nominee for this "exalted" position...and all the "ethnic pride" on the part of Hispanics nationally...are the serious LEGAL and MORAL issues about this Presidential choice.

I am still *Gasping* at the audacity to produce such a nominee as if no other qualified candidate existed...but now is their evil cabal completed, that circle of Bushie insiders closing, the forces of Darkness arrayed against us...and the noose is tightening...on us poor Americans. Bleh!

And when, Oh, when are they going to get to the weezle, Robert Novak, for his despicable part in all of this??? I still say Safire (now formerly of the NY Times) should have co-opted Bob into a double retirement ceremony...then could we all have breathed a *SIGH* of relief.

Karen on 02.12.05 @ 06:19 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Finally...To Be Royally Wedded and Bedded

For a bit of British History to go along with an analysis of Prince Charles' long overdue proposal and upcoming wedding with Mrs. Camilla Parker Bowles...The Times of London had this article: The Right Time : A Royal Marriage That Should Be Welcomed."

This article went on to say:

"It will need to be legally sanctioned at some point, a process that should induce a wider parliamentary interest in finally addressing some of the legal absurdities that surround the monarchy and marriage. They include provisions of the Act of Settlement 1701 (which prevent members of the Royal Family from marrying Roman Catholics without renouncing all their rights to the succession) and the Royal Marriages Act 1772 (which can, in certain circumstances, allow the head of state to veto the proposed partners of other senior royal figures). It would be far better to amend or repeal these statutes before either Prince William or Prince Harry aspires to be married."

Hip-hip-hooray for the Royals!!! (And get on with the Repealing will ya!)

Karen on 02.12.05 @ 05:19 AM CST [link] [ | ]

From the Files: Better Late Than Never

Somehow, somewhere, I missed the swearing-in-ceremony of Roberto Gonzales. Drat…I had this good post…So, rather than let it go to waste…it's Better Late Than Never.

Lots of pundits and commentators have richly analyzed the "Torturer's Memo" ad nauseum, but...I wanted to point out one "tweaky" little issue on the Bybee torture memo and the language "unless mistreatment caused the kind of pain associated with 'organ failure, impairment of bodily functions or even death."

This kind of language doesn't actually concern torture at all in the Geneva conventions...it's about what types of situations and conditions are reasons to have to provide "emergency medical treatment."

The redefinition of this to mean "anything up to this point" therefore does not equal "torture" is a complete White House/Gonzales/Bybee et. al. INVENTION. That this language was meant to apply to some "acceptable torture standard or definition" is incorrect on it's face and meaning in the law. That's why I say it's an "extra-procedural process" conducted to get these "new rules" for these conflicts and that it (illegally in my humble opinion...but what do I know...) failed to account for the general legal interpretation guidelines or methods and failed entirely to consider the Congressional role in having a place to decide these "small matters of law."

Sadly...Ouch for the Geneva Conventions.

The NY Times also had this good article about the Yoo Torture analysis.

As a Send Off to John Ashcroft, I'd like to point out the the Dept. of Justice Website (DOJ) had posted this completely bogus "144 terrorism cases prosecuted" as Ashcroft's back-slapping, glad-handed, congratulatory, self-pat on the back.

I had this on-going debate with Greg Rivara, Managing Editor of The Kane County Chronicle, who saw fit to publish this erroneous crap of "144 DOJ prosecutions" as a "Thank You" for all the fine public service Ashcroft had supposedly provided our country. As I pointed pointed out to Greg, there aren't but a Baker's Dozen of cases for successful "Terrorism Prosecutions" in the entire four years of Ashcroft's term (and most are complete rinky-dink crap.)

For more about at least 56 erroneous "terrorism prosecution" claims by the DOJ website....click on "more."

Karen on 02.12.05 @ 04:34 AM CST [more..] [ | ]

Brita filtering vodka

Adam at Oh My God It Burns! reports on the results of a fascinating scientific experiment:

In the alchemical tradition, creation of the Philosopher’s stone is the ultimate end to man’s needs. The stone has the power to cure disease, prolong life, and possesses the added benefit of being able to transmute metals, as in lead into gold.

As scienticians, we believe that such an object exists, and that it can be used for our own dastardly purposes.

Our theory is that a simple brita water filter can be used to make bad vodka, into good. In our case this meant turning a Vladimir™, into a Ketel One™. At $11.09 for 1.75 liter (Ketel is 11.99 for the 350 ml), Vladimir is a steal. It is, however, painful to drink, has a repugnant aftertaste, posesses a bouquet reminiscent of rubbing alcohol. Our working theory was that these terrible qualities were caused by a lack of proper filtration, and that running our Vlad through a charcoal filter would remove some of the impurities causing these odors and flavors.

Ethical Werewolf.)

Brock on 02.11.05 @ 06:21 PM CST [link] [ | ]

People who use glass restrooms

Glen Whitman asks, Could you use this toilet?

From the outside:

Outside view of public toilet

From the inside:

Inside view of public toilet

Brock on 02.11.05 @ 05:59 PM CST [link] [ | ]

It's a Haamsta, Mr. Fawlty...

I've been wondering when one of my three Dwarf Siberian Haamsta's, Figi, Albi and Bob, was going to depart for Haamsta Heaven. They are close to two years old and only Bob seems to be still in good health. Albi has a large mole-type tumor on her back about the size of a pea and Figi has some strange bulbous tumor on her left hip which (if it were on you or me, would be the size of a small watermelon) and looks most uncomfortable...but she manages to get around her cage somehow. (We are wondering what's in our water around here...??)

Haamstas (68k image)

The girls want me to take them to the Vet (for surgery.) (Charlie...on the other hand wants me to ship the little beggars back to Siberian where they came from...He's not a creature-feature person and hates all these critters...excepting our Furkid, Sami the wonder-hound.) But Vets are $$$ and these are after all Haamsta's...so we wait. Yet everyday I expect to see one of them has "bought the farm"...but there all still alive and kicking.

But...since I don't think there much time left on that ticking biological clock...I decided to post this one on The Haamsta Gang. And so it goes at Dennis Hastert Corner.

Karen on 02.11.05 @ 09:18 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Gem o'the Day:

From John Brattain over at The Hardball Times: My Big Fat Steroids Column

First came BALCO, soon Jose Canseco’s book, now Jason Giambi met with the New York media ...

Oh goody.

Right now the good folks in the media are simultaneously gnashing their teeth while licking their chops like sharks in a feeding frenzy inside a pool full of spasmodic hemophiliacs who neglect to clip their finger and toenails. Since hanging by the neck, drawing and quartering, and beheading is considered bad form in our enlightened age--ah if public flogging were still de rigeur that would take care of it--the intrepid knights of keyboard are making sure that the filthy blaggards that have permanently besmirched the national pastime are properly pilloried in the press (whew) detracting from the saintly aura given the game by such deacons of decorum as Ty Cobb, Hal Chase and Cap Anson. [editor‘s head explodes]

Don’t let the filthy bastards into the Hall-of-Fame, kick them out of the game, erase their names from the birth registry, round ’em all up, put ’em on the space shuttle and launch them into the sun where they’ll never be given the opportunity to sully the lily white plaques of Gaylord Perry, Don Sutton, and Lefty Gomez who’d never stoop to bending the rules to gain a competitive advantage.

Oh why, oh why did Jason put that syringe into his keister? Why did Barry rub that “flaxseed oil” on his knee? Couldn’t they have done something less destructive like betting on their own team or following the example of Swede Risberg and Chick Gandil who found a tamer way of displaying the seamier side of their personalities?

Burn ‘em all at the stake and let the ghost of Judge Landis sort them out.

Len on 02.11.05 @ 08:59 AM CST [link] [ | ]

More on The Juice.....

"Juice" as in steroid abuse, that is; I've not yet abandoned my more-or-less complete boycotting of any mention of the O.J. trial (well, probably less complete, but none of us are perfect).

Brian Walton, at The Cardinals Birdhouse, has a fascinating interview with fitness expert/journalist (and also native St. Louisan and Cardinal fan) Lou Schuler. Schuler has some interesting, and IMHO, sensible, observations on the whole steroid controversy in MLB:

What are the similarities and differences between weight training and nutrition by professional bodybuilders and professional baseball players?

Beyond the fact they’re both eating and lifting weights, there shouldn’t be any similarities. In theory, it doesn’t matter to a bodybuilder if his muscles can do anything. His diet and training are designed to create a certain appearance, an ideal shape.

A ballplayer, on the other hand, needs to be able to perform. Baseball is a lot like football, in that it’s all about being able to generate speed and power suddenly and over very short distances.

I remember reading, back in the ‘80s, about how Jose Oquendo would go jogging in St. Louis in July in the afternoons before ballgames. It’s hard to imagine a more counterproductive way for a ballplayer to keep in shape – I mean, how does any part of jogging translate to baseball performance? – but that’s how little anyone knew about sport-specific training back then.

Another big misconception is that ballplayers who have big bellies are lazy slobs who aren’t in shape for their sport. If the most important part of the job is hitting the ball out of the park, then there’s no need for someone to have six-pack abs. In fact, training to achieve that type of look would probably be detrimental to a ballplayer. It’s not that the fat helps him hit a baseball, it’s that training to get rid of the fat might reduce his strength and power.

How might steroids affect a baseball player’s performance?

Steroids don’t just make a player bigger and stronger. There’s no direct evidence, but plenty of reasons to believe that higher testosterone levels could improve reaction time, and also make a player more confident and fearless. Look at the huge improvements in on-base percentage among players who we now suspect were now taking steroids. Is it just because pitchers are afraid to pitch to them? That could be part of it, but you can also look at the confidence and aggressiveness a guy with inflated testosterone levels will have. It’s the dominance hormone. In the wild, the animals with the most testosterone lead the pack and get all the females to themselves.

You look at the way these guys were suddenly crowding the plate in the ‘90s. They were fearless. Well, if you put Jeff Blauser on steroids, he might’ve been fearless, too.

I know the umpiring and expansion-era pitching and smaller ballparks and tighter baseballs all played into this. But that one stat, on-base percentage, might tell a bigger story than anyone suspected. I mean, if you’re not afraid of getting hit by an inside fastball, you own the plate. And what pitcher is going to aim for the head of a guy with 18-inch biceps?

Why should the average sports fan care one way or the other if their heroes are users?

If the only reason they go to the ballpark is to see home runs, the longer the better, they shouldn’t. If they think sports should be more like video games, with supersized guys slamming each other around like the laws of gravity are for losers, then they should hope all their heroes get juiced like pro wrestlers.

Now, if you believe that athletes should follow the rules of their sports, then steroid use is cause for alarm.

For me, as a baseball fan, there are two issues. One is that steroids can take a marginal player and make him an all-star. That makes it harder for the legitimate all-stars, the best players, the guys we want to tell our grandchildren we saw play, dominate the games the way they should. So I think steroids diminish the natural stars.

Just for the sake of argument –and I don’t know these guys, and can’t say anything for certain – I’d put Ken Griffey Jr. into that class, along with Nomar, A-Rod, and Albert Pujols. Looking at those guys, and following their careers, I don’t see any reason to believe they’ve juiced.

Those guys may put up numbers like the juicers, but visually, they just don’t look like they take steroids. Pujols, for example, would probably have much bigger shoulders and arms if he were using training drugs. But like I said, no one can possibly know for sure.

Griffey, in particular, might’ve benefited more than any of the others from steroids, since he probably would’ve recovered completely from his injuries and would still be dominating the game the way he did in his 20s.

That brings me to the second issue, which is the fact that the record book is meaningless if a guy can take steroids and put up better numbers than the guys who didn’t take steroids. Steroids can help guys overcome injuries and play at a high level longer than they otherwise would. Fans may enjoy that in the short term, but a few years down the road, we’re going to have a lot more guys with Hall of Fame-worthy numbers, and we’ll have no idea how much was them and how much was pharmacological.

There’s a third issue now, which is that steroids are against the rules, and anyone who uses them is cheating. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t think steroids were against the rules in Major League Baseball until after the 2002 season. So, technically, Barry Bonds wasn’t even cheating in 2001, when he hit 73 out.

With seemingly everyone from governors to movie stars to athletes bulked up, how do we know who is legit and who is not?

That’s a very good question. And there’s actually an answer. A Harvard psychiatrist named Harrison Pope worked out a formula called the “fat-free mass index,” or FFMI. He measured hundreds of bodybuilders, both natural guys and juicers, and figured out exactly how much muscle mass someone could build without adding fat. Beyond a certain point, you can’t add more mass without also gaining fat.

So that’s why it helps to look at bodybuilders. No matter how big their muscles are, they can’t compete unless they’re also so lean the audience can see all the muscle separations – where one set of muscles ends and the next begins.

Humans can build practically unlimited bulk without steroids, but most people would be surprised how little they can build without also being fat.

Dr. Pope says that a bodybuilder from the 1940s, Steve Reeves, pretty much hit the ceiling. Steve Reeves was a big guy – 6’1”, 213 pounds, with 17 ½ inch arms, but only a 31-inch waist. And that was the best physique ever built without steroids, according to Dr. Pope.

But virtually every bodybuilder and pro wrestler today surpasses that, by a long shot. Lots of other pro athletes do, too.
And for an expert opinion on "the ultimate question" (at least for us Cardinals fans): Was McGwire juiced?
Specifically, how do we ensure athletes who are not users are not unjustly accused? After all, isn’t most evidence circumstantial, such as in the case of Mark McGwire?

You can’t. You can only look at what we know to be humanly possible without drugs, and judge for yourself whether or not guys like McGwire exceeded it.

I loved baseball in 1998. I made my son come watch every McGwire at-bat with me, even though he was only 2 and couldn’t have cared less, just to be able to say he and I saw the record-breaking shots together.

And even at the time, I figured McGwire and Sosa were both juiced. I didn’t care. As a fan, particularly as a Cardinal fan, I was in heaven.

I can’t say with any certainty that McGwire took steroids – and andostenedione doesn’t count, since no studies have shown it works well enough to produce the kind of size and strength McGwire had.

Circumstantially, all the signs were there. He turned 35 right about the time he hit his 70th homer. That season he had an OPS of 1.222. Athletes typically peak in their late 20s. Mac’s highest slugging percentage in his 20s was .618, in ’87, when he was A.L. rookie of the year. He started that season at 23.

At 28, in ’92, he had a slugging percentage of .585. The next few years are screwed up, with his injuries and the strike, but then all of a sudden, in 1995, he jumps up to a .685 slugging percentage, then .730 in ’96, on up to .752 in ’98.

You just can’t find a precedent in baseball history for that. Ted Williams had an amazing season when he was ’38, in 1957, but it was amazing because it almost equaled his previous best season, 1941, when he was 22 and hit .406.

Henry Aaron is another one who had some great seasons in his late ‘30s, but they weren’t dramatically better than his best seasons when he was in his 20s. And in terms of total bases, they weren’t really close to what he did when he was 25. He had 400 that year, but in his 30s he never came close to that, even though he was hitting tons of homers.

Have you ever met Canseco, McGwire or any of the other principals in this story or have any connections to them?

Nope, never have. I have the same information everyone else has. I may interpret it a little differently, but we all have the same stuff to work with.

Len on 02.11.05 @ 08:41 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Yet Another Entrepreneur Stifled By Onerous Legislation....

in this case, the Oklahoma criminal statutes.

Via our pals at the Smoking Gun, we learn of the heartrending story of Brian Bates, the "Video Vigilante" (WARNING: probably not work-safe), who's got a little cottage industry going on in Oklahoma City. Bates, a crusader against street prostitution, wanders OKC with a video camera "busting" street hookers and their johns in the act. In addition to parlaying that schtick into recurring guest spots on the TV talk shows with very poor taste (He seems to make a lot of appearances on The Maury Show (it's sad to think that Shirley Povich's son has stooped to be something as low or lower than Jerry Springer)), and he also sells some of his video productions from his website.

Until, apparently, Bates got a bit too proactive in his war on crime. According to TSG:

An Oklahoma man who has gained national exposure for his "video vigilante" campaign to expose street prostitution in his hometown was arrested yesterday for allegedly paying hookers to ensure that they serviced customers in an area where he could easily film the illicit trysts. According to the below Oklahoma City Police Department report, Brian Bates, 34, orchestrated the public encounters so he could peddle the resulting videotape to media outlets (some of Bates's surveillance tapes are offered for sale on his web site). In his dealings with prostitutes, Bates was choosy, investigators contend. For example, if a john was a "regular," Bates asked prostitutes to give "specific signals" so he would know not to bother rolling tape. Investigators also noted that, like any good auteur, Bates "gave direction to the prostitutes on how to complete the act with a high probability of success," as well as tips on how to spot an undercover cop. Bates was hit with a felony pandering charge and a misdemeanor count of aiding in prostitution. The pandering rap, which is usually reserved for pimps, carries a minimum two-year jail term, and a maximum of 20 years in the stir. In a statement posted this morning on his web site, Bates called his bust a "shock to me and my family," adding--rather hopefully, we think--"I hope this will all be worked out in the coming days or weeks."
Additional material at the website of The Oklahoman:
Brian Bates, an Oklahoma City man nationally known for shooting videotapes to drive prostitutes away from inner-city neighborhoods, is accused himself of arranging a transaction between a prostitute and customer so he could videotape the incident, authorities said Tuesday.

He was arrested late Tuesday on complaints of pandering and aiding and abetting prostitution, police Capt. Jeffrey Becker said.

Becker said Bates' arrest ended a four-month joint investigation by the Oklahoma County district attorney's office and city police.

Debra Forshee, spokeswoman for the Oklahoma County district attorney's office, acknowledged Bates' arrest Tuesday.

Forshee said the district attorney will review the investigative reports and make a filing decision later this week.

"The investigation alleges that Bates paid a prostitute to have sex with a john at a predetermined location so that he could film the act," Forshee said.
A four month investigation? Apparently, Bates really pissed off the DA. Not surprising though, since the Video Vigilante website has a few criticisms of the Oklahoma City DA and police for failure to follow through on his alleged "busts".

Len on 02.11.05 @ 08:20 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Thought for the Day:

I admit I'm surprised whenever I encounter a religious scientist. How can a bench-hazed Ph.D., who might in an afternoon deftly puree a colleague's PowerPoint presentation on the nematode genome into so much fish chow, then go home, read in a two-thousand-year-old chronicle, riddled with internal contradictions, of a meta-Nobel discovery like "Resurrection from the Dead," and say, gee, that sounds convincing? Doesn't the good doctor wonder what the control group looked like?
--Natalie Angier

Len on 02.11.05 @ 06:25 AM CST [link] [ | ]

More from Dennis Haster Corner:

Looks like it's time to write another letter to Mr. Dennis Hastert. Today's lead article in The Chicago Tribune is

Hastert:Public not sold on Social Security plans.

"You can't jam change down the American people's throat," the House speaker says...(though I suspect Denny's Hit Squad would do this...if they could find me.)

I DO occassionally write him letters...and he sends out official looking correspondence... and signed in his own blue-felt tipped pen (no auto-pen signatures for Denny) explaining what a good little politico is he...how concerned for our citizenry welfare is he. So, I must now go to his webpage and send him yet another letter...this time about Social Security and my concerns for same.

Oh, ya can't get much better than writing a letter to Denny. But I am worried about his Hit Squad - they have been after me of late...So, let's just say I'm watching my back here at Dennis Hastert Corner.

Karen on 02.11.05 @ 06:13 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Hegelian View of History

Jeffery Herf (The New Republic) in an article: The Future Perfect about the "Hegelian" view of history and has outlined what he calls Dr. Rice's view (and by extension the administration's long term "view" of the "history" they are creating) an

"idea that a decision cannot be judged at the moment but only retrospectively opens a slippery slope of justification. The future Secretary of State was indulging an understanding of politics favored by advocates of a Hegelian view of history--most of whom have, in the last century, been communists."

What is not "settled History" is whether the Bush "cure" for the problem of Saddam controlling Iraq could still yet become worse, much worse than the situation it was meant to resolve. By applying the treatment of Pre-emptive attack without the proper planning and efforts towards the post war stability and peace, the resulting chaos and enmity spreading throughout the entire Iraq population has become worse than the situation which existed before our invasion of that country. Given the incompetence of our prosecution of this post-war circumstance by this Commander in Chief, despite their overwhelming support and interest in democracy, the freedom for insurgency is not yet checked and they are still running rampant. Nor is there much stability and security....yet.

Resulting in the possibliity of the long term historical view that the "cure" was worse than the ailment it was mean to treat:

In medieval times having access to a physician could some times result in the cure being worse than the ailment owing to the state of superstition and pure ignorance of the causes and effects of disease in medicine. Patients would be subject to "cures" where the outcome of death, using our more modern knowledge, was more likely from the treatment than suffering from the disease. (One of the famous Medici family scions was treated with a concoction of crushed rubies and emeralds for a disease…to no avail in providing a cure.)

While it may be understandable that those medieval physicians were limited by their technology and access to information on which their poorly created treatments were derived, it is not similarly true that the current Iraq mess was not "imagined, warned of, and advised about" in what was necessary and prudent to consider before such a drastic "treatment' was applied. To have willfully ignored this advice and the best estimates of his own military advisors about the side-effects of invading Iraq with minimal forces to secure the peace Bush may have made the "cure" worse than the ailment. But "history" and time has yet to tell the true measure of the January 30th election "success."

Jon Rowe (a Libertarian lawyer, blogger and very smart and savvy legal analyst) had an excellent post about Democracy and Islam. In part, Mr. Rowe had this to say about Islam and Democracy:
"The Islamic world, like the Christian right in America, believes in absolute and objective Truth. Therefore, ideas like tolerance, pluralism, democracy and rights won't easily go over there if such notions are premised on relativism, or wishy-washy notions of not wanting to "judge" other ways of life as better or worse than one another. No rather, they need to be convinced that such notions ARE the objective Truth and that indeed, God grants men unalienable rights of freedom and equality. This will be an intense epistemological undertaking."

He may be very correct that many Islamicists believe "democracy" to be Un-Islamic...and especially the fundamentalist-radical ones...why else dream of the return of a Caliphate with Osama bin Laden as its Caliph? -- There was (in 2002) a facinating NY Times magazine article about "why Islam failed to "modernize" and fell behind in business/ideas/culure...but I've lost the hard copy and can't recall the name...but it was scholarly piece...very interesting...wish I had it now.

While the short term "success" of the Iraqi vote...is HUGE...everyone agrees...is the long term successful self-governance of the Iraqi's and avoid an internal civil war...can't say that' one's "in the bag" yet. Plus, I worry the cure might have been worse than the ailment as to permanent "friendly relations and views of the war and US occupation by Iraqi's.

Karen on 02.11.05 @ 05:46 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Here's to all you Scrivener's out there...

Someone else likes Herman Meville: in this article Bartleby Democrats, the Washington Post writes:

"HERMAN MELVILLE'S "Bartleby, the Scrivener" tells the tale of a lawyer's assistant who inexplicably stops doing his job, instead spending his days staring blankly at a brick wall. "I'd prefer not to," he invariably tells his employer when asked to copy a paper, go to the post office or even answer a question. "No: at present I would prefer not to make any change at all," Bartleby says when asked to leave. In their response to President Bush's State of the Union address Wednesday night -- indeed, in much of their reaction to Mr. Bush's push on Social Security -- the Democrats share a disturbing resemblance to Bartleby. "

But I have scooped the Washington Post on working Bartleby into my thoughts in my article about "Responsibility Month" first. Ha, ha...do I RULE...or what??

Karen on 02.11.05 @ 05:30 AM CST [link] [ | ]

A change here you may notice.

I'm changing comments from Greymatter's native commenting to Haloscan. If you don't like it, blame the comment spammers.

Prior to the recent implosion, I had a problem with comment spamming in the archived entries. Disabling comments in archived entries (i.e., posts that have scrolled off the main index page) cured that.

Since the implosion, I've noticed comment spamming on the main index page. Disabling HTML and linking in comments did not cure that; I don't know what these bastards do, but they manage to get live links in their comments despite the fact I've disabled links in comments. As of tonight, the asshole who's been comment spamming me has now put comment spam in a post that was a bit over 24 hours old. Pretty soon, he'll be putting comment spams in posts I've written an hour ago.

I've yet to see comment spamming in Haloscan comments, which is why I've gone back to Haloscan (I had Haloscan commenting back when this blog was "powered by Blogger"). If the asshole manages to spam my Haloscan comments I'm going to get rid of commenting entirely. I don't want to do that (I like the conversations that blog commenting allows), but I'm damned if I'm letting anyone spam my comments anymore.

Hope nobody finds this inconvenient. If you do, I'm sorry.

And for what it's worth, comments made before I disabled Greymatter's native commenting are still on the entry page that you made the comment on; those aren't lost.

Len on 02.10.05 @ 10:50 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Memphis News: The Week In Review

The Commercial Appeal website requires (free) registration; to be free of that tyranny use BugMeNot.

Feb. 4: The court rules in the Sen. John Ford support case, upping the Senator's support to $1,900/month. An appeal will "certainly" follow. Later in the week the Senator addressed leaders of the Tennessee NAACP, blaming "the white media" for his problems, and asking the NAACP leaders to issue a statement in his defense. The NAACP leaders reportedly sidestepped the request. Meanwhile, in the Memphis blogosphere, Mike Hollihan and The Pesky Fly give us a little point-counterpoint on the issue (as well as on a column by Commercial Appeal columnist Wendi Thomas). Make sure you catch Pesky's second post reacting specifically to Mike's position (if you're interested); as of yet Mike doesn't have a response to Pesky, but we'll link to any response if Mike posts one in the next couple days. UPDATE: Mike's got a two part reply in the comments to Pesky's second post (note, that's two separate links in the preceding sentence there). And in the lovely and wonderful way of the blogosphere, Pesky has two responses of his own shooting back. More as developments warrant. :-)

A walker in Overton Park found a decomposed body near the park's golf course. Abby, who lives near the scene, blogged about it; you can find a precis and links to all her posts on the incident here.

Feb.5: The birth parents of Anna Mae, subject of a hotly contested child custody case, are appealing the court decision terminating their parental rights.

Feb. 6: The Memphis City Court Clerk thinks that extending the one year statute of limitations on collecting parking ticket fines is perfectly fair. Unfortunately (at least for him; fortunately for Memphis parking scofflaws), the Shelby County legislative delegation isn't cooperating with him.

Feb. 9: Meanwhile, testimony began in the trial of former Shelby County Medical Examiner O.C. Smith, as police officers testified as to the bizzare discovery of Smith, bound with barbed wire and attached to a bomb, on June 2, 2002.

Mayor Herenton pushes school consolidation hard; the next day he claims (though some sources have characterized his demeanor as "joking") that he will resign his office if consolidation of metropolitan government services takes place.

The Shelby County DA has ordered assault charges dropped against a pair who caught the victim attempting to break in to a local residence and "roughed him up".

Feb. 10: Just about a week after the Memphis Flyer publishes a cover story on earthquake preparedness in the area, a magnitude 4-4.2 (depending on sources) earthquake hits the area at approximately 8:05 AM local time. The epicenter of the quake was in Northeastern Arkansas approximately 47 miles northwest of Memphis. I congratulate our friends at the Flyer for their timing; they couldn't have timed this one better if they'd planned it that way.

Meanwhile, in the O.C. Smith trial witnesses questioned the extent of Smith's injuries, which were apparently not consistent with his description of what happened to him prior to his discovery on June 2, 2002. And the state GOP's request for an inquiry into the legal residency of Tennessee State Senator John Ford was delayed because state GOP chairman Bob Davis failed to swear his complaint letter to the Senate Ethics committee before a notary public, as required by Senate Ethics Committee rules.

Len on 02.10.05 @ 10:14 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Memphis Barbie: not just one....

Rachel gives us the lowdown on 11 limited-edition Barbie Dolls for the Greater Memphis market. Looks pretty comprehensive, but I've not been around here long enough to see all these 11 archetypes...

Len on 02.10.05 @ 08:47 PM CST [link] [ | ]

If only it worked this way....

Len on 02.10.05 @ 07:27 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Welcome back!

Gooseneck is back, after taking some personal time off. Read about his near miss with frozen death, when a few guys at the bar sank a few too many tequilas....

I almost went "Polar Dipping" yesterday.

Strangely, stripping down to almost nothing and dousing myself in a near frozen pond is something that I always wanted to do. It's like a rite of passage or something. The Fire People of Nairobi pierce their eyeballs as an introduction into manhood... We here in (a much more civilized) Central Iowa merely run barefoot across a frozen blanket of snow, and jump into an icy pond.

At least that's what a few of the crazy fuckers I know around here do.

I always thought that it was something that I wanted to do. However, sitting in a bar talking about it in the middle of July is a long way from actually doing it... The exhilarating result is far from imaginable.

Len on 02.10.05 @ 07:23 PM CST [link] [ | ]

If you've ever felt the urge to rate your knowledge of baseball trades...

The National Baseball Hall of Fame has the quiz for you.

For the record, I got 6 out of 10 without cheating.

Len on 02.10.05 @ 07:06 PM CST [link] [ | ]

The mail-in rebate scam

Somewhat surprisingly, conservative economist Arnold Kling is outraged by the mail-in rebate scams pulled by CompUSA and other technology retailers, and does not attempt to justify the practice by pointing out that it's a means of doing price discrimination, which according to classical microeconomics is a Good Thing. Even more surprisingly, Kevin Drum explains the economic rationale behind the scam.

Having been recently burned by rebate offers from Best Buy and Cingular, I've made the following resolution, which I'm sure will make Mr. Kling happy: I will never again buy a product that includes a mail-in rebate as a part of the offer.

We'll see how long my resolution lasts. I've got a pretty good track record. I'm very close to going back on my 1997 pledge to never give another dime to the Evil Cable Monopoly, TimeWarner, because I'm so disgusted with Earthlink DSL right now, and I've heard BellSouth is even worse. And I may go back on my 1999 pledge to never give another dime to George Lucas by buying a Darth Tater toy.

Brock on 02.10.05 @ 06:04 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Remembering the Spirograph....

A web based version:

Created by Anu Garg.

Len on 02.10.05 @ 01:28 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Hot Stove League: The Jose Got Juiced And Is Naming Names Edition....

The big, big news on the baseball front this week is Jose Canseco, who has, according to a story broken by the New York Daily News, written a book, charmingly titled Juiced: Wild Times, Rampant 'Roids, Smash Hits, and How Baseball Got Big. Jose's book was originally scheduled to be published on February 21, but the inevitable (and probably expected) firestorm raised by the book has caused the publication date to be pushed ahead; currently it's scheduled to be published after the statutorially requried 60 Minutes interview, which has itself been pushed up to this weekend (if my sources are correct).

The firestorm raised by the book was in part a result of Jose deciding to name names, and many (if not all) of the names that he names are prospective Hall of Famers: Mark McGwire, Jason Giambi, Ivan "Pudge" Rodriguez, Rafael Palmeiro and Juan Gonzalez. Especially compelling (or nauseating, depending on your attitude to such mental pictures):

The longtime Oakland star, who made a brief appearance with the Yankees in 2000, claims he introduced steroids to the game and injected fellow Bash Brother Mark McGwire in the rear end numerous times in clubhouse bathroom stalls.
That is really a picture I didn't want to visualize, and I'm going to have trouble purging it from my mind now. Thanks, Jose.

But Canseco doesn't just name players:
Canseco claims the team's general managing partner at the time - an aspiring politician named George W. Bush - had to have been aware that his players were using performance-enhancing drugs but did nothing about it.
However, the other fuel feeding the fires of controversy over Canseco's revelations is his apparently unabashed, unashamed promotion of what others consider his misbehavior:
The book is an homage to steroids, and Canseco says that he not only used them, but that all players should. He concedes that kids shouldn't use them and no one should abuse the muscle-building drugs, but Canseco practically offers a how-to guide to steroids and human growth hormone.
However, I'm cynical, and not given to disappointment over people's moral failings. However, one revelation does raise a question of whether Canseco's steroid use adversely affected his, uh... manhood:
Perhaps the biggest shock in the book? Canseco says he never slept with Madonna. They made out in her Manhattan apartment one night, he claims, but that's as far as it went.
If true, this means that Canseco was the only male celebrity over the age of consent who hasn't fucked Madonna. But I digress.

Reaction to these "revelations" was, predictably, quite intense. St. Louis Cardinals' manager Tony LaRussa, who managed McGwire in both Oakland and St. Louis, and who managed Canseco in Oakland, was vehement in his denials.
Cardinals manager Tony La Russa, who had Mark McGwire on his teams in Oakland as well as St. Louis, angrily fired back Sunday at former A's star Jose Canseco.


"I just hope that the paper that made a big deal of Jose's accusations gives the same attention to those of us who know Mark," La Russa said. "I couldn't disagree more. I categorically refuse to accept anything that Jose says about Mark."

La Russa said that upon hearing of the Canseso book he talked to Cardinals coach Dave McKay, who was involved with McGwire's workouts in Oakland and St. Louis.

"The biggest key for McGwire is that all of his strength and size gains came from five or six days a week of hitting the gym with a very disciplined workout, his protein intake and careful dieting," La Russa said. "He was probably in the gym 10 times more than Jose, and Jose was bigger."
[See also the New York Times article here.]

One of Canseco's other managers weighed in:
Tom Grieve, Texas general manager when Canseco was traded there from Oakland in 1992, told the Dallas Morning News: "It's a joke. Jose has taken himself and his life to a new level of embarrassment."
As did his teammates named in the book. Rafael Palmiero (from the referenced Post article):
"I categorically deny any assertion made by Jose Canseco that I used steroids," Palmeiro said in a statement released from his current team, Baltimore. "At no point in my career have I ever used steroids, let alone any substance banned by Major League Baseball. As I have never had a personal relationship with Canseco, any suggestion that he taught me anything, about steroid use or otherwise, is ludicrous. ... I am saddened that he felt it necessary to attempt to tarnish my image and that of the game that I love."
Of course, members of that segment of The Fourth Estate which sets down "the first draft of baseball history" have their opinions, and they're not shy about sharing them with us. One might predict, for example, that St. Louis Post-Dispatch sports columnists like Jeff Gordon would come down in favor of hometown favorite McGwire:
True, we have to consider the source. Jose Canseco is one of the great jesters in the history of Our National Pastime.

By accident or on purpose, Jose has starred in some of the most ludicrous scenes on and off the field.

So when Canseco makes blockbuster revelations about steroid abuse in his soon-to-be-published book -– “Juiced: Wild Times, Rampant 'Roids, Smash Hits, and How Baseball Got Big” -- we should all read the juicy passages with a skeptical eye.

But the vivid and specific allegations against Mark McGwire will damage the big fella’s reputation, even here in Cardinal Nation.
Some St. Louis columnists aren't so forgiving. Bryan Burwell, also of the Post, rants:
Whatever they say about him, it won't be enough to detract from the overwhelming evidence that Canseco is probably telling plenty of truths about baseball's Steroid Era. And if you are willing to reconcile that troubling truth, then by extension, you must be willing to accept an even more unsettling fact that will surely make many folks here in St. Louis squirm:

Mark McGwire is just as big a propped-up, juiced-up fraud as Barry Bonds, Jason Giambi and the late Ken Caminiti.

It has to hurt to swallow this, because we all drank the Big Mac Kool-Aid back in 1998, when he and Sammy Sosa (another guy with mounting circumstantial evidence tarnishing his act) saved baseball with their engaging season-long home run onslaught that produced Big Mac's record 70-homer season.
Rather than go on quoting, you can follow up on some of the other commentary yourself:

Anti-Canseco: Murray Chass, Thomas Boswell, Tom Verducci.

Pro-Canseco: Mike Bianchi, Rick Morrissey, Jon Heymann.

At least, the 2007 Hall of Fame election just got a lot more interesting....

Len on 02.10.05 @ 12:53 PM CST [link] [ | ]

The Tale Of Genji

I’m such a bibliophile, I had to write about this book The Tale Of Genji by Lady Murasaki (circa 994-998 A.D.)

Historically, it’s one of the First Novels ever written. I qualifies as being one of my absolute favorites (but it depends most critically upon what and who's translation you have...I've tried several, but my own copy is translated from the Japanese By Arthur Waley from Modern Library, published by Random House, NY, copyrighted 1960). All the other translations I’ve come across are woefully BORING and miss the mark entirely.

There are many and multi-fold reasons for bringing up this book.

To read WHY (if you really care) click on the "more" button below.

Karen on 02.10.05 @ 11:17 AM CST [more..] [ | ]

Let no Good Deed Go Unpunished

My "buds" over the Chicago Tribune, Don Wycliff (Public Editor) and Steve Chapman (Columnist) both have great columns today (and they KNOW I forgive them for working for such a "Republican Rag" as the Tribune historically is known to be)...so I had to send them each a note:

Don Wycliff wrote about This Absurd Practice of Governing Anonymously. I responded:

Interesting point today about "Senior Administration Officials"...but I'm more worried about those Pre-revisionist Historian's the White house has locked up in a room somewhere. You know, the people who are going to revise History before it ever makes it out the Front Door of the White House. That way it saves everybody the trouble of having free-lance revisionist history just going on willy-nilly about town. Nip-it-in-the-Bud...is their motto.

Steve Chapman writes about how After the Iraq election, self-congratulation abounds. So I wrote him this:

I am finding "Too Many Premature Ejaculations" abound too. Sorry about the double entendre in this idea (It's been a long week with lots of TLC duty 'cause my daughters have been tag teaming me getting sick with the flu...so I'm either slap-happy or much too easily amused by own inanities.)

But it has been a bit too much on the "premature" shouting of successful elections as if those "ejaculations" papers over all the issues of lack or security and services endemic in Iraq. However, "Will you still Love me tomorrow...?" (the tag line to a song by Carol King) is the question that's on my mind about what the future holds for Iraqi and US relations.

Well...another good deed for the day to check off my list. *whew*

Karen on 02.10.05 @ 09:35 AM CST [link] [ | ]

A few Things About Mr. Language Wordsmith…

For those of you dilligent readers out there who actually read The Daily Herald article about my "Responsibility Month Experiment"...first I thank you and hope you enjoyed it...but now come the inevitable Problems...

Not that I am paranoid or nothing (reeeally I’m not); But you can’t deny some misgivings and fears…like when you Know you have Dennis Hastert’s Hit Squad is after you, or you have Selachophobia nightmares just Thinking about the Sea World Shark Tank Dining Room

But now I’ve had Mr. Language Wordsmith ...that busybody...Threatening to report Me, Pam, and The Herald Article to the Thought Police ...you know what "sticklers" they can be...

In Pam and My defense…

(And Everyone KNOWS Truth is a Defense against Libel and Slander…excepting, of course, when the Libel and Slander IS the Truth.)

Any way, technically (as The Article mistates) we don't "employ computer controls." (Their wage rates are way too astronomical, so we just buy their contracts outright and use them as slave labor.)

However, we DO employ a few human beings and treat them with all the consideration and fairness they deserve. Unfortunately, we can't afford to pay them what they deserve...but, Hey, trading fairness and consideration for unbelievably low wages ain't bad.

I'm sure most readers didn’t catch this minor point...but I'll handle Mr. Language Wordsmith on my end, and you just have to promise not to call the "U.S. Computer Immigration Department" on us…

And don’t cha’ be telling Dennis our whereabouts neither…or you’ll be NEXT on his list.

Karen on 02.10.05 @ 07:34 AM CST [link] [ | ]

How stupid do they think I am?

As stupid as they are illiterate, apparently.

This email appeared in the junk mail folder of a Yahoo! Mail account that I use as a "spamcatcher" for some of my online activities (like registrations for websites, etc.):

To: xxxxxxxxxx@yahoo.com">xxxxxxxxxx@yahoo.com
"Ya!hoo!" <xxxxxxxxxx@yahoo.com">xxxxxxxxxx@yahoo.com>
[Yes, this purported to be to me, from me...]
Subject: Your Bnak Card Linikng To xxxxxxxxxx@yahoo.com">xxxxxxxxxx@yahoo.com

Drae Yah!oo Mebmer,

Tihs email was snet by the Yaho!o srevre to veriyf yuor bakn cadr inoitamrofn. Your bkna ask Yah!oo tod o so becaesu some of theri members no lonreg haev acecss to emali adsserdes on Y!ooha and tehy ndee to veyfir you.
You must cpmolete thsi procsse by cikcilng on the lkni bwole:

[link redacted on general principle]

and eetnring yruo bakn ATM-Deibt Crad Numebr and PIN taht you use on AMT.

Leaving aside the fact that I don't have a "bakn cadr" or a "Bnak Card" liniked to this (or any) Yahoo (oh, excuse me, "Yah!oo") account (making it somewhat difficult for my bkna to ask them to verify my bakn ATM-Deibt Crad inoitamrofn), do they really think that I believe Yahoo would send me a request for information via an email in a language previously unknown to linguistics scholars (I suspect it's not an Indo-European language, but I digress)?

Hey phishers! Either learn some English, or enlist the aid of a co-conspirator who's basically fluent in the language. You won't trap me, but your successful hit rate will probably go up quite a bit....

Len on 02.10.05 @ 07:20 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Finally making an honest woman out of her....

From the AP via the New York Times we learn that Prince Charles is to marry his long time "partner", Camilla Parker Bowles on April 6. I'm rather amused by this:

Last year, a poll indicated that more Britons support Prince Charles marrying Camilla Parker Bowles than oppose it. Thirty-two percent of respondents to the Populus poll said they would support Charles if he remarried, while 29 percent were opposed. Thirty-eight percent said they didn't care and 2 percent had no opinion.
I know, I'm not a Brit, but count me in with the sensible thirty-eight percent.

This does remind me, however, that I knew from the very beginning that Charles's marriage to Diana was doomed from the get go. I don't know if you remember the televised clips from the interviews that the betrothed royal couple gave right after the announcement of their engagement. At one point, a reporter asks the couple, "Are you in love?" Diana immediately started acting coy and gushing, "Of course. We're very much in love," to which Charles, in a very cynical and weary tone added, "Whatever that means."

The moment I heard that, I knew their days as a couple were numbered.

Len on 02.10.05 @ 06:55 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Thought for the Day:

Superficially, a Super Bowl buy would seem a straightforwardly smart thing for an advertiser to do, because the Super Bowl usually reaches a bigger audience than anything else on TV. But advertisers don't have unlimited dollars to spend. Consequently, they tend to focus on the cost of an advertisement per thousand people it reaches, a statistic called the "CPM." The Super Bowl's CPM has (factoring out inflation) tripled since the first Super Bowl aired in 1970. According to Broadcasting & Cable magazine, that's one-and-a-half times the increase in CPM for prime-time network programming in general. Is the higher price justified?

Late last month,
Broadcasting & Cable reported on an interesting experiment. It asked an ad agency called Starcom to enter Nielsen ratings data from last year's Super Bowl time slot into a computer to see whether the computer could "beat" a Super Bowl ad buy. The average price of a Super Bowl ad last year was $2.30 million per 30-second spot. (The price this year climbed to $2.40 million per 30-second spot.) Starcom fed that into the computer, too. Then it set about trying to see whether, by "spending" the same amount on counter-programming that other networks and cable channels ran against the Super Bowl, the computer could exceed the Super Bowl's slice of the audience that advertisers care about: adults between the ages of 18 and 49.

It wasn't even close. The computer's Super Bowl ad buy reached 29 percent of adults 18-49; the computer's counter-programming ad buy reached 47.3 percent of adults 18-49. In essence, buying ad time on various TV shows that were supposedly going unwatched--because "everybody" was watching the Super Bowl--would have enabled advertisers to reach 60 percent more potential customers.
--Timothy Noah

Len on 02.10.05 @ 06:32 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Who'd a THUNK it was possible...

Well, bust my buttons, as they say...there IS somebody out there who believes G.W.B. can actually be a Thinking 'bout stuff. And not only that...shockerish of all...that G.W.'s an Evolving Thinker.

Michael Kinsley over the LA Times has written this piece called (appropriately) The Thinker. Give it a whirl...and see what YOU think.

Talking about all this "thinking" makes me Think this might be as good a time as any to post my essay on "What If Women Ran The World".
So here it is. Click on this link and have at it...WomenRantheWorld1.htm (17k file).

Now read it, put on your Thinking Caps (in G.W.'s case his Thinking Cap and his Dunce Cap ARE one and the same) and see what YOU Think you can DO to contribute to this effort. LOL

Karen on 02.10.05 @ 06:09 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Finally catching up with the news....

I've been busy, OK?

Anyway, relative to the whole "Jeff Gannon" scandal, AMERICAblog may say it best:

Just imagine if some guy with alleged ties to male prostitution were given unprecendented access to the White House, and given a White House press pass that didn't even have his real name on it, in order to throw fake softball questions at the press briefings to help make the president look good.

Now imagine that president were named Bill Clinton.

Now imagine what would happen next?
Follow the link to see how it might have happened....

Len on 02.09.05 @ 08:31 PM CST [link] [ | ]

What kind of drugs do you have to be taking...

to come up with an idea like: Whirly Ball?

The game is a combination of basketball and Jai-Alai, played from an electric bumper car.
In lieu of a thousand words:

Credit: Glorfindel of Goldolin

Len on 02.09.05 @ 07:59 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Romancing The Stone

My Newsweek on-line has this Romancing the Stone article (of the same name as the movie I like; starring Danny Devito, Kathleen Turner and Michael Douglas...but not necessarily in that order) about Faux Diamonds which are so well made they rival the REAL Diamonds.

Newsweek reports:

"Leo, ...(who) makes his living on the strength of his ability to evaluate the authenticity and value of diamonds. He is examining three small stones, each weighing less than half a carat—one pink, one colorless and a third, slightly green, called a marquise. He picks up the pink crystal between his index and middle fingers, places it gently on the counter and peers through his eyepiece—checking for the way the gem reflects light, its clarity and the shape and quality of the cut. He repeats the process for each of the other two stones. "They're real," he pronounces, handing over a business card with no last name. "They're very nice, but you're not going to retire on them. Come back when you have bigger rocks."

...Years of buying and selling diamonds, has failed him. The gems he has just examined are not the product of geological forces acting over millions of years—they were made in a laboratory in Boston in a few days. But Leo is not the only dealer a NEWSWEEK reporter was able to fool."

Now, Bill Maher...will ya stop kevetching about the "Diamond Attrocites" and "child slave labor" and invest in Faux Diamonds for all those women you don't want to marry??

Me...I'm mostly Diamond Deficient. I do have a nifty engagement ring I wear, a lovely bracelet with some of the stuff encrusted in it. But as to owning more Diamonds...my favorite (birth) stones are Opals...and they beat Diamonds (or Faux Dianmonds) hands down for uniqueness. So, I don't mind not getting even Faux Diamonds...I prefer Chocolates for that Faux Holiday, St. Valentines Day, anyway.

Karen on 02.09.05 @ 01:45 PM CST [link] [ | ]

I've wanted to mention this for a while now....

but events in My Real Life™ have been conspiring against me.

Very occasional blogger, Memphis journo, and aspiring actor Jon W. Sparks has risen from the dead, blogistically speaking. In his personal blog he's added a few posts on the fantastic Memphian showing at the Sundance Film Festival (can you say "Hustle and Flow" and "Forty Shades of Blue"? I knew you could), and on his Commercial Appeal blog he mentions the recent Bluff City personal appearance of former astronaut and current New Age/paranormal woo-woo merchant Edgar Mitchell. (For the record: Mitchell was assigned to the backup crew for Apollo 10, and was a prime crew member for the Apollo 14 mission. Mitchell was assigned as Lunar Module pilot, and he and Mission Commander Alan B. Shepard walked on the moon.)

[Yes, I'm showing my anti-paranormal biases there. This is my space, and I'll do that if I want. Get over it, or die with it on your mind, as My Great And Good Friend would say....]

Len on 02.09.05 @ 08:34 AM CST [link] [ | ]


Interesting that this only seems to translate the first post and the sidebar, but it's good for a few giggles:


I'm not sure exactly what dialect this is translating parts o'the page into, but I'm sure some commenter will enlighten me. Meanwhile, as you're looking, check out what Gizoogle does to the Descartes quote. I'm sure Rene must be turning in his grave...

Hat tip to Abby, who really should be dissertating. :-)

Len on 02.09.05 @ 08:13 AM CST [link] [ | ]

We really need to contemplate the concept of "efficiency", here....

Bryan at Why Now? pins down one reason Medicare costs so much. His mother, a Medicare patient, needs a device called a nebulizer in order to deliver some needed medication. Bryan fills us in on the details:

The very efficient and helpful people at the local Walgreens pharmacy told me they could sell me the medication with a co-payment through Tricare, but I needed to go to a medical equipment store to buy the nebulizer because it was a device.

I went to the medical equipment store and found out that Medicare covered the equipment and would provide the medication through the mail at no charge to my Mother. So I went through with it and my Mother received the help she needed at a minimal cost.

Here's the problem: Medicare is leasing the nebulizer. I checked the 'Net and you can buy a nebulizer for under $70, but Medicare is paying $46 a month to lease this piece of equipment.

If they decide that my Mother only needs to use this device for a month, then the system is fine, but if she needs it from now on, Medicare is paying for a new machine every two months, while the patient continues to use the same piece of equipment.


If this is going to be long term, I'm going to buy one on the 'Net. I can't see ripping off Medicare for $46 per month.
Why is Medicare, in this instance, looking like a scam to benefit a medical equipment rental company? (We won't get into the recent Medicare drug bill as being corporate welfare for Big Pharma, yet...)

Len on 02.09.05 @ 07:57 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Bubble Nesters

The Wet Crowd of Fishes has gotten short-shrift in my blogging. So, to make it up to them I have this post and pictures about "Bubble Nesters." Here is a picture of Huebert (blue) and Jane (red)...Cory's Betta Fish, Pee Wee, is in Betta Heaven...where ever that IS. (If you see their "display posture"...you'll see why they don't call them Siamese Fighting Fish for nothing.)

DSC01048 (86k image)

Over at Fresh Aquarium they had this to say about Bubble nesters:

"Scientific Name: Betta Splendens
Other Names: Betta Family: Belontiidae
Origin: Cambodia, Thailand
Adult Size: 3 inches (7 cm)
Social: Males cannot be kept together
Lifespan: 2-3 years
Tank Level: Top dweller
Minimum Tank Size: 3 gallon
Diet: Live foods preferable, will eat flakes and frozen foods
Breeding: Egglayer - bubblenest
Care: Easy to Intermediate
pH: 6.8 - 7.4
Hardenss: up to 20 dGH
Temperature: 75-86 F (24-30 C)

Description: The brilliant coloration, and long flowing fins of the Betta make it one of the most well known of aquarium fish. Colors range from red to blue to white. Females are not as highly colored, and have much shorter fins. A well conditioned breeding female will often display horizontal stripes.

Habitat/Care: Bettas are one of the most recognized, most colorful, and often most controversial fish in the freshwater hobby. Debates range on about the appropriateness of keeping them in small bowls. To fully understand their needs it is important to become familiar with their native habitat. Bettas originate in the shallow waters in Thailand (formerly called Siam, hence their name), Indonesia, Malaysia, Vietnam, and parts of China. They proliferate rice paddies, shallow ponds, and even slow moving streams."

For a reeeally cool site try this one with a Slide Show of Betta Fish spawning (that means having SEX...so don't look if you're too prudish.) Or Try this about Breeding Betta Fish...it had some "bubble-sounds" to go with the pictures and info.

Me thinks my Betta Fish are dreaming of a Rice Paddie Bubble Nest as we speak.

(I have three more tanks of Fish...But they will have to wait their turns...and besides they ARE NOT Bubble Nesters.)

Karen on 02.09.05 @ 07:34 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Salad Days and Cubbies Baseball Games

Back in my carefree and child-less salad days, I would go to many Cubs games with our Gang. (We have an old Gang of folks from Park Ridge who all went to Maine South...different years tho' who still hang and get together on Thursday nights at Cuneen's on Devon Avenue for drinks. I rarely ever get to go...being a Mom and all...and living hell-an-gone from Cuneen's.)

We would sit along the right field side line (sometimes in the bleachers...but we we're not "bleacher bums" by any means...they are crowd amongt themselves.) Tom Kosinski would "insist" we all go on Opening Game Day. So, snow, sleet, freezing drizzle, blizzard, earthquake...we'd be there...frozen to our chairs begging for hot coffee, hot cocoa, hot dogs...anything hot we cold get our mittens on.

My favorite years of going was when Bruce Sutter and his "split fingered fast ball" and he RULED. He would be called in at after the 7th inning stretch...or thereabouts...and proceed to decimate the opposition. 1-2-3 an they're Outta there!! Swooshing split-fingered-fast ball!!! It was the BOMB. I was at several memorable double headers that lasted 15-17 innings EACH (It was AWESOME!!!) And in those days the catcher (Boo-Hoo on my greymatter...can't remember his name...tho' his brother was also a ball player..me thinks Len may know this one...it's on the tip of my mind...but I can't seem to get there from here) was a great hitter - RBI player too. Oh my "salad days" and Cubbie baseball...*sigh*

The Lauren story I am adding here as laurensoxgame.bmp (1040k file) a .bmp file. Sorry for the inconvienence but...Last year we had two computer hard drives simultaneous WIPE-OUTs. The first was my having to re-format "C" Drive entirely from scratch (Lauren had down loaded so much virally junk off the internet(s)...it had to be done) but in transferring all those files to other computer (to save) that computer got some "dust" (so said tech-no-dweeb at repair center) that we had to buy an install a brand new hard drive...tech-no-dweeb said original hard drive wasn't even able to burned a copy for saving existing files. Bleh! Double Bleh!!!

So, anything on those two computers older than a year is GONE. I have to track down a hard copy and re-type (Oh joy...my favorite thing...NOT) or scan it. So here is the scanned story Lauren wrote for a class story. It did earn her another 15 minutes of fame with a mention on Hank & Wimpy's Sox Sport Radio Show. Enjoy.

Karen on 02.09.05 @ 06:43 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Thought for the Day:

What happened to James Cameron? He hasn't directed a feature since he began working on Titanic 10 years ago, delving instead into utterly safe—and utterly mediocre—documentaries. Critics have mockingly compared him to Steve Zissou, the hero of The Life Aquatic, and like Zissou, Cameron seems waylaid by a severe case of filmmaker's block. His is an unusual problem: Hollywood has polished his reputation too much. Titanic and its attendant glory lent him a Spielbergian gloss of respectability, and Cameron, a B-movie wizard who was never high on respectability, doesn't seem to know quite what to do with it. He's an auteur turned recluse--Cameron obscura.
--Bryan Curtis [slate.msn.com]

Len on 02.09.05 @ 06:19 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Literal Minded

Over at Literal Minded...they're, like...Oh, just so literal minded about stuff:

Neal Whitman

Had this to say about what's the correct usage to answer this radio commentator's blundering:

"...previous State of the Unions, er, States of the Union, uh, previous State of the Union addresses!"

and that, "...But in fact, the host had it right the first time, with State of the Unions."

For more about this...and other extremely useful trivia, check out his post at the Neal Whitman link above.

Karen on 02.09.05 @ 05:44 AM CST [link] [ | ]

PIE Blogging

I had another letter (e-mail really) from fafnir over at fafblog and he is Bodaciously (or heroically depending on how you want to look at it) trying to wrestle the 2005 Interview of the Year with our very own Constitution of the United States. faf (I can call him faf...us being "buds" an all) writes:

"We been real busy. The phone at Fafblog News Central has been ringin
off the hook for days OEBookend (do you mind if we call you
OEBookend?). "COPY!" the boy who only goes copy goes. "PRESS!" the boy
who only goes press shouts back. They confront each other. Weapons are
drawn! A fight in the chamber! Grizzled old men with missin eyes an
gold teeth pop out throw down bets. A rooster is produced, it is set
upon by a dog, there are clones everywhere! There is blood on the
warehouse floor an the rooster eats the dog just like everybody was
expectin but it's still mighty sad.

We liked your Means an Ways dealie. But what about the Rules
Committee? They're the meanest of all, cause rules are mean, but at
the same time we cannot help but want to be them, because their
committe rules.

Man, the constitution's a total prima donna. It needs ferns in the
green room, it needs its own brand a water, you can't ask it about its
addiction to Valium, you gotta interpret the Fourteenth Amendment to
exclude equal protection for gays. Arrangin this interview is a real
pain. But we're gettin there.

Is PIE an acronym?"

This partly is a continuation from my My Blog Ate My Homework post on Sunday.

To read my answers to this...and MORE important warning about PIE...click on (what else) the "more" button.

Karen on 02.09.05 @ 05:12 AM CST [more..] [ | ]

"When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro." --Hunter S. Thompson

As the person who forwarded this to the SKEPTIC mailing list said, "OK....I'm prreeettttyyyy suuurreee this is a gag. But the site and the commercial are quite slickly produced." And as weird as the world has been getting, recently, can you completely rule something like this out?

The Nicosphere3000

Len on 02.08.05 @ 08:06 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Thank you....

For all of us who have received all of those chain emails....

I want to thank all of you who have taken the time and trouble to send me your chain letters over the past two years. Thank you for making me feel safe, secure, blessed, and wealthy.

Because of your concern...

I no longer can drink Coca Cola because it can remove toilet stains.

I no longer drink Pepsi or Dr Pepper since the people who make these products are atheists who refuse to put "Under God" on their cans.

I no longer use Saran wrap in the microwave because it causes cancer.

I no longer check the coin return on pay phones because I could be pricked with a needle infected with AIDS.

I no longer use cancer-causing deodorants even though I smell like a water buffalo on a hot day.

I no longer go to shopping malls because someone will drug me with a perfume sample and rob me.

I no longer receive packages from UPS or FedEx since they are Actually Al Qaeda in disguise.

I no longer shop at Target since they are French and don't support our troops.

I no longer answer the phone because someone will ask me to dial a stupid number for which I will get the phone bill from hell with calls to Jamaica, Uganda, Singapore, and Uzbekistan.

I no longer eat prepackaged foods because the estrogens they contain will turn me gay.

I no longer eat KFC because their chickens are actually horrible mutant freaks with no eyes or feathers.

I no longer go to bars because someone will drug me and take my kidneys and leave me taking a nap in a bathtub full of ice.

Thanks to you, I have learned that God only answers my prayers if I forward an email to 7 of my friends and make a wish within 5 minutes.

I no longer have any savings because I gave it to a sick girl who has been dying for the past seven years.

I no longer have any money at all, but that will change once I receive the $15,000 that Microsoft and AOL are sending me for participating in their special e-mail program.

I will now return the favor.

If you don't send this e-mail to at least 1200 people in the next 60 seconds, a large bird with diarrhea will fly over your head at 5:00 pm and the fleas of a thousand camels will infest your armpits. I know this will occur because it actually happened to a friend of a friend of a friend's neighbor's cousin, and he's a lawyer.
Real life thanks to two former high school buddies, Mike Zakibe and Dr. Dan Brockmeier (Mike sent it to Dan, and Dan did the honors to me).

Len on 02.08.05 @ 07:50 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Archbishop Raymond Burke: Thief and Asshole....

Somebody had better remind Archbishop Raymond Burke of St. Louis that the Middle Ages ended a long, long time ago.

According to a story in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Archbishop Burke (you may remember, he was one of the pricks in the Catholic hierarchy who publicly said he'd deny communion to Senator John Kerry if Kerry ever showed up in the St. Louis Archdiocese) has decided to subject the parish board of St. Stanislaus Kostka Catholic Church in St. Louis. Burke has, pretty much since his arrival in St. Louis from the diocese of LaCrosse, Wisconsin, been in a very public pissing contest with the parish board of St. Stanislaus.

Some background is in order, of course. Most Catholic Churches are governed by the diocese in which they are located, and therefore the diocese controls the parish property and assets. St. Stanislaus, however, in accordance with an agreement entered into by Burke's predecessors in episcopal office, is self-governing. That means that a parish board composed of laypersons controls the parish property and assets.

Burke, seeing himself as a medieval prince instead of a 21st century American churchman, thinks that he can abrogate that agreement and seize control of the church and its assets. Forget that the agreement between Burke's predecessors and the predecessors of the parish board is legal and binding. He wants the parish's money and property. And in order to steal it (for that's what it is, theft pure and simple; Burke wants to take what's not rightfully his), he's stooping so low as to play power games with the Sacraments.

So as a result, he's ordered an interdict: a formal order against the six members of the St. Stanislaus parish board which forbids them to receive the sacraments until they knuckle under to Burke's power grab. Sort of a "mini-excommunication", according to a professor of canon law quoted by the Post article. Very rare. Interdicts were popular in the Middle Ages, back when the masses took the Church more seriously than they do now.

I can't see how any Catholic with a conscience can stand for Burke's actions.

I hope that the St. Stanislaus board stands firm, and if Burke doesn't give in, that they take their church and its assets, and leave the Roman Catholic Church for some more friendly (and legitimate) church. Like maybe this one. I'm sure they'd fit right in.

Len on 02.08.05 @ 07:38 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Much Too Easily Amused....

Or The Chair That Got Away: Today I bought myself (emphasis on myself here) a new office chair. Not that I don't have some perfectly good, useful, match my decor, snazzy office chairs already...but...

Those chairs have arms...and I can't quite snuggle up to my work spot in the way I really need to (for my back...and all this blogging...it's muuurder.) So, the chair search began ...

Finally, I found this most perfect drafting chair; no arms, low back, foot rest, cushy cushions...Ahhh...the perfect chair. But now I think I've lost it...before I ever got started...

Lindschair (93k image)

Lindsey has co-opted my chair...and is clearly much too easily amused by it's other feature...the possibility of gaining excessive height at the touch of a button.

"This is sooooo NEAT," she screamed.

What's a mother to do under these circumstances??? Maybe I ought to offer to arm wrestle her for the chair. (Think I'd win??)

Karen on 02.08.05 @ 04:28 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Clime and Punishment

Been saving this gem since 1981 from The Chicago Reader: This one was priceless because it hit upon the very unnatural and strange Windy City weather phenomenon...as shown in the captioned Drawing of "a day in the life" of Chicago's clime.

ReaderChgWeather2 (110k image)

As Len can relate (and perhaps he even read this article back in his lawyerly student days...since it was from 1981) our weather is anything but "nice" or "predictable"...today being an example.

But we Chicagoan's just love this kind of punishment...or at least we stick around...just begging for more.

Karen on 02.08.05 @ 01:40 PM CST [link] [ | ]

It's a fair cop, it seems to me....

J.K. Rowling is upset.

Ms Rowling, creator of the wildly popular "Harry Potter" series of novels, is a bit peeved that the U.S. Army is using (IMHO) pretty clear knockoffs of the Potter characters in a cartoon series featured in a U.S. Army magazine: Preventive Maintenance Monthly

Its cartoon strip includes a boy wizard called Topper and a professor of Mogmart's School called Rumbledore.


Among the other similarities in the comic strip are teachers called Snappy and McDonagal. There are characters in the Potter books called Snape and McGonagal.

One of the young female wizards is called Miss Ranger, while Harry Potter's best friend is Hermione Granger.
The Army denies any infringement:
But the magazine's editor, Ken Crunk, denied there had been any copyright infringement.

"The drawings do not look like any of the characters from Harry Potter," said Mr Crunk.

"We are very careful when we do these things not to copy images because that would be illegal."
I, on the other hand, have to confess amusement at the very idea of an Army spokesman named "Crunk". I'm sure our friends at TNF would approve, especially if Mr. Crunk actually lives up to his name.

Frankly, the similarities of the names speaks volumes to me, not to mention the artwork, which sure reminds me of the Potter characters in what I've seen of the movies (which, to be truthful, amounts only to the trailers and TV commercials). But go decide for yourselves (the artwork, though IMHO a bit to small to be definitively enlightening, is available at Auntie Beeb's website).

What really pleased me about the story, though, was this little piece of information:
But Rowling is happy for the popular trend of writing fan fiction online based around her characters to remain, as long as no money is made from it.
In this day and age of copyright protections expanding beyond reason, it's good to know that there's at least one author out there who appreciates fan homage for what it really is....

Hat tip: Bryan at Why Now?

Len on 02.08.05 @ 12:51 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Just to show you that Americans aren't the only stupid people on Earth...

Though I'm surprised it wasn't an American who came up with this scheme first: Western Australia couple auctioning naming rights to baby on eBay

A Perth couple is attempting to sell the "naming, advertising and promotional" rights to their unborn daughter for at least $1 million via an internet auction site.

In an advertisement on eBay Australia under the item title Truman Baby, the unnamed Perth couple invite individuals and companies to make bids on the right to name the baby girl, due on March 1.

"Offers are invited for your opportunity to be part of HISTORY in the making," states the ad.

"We are taking bids on the naming, advertising and promotional rights to my unborn BABY GIRL!!.

"For a period of FIVE YEARS from the date of birth, we are offering the exclusive naming rights (first name only) to my unborn baby due March 1, 2005.

"Your company can have the exclusive rights to name my baby and use for all appearances, advertising, promotion and marketing (over) a period of five years.

"This is a unique and historical opportunity to promote your business, company or brand for a period of 5 years."

The child's 38-year-old mother would accompany her "on all performances" as a condition of the deal.

The advertisement was listed on eBay on January 28 and the auction, which has attracted no bids so far, ends on Wednesday.
Frankly, I'm not surprised there's no takers (really, who wants naming rights to some ordinary schmoe's baby? Now, if it had been some celebrity baby, there might have been takers....). What does surprise me is that eBay Australia didn't yank the auction (though they may yet once it gets more publicity).

Len on 02.08.05 @ 10:52 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Soc. Sec. Fallen Rhetoric

Here at Dennis Hastert Corner The Social Security reform debate slogs on...

The Kane County Chronicle , whose editorial staff favors Private Accounts/Personal accounts and G.W.'s grand plans, is begining to notice a slight discrepancy between the rhetoric and the actual proposal. The Chronicle did an "Our Viewpoint" editorial pointing out the distinctions between the Bush pre-election "promises" that the Soc. Sec. "fixer-upper" plans would be "your money -- inherited by your survivors" with the "proposed plan" for annuities which are not "a way to guarantee" to passing along this money to your heirs. It reverts back to the government coffers when you pass away.

Now...having pointed that out...do you really think our Fearless Leader is just ignorant of this pencil-pushing difference of mere "language" choices?? Guess...again. This is the problem with his "re-crafted, evolutionary-type," "English-may-be-his-second-language" efforts at gaining traction and support on this issue.

I'm not (and most reasonable people aren't) denying there aren't ways to "fix" real monetary shortfalls and/or create proposals to supplement this entire "adequate-retirement versus poverty-and-destitution in-old-age" dilemma addressed by the program. What's "wrong" (seriously wrong) with the proposals by G.W. is that it neither fixes the actual monetary shortfall predicted...may even make this issue WORSE, plus fails to live up to his "lofty, soaring, pie-in-the-sky" rhetoric about the solutions he IS proposing.

But nice job Chronicle...catching on the obvious discrepancies...now get to the rest of them...

To read more about social security articles on this Rhetoric versus Realities: click on the "more" button.

Karen on 02.08.05 @ 10:17 AM CST [more..] [ | ]

How can we miss you...

James Wolcott used this perennially funny line of: "How can we miss you if won't go away" in a blog with the same name about Andrew Sullivan's recent announcment to cut back on his "must-read" commentary blogging site, The Daily Dish

I, myself, had to tell Mr. Sullivan this, in an e-mail note:

Beware of this blog virus: Apparently you have a chronic case:
You see...after five years of "casual" blogging you've now become "infected" with the most insidious of blog viruses...it has taken over your hypo-thalmus and co-opted your endorphine producing centers...giving you that "depressed, unsettled' feeling when you're not blogging. Cure: As yet unknown to medical science...but they're working on it. Until then...proceed cautiously...sudden withdrawal has been known to produce hallucinatory (God-like-complex) effects...but is rarely fatal. (*whew!*)

p.s. Your sweetie is right...You ARE a nerd... :-)

I feel the same way about CNN's "Cross-Fire," now that announced it's demise...yet simply won't Go Away!! Maybe another visit from Jon Stewart, perhaps...just to get those talking heads rolling over there at CNN.

Put it on your future list of things to "miss" from 2005. Hopefully sooner rather than later.

Karen on 02.08.05 @ 09:25 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Slow Boat to China:

I came across this scintilating description of the origin of the term "Slow Boat to China".

"The phrase was popularized by the song "On a Slow Boat to China," written by Frank Loesser (1910-1969), and was copyrighted in May 1948. Loesser is perhaps the most versatile of all Broadway composers, having written the music for such famous shows as Where's Charley (1948), Guys and Dolls (1950), Most Happy Fella (1956), and How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying (1961). He composed music for films such as College Swing (1938), Destry Rides Again (1939), Fred Astaire's Let's Dance, and Hans Christian Andersen (1952).
Loesser wrote such standards as "Two Sleepy People," "Heart and Soul," "I Don't Want to Walk Without You," "Spring Will Be a Little Late This Year," "(See What) The Boys in the Backroom (Will Have)," "They're Either Too Young or Too Old" and his 1948 Academy Award winner, "Baby, It's Cold Outside," in addition to "On a Slow Boat to China."

The lyrics for "Slow Boat to China" start:

I'd love to get you
On a slow boat to China,
All to myself alone.
Get you to keep you in my arms evermore,
Leave all your lovers
Weeping on the faraway shore.

Loesser wrote and circulated the song in 1945, but did not get a copyright until 1948.
Where did he get the phrase? His daughter, Susan Loesser, author of a biography of her father, A Most Remarkable Fella (1993), writes:
"I'd like to get you on a slow boat to China" was a well-known phrase among poker players, referring to a person who lost steadily and handsomely. My father turned it into a romantic song, placing the title in the mainstream of catch-phrases in 1947.
The idea, of course, was that traveling by boat to China was about as long and slow a trip as one could imagine. Loesser moved the phrase from the poker table to a more romantic setting. The song was very popular in its time (and has been revived and sung from time to time over the years by such notables as Kay Kyser, Bing Crosby, Jimmy Buffett, and Frank Sinatra, among others). The phrase then moved into general parlance to mean anything that takes a lonnnnnnng time."

Now, I wonder if this still hold true if I only book my trips on "Slow Banana Boats to China." Hmmmm....Where's Bob Dole when you reeeaaallly need him?

Karen on 02.08.05 @ 08:30 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Your friends may never ask to use your bathroom again....

if you replace your toilet seat with this:

Believe it or not, this actually went for $39.00 on eBay.

Len on 02.08.05 @ 07:12 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Thought for the Day:

As I wrote in my piece at http://www.textbookleague.org/id-hx-1.htm:

"Living things certainly exhibit countless adaptations that are marvelous, even stupendous, to behold -- but living things also exhibit countless structural, physiological, developmental and behavioral features that are clumsy, maladaptive, wasteful, or plainly useless. Think of the cave-dwelling fishes that bear puny, useless eyes, incapable of responding to light. Think of the island-dwelling insects that sport wretched little wings, incapable of lifting the insects into the air. Think of the ground-nesting marine birds that pack themselves so tightly into their rookeries that they trample their own eggs and young. Consider how a halibut acquires its lopsided anatomy, with both of its eyes on the same side of its head: First the halibut develops a head that is quite symmetrical, with an eye on each side, but then it resorbs and rebuilds some of its bones in a way that allows one eye to migrate through its skull. Recall that a baleen whale builds and then resorbs a useless set of teeth. Recall that a woman produces and stores hundreds of thousands of oocytes, though only a few hundred will ever become eggs and enter her fallopian tubes. Recall that a man develops nipples! Recall that the channel which carries air to your lungs intersects the channel which carries food to your stomach -- an arrangement so awkward that it literally can make you choke."
Biologists have a cogent explanation -- descent with modification -- for such things. The ID fraudsters and other creationists never mention such things, lest they be challenged to explain why their Intelligent Designer did so much third-rate work, or why he designed so many kludges, or why he didn't invent a more intelligent way to get both of a halibut's eyes onto the same side of its head, or why he decided that frigate-birds, which never swim, should have webbed feet.
--William J. Bennetta [SKEPTIC mail list]

Len on 02.08.05 @ 06:54 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Andy Warhol...I'm ready for my close up.

Today's Daily Herald printed the follow-up article, "Mom on Strike," about my Responsiblity Month experiment. The article, by Pam Defiglio, one of the feature writers in the Arlington Heights branch, captures the "essence" of this project. (Too bad the site link fails to provide the accompanying pictures...so, you'll just have to "imagine" how "interesting and photogenic" we all are here at my house.)

But, it's a very nice article and pictures...she did a good job, very complimentary. There are cute pictures of Lauren cooking Pasta Alfreado, Cory looking on, Lindsey (the list maker) filling out her charts...me, looking like a mup...and our dirty, disheveled basement...that camel's back. (I may post a few picures of my own about this stuff later...so check back if you care...)

My first 15 minutes of local fame...LOL (Andy Warhol...I'm waiting for my "close up.")

(as an Aside: That's not to say I didn't seriously consider going to stay at a 5-Star Hotel for the entire Month...but then WHO would have loved-up and looked after all my creatures all day...and Sami, my Furkid, needs lots of attention. I am the "leader of the pack" around here. Nope, my plan was WAY better...and more sucessful in the long term.)

Karen on 02.08.05 @ 05:51 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Karen's Triva Q Answers:

The answers to my Triva Q of the week (Though clearly I'm gonna have to come up with something better for this crowd):

In the quartet (4) Books set in Alexandria, Egypt during W.W.II, and written in 1957, '58, '59' and '60 respectively, who is "Old Lineaments" (Standing for "Lineaments of Ungratified Desires") and what are the names of these four books and their author?

Len got the answers (so we're even at 1 to 1) but didn't post them: So here they are:

The Four Books of The Alexandria Quartet are:

_Justine_ (1957)
_Balthazar_ (1958)
_Mount Olive_(1959)

all by Lawrence Durrell.

Michael York played the "narrator character" (Darley) called "Old Lineaments" in the 1969 movie version of "Justine."

Len noted, with interest, that Dean Vernon Wormer from "Animal House" was cast in the
movie adaptation....

Karen on 02.08.05 @ 04:35 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Trivia answers....

1) About 10 years ago, in February of 1995, then-Senator Bob Dole attempted to block U.S. aid to Turkey. What action did the then-mayor of Izmir, Turkey, Burhanettin Ozfatura, order in protest?
A ban on the sale of Dole bananas in the city.

2) The University of Virginia's School of Continuing and Professional Studies offers a degree of "Bachelor of Interdisciplinary Studies". What did it used to be called, and why was the name changed?
It used to be "Bachelor of Liberal Studies", and the name was changed to avoid objections by conservatives.

3) Let's identify a few stars. What is the name by which each of these individuals is better known:

a) Allen Stewart Konigsberg
b) Edward Richard Gibson
c) Natalia Nikolaevna Zakharenko
d) Louise Veronica Ciccone
e) Roy Harold Scherer Jr.
f) Daisy Juliette Baker
g) Jean-Claude Camille François Van Varenberg
h) Richard Henry Sellers
i) Mary Margaret Morgan
j) Murray Langston

a) Woody Allen
b) Hoot Gibson
c) Natalie Wood
d) Madonna
e) Rock Hudson
f) Margaret Dumont ("the Fifth Marx Brother", from her many appearances in their films)
g) Jean-Claude Van Damme (aka "Muscles from Brussels")
h) Peter Sellers
i) Jaye P. Morgan
k) The Unknown Comic

Len on 02.07.05 @ 09:08 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Brave New World is that much closer....

We don't have "feelies" yet ("movies that feature not only sight and sound but also the sensation of touch, so that when people watch a couple making love on a bearskin rug, they can feel every hair of the bear on their own bodies"), as posited by Aldous Huxley in his novel Brave New World, but this is one step closer: The Sinulator, a means by which a woman can let someone else, potentially miles away, control her sex toy over the Internet.

Brings a new meaning to "cybersex", doesn't it?

Len on 02.07.05 @ 06:31 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Inna Gadda Da Vida, Honey

PG at Half the Sins of Mankind wonders whether Adam and Eve had sex in the Garden of Eden. On the one hand, there's Genesis 1:28,

And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.

in which God seems to instruct his so far unnamed couple to start reproducing immediately. And then there's Genesis 4:1, which seems to suggest that Adam and Eve didn't have sex until after they were kicked out of the Garden:

And Adam knew Eve his wife; and she conceived, and bare Cain, and said, I have gotten a man from the LORD.

As it happens, I'm reading a book that explains this inconsistency, viz. Who Wrote the Bible?, by Richard Elliot Friedman. (I also studied this at the alma mater, in one of the mandatory Bible classes, but I had forgotten most of the details. There's really nothing quite as subversive as a scholarly Bible class.)

PG has stumbled on the fact that there are two separate creation stories in the first few chapters of Genesis. The first passage I quoted above was from a source that scholars call "P." This writer refers to the deity as "Elohim," which is usually translated "God." The second passage quoted above is from a source that scholars call "J," who characteristically refers to the deity as "Yahweh," which is usually translated "LORD."

There are also two versions of the Flood story, from the same two sources, with the same characteristic writing styles. There are two other sources in the Torah, known to scholars as "E" and "D." Read Friedman's book for more details.

Amber Taylor.)

Brock on 02.07.05 @ 06:29 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Sea World and Selachophobia

Since Greymatter ATE our archives...my Phobia piece got Eaten too. But I have this Selachophobia Update:

Charlie is currently at the ASHRAE (Association of Heating Refrigeration and Air-Conditioning Engineers) Convention in Orlando, Florida...Home of Sea World. Tonight is their big Dinner extravaganza thing, hosted at none other than the Shark Tank Dining Room at, you guessed it: Sea World.

One of the Delta folks (according to his soon to be eulogy) is a skilled diver. Tonight the Sea World people are going to lower him into the Shark Cage, into the tank...and he gets to hand feed (or feed his hand to) the Sharks.

Yippes!! I'd have to have blinders on like poor 'old Nellie the Nag, to even get inside the room. (Plus it would be awful difficult to eat my dinner without being able to see my plate.)

Now, what is odd about my Selachophobia is that I'm not fearful of anything else that swims in the sea...whales, stringrays, fish, dolphins...anything that is not-a-shark is OK. And I don't care about spiders, snakes, insects, rodents, etc.. Nor lions or tigers or bears...oh-my...neither.

My own pet theory about this is (if I believed in reincarnation) that I must have been some sea-creature that got EATEN by a shark in a past life OR I'm going to get EATEN in the future...so I'm worried about it NOW. Psychic memories die hard!

I did google "selachophobia" and found tons of listings...but --since I'm a chicken-- how many of them don't put up pictures of sharks? You'd think that for people *AFRAID* of sharks they'd get NOT to include pictures...but....

Well, Charlie's afraid of heights (but often has to go to skyscraper rooftops to inspect cooling equipment); Lauren's afraid of spiders and bugs (very common around here); Lindsey used to be afraid of dogs and cats...more when she was much younger.

So, I guess, given all the things I could be afraid of... I ought to be glad my phobia is not as likely to turn up very frequently here in the fresh-water areas of the Great Lakes or in Dennis Hastert Corner. But you just won't find me having dinner in the Sea World Shark Dining Room...thank you very much.

Karen on 02.07.05 @ 05:54 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Gore's legacy

Thomas Nephew on Al Gore's legacy, in light of Joe Lieberman's membership in the Abu Ghraib six:

I'm not sure what I hold against Al Gore more by now -- losing to Bush in 2000 in the first place, or elevating Joe Lieberman to national stature as his running mate. But there's a way Gore can make up for it -- and step 1 is "establish residency in Connecticut."

Jim Henley.)

Brock on 02.07.05 @ 05:48 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Divisiveness and Polemicists

Today's Chicago Tribune had a piece by Dennis Bryne on divisiveness in politics and about national issues. Mr. Byrne can't quite decide whether this a bad thing, good thing, or just necessary business as usual.

Finally, something I can agree with Mr. Bryne about. Divisiveness.

But I recently got a copy of Christopher Hitchen's new book, "Love, Poverty, And War, Journeys and Essays. The jacket covers describes Mr. Hitchens (among other things) as "a well publicized polemicist." What I really want to know, is how does one earn the moniker of being a "polemicist"?

Must begin with divisiveness and move on from there...but it's gotta be a hard road to hoe... apparently Mr. Hitchens' got what it takes to be a polemicist for our times. Something for us all to aspire to. LOL.

Karen on 02.07.05 @ 03:37 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Apropos of nothing in particular....

other than the fact that my dog ate the last of her food this weekend, which means that I have to donate another $70 to the Dr. Rusty Bell Needs To Make A Boat Payment Fund (owing to some GI problems she has, the vet has her on a special diet, which is only available at the vet's office, of course)...

I just thought I'd share this picture of my best girlfriend and me. Of course, my best girlfriend is the better looking of the two of us:

A counterweight to the proliferation of Cat Blogging (Kevin Drum™) in the blogosphere. And no, this doesn't inaugurate Monday Dog Blogging (Len Cleavelin™ if it takes off), as this is the only picture of The Princess that I have.

Len on 02.07.05 @ 01:04 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Calendar Days of Wine and Roses...or Something Else...

I'm not much for Faux Holidays: Like Superbowl Sunday, Secretary's Day, Valentine's Day (though chocolates are always appreciated...and on ANY day);

But my NEW Calendar has some really Nifty days I might be able to enjoy:

Coming of Age Day (Jan 10) Drat...been there...done that.
Wellington's Anniversary Day (Jan 24) His marriage or his Battles...They don't say. Let's sing anyway.
Mardi Gras (Feb 8) Chicago NEVER celebrates Mardi Gras in the way it Truly Deserves.
Chinese Lantern Festival day (Feb 23) Chinatown...Save some Dim Sum for me!
Human Rights Day (Mar 21) AKA: Otago Anniversary Day; Canbera Day, Benito Juarez Birthday
Ching Ming Festival Day (Apr 5)
Buddha's Birthday (Apr 8) How many candles on that cake?
Inauguration of the Republic of Cuba Day (May 20) Fidel we hardly know ya.
Lag B'Omer Day (May 27) Huh?
Tuen Ng Festival Day (June 11) Double Huh?
Shavuot Queens Birthday (June 13) AKA: Lindsey's Birthday
Battle of the Boyne (July 12) I am only worried about the Bulge, myself.
Friendship Day (Aug 7) To: Len & Brock...New Friends!!!
Discovery Day (Aug 15) I like Voyages of Discovery...a Day is too short. (But I tend to sea-sickness...Let's walk there.)
Respect for the Aged Day (Sept 19) My brother-in-law, Jack, is one step ahead of the times...he puts up "Slow down for Old People" Crossing signs on his street.
Yara Yell Day (Oct 10) AKA: Canadian Thanksgiving; Lauren's Birthday
Eid-al-fir Culture Day (Nov 3) I like culture.
Armistice Day (Nov 11) AKA: Remembrance Day; Veteran's Day; Canterbury Anniversary: Cory's Birthday
St. Andrew's Day (Nov 30) But It's too late to Golf...snow's a flying.
Nobel Day (Dec 10) AKA: Human Rights Day (Only if you previously ignored Mar 21)
St. Lazarus' Day (Dec 17) Is it time to slay THAT Dragon again, already?

Karen on 02.07.05 @ 11:48 AM CST [link] [ | ]

For Neither Love Nor Money...

And I thought G.W.B. was the original author of this one:

What I need is to find a woman who loves me for my
money, but who doesn't understand math. --Mike Birbiglia

Or does he just fit the profile a little too closely? Ahemmm!! Gakkk.

Karen on 02.07.05 @ 09:59 AM CST [link] [ | ]

More Creationism I.D. Nonsense

Check out this one by Gerald L. Zelizer, rabbi of Neve Shalom, a Conservative congregation in New Jersey, a member of USA TODAY's board of contributors: about the co-existence of Evolution and Creationism or ID. Zelizer writes:

"Despite the disagreements, purists on both sides of this debate should understand that science and religion needn't be at each other's throats. They supplement one another. Science explains how the world is. Religion explains why the world is. Science explains material processes. Religion attributes meaning to those processes."

Spot the flaws in this gobbledly gook of "feel good rationalization" of "respecting each other's worldview and positions on the issues? Where do these folks come frrom??? (Clearly a question only GOD can answer...cause I sure can't.)

Full article at USA Today

Find out what I have to say about Science-Religion-Marriage-Respect, go to this link
SciRelRespect.htm (20k file)

Karen on 02.07.05 @ 09:25 AM CST [link] [ | ]

The RIAA Gestapo strike again.....

At the Commercial Appeal's "Plug In" blog, Eric Janssen informs us of the Recording Industry Association of America's latest in terrorem tactic, suing the dead:

As part of its ongoing effort to stop file-sharing the RIAA reportedly sued a dead woman from West Virgina. The Boston Globe reports that Gertrude Walton, an 83-year-old woman who died of an illness in December, was named as the sole defendant in a federal lawsuit that claimed she was illegally sharing music.

The daughter is saying that Walton didn't even like computers and couldn't have been sharing the files that the RIAA says she shared.
These people need to be lined up and given cranial massages with tire irons until they lose consciousness. Or their life functions terminate. Whichever happens last.

Len on 02.07.05 @ 08:42 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Because every blog yearns for one o'those Quizilla type things....

This is no surprise at all:

You Have A Type B Personality


You're as laid back as they come...
Your baseline mood is calm and level headed
Creativity and philosophy tend to be your forte

Like a natural sedative, you have a soothing effect on people
Friends and family often turn to you first with their problems
You have the personality to be a spiritual or psychological guru

Do You Have a Type A Personality?

The joke around my place of work is that they have to send someone around every so often to check my pulse. That makes things very interesting for me, because I work for someone who is very much a Type A personality.

Len on 02.07.05 @ 08:35 AM CST [link] [ | ]

5% of A Lot is still quite a bit of money.....

Over at The Cardinals Birdhouse, Brian Walton takes a look at this year's off season for sports überagent Scott Boras. What really interested me is this table (for those of you not playing the home game, these are Scott Boras's marquee baseball clients):

Player                  New Team     Contract    Duration       Boras’ take
Adrian Beltre Seattle $64 M 5 years $3.2 M
Carlos Beltran NY Mets $119 M 7 years $5.95 M
Derek Lowe LA Dodgers $36 M 4 years $1.8 M
Kevin Millwood Cleveland $7 M 1 year $0.35M
Jason Varitek Boston $40 M 4 years $2.0 M
J.D. Drew LA Dodgers $55 M 5 years $2.75 M
Magglio Ordonez Detroit $75 M 5 years $3.75 M

Totals: $396 M $19.8M

Nice work when you can get it....

Len on 02.07.05 @ 07:39 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Thought for the Day:

The key shift was the move by American fundamentalists from post-millenial dispensation to premillenial dispensation. The millenium bit refers to a passage in Revelation which describes a thousand years of peace in which Christ reigns on earth. Postmillenialists basically think the millenium culminates with the return of Jesus, and that they need to act to improve the world to bring this about; they also take a figurative approach to Revelation. Premillenialists think the Second Coming arrives before the thousand years, and it's coming RIGHT NOW and has been for the last century or so. Premillenialists tend to take a literal view of Revelation and look for all sorts of signs about when precisely the End will be Nigh, which always seem to correlate with current events.

The biggest ramification of this is that premillenial version kills the incentive for work for social justice and instead focuses belivers on their personal salvation - the world's going to bite it next year so why bother changing it? This has lead to a much lower quality of religious nutjob in American life - in the 19th century you had guys like John Brown who fought and died to free slaves, while now you get guys like James Dobson who worry their souls will be polluted by exposure to icky gay television.
--Ben Avery [SKEPTIC mail list]

Len on 02.07.05 @ 07:16 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Surnames and Nicknames:

After bombing out on the pronunciation of Len’s last name (like Cleveland…not Clar-ve-len) reminded me how I’d spent my entire childhood with a difficult to pronounce last name that ALWAYS was a problem for teachers, telephone operators, solicitors, friends, enemies…

I never had to wonder when they got to "my name" on the list...except to watch for the pained looks on their faces...right before they butchered the pronunciation.

"Ting- Hyno" "Ting-a-heeno" "Tinge-Gee-anno" "Tin-glee-mo"

...You guess it and it's been tried...at least once. (FYI: No…I’m not really gonna pronounce it, nor spell it for you either. That info is strictly on a NEED TO KNOW BASIS only…besides you might Google it…find my family members…then where would I be???)

My grade-school nickname was (understandably) “Tinker-bell” (partly because of my name…partly because of my petite stature) and sometimes I’d get “Ting-a-ling-a-ling”...as in “telephone ringing.” Ha, ha…very funny stuff (for kids) but not too bad as nicknames go. (As those of you with evil, nasty, undesirable and undeserved nicknames KNOW.)

My dream, as a kid, was that I'd grow up and get married to someone with a "normal sounding" name...so I could avoid this nomenclature difficulty. Though as I grew older...it kinda became an identity thing. As in: ”Yeah, I know…weird name…” But...who do I marry...someone with not the "easy" Irish pronunciation of the name...McLaughlin...but the difficult to spell and pronounce, Scottish version of Mac-Lauch-Lan.

So the circle is completed!!

Karen on 02.07.05 @ 05:56 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Pre-School Criminals?

All...right. Somebody's gotta explain this one to me:

Rob Kaplan, of Fight Crime, Invest in Kids is saying in this news release that, "More than 300 sheriffs, police chiefs, district attorneys, and victims of violence are set to release a new report and survey that finds a staggering percentage of California's preschools have extensive waiting lists that threaten public safety. The report highlights recent research demonstrating lack of quality preschool results in fewer high school graduations and more crime."

Now, I ask you...PRESCHOOLER's who are Threatening Public Safety??? In California perhaps...but not here at Dennis Hastert Corner.

Here in the mid-land, the heart-land, the any-'ole-where-smack-dab-in-the-middle-land...We keep out todders out of a life of crime...starting right at their mother's t**t... If ya know what I mean. ;-) We don't accept no gun-toting, ornery, rugrats on our suburban streets...

No wait...I take that back...the Second Amendment...Hrmph...Bleeping NRA...well...NEVER MIND...

Karen on 02.07.05 @ 05:16 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Misery Loved My Company

Since everyone is "Catblogging" why shouldn't I add a picture of my dear departed cat.
"Misery, Loves Company." Otherwise known as the very progressive MS Cat.

Mcat4 (73k image)

She was a tad overweight...necessitating the Atkins Diet. She didn't mind it. LOL

Karen on 02.07.05 @ 05:08 AM CST [link] [ | ]


1) About 10 years ago, in February of 1995, then-Senator Bob Dole attempted to block U.S. aid to Turkey. What action did the then-mayor of Izmir, Turkey, Burhanettin Ozfatura, order in protest?

2) The University of Virginia's School of Continuing and Professional Studies offers a degree of "Bachelor of Interdisciplinary Studies". What did it used to be called, and why was the name changed?

3) Let's identify a few stars. What is the name by which each of these individuals is better known:

a) Allen Stewart Konigsberg
b) Edward Richard Gibson
c) Natalia Nikolaevna Zakharenko
d) Louise Veronica Ciccone
e) Roy Harold Scherer Jr.
f) Daisy Juliette Baker
g) Jean-Claude Camille François Van Varenberg
h) Richard Henry Sellers
i) Mary Margaret Morgan
j) Murray Langston

Len on 02.06.05 @ 09:40 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Karen's Trivia Q

Feeling rather Bookish today, and considering half our current posts today are about book things...Here's a literary question for my Trivia Q of the week:

In the quartet (4) Books set in Alexandria, Egypt during W.W.II, and written in 1957, '58, '59' and '60 respectively, who is "Old Lineaments" (Standing for "Lineaments of Ungratified Desires") and what are the names of these four books and their author?

Karen on 02.06.05 @ 06:52 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Tweedle Bugs

It being a "balmy" 47 degrees here in Geneva...(Now, about that 6 more weeks of winter...what do you say about my charge that Punxatawny Phil and Maddy the Prognosticating Skunk are on the government down-low. 6 more weeks...my tushie!! It's a veritable Spring fever in the Windy Outback.)

Being so warm an all...my "house pet" Tweedle Bugs have "awoken" a tad earlier than expected. For those of you unfamiliar with Tweedle Bugs (Scientifically: Boisea trivittata, Classification of the insecta > Heteroptera > Rhopalidae...or Box Elder Bugs.)

One website had this to say:

"Box Elder bugs do not bite, but their piercing-sucking mouthparts can sometimes puncture skin, causing slight irritation. Their droppings make quite a mess and these pests can accumulate in great numbers in your home if left unchecked.
Warm temperatures (found in buildings such as your home) interfere with their natural cycles and biology, causing them to reproduce year-round in unwanted areas -- your home! The boxelder bug is a common pest over much of the United States. Adults are about 1/2 inch long, bright red or black in color with narrow reddish lines on their back. These insects pests feed principally by sucking juices from the boxelder tree, but are sometimes found on many other plants. In most cases, boxelder bugs cause no major damage inside homes, but their droppings stain curtains and other resting sites. This bug also emits a foul odor when crushed.
Adult boxelder bugs will enter homes in the Fall, seeking winter shelter. They will over-winter in protected areas, often in wall voids or in attics. They will then emerge in the spring to seek out host trees on which to feed and lay eggs."

Now...I tell you...MY Tweedle Bugs are well trained and would NEVER bite anyone...unlike those vicious insecta cousins of theirs, Earwigs. They just go about quietly, sucking the life out of my houseplants, occassionally scuttling across the floor. Plus, I NEVER crush them (at least intentionally) so I can't verify whether this causes their maimed bodies to emit noxious odors...I'll leave that for you to find out. (Nor do I "check" their dropping...that's not been a problem around here...)

What I like is how if they see you walking towards them, they do a "dance" of feinting right, then left, then back right. (They have good buggie-vision from their compound eyes.) It's a joke we play...as in I look like I'm going to crush them...they play "Dodge" and we both have a great laugh when it's over. Ha, Ha, Ha...

box_el2 (51k image)

So, next time you come across a Tweedle Bug...be sure to pass along my heartfelt greetings to these, my most favored Bugs.

Karen on 02.06.05 @ 06:39 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Idiot's Guide to What?

I was in a local Border's on Saturday, spending a $30 giftcard I received for Christmas. I was in the religion section, looking for a copy of Who Wrote the Bible?, and I did a double take when I saw this sitting on the bookshelf.

Complete Idiot's Guide to the Book of Revelation

Frankly, I think there are enough idiots studying the Book of Revelation already.

For the curious, in addition to Who Wrote the Bible?, I purchased a copy of Tooth and Claw (thanks to Brad DeLong for the recommendation) and The Girl Who Played Go.

Brock on 02.06.05 @ 05:43 PM CST [link] [ | ]

From the Karen Files: Books I've Written...But Never Published

Checking out Abby’s Blog, I noticed her profile lists a penchant for “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” which reminded me of all the Books and screenplays I’ve written but NEVER published.

First book: in the early 1990’s I wrote a Screenplay for “Time and Again” by Jack Finney (film rights already owned by some Hollywood studio or another…was supposed to become a movie supposedly starring Robert Redford, but he’s most likely Too Old to play the lead in this movie.)

Mid 1990’s: I wrote “Turning Back the Hands of Time” (A sequel to “Time and Again” since Finney had never written one…but lo’ and behold, Finney finally gets his sequel out…20 years later I might add. And my story concept is WAY BETTER anyway.)

Mid 1990’s: I wrote ”The Destroying Angel” (Figured “screw Jack Finney,” I’ll just re-write my own time travel story and idea. I used the 1893 Chicago World’s fair as the backdrop for my story.)

Late 1998: I wrote a TV Episode for “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” and a two-book series called “The Casket of Cernoeuth.” (Resulting in this reply from Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation):

”Unfortunately, it is (our) policy…not to consider or accept unsolicited ideas or other literary material with respect to ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer.’ Please accept this autographed cast photo as thanks for being such great viewer. Very truly yours, David Goodman, Script coodinator.”

Accompanied by said photo:

buffy3 (93k image)

I’m thinking of adding a webpage for the prologue to this “Casket of Cernoeuth” story. Anyone who wants to read more…well, I’ll have to figure that one out since Len would probably come to Chicago himself and personally “KILL ME” if I start to take up all the kilobytes of space at DBV for this kind of fun but nonsensical stuff. Or revoke my DBV privileges at the very least. LOL

To read more about this story and Angel stuff click on the "more" button

Karen on 02.06.05 @ 05:05 PM CST [more..] [ | ]

Book of the Week

(Not that I'm really going to be doing a Book of the Week post...But only because this particular book was TOO GOOD not to share the fun around...and I'm thinking Jon Stewart must use it as a "handi-reference guide" for jokes on The Daily Show.)

It's called In Other Words: A Language Lover's Guide to the Most Intriguing Words Around the World (2004 edition from Levenger Press Book) by Christopher J. Moore.

I'm only on p. 37 so far...but I've already come across these priceless GEMs:

Lebensabschnittsgefahrte: "A bit of life companion" (euphemism for "living in sin")

Attaccabottoni: "A bore who 'buttonholes' you with long tales of woe" (Len will have to tell us how many he meets at this weekend blogger get-together...LOL)

Metro-boulot-dodo: Means a pointless existence as in "subway-work-sleep" (not to be confused with Metro-boulot-bistrots-megots-dodo-zero: "subway-work-bars-fags-sleep-nothing".)

Gilipollas: "Innocent" "Born yesterday" as in naively thoughtless (WOW...they have a word coined just for ME ...LOL)

Well...I strongly advise having your own copy of this book...you never know when you'll need to use it!!

Karen on 02.06.05 @ 03:53 PM CST [link] [ | ]

My Blog Ate My Homework

Thoughts sometime just coalesce in my mind like the “goo” they use to make Jelly Beans™ or Dots™ or JuJu Bees™; forming a rubbery, yet pleasing texture in my greymatter….right until it EATS your Blog.

Sent this letter to Fafnir:

You are sooo right...The vicious internet(s)...or it's assassin "script in cgi", have EATEN our blog over at DBV. We have a serious case of "post-list-less-ness" that can only be cured by PIE! Send PIEs...as many as possible. Until we are able to rebuild...we are being held in a corner by vicious attack internet(s)
"...nice doggie...nice doggie..." Grrrrr. Grrrrr.

Now , faf, I don't want be getting on your case or nothing...us being such good "buds" an all. (We are...Right? Right? Right?)

Anyway...you must have read the report that:

"One in three high school students questioned in a survey sponsored by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation say the First Amendment goes "too far" in the rights it guarantees, and 50% said the government should have the right to approve newspaper stories. This is not a case of skewed data - 100,000 students were surveyed across 544 high schools. Certainly a large enough pool to be statistically significant."

That's stunning and very sad that so many high schoolers have no concept of the idea of a "free press," nor apparently, any sense of the history of government abuses. Any one want to whisper: Joseph McCarthy?

So..faf....You can't be letting all those poorly-educated grade-schoolers down here....when they rely on you, me, Giblets, The Medium Lobster, (maybe Len…but I can’t be sure) and a few neutered Dems to protect their interests.

Now that Gonzales was confirmed (36 Ways fighting heroically against 55 Meanies and 5 Ways defectors) The Bushies have their evil cabal completed. The circle closes...the noose tightens...the forces of Darkness are arraying against us. Your public awaits you, faf... Don't let us down, in THIS our hour of true neediness.

There is also a great production done by The Sundance Channel and Court TV called The First Amendment Project. Maybe they need to send copies to each of these high schools as mandatory educational materials...plus copies of Your soon to be published interview with The Constitution of the United States

ps: Beware of this blog virus: Apparently Andrew Sullivan has a chronic case: I sent him this note:

You see...after five years of "casual' blogging you've now become "infected" with the most insidious of blog viruses...it has taken over your hypo-thalmus and co-opted your endorphine producing centers...giving you that "depressed, unsettled' feeling when you're not blogging. Cure: As yet unknown to medical science...but they're working on it. Until then...proceed cautiously...sudden withdrawal has been known to produce hallucinatory (God-like-complex) effects...but is rarely fatal. (*whew!*) (But Giblets...are you listening here???)

pss: Is there "supposed" to be a "mystery" as to WHO you three are? I'm such a newbie-blogger...I'm just a day late and half-dollar short on all thing bloggerie.

Karen on 02.06.05 @ 03:51 PM CST [link] [ | ]

As if blog comment spam weren't bad enough....

As y'all may know, I'm one of the contributing authors/editors at The Birdwatch, a group blog devoted to baseball in general, and the St. Louis Cardinals in particular.

The Birdwatch is managed using Movable Type, and one of the features of Movable Type is that you can configure it to give you email notification of either comments or trackback pings. Imagine my mortification when I received this in my email inbox:

A new TrackBack ping has been sent to your weblog, on the entry 690
(Evidence that Walt's worth what we pay him, and then some....).

IP Address:
URL: [deleted because I'm not giving the bastard the satisfaction]
Title: magazine subscription
Weblog: magazine subscription

love this site! check out my magazine subscriptions
Oh sweet Jesus save us! Trackback spam! Who'da thunk it?

Actually, the thing that puzzles me is why didn't anyone think of it earlier?

Len on 02.06.05 @ 02:29 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Memphis Blogger's Bash, v. 4.0

Full after-action reports at Half-Bakered and Adventures with Lady Cutie Troublemaker (check the latter of those two AwLCT links for pictures of The Teeming Nine--us bloggers proper--plus a "bonus", namely one of the pictures features Phil holding his daughter, who I have arbitrarily selected (because I can) as the new holder of the title of Memphis' Bloggin' Babe, with all due apologies to both Rachel and Abby). Mike and Abby do a good enough debrief; alas, I have things to do right now (that's what I get for spending the last 48 hours or so dealing with The Greymatter Implosion). Meanwhile, this dignified insurrection once again qualified for:

The Art Schroeder Memorial Synopsis™

A good time was had by all, and nobody was arrested.

Len on 02.06.05 @ 02:17 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Thought for the Day:

A computer is a lot like the God of the Old Testament: it has a lot of rules and no mercy.

Len on 02.06.05 @ 02:02 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Hey, what happened!!!

AKA: To err is human, to really f*ck things up requries a computer.

As my partners in crime here, and the rest o'Memphis's Bloggin' Bashers (at least those who were listening to me kvetch last night) know, Friday morning Something Wicked hosed my Greymatter installation, but good. Killed it right dead. I've spent most of the past 48 hours dealing with it, and alas, nothing I can do appears to either 1) get it to work like it did, or 2) allows me to just recreate the site in a fresh install. So I'm going to be girding my loins (wondering, as I do, why loins are apparently the only body part one girds), swallow my pride, and get this back up and running.

In the meantime, I'll be discussing (in private) with Brock and Karen where we may be going from here. I suspect that it was a screw up at my hosting company which caused the problems, and I've been considering a change anyway; this might be an opportune time to make such a move. In the meantime, one of the Topics o'Conversation at the Blogger's Bash last night (a little more on same later) was hosting companies, and Two of the Assembled Multitude both highly praised their hosting company (which happened to be the same company). Since said company offers more storage space, bandwidth, and a number of other festures for less than what I'm paying now, that may be A Sign From God (if she exists, which I doubt). Or if not a sign from God, it still strikes me as a hell of a good deal. With a move in host companies, a move in blog software might be in order too, but those discussions will be held in private. When any change comes, y'all will, I'm sure, be the first to notice.

The Good News, such as it is, is that nothing is truly lost, as I do have a backup of all the "lost" posts on my home box, and in the future I'll most likely be creating archives of Brock's and Karen's pre-meltdown posts, along with a selection of those of mine that I can re-read now without embarassment (sort of similar to my archive of the old Blogger site). Meanwhile, we'll just be growing anew for right now. At least until the next crisis. :-)

Len on 02.06.05 @ 01:58 PM CST [link] [ | ]

February 2005

Archives of Blogger site
Archives: May '04-Feb '05

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Len's sidebar:
About Len (The uncondensed version)
Memorial to a dear friend
Frederick W. Benteen
The Web of Leonards
The St. Louis Cardinals
The Memphis Redbirds
The St. Louis Browns
The Birdwatch
Hey! Spring of Trivia Blog
BlogMemphis (The Commercial Appeal's listing of Memphis blogs)
The Guide to Life, the Universe, and Everything

Len's extended blogroll:

Brock's Sidebar:
About Brock
Boing Boing
Crooked Timber
Dispatches from the Culture Wars
Heretical Ideas
John and Belle Have a Blog
Jon Rowe
Letters of Marque
Literal Minded
Marginal Revolution
Matthew Yglesias
Oliver Willis
Political Animal
Positive Liberty
Signifying Nothing
Unqualified Offerings

Karen's Sidebar
About Karen
The Ig-Nobel Prizes
The Annals of Improbable Research
The Darwin Awards
EBaums World
Real Clear Politics
U.S. News Wire
Foreign Affairs
The Capitol Steps
Legal Affairs
Nobel Laureates for Change
Program On International Policy
Law of War
Sunday Times
Media Matters
Is That Legal?
Andrew Sullivan
Literal Minded
Jon Rowe
Freespace Blog
Thought Not
Publius Pundit
Blog Maverick
Rosenberg Blog
Crooked Timber

The Rocky Top Brigade:

Rocky Top Brigade Sampler

A New Memphis Mafia

The liberal alternative to Drudge.

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