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

In our New United States, "freedom of religion" appears to be coming to mean...

the freedom to practice the state approved religion. At least if this Marion County, Indiana judge has his way: Judge: Parents can't teach pagan beliefs

An Indianapolis father is appealing a Marion County judge's unusual order that prohibits him and his ex-wife from exposing their child to "non-mainstream religious beliefs and rituals."

The parents practice Wicca, a contemporary pagan religion that emphasizes a balance in nature and reverence for the earth.

Cale J. Bradford, chief judge of the Marion Superior Court, kept the unusual provision in the couple's divorce decree last year over their fierce objections, court records show. The order does not define a mainstream religion.

Bradford refused to remove the provision after the 9-year-old boy's outraged parents, Thomas E. Jones Jr. and his ex-wife, Tammie U. Bristol, protested last fall.

Through a court spokeswoman, Bradford said Wednesday he could not discuss the pending legal dispute.
Damn, those canons of judicial ethics come in handy, particularly when there's no way the judge could discuss this case without making himself look like a bigger fool (or a more narrow-minded bigot) than he already looks.
The parents' Wiccan beliefs came to Bradford's attention in a confidential report prepared by the Domestic Relations Counseling Bureau, which provides recommendations to the court on child custody and visitation rights. Jones' son attends a local Catholic school.

"There is a discrepancy between Ms. Jones and Mr. Jones' lifestyle and the belief system adhered to by the parochial school. . . . Ms. Jones and Mr. Jones display little insight into the confusion these divergent belief systems will have upon (the boy) as he ages," the bureau said in its report.

But Jones, 37, Indianapolis, disputes the bureau's findings, saying he attended Bishop Chatard High School in Indianapolis as a non-Christian.

Jones has brought the case before the Indiana Court of Appeals, with help from the Indiana Civil Liberties Union. They filed their request for the appeals court to strike the one-paragraph clause in January.

"This was done without either of us requesting it and at the judge's whim," said Jones, who has organized Pagan Pride Day events in Indianapolis. "It is upsetting to our son that he cannot celebrate holidays with us, including Yule, which is winter solstice, and Ostara, which is the spring equinox."


"When they read the order to me, I said, 'You've got to be kidding,' " said Alisa G. Cohen, an Indianapolis attorney representing Jones. "Didn't the judge get the memo that it's not up to him what constitutes a valid religion?"
Hopefully, the Indiana Court of Appeals is more on top of the law than this Marion County judge:
Even the U.S. military accommodates Wiccans and educates chaplains about their beliefs, said Lawrence W. Snyder, an associate professor of religious studies at Western Kentucky University.

"The federal government has given Wiccans protection under the First Amendment," Snyder said. "Unless this judge has some very specific information about activities involving the child that are harmful, the law is not on his side."
What makes this case highly unusual is that the parents aren't in opposition here. They're both pagans. The fight is between the two parents on one side, and the judge on the other:
At times, divorcing parents might battle in the courts over the religion of their children. But Kenneth J. Falk, the ICLU's legal director, said he knows of no such order issued before by an Indiana court. He said his research also did not turn up such a case nationally.

"Religion comes up most frequently when there are disputes between the parents. There are lots of cases where a mom and dad are of different faiths, and they're having a tug of war over the kids," Falk said. "This is different: Their dispute is with the judge. When the government is attempting to tell people they're not allowed to engage in non-mainstream activities, that raises concerns."

Len on 05.31.05 @ 07:29 PM CST [link] [ | ]

"I always thought the record would stand until it was broken." --Yogi Berra

And here Karen's scared of sharks. It appears that there are other denizens of the freshwater deep that we should be worried about.

It appears that a couple weekends ago, an Alton, IL fisherman caught what appears to be world record blue catfish in the Mississippi River just below Alton.

An Alton fisherman, with help from his wife and a friend, landed a 124-pound catfish in their johnboat during a late-night outing on the Mississippi River below Alton.

Tim Pruitt caught the fish early Sunday after a 45-minute fight, said Fred Cronin, Illinois district fisheries biologist. The catch easily beats the Illinois and Missouri records for blue catfish and probably is enough for a world record, Cronin said Tuesday.

The world record is 121.8 pounds, set in January 2004 at Lake Texoma near Denison, Texas. Current state records for blue cats are 85 pounds in Illinois and 103 pounds in Missouri.
Unfortunately, Fishzilla didn't survive his encounter with Pruitt.
Pruitt, who underwent previously scheduled elbow surgery Tuesday, said the fish unfortunately died while being transported by special truck to the Cabela's outdoor store in Kansas City, Kan. Pruitt, who eventually wanted the fish returned to the Mississippi, was upset that the fish had died and stressed that special care was taken to try to keep the fish alive.
And for those of you readers (come on, there has to be one or two) who are angling geeks, the information you wanted to know:
Pruitt caught the fish, estimated at 25 to 30 years old, with a large salt-water rig, 40-pound-test fishing line and the head of a moon eye fish for bait.
Congratulations, Tim!

Len on 05.31.05 @ 07:16 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Well, we now know who "Deep Throat" was....

besides the fact that he's the guy who clued Woodstein in on the Watergate break-in. Apparently, he's former FBI deputy director W. Mark Felt, according to a story in Vanity Fair that's been confirmed by Woodward, Bernstein, and Ben Bradlee of the Washington Post.

I have to admit I share Ben Bradlee's astonishment:

Bradlee said today, "The thing that stuns me is that the goddamn secret has lasted this long."
Of course, the reason it lasted this long is that it wasn't the government that was keeping the secret.


Len on 05.31.05 @ 06:20 PM CST [link] [ | ]

End of an Era?

The title of this Daily Herald article from the AP just about says it all: Is it end of the road for HoJo’s?: Changing times put restaurant at crossroads.

For those of us who spent countless hours in the HoJo's which had been located over by the Kennedy -294 Expressway - in our Park Ridge high school and college years...it IS the passing of an era.

Karen on 05.31.05 @ 09:04 AM CST [link] [ | ]

So when are the traditionalist Catholics going to start complaining?

Ed Halter, in his Village Voice review of Star Wars Episode III: The Revenge of the Sith, makes this comment:

Ian McDiarmid's unctuous Emperor—who bears a strange resemblance to Pope Benedict XVI, sunken eyes and all—turns appropriately vampiric as he attempts to draw Anakin into the Sith fold with promises of eternal life.
Hmmmmm... of course, one of the main attractions of Catholicism (as indeed, with just about all variants of Christianity), is that promise of eternal life. Given that the Bushies are complaining about Sith as being a thinly veiled swipe at the bAdministration, are we now to get traditionalist Catholics complaining that Lucas is trying to tell us something by his creating an uncanny physical resemblance between Emperor Palpatine/Darth Sidious and Pope Benedict?

Len on 05.31.05 @ 08:35 AM CST [link] [ | ]

More Memphis Visit - In Parts...

We were downtown at Huey’s enjoying a beer and appetizers…

LenHueys (105k image)

Len at Huey’s

We were having such a nice time - I FAILED to even notice the 8-Foot SHARK hanging over my head!!! LOL YIKES.

When… the Fire Alarm went off.

No one “seemed” to want to panic and acted as if it was clearly A False Alarm. But the Memphis Fire Brigade and trucks were dispatched…

firetruckhueys (75k image)

We also didn’t get to do another BBQ Night (after our Blogger bash at The BBQ Shop) but had to take a picture of the ambiance at The Rendezvous Ribs:

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The Rendezvous

Karen on 05.31.05 @ 08:09 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Using The Cover of a Woman's Skirt…

Ladies First by Rebecca Mead (New Yorker) in writing about the political cache of Mrs. Laura Bush:

"....Her willingness to express a dissonant opinion, however, does not amount to a shedding of wifely coverings; indeed, the reception she received in Jerusalem—where she was heckled by irate Jews and angry Palestinians—suggests that Blackstone’s dictum about wives being incorporated and consolidated into the person of their husbands holds firm in her case. Having hoarded the capital of her personal popularity for years by declining to enter the political fray, she is now able to spend it to salvage her husband’s approval rating, which is currently at forty-seven per cent. The newly opinionated Laura Bush is no more her own woman than she was while smilingly mute.

Rather, she has been transformed from a femme couverte into a member of a category that Blackstone did not identify: what might be referred to as a femme couvrante—a wife who covers for her embattled husband, concealing his weaknesses with her own quiet force. Her measured outspokenness, while seeming to be at odds with the White House line, is less an expression of marital difference than it is a dutiful form of marital compensation. In conversation with reporters during her Middle East trip, Mrs. Bush said of the recent anti-American rioting and demonstrating in Muslim nations, “You can’t blame it all on Newsweek,” a comment rightly deemed newsworthy, given that the President’s official mouthpieces were doing just that. But she stopped short of saying the further truth: that you might blame at least some of it on her husband, the man under whose wing, protection, and cover the entire country currently quails."

Karen on 05.31.05 @ 07:59 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Small Favors...

Thanks (So far) for "The Gang of 14"...

"The Gang of 14 specifically urged Bush to consult with Republicans and Democrats before choosing judicial nominees as a way "to reduce the rancor" that has built up over the confirmation process. Up to now, the president has done little consulting with Democrats on his nominations. Sen. John W. Warner (R-Va.), who with Sen. Robert C. Byrd (D-W.Va.) penned the "advice and consent" paragraphs in the agreement, said that Bush's chances of winning bipartisan approval of a Supreme Court nominee may hinge on his willingness to consult across party lines. "That's what the Constitution says," Warner said on MSNBC's "Hardball" last week. "It is very clean."

By Dan Balz (Washington Post) Filibuster Deal Evaded Key Question on High Court Nominees.

Karen on 05.31.05 @ 07:38 AM CST [link] [ | ]

This is the thanks you get....

When I woke up this morning, Rachel Maddow was discussing this on her Air America radio show: Unceremonious end to Army career

John Riggs spent 39 years in the Army, earning a Distinguished Flying Cross for bravery during the Vietnam War and working his way up to become a three-star general entrusted with creating a high-tech Army for the 21st century.

But on a spring day last year, Riggs was told by senior Army officials that he would be retired at a reduced rank, losing one of his stars because of infractions considered so minor that they were not placed in his official record.

He was given 24 hours to leave the Army. He had no parade in review, no rousing martial music, no speeches or official proclamations praising his decades in uniform, the trappings that normally herald a high-level military retirement.

Instead, Riggs went to a basement room at Fort Myer, Va., and signed some mandatory forms. Then a young sergeant mechanically presented him with a flag and a form letter of thanks from President Bush.
Hmmmm. And how much do you want to bet that form letter was machine signed?
"That's the coldest way in the world to leave," Riggs, 58, said in a drawl that betrays his rural roots in southeast Missouri. "It's like being buried and no one attends your funeral."

So what cost Riggs his star?

His Pentagon superiors said he allowed outside contractors to perform work they were not supposed to do, creating "an adverse command climate."

But some of the general's supporters believe the motivation behind his demotion was politics. Riggs was blunt and outspoken on a number of issues and publicly contradicted Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld by arguing that the Army was overstretched in Iraq and Afghanistan and needed more troops.

"They all went bat s- - when that happened," recalled retired Army Lt. Gen. Jay M. Garner, a one-time Pentagon adviser who ran reconstruction efforts in Iraq in the spring of 2003. "The military part of [the defense secretary's office] has been politicized. If [officers] disagree, they are ostracized and their reputations are ruined."

A senior officer's loss of a star is a punishment seldom used, and then usually for the most serious offenses, such as dereliction of duty or command failures, adultery or misuse of government funds or equipment.

Over the past several decades, generals and admirals faced with far more serious official findings - scandals at the Navy's Tailhook Convention, the Air Force Academy and Abu Ghraib prison, for example - have continued in their careers or retired with no loss of rank.

Les Brownlee, who was then acting Army secretary and who ordered that Riggs be reduced in rank, said he stands by the demotion. "I read the [Army inspector general's] report and made that judgment. I happen to think it was that serious. Maybe I have a higher standard for these things," Brownlee said in an interview. "I still believe it was the right decision."
"Maybe I have a higher standard for these things...." How can that slimy bastard say that with a straight face? If he had truly high standards, he'd hand in his letter of resignation, and spit in the face of The Dishonorable Secretary of Defense as it hands it in.

What bothers me is that if these infractions were that serious, why the hell wasn't some formal action taken? I realize that when one achieves the rarified heights that LTG Riggs reaches that a referral to a court martial isn't likely, though that's probably the most appropriate disposition. But usually (in my experience in the Navy), referal to nonjudicial punishment (the kiss of death to any officer's career), or at least the issuance of a formal letter of reprimand, is most appropriate. But no, not in Rumsfeld's military. After all, that might leave some sort of record that will show the arbitrary and capricious nature of this punishment. And, gee, I wonder what gives me the idea that these alleged improprieties are trumped up? After all, it's not like such a course of action would be beneath slime like Rumsfeld.

But let's give the Dishonorable Secretary of Defense the benefit of the doubt. There was an investigation, after all:
Riggs himself and investigation documents say he was the subject of anonymous allegations that he was violating the Pentagon's contracting regulations and having an affair with one of the contractors.

The Army inspector general's office opened a probe in the spring of 2003. At the same time, a criminal investigation also looking at the issue of contractors was launched by the Army's Criminal Investigation Command.

Only the inspector general came back with findings of fault. An October 2003 letter from Lt. Gen. Paul Mikolashek, the inspector general, found two violations of contracting rules but concluded that the allegation of "an adulterous affair with a female contractor was not substantiated."

The report prompted Gen. John M. Keane, the Army's No. 2 officer, to write a disciplinary "memorandum of concern" to Riggs. The memo found that a female contractor was allowed to draft congressional testimony, respond to congressional correspondence and communicate with Capitol Hill staffers.

Allowing a contractor to perform functions that should have been undertaken only by government employees was improper, Keane wrote.

Also, since the contractor was serving in a role similar to that of a deputy director or executive officer, that amounted to an improper "personal services contract" that should have been filled by a government employee. Riggs was put on notice "to comply with all regulatory requirements," but Keane wrote that the memo would not be filed in Riggs' personnel records.
And what does GEN Keane have to say about the affair now?
Now retired, Keane said demoting Riggs based on a penalty that represents the "minimum administrative punishment" at his disposal was a "tragic mistake."

"It is outrageous that John Riggs was reduced in rank for such a minor offense, which should never outweigh his 30-plus years of exemplary service to the Army and the nation," Keane wrote in a letter to Army officials supporting Riggs' restoration as a lieutenant general.

Keane said the Army was partly to blame for Riggs' predicament because the service downsized its support personnel and forced officers to hire private contractors. "I believe we blurred the lines of contractors and department employees, so much so that many of the supervisors just saw it as one team," Keane wrote. "While John Riggs did blur those lines, we, the Army, contributed directly to that without a clear policy and clear command guidelines."
The again, maybe the charges weren't trumped up. But we're certainly seeing what appears to be SOP for the Dishonorable Secretary of Defense: fuck up at the top, and then let the underlings take the blame....

And of course, the Dishonorable Defense Secretary is so very concerned with, y'know, consistency in meting out punishment:
What's striking about the Riggs case is the comparison with how the Army and the other services have handled even more serious cases.

Seven years ago, Maj. Gen. David Hale, the Army's inspector general, was allowed to hastily retire after allegations that he pressured the wife of a subordinate into a sexual relationship. An Army investigation uncovered other affairs with subordinates' wives, and Hale was later put back on active duty and court-martialed. But it took an Army review panel another six months after his conviction to determine that Hale should be reduced by one star to a brigadier general.

Two Navy rear admirals were given letters of censure for not stopping lewd behavior at the 1991 Tailhook Association convention in Las Vegas, where dozens of women were groped and fondled by Navy and Marine Corps aviators. Both admirals retired at their two-star ranks.

More recently, the Air Force removed the four top officers at the U.S. Air Force Academy as part of a housecleaning after a sex scandal in 2003. While the superintendent was demoted from a three-star to a two-star rank, the other officers went on to jobs with similar responsibilities.
Were there any justice, it'd be the Dishonorable Secretary of Defense that would be retiring.... right before being cuffed and taken to The Hague (along with his bosses) to stand trial for their crimes against humanity.

But lucky for them, there is no such thing as justice.

Len on 05.31.05 @ 07:23 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Our exercise in bad taste for the day....

Late Sunday Brunch.

Credit to Bryan at Why Now?

Len on 05.31.05 @ 06:54 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Hmmmmm.... if my co-bloggers ever desert me, this might even make a good blog title...

Apropos of my fit of pique last week (note to Mike: I still love ya, man--and you remind me that I do need to catch another ballgame with you, hopefully soon), I think I'm going to start calling myself a proud member of the St. Louis Diaspora (go look it up; after all, I own an Unabridged Oxford English Dictionary, and I'm not afraid to use it; you can learn something from me).

Actually, that's by way of mentioning a couple additions to the blogroll, just because. I'd actually had my eye on Pretty War and its subsidiary, Pretty War STL, since Tom, the proprietor there, first showed up in the comments here, but when Tom posted a picture of blue dragons descending upon Dutchtown, which brought back some fond memories of living in Dutchtown way back when, I figured that I'd read the handwriting on the wall and welcome him to the blogroll (besides, it makes checking up with him easier).

Meanwhile, if I do steal the St. Louis Diaspora title, I'm going to give due credit to Cardsblogger Cardinals Diaspora.

Note to Karen: No, I'm not expecting you or Brock to desert me, no matter how badly I embarass y'all.

Len on 05.31.05 @ 06:43 AM CST [link] [ | ]

It's getting closer....

and I'm getting more excited....

UPDATE: It's not exactly a review, but a member of ANTENNA - The International Kraftwerk Mailing List forwards us this eyewitness account:
I just got back from seeing Kraftwerk Live at the 9:30 club in Washington DC...Incredible!!! DO NOT MISS THIS TOUR...they played 3 sets complete with wardrobe changes. The visuals were stunning and the music...what can I say?
There was a great live element in their performance...each member was adding and changing the parts within the song...almost like a live remix on every composition...including a killer jam and solo section by each member on the last song. Also...the robots were there!

I will be reeling from this show for quite a while...
I hope this bodes well for my hopes for a 2.5+ hour set Saturday night. My one concern being the late start time--9:00 PM--of this concert.

Len on 05.31.05 @ 05:54 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Thought for the Day:

[B]ox-office results reflect neither the appeal of the actual movies—nor their quality—but the number of screens on which they are playing and the efficacy of the marketing that drove an audience into the theaters. If a movie opens on 30 screens, like Sideways or Million Dollar Baby, there is obviously no way it can achieve the results of a movie opening on 3,000 screens. And how do studios motivate millions of moviegoers—mainly under 25—to go to the 3,000 screens on an opening weekend to see a film no one else has yet seen or recommended? With a successful advertising campaign.

Studios spend $20 million to $40 million on TV ads because their market research shows that those ads are what can draw a movie's crucial opening-weekend teenage audience. To do that, they typically blitz this audience, aiming to hit each viewer with between five to eight ads in the two weeks before a movie's opening. The studios also spend a great deal of money testing the ads on focus groups, some of whom are wired up to measure their nonverbal responses. If the ads fail to trigger the right response, the film usually "bombs" in the media's hyperbolic judgment. If the ads succeed, the film is rewarded with "boffo" box-office numbers.
--Edward Jay Epstein

Len on 05.31.05 @ 05:51 AM CST [link] [ | ]

In an ideal world, you wouldn't have to debunk a novel....

but this isn't an ideal world.

For some reason, there are a lot of people out there who seem to think that Dan Brown's novel, The Da Vinci Code, is a factual narrative and not a novel (the fact that Brown claimed (according to my sources; I haven't read The Da Vinci Code myself) that it was based on "historical truth" may certainly hasn't helped some members of the autience in keeping the two separate). For those who might be disposed to see The Da Vinci Code as a factual narrative, Professor Bart D. Ehrman, chairman of the religious studies department at the University of North Carolina--Chapel Hill, has written what looks like an interesting book, Truth and Fiction in the Da Vinci Code: A Historian Reveals What We Really Know about Jesus, Mary Magdalene, and Constantine. I've not read this particular work, but I own and have read three other books by Ehrman, The Orthodox Corruption of Scripture: The Effect of Early Christological Controversies on the Text of the New Testament, Lost Christianities: The Battle for Scripture and the Faiths We Never Knew, and Lost Scriptures: Books That Did Not Make It Into The New Testament, and based on those works I know that Ehrman has both an encyclopedic knowledge of the relevant history, and a writing style that is clear and accessible to the intelligent layperson.

I'll be keeping my eyes out for this one.

Len on 05.30.05 @ 07:36 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Because I'm going to rub it in....

Less than a week now...

Len on 05.30.05 @ 12:34 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Holiday Visits

I have my Italian Great Aunts visiting for the Memorial Day Holiday.

Here's a wonderful picture of the crew:

Aunts1 (71k image)

Florence Sadaro, Joe Buktenica, Tony Tinghino, Lorraine Beutelspacher, Carmela Falcone.

They've not seen a Blog....so this is a new experience all around. Too Kool!

Karen on 05.30.05 @ 12:10 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Thought for the Day:

This is from a mailing list I subscribe to. The author is a middle-aged-to-senior female, several children, homemaker, and seemingly the last person on earth who should be worried about her profile:

And there are some precautions; I shop online with credit card, but my in-person day-to-day purchases are usually made with cash, so I do not leave a trail of gasoline receipts or other such petty stuff. I take enough money with me, so that I am not constantly hitting the ATM. If, when traveling, I need cash, I give the hotel a check for it rather than use a machine; it usually takes them days to cash it, and the hotel could be traced in any event. Ever since the Patriot Act passed, I buy books with a political orientation only in bookstores for cash. These are small things--habit now, rather than preoccupation.

My profile is Very Low. I keep remembering what my father-in-law, who was a very wise and overeducated type, always said: "Never think that it can't happen here. It may not, but the possibility should always be at the back of your mind."

So maybe I really am paranoid. I just assume that I am not because it's the government (and influences thereupon) I distrust rather than my neighbors or the space aliens.

Len on 05.30.05 @ 10:45 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Memphis Visit - In parts...

Since I was prevented from posting during my Holiday break about all the FUN Memphonian things Len and I were “busy” enjoying, I’m going to put up a short series of pictures for the next couple days and cover some of our tracks around Memphis.

The first day (after breakfast at Café Francisco) I had a drive by tour of Memphis sights:

pyramid1 (63k image)

The Pyramid

peabodys (138k image)

The Peabody Hotel

[Tho’ we kept missing the Famous Peabody Ducks. LOL ]

courtsqparty (103k image)

Court Square “Party in the Park”

troly3 (89k image)

Memphis Trolley Car System

Karen on 05.30.05 @ 08:39 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Travel Plans?

Sleep Here: Comparing chain lodgings on your way there is a good run down of many of the Hotel/Motel chains and their services, pricing and offered upgrades. Though, as I mentioned, be WARNED about expectations of WiFi services and availability. Not all Hotels are quite up to snuff on this WiFi service for some of these places.

Courtesy of USA Today.

Karen on 05.30.05 @ 07:07 AM CST [link] [ | ]

bAdministration Funnies...

Taking a read through my hotel copy of USA Today this weekend, I came across a funny article:

What Bush is saying when he's talking is yet another sad (very sad) commentary on what kind of a Presidency we have when the average reader must extrapolate some higher “meaning” out the few (very few) sound bites Bush has been taught to parrot on every issue.

However, the USA link doesn’t quite live up to the hard copy of its articles and is only a pale edited version for review and the full "interpretation" of Bush's words.

And, unfortunately, it’s other USA funnie for that day - about the most recent Commencement Graduation Speakers appearing at various facilities of higher education - does not provide the pictures or captions of the Glitterati. Oh, Boo Who on that one- But it was too funny.

Karen on 05.30.05 @ 06:57 AM CST [link] [ | ]

More "Buyer's Remorse?"

A Report out this week from Democracy Corp conducting a Voter survey on the GOP and bAdminstration policies and content has concluded that the electorate is conflicted with the GOP, our Fearless Leader and their policy agendas.

The revulsion about Washington is about the content, as well as the style, of Washington politics. By 57 to 33 percent, voter say Congress has the “wrong priorities” and is “not working on the issues that matter to me.” Rather than wanting to see Democrates ease the tensions and help the president with his agenda and avoid gridlock, the voter want Democrats to stand up and “provide a balance” and make sure the “Republicans do not go too far in pushing their agenda.” That is a remarkable result for a re-elected president, barely home from the honeymoon.”

So – Who are these Voters that must now be having “Buyer’s Remorse” here??? [You KNOW who you ARE!!!]

Why did ya vote for the jerk in the first place??? You One-Issue-Morons are the reason we’re ALL facing this crap of a Nationally Tone-deaf-dumb-and-blind President waltzing around on mis-begotten priorities ignoring what needs must be done around here. Time to get those issues Straight!!

Karen on 05.30.05 @ 06:06 AM CST [link] [ | ]

From the "Life in These United States" Department....

If you're involved in an adulterous affair, you can now get a greeting card specifically for your mistress/lover:

Soon, you could also find cards for your mistress or the other man in your life, thanks to a new line of greeting cards designed especially to express the feelings intrinsic to extramarital affairs.

Bethesda resident Cathy Gallagher created the line of cards called the Secret Lover collection.

Gallagher came up with the idea for the cards after she and her husband had a conversation about how many of their friends were involved in extramarital affairs.

"There were all the different people that we knew that were involved in [affairs] and I thought that must be a really difficult situation to be in," she said.

As someone who buys a lot of greeting cards herself, she said the idea came to her and she thought there would be an enormous, untapped market for it.


The collection includes cards that express love and intimacy, thoughts for special occasions and other sentiments, such as "sorry" and "goodbye" -- each with the distinctive voice of one engaged in a secret relationship.

For example, a holiday card begins with, "As we each celebrate with our families, I will be thinking of you."

Another card, meant for an office romance, says, "I used to look forward to the weekends but since we met they now seem like an eternity."

"Regular relationship cards don't come close to expressing the feeling of these relationships," Gallagher said.
I don't know whether to be happy or depressed that I have no need for such cards....

Credit: Mr. Roboto

Len on 05.29.05 @ 02:27 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Dr. Abby's Dr. Dad is A Very Wise Man Indeed....

and I probably won't be writing any special Memorial Day post. Abby's Dad said it all in his letter to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution:

I guess the Iraqi War is the final straw in the dissolution of any heroic memories. We entered this war based on a lie. We entered it unprovoked. It’s now justified by saying that Hussein was a bad, dangerous man, his soldiers committed atrocities. I now see our president as a bad, dangerous man, and read about our soldiers commiting atrocities. America is just another country with the foolish notion that only power can prevail in the world - power without principles.

What am I to remember on Memorial Day? What I feel is shame.

Len on 05.29.05 @ 02:17 PM CST [link] [ | ]

More Things That Are More Important Than John Ford's Indictment (or: Eatcher hearts out, guys...)

This week I'll be trying to get my ducks in a row at work because come Thursday I'm travelling to the Windy City:

Someone cue the vocoder:
Meine Damen und Herren [Ladies and Gentlemen]
Ladies and Gentlemen
Heute abend aus Deutschland [This evening, from Germany]
Die Mensch Maschine: Kraftwerk [The Man-Machine: Kraftwerk]
Then Sunday, I leave Chicago to head for St. Louis. A high school classmate of mine is a middlin' VIP. But still, she's VIP enough to have tickets to the St. Louis Cardinals-Boston Red Sox game on Monday, June 6, 2005, and there's no way in hell I'm not accepting her kind offer to let me tag along for that one.

So excuse me. There are much more important things happening in my life than some criminal indictments in Tennessee....

Len on 05.29.05 @ 01:53 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Gems o'the Week:

Catching up on my reading I've been ignoring while I've been making sure Karen didn't get too bored in Memphis.... I think that The Pesky Fly and his commenters have gotten an attack of inspiration. First, Pesky comes up with a classic post header:

The name Frist is derived from an archaic German word meaning "sap-sucking bastard who can't get laid."
while Pesky's frequent commenter "sylamore" graces us with a classic piece of filk, the "Bill Frist Theme Song":
Cloture eyes and I'll kiss you,
tomorrow I'll dis you.
Remember I'll always fling poo.
And while I'm away
I'll be joining DeLay,
to send all my Dobbins to you.

All my Dobbins,
oooh, all my Dobbins,
All my Dobbins,
I will send to you.

The Christians support me,
and they won't abort me.
They know I am Born Again too.
The Nuclear Option
is holy like adoption,
And I'll soon return to it too.


I've only got one chance,
To get to the Big Dance,
And that means I suck wingnut ass.
I only sing one note,
A "true up or down vote,"
And God's people give me a pass.

Len on 05.29.05 @ 12:00 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Sorry Mike, but some of us liberals have, like, lives y'know....

I've already mentioned Mike Hollihan's being perturbed at the lack of blogospheric comment from the liberal side of the house on the "Tennessee Waltz" indictments, arrests and arraignments (I think; at least bail hearings have been held). In an earlier post Mike had said:

Interestingly, Tennessee's number one "progressive" (He used to be a liberal.) blogger, South Knox Bubba hasn't posted a single word on this. Maybe he's just busy at work. That must be it....
For the record, Mike, if you were paying attention to SKB, you'd know he's taking a trip in the Southwest right now. If you check over there today, you can see some lovely pics that SKB's taken over in New Mexico and Arizona. And yes, Bubba's at least aware of the developing situation in Nashvegas and Memphis.

There are more important things in life than the local news, y'know.

Len on 05.29.05 @ 11:22 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Faux BBQ????

Engrish begs the question of whether our Blogger Bash was held at a Legitimate Barbecue place.

So…were we eating For Real?? Or Fauxing BBQ-ing it??? You Decide…

And for things we were NOT DOING this week (So ...we skipped this product permanently. LOL)

Karen on 05.29.05 @ 10:44 AM CST [link] [ | ]

No surprises here.....

Wandering over to get myself some more coffee, I notice that another patron here at Café Francisco is reading the Commercial Appeal. A fairly prominent headline in the section on local/regional news is: Legislature ends session.

Not a surprise, since it seems that a significant percentage of the Ledge is in residence at the federal slammer.

Len on 05.29.05 @ 10:34 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Thought for the Day:

If you think you know what the hell is going on, you're probably full of shit.

Len on 05.29.05 @ 09:43 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Party On...

Now, I don’t mean to “complain” or nothing on my Tenn. visit about the FUN stuff Len is showing me, BUT All I KNOW is I didn’t get an Invite to this party:

Courtesy of USA Today.

Karen on 05.29.05 @ 09:30 AM CST [link] [ | ]

More Café Francisco...

However - The WiFi at Café Francisco works Just Fine!! So, here’s a picture of the afore mentioned breakfast place:

Café Francisco

cafeFrancisco (138k image)

And the California Frittata and fresh fruit is FAB!! Yummy!!

Karen on 05.29.05 @ 09:12 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Soon To Be Back Posting...

As Len mentioned below - posts are scarce as hen's teeth this week at DBV (my "fault" of course. LOL) Plus, Tho' the Sleep Inn at Court Square is fine on accommodations and the usual Hotel stuff...the WiFi stinks (promised to be available both in my room and all over the Hotel - but barely enough of a signal to get through to write and send an e-mail - I'd get a connection for a few seconds before it would disconnect me. BLEH!!!)

But - I AM enjoying the sights and cuisine and Memphonian Hot Spots this week.

So, sorry about the lack of fun DBV usual posts...But -GET OVER IT!!!

[And don't worry - once I get out of Len's hair (*teehee*) and back to my own "issues", they'll be loads to say and lots of pictures to post of all the FUN stuff we've been up to.]

Karen on 05.29.05 @ 08:39 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Sorry guys, I've had more important things to do.

Mike Hollihan is a bit perturbed that I've not mentioned the recent indictment of Senator Ford. Well, Mike's a good man (though a bit, um, obsessed in some areas, but aren't we all?), and I hate to disappoint him. I also hate to disappoint a few other commenters (Kev ("Nothing to say on the whole scandal in the TN legislature?") and btb ( What a travisty.. you can not even mention the horrid crimes in our state... You are a sad example of what it means to lean so far left that you can't act with dignity")). I don't know exactly what the implication of these comments are, but Some People seem to think that an explanation for my silence in L'affaire Ford is required....

However, Mike's also a regular reader here, and he should know the following (but I'll be happy to remind him):

1) As readers of earlier posts know, my partner in crime here, Karen, has traveled down from the frozen wastes of Dennis Hastert Country to make Brock's and my acquaintance. I'm sure that regular readers have noticed that posting volume around these parts has gone way down the past few days. That's because I've been taking great swaths of what life I have and using them to entertain Karen (who doesn't know anyone in Memphis besides Brock and myself--or, at least, she didn't know anyone in Memphis before Wednesday night; now she's met Dr. Abby, both Rachels, Eric Janssen, Mark Richens, E.J., and Trisha). I've also been using that time in the related activity of familiarizing myself with a few places and aspects of the city that I migrated to 4 years ago that I'd not bothered to acquaint myself with, not to mention that we had two Memphis Redbirds games to attend this weekend. Reading the local newspapers is a pretty low priority for me (when I'm not doing the bi-weekly Memphis news review I don't read the Memphis papers much at all) when I'm not this busy, and I don't watch TV news of any kind (local or national). I first became aware that Ford was indicted on Friday about noon, as Karen and I were walking to Sawaddii Thai Restaurant on Union downtown to meet Brock for lunch and we saw the big STUNG! headline in the Commercial Appeal. Shortly thereafter, I took the liberty of asking an acquaintance in the Memphis legal community if I was reading the headline correctly, and if Ford had been indicted, and received confirmation of that fact. Beyond chuckling a bit to myself, and wondering what took the authorities so long to catch up to the bastard, I really had no further concern with the story, as I had more pressing issues (like keeping my guest amused).

2) As I've said on a number of occasions, I do not consider myself a Memphian. I am a St. Louisan in exile. As I mentioned earlier, I don't read the Memphis papers much, nor do I watch local TV news or listen to local radio at all (all the radio listening I do is pretty much XM Satellite Radio). I do read the St. Louis Post-Dispatch website fairly religiously, though I don't pay close attention to St. Louis area or Missouri state politics since I'm not there on the scene anymore. Tennessee state politics, Shelby County politics, and Memphis city politics are utterly of no interest to me. Furthermore I don't vote for any Tennessee state, Shelby County, or City of Memphis elected officials, since all the officeholders here, and all the candidates from both parties seeking to replace them, are pretty much clowns and idiots who I wouldn't vote for if they were the last candidates on Earth, much less around here. Therefore, beyond the entertainment I've derived from mentioning the John Ford Follies in some of the Memphis news reviews and another couple odd posts I've done, he's really not a big concern to me, just as Tennessee state politics, Shelby County politics, or Memphis city politics aren't a big concern to me, either (frankly, besides The John Ford Follies I don't recall blogging any Tennessee state or Memphis/Shelby County issues in a while, if at all; they are certainly not the major focus of this blog). And for that matter, corruption in local government doesn't concern me much either. I lived for about three and a half years in Chicago, and I know from that experience that the locals have a lot to learn about corruption.

I have no brief for or against John Ford. He's a corrupt SOB, but he's so incompetent and ridiculous in his corruption (for example, his child support case claim that he has one household in two separate houses is, I believe, an all time classic) that he provides first class entertainment for anyone who pays attention to his behavior. If he goes up the river, things will be a lot less entertaining around here.

But guys, I have a life, and I have my interests. John Ford's pissant corruption case isn't part of them.

Len on 05.28.05 @ 11:36 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Thought for the Day:

I have just extended my own major league record for most words invented in ATM reports.

Off the top of my head, I can think of at least 4--

Bichetted, v., to inflate stats in Coors Field
Coorsed, v., to inflate stats in Coors Field
longevitied, v., to accumulate a total in a category merely by longevity, without being any good at it
career unworst season, adj., when a player has the best year of his career, but he's so bad that his best year still isn't good

I'm sure there has to be more over the years.

However, since I am also my own league average, my WIAA (words invented above average) is just 0.
--Lee Sinins

Len on 05.28.05 @ 09:10 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Thought for the Day:

Alle Kunst ist umsunst wenn ein Engel auf Zündloch brunzt.

Len on 05.27.05 @ 08:38 AM CST [more..] [ | ]

Not Hard to Believe...

As I’ve often suspected….

”Depression, stress, loneliness, a positive (or negative) outlook on life, and other psychosocial factors extend beyond affecting mood and reach into the heart. How you think, feel, and behave can affect heart disease for better or for worse, reports the June issue of the Harvard Heart Letter.

In terms of their contribution to heart attacks, psychosocial factors are on a par with smoking, high blood pressure, obesity, and cholesterol problems. How do emotions, behaviors, or social situations promote heart disease or make it worse? No one really knows, says the Harvard Heart Letter, which will be exploring the mind-heart connection in its next two issues as well. But there are plenty of theories.

Stress hormones top the list. They constrict blood vessels, speed up the heartbeat, and make the heart and blood vessels especially reactive to further stress. Psychosocial factors have also been linked with factors that signal increased inflammation, which plays an important role in artery-clogging atherosclerosis. Psychosocial factors could also make people more or less likely to pick up habits that tip them toward heart disease or away from it.

The connection between psychosocial factors and heart disease is so strong that today's cardiologists should ask their patients about moods, stress, and support, says the Harvard Heart Letter. Most don't, at least not yet. If yours doesn't, it's worth bringing up these issues yourself. Because physicians get little training in this area, though, don't be surprised if yours is uncomfortable discussing psychosocial factors, or doesn't know how to help. If that's the case, don't hesitate to ask for a referral to a mental health professional.

Contact Christine Junge at Christine_Junge@hms.harvard.edu for a complimentary copy of the newsletter.

Courtesy of US News Wire.

Karen on 05.26.05 @ 07:49 AM CST [link] [ | ]

A Night Out For BBQ and Bloggie Conversations...

The Guest were there, the food was yummy, and the Beer was poured - for yet another Memphis Blogger Bash at the BBQ Shop.

Here's a few pictures:

DBV3 (63k image)

Here is our own DBV: Len, Brock & Karen.

BBQtable (98k image)

The entire Blogger group at the table.

table2 (72k image)

Rachel, Mark, Len.

table3 (64k image)

Abby, Rachel, Chris.

Chris conducted an informal Blogger survey – So, look for his "Fly on the Wall" article about the Memphis Bloggers’ view of their “craft” in the upcoming Memphis Flyer.

Nice to meet all of you (finally) and See ya round the Net!!
And Abby posted another bunch of Great Bash Photos [ and of other Bloggers who aren't in my photos.]

Karen on 05.26.05 @ 07:01 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Alas, more sad news....

I've just heard that Thurl "Tony the Tiger" Ravenscroft has died at age 91.

Thurl Ravenscroft, who provided the long, rumbling "They're Grrrrreeeat!" for Kellogg's Tony the Tiger and voiced a host of Disney characters, died here on Sunday. He was 91.

The cause was prostate cancer, said Diane Challis Davy, director of Pageant of the Masters, a program in Laguna Beach for which he provided the narration for 20 years.

For more than 50 years, Mr. Ravenscroft was the affable voice of Tony the Tiger, TV's popular cartoon pitchman for Kellogg's Frosted Flakes.

"I'm the only man in the world that has made a career with one word: Grrrrreeeat!" Mr. Ravenscroft told The Orange County Register in 1996. "When Kellogg's brought up the idea of the tiger, they sent me a caricature of Tony to see if I could create something for them. After messing around for some time I came up with the `Grrrrreeeat!' roar, and that's how it's been since then."
He'll be missed.

Len on 05.25.05 @ 03:37 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Cafe Francisco


Landed safely - and Having a wonderful start to my Mom Holiday.

Enjoying some Frittata's and fresh fruit and toast at Cafe Francisco with Len. And soon to be "Walking in Memphis" (Tho' hopefully not in the pouring rain...as it is a Bee-A-You-Ti-Full Day in Memphis.)

Here is Len on the WiFi.

len1 (73k image)

So - See Everyone Tonight at the Bloggie Bash. Be there or be Square []. LOL

Karen on 05.25.05 @ 10:29 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Thought for the Day:

The war in Iraq is reaching its most critical stage, a stage that should be supported by civilized people and powers everywhere—Western, Eastern, and Middle Eastern—regardless of their views about the war at the outset. Yet, just as President Bush should be recalibrating and refining a case for this support, both to the American people and to the rest of the world, he's rehashing canned clichés and shallow falsehoods, which will only deepen the disaffection.

On Monday, at a White House press conference with Afghan President Hamid Karzai, Bush was asked whether he thought the Iraqi insurgency was getting harder to defeat militarily.

"No, I don't think so," Bush replied. "I think they're being defeated. And that's why they continue to fight. The worst thing for them is to see democracy. … The worst problem that an ideologue that uses terror to try to get their way is to see a free society emerge. And I'm confident we're making great progress in Iraq."

Almost since the second phase of the war began, President Bush and his aides have been reciting this mantra—that the insurgents fight so dirty because they're so desperate. The claim had a whiff of self-deception back then; after 18 months of nonstop guerrilla warfare, with the insurgents still mounting 70 attacks a day, it borders on the pathological.
--Fred Kaplan

Len on 05.25.05 @ 06:23 AM CST [link] [ | ]

I could go for that...

Gee, I haven’t had a good Megalomaniac Feminine rant in a while (aside from just being tooo darn bizee) but here’s John Tierney (NY Times) goes and writes one hum-dinger on Women's roles in business.

Give read to What Women want.

Karen on 05.24.05 @ 07:50 PM CST [link] [ | ]

On to the Veto Chopping Block...

CNN has this story about the passage of the two bills to increase Federal funding for Stem Cell research. Shy of the 2/3's majority necessary if GW exercises his single solo Veto, the bill did pass the House by 238-194.

”…Several representatives spoke in support of the measure, both at the start of the session and during debate.

"To reduce this issue to an abortion issue is a horrible injustice to 100 million Americans suffering the ravages of diabetes, spinal cord paralysis, heart disease, Parkinson's and Alzheimer's disease, cancer, MS [multiple sclerosis], Lou Gehrig's disease and other fatal, debilitating diseases," said Rep. Jim Ramstad, a Minnesota Republican.

Lawmakers on both sides of the debate also scheduled news conferences Tuesday. Medical societies, scholars, patient groups and advocates joined Castle and DeGette to speak in favor of the measure.
"What could be more pro-life than working for a cure for a loved one?" asked Rep. James Langevin, a Rhode Island Democrat, another of the bill's 200 cosponsors, who suffered a spinal cord injury at age 16 and cannot walk.

Family members of those with diseases that could potentially be helped by the research also spoke.
"No parent should ever have to look at their child and say, 'There are no more options,' " said Beth Westbrook, whose daughter, Katie, died four years ago at 15 of bone cancer.

A poll released Monday shows Bush does not have the support of the majority of Americans when it comes to government funding of stem cell research.

Forty-two percent said the federal government should ease restrictions on funding research, and another 11 percent said there should be no restrictions at all, according to a CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll of 1,006 Americans surveyed over the weekend.

But 19 percent said there should be no funding of such research -- an increase from 14 percent in a poll conducted last year.

….DeGette, "Frankly, they're good for different things, so let's not muddle the science."
She and other supporters of both bills argued the two should not be divided.

"Separating these two legislative initiatives would be like separating the flag from the Pledge of Allegiance," said Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, a Texas Democrat.

And, pointed out Rep. Gene Green, a Texas Democrat, "We'll never know the true promise of embryonic stem cells if we hold back federal dollars for the research."

Karen on 05.24.05 @ 07:27 PM CST [link] [ | ]

The Granny Shot

Today on our local public radio station, WKNO, I heard an interesting Moment of Science regarding the granny shot. According to the story, the granny shot is a much better way to shoot a free throw than an overhanded shot.

Making a free throw, or any shot for that matter, depends on arc. A shot with an arc of thirty-two degrees or less has a good chance of hitting the back of the rim and bouncing out. A shot with more arc has a better chance of swishing straight through the net. The upward tossing motion of the granny shot naturally imparts the arc needed to give it a good chance to fall through the hoop.

The granny shot also makes it easier to put more backspin on the ball than you can with an overhand shot. Backspin stops the ball's forward motion when it hits the rim, similar to how a drop shot in tennis freezes the ball when it bounces.

And finally, the granny shot uses both hands, which helps keep the ball on a straight path. An overhand shot requires separate motions of the wrist, elbow, and shoulder, increasing the likelihood of sending the ball off course.

Of course, this raises (not begs!) the question of why professional (and even amateur) players don't use the granny shot when shooting free throws. Is it just because it doesn't look cool?

Brock on 05.24.05 @ 06:44 PM CST [link] [ | ]

I notice a hole in his resume, though....

A member of a mailing list I'm on sent this to the list:

War Films, Hollywood and Popular Culture

Michael Medved
Radio Host and Author, Right Turns: Unconventional Lessons from a Controversial Life

Michael Medved is a nationally syndicated radio talk show host, best-selling author and film critic. He graduated with honors from Yale and attended Yale Law School. After working as a screenwriter in Hollywood, he reviewed films for CNN and later worked as chief film critic for the New York Post. He also served for twelve years as co-host of Sneak Previews on PBS. His daily three-hour radio program is heard in over 170 markets and his columns on media and society appear regularly in USA Today, where he serves as a member of the Board of Contributors. Mr. Medved is the author of ten books, including Hollywood vs. America, Saving Childhood: Protecting Our Children from the National Assault on Innocence (with Diane Medved) and, most recently, Right Turns: Unconventional Lessons from a Controversial Life.

The following is adapted from a lecture delivered on March 9, 2005, on the Hillsdale College campus, during a five-day seminar on the topic “War on Film,” sponsored by the Center for Constructive Alternatives.

On my radio show today, I addressed the topic of military "counter-recruiters." You know what military recruiters are ­the people who go to high schools and colleges and tell young people about their opportunities to serve their country in the military. Well, now there are also "counter-recruiters" who go to these schools and tell young people why they shouldn’t serve their country in the military. I had one of them on my show today and put one of your Hillsdale freshmen on with him, and she asked him the crucial question he couldn’t answer intelligently: "What would the world be like without the American military?" He said that the world would be a "beautiful place." But of course this would only be true if a world enslaved under Nazism or communism or Islamo-fascism could be called beautiful. Without the U.S. military in the last century, it would be one of these.
We'll leave aside the issue of the "intelligence" of the counter-recruiter's answer; I'm not disposed to defend that. But I do notice one thing, skimming that capsule biography of Mr. Medved that precedes his speech (and reading in detail his much lengthier biography on the Web) that he himself thought that the "opportunites to serve [his] country in the military" were so wonderful, and so compelling, that he gave military service a pass himself.

Fucking hypocrite.

As a veteran, and as a former Navy JAG, I am of the opinion that there should be "counter-recruiters". I know a lot of kids (most of them were clients of mine, obviously) who got bad paper (most of them bad conduct discharges for purely military offenses) and resultant federal criminal convictions (courts martial count as federal convictions for your record) that they never should have had in an ideal world, because they really weren't cut out for military service, but nobody ever sat them down and forced them to deal with reality.

I have nothing against military service; I signed up voluntarily, myself. But it's not for everyone, and it's not treasonous to point that out to potential recruits. Both the military and the potential recruits would be better served for it.

Len on 05.24.05 @ 06:23 PM CST [link] [ | ]

There's another Volunteer Tailgate Party.....

and you can crash it here if you feel so inclined.

Nope, you won't find anything by me there; I didn't produce anything worthy of inclusion recently. IMHO.

Len on 05.24.05 @ 12:39 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Leap Dobson...Leap...

Allocating my ten minutes to CNN for news this morning - I saw a piece of a very good interview with Ron Brownstein (LA Times) discussing the “deal” to prevent the Nuclear Option and save the Minority Right to Fillabuster.

Mr. Brownstein echoed my own sentiments (just a paraphrase here) that the Movers and Shakers on both sides of this Political debate really have the President to blame for refusing to consult with them over high profile nominations and make any attempts to choose candidates acceptable for both sides without this kind of partisan “drive over the edge of that cliff” scenarios.

Consistently GW has acted to polarize these Senators precisely by his refusal to be that “Uniter-Not-A-Divider” campaign sloganeer he promised.

This continues to fall right at the Prez’s little feet as he may now have to face an pre-emptive strategy to get votes for an over-ride of his “threatened Veto” of the Bill to ease restriction on the Federal funding of stem cell research. Maybe for once, Congress will show him he’s not been driving the agenda the American people support and expect out of their legislators…and are being woefully underserved in this, Our Foster-Grant Pres.

As another note: Somebody please invite James “Spongy” Dobson to that Highest Point of the Highest at the site of the Sermon On The Mount…and Tell Him to Take A Flying Leap!!! Or Just give him a Good Shove!!! Then he can take his Un-Christian principles right to the bottom where they belong.

Karen on 05.24.05 @ 12:20 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Catching up with some back reading....

I see that the always sensible Sherman Wright has weighed in on the Air Force Academy religious oppression issue:

Here’s some free advice for my contemporaries running the show at the US Air Force Academy. If you want to promote Christian belief, back off of making it pseudo-mandatory! Bad things happen when people are forced into religious observance. I know this because chapel attendance was mandatory at West Point when I was there. For the first three years I didn’t mind, since I would have gone anyway. Let’s talk about why I had an issue in the fourth year in a minute. One thing that was pretty obvious about the situation was that cadets started equating chapel with the most disagreeable aspects of cadet life. For example, one particularly disagreeable aspect of cadet life was getting up early in Saturday AM, preparing your room for inspection, running off to a full morning of classes, and running back to change into full dress gray for inspection in ranks immediately followed by parading on the Plain. At least the Corps of Cadets didn’t parade in winter! With mandatory services, though, cadets had to get up early on Sunday, even in winter, had to again don full dress gray under the heaviest woolen cloak ever made, and march uphill to the chapel. Now consider some of the logistics behind a mandatory chapel policy. There were only three chapel buildings, so each cadet had to annually choose which to attend: Protestant, Roman Catholic, or Jewish. If you were, say, Mormon, you probably picked Protestant. If you were Greek Orthodox, you probably picked Catholic. If you were Buddhist or a non-believer, you flipped a coin. One of my classmates rotated between the choices, ending up one year as the ranking cadet in the Jewish chapel squad, a role traditionally dubbed “King of the Jews.” The arbitrary nature of it all caused Chapel to be seen as yet another harassment component of the cadet experience. Consider “I’m Mister Gung Ho,” sung sotto voce in particularly unpleasant marches (to the tune of the Official West Point March, affectionately known to every member of the Long Gray Line as “The Thumper.”) Here are the lyrics: “I’m Mr. Gung Ho/I double time wherever I go/I shine my B-plate up/Write my roommate up/I go to chapel twice on Sunday.” Anyway, I really got peeved Firstie (Senior) year during Constitutional Law class. I remember wandering through the halls in shock after reading the First Amendment Establishment of Religion chapter, since it was blatantly obvious that mandatory chapel was unconstitutional. And so it was ruled a few years after I graduated. I figured that if a country is going to all that trouble to have a Constitution and to have its soldiers swear “truth faith allegiance” to it, the Officer Corps might as well break down and play along with what it says. So here is Air Force sending a message to its future officers that adherence to the Constitution is optional. Is that really the kind of training experience we want our tax dollars funding?

Len on 05.24.05 @ 12:13 PM CST [link] [ | ]

"Having George W. Bush talk to you about ... ethics is like a leper giving you a facial. It doesn't really work." --Robin Williams

Not that I would let Bush or any of his toadies lecture me about ethics anyway, but.... Where's the outrage? From Editor and Publisher: The Tillman Scandal: 'Newsweek' Error Bad, Pentagon Lying OK?

Where, in the week after the Great Newsweek Error, is the comparable outrage in the press, in the blogosphere, and at the White House over the military's outright lying in the coverup of the death of former NFL star Pat Tillman? Where are the calls for apologies to the public and the firing of those responsible? Who is demanding that the Pentagon's word should never be trusted unless backed up by numerous named and credible sources?

Where is a Scott McClellan lecture on ethics and credibility?


While military officials' lying to the parents have gained wide publicity in the past two days, hardly anyone has mentioned that they also lied to the public and to the press, which dutifully carried one report after another based on the Pentagon's spin.

Tillman was killed in a barrage of gunfire from his own men, mistaken for the enemy on a hillside near the Pakistan border. "Immediately," the Post reported, "the Army kept the soldiers on the ground quiet and told Tillman's family and the public that he was killed by enemy fire while storming a hill, barking orders to his fellow Rangers." Tillman posthumously received the Silver Star for his "actions."

The latest military investigation, exposed by the Post earlier this month, "showed that soldiers in Afghanistan knew almost immediately that they had killed Tillman by mistake in what they believed was a firefight with enemies on a tight canyon road. The investigation also revealed that soldiers later burned Tillman's uniform and body armor."

Patrick Tillman Sr., the father -- a lawyer, as it happens -- said he blames high-ranking Army officers for presenting "outright lies" to the family and to the public. "After it happened, all the people in positions of authority went out of their way to script this," he told the Post. "They purposely interfered with the investigation, they covered it up. I think they thought they could control it, and they realized that their recruiting efforts were going to go to hell in a handbasket if the truth about his death got out. They blew up their poster boy."

"Maybe lying's not a big deal anymore," he said. "Pat's dead, and this isn't going to bring him back. But these guys should have been held up to scrutiny, right up the chain of command, and no one has."

Mary Tillman, the mother, complained to the Post that the government used her son for weeks after his death. She said she was particularly offended when President Bush offered a taped memorial message to Tillman at a Cardinals football game shortly before the presidential election last fall.

Newsweek made a bad mistake in its recent report on Koran abuse at Guantanamo. But it was a mistake, not outright lying. Yet the same critics who blasted the magazine —- and the media in general —- are not demanding that same contrition or penalties for anyone in the military.

One Newsweek critic after another has asked in the past week that the media come up with just one case where they erred on the side of making the military look good, not bad. One hopes the Tillman example takes care of that request, though there are, of course, many others.

Len on 05.24.05 @ 11:52 AM CST [link] [ | ]

At last!

Someone gets to the truth behind the original Star Wars trilogy....

Credit: SadPunk

Len on 05.24.05 @ 07:51 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Funny, I hadn't thought of that....

but over at the comments of Democratic Veteran, Kevin Hayden of The American Street makes an interesting observation:

Speaking of Rummy, they sure have the lid on that loose cannon lately. Ya never hear about Rummy or even Cheney anymore. Rove must be reading some terrible numbers.

Len on 05.24.05 @ 07:25 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Damn! Sometimes you get what you want...

I was hoping that a transcript of George Galloway's remarks to the Senate would find its way to the Web:

On the very first page of your document about me you assert that I have had "many meetings" with Saddam Hussein. This is false.

I have had two meetings with Saddam Hussein, once in 1994 and once in August of 2002. By no stretch of the English language can that be described as "many meetings" with Saddam Hussein.

As a matter of fact, I have met Saddam Hussein exactly the same number of times as Donald Rumsfeld met him. The difference is Donald Rumsfeld met him to sell him guns and to give him maps the better to target those guns. I met him to try and bring about an end to sanctions, suffering and war, and on the second of the two occasions, I met him to try and persuade him to let Dr Hans Blix and the United Nations weapons inspectors back into the country - a rather better use of two meetings with Saddam Hussein than your own Secretary of State for Defense made of his.

I was an opponent of Saddam Hussein when British and Americans governments and businessmen were selling him guns and gas. I used to demonstrate outside the Iraqi embassy when British and American officials were going in and doing commerce.

You will see from the official parliamentary record, Hansard, from the 15th March 1990 onwards, voluminous evidence that I have a rather better record of opposition to Saddam Hussein than you do and than any other member of the British or American governments do.


Now, Senator, I gave my heart and soul to oppose the policy that you promoted. I gave my political life's blood to try to stop the mass killing of Iraqis by the sanctions on Iraq which killed one million Iraqis, most of them children, most of them died before they even knew that they were Iraqis, but they died for no other reason other than that they were Iraqis with the misfortune to born at that time. I gave my heart and soul to stop you committing the disaster that you did commit in invading Iraq. And I told the world that your case for the war was a pack of lies.

I told the world that Iraq, contrary to your claims did not have weapons of mass destruction. I told the world, contrary to your claims, that Iraq had no connection to al-Qaeda. I told the world, contrary to your claims, that Iraq had no connection to the atrocity on 9/11 2001. I told the world, contrary to your claims, that the Iraqi people would resist a British and American invasion of their country and that the fall of Baghdad would not be the beginning of the end, but merely the end of the beginning.

Senator, in everything I said about Iraq, I turned out to be right and you turned out to be wrong and 100,000 people paid with their lives; 1600 of them American soldiers sent to their deaths on a pack of lies; 15,000 of them wounded, many of them disabled forever on a pack of lies.

If the world had listened to Kofi Annan, whose dismissal you demanded, if the world had listened to President Chirac who you want to paint as some kind of corrupt traitor, if the world had listened to me and the anti-war movement in Britain, we would not be in the disaster that we are in today. Senator, this is the mother of all smokescreens. You are trying to divert attention from the crimes that you supported, from the theft of billions of dollars of Iraq's wealth.

Have a look at the real Oil-for-Food scandal. Have a look at the 14 months you were in charge of Baghdad, the first 14 months when $8.8 billion of Iraq's wealth went missing on your watch. Have a look at Halliburton and other American corporations that stole not only Iraq's money, but the money of the American taxpayer.

Have a look at the oil that you didn't even meter, that you were shipping out of the country and selling, the proceeds of which went who knows where? Have a look at the $800 million you gave to American military commanders to hand out around the country without even counting it or weighing it.

Have a look at the real scandal breaking in the newspapers today, revealed in the earlier testimony in this committee. That the biggest sanctions busters were not me or Russian politicians or French politicians. The real sanctions busters were your own companies with the connivance of your own Government.

UPDATE: And Brian Leiter asks the question of the day:
Could George W. Bush survive even ten minutes in a national debate with MP Galloway? Wouldn't it be priceless?

Len on 05.24.05 @ 07:17 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Murderous Metaphors

I was TOO BUSY last night and only just caught up to the NEWS that a compromise has been reached preventing Sen. Frist from carrying out his Political Nuclear Implosion. This Gem of an article by E. J. Dionne Jr. (Washington Post): 'Watch Those Guys' has a good "Quote of the Day" and post-anaylsis of this months long wrangling debate. [Thankfully defused for the moment.]

"...Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist and other Republicans who backed the nuclear option hurt themselves badly with shameful rhetoric suggesting that murder and mayhem, not honest differences, were at the heart of this battle.

Thus did Frist accuse the Democrats of wanting to "kill, to defeat, to assassinate" President Bush's nominees. Oh, my. That's what comes out when a Princeton graduate plays the role of counterfeit populist in pandering to the Christian right.

Frist is waging this fight because he wants to be president and needs support from social conservatives. But especially in a time of terrorism, politicians worthy of the presidency don't toss around the word "assassinate" with the alacrity of a small-market radio host. The Republican moderates knew this.

Then there was the comment from the other Republican senator from Pennsylvania, Rick Santorum. Senate debates routinely produce tortured metaphors...."

Karen on 05.24.05 @ 06:54 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Thought for the Day:

Last week at a Republican fund-raising gala, President Bush saluted Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, and House Majority Whip Roy Blunt. "In the last two elections, the American people made clear that they want judges who faithfully interpret the law, not legislate from the bench," Bush told the crowd. "The Senate also has a duty to promptly consider each of [my] nominees on the Senate floor, discuss and debate their qualifications, and then give them the up-or-down vote they deserve."

This week, Republicans will put that principle to the test—but not in the way they've advertised. As the Senate approaches nuclear war over judges, the House will take up stem-cell research. On the former issue, Republican leaders have a majority. On the latter, they don't. The real test of a principle—in this case, majority rule—isn't whether you invoke it when it's convenient. The real test is whether you practice it when it isn't.

Four years ago, Bush restricted federal funding of embryonic stem-cell research (or ESCR) to cell lines derived before Aug. 9, 2001. Last year, 58 senators and nearly half the House signed letters asking him to relax that restriction. For at least three years, most senators have supported legislation that would approve human therapeutic cloning. Last year, more than 200 members of the House co-sponsored legislation to expand ESCR funding.

None of these bills ever got an up-or-down vote. Why? Because the same Republicans who now preach about up-or-down votes bottled them up or threatened to filibuster them.
--William Saletan

Len on 05.24.05 @ 06:25 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Last Minute Items...

Well, if you all are BORED by lack of posts and waiting [breathlessly - LOL] for tomorrow night's Fun Bloggie Bash, you can still be entertained by the latest Capital Steps political satire routine "Detective Story".

It's purty darn good. I'm goin to see them perform in here in July at the Hemmens Center in Elgin, Il.

Should be a Howl!!

And speaking of *winging* my way south - here's a cute Engrish entry.

Time to FRY...LOL.

Karen on 05.24.05 @ 05:50 AM CST [link] [ | ]

And we'll miss her, but....

there are some things more important than mere society.

The bad news is that the Memphis News Diva, Peggy Phillip, won't be joining us Wednesday evening. The good news is that's because her son's soccer team is apparently going to be playing in the state tournament. We wish them the best of luck: go kick some butt and take some names!

Len on 05.23.05 @ 08:02 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Kinda sad news for me....

but you have to understand that, during my time in the Navy, I spent several weeks aboard USS America: Retired Carrier Sunk Off Atlantic Coast

Rest in peace, old girl. You served your country well, and we'll remember you fondly.

Len on 05.23.05 @ 07:57 PM CST [link] [ | ]


The Religious Right is making Trent Fucking Lott sound like a moderate?

Regular readers know my conviction: The Christian Right is about to split the GOP right down the middle. The entire point of the Evangelical movement is to ADVANCE the word to every corner of the world. When retreat isn't an option and caution is the Devil's work overreaching is inevitable. In fact, it's happening right now.
"James Dobson: Who does he think he is, questioning my conservative credentials?" Sen. Trent Lott, R-Miss., said in an interview. Dobson, head of the conservative group Focus on the Family, criticized Lott for his efforts to forge a compromise in the fight over the judges. Lott is still angry. "Some of his language and conduct is quite un-Christian, and I don't appreciate it," the senator said.
When Trent Lott starts sounding level headed and questions the spiritual bona fides of a Pearly Gatekeeper like Dobson we are nearing the intersection of shit and fan.

More popcorn please....

Len on 05.23.05 @ 07:40 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Hmmmmm... Is he singing that same old song?

From Brian Arner at Resonance:

Makes sense to me:
[QUESTION]: Do you think that [the Iraqi] insurgence is getting harder now to defeat militarily?

BUSH: No, I don't think so. I think they're being defeated, and that's why they continue to fight.
Uh, if you're defeated, doesn't that mean you stop fighting?
Hmmmm.... They're still fighting means they're being defeated. Where have I heard that logic before....
War is peace. Freedom is slavery. Ignorance is strength....
Ah, yes. Now I remember.

Len on 05.23.05 @ 07:31 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Optimism, Part II


The Dark Ages lasted only a thousand years.

Credit: This week's Ironic Times

Len on 05.23.05 @ 08:03 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Optimism, Part I

Len on 05.23.05 @ 08:01 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Thought for the Day:

There's another troubled old institution where loyal workers are getting crammed down, thanks to mismanagement. On May 12, the New York Times reported that "the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Boston is proposing cuts in its pension benefits for priests." Why? The pension fund has notched poor returns, and it's had to spend money settling sexual-abuse litigation. The archdiocese wants to freeze pension benefits at the current level ad infinitum and slash medical benefits and other measures. Here's the kicker: The archdiocese apparently failed to make any contributions to the pension plan between 1986 and 2002, even though it held fund-raising drives to fund priests' retirements twice annually. As the Times notes, "[F]or many years the archdiocese has used that money to fill other needs."

Using money dedicated for retirement savings for other needs? What does the Boston archdiocese think it is, Congress?
--Daniel Gross

Seems to me, if there were any justice, Boston Catholics would rise as one and slay the archbishop and his chief functionaries. But, alas, they won't....

Len on 05.23.05 @ 06:51 AM CST [link] [ | ]

John Q....Where ARE You???

Apparently John Q. Public (and his family) are NOT Angry Enough - or yet Economically Depressed Enough - to really force this bAdminstration to respond with policies favorable for the Nation’s interests.

America Wants Security by Paul Krugman (NY Times) considers one possible reason for this:

”…The latest Wall Street Journal/NBC poll showed what the pollsters called an "angry electorate." By huge margins, voters think that politicians are paying too little attention to their concerns, especially health care, jobs and gas prices.

Why, then, is Washington so out of touch?

At a gala dinner in his honor, Tom DeLay cited his party's recent achievements: "bankruptcy reform, class-action reform, energy, border security, repealing the death tax." All of these measures are either irrelevant to or actively hostile to the economic security of working Americans.
Everyone loves historical analogies. Here's my thought: maybe 2004 was 1928. During the 1920's, the national government followed doctrinaire conservative policies, but reformist policies that presaged the New Deal were already bubbling up in the states, especially in New York.

In 1928 Al Smith, the governor of New York, was defeated in an ugly presidential campaign in which Protestant preachers warned their flocks that a vote for the Catholic Smith was a vote for the devil. But four years later F.D.R. took office, and the New Deal began.

Of course, the coming of the New Deal was hastened by a severe national depression. Strange to say, we may be working on that, too.”

Where are these “Silent Majority” of voters? The average people who know what the issues are and can see that the Important Policy items aren’t even on the event horizon of our so-called “Mandate with Political capital to Burn” bAdministration?? How much lower do GW's already historically low poll numbers have to be before our Fearless Leader “Gets It??”

Karen on 05.23.05 @ 06:29 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Mom Holidays

So – as our readership KNOWS by now – I’ll be headed to Memphis for a “Mom Holiday” to visit the sights and tourista spots of that Great City. And I’ll be at the BBQ Shop Blogger’s Bash this up coming Wednesday, May 25th !!!

Date: May 25, 2005
Time: 7:00 PM
Location: The Bar-B-Q Shop, 1782 Madison Ave., Memphis, TN (Midtown)

But there is (as always) that Price to be paid in getting chores and work done before I get out of town…Mom's have to *think* of Everything!!

I know everyone will understand, then, that my Blogging will be “sparse” for a bit. I’ll post when I can.

Hope to see Y’All on Wednesday!!!

Karen on 05.23.05 @ 06:09 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Lawyer screws others as well as his clients....

Lawyer leads double life as porn star

Makes perfect sense to me....

Len on 05.22.05 @ 10:53 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Thought for the Day:

Now we have four more years with W., as they call him, as if he were an icon. (An icon for what? Ineptitude?) Please, this guy would have made a terrific Elks Club president, and I am sure he would have done well if he were in charge of the Rotary. Hell, let's just put him in a rotary and let him go around and around and around until he's as dizzy as the rest of us are. That seems to be the only thing most of our presidents are qualified for, anyway.

Where do I begin, and when will this ever end? He has uttered banality after banality, in these most serious of times, with a self-confidence that borders on the delusional. Apparently he feels self-confidence is a substitute for intelligence. If you listen to him tell it--and I know that's a chore--he has never made a mistake. For God's sake, what more can we ask of him?

He stumbled with a purpose into a war with Iraq and had absolutely no plan for what to do afterward. And no one even called him on it until it was too late. He photoopted himself onto an aircraft carrier just weeks after the war, appearing in front of a huge banner that read MISSION ACCOMPLISHED. The irony of it all just kills me.

W. believes that if he repeats something enough it will become the truth. I could go on for days like this, but why bother? Let me just say, he is so funny that he is not funny.

In my lifetime I have gone from John F. Kennedy to John F. Kerry, and from Dwight D. Eisenhower to George W. Bush. If that's the evolution of leadership in this country, in just a few more years we'll all be voting for plants. Which might not be so bad. After all, thanks to their ecological purpose in this world, at least plants try to clean up the air. And that would certainly be an improvement over what we've got now.

Pundits tell us we get the representatives we deserve. I have just one question for the American public. Who the fuck ran over God's dog and never bothered to apologize? I will not rest until I find you. And I will. Trust me, you cannot hide.
--Lewis Black
, Nothing's Sacred

Len on 05.22.05 @ 09:46 AM CST [link] [ | ]

UP the Meds, David...

David Brooks needs to Up the Meds yet again as he write some slop as his editorial The Senate's Quavering Middle for the pages of the NY Times.

Ostensibly about the filibuster, Brooks has written a diatribe about supposed Democratic issues that fit surprisingly well on the GOP foot, snug as a glove...

So, I sent him this note:

As usual Mr. Brooks:

You've got your foot up your arse and your head stuck in a GOP toilet
on this one:

You write: "But many moderates are simply people who feel
cross-pressured by different political forces, and their instinctive
response is to shrink from pressure. They lack spirit to take risks,
to actually lead."

Gee - sounds like every Republican who is about to sweat bullets over
the FIRST if ever threatened Presidential VETO on Anything - over
Federal Funding for Stem Cell research.

Here are Republican and Democrats alike coming together on an issue
favored by that "Majority Of Real American People" (whom the Prez
pretends just ought not be countenanced on what they want) being
preemptively targeted for a Pres dressing down and cowing by an
"activist president" injecting his own personal, narrow, views to
legislate from the Executive office on an issue for the Congress to
decide on behalf of the American people. Even Home-Boy Dennis Hastert
is fighting to get a floor vote on this one for the good ole' American

How exactly are these Republican's supposed to show "Spirit to take
risks?" "Show they can Lead?" With a "threat" from our Fearless
Leader hanging over their heads?

Talk about "Cross-pressure by different political forces"??? Get your
mind out of that whirlpool of flushing sludge and use that vast
intellect, I KNOW you have, to present at least an Honest argument for
cripes sake.

Goodness, you really must need them "prescriptive medicines" to
handle these wild mood swings and yo-yo brained opinional delusions.

Time to Up the Meds, Mr. Brooks.

And on this issue of Federal Funding for Stem Cell research, Michael Kinsley (LA Times) has written this editorial Bioethicists Fiddle as Patients Die: Mr. Bush, don't I matter more than tiny clumps of cells?.

Click on the "more" button to read an excerpt from this piece.

Karen on 05.22.05 @ 05:30 AM CST [more..] [ | ]

Denny Starts to Strut Some Stuff

Well, here at DHC (Dennis Hastert Corner), everyone know how fond we are of Home-boy Dennis Hastert. But I’ll have to give him some credit where credit is due. If he can bring this Stem Cell Funding bill to the floor for an up or down vote - and pull off a Win for the moderates social conservatives on this issue - that WILL be saying something:

Bush Objects to Stem Cell Bill By Mary Curtius and Peter Wallsten, (LA Times):

"...Tensions within the Republican Party over the Castle bill erupted last week when House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) told his caucus that he intended to make good on a promise to moderates to allow a vote on the measure before June, and that he would probably bring the bill to the floor next week.

Conservatives angrily objected, participants said, arguing that no Republican-controlled Congress should overturn a Republican president's policy on an issue considered fundamental to the party.

"I was disappointed by the decision," said Rep. Mike Pence (R-Ind.), head of the conservative Republican Policy Committee. "A large number of conservative members were disappointed that this bill was scheduled for a vote."

You go get 'EM Denny!!! And if Bush issues his first veto Ever on this Bill (presuming it would pass with majority support) it will Prove once again just how out of Lock-Step he is with the Nation and off on his own petty, narrow agenda for his "Chosen Few" to obstruct the People's Business and Funding for this important research and potential.

We know what GW thinks of the American people and their "ideas" as expressed in recent polls (doesn't bother him in the least to ignore what Real Americans want on issues), but ought he not follow his own Legislators on issues of legislation which they were elected and were chosen to decide for the rest of us?? Bush claims not to want "activist judges" imposing their own personal views "at will" from the bench - But that's exactly his MO as our Fearless Leader.

Karen on 05.22.05 @ 04:30 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Freshwater Selachophobia Nightmares???

Not on my list of movies I want to see, because, as everyone who reads this blog knows by now…

I have Selachophobia!!!

From Query Letters I Love is this one about a movie concept for Freshwater Sharks?

”Daddy, why did you make the scientifically modified, fresh water shark and release it in the Midwest? It scares me! ;-(
"'A scientifically modified, fresh water shark terrorizes a popular resort lake in the Midwest.'
Genre: Thriller/Horror

A 35 year old man is called to a small, lake resort town to attend his estranged father's funeral. On arrival, he discovers that something in the lake has taken the lives of several people - something his father may have set in motion. Now, Pete must face a fear that has kept him away from the water for twenty-five years, a fear that lurks just beneath the murky waters of the lake."

Yep, not on my list of movies to see produced…EVER.

I don't think there really are "truly" Freshwater Sharks, but more varieties that swim up freshwater channels and manage to survive in that in-between mix of sea and freshwater swells. [But don't quote me on that one - since my reading is limited to books about Sharks that come without pictures. You try finding those books!! Not easy to come by. LOL]

Though the premise is about a "genetically created Freshwater shark." Just what the World would need: a super-predator - so successful it's mananged to survive for millenniums virtually unchanged from the beginning of it's species evolution - that would get an entirely expanded new range of habitat to feed on anything in Freshwater. How crazee or stupid would that scientist have to be??

Karen on 05.22.05 @ 04:19 AM CST [link] [ | ]

And did I say fanboy?

How could I have neglected to mention that, at today's screening of Revenge of the Sith, I was privileged to see previews for both Batman Begins and The Fantastic Four? Both look pretty good, though I have a feeling I'm going to like the FF a bit better than Batman (I have a slight pro-Marvel prejudice, but Gawd only knows it took them a while to get into the groove, cinematic adaptation-wise....).

What I would really like, though, is to somehow get my hands on a copy of the Oley Sassone directed (Roger "Mr. B-flick" Corman executive produced) 1994 turkey, The Fantastic Four, which was made solely to secure the rights to the film (and purportedly, to provoke the producers of this summer's The Fantastic Four to buy the '94 film for lotsa bux, just to prevent it from ever being released). I may someday get my wish; supposedly this film is one of the most bootlegged among sci-fi and comics fans.

Len on 05.21.05 @ 09:39 PM CST [link] [ | ]

I have done my fanboy duty....

and it's kind of hard to appreciate yet that it's been 28 years leading up to this moment.

I've seen Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith.

FWIW, I'll throw in my agreement with the professional critics. It's easily the best of the prequels (and I'm not damning with faint praise here, though the bar was set so low by Phantom Menace and Attack of the Clones that it's hard not to sound like I am, without actually seeing the flick and knowing better).

To summarize: well worth the price of a matinee admission, and then some. Possibly worth a full price ticket (and those of my friends who know my religious objections to paying full price for a movie ticket know that that is very, very high praise, coming from me).

Out of an excess of caution, because one man's legitimate discussion might constitute another person's spoilers, a few further observations below the fold....

Len on 05.21.05 @ 02:40 PM CST [more..] [ | ]

Thought for the Day:

At school we kept getting mixed messages about the atom. It was used to create the weapon that blew the shit out of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, but according to a Disney cartoon, Our Friend the Atom, the atom was the best thing since sliced bread. It would, we were instructed, eventually answer any problem with which civilization was presented, including the need for mass annihilation.

It was all very confusing to my seven-year-old mind. It was a cartoon. It was really sweet. And it was Walt Disney telling me this, for God's sake. Uncle Walt! The same Walt Disney who had given me Mickey, Donald, Davy Crockett, and my first introduction to entertainment-related marketing.

It turns out that Disney produced this nonsense with the help of the US Navy and General Dynamics, the folks who built the nuclear submarine USS
Nautilus, which carried nuclear missiles. Imagine Halliburton and the Department of Defense using Beauty and the Beast to sell the war in Iraq to elementary school students. In case you weren't sure, we'd be the Beauty.
--Lewis Black,
Nothing's Sacred

Len on 05.21.05 @ 01:20 PM CST [link] [ | ]

“Luck be a Lady Tonight…”

In yet another take on all this interesting political economy debate, here’s one from Matt Miller (A senior fellow at the Center for American Progress and author of "The 2 Percent Solution") writing this Op-Ed piece for the NY Times: Taking Luck Seriously:

”Test your political philosophy with one simple question: which matters most in determining where people end up in life?

You've got two choices. The first is "luck" - by which I mean the pre-birth lottery, that inherited package of wealth, health, genes, looks, brains, talents and family. "Luck" is all those gifts or curses for which we can neither take credit nor be blamed.

Choice No. 2 is individual effort, hard work and personal character.

Obviously this is a false choice; every life is a blend of both. We're born with certain endowments, and make the most of them (or don't) based on personal traits. But if you had to say which one matters most in shaping where people end up, how many of you would join me in answering "luck"?

In a poll I commissioned a few years ago, people who call themselves liberals or Democrats overwhelmingly said luck; most conservatives or Republicans said individual effort.

But if you're hoping to shake up today's gridlocked politics, what's interesting is that independent voters - now the nation's biggest bloc - viewed luck the way Democrats do.

Luck isn't a bad proxy for what the current Times series labels "class." It's a theme U.S. politics conspicuously avoids. Yet if we approached it right - if we took luck seriously - we'd be on the way to the commonsense consensus needed to make progress on our fixable injustices….”

Give this read at the link above to follow this analysis of our “Lucky Economy.”

Karen on 05.21.05 @ 06:10 AM CST [link] [ | ]

More Ticking Economic Time Bombs...

Here’s yet another view from John Tierney (NY Times) in this column: Darth Vader’s Family Values (with yet another interpretation of “Revenge of the Sith.”) on that “political economy” going back to the original concepts of Adam Smith and Tocqueveille and their underlying premises to decide what makes the entire system “Tick.”:

“…[About using the] the power of the dark side of the Force, Anakin at first protests that those who use it think "only of themselves," whereas the Jedi are "selfless" and "only care about others."

He says he could never betray the Jedi because they're his family, but then the chancellor puts the family question in perspective: "Learn to know the dark side of the Force, Anakin, and you will be able to save your wife from certain death." Anakin promptly recognizes the limits of altruism, just as Adam Smith did in the 18th century.

Smith knew that some people professed love for all humanity, but he realized that a man's love for "the members of his own family" is "more precise and determinate, than it can be with the greater part of other people." Hence his famous warning not to rely on the kindness of strangers outside your family: if you want bread, it's better to count on the baker's self-interest rather than his generosity.

This has never been a popular bit of advice because selfishness is not admired in human societies any more than among Jedi knights. We know it exists, but it feels wrong. We are born with an instinct for altruism because we evolved in clans of hunter-gatherers who would not have survived if they hadn't helped one another through hard times.

The result is an enduring political paradox: we no longer live in clans small enough for altruism to be practical, but we still respond to politicians who promise to make us all part of one big selfless community. We want everyone to be bound together with a shared set of values, a yearning that Daniel Klein, an economist, dubs the People's Romance in the summer issue of The Independent Review.
The People's Romance is his explanation for why so many Americans have come to love bigger government over the past century. Their specific objectives in Washington differed - liberals stressed charity and social programs for all, while conservatives promoted patriotism and spending on national security - but they both expanded the government in their quest for a national sense of shared purpose.

The result, though, has not been one happy community because America is not a clan with shared values. It is a huge group of strangers with leaders who are hardly altruists - they have their own families and needs. Tocqueville recognized the inherent problem with the People's Romance when he described citizens' contradictory impulses to be free while also wanting a government that is "unitary, protective and all-powerful."

People try to resolve this contradiction, Tocqueville wrote, by telling themselves that democracy makes them masters of politicians, but they soon find that the Force is not with them, especially if they're in the minority. Republicans used to rail helplessly at Democrats for taxing them for destructive social programs and curtailing their economic liberties; now Democrats complain about the money squandered on the Iraq war and the threat to civil liberties from the Patriot Act.

For those Democrats, the signature line in this "Star Wars" is the one spoken after the chancellor, citing security threats, consolidates his power by declaring that the republic must become an empire. Senator Padmé listens to her colleagues cheer and says, "So this is how liberty dies, with thunderous applause."

She's disgusted with them, but their enthusiasm is understandable. The chancellor has tapped into their primal desire to unite in one great clan with a shared purpose. They're in the throes of the People's Romance.”

Karen on 05.21.05 @ 05:51 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Fable of the Bees:

I've been finishing up one of my recent book selections, Novus Ordo Seclorum by Forrest McDonald. Being busy as a Spring Bee myself, this historical footnote captured my imagination and I thought I'd share with you all:

Back in the good ole’ Pre-Constitutional Days of yester-yore, our Founders had some “oeconomic” new fangled notions to help develop what became our system of Political Economy and a new species of property which was just evolving from the English model for a “monetized public debt.”

Most American know and understand a type of “laizze faire” economics based on the works of Adam Smith, particularly his An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations and his “invisible hand” concept.

Author Forrest McDonald recounts how Smith was influenced by the 1705 writings of a Dutch-born British writer, Bernard Mandeville; of whom McDonald writes:

”Mandeville was the spokesman for a radical new age, just then aborning but more than a century from its full fruition, in which both Christian heritage and the full republican tradition of civic humanism – both of which were fundamentally communitarian – would be overwhelmed by naked materialism and acquisitive individualism. Two parallel institutional developments, one in the field of commerce law and the other in the field of public finance, would during the next few decades transform the English-speaking world, with profound implications for the American founding.”

One intriguing point McDonald makes about Mandeville is this story about “The Fable of the Bees”:

”Mandeville was both noted and notorious for a doggerel poem, first published in 1705 and republished with lengthy commentary in 1714 as a book called The Fable of the Bees, subtitled Private Vices, Publick Benefits. The poem is allegory of a beehive in which everyone is motivated by vicious drives and yet, because of an unfathomable working of the complex social mechanism, prosperity comes to the whole.

Million endeavoring to supply

Each other’s Lust and Vanity…

Thus every Part was full of Vice,

Yet the whole Mass a Paradise.

But the bees, hypocritically feigning discontent at having their prosperity depend upon their vices, pray to be made virtuous. Unexpectedly, their prayers are granted, with catastrophic results. Avarice, luxury, debauchery, waste, intemperance, and gluttony suddenly dissapear; and as suddenly, millions are unemployed. Prosperity, in sum, depends neither upon the designs of the state nor upon the benevolence of the individuals, but upon having individuals act freely in their own self-interest.”

McDonald writes later to explain:

”Smith did mention Mandeville in another connection, but went to considerable lengths to disassociate himself from “the Fable of the Bees.” He did so in a way that is not entirely convincing: he declared that Mandeville grossly exaggerated by labeling as vices what were, when exercised with propriety and restraint, normal and entirely moral appetites and needs. That was unfair, for Smith knew that Mandeville had deliberately written in caricature, for comic effect and for shock value, and did not intend always to be taken literally; and besides, Mandeville was attacking “rigorists,” and political ideologues and puritanical fanatics of his day who insisted that even the slightest deviation from the absolute moral purity constituted vice….”

Any of this beginning to sound familiar to the current debates over our modern "Political Economy"?? It's as if, 300 years later, we have yet again come full circle and are back again discussing the "Fable of the Bees."

Karen on 05.21.05 @ 05:24 AM CST [link] [ | ]

An integral part of the Bush bAdministration faith-based initiative to curb teen pregnancy?

The "Please don't forsake the Baby Jesus" Anti-Fornication Thong

Len on 05.20.05 @ 04:20 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Sadly, this says it all:

Credit chain: Uggabugga, via The Pesky Fly

Len on 05.20.05 @ 08:39 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Y'know, back when I was a kid....

I was taught that the U.S. was so superior to places like Soviet Russia and Nazi Germany, because totalitarian regimes like those forced family members to inform on each other. Now, it appears that legislation pending before the House is going to require just that:

Under the legislation, any American who witnesses or learns of certain drug offenses taking place would be required to report the offenses to law enforcement within 24 hours and provide "full assistance" in the investigation, apprehension, and prosecution of the people involved. Failure to do so would be a crime punishable by a mandatory two year prison sentence and a maximum of ten years.

Imagine finding out that your son gave a joint to his college roommate and having to choose between turning him over to the police and going to jail yourself. Imagine being forced to wear a wire and go undercover to set your friends and family up. This is the kind of police state Congressman Sensenbrenner's legislation would create.
The sad thing, of course, is that my opposition to such a bill is going to be interpreted by some mindless robots as my "hating freedom".

Len on 05.20.05 @ 08:32 AM CST [link] [ | ]

No (big) surprises here.....

You scored as Materialist. Materialism stresses the essence of fundamental particles. Everything that exists is purely physical matter and there is no special force that holds life together. You believe that anything can be explained by breaking it up into its pieces. i.e. the big picture can be understood by its smaller elements.











Cultural Creative






What is Your World View? (corrected...again)
created with QuizFarm.com

Though I suppose I should be questioning where the "31% Fundamentalist" comes from. Unless they're defining a relatively consistent commitment to materialism (in the philosophical sense) as being "fundamentalist" in some significant sense...

Seen at Big Stupid Tommy

Len on 05.20.05 @ 07:47 AM CST [link] [ | ]

And from the "Great days in history" department:

Today is the 78th anniversary of the commencement of Charles A. Lindbergh's solo flight from New York to Paris in The Spirit of St. Louis.

Len on 05.20.05 @ 07:36 AM CST [link] [ | ]

From the "Learn something new every day" department:

The first drive through hamburger joint that I can remember is Jack in the Box, which started building the little glass and metal boxes (with the trademark funky jack-in-the-box to bellow your order into) in the St. Louis area in the early '70s. For that reason, I tend to think of drive through burger joints as being a fairly recent phenomenon.

I should know better.

I don't know if they're the first, but I see from the webpage for California's iconic "In-N-Out Burger" chain that I-N-OB had started building drive through stands (with speaker boxes to take your order) since 1948.

Len on 05.20.05 @ 07:22 AM CST [link] [ | ]

There appears to be a big burger war on, and it's escalating...

Karen recently mentioned the new "Beer Barrel Belly Buster", the 15 pounder from Denny's Beer Barrel Pub in Clearfield, PA. At that time, the Belly Buster was the largest hamburger available in the United States.

Not anymore.

Not to be outdone, Costner's Grill and Entertainment in Easely, SC, has debuted Costner's Carolina Colossus, a 19 pound (actually, some reports say 19.1 pound) monster (pics at the link; unfortunately they're very small pics).

The Colossus is kinda like Peking Duck, though--you've got to give Costner's advance notice that you're going to order it. Nothing in the story about any special prizes for finishing the thing.

Well, do I hear 20 pounds? Anybody up for 25?

Life in America: nothing succeeds like excess.

Credit: A Hamburger Today. If you didn't believe that there is a blog devoted to every subject known to man, start believing. AHT is completly and utterly devoted to one subject: hamburgers.

Len on 05.20.05 @ 07:12 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Thought for the Day:

Anakin has a rendezvous with Padme (Natalie Portman); they were secretly married in the previous film, and now she reveals she is pregnant. His reaction is that of a nice kid in a teenage comedy, trying to seem pleased while wondering how this will affect the other neat stuff he gets to do. To say that George Lucas cannot write a love scene is an understatement; greeting cards have expressed more passion.
--Roger Ebert [on the film
Revenge of the Sith]

Len on 05.20.05 @ 06:28 AM CST [link] [ | ]

May Days...

Yet another Inspirational Friday For the Month for May:

May Means Melodious Machinations Memorably Mellowing Our Medula

(And a bit of that Women’s Bed-Rest Experiment wouldn’t hurt neither. LOL)

Karen on 05.20.05 @ 03:58 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Why Women Live longer…

...An “inane pictures” page: Go visit Gophergas website.

[Courtesy of The Darwin Awards.]

Or, this other possibility probing the mysteries in the "things we have YET to know" potential research on women and sleeping:

From the Improbable Blog and the Files of "I need to try this one" Department…Bed Rest Research.

Karen on 05.20.05 @ 03:40 AM CST [link] [ | ]

From the “Hmmm…Department” :

Is a site called Quirkle which sells high-tech versions of mechanical puzzlers. They also offer more at this Puzzle page.

Courtesy of Improbable Blog.

Karen on 05.20.05 @ 03:33 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Commentary about Commentaries...

The Conglomerate has posted this Blog Q&A:

”...A reporter left a message on my voicemail yesterday. She wants to do a story on people who attach pithy quotations to the end of their email messages. She was referred to me by a colleague, but this one is out of my range. I don't include a quotation on my own messages, and I don't have anything interesting to say about why people might choose to do that. (It seems sort of obvious, doesn't it? They are trying to be funny or to show their stripes.) She asked when people started doing this, and I suppose the answer is, "whenever sig files were devised."

Any thoughts?

Okay, Len and Brock, this one is fielded right in your direction as prima facie examples of people who attach quotations to their e-mails (and post similar ‘quotes of the day’ stuff - as our readers know - on the Blog.)

Got anything to say about it?? For the Press?? LOL Or Anyone else out there...

Go post them a comment about your Commentaries.

Karen on 05.20.05 @ 03:27 AM CST [
link] [ | ]

Fun with license plates....

Karen's already had her fun for the day with vanity plates. However, if you want to have some more amusement with them, hie thyself over to The Smoking Gun and enter "vanity plates" into the search engine there. TSG has done several features on vanity plates that some people have found offensive. My favorite salacious license plate, however, isn't a vanity plate. This is an honest to God plate issued by the duly constituted authorities of The Great State of Florida:

Anita Bryant must be greatly disappointed. For sure.

Len on 05.19.05 @ 06:45 PM CST [link] [ | ]

And the AP keeps giving us "the finger"....

Though in this case it's more on the "Wendy's chili finger":

Meanwhile, a woman provided more details about how the finger may have been lost. She said her son lost the finger in a work accident and gave it to the suspect's husband to settle a $50 debt.

"My son is the victim in this," Brenda Shouey told the San Francisco Chronicle. "I believe he got caught in something, and he didn't understand what was going on."


San Jose police announced last week the finger was obtained from an associate of James Plascencia, Ayala's husband, but they have refused to identify him because he is cooperating in the investigation. Police did not immediately return a message Wednesday seeking comment on Shouey's comments.

Plascencia, 43, was arrested last month on unrelated charges of failing to pay child support in a previous relationship. He has not been charged in the Wendy's case, but documents filed Wednesday by San Jose police detailed his alleged involvement.

After his co-worker severed the tip of his finger in December, Plascencia bought it and "advised that he intended to use the finger to create a lawsuit by planting the finger in food at an undisclosed restaurant," a police affidavit said.

Shouey said her son, Brian Paul Rossiter, 36, of Las Vegas, lost part of his finger when his gloved hand was caught in a mechanical truck lift at a paving company where he worked with Plascencia.

Shouey said her son had showed the severed finger to co-workers in a macho display of humor and was desperate for cash when he gave it away "to this character, James."

"My son is a happy-go-lucky guy. He thought it was cute to show" the severed finger, Shouey said. "It's like a man thing."
Well, no.... I don't think that a finger looks much like "a man thing", save for the fact that both a finger and a man thing are long and.... Well, never mind.

I have to wonder though... Rossiter isn't that much younger than I am, but it appears that standards of "cute" in male behavior have changed quite a bit since I last looked into the subject.

Len on 05.19.05 @ 06:20 PM CST [link] [ | ]

"Kill them all. God will know his own."

That seems to be our current policy for the Mess in Mesopotamia, as Fred Kaplan fills us in:

The most dismaying thing I've read in a while is a Page One story in the May 17 Philadelphia Inquirer, by staff reporters Hannah Allam and Mohammed al Dulaimy, headlined, "Iraqis Lament a Call for Help." If you want to know why we're not winning in Iraq, and why we're not likely to win anytime soon (if ever), there is no more brutally illustrative tale.

The story concerns Operation Matador, last week's clash between U.S. forces and foreign jihadists in the desert villages of western Iraq. Officials have portrayed the operation as a grand success. Allam and Dulaimy depict it as a grave disaster.

For months, they report, Iraqi tribal leaders in the area had formed a vigilante group called the Hamza Forces to stave off the Islamic extremists streaming across the Syrian border. Outnumbered, at least three of the tribal chiefs asked the Iraqi defense ministry and the U.S. Marines for help.

Rather than respond in a coordinated fashion, U.S. forces blazed in with armored vehicles and helicopter gun ships and simply pummeled the place. Fasal al-Goud, a former governor of Anbar province and one of the sheiks who had asked for assistance, told the Inquirer, "The Americans were bombing whole villages, and saying they were only after the foreigners."

Villagers who returned after the fighting were stunned to find entire neighborhoods destroyed. Men who had stayed behind to help were found dead in shot-up houses. Over 100 jihadists were killed, but so were a lot of Iraqis fighting on the side of the Americans, to say nothing of several bystanders caught in the crossfire.

Fasal al-Goud now says he regrets calling for help. Allam and Dulaimy heard confirming accounts and similar sentiments from two other tribal leaders, who asked not to be named because the jihadists (who, it seems, weren't expelled entirely) are still holding some tribesmen hostage.
Read the whole thing (and the Inquirer story it's based on); it's well worth it.

Yep. Makes sense to me that the quickest way to victory in Iraq is to go in and whomp the shit out of our friends and enemies alike, without even any attempt to discriminate. And the bAdministration still thinks it's Newsweek that is the problem over there....

Len on 05.19.05 @ 10:35 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Thought for the Day:

But let's be clear: Newsweek hardly bears sole responsibility for rioting deaths in Afghanistan and Pakistan, which were fomented by anti-American agitators and reflect both a pathological religious fanaticism and anger over many other issues. What's more, Bush's flacks are in no position to prosecute this case. When it comes to torturing inmates to death, sexually humiliating prisoners, and otherwise doing our best to outrage the religious sensitivities of devout Muslims, Scott McClellan has nothing to say. But faced with an erroneous charge that an American guard might have insulted a copy of the Quran, he turns livid and demands satisfaction. There's something of a pot-and-kettle problem here.

But the problem with the Bush administration excoriating
Newsweek's insensitivity to Islam isn't just hypocrisy. There's a larger issue of bad faith and an underlying lack of appreciation for the necessary role of a free and independent press. With increasing forcefulness, Bush has tried to undermine the legitimacy of the media, or at least that subculture within it that shows any tendency to challenge him. When the Bushies say there ought to be more of a check on the Fourth Estate, they aren't really asking for more care and accuracy on the part of journalists. They're expressing frustration that they still have to put up with criticism at all.
--Jacob Weisberg

Len on 05.19.05 @ 10:29 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Today's Funny Vanity Plate...

Beware of those *Fill-in* vowels…

I was driving daughter #2 to an early morning study session and ended up behind a Vanity plate with optional vowels to complete the thought. I saw second word “LVR” -- and what popped first into my mind was LV as the word "Live" and the completed word as Liver…?!?

But entire the Plate was “CW LVR.”

So, I commented how "Who would put 'Cow Liver' as their Vanity plate Slogan. Yuk!!"

My daughter laughed and we looked again. On review - She got it right – It was “COW LOVER.”

So, beware of those vowel fill-ins!! And anyone got any onions and bacon to go with my Cow Liver??? LOL

[The other recent plate sighting one that read "GRM OF 6" that prompted an immediate suggestion of a drug reference, and took another look to get the "cute" intended meaning.]

Karen on 05.19.05 @ 08:08 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Brokering Good Will...

Found this Gem of a quote :

”….Not only have professional politicians squandered the good will of the post-9/11 period, they are seen as more petulant than in the months after the controversial 2000 election.

And ironically, they're bickering because they think they're sucking up to the voters! They've gotten so partisan and pugnacious that they've even lost their most cherished skill: the capacity to pander well.”

Courtesy of CBS News writer, Dick Meyer: Pols Filibuster Voters' Will - writing about the potential for a compromise over the threatened "nuclear option" by the GOP being brokered by Republican John McCain and Democrat Ben Nelson.

Karen on 05.19.05 @ 06:19 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Loyal Backlash?

Another follow-up to my “story post” about the Fierce Loyalties of the Brits' passion for their soccer teams is found in this NY Times piece about Malcom Glazer: English Are Hostile After a U.S. Soccer Takeover by Sarah Lyall:

”…As far as anyone can tell, Mr. Glazer, 76, has never been to a Manchester United game, or possibly even to any soccer game. Which might not be so surprising, according to his sister Maria. "He has never liked sports," she told The Daily Mail.

And then, of course, Mr. Glazer, who made his fortune in real estate and investing and has owned the Tampa Bay Buccaneers of the National Football League since 1995, is an American.

So the news that Mr. Glazer - a man said to know so little about any kind of football that he once cheered for the wrong side during a Buccaneers game - was buying their beloved team was bound to upset Manchester United fans. It is as if a Japanese tycoon had suddenly swooped in and bought up the Yankees, using millions of dollars of borrowed money.

"No offense, but it just smacks of imperialism," said John Marchant, a 28-year-old advertising executive and Manchester United fan, walking past the team's Old Trafford stadium the other day. His indignation accelerated from 0 to 60 in the space of a single sentence. "He stands for everything that's bad about globalization."

Some Manchester United fans are so upset that in the last few weeks they have burned Mr. Glazer in effigy outside the stadium, ripped up their season tickets, threatened to disrupt future games and urged a boycott of the team's merchandise and products from sponsors like Nike, which, coincidentally, is an American company.

"That man is not welcome at Old Trafford," said Oliver Houston, spokesman for Shareholders United, a group representing small investors in the team, which had been a publicly traded company. Meanwhile, a militant fan group called the Manchester Education Committee declared Old Trafford to be "occupied territory" and vowed not to rest until it had forced Glazer to sell the team…”

Karen on 05.19.05 @ 05:33 AM CST [link] [ | ]

PBS's finger on the Wrong "Mute" Button...

In a follow up to Len’s Gem of the Day post from yesterday and featured quote from Bill Moyers' article Muting The Conversation Of Democracy here (below the fold) is a more extended quote and (Courtesy of US News Wire) a blurb about this upcoming event:

”In a speech at the National Press Club on Tuesday, May 24, Pat Mitchell will lay out a vision for the future of PBS and how it will continue to play a crucial role in the nation's civic and cultural life. Mitchell will address why PBS' unique cultural, educational and public affairs programming and outreach initiatives are more necessary than ever in today's 500 channel world. She will also discuss PBS's efforts and future plans to broaden and deepen the services it provides the public.”

Pat Mitchell (President and CEO of PBS) speaking on the future of Public broadcasting. Hmmm-- Given Moyers comments, this ought to be an interesting development to watch.

Click on the “more” button to read below the fold.

Karen on 05.19.05 @ 04:07 AM CST [more..] [ | ]

Judicious Protections

I listened to C-Span coverage of Judge Joan Lefkow speaking before Congress (in a very even, measured yet somber tone - considering the sad set of circumstances and overwhelming loss she has had to endure) to denounce the imprudent and inflammatory rhetoric from members of our government and others which indirectly advocates or justifies violence against judges and ask Congress to provide protection and safeguards to thwart such violence.

AOL has provided this piece Bereaved Judge Says Angry Rhetoric Is Dangerous by Rebecca Carroll (Associated Press):

”A federal judge whose husband and mother were slain by a disgruntled litigant urged Congress on Wednesday to help bring an end to ''truly dangerous'' verbal attacks on judges that might lead to violent action.

Judge Joan Humphrey Lefkow said one way lawmakers could protect judges would be to condemn judge-bashing remarks by commentators and colleagues.

''Fostering disrespect for judges can only encourage those that are on the edge, or on the fringe, to exact revenge,'' Lefkow told the Senate Judiciary Committee.

''I understand that Congress cannot eradicate violence against judges, nor are we exempt from this madness in the shadows,'' she said, borrowing the final phrase from a note from former President Clinton, who appointed her in 2000 to the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois.
''But as I replay in my mind the events that led to our tragedy,'' she went on, ''I believe that several things might have prevented it and could prevent it from happening to even one more of our judges.''

In addition to asking lawmakers to ''publicly and persistently repudiate gratuitous attacks on the judiciary,'' Lefkow called on Congress to increase funding for the U.S. Marshals Service, which protects judges. She also wants legislation to ban putting personal information about judges and other government officials on the Internet without their permission….”

Karen on 05.19.05 @ 03:49 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Sad news...

We've just heard that actor/impressionist Frank Gorshin is dead at age 72. While Gorshin was best known for his Emmy nominated recurring role as "The Riddler" in the '60s era Batman, and received another Emmy nomination for his guest role as "Commissioner Bele" in the 1969 (third season) episode, "Let This Be Your Last Battlefield" from Star Trek, Memphians will be forgiven for remembering him for appearing in a critically praised production of Say Goodnight, Gracie at the Orpheum Theater here last month.

Len on 05.18.05 @ 03:08 PM CST [link] [ | ]

And since I'm mentioning Pete...

I was trolling A Perfectly Cromulent Blog to pin down that quote about Bruce Campbell, when I noted that Pete mentioned a report (the source credits Variety for the story) that Kelsey Grammer has gotten the nod to portray "The Beast" in X3, the long awaited sequel to X-Men and X2: X-Men United.

While I tend to agree with Pete that Grammer's going to be used as a voice artist, dubbing him for either a gymnast who'll actually do the physical acting or for a completely CG Beast, I can't shake the feeling that it would certainly be..... um.... interesting to see Grammer decked out completely in blue fur to do the role himself. Hey, if they could do it for Rebecca Romijn-Stamos and the blue scales.....

I must confess myself heartbroken, however, that in the film's message board casting thread nobody has nominated Bruce Campbell to play the role. Indeed, noone's mentioned Bruce for any role in the movie (I may have to make an entry to that effect just because....).

Len on 05.18.05 @ 02:18 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Name an upcoming role, and some fanboy will mention him....

In dropping a comment on a post at Half-Bakered, I did a quick search at the IMDB and noticed that apparently there is a big screen adaptation of DC's The Flash in the works, with a prospective 2006 release date. While finishing lunch, I took a gander at the IMDB message boards, where one of the threads on The Flash is the almost inevitable question (in this context; the IMDB entry for the film doesn't list any prospective cast members yet), "Who would you cast as The Flash?"

And just as inevitably, someone said, "BRUCE CAMPBELL".

Inevitable, because you have to understand the mindset of cult cinema fans. Pete Vonder Haar expressed it best (the context here is a discussion of who will inherit the mantle of James Bond from Pierce Brosnan):

Bruce Campbell - Every fanboy's dream casting choice for every role ever proposed, from Superman to the Lizard. Could a 12 gauge, double-barreled Remington replace the Walther PPK?
Understand that I yield to just about no fanboy in my admiration for Mr. Campbell's talents. If I were really forced to do a list of "10 DVDs I must have if I were marooned on a desert island", Evil Dead, Evil Dead 2: Dead by Dawn, Army of Darkness and Bubba Ho-tep would take 4 of my 10 slots without my thinking much about it. (I just realized that I'd have to reserve two more slots for Spider-Man and Spider-Man 2; that means that of my 10 desert island DVDs fully half would be Sam Raimi flicks, while 60% would have Bruce in at least a cameo role. Am I pathetic or what?) Still, I just can't see casting Bruce Campbell as Wally West (the comments on the message board indicate that the film version of "The Flash" will be the character known to comics geeks as "Flash III", not the Silver Age Barry Allen Flash that I grew up with)--for that matter, I can't see casting Bruce as Barry Allen; I've never pictured Barry having that prominent a chin.

Len on 05.18.05 @ 02:06 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Gem o'the Day:

I wore my flag tonight. First time. Until now I haven’t thought it necessary to display a little metallic icon of patriotism for everyone to see. It was enough to vote, pay my taxes, perform my civic duties, speak my mind, and do my best to raise our kids to be good Americans.

Sometimes I would offer a small prayer of gratitude that I had been born in a country whose institutions sustained me, whose armed forces protected me, and whose ideals inspired me; I offered my heart’s affections in return. It no more occurred to me to flaunt the flag on my chest than it did to pin my mother’s picture on my lapel to prove her son’s love. Mother knew where I stood; so does my country. I even tuck a valentine in my tax returns on April 15.

So what’s this doing here? Well, I put it on to take it back. The flag’s been hijacked and turned into a logo — the trademark of a monopoly on patriotism. On those Sunday morning talk shows, official chests appear adorned with the flag as if it is the good housekeeping seal of approval. During the State of the Union, did you notice Bush and Cheney wearing the flag? How come? No administration’s patriotism is ever in doubt, only its policies. And the flag bestows no immunity from error. When I see flags sprouting on official lapels, I think of the time in China when I saw Mao’s little red book on every official’s desk, omnipresent and unread.

But more galling than anything are all those moralistic ideologues in Washington sporting the flag in their lapels while writing books and running Web sites and publishing magazines attacking dissenters as un-American. They are people whose ardor for war grows disproportionately to their distance from the fighting. They’re in the same league as those swarms of corporate lobbyists wearing flags and prowling Capitol Hill for tax breaks even as they call for more spending on war.

So I put this on as a modest riposte to men with flags in their lapels who shoot missiles from the safety of Washington think tanks, or argue that sacrifice is good as long as they don’t have to make it, or approve of bribing governments to join the coalition of the willing (after they first stash the cash). I put it on to remind myself that not every patriot thinks we should do to the people of Baghdad what Bin Laden did to us. The flag belongs to the country, not to the government. And it reminds me that it’s not un-American to think that war — except in self-defense — is a failure of moral imagination, political nerve, and diplomacy. Come to think of it, standing up to your government can mean standing up for your country.
--Bill Moyers

[via Brian Leiter]

Len on 05.18.05 @ 10:07 AM CST [link] [ | ]

My dog would have mauled me first....

And then one of the neighbors would have (I hope) called the Humane Society: Slave Leia Pet Costume

Further comment would be, as I say, superfluous....

Credit: Pete Vonder Haar, whose review of Revenge of the Sith has been posted at FilmThreat.

Len on 05.18.05 @ 09:39 AM CST [link] [ | ]

It's a week to go....

It's official now: Abby is Dr. Lady Cutie Troublemaker, and it's a week to go until we gather to celebrate her official entrance into the world of the overeducated:

Date: May 25, 2005
Time: 7:00 PM
Location: The Bar-B-Q Shop, 1782 Madison Ave., Memphis, TN (Midtown)
Oh, yeah, and I think we'll also be trying to show that Karen person, who writes here occasionally, that we're really a fairly normal group of people.

I'm hoping to send email reminders to all the Memphis bloggers I know (or have met); if you don't receive such a reminder that doesn't mean you're not welcome. Please either drop me an email or leave a comment here to let me know if you're planning to attend; that way I can give the folks at The Appointed Venue a rough idea of The Hungry Horde that will descend on their premises.

Len on 05.18.05 @ 09:22 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Thought for the Day:

Finally, we are aware of at least two cases in which highly qualified individuals were dissuaded from attending the Academy and entering into the Air Force officer corps — despite longstanding and fervent desires to do so — after learning of the official culture of religious intolerance and hostility toward those who do not subscribe to and practice evangelical Christianity. When the Air Force is denied the service of the country’s best and brightest young people because they feel excluded from the Academy by religious intolerance, the armed forces and the Nation as a whole are weakened. What is more, in light of the traditional role that military-officer training has played in cultivating local, state, and national leaders in both the public and private sectors, the effective exclusion from the Academy of highly qualified, highly motivated young men and women on the basis of their religion — or their unwillingness to conform to the religious practices of those in charge — is the very archetype of the "message to nonadherents that they are outsiders, not full members of the political community," that the Constitution forbids.
--Report of Americans United for Separation of Church and State on Religious Coercion and Endorsement of Religion at the United States Air Force Academy

Len on 05.18.05 @ 07:36 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Web Woes...

James Wolcott's pithy piece about the National Review OnLine is hilarious - as this sampling from Kiddie Corner shows:

”….I fear that my earlier fear has been confirmed. That the introduction of a new primate--John Podhoretz--has upset the delicate ecosystem of the NRO's Corner that has metastasized into the site.

Before everyone knew his role. K'Lo was the drafty Bride of Christ. Andrew Stuttaford was the English correspondent who relayed news from Britain no one cared about. John Derbyshire was the Evelyn Waughish eccentric. Jonah Goldberg was the aging frat-boy fun guy, surfer cable TV with his Star Trek phaser remote control and hyping his upcoming college speaking engagements at Roy Cohn Community College.

But now there are two Jonahs, and although they formed a pact against me this weekend, it won't last. You can't put two alpha males like this in the same steel-cage sewing bee and not expect and body parts to eventually fly….”

Karen on 05.18.05 @ 05:24 AM CST [link] [ | ]

The last word....

well, the last photoshopped gag on the Newsweek/Gitmo/Koran desecration debacle.

BZ, Bubba!

UPDATE: According to autoegocrat, it wasn't Newsweek that broke the story, which has actually been out there for a number of months now.

My personal feeling: I have absolutely no doubt in my mind that U.S. servicemen (not all, but at least some), are desecrating Korans every chance they get; the LTG Jerry "My God can kick Allah's ass" Boykin mentality isn't at all rare in the armed services from what I can tell.

And as Juan Cole has pointed out, trashing Christian scripture is a standard practice in evasion and resistance training in the Armed Forces:

A reader with military experience in this area wrote me his own experience, with the Bible being trashed in a similar way. I was able to google this reader in such a way as to compare autobiographical statements and dates (stripped from the below) to the Web record, and they all check out. Even the history of attitudes, as revealed in letters to the editor, are confirmatory. So I'm sure of the authenticity of these comments.
"I'm a former US [military officer], and had the 'pleasure' of attending SERE school--Search, Evasion, Resistance, and Escape.

The course I attended . . . [had] a mock POW camp, where we had a chance to be prisoners for 2-3 days. The camp is also used as a training tool for CI [counter-intelligence], interrogators, etc for those running the camp.
One of the most memorable parts of the camp experience was when one of the camp leaders trashed a Bible on the ground, kicking it around, etc. It was a crushing blow, even though this was just a school.

I have no doubt the stories about trashing the Koran are true.
Shame on Newsweak for backing down at the behest of the bAdministration.

Len on 05.17.05 @ 10:31 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Proving the old adage....

that the difference between men and boys is the size of their toys, Mark at The Conservative Zone has an interesting post on an odyssey he took with his son to play Robert Goddard for the day. Looks like a lot of fun!

(Credit: Mike "Half Bakered" Hollihan)

Len on 05.17.05 @ 10:23 AM CST [link] [ | ]

I still don't think that The Volokh Conspiracy is worth reading regularly...

but when a site that I do read regularly has a link labeled "Negligent Sex", I tend to sit up, take notice, and follow it anyway. And it was worth it, as it references the injury which Cecil Adams himself has called "The stupidest injury known to medicine", to wit, penile fracture.

Len on 05.17.05 @ 10:14 AM CST [link] [ | ]


If I may be allowed to bastardize a hallowed bit of techie jargon: Read The F*king Fine Print!

Bryan at Why Now? reminds us of a fact of life: when you enlist in the military services, you're in for at least 8 years. Period. What time of that 8 years is not spent on active duty will be spent as a Reservist, and I caution you, "reservist" does not mean "drilling a weekend a month and two weekends a year". If you are spending that time sitting at home with your thumb up your ass, you're still a member of the United States Army/Naval/Marine Corps/Air Force Reserve, and subject to recall at any time (there are a lot of Army Ready Reservists learning this the hard way, as I'm sure you've read).

Quoth Bryan:

In order to attract more people the military is now talking about a 15 month active duty tour. They want people to assume that you will only be required to serve 15 months and then you will be free.

READ THE FINE PRINT! You sign up for a total of 8 years of combined active and Reserve duty. The military has been calling up Reservists who have completed 4 years of active duty because of their Reserve commitment and are refusing to release people who have completed their entire 8-year term. If you sign the paperwork you belong to the military for a minimum of 8 years, not 15 months.

There was a 12-month National Guard program and many people who were in that are being retained well beyond those 12 months.

You are under penalty of criminal prosecution if you fail to fulfill your part in the agreement, but the government is able to alter their obligations at will. If they lie to you, a court will say that they are bad people, but you are required to do what they tell you to do. They don't recognize any restrictions on their power.
While I'm on the subject, let me remind you potential officers of something, by the way. When you move from active duty to the Ready Reserve, you must resign your commission at the end of your obligated service (i.e., your original 8 year commitment). If you don't resign your commission, you're still a reservist, and subject to call up. (I don't know what the rules are for enlisteds; I'm willing to be edumacated if any of y'all know better than me.)

Len on 05.17.05 @ 09:53 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Obligatory Star Wars post....

Pete Vonder Haar has his last (oh no!) "Star Wars Report" up at Film Threat:

I don’t find it odd or depressing that there aren’t going to be any more films. We went from 1983 to 1999 without one, after all, and somehow we managed to live our lives in a more or less normal fashion. When the end credits for “Return of the Jedi” rolled, I think many of us weren’t even sure if Lucas was planning on going back to the well at all (bear in mind, this was all pre-“Howard the Duck”). Books were written, and games – both role-playing and video – were developed, but the sense of finality we came away with at the end of “Jedi” meant there wasn’t much need for anticipation.

Even now, having seen “Revenge of the Sith” and having been exposed to some of the least shocking plot developments since that big-ass ship sank in “Titanic,” I find it hard to mourn the franchise’s passing. The "Star Wars” legacy will live on: in the TV shows Lucas is developing, in more “Knights of the Old Republic” games, in comics and novels, and in the wonderful world of Han and Chewie slash fiction that I have no personal knowledge of but I’m sure is a mere Google search away, should you be so inclined.
Go give it a read.

Len on 05.17.05 @ 09:26 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Fun with names department:

At the Hardball Times, Steve Treder takes a look at the fun you can have with ballplayer names: Banana Fana Fo Fudcat

A few of my favorites (below the fold, to keep the length of this down):

Len on 05.17.05 @ 09:12 AM CST [more..] [ | ]

Holy Murder?

A most thoughtful and excellent commentary from the LA Times today on the issue of the riots and deaths resulting from the errant Newsweek reporting over the Holy Koran.

Do Riots Save Islam's Honor?
by Irshad Manji (Author of "The Trouble With Islam Today") asks the crucial questions of whether an insult to any religion justifies rioting and outright murder of innocents. Is the *insulting* incident itself the cause…or the further incitement by people being irresponsible reactionaries.

”…One can appreciate the Koran's inherent worth, as I do, while recognizing that it contains ambiguities, inconsistencies, outright contradictions — and the possibility of human editing. This is not simply a reform-minded Muslim speaking. This is Islamic tradition talking.

For centuries, philosophers of Islam have been telling the story of the "Satanic Verses." The Prophet Muhammad accepted them as authentic entries into the Koran. Later, he realized they deify heathen idols rather than God. So he belatedly rejected the verses, blaming them on a trick played by Satan. Which implies that the Prophet edited the Koran.

Let's push this point further. Because pious Muslims emulate Muhammad's life, those who compiled the Koran's verses after his death might have followed his example of editing along the way. The compilers were, after all, only human — as human as Muhammad himself.


(I)f we're going to avoid a further desecration of human life. Riots in Afghanistan have already resulted in at least 14 deaths. Aid workers have been attacked; their offices burned. How does this benefit the cause of dignity — for anyone?

Many will insist that I'm undermining the dignity of Muslims by challenging a pillar of their identity. By urging my fellow Muslims to consider these questions, I'm showing faith in their capacity to be thoughtful and humane. I'm appealing to their heads rather than only their hearts. Ultimately, I'm fighting not Islam but the routinely low expectations of those who practice it.

Contrast that with the strategy of Imran Khan, the Pakistani cricketer-turned-politician who rallied his countrymen to express rage based on one paragraph in Newsweek. A fierce rival of Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf, Khan objects to cooperating with the U.S. on security matters. He knew his comments about Newsweek would feed the most reflexive of Muslim impulses: to treat the Koran with uncritical veneration.

Such lazy tactics remind me of those used to drive the Miss World Beauty Pageant out of Nigeria in 2002. That fiasco led to more than 50 deaths. It wasn't the affront of immodestly clad women that sparked the uproar. Rioting began only after a columnist suggested that the Prophet would have gotten a kick out of the pageant and taken its winner as his wife. An imprudent remark, but should it have caused banditry and murder? …

Karen on 05.17.05 @ 09:07 AM CST [link] [ | ]

From the "What Will They Think Of Next" Files...

AOL was reporting on this latest Security Device for X-Ray Scanning for hidden weapons in this article:

See-Through Security

Scanning under people’s clothes…?

I am not sure I was reeeeeally ready for this *white-tub-‘o’lard* view of humanity – the weapons checking ability notwithstanding.

Is this an invasion of privacy as the piece ponders? (See Survery Questions.)

I’d suppose as “necessary evils” go – I’d rather this method than the “breast-pat-down” methodology of our Airport Security measure or other similarly invasive "strip-type" seaches being implemented now.

Karen on 05.17.05 @ 08:47 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Cautionary Tales...

Don’t have advance tickets…nor do I intend to stand in any lines to be the *first* into an overcrowded movie theater -- But already there are some interesting reviews of the Star Wars movie “Revenge of the Sith”:

This commentary by Dan Froomkin (Washington Post) is most intriguing: The Empire Strikes Bush:

”…."This is how liberty dies -- to thunderous applause."

So observes Queen Amidala of Naboo as the galactic senate grants dictator-to-be Palpatine sweeping new powers in his crusade against the Jedi in the final "Star Wars" movie opening this week.

"Revenge of the Sith," it turns out, can also be seen as a cautionary tale for our time -- a blistering critique of the war in Iraq, a reminder of how democracies can give up their freedoms too easily, and an admonition about the seduction of good people by absolute power.

It's just one of several lines in "Star Wars: Episode III -- Revenge of the Sith," that reveal the movie to be more than just a sci-fi blockbuster and gargantuan cultural phenomenon.

"Revenge of the Sith," it turns out, can also be seen as a cautionary tale for our time -- a blistering critique of the war in Iraq, a reminder of how democracies can give up their freedoms too easily, and an admonition about the seduction of good people by absolute power.

Some film critics suggest it could be the biggest anti-Bush blockbuster since "Fahrenheit 9/11."

New York Times movie critic A.O. Scott gives "Sith" a rave, and notes that Lucas "grounds it in a cogent and (for the first time) comprehensible political context.

" 'Revenge of the Sith' is about how a republic dismantles its own democratic principles, about how politics becomes militarized, about how a Manichaean ideology undermines the rational exercise of power. Mr. Lucas is clearly jabbing his light saber in the direction of some real-world political leaders. At one point, Darth Vader, already deep in the thrall of the dark side and echoing the words of George W. Bush, hisses at Obi-Wan, 'If you're not with me, you're my enemy.' Obi-Wan's response is likely to surface as a bumper sticker during the next election campaign: 'Only a Sith thinks in absolutes.' "

AFP reports that the movie delivers "a galactic jab to US President George W. Bush."

It's been generating "murmurs at the parallels being drawn between Bush's administration and the birth of the space opera's evil Empire."

Are some people reading too much into the movie?

Filmmaker George Lucas insists that the genesis of his story dates back 30 years. But he pointed out that certain themes do seem to repeat themselves, whether here and now or a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away...."

Karen on 05.17.05 @ 08:32 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Spring is Popping Up all over DHC...

I was enjoying some of the FAB Spring Flowers in my garden and had to take a few pictures:

Iris1 (143k image)


Columbine1 (143k image)



Karen on 05.17.05 @ 08:06 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Thought for the Day:

There are often calls in the blogworld for academics on one side or another to denounce vicious person X who is in some indeterminate sense on 'their side'. Unless X is in a position of real political power, e.g. a Senate Committee Chair, these calls seem thoroughly misguided to me. Conservative academics are under no more obligation to denounce vile commentators like Coulter than social democrat academics are to denounce the extremists on their flanks, the Ward Churchills of the world and the like. Frankly there is too little time in the day to be spent trying to find out if some Labor voter from the University of Woolloomooloo said something false that I should be distancing myself from.
--Brian Weatherson

Len on 05.17.05 @ 06:36 AM CST [link] [ | ]

"Greatest Americans...."

Via Lean Left, we get a pointer to a post by Kevin Drum referencing a recent (? or soon to be aired? I don't know, since I pay very little attention to TV) listing of 100 Greatest Americans. Actually, this is a list of mere nominees; apparently they're soliciting votes for the show's ultimate list of greatest Americans, to be presented June 5.

Below the fold I'll set out the list (alpha by first name, for some inexplicable reason) along with a few comments of my own (because I want to be a shit disturber; why else have a blog, eh?). But a general observation. The "Greatest Americans" website (linked above) notes that the 100 nominees were selected by "you" (whoever the fuck "you", is supposed to be; I can solemnly assure you that I wasn't consulted in any way, shape or form), and shows the obvious bias towards the present that characterizes collections of "100 Greatest Songs" polls that are conducted via call-in polls on radio: Americans (particularly those of the TV generation) have the historical consciousness of an underwatered houseplant. Anyway, to the list (and if you think I'm full of shit, well, that's why we have comments, Bunky)....

Len on 05.16.05 @ 08:29 PM CST [more..] [ | ]

And speaking of SKBubba...

We have a number of new inductees into the Rocky Top Brigade. So go take a gander at the new additions in your Copious Free Time™.

Len on 05.16.05 @ 06:59 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Thanks to an alert reader of his....

South Knox Bubba enlightens us on what constitutes "emergency war spending":

You know that recent $80 billion in "emergency supplemental appropriations" for the war in Iraq and Afghanistan? You know, the funding for hardened Humvees, body armor, and weapons and ammunition for the troops that if you don't vote for you're a traitor?

Reader Ken writes that he "was scanning through the text of H.R. 1268 looking for the section on requiring states to certify citizenship before issuing driver’s licenses."

He says he "found a lot of interesting, disturbing, and bizarre things buried in the bowels of this bill. I started cutting and pasting a few of the most obvious non-emergency pork barrel wastes of money."
Go take a look at the list. And then shake your head in wonder....

Len on 05.16.05 @ 06:50 PM CST [link] [ | ]

A tax revolt I can approve of....

Namely, a progressive tax revolt:

Something very important is brewing just beneath the radar of most media attention–something which looks very much like the first stages of a progressive tax revolt. Moreover, it is about to converge with a broad range of developing strategies which suggest the possibility of something even more interesting: a progressive “ownership society.” Taken together the two directions could offer new hope for progressive politics in general

Consider the following little noticed facts:

Last November California voters approved tax increases for people making more than $1 million--and earmarked the proceeds for mental health programs. New Jersey has enacted legislation taxing those making more than $500,000–and uses the money to offset regressive property taxes.

In Connecticut–which is currently considering a new tax on incomes over a million–a recent poll found 77% of voters in favor of the tax (including 63% of Republican voters!)

The conservative Virginia State Senate has also approved legislation to raise income taxes on those making more than $150,000. And in Indiana, Mitch Daniels, once President Bush’s extremely conservative White House Budget director (“the blade”) and now governor of the state, proposed a special tax increase on residents making more than $100,000 a year

Even as Washington has been cutting taxes for the rich, these initiatives aim to raise them at the state level. The progressive tax revolt is the logical result of three fundamental realities:

First, the draconian Bush tax cuts have led to equally draconian federal spending cuts. Second, the pain these are causing is being felt at the state and local level as mounting educational, Medicaid, transportation, environmental and other problems. Third, at the state level there is politically often simply no other place to turn for revenues but to those at the top.
But, as Professor Alperovitz points out in his note, there's the potential here for something much more substantial than merely "soaking the rich". Give it a read.

Len on 05.16.05 @ 06:44 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Gem o'the Day:

I wished we lived in the America of yesteryear that only exists in the minds of us Republicans
-Ned Flanders

Credit: GWBblows Blog

Len on 05.16.05 @ 06:36 PM CST [link] [ | ]

I suppose I've recovered from the debacle that was the 2004 World Series.....

since I can pass this link on without emptying my stomach contents onto my keyboard: Wake Up Little Redbirds. It is cute... (credit: Sean, my partner-in-crime at The Birdwatch)

And as long as I'm doing links about the BoSawx victory, I still think that this gem from Comedy Central is still one of the funniest things I've ever seen in my life....

Len on 05.16.05 @ 06:31 PM CST [link] [ | ]

The first rule of getting away with a crime.....

Don't fucking get on a nationally syndicated radio show and brag about it:

Radio personality "Crazy Cabbie" will spend a year in prison for tax evasion after boasting about it on the nationally syndicated "Howard Stern Show."

The WXRK-FM disc jockey, whose given name is Lee Mroszak, pleaded guilty in December to not paying taxes for three years beginning in 2001. That year he won $100,000 battling fellow Stern regular "Stuttering John" Melendez in a five-round amateur boxing match that drew a sellout crowd of more than 4,000 people to Atlantic City, N.J.

Mroszak's crime was made more serious by his gloating about it to Stern fans, U.S. District Judge Gleeson said Friday as he sentenced Mroszak.

Len on 05.16.05 @ 06:20 PM CST [link] [ | ]

And from the "Great human achievements" department....

From Chuck Shepard's News of the Weird, so consider the source:

In April, in New Scotland, N.Y., Jean Balashek, 86, was found murdered, and police charged her daughter, Corianna Thompson, with the crime. Thompson's birth name was Corey Wayne Balashek, and before his sex change, he had served nine years for another killing. (Thus, Thompson/Balashek may be the first American ever charged with homicide in both genders.) [Times Union (Albany, N.Y.), 4-12-05]

Len on 05.16.05 @ 06:17 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Apparently, the mystery is solved....

The "Wendy's chili finger" has been traced to a co-worker of Anna Ayala's husband.

Pat Hogue, an estimator with a Las Vegas asphalt maintenance company, told the San Francisco Chronicle for a story in Sunday's editions that a man he was working with lost the tip of his finger on a job five months ago.

Both men were working with James Plascencia, the husband of Anna Ayala - the Las Vegas woman who claimed she found the finger in a bowl of chili at a Wendy's restaurant in San Jose, Hogue told the paper.

Authorities believe the injured man gave the finger to Plascencia. Ayala is accused of trying to shake down the fast-food giant with a bogus tainted-food claim.
Somehow I can just see the scene... James Plascencia looking at the bloody, severed fingertip, and asking, "Hey, if you're not going to be using that, I think my wife might want it for this project she's working on...."

Only in America.

Len on 05.16.05 @ 06:14 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Narnian Tales

Go to Dysblog immediately and read this post - Is The President, Properly Speaking a Chimp? by Douglas Anthony Cooper.

I'm assisting with my daughter's first reading of C.S. Lewis' series The Chronicles of Narnia and the first of the seven books: "The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe." I also got her interested in the pre-quel tale of the series "The Magician's Nephew", but I hadn't quite thought about the "God-Like" story-line metaphors and our Presidential God-Like Missions as this post suggests in "The Final Battle."

Very well written and worth the effort. Good job Douglas. Hats off to you.

Karen on 05.16.05 @ 02:26 PM CST [link] [ | ]

From the "you learn something new everyday" department....

MadKane brings it to my attention that, among his other talents, Karl Rove is apparently a poet, as she brings us a memo of his to the White House staff....

Len on 05.16.05 @ 12:12 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Out of Sight...But Not Out of Mind...

I found this “Quote of the Day” in a story on a new Illinois law:

“We are a (breast-) obsessed society until it comes to their functional ability.” - Kasey Madden

The Daily Herald has two articles on the purpose for Madden’s fight to get Illinois communities to be more “breast-feeding” tolerant with a new state law protecting their rights from obscenity prosecutions. A matter of necessity, not obscenity - Municipalities adjust laws to ensure women can safely breastfeed in public- by Kathryn Grondin (Daily Herald Staff Writer); and this other follow-up also by Grondin - Being asked to leave spurred mom to act:

”….Necessity was definitely the mother of Kasey Madden’s invention.

The suburban mom credited with getting Illinois’ new right-to-breastfeed law on the books said nursing in public is something even the most modest of mothers just sometimes need to do.


Madden, who describes herself as overly modest, said she was covered up.

“Nobody saw a thing. They just knew what was going on under there,” she said. “We are a (breast-) obsessed society until it comes to their functional ability"....

Good Going Ms. Madden!!! Three CHEERS for you and the Mothers in Illinois!

Karen on 05.16.05 @ 09:59 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Interesting Shares...

faf over at fafblog has been on yet another hiatus from the net. (Missing ya faf!!)

Sooooo... no actual Friday Pie Blogging...but could we make do with somma Piety instead?

Seems to be very much on the event horizon. Maybe we could sell shares. A "get in on the ground floor" and ride the wave of the growing Piety movement.

Hotter than hot cakes. More powerful than that locomotive. Coming soon to a Government near You:


LOL (Anybody Buying It??? Hello??? Give ya a great deal!!!)

Karen on 05.16.05 @ 07:25 AM CST [link] [ | ]

More Engrish

Was bopping around the net yesterday and found these two funnies on Engrish.

Check out these two GEMs:
and Power Black Color Rubber about Brack people??

Too Funny!!!

Karen on 05.16.05 @ 07:15 AM CST [link] [ | ]

The "ME NEXT" Generation...

The (frugal) graduate by Laura Vanderkam (Writer, USA TODAY contributor): has this fun-filled screaming column about the trials and tribulations of achieving Adult-dom and Financial Independence after graduation in today’s world:

”About to graduate from college? If you've been reading much, you could be forgiven for thinking you should cower under your Star Wars comforter at Mom and Dad's house after collecting your diploma. The media buzz: Becoming a financially independent adult is as tough for today's grads as Hercules' labors (which you can now safely forget) were for him.

Yes, according to the chatter, rising student loans, credit card debt and stagnant wages conspire to keep you a "Twixter" (Time magazine), unable to grow up. You can call yourself a member of "Generation Debt" (Village Voice) — or "Generation Broke," the title of progressive think tank Demos' recent study claiming current economic realities make the path to adulthood more perilous for Generation X and Y than baby boomers ever experienced. The study's co-author, Tamara Draut, has written a forthcoming book called Strapped: Why America's 20- and 30-Somethings Can't Get Ahead.

Not depressed yet?

It's enough to make you charge some $89 pumps in despair. But here's a secret you won't hear in the rush to blame young people's woes on everyone except themselves: Society hasn't lost its ladder to financial stability. Young people have just lost interest in starting out poor.

I want it now!

Too many 22-year-olds expect to start their adult lives at their parents' level of material satisfaction, without the 30 years of labor it took them to get there. Our world of easy credit and mysteriously glamorous TV apartments says you can have it all now. But live like you're entitled to your parents' finances, and you'll be back living with them soon enough. Live within your means, though, and you'll achieve financial independence before the naysayers say it's possible.

Not convinced? Let's look at the economic realities young grads face. Talk to Draut of Demos and she'll tick them off: Average student loan debt rose from about $9,000 in 1992 to $18,900 in 2002. Real wages climbed only 5% to 7%.

"Young people are not having a hard time making it because of their color TVs and stereo systems," she says. To prove that, the "Generation Broke" study presents the average budget, based on consumer surveys, for a 2001 graduate (we'll call him "Grad") earning the average new hire salary of $36,000 a year. On Grad's take-home pay of $2,058 a month, after paying for rent and utilities ($797), car payments, gas and auto insurance ($464), food ($456), student loans ($182) and credit card minimums ($125), he has $34 left. Total.

Hello Star Wars comforter!

Closer inspection, though, finds that our average Grad's "average" budget isn't smart for someone who's young and poor and intends to live like it. How do I know that? I graduated in 2001 myself — and I would have jumped at Grad's miserly $36,000 starting salary. My first job in the Washington, D.C., area had me taking home $1,200-$1,500 a month. So I shared a house with three girls. I took the bus to work and bummed rides. I grocery shopped and packed my lunch every day. I bought suits at discount stores. As a result, I saved enough that first year to spend three weeks traveling in Asia the next summer. Unlike our Grad, I never paid a cent of interest on my credit cards.

Steak ... or ramen noodles?

But maybe I'm weird. I like Ramen noodles. So I ran the Demos budget by Deborah Taylor-Hough, Seattle-area-based author of Frugal Living for Dummies. Is $456 a good monthly food budget for the average 22-year-old? I asked.

She laughed. Uproariously. "Maybe if you're eating steak and caviar." Or, more likely, shelling out $7 a day for lunch and eating take-out dinners five times a week. Unlike Grad feeding only himself, Taylor-Hough feeds a family of five on $500 a month.

She doesn't feel deprived. "Living true to your priorities isn't deprivation. It's a choice," she says — a very adult choice to say "no" to impulses and "yes" to things you want more. She wanted to stay home with her kids, so clipping coupons instead of grabbing take-out and driving old paid-off cars (at far under $464 a month) were the price.

If you have big goals and little money, you've got a choice, too. You can fund a lifestyle like your parents' with the credit cards that make "affluence" easy. That's what most young people do. That's why the average indebted 25- to 34-year-old has $4,088 in credit card debt. Or you can hunt for cheaper housing — under $797. Sure, student loans squeeze a budget, but a $182 payment is the difference between buying a suit at Macy's or Filene's Basement. Bike to work and you'll be rich.

Frugal living isn't easy; grocery shopping, for instance, takes skill. If parents won't teach these skills, colleges should. Why not entertain listless seniors with frugality workshops, paid for by the sin money that school officials get for co-branding credit cards? Entice an audience with free cookbooks or Tupperware. Then drill them with advice such as "Don't give yourself a new car as a graduation present," says Gary Foreman, who's the editor of The Dollar Stretcher. If your wheels die, buy a car coming off lease and "let someone else soak up that big depreciation."

Live like you're young and poor and your savings will fund your financial freedom. No need to sleep in your childhood bedroom. Put the too-cute shoes back on the rack, and you won't have to.”

*Almost* makes me nostagic enough to want to go back to school for yet some more useless knowledge - But Nope - I'd rather live that experience (again) vicariously through my children's lives. LOL And I probably will at the rate we're going today!!!

Karen on 05.16.05 @ 06:53 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Thought for the Day:

Next year, reports Jane's Defense Industry, the United States will spend as much on defense as the rest of the world combined. Yet the Pentagon now admits that our military is having severe trouble attracting recruits, and would have difficulty dealing with potential foes - those that, unlike Saddam's Iraq, might pose a real threat.

In other words, the people who got us into Iraq have done exactly what they falsely accused Bill Clinton of doing: they have stripped America of its capacity to respond to real threats.

So what's the plan?

The people who sold us this war continue to insist that success is just around the corner, and that things would be fine if the media would just stop reporting bad news. But the administration has declared victory in Iraq at least four times. January's election, it seems, was yet another turning point that wasn't.

Yet it's very hard to discuss getting out. Even most of those who vehemently opposed the war say that we have to stay on in Iraq now that we're there.

In effect, America has been taken hostage. Nobody wants to take responsibility for the terrible scenes that will surely unfold if we leave (even though terrible scenes are unfolding while we're there). Nobody wants to tell the grieving parents of American soldiers that their children died in vain. And nobody wants to be accused, by an administration always ready to impugn other people's patriotism, of stabbing the troops in the back.

But the American military isn't just bogged down in Iraq; it's deteriorating under the strain. We may already be in real danger: what threats, exactly, can we make against the North Koreans? That John Bolton will yell at them? And every year that the war goes on, our military gets weaker.

So we need to get beyond the clichés - please, no more "pottery barn principles" or "staying the course." I'm not advocating an immediate pullout, but we have to tell the Iraqi government that our stay is time-limited, and that it has to find a way to take care of itself. The point is that something has to give. We either need a much bigger army - which means a draft - or we need to find a way out of Iraq.
--Paul Krugman

Len on 05.16.05 @ 06:30 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Fierce Loyalties

Crying Foul In Manchester by Geoffrey Wheatcroft is about the fan protests against a real estate and investment magnate, Malcolm Glazer, who just purchased the Manchester United soccer club for $1.5 billion.

”… Outside Old Trafford, the team's stadium, fans carried banners reading "Not for $ale." One man pointed to the statue of Sir Matt Busby, the most famous manager of this most famous soccer club, who "will be turning in his grave tonight." Glazer must have been aware that his attentions were unwelcome, but he may not quite realize the importance of this team, a national institution as well as a flag-bearer for its city.

Although Manchester has never been on the tourist trail, it has a notable history. It was here, after all, that the first capitalist industrial revolution erupted, with Engels on hand to show it to his friend Marx. Under its self-confident burghers, the city gave its name to a species of political economy that conquered the world: the competitive free-market principles of the Manchester school.

A scarcely less important English contribution to humanity is team sports - above all, soccer. And here Manchester United occupies an honored spot. The club began life as a "works team" - with factory hands playing in their spare time - and then turned professional and went on to conquer every height….”

Puts me in mind of another story from the "Karen Files" of our MLS soccer coaches (and house guests) Jim and Peter:

Back in the 90’s, I was very involved (registrar, coaching, organizing) with the local soccer organization which all my daughters played with in River Forest. We also offered two-week summer soccer camps with MLS coaches, and became “host” families for these traveling soccer teachers.

One year we had two “guests.” Peter was a young man from English town called “Wallsend” for being located at the border of England and Scotland, so named for being literally on the End of Hadrian’s Wall. (Said “wall” was built by the Scots to keep invaders out – but as it’s only about two feet tall – they just stepped over it – the invasion is now history.) Peter had since become a part-time coach for children and professional firefighter and sent us a great picture of him in all his gear.

Jim was a Liver-puddlian (from Liverpool), had a broad undecipherable cockney accent, and a fierce Liverpool Football Club fan. You have to understand first and foremost how fiercely partisan and loyal fans are for their teams, but, as one British friend once told us – “In England you don’t “pick a team” to support – you’re born into a team.” Liverpool FC's arch rivals are Manchester United.

Well, Jim ended up staying beyond his two-weeks because he had planned to travel around to see parts of the US and being given a run around by the MLS folks for wishing to change his fight plans to do so.

So, during that next two weeks he continued as our guest and became an unofficial “mother’s helper” as I traded his room and board for light duties to run errands and pick up my kids from school and such. (Tho’ I did have to endure some jokingly funny remarks and raised eyebrows from some neighbors about my “twenty-something” “hot stud muffin house boy” – As if !!! - But it WAS funny.)

Well, we had an on-line service (but rarely used it much so early in WEB history there wasn’t much around and it was SOOO slow with dial up and nearly constant *busy* service). But we allowed Jim to use it to follow the his Liverpool FC team game results and keep in touch with his pals in England. Jim was very appreciative and spent an inordinate number of hours happily surfing and e-mailing for the next two weeks on-line.

But – we had forgotten that our dial-up access numbers were all “outside” our area and were therefore toll-calls. Two-weeks and $350 later with additional phone charges…we realized this slight error. Jim was aghast…but these kids got the barest minimum of payment from MLS that hardly covered even their needs while staying in the US – thus the “hosting” duties offset these deficiencies of their pay. He couldn’t really afford to pay us back and was so broke we had to give him money at the airport for necessities of his travel plans.

As a thank you, he later followed up with a Liverpool FC Scarf and both a “You’ll Never Walk Alone” pin and Liverpool FC pin. We still trade Christmas card with both Peter and Jim and are *promised* a return tour of Liverpool and Northern England if we ever get to visit the British Isle. And of course we treasure our Liverpool keepsake - tho’ I have to fight Charlie as to who gets to wear it on cold days. LOL

Karen on 05.16.05 @ 06:20 AM CST [link] [ | ]

The Downing Street Memo

I’ve kinda been avoiding this lastest political Proof that our government is and has been a bunch of sham performers with all the style and substance of a Hollywood fictional stage set. All guff and no faw.

But this concise and encapsulating piece by Paul Krugman (NY Times) just about says it all on the incalculably untenable position the administration and G.W. has (will) leave this Nation holding the bag (like the reprobates who pile the s**t in the paper sack and leave it flaming on your front porch as they ring the bell and leave laughing).

So, give read to Staying What Course?

Karen on 05.16.05 @ 05:14 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Another Falafel from The Loofah Man

Bill “Loofah Man” O’Reilly spins faster than my Maytag Washing machine in this “misrepresentation that is unprofessional, unwarranted and injurious to the public debate about a serious and urgent issue: protecting children from predators”. Loofah was called front and center in this Houston Chronicle follow up editorial about his *misperformance* on his “No Spin Zone” for attacking an Austin defense attorney over a Chronicle editorial on the topic of Florida’s sex offender law.

"...O'Reilly claims his show is free of spin. Spin is when someone casts the facts in such a light as to reinforce his argument and weaken his opponent's. What O'Reilly did was to disregard the facts altogether, even going so far as to attribute to the Chronicle words and views it did not print and does not espouse...."

And, just for fun, you can always visit Bill O’Reilly Sucks.com webpage.

Courtesy of 3Martini.

Karen on 05.15.05 @ 06:56 PM CST [link] [ | ]

A Non-Home Companion

Garrison Keillor (Prairie Home Companion) has a Q&A section of his webpage. Here is a GEM from an oft times listener (or is that a *non-listener* since he fails to understand the humor or any of the sense of the fictional world of Lake Wobegon and wonders…”Why am I listening to this show...?”)

"Q: Every once in a while I stumble upon your show on 90.9FM on Saturdays between 6 and 7:30. I am utterly perplexed. Every time I hear your show I can't help but stay tuned — in my never-ending quest to understand the world around me.

I send this email with respect. It is obvious that you and your cast are extremely talented.

But no matter how long I listen to your show I never get any of the jokes. I don't understand why people are laughing. Yesterday I listened for a half hour while driving to the airport. I listened because I wanted to figure out if you used a laugh track. A laugh track was the only thing that made sense to me. A small group of people with a single "laugh" button made a lot more sense than an entire auditorium filled with people who found your jokes funny.

Let me give you a specific example:

"If you are looking for an amusement park that also stresses values, bring your family to six flags over scripture"

An auditorium laughs on cue. And then you describe 10 different rides with descriptions that make the auditorium laugh on cue again. Here is my question: What about this joke is funny? Is it me? Am I too young to understand? How could an entire auditorium filled with people find this funny? I sat there, like I always do, with a blank perplexed stare.

And now I am writing to you for some help. Here is a little bit about me that may help you to diagnose the problem: I graduated from NJIT summa cum laude with a degree in statistics. I am an actuary. I read a lot. I like the music you play. I am unmarried, and I am from New Jersey.

Bobby Hancock

A: Bobby, explaining a joke usually doesn't make it funny, but Six Flags Over Scripture is a fictional amusement park with rides taken from the Bible, e.g. Ezekiel's Wheel, and The Jordan River Underwater Ride (total immersion guaranteed), and The Parting of the Red Sea.

I guess it's only funny if you went to Sunday School and heard those stories. But maybe not. We try. But we don't try too hard. Maybe you shouldn't either.

Just send us some actuary jokes. Funny ones, that is. "

I've been listening to this show since 1974 and it still remains an understated, but quitessentially funny, droll and witty commentary of Mid-Western living. Maybe Mr. Hancock needs to travel more to appreciate the insights and hillarity of Keillor's imagination (or atleast get outside of New Jersey).

Karen on 05.15.05 @ 05:52 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Religion, Marriage, Science, Respect...

The Chicago Tribune has this lead Op-Ed piece in this Sunday’s Perspective section. An excellent and well written article covering some of the same points I’ve made on the dangers of the “mission” of the Ultra –Conservative Religious Right Wing to take control of our governments and institute their narrow proscriptive views as the political and policy agenda for the nation as a whole.

John, Shelby Spong is a retired Epsicopal Bishop of Newark, N.J. and author. Give a read through this piece: Political Pulpit: The Bible as a weapon in the culture war.

This dovetails into my previous post today about "A New King of Science" (below) and my piece on Creational Infinity v Vanity.

As we have seen this past week, these folks DO want to take over the political, public and educational realms of government and they do indeed want to“re-write” the rules to their religious specifications as I posted as a query in the following piece "Religion, Marriage, Science, Respect" (again – eaten by the Vicious Attack Internets in the DBV archives) you can read by clicking on the “more” button.

Karen on 05.15.05 @ 10:23 AM CST [more..] [ | ]

A New Kind Of Science...

Got this in my-email yesterday from the website updates of Dr. Steven Wolfram about his book "A New Kind Of Science" (2002):

"Today it is three years since I published my book A New Kind of
Science. It seems like a lot longer than that--so much has
happened in the intervening time. What started as a book is
steadily emerging as a major intellectual movement with its own
structure and community.

The first year after the book came out was dominated by a
certain amount of "paradigm shift turbulence." But by the second
year, many serious projects were starting, and indicators like
the publication rate of NKS-based papers began to climb.

Now, in the third year, a recurring theme has been the emergence
of a growing group of exceptional individuals who are planning
to base their careers on NKS. There are scores of NKS-based
Ph.D. theses underway, and all sorts of NKS-based corporate
ventures--as well as our own growing NKS R&D operation in

Later this year, the first full-length independent book based on
NKS will be published, and the first independent NKS conference
will be held. In late June, we will be holding our third annual
NKS Summer School--for which there were a record number of
exceptional applicants. We are planning to have our next major
NKS conference in spring 2006; we'll be announcing the details
shortly. There will also be an NKS mini-course at our Wolfram
Technology Conference this October.

This year I myself have mostly been in a tool-building phase,
working on major new Mathematica technology that, among other
things, will be very important for NKS research--and which I
can't wait to use.

There's a lot more in the pipeline too. We're developing plans
for a new kind of publishing medium for NKS (partly based on the
Complex Systems journal that I've been publishing since 1986).
We're also planning later this year to start regular "live
experiments," in which I'll be leading public web-conferenced
explorations into the computational universe.

Also in the next few months we're planning to release a rather
unexpected consumer-oriented application of NKS, which I expect
we'll all be hearing quite a bit about.

As we begin the fourth year of NKS, I feel more optimistic than
ever before about its promise--and its significance in science,
technology, the arts, and beyond. It will be fascinating to see
where the most important NKS-based breakthroughs come from, and
what they will be.

I hope you'll have the opportunity to take part in the
excitement of the upcoming years of early NKS growth."

Stephen Wolfram.

Click on the "more" button to see what I posted last fall about this subject (in the since "eaten by the Vicious Attack Internets archive" of DBV).

Karen on 05.15.05 @ 07:39 AM CST [more..] [ | ]

New Rules from Maher...

As a follow-up to my recent posts about Real Time with Bill Maher (HBO),they finally put up a transcript of his “New Rules” segment from the May 6th show:

"New Rule: This year, instead of running a new Kentucky Derby, Kentucky must just show an old one. No one will know the difference. They've been showing the same NASCAR race since 1994, and no one seems to mind.

New Rule: The more complicated the Starbucks order, the bigger the asshole. If you walk into a Starbucks and order a "decaf grande half-soy, half-lowfat, iced vanilla, double-shot, gingerbread cappuccino, extra dry, light ice, with one Sweet-n'-Low and one NutraSweet," ooh, you're a huge asshole.

SULLIVAN: And then you pay by credit card, right?

MAHER: Yeah, that's right. If you're this much of a control freak about coffee, you must be really unbearable when it comes to something important like...a Danish.

New Rule: [insert photo of Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes] Dating a self-proclaimed "26-year-old virgin" is probably not the best way to stifle the gay rumors. You're a big star. You can have any woman you want, and you pick the one actress in town who doesn't put out? I thought Scientology was supposed to clear your mind.

New Rule: Your hamburger can't be bigger than your ass. Denny's Beer Barrel Pub in Clearfield, Pennsylvania, is offering a new burger that weighs 15 pounds! One sign your portions may be too large: if one of the health risks is a back injury.

And finally, New Rule: Don't say a woman is crazy just because she runs away from her wedding. She's crazy if she wants to spend the rest of her life servicing this goober. Now, last week when I heard that a young bride-to-be had gone missing on a jog days before her wedding, I had the same thought everyone else did: Man, that Scott Peterson is good!

Now, Americans this week have acted like the so-called "runaway bride" is crazy for skipping town rather than marrying a Sunday school teacher in Duluth, Georgia. Ah, yes, the good life: the bake sales, the prayer meetings, the abortion protests, who could just walk away from all that? How come when the girl from "Titanic" ditches her fiance, it's the greatest romance of all time, but when Jennifer Wilbanks does it, she's a "criminal loon with a case of temporary insanity"?

Temporany sanity is more like it. She was staring down the barrel of 14 bridesmaids and 600 guests in the Georgia heat watching a Baptist in a blue suit sanctify her sex life with Welch's grape juice and a reading from The Purpose-Driven Life. Suddenly, Greyhound to Vegas looked pretty good!

Jennifer, I applaud your rugged individualism. You eloped with yourself. And to Vegas! Baby, that's money! I mean, what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas. Whereas, the woman who marries in Georgia...stays in Georgia.

Jen, you're a free spirit, I can tell. Something inside you snapped and rebelled at the idea of living in a persistent vegetative state. Which is why tonight I'd like to offer you an open invitation to come on out here. We'll even send you the $118 bus fare. First class, right behind the driver. Come on! Come on all the way over to the dark side. You can stay in my hot tub until you get back on your feet.

You're crazy and you don't care about anyone's feelings but your own. You belong in Hollywood! You're a reality show waiting to happen! Plus, there's a lot of eligible bachelors here. Pat O'Brien's available. I can introduce you. Plus, I've got some stuff that you can smoke that might alleviate some of that pressure behind your eyeballs.

And one more thing. Don't worry about that fiance of yours. Believe me, by the time I'm finished with you, he won't want you back."

Karen on 05.15.05 @ 07:06 AM CST [link] [ | ]

We're Off To See The Wizard...

Courtesy of US News Wire:

”Profile America -- Sunday, May 15. More than three generations of Americans have been entranced with the enduring story of The Wizard of Oz, made famous by the classic movie of 1939.

The movie told the story of a book written by I. Frank Baum, born on this day in 1856 near Syracuse, N.Y. Baum was a sickly child and compensated for his weak heart by making up imaginary places and playmates. He wrote The Wonderful Wizard of Oz in 1900, and published 13 sequels to the book about Dorothy and her companions.

He died without knowing the lasting impact of his imagination. The Wonderful Wizard of Oz is still in print after 105 years and forms part of the nearly $4 billion worth of children's books sold each year in the U.S.”

Karen on 05.15.05 @ 06:59 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Thought for the Day:

I judge from your letter that in Venezuela you are teased badly if you are a professor and say you don't know or are not sure. I am glad that I am not so teased because I am sure of nothing, and find myself having to say "I don't know" very often. After all, I was born not knowing and have only had a little time to change that here and there. It is fun to find things you thought you knew, and then to discover you didn't really understand it after all.
--Richard Feynman, Letter to Armando Garcia J, December 11 1985

Len on 05.14.05 @ 06:05 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Wheelchair Stories...

Before I give away the punchline of the following article from the Kane County Chronicle by Kristen Turner, here’s a wheelchair story which takes me way-way back to my first year of college at SIU in downstate Illinois.

It was back in good ole’ 1974 when I attended a semester there (hated the place and the school and left for better educational opportunites elsewhere.)

The campus of SIU was very accessible and made to be suitable for the wheelchair students. In fact, my dorm room was one of the ones set up with special accessories just for the disabled – the “best” being the pull-down-seat in the shower. I often swore that “if” I ever built my own home, I was going to add a pull-down-shower seat. It was heavenly!!

Any way, one evening, returning around Midnight from a Saturday night out at the local watering-holes in the downtown SIU area, I (and my friends) reached the quadrangle center area between the campus buildings. In the dark, semi-lighting, I could see two people in wheelchairs ahead -- arms stretched out, hands clasped.

I remember thinking, “Oh, how nice…it’s a couple of sweethearts in wheelchairs…and they’re holding hands.”

As I got closer, I realized it was two guys (one was a severely disabled man who needed an electrically driven motorized wheel chair) and they weren’t holding hands in any loving manner, but more grappling as the one man (in his regular wheelchair) was attempting to pull the broken-powerless (and monstrously heavy) immovable electric wheelchair of the other man across the campus.

Both men, despite their disabilities were not, so it seemed, sooo disabled that it prevented them from hoisting a few toooo many beers…and they were Drunk as Skunks.

In their stupor, they finally saw us approaching and started to shout out. “Help, Help.”

Battling fumes of their inebriation, which got worse the closer we got, we came to their aid and offered our help. It would have been next to almost impossible for the one man, in his own wheelchair to have ever had the strength to pull that motorized-dead-as-a-door-nail wheelchair across the campus. And doubly impossible in the stultified, drunken state they were in to have ever gotten home that night.

So, lending a hand, we pushed them up the incline of sidewalks back to their rooms. And thankful they were that they didn’t have to sleep outside in the open air in the quadrangle all night, or be found out by the campus security police the next morning.

Oh...the memories of at least one Good Deed to help a few wheelchair bound folks. [LOL] So, here’s the one from the Chronicle:Drunken wheelchair riding?:
”A Hampshire man trying to drive his motorized wheelchair to a grocery store spent a night in jail this week when police charged him with drunken driving.

But Huntley police voided the ticket the next morning after realizing DUI laws do not apply to people in wheelchairs.

On Wednesday evening, some drivers on Route 47 called police about a man riding alongside the road, south of the tollway, falling out of his wheelchair.

"Some people said he had completely fallen out of his wheelchair and was falling into the highway," Huntley police Acting Chief John Ciombor said.

Newman told officers he was trying to get to the Jewel grocery store in Huntley to buy liquor. He had driven his wheelchair from his home on Reinking Road in Hampshire, police said.
"How he got that far, I don't know," Ciombor said.

The distance is about 7 miles.

Ciombor said Newman apparently was "highly intoxicated" as he drove his wheelchair along Route 47.
Huntley police still have Newman's wheelchair, and they say they'll keep it until Newman or someone he knows picks it up. Newman can walk, with difficulty, without the wheelchair, Ciombor said.…”

Karen on 05.14.05 @ 08:24 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Teddy Bear Musings...

Andrew Sullivan (Daily Dish) has posted several Teddy Bear commentaries and e-mails that are * interesting* (to say the least - but not for the prudish or faint of heart on "body issues").

”Are you straight guys as irritated as I am by the metrosexual craze? Please please please don't remove a single hair from your body. Ignore Queer Eye. We homos aren't all crazed, plucked product queens. Here's a visual, animated manifesto for the anti-feminization movement. Good for Levi's for making it.”

And there is Andrew’s friend, Oliver, who posts his Teddy Bear of the Week pictures and stories. (Tho’ I won’t post his URL since he complains he’s gotten enough traffic and “weirdos” visiting his site. But this stuff is out there to be found for the interested net-surfers- to be sure.)

And from a heterosexual woman’s point of view, Andrew posts this piece. Somewhat "over the top" in her *descriptive* use of language - but worth a read. (Tho’ again – not if yer a prude on these topics.)

I do take exception to one of her comments -- a very peculiar description of getting “razor burn” from a body part I’ve NEVER seen having "hair to be removed" -EVER!

Click on the “more” button to read a few further comments he posted on this.

Karen on 05.14.05 @ 06:35 AM CST [more..] [ | ]

0% Down...

Matt Miller has written this Howler of a guest editorial for the NY Times: Start a War, No Money Down!

”[Infomercial director: " 'The Republican Guide to Wartime Tax Cuts' ... Take One ... Action!"]

ANNOUNCER: In the old days, war profiteering was a grueling round-the-clock job. You actually had to make something, like planes or guns, and then overcharge the government obscenely. Now, thanks to the Republicans, countless Americans are becoming "war profiteers" in their spare time - and you can, too. Riches once thought to be the exclusive preserve of a few unsavory arms merchants have been made available to thousands of successful Americans, many of whom pull in the cash literally as they sleep!

What's their secret? With "The Republican Guide to Wartime Tax Cuts," you can find out what's in the playbook of Republican professionals. You'll get the war you want without laying out a dime, even as you benefit from huge tax cuts to boot (note: certain income thresholds apply).
And here's the kicker: you can slip the bill for all of this - both the war and your tax cut - to unsuspecting children!

I know what you're thinking: "I don't have the self-confidence or social skills to reach for such dreams." But here's the truth: neither did Republicans a few years ago. Yet just this week they came through again. On Wednesday, George Bush signed into law an additional $82 billion for Iraq, which brings the amount America has spent to oust Saddam Hussein and occupy the country close to $300 billion.

Now, whatever you thought about Saddam, the best news is this: we got this war for no money down and zero payments for 10 years. That's right: every penny spent on this war has been added to the deficit. And this latest $82 billion sailed through without a hitch, with no pesky questions as to whether we should actually pay for our own wars today….”

Karen on 05.14.05 @ 05:21 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Trying to Milk it for all it's Worth...

The Bolton nomination is not the only “over reaching” coming from the While House and GOP this season. Andrew Ferguson has written this piece for The Weekly Standard: Operation Overreach: The downside of big-government conservatism..

”Laura Bush delivered a lot of jokes during her now-famous stand-up routine at the White House Correspondents' Dinner, but one of them touched a real sore spot. Not the joke about milking the horse. This one: "I said to him the other day, 'George, if you really want to end tyranny in the world, you're going to have to stay up later.'" When the joke was replayed over and over again on TV, a cry rose up from every corner of this sweet and verdant land: "No, no, George, don't stay up later! You just go on to bed! You're doing too much already! Really!"

Or maybe that was just me. In any case, Mrs. Bush's joke points to something important in our present political moment, four very busy months into her husband's very busy second term. It even sheds light on those discouraging poll numbers that have lately troubled all the president's men and his publicists in the press. The president himself, of course, pays no attention to polls.

And a good thing, too, because Bush's job approval ratings are now at the lowest point of his time in office-down to 47 percent in the latest Washington Post poll, 48 percent in USA Today's. In the Post poll, the number of people who "strongly approve" of his job performance, which for most of the last four years has roughly matched the percentage of people who "strongly disapprove," has fallen to 25 percent, while the strong disapprovers have surged to 38 percent.

A solid majority, 56 percent, approve of Bush's handling of the "U.S. campaign against terrorism." From there, the numbers head south. Only 42 percent approve the way Bush has conducted the Iraq war, and 54 percent now say they believe the war should never have been fought. Forty percent approve his handling of the economy. With gas prices high, approval of Bush's energy policy is low: 35 percent. Even lower, though, is the percentage approving Bush's signature domestic initiative: 31 percent approve, and 64 percent disapprove, of the president's handling of Social Security.

These gloomy data follow the Terri Schiavo affair, when very large majorities--up to 70 percent in some polls--expressed their distaste for the effort by Bush and congressional Republicans to encourage federal courts to take up her case.

Scanning the poll numbers, Dean David Broder of the Washington Post announced that Bush is the victim of "overreach." John Podhoretz, in the New York Post, came up with a better tag and got closer to the nub. The public, he wrote, may be suffering from "Issue Fatigue"--an overload of public policy proposals and the politicking that goes with them. "While [Bush] refused to allow himself to rest after the 2004 election," Podhoretz wrote, "the American people seem to have desperately wanted a break." Both Podhoretz and the Dean are on to something, but what if they don't go far enough? Bush's problem may be more elemental. Overreach, and the resulting fatigue of the public, may be the inevitable consequences of the way Bush approaches his job--it might, in other words, be built into his governing philosophy

Conservative reform, in fact, turns out to be a lot like liberal reform. Each involves a whirlwind of government activity. Each is a formula for politics without end--splendid indeed for politicians and government employees, but a bit tiring for the rest of us. Who can blame the public for beginning to show its weariness? The fatigue came to a head in the Schiavo case, and the president's poll numbers have yet to recover.


A lack of modesty and self-restraint is one excellent reason Americans grew to despise liberals in the first place. The high-water mark of American liberalism came in 1993 and 1994, when President Clinton and his wife, under the guise of "health care reform," decided they would assume control of one-seventh of the nation's economy in order to make it more rational and fair. Voters responded by handing the federal legislature to the Republican party. History may record that what offended them wasn't liberalism but busybodyism--the endless, frenetic search by elected officials for ever-new ways to make the country more fabulous. Bush and his Republicans are close to proving that busybodyism can become a creature of the right as well as the left.

And the public seems not to like it, whichever direction it comes from. Maybe, under certain circumstances, what people really do want--pace Laura Bush--is a president who goes to bed early and wakes up late. Maybe they wouldn't mind a president who spent a lot more time on his ranch, trying to milk the horses instead of us."

Karen on 05.14.05 @ 05:10 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Bush Runs Roughshod...Again...

More proof that our sheep of a flock of Senators can’t even stand up to face down yet another Bush “Shove-My-Worst-Pick-Of-The-Possible-Nomination-Candidates-Down-Your-Throat” running roughshod over the best interests of the country in the up coming full vote on John Bolton to represent the USA at the United Nation.

Dana Milbank (Washington Post) has written this piece: A Defection on the GOP Side concerning the latest about-face to contest this nomination from the White House - put forth (this time) from the GOP side:

”…Lugar, as shepherd of Bolton's nomination, was scarcely more helpful to the cause than Voinovich. The chairman's rap sheet said Bolton made "incorrect assumptions about the behavior and motivation of subordinates," failed "to use proper managerial channels" and "unnecessarily personalized internal disputes." On the positive side, Lugar continued, "there is no evidence that he has broken laws or engaged in serious ethical misconduct."

It was, perhaps, not the ideal slogan for confirmation: Bolton -- not a criminal. Only four days earlier, Lugar predicted that Bolton would be endorsed by the committee on a party-line vote. Yesterday, he was reduced to urging colleagues not to "reject Secretary Bolton without even granting him a vote on the Senate floor."

The difference, of course, was Voinovich, who challenged Bush and GOP leaders in a way few of his colleagues have dared. "What message are we sending to the world community?" he asked about Bolton. Though he said that "all things being equal" he would support a presidential nominee, "all things are not equal." Responding to a main White House argument, he added: "To those who say a vote against John Bolton is against reform of the U.N., I say, 'Nonsense.' " Lugar held a thin smile while Voinovich talked. Sen. Lincoln Chafee (R-R.I.), who took a political risk by backing Bolton, stared at his water glass and looked as if he were about to cry. Bolton defender Norm Coleman (R-Minn.) fidgeted in his chair; Sen. George Allen (R-Va.), another Bolton fan, smirked….”

All that remains now is the full "party loyalty" vote and Bolton's confirmation is a Shoe-In. Yet another Bush Victory in the making. Baaaaaa. Baaaaa. (or so say the little Senators.)

Karen on 05.14.05 @ 04:56 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Another one bites...

I tend not to notice things like Friday the 13th, except of course when Baaaad stuff seems to happen ALL day, going from worse to awful...and then there it was - Another Friday the 13th for the books.

But, to cheer me up (if possible) was BSTommy and his "lists" of funny things. So go give him a read - if ya haven't already - particularly his "Lists of Things I Do That Piss Me Off."

We have lots of these "things" that happen at my house too!! (Excepting - I'm not the only one doing them around here. - LOL -) But LIFE's little moments, we all have them, and we all try to deal as best we can.

Karen on 05.14.05 @ 04:40 AM CST [link] [ | ]

And when's the last time you saw a Philosophy Professor as action hero?

From Query Letters We Love:

"Four Jesuit Priests kidnap a Columbia Philosophy Professor and a battle for a two thousand year-old scroll with a prophecy for mankind ensues.

Genre: Action / Thriller / Adventure

If someone gave you a manuscript and told you it would change your life . . . would you read it? What if it meant your life would be in grave danger? A two thousand year-old scroll has been discovered in southern Israel with a mysterious prophecy for Mankind. Those who read its translation gain Wisdom, but they pay the ultimate price . . . their lives. A disillusioned Philosophy Professor at Columbia University is estranged from his wife, drinking heavily and jaded from a lifetime of seeking answers to unanswerable questions. When he receives the scroll's translation from his boyhood friend, an archaelolgist, it arrives with a desperate plea for help. Before he has time to read it, members of a secret Jesuit Order known as The Knights Protectors arrive in Manhattan and kidnap him to protect him from the evil men out to harm him. Soon David learns that everyone who reads the scroll ends up dead. Who wrote the scroll? And what is its Prophecy?"

Len on 05.13.05 @ 12:31 PM CST [link] [ | ]


Over at Why Now?, I couldn't resist goosing Bryan for a small typo, when in this post (which is a good one, go read it), he refers to the Air Force's newest fighter, the F-22 Raptor, as the "F-22 Rapture". (Bryan may have corrected it by the time you read this, if you see "Raptor" in the text, but I swear he did have "Rapture" there when I read it; though now the thought strikes me that he might well be making a subtle little joke that went "zing"--right over my head. If that's what you meant, Bryan, forgive me; unfortunately I'm developing a tolerance to caffeine these days.)

However, this morning I'd also been traipsing round recent posts by members of the Rocky Top Brigade. If C.E. Petro's postings on how the Air Force Academy and the Air Force Chaplain's Corps is dominated by evangelical Christians are accurate, "F-22 Rapture" may not be mistaken, but rather prophetic.

Len on 05.13.05 @ 12:26 PM CST [link] [ | ]

More on the Real Bill Maher…

The Chicago tribune has a couple of articles on one of my favorite shows - Real Time with Bill Maher (HBO).

This first one is from Terry Armour (Chicago Tribune)
Maher likes keeping it real

”Does Bill Maher consider himself one of the most powerful men in politics?

"I don't know about that," Maher told the Tribune. "But I think we do a good job of entertaining people, and the events of the day give us a lot of material to work with."

Maher was talking about his weekly political confab, HBO's "Real Time," which ends its third season Friday--it returns to the air in August….”

And this update on the show By Lynn Elber (Associated Press television writer) Is Maher mellow -- or being polite?:
”It's an unlikely suspicion, but a kinder, gentler Bill Maher seems to be emerging on television.

On a recent episode of HBO's "Real Time With Bill Maher," he made sure conservatives were as well-represented in the audience as on the panel.

These days, Maher also prides himself on hosting a talk show as opposed to a shouting show, a dominant TV genre that he admits included his old ABC program "Politically Incorrect."

Asked if he's softening even as so many others in a polarized America become more brittle and intractable, Maher offers a quick reply: No….”

Well, if you read my unofficial transcript from last week’s show, you’ll see he’s been in “rare form” and TOOO FUNNY. Looking forward to his season closer this tonight. Plus he’s coming to the area this September and I’m going to try to get tickets for his performance.

Karen on 05.13.05 @ 12:20 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Working With What You've Got...

If you’re at all wondering “why is Karen too busy to post” as often these past days. Well, the long story short is found in these three articles about the proposed Jail site and neighborhood protest activities as the “Hot Topics” here in Dennis Hastert Corner. There was a “Special Meeting” of the Harvest Hills Homeowners Association on Wednesday to cover more resident concerns and questions - Hope fades for residents fighting county jail site by Mark Foster (Daily Herald Correspondent):

”County board member Jim Mitchell on Wednesday told residents from the Harvest Hills subdivision in St. Charles that they have little hope of stopping plans for a new jail at the Kane County Judicial Center campus.

The residents want the jail built elsewhere, arguing that such a facility near their neighborhood would create unacceptable risks for them and especially their children.

“The only way the jail is going to have a new site is a vote by the county board,” said Mitchell, a Republican from North Aurora. “There’s not a real chance it will change. The more money that is invested in the plan, the less likely it will be changed.”

The county board last year voted to build a 600- to 700-bed jail next to the judicial center at Route 38 and Peck Road.

The neighbors said the jail should be located farther west in a rural area.

“Let’s move this jail,” resident Erika Signorella told Mitchell. “It should not be here next to our homes.”
Mitchell is the chairman of the county board’s judiciary and public safety committee and a member of the jail project steering committee. He urged residents to cooperate with the county through a citizen advisory panel to help design the exterior of the jail building and help determine the policy for how inmates are released.

“I truly believe that if this facility is done right and, with your input, the effect on you will be minimal,” Mitchell said, acknowledging that the jail would serve to increase vehicle traffic in the area.

Mitchell said the aging, crowded jail on Fabyan Parkway in Geneva is inefficient, and that a new jail will ultimately save money for the taxpayers….”

For more on this "exciting" (to be sure) development here in the Windy Outback, click on the "more button.

Karen on 05.13.05 @ 12:01 PM CST [more..] [ | ]

From the "News I really didn't need to know department"....

and yes, I know I'm a day behind on this:

Between last night's tawdry ABC Prime Time Live special chronicling Michael Jackson's "special friendships" with a series of young boys over the years (including former child stars Corey Feldman and Macaulay Culkin); the far more thoughtful documentary Michael Jackson's Secret Childhood, airing throughout the month on VH1; and today's release of 1,903 pages of testimony from last year's grand jury proceedings on the Smoking Gun Web site, we're getting into a weird cultural area, Jackson-wise. Not that our relationship to the pop star was ever what you'd call wholesome, but I, for one, never thought I'd be sipping my morning coffee while reading about Michael Jackson's striped penis. According to a detective who investigated the 1993 molestation case that Jackson settled out of court, the singer's private parts are easily identifiable because of the "brown circles," a result of twice-weekly skin bleaching, that make his world-famous wing-wang resemble a "barber's pole."
I don't have anything to say; I'm sort of captivated with the rhythm of muttering "Jackson's johnson..." to myself a number of times fast.

Len on 05.13.05 @ 10:54 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Memphis News: The Week In Review

Short version today, since Firefox crashed and took over an hour's work along with it. Backup, people, backup!!!!

The Usual Disclaimers: If you don't like registering at the CA website, use BugMeNot. If the flash applets at the site bug you, use FlashBlock

The big thing in Memphis this weekend: The Memphis in May World Championship Barbecue Contest, a/k/a "The Super Bowl of Swine". Normally, you have to know someone for an entree; this year features a behind the scenes "Cooker Caravan" tour as well, and you don't need to know anyone to get in on that.

May 6: The FedEx Forum and Memphis Grizzlies appear to be strangling the Pyramid Arena; the Memphis City Council contemplates shuttering or demolishing the local landmark. As a St. Louisan in exile, I think that demolishing the Pyramid would be a pity; every river city needs some distinctive structure on its riverfront (you can tell I grew up with that big stainless steel arch in my "front yard", as it were....). Besides, if it wasn't there, we'd have never gotten this observation from a comedian of some repute:

It's so nice you built that Pyramid. It's nice to have a coloseum you can see from fuckin' Uranus.
--Robin Williams [concert in Memphis, 2002 North American Tour]
Local pilot dies in crash at DeWitt Spain Airport (a local general aviation facility). He was flying a homebuilt plane at the time.

May 7: Tennessee Governor Phil "The Democrat that Republicans love" Bredeson has expressed concern over a number of legislatively approved grants which have gone to organizations which are exempt from state auditing or oversight. Not surpisingly, some of these grants have gone to organizations with ties to Memphis area State Senator John Ford. Later in the week, Tennessee state election finance watchdogs will fine Ford $10,000 for using over $15,000 of campaign funds to pay for his daughter's wedding reception. Ford admitted the use of campaign funds in a sworn written statement, but justified his conduct on the grounds that roughly 1/3 of the guests at the reception were his constituents, and that other elected officials had used campaign funds in similar ways to entertain constituents.

May 8: You'd think there's practically nothing going on to amuse a body in Memphis these days.... A substantial crowd (the CA article estimated it as "thousands") gathered in the early morning Sunday to watch the implosion of two buildings in the old Baptist Hospital downtown complex. The buildings were demolished to make room for a new building for the University of Tennessee College of Pharmacy, and to provide space for the University of Tennessee-Baptist Health System Biotech Research Park.

May 9: West Memphis, Arkansas, and local arts organizations, are making a push to memorialize West Memphis's rich musical legacy. Apparently, many noteworthy musicians (including such luminaries as B.B. King and Elvis) played West Memphis on their way to stardom.

May 10: In a surprise move, the official misconduct trial of former Shelby County Juvenile Court Clerk Shep Willbun is abruptly ended with the jury panel being dismissed. Speculation is that the case will be "settled" favorably to the defendant.

Opponents of privatizing the Shelby County Correctional System have brought their concerns before the Shelby County Commission.

May 11: The American Bar Association may be ready to lower the boom on the Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law at the University of Memphis. Apparently, the condition of physical facilities at the school are so abysmal that the ABA is warning the University and the law school that its ABA accreditation may be in jeopardy. Loss of ABA accreditation would make it extremely difficult for graduates of the school to seek admission to the bar. University and law school officials will attend a hearing in Omaha on June 24 to present potential solutions to the ABA.

In a bizzare turn of events, it appears that the case of the disappearance of Memphis area exotic dancer Corie Duckett (a/k/a "Ivy", the name she used dancing at The Pony, a local "gentlemen's club") may be coming to a tragic end. Memphis area exotic dancer Melissa Ferris (a co-worker of Duckett's at The Gold Club, another area gentlemen's club) was stopped driving a car on I-10 in Florida in which her boyfriend Jeffery Opp was a passenger. Ferris pulled a gun, pointed it to Opp's head, and led Florida police on a chase which ended in I-95, where Ferris shot and killed Opp before surrendering to officers on the scene. Ferris apparently told Florida investigators that she and Opp were "wanted for murder in Memphis", and gave the investigators information as to where she and Opp had dumped Duckett's body in northern Mississippi. A search for Duckett's remains based on Ferris's information has come up empty handed, however; Memphis area police are still searching.

May 13: "Sniper? What sniper?" Memphis police now doubt that there ever was a Sam Cooper Boulevard sniper. Back in August to October of last year, motorists driving on Sam Cooper reported some mysterious incidents of car windows shattering. Some evidence suggests that some shots were fired, but only three bullets were recovered, and none of them match each other or any of the 40 or so bullets ("mostly rusted") found in the area during intensive investigations in the area last year. Interest in the incidents is renewed after a couple drivers on I-40 and I-240 have reported their car windows mysteriously shattering recently as well.

The Shelby County Schools Superintendent gave his annual "State of the System" address; he reports that the school system is meeting its goals.

Len on 05.13.05 @ 08:43 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Friday's Theme for May

I’m going to have to work really HARD today to reach this Friday goal of my inspirational theme for the Month for May.

It’s going to be a “taking care of business” Friday, and hasn’t even yet begun. But…hoping for the best - Here it is:

The Majesty of the Merry Month Means More Mystical Motivation.

Karen on 05.13.05 @ 06:57 AM CST [link] [ | ]

From the "What Not To Wear" Files...

Shirt messaging takes on a religious tone by Clayton Collins (Christrian Science Monitor):

”If you think Jesus is in you, you might want him on you. And if wearing one of those WWJD - "What would Jesus do?" - bracelets popularized in the 1990s seems too quietly introspective, then you just might want to go bold.

In-your-face bold.

That's the hope of T-shirt makers and retailers pushing edgier - some say offensive - slogans such as "My God can kick your God's butt."

Observers call the shirts part of a move to tap into youth culture and ride what many see as a society increasingly warm to Christian conservatism.

In chasing brand-aware youths, some shirt makers simply bend popular slogans - Abreadcrumb & Fish, G.A.P (for God Answers Prayers), Got Jesus?

Others take a more graphic approach.

"Even before there was a movie called 'The Passion (of the Christ),' we had a category called The Passion," said Lorri Carter, product-development director at Kerusso, a maker of religious apparel whose online ads include the tagline: "You have the faith. Get the gear."

One Kerusso shirt inscribed with "Rebel with a cause" depicts Jesus on the cross. "That graphic nature is just to show you how profound (Jesus') gift was," she said.

Apparel comprises only about 2 percent of store-based Christian retail's $4 billion in annual sales, said Nancy Guthrie, a spokeswoman for CBA International, the industry's trade association. But that doesn't include direct online sales from shirt-printers of all sizes - or sales at festivals and concerts.

Some youths - like some celebrities - might wear Christian garb just to be ironic. "It's not for us to judge the wearers' hearts," said Randy Johnson, general manager of Living Epistles, a major Christian apparel manufacturer, "whether it's mocking or heartfelt belief."

Sorry, Jesus, but these kinds of things will NOT be part of my Spring wardrobe. (Summer, Fall or Winter either!!)

Karen on 05.13.05 @ 06:51 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Thought for the Day:

It takes enormous self-deception to believe that John Bolton is truly qualified—much less the "best man"—for this job. He has long held the United Nations in contempt. He has disparaged the legitimacy of international law (the basis for enforcing U.N. resolutions). As an undersecretary of state in Bush's first term, he repeatedly sought the removal of intelligence analysts who dared to disagree with him. He was such a loose cannon that Richard Armitage, deputy secretary of state, forbade him to say anything in public without prior approval. A half-dozen officials, most of them Republicans who served in this administration, say that Bolton would make—in the words of Colin Powell's chief of staff—"an abysmal ambassador."

Voinovich said today that Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice assured him that Bolton would be firmly supervised in his new job. Voinovich wondered, "Why in the world would you want to send somebody up to the U.N. that has to be supervised?"
--Fred Kaplan

Len on 05.13.05 @ 06:14 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Happy Birthday!

My fellow St. Louis native Lawrence Peter Berra turns 80 today.

Name doesn't ring a bell? You know him better as "Yogi".

Cardinals fans like to give well deserved crap to Cubs fans for the famous trade that sent Ernie Broglio, Bobby Shantz, and Doug Clemens to the Cubs in return for one Lou Brock (actually, the Cards also got Jack Spring and Paul Toth in that trade as well, but whenever you say "Jack Spring" or "Paul Toth" to any but the most obsessed of baseball fans, the most likely response is "who?"). However back in 1943 the Cardinals made offers to two amateur catchers, both of whom were native St. Louisans from the Italian enclave known and loved in St. Louis as "The Hill". The Cards offered one a signing bonus, while they offered the other one a straight contract with no signing bonus. The one who got the bonus was Joe Garagiola. Yogi, who was the one who didn't get a signing bonus, was so miffed by the Cardinals' snub that he signed with the New York Yankees. Now, one of those catchers is in the Hall of Fame, and the other one isn't. Hint: the Hall of Famer isn't Joe.

It's not one of the high points in the history of Cardinals player development.

Yogi is, of course, also known for his wonderful facility with the English language, which has resulted in some of the most memorable quotes known to baseball, or to collectors of quotations. The only trouble for the collector of "Yogiisms", as they are known, is that, as observed by The Master Himself:

I never said most of the things I said.
Basically, Yogi's way of expressing himself, while characteristic and amusing, was also very easily imitated, and it's an open secret that many sportswriters weren't beyond making up a few Yogiisms when they wanted to spice up their stories. So you have to take any listing of Yogi Berra quotes with a pretty large grain of salt; it's never clear which ones are legitimate Yogiisms and which are fabricated.

A few of my favorite Yogiisms (and I'm not necessarily vouching for their authenticity, but all of these have been credited to Yogi at some time):
A nickel ain't worth a dime anymore.

Always go to other people's funerals, otherwise they won't come to yours.

Baseball is ninety percent mental and the other half is physical.

I always thought that record would stand until it was broken.

Half the lies they tell about me aren't true.

He hits from both sides of the plate. He's amphibious.

I just want to thank everyone who made this day necessary.
[At "Yogi Berra Appreciation Day" at Sportsman's Park in St. Louis, 1947]

I'm not going to buy my kids an encyclopedia. Let them walk to school like I did.

If people don't want to come out to the ball park, nobody's gonna stop 'em. [
In a somewhat similar vein, Yogi once gave a capsule review of a New York restaurant: "Nobody goes there anymore; it's too crowded."]

We have deep depth.

You wouldn't have won if we'd beaten you.
And, of course, I can't forget the one that I'm sure was manufactured specifically for the ad that runs when AFLAC sponsors a MLB game:
And they pay you cash, which is just as good as money.
I think it says something about the regard that baseball fans have for Yogi, that this commercial is still running in its the third straight baseball season.

Len on 05.12.05 @ 12:37 PM CST [more..] [ | ]

I was not remembering correctly....

Abby's defending her dissertation today (actually, in about 20 minutes or so), not yesterday as I mistakenly reported (and that she hasn't dropped by and corrected me on that shows that she's mightly involved in the last minute preparations for same).

Send her good vibes, keep your fingers crossed, pray, or do whatever it is you do when your friends are in such a situation. And with luck, we'll be addressing "Dr. Abby" come May 25th.

Len on 05.12.05 @ 10:10 AM CST [link] [ | ]

The 2005 MLB All-Money Team

i.e., the highest paid player in each position in MLB:

Position     Player           Team    Salary
1B Jeff Bagwell HOU $18,000,000
2B Alfonso Soriano TEX $ 7,500,000
3B Alex Rodriguez NYY $25,705,115
SS Derek Jeter NYY $19,600,000
LF Barry Bonds SFG $22,000,000
CF Andruw Jones ATL $13,000,000
RF Sammy Sosa BAL $17,875,000
C Mike Piazza NYM $16,071,429
DH Jason Giambi NYY $13,428,571
RHP Mike Mussina NYY $19,000,000
LHP Randy Johnson NYY $15,419,815
RP Mariano Rivera NYY $10,500,000
Average $16,508,327.50

No big surprises, eh? 6 of the 12 players on this list are New York Yankees. Actually, one surprise; from what I read I don't know that Jason Giambi should be carried on this list as a DH, from what I understand he ain't hitting (designatedly or otherwise) worth shit lately (though list was probably drawn up before or early this season)--in fact, he's hitting so poorly that the Yankees are trying with might and main to convince Giambi that he should accept an assignment to the minor leagues (which Giambi can veto, being senior enough in years of major league service time)...

From a listing of "all-money" teams from 1985 to 2005.

Len on 05.12.05 @ 09:51 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Today's Time Capsule....

From a day when one could be an honorable, sane Republican:

Should any political party attempt to abolish social security, unemployment insurance, and eliminate labor laws and farm programs, you would not hear of that party again in our political history. There is a tiny splinter group, of course, that believes you can do these things. Among them are a few other Texas oil millionaires, and an occasional politician or business man from other areas. Their number is negligible and they are stupid.
--President Dwight D. Eisenhower, 11/8/54
Credit: dKos ultimately, via one of SKBubba's readers

Len on 05.12.05 @ 09:39 AM CST [link] [ | ]

I know, a blog's gotta find its niche...

but one can argue that this is going a bit too far:

Plunk Biggio is a blog that is tracking Craig Biggio's progress against the coveted title of "Most-Plunked Batter Ever." This is a really fun site, and one of the best uses of a blog I have seen. The author has put in a lot of great facts, such as Biggio's HBP by day of the week, or the fact that the Braves have plunked Biggio less than any other NL team.

Len on 05.12.05 @ 09:15 AM CST [link] [ | ]

My nomination for Catchphrase of the Year....

In a post about Cardinals pitcher Jeff Suppan, Dan wrote "when Suppan's off, his occasional penchant for walking people and his lack of impressive stuff combine to make him the most boring pitcher since somebody put pants on the Kool-Aid Man".

My not-quite-new-year's resolution is to work the phrase "... since somebody put pants on the Kool-Aid Man" into every temporal reference I can make it fit.

And if you follow the link, you'll see that indeed, some demented genius did put pants (ok, more like Bermuda shorts or something in that vein) on the Kool-Aid Man. Actually, he seems to have gotten a whole wardrobe; on the homepage there, for instance, he's taken to wearing a natty tropical themed shirt (open, the better to expose his manly [?] chest), too. Makes you wonder; was the religious right kvetching about K-A M's earlier nudity, and threatening to banish Kool-Aid from their homes (just like the Finns supposedly banned Donald Duck because he never wore pants (if you're too lazy or too captivated by my writing to follow the link, the quick story: that's a legend; the Finns never banned Donald Duck))?

Len on 05.12.05 @ 09:02 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Thought for the Day:

The attractions of Millennium Park, which also include a strip of indoor and outdoor eateries facing a skating rink, are experienced individually, but—like most theme parks—they don't mesh into a coherent whole. That's a shame, but it may be inevitable, given that this is an attempt to appeal to a wide variety of tastes and sensibilities. It's also a shame that Millennium Park has not learned an important lesson from the Magic Kingdom. The presence of so many security personnel, in bright orange vests, is much too obtrusive. They wander suspiciously around like museum guards (or tool around on Segways). It is as if, having created this public space, the authorities don't quite trust us to behave. There are far too many signs, too—explaining, naming, directing, prohibiting. Corporate and private sponsorship paid for almost half the cost of the park, as we are ceaselessly reminded. But the most poignant of the signs are the ones that warn, "No Loitering." As if there was any other reason to go to a park.
--Witold Rybczynski, on Chicago's Millenium Park

Len on 05.12.05 @ 07:32 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Myths in the Making

This Chicago Tribune editorial has some interesting points about “myth making” or that *revisionist history* being crafted in Iraq: Myths of liberation critical to democracies: The question for Iraqis today is whether a modern myth can be constructed as a foundation for an entirely new approach to governance by Philip R. O'Connor.

”Myths have gotten a bad name. These days calling something a myth suggests an inherent untruth that is believed nonetheless.

But truth be told, myths translate complex events and human relationships into dramatic stories that can hold our interest and that we can get our arms around. By their very nature, myths will contain embellishments and even facts made from whole cloth. All through recorded history, and certainly before, mankind has relied on myths--for good and ill.

And it is on precisely this point that President Bush and some of his critics differ so deeply.

The oldest recorded epic mythical poem is about an actual historical figure, King Gilgamesh, from nearly 5,000 years ago in what is now Iraq. The question for Iraqis today is whether a modern myth can be constructed as a foundation for an entirely new approach to governance in that part of the world.

Over time, President Bush has evolved in his thinking in the direction of the centrality of the need the Iraqi people will have for laying claim to having freed themselves.

Those critics who focus on the inevitable errors and shortcomings in wartime decision-making or who were so skeptical of the Iraqi elections also often complain of insufficient Iraqi demonstrations of gratitude. They fail to understand that the flip side of gratitude is resentment that, in the long run, becomes pernicious.

No man wants to owe his freedom to another or not to have earned his most precious possession. What honor is there in having relied on outsiders to do that which you may be ashamed of having been unable to do yourself?

President Bush understands this more fully than do his more nuanced critics. We best succeed in living out our own liberation myth when we step toward the background at the right time to allow others to have theirs.”

[Philip R. O'Connor is in the energy business in Chicago and helped to organize the Chicago-area voting in the Jan. 30 Iraqi elections.]

GW is terribly convinced of his ability to “create reality” and that there is no *objective measure* of the facts…but that he will “dictate the reality” for our Nation (so he’s said). So, why not try it for the Iraqi “self-liberation” myth – if it will really help. Can't hurt.

Karen on 05.12.05 @ 05:29 AM CST [link] [ | ]

A Bobby Rush story...

From the "Karen Files", it's Story Time again...

I came across this one: Lax Ethics Enforcement Created Culture of Carelessness in House by Norman J. Ornstein (AEI) and almost passed it over, except it contains a reference to my favorite Chicago Alderman, Bobby Rush.

Ornstein writes:

”A story on Illinois delegation travel in the Chicago Tribune over the weekend noted that Democratic Reps. Bobby Rush and Luis Gutierrez had not filed a single trip report to Congress since 2000, despite taking six and 25 trips respectively.

“You brought it to our attention,” Tasha Harris, a Rush spokeswoman, told the Tribune. “We didn’t know we had to file.”

That is a bit like failing to file tax returns for five years, then telling the IRS that you didn’t know you had to file. But it’s a situation that many lawmakers and aides now find themselves in. Even more typical, I suspect, is evidence of blatant disregard for the rules and standards set by the Committee on Standards of Official Conduct.

What is going on here? …”

Reminded me of my favorite Alderman Bobby Rush Story. So, click on the "more" button to read further.

Karen on 05.12.05 @ 04:01 AM CST [more..] [ | ]

Maybe Squirrels Know Something…

"Researchers from Harvard Medical School and the Harvard School of Public Health have examined the effect of eating nuts on cardiovascular health, reports the Harvard Men's Health Watch. "Their work shows that nuts really are healthy, especially for men at risk for heart disease," says Dr. Harvey B. Simon, editor.

Studies show that healthy men, and those who have already suffered a heart attack, can reduce cardiovascular risk by eating nuts regularly, reports the Harvard Men's Health Watch. Doctors theorize that

-- nuts may help lower cholesterol, partly by replacing less healthy foods in the diet;

-- nuts contain mono- and polyunsaturated fats known to benefit the heart;

-- the omega-3 fats found in walnuts may protect against irregular heart rhythms;

-- nuts are rich in arginine, a substance that may improve blood vessel function;

-- other nutrients in nuts (such as fiber and vitamin E) may also help lower cardiovascular risk.

Nuts are nutritional powerhouses, but high in calories. The Harvard Men's Health Watch cautions that if you add nuts to your diet, you'll want to cut back on something else. Substitute nuts for chips or cookies, and avoid nuts that are fried in oil or loaded with salt. As little as two ounces of nuts a week appears to help lower heart disease risk. Healthful choices include: almonds, Brazil nuts, cashews, filberts, peanuts, pistachios, walnuts.

By themselves, nuts seem to produce modest declines in cholesterol, but when they are combined with other healthful foods, the results can be spectacular. "Nuts may not be the key to cardiovascular health, but adding nuts to a balanced, healthful diet can take you one step away from heart disease," says Dr. Simon."

Courtesy of US News Wire.

Karen on 05.12.05 @ 03:20 AM CST [link] [ | ]

About -face...

The many possible faces of King Tut:

is reporting on a project where different forensic facial reconstructionists from Egypt, France and the USA were given a skull to work with – unaware (apparently) that it was of the boy-king, Tutankanmen.

Check out the link to see the variations each came up with as the Face of King Tut.

Karen on 05.12.05 @ 03:09 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Speaking of Pork Futures...

This NY Times editorial say a lot on the “Runaway Pork Budget” spending endemic to Congress for the past four years.

The Roads Are Paved With Pork:

"An immense pork-laden highway spending bill is trundling through Congress like some surreal demonstration vehicle for the nation's skewed values. The Senate is busy angling to balloon the plan beyond the $284 billion maximum approved by the House, prompting the Bush administration to threaten a veto and gruffly lecture lawmakers against resorting to "accounting gimmicks" that promise "to spend money that doesn't exist." But lawmakers, who have heard those veto threats before, are greedily ignoring lessons in fiscal prudence from a White House that rewrote the book on runaway tax cuts and deficit spending.

At a moment when the price of the nation's dependence on foreign oil has never been starker, the six-year bill contains an 80-20 spending formula that grossly favors the private automobile over public transit. It continues with a record 3,800 pet projects inserted by House members in their role as self-appointed masters of the transportation universe. Hundreds more are ready for ladling out in the Senate. And despite the deteriorating state of the nation's roads, Congress is not even spending its highway pork on highways. The bill is stuffed with graffiti-elimination plans, snowmobile trails, tourist sidewalks and trolleys, parking garages, and even a national Packard museum, presumably as a memorial to when gas guzzling began in earnest.

Many pork projects may have local value. But few would be ranked as priorities by state highway and transit professionals, who are the qualified experts on what's truly needed.

Lawmakers are hardly embarrassed by their trophy projects. The most successful earn affectionate nicknames like "Mr. Concrete" - that's Representative Don Young, the Alaska Republican, who as chairman of the Transportation Committee earmarked 39 projects worth $722 million for his state. Mr. Young is already famous for his "bridges to nowhere." One $200 million project would create a span almost the size of the Golden Gate Bridge for 50 residents of Gravina Island. That's a boondoggle of $4 million per capita. A project for another sparsely populated tract has a price tag of $2.3 billion. Meanwhile, about one in four existing bridges are badly in need of repair across the nation.

President Bush's veto threat is aimed at keeping the bill at $284 billion, but that's a pitiful target when it lets bridges to nowhere go forward at the expense of the common good."

Contrast this editorial with this one by John Fund for the Wall Street Journal about his ideas to "break the logjam on Social Security reform.": Personal Lock Boxes.

The operative idea being to control Congressional spending:

”....One way to do that would be to create a true "lockbox" that allows people to put their share of the surplus into their own personal account to help fund their retirement. But the account would be limited to no-risk, but marketable, Treasury bills. Every taxpayer who voluntarily chose to create a T-Bill personal account would, in effect, own the key to his own lockbox, containing a significant chunk of their future benefits. The surpluses would become real assets owned by citizens rather than government IOUs...."

Great idea - except in the very next paragraph, he basically recognizes the "unreality" of that budgetary restraint non-existent in Congress:

".…Everyone knows that if nothing is done Congress--regardless of which party controls it--will spend every penny of the Social Security surpluses that will flow into the Treasury until 2017, after which the cost of benefits going out will begin exceeding the revenue coming in. Those surpluses will not go into a true "trust fund" with real assets, but instead into those IOUs, which David Walker, head of the Governmental Accountability Office, says "give a very false sense of security about where we are and how much time we have" until insolvency….”

But given Congress’s continued penchant for increasing the deficit and spending money it can’t afford, and our No-Veto President “I never met a spending bill I haven’t liked- No matter how Pork laden it is” Bush....this is perhaps a great theory without any practice or practical back up to support it. As long as Congress refuses to rein itself in on endless Pork Projects at the expense of us all, this is an idea going nowhere.

Karen on 05.12.05 @ 03:01 AM CST [link] [ | ]

If I'm remembering correctly.....

Abby's defending her dissertation today. If not today, then it's tomorrow. Go wish her well. And remember that this month's Blogger's Bash is in her honor (in part). So be there or be square.

("Defending a dissertation" is a turn of phrase which always conjures up, in my mind, that Abby (or whatever Ph.D. candidate is being mentioned at the time) is in a dark alley, when she comes upon a typed manuscript cowering in the shadows, about to be molested by a few toughs. Of course, she then jumps into action, and with a few impressive martial arts moves renders the toughs unconscious (or maybe she just pulls a high powered firearm and blows them away. Depends on what kind of fantasy appeals to me at the time.))

Len on 05.11.05 @ 01:13 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Eric gets it....

the rest of you, get a clue: You can't make money off blogs. If I weren't otherwise throwing him this link, I'd consider this for a Gem o'the Day post:

After the panel broke up and attendees were getting directions to Wolfie's Den I walked up to JD Lasica and said, "it's stupid to ask 'how do we make money off blogs.'"

He looked sideways at me and said, "You're serious?"

"Of course I'm serious. Blogs are just a way to connect. We don't ask 'how can we make money from talking on the phone' do we?"
Or maybe this one:
I said earlier that blogs aren't the next Dot Com boom but the second coming of Ham Radio. I like that. It's true and is sort of fun to say.

Len on 05.11.05 @ 01:04 PM CST [link] [ | ]

I might reconsider my opposition to capital punisment....

if it applies to scum like this guy.

[Disclaimer that I really shouldn't have to add, but if I don't somebody will miss the referent: the scum in question isn't Pesky, but the guy he's writing about. Pesky's cool.]

Len on 05.11.05 @ 12:56 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Meanwhile, over in East Waynesville, NC....

Pastor Chan Chandler of the Waynesville Baptist Church has resigned, maintaining that the recent reports of his excommunicating church members for voting Democratic was "a great misunderstanding".


Len on 05.11.05 @ 12:38 PM CST [link] [ | ]

A slice o'Midtown life...

Over at Half Bakered, Mike Hollihan has an excellent post on the fascinating exercise that is life in Midtown Memphis. I'm not bothering to excerpt it simply because there's no edit I can do in it that'll do it justice; just go give it a read.

Len on 05.11.05 @ 12:17 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Fun with misplaced modifiers....

Reading a post over at Lean Left on how the Great State of North Carolina has, apparently, no more pressing problems facing its collected citzenry than an apparent epidemic of lawless cohabitation of unmarried couples, I came across this quote (while Kevin T. Keith provides a link in his post, I don't see this passage in the linked AP article, and I see no other souce link that I can give for this; sorry):

In Hanover County alone, where Carolina Beach is located, 3,434 unmarried couples live together as a household, according to the Census Bureau.
That's one big household. Here in Memphis, you'd have trouble finding a house that could hold over 6,800 people....

Len on 05.11.05 @ 12:04 PM CST [link] [ | ]

In case you've taken some poison, and no ipecac is handy....

just use this to induce vomiting:

Thanks [?] to Pete, whose spewed diatribe on the subject is well worth reading. So why are you still here? :-)

Len on 05.11.05 @ 11:39 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Thought for the Day:

I'll never be able to do a sequel to Pink Flamingos because it would have to end with Divine taking a shit and the dog eating it.
--John Waters

Len on 05.11.05 @ 08:25 AM CST [link] [ | ]

More Children (Maybe More Veggies?) or Musical Chairs...

More child-like problems at the local level. If you think the Friedman piece on “Brussels Sprout” (see previous post) problems of getting people to act like adults is only at the National level, here’s a Dennis Hastert Corner, is a local tiff that says much about the childish personalities and nonsense that crops up everywhere in this struggle to behave reasonably like grown-ups:

Board rankled by chair squabble By Patrick Waldron (Daily Herald Staff Writer):

"Like a fight among neighborhood children drawing the ire of mom and dad, the squabble between the Kane County recorder and title search professionals who use the public office every day reached the county board Tuesday.

What began as an office furniture shuffle about two months ago has become an embarrassing public scrap that one county board member called “absurd.”

It all started this spring when Recorder of Deeds Sandy Wegman removed the chairs from the public research area inside the recorder’s office used by professional title searchers doing work on clients’ mortgages, home sales and other business.

Wegman said she made the move to curtail the constant and disruptive socializing going on in the research area. The aim was to get title searchers to do their work and then leave the office swiftly.

Title searchers didn’t react kindly to the change and protested. It all climaxed early last month when two searchers were escorted from the recorder’s office by a sheriff’s deputy for bringing in their own stool, something Wegman considered disruptive..."

Doesn't get much more childish than this "Musical Chairs" lunacy and nit-picking at the local level. My 2-cents worth: Put the chairs back!! LOL

Karen on 05.11.05 @ 07:46 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Children and Veggies...

Brussel Sprouts by Thomas Friedman (telling a story of a girl who theoretically "like" Brussels Sprouts - just not enough to actually EAT them) shows why --Like so many things in life -- it’s hard to get some people to eat their vegetables:

"...North Korea's nuclear program could be stopped tomorrow by the country that provides roughly half of North Korea's energy and one-third of its food supplies - and that is China.

All China has to say to Kim Jong Il is: "You will shut down your nuclear weapons program and put all your reactors under international inspection, or we will turn off your lights, cut off your heat and put your whole country on a diet. Have we made ourselves clear?" One thing we know about China - it knows how to play hardball when it wants to, and if China played hardball that way with North Korea, the proliferation threat from Pyongyang would be over.

Ditto Europe vis-à-vis Iran. If the European Union said to the Iranians: "You will shut down your nuclear weapons program and put all your reactors and related facilities under international inspection or you will face a total economic boycott from Europe. Which part of this sentence don't you understand?" Trust me, that is the kind of explicit threat that would get Tehran's attention. Short of that, the Iranians will dicker over their nuclear carpets forever.

So why haven't China and the E.U. said these things? "Like that girl with the brussels sprouts," Mr. Mandelbaum said, "the Chinese and the Europeans are all for combating nuclear proliferation - just not enough actually to do something about it…."

I've posted similar comments on the "refuses to eat their vegetable crowd." For a reprise of that one - click on the "more" button to read further.

Karen on 05.11.05 @ 07:40 AM CST [more..] [ | ]

Why electing Ratzinger Pope may (or may not) have been a good idea....

Is this really going to put butts in the pews?

Len on 05.10.05 @ 05:39 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Distinct Differences

Differing brain response found in homosexual, heterosexual men by Randolph E. Schmid (The Associated Press):

”Scientists trying to sniff out biological differences between gay and straight men have found new evidence — in scent.

It turns out that sniffing a chemical from testosterone, the male sex hormone, causes a response in the sexual area of gay men's brains, just as it does in the brains of straight women, but not in the brains of straight men.

"It is one more piece of evidence ... that is showing that sexual orientation is not all learned," said Sandra Witelson, an expert on brain anatomy and sexual orientation at the Michael G. DeGroote School of Medicine at McMaster University in Ontario, Canada.

When they sniffed smells like cedar or lavender, all of the subjects' brains reacted only in the olfactory region that handles smells.

But when confronted by a chemical from testosterone, the male hormone, portions of the brains active in sexual activity were activated in straight women and in gay men, but not in straight men, the researchers found.

The response in gay men and straight women was concentrated in the hypothalamus with a maximum in the preoptic area that is active in hormonal and sensory responses necessary for sexual behavior, the researchers said.

And when estrogen, the female hormone was used, there was only a response in the olfactory portion of the brains of straight women. Homosexual men had their primary response also in the olfactory area, with a very small reaction in the hypothalamus, while heterosexual men responded strongly in the reproductive region of the brain.

Savic said the group also is doing a study involving homosexual women, but those results are not yet complete.

In a separate study looking at people's response to the body odors of others, researchers in Philadelphia found sharp differences between gay and straight men and women.

"Our findings support the contention that gender preference has a biological component that is reflected in both the production of different body odors and in the perception of and response to body odors," said neuroscientist Charles Wysocki, who led the study.

In particular, he said, finding differences in body odors between gay and straight individuals indicates a physical difference....”

Other links for information:

Proceedings of the National Academy of Science: www.pnas.org

Karolinska Institute: http://info.ki.se/index_en.html

Monell Center: www.monell.org/

Karen on 05.10.05 @ 03:47 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Why we do not want Microsoft developing software for aircraft....

Len on 05.10.05 @ 01:56 PM CST [link] [ | ]

The difference between the sexes: prayer

Before I lay me down to sleep,
I pray for a man, who's not a creep
One who's handsome, smart and strong,
One who loves to listen long,
One who thinks before he speaks,
One who'll call, not wait for weeks.
I pray he's gainfully employed,
When I spend his cash, won't be annoyed.
Pulls out my chair and opens my door,
Massages my back and begs to do more.
I pray that this man will love me to no end,
And always be my very best friend.

Lord, please let me meet a deaf-mute nymphomaniac with huge boobs who owns a liquor store - and a bass boat.

Forwarded to me in an email from My Dear Old Dad.


Len on 05.10.05 @ 12:14 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Great days in History:

Today is the 45th anniversary of the voyage of the USS Triton (SSN-586), which completed its almost 61 day underwater circumnavigation of the globe (following the route of Magellan) on this date in 1960.

Len on 05.10.05 @ 11:54 AM CST [link] [ | ]

All you need to know about the matter....

The Official God FAQ.

Make sure you read all the way to the end; you don't want to miss any of the answers.


Len on 05.10.05 @ 11:48 AM CST [link] [ | ]

I should check snopes.com before passing this on....

but it's too good not to, regardless of truth. :-) According to Robert X. Cringely® at InfoWorld:

Hello, Delhi: Arkansas businessman John Hammond was searching real estate sites when he found the perfect offshore office, a great house in a posh district of New Delhi. So he transferred $800,000 to the owner’s account in the Caymans and flew to India to inspect his new abode. Unfortunately, someone was already living there -- India’s prime minister. Rumor has it Hammond considered buying the Taj Mahal, but it was too drafty.

Len on 05.10.05 @ 10:22 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Sounds about right to me....

From Nick Denton, blog maven:

DON'T ask Nick Denton, publisher of Gawker Media and its growing list of popular Web logs, about his empire. "People come up to me as if it's witty and say, 'How is the empire going?' " Mr. Denton said, "which is pretty pathetic."

Don't ask him about his business plan, either. He says he never had one. The only reason he formed the company, he said, was to make his network of blogs - which includes Gawker, the flagship chronicle of Manhattan news and gossip; Fleshbot, the thinking person's diary of smut; and about 10 other titles - more attractive to advertisers.

"It doesn't help with readers," he said. "It's actually a disadvantage, because it looks corporate."

At a time when media conferences like "Les Blogs" in Paris two weeks ago debate the potential of the form, and when BusinessWeek declares, as it did on its May 2 cover, that "Blogs Will Change Your Business," Mr. Denton is withering in his contempt. A blog, he says, is much better at tearing things down - people, careers, brands - than it is at building them up. As for the blog revolution, Mr. Denton put it this way: "Give me a break."

"The hype comes from unemployed or partially employed marketing professionals and people who never made it as journalists wanting to believe," he said. "They want to believe there's going to be this new revolution and their lives are going to be changed."

Len on 05.10.05 @ 09:50 AM CST [link] [ | ]

I enjoy a good joke as much as the next guy, but....

There is such a thing as "reason", folks. The winning bid in the Jennifer Wilbanks Runaway Bride Found On My Toast!!!! eBay auction was $15,400.00.

Further comment would be superfluous.

Len on 05.10.05 @ 09:31 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Hindsight is always 20/20....

still, it would be nice if more evangelicals would exhibit this kind of hindsight:

Roger was gay; we all knew it, and we all made his life miserable. When we passed him in the hall, we called out his name in an effeminate manner. We made crude gestures, and we made Roger the brunt of cheap jokes. He never took showers with us after gym class, because je knew we'd whip him with our wet towels.

I wasn't there the day some of the guys dragged Roger into the shower room and shoved him into the corner. Curled up on the floor, he cried and begged for mercy as five guys urinated all over him.

The reports said that Roger went to bed that night as usual, and that sometime around two in the morning, he got up, went down to the basement of his house, and hanged himself.

When I heard about Roger, I realized that I wasn't a Christian. I was a theologically sound evangelical, believed in all of the points of the Apostles Creed, and had declared Jesus to be my Savior. But I know now that if the Holy Spirit had actually been in me, I would have stood up for Roger. When the guys came to make fun of him, I would have put one arm around Roger's shoulder, waved the guys off with the other, and told him to leave him alone and not to mess with him because he was my friend.

But I was afraid to be Roger's friend. I knew that if I stood up for a homosexual, people would say cruel things about me too. So I kept my distance. I had done better, who knows if Roger might be alive today.
[emphasis added --LRC]

Credit chain: Jordon Cooper, via Ted Barlow (in Crooked Timber), via Lean Left.

Len on 05.10.05 @ 09:19 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Welcome back; we mist ya....

My favorite recovering lawyer, MadKane, has returned from traveling (she didn't tell us she was gone because, in true New Yorker style, she didn't want to advertise her absence for fear of enticing potential miscreants). But she makes up for her inability to update her blog by giving us a new poem (just a taste):

I've been gone for two weeks.
Did I miss something good?
Didn't keep up with the news,
Though I know that I should.
Go follow the link for the rest...

Len on 05.10.05 @ 09:03 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Thought for the Day:

Let's consider the Bush tax cuts and the Bush benefit cuts as a package. Who gains? Who loses?

Suppose you're a full-time Wal-Mart employee, earning $17,000 a year. You probably didn't get any tax cut. But Mr. Bush says, generously, that he won't cut your Social Security benefits.

Suppose you're earning $60,000 a year. On average, Mr. Bush cut taxes for workers like you by about $1,000 per year. But by 2045 the Bush Social Security plan would cut benefits for workers like you by about $6,500 per year. Not a very good deal.

Suppose, finally, that you're making $1 million a year. You received a tax cut worth about $50,000 per year. By 2045 the Bush plan would reduce benefits for people like you by about $9,400 per year. We have a winner!

I'm not being unfair. In fact, I've weighted the scales heavily in Mr. Bush's favor, because the tax cuts will cost much more than the benefit cuts would save. Repealing Mr. Bush's tax cuts would yield enough revenue to call off his proposed benefit cuts, and still leave $8 trillion in change.

The point is that the privatizers consider four years of policies that relentlessly favored the wealthy a fait accompli, not subject to reconsideration. Now that tax cuts have busted the budget, they want us to accept large cuts in Social Security benefits as inevitable. But they demand that we praise Mr. Bush's sense of social justice, because he proposes bigger benefit cuts for the middle class than for the poor.

Sorry, but no. Mr. Bush likes to play dress-up, but his Robin Hood costume just doesn't fit.
--Paul Krugman

Len on 05.10.05 @ 07:57 AM CST [link] [ | ]

More voting with that remote again…

US News Wire had this one:

"Who Should Decide What We Watch On TV?

-- Time Magazine cover story, Wall Street Journal, USA TODAY all ask: Should Government Take Over the Remote?

-- TV Watch Emerges as the Voice of Reason Representing the Majority of Americans on the topic and debate over who decides what content is appropriate continues to heat up in Washington with lawmakers and regulators considering increasing their control of TV. High-profile TV moments such as Janet Jackson at the Super Bowl captured the country's attention and until now advocates for increased government control have dominated the debate.

Most Americans Want Control Rather Than Government Intervention of TV Content.

Among the findings of a TV Watch national survey released this week:

-- Some people will always be able to find something on television or radio that offends them. But the sensitivities of a few should not dictate the choices for everyone else.

-- More than nine out of ten Americans (92 percent) agree that while they don't always like the content of the programs that they and their families watch, "I'd rather make that decision for myself than have the government make the decision for me."

It's clear Americans overwhelmingly want to make their own decisions of what is seen on TV in private homes to remain a personal choice -- not one made by the government. So, let's keep using those ratings and blocking technology which allow individual viewers to control TV content -- And keep your fingers on the Button of the Remote!!

Karen on 05.10.05 @ 07:52 AM CST [link] [ | ]

If You can't Stand The Heat...Get Out Of the Hitchens...

Christopher Hitchens (Author and Polemicist) has written this excellent commentary on our secular republic in this piece: Why I'm Rooting Against the Religious Right: Save the Republic from shallow, demagogic sectarians.

Here are his opening remarks:

” I hope and believe that, by identifying itself with "faith" in general and the Ten Commandments in particular, a runaway element in the Republican leadership has made a career-ending mistake. In support of this, let me quote two authorities:

· The religious factions that are growing throughout our land are not using their religious clout with wisdom. They are trying to force government leaders into following their position 100%. If you disagree with these religious groups on a particular moral issue, they complain, they threaten you with a loss of money or votes or both. . . . Just who do they think they are? And from where do they presume to claim the right to dictate their moral beliefs to me? And I am even more angry as a legislator who must endure the threats of every religious group who thinks it has some god-granted right to control my vote on every roll call in the Senate. I am warning them today: I will fight them every step of the way if they try to dictate their moral convictions to all Americans in the name of "conservatism."

· "Thou knowest the commandments, Do not commit adultery, Do not kill, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Honor thy father and thy mother." And he said, "All these have I kept from my youth up." Now when Jesus heard these things, he said unto him, "Yet lackest thou one thing: sell all that thou hast, and distribute unto the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, follow me."

The first citation is from Barry Goldwater, moral founder of the Reagan revolution, who, when I interviewed him on his retirement from the Senate, vowed to "kick Jerry Falwell in the ass."

The second citation is from Luke 18:20-22.

The rest of the article is very well written, so click on the link to read further.

Karen on 05.10.05 @ 07:41 AM CST [link] [ | ]


A book I’d like to read but haven’t yet gotten to purchase is about Steve Levitt’s unorthodox research (and written by co-author Stephen Dubner): "Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything." This book was the subject of this article Fascinated with Facts by Sharon Cohen (Kane County Chronicle).

“…(Levitt) details some eyebrow-raising findings.

Levitt is a maverick economist at the University of Chicago, a school known for esteemed scholars who've paved a path to Stockholm, Sweden: Five Nobel Prize winners in economics are on the faculty. Eighteen others were students, researchers or professors at Chicago.

With a boyish curiosity and a powerhouse resume (Harvard, M.I.T., Chicago), Levitt has explored everything from provocative social issues -- linking abortion and lower crime rates -- to patterns of ethnic and age bias among TV game show contestants.

"It's not like I go looking for trouble," Levitt says. "But I try to find unusual ways to ask questions that people care about. And the most interesting answers you can come up with are the ones that are absolutely true and completely unexpected…."

The Daily Show with Jon Stewart also recently interviewed Levitt, but no link is yet available for that interview. The book looks to be worth the paper it’s printed on, so I’ll have to buy it and give it a read.

Karen on 05.10.05 @ 07:29 AM CST [link] [ | ]

More on the De-Volution in Kansas...

Jason at Evolution Blog posted this one on that State’o’Kansas: Maybe I'm Too Hard on Cable News...

Here's Ron Reagan commenting on intelligent design at the close of his MSNBC show Connected Coast to Coast:

The state of Kansas is poised to vacate the Age of Reason. If all goes according to brain-addled plan, the Kansas school board will soon vote to water down the state’s public school science curriculum, minimizing Darwinian evolution and giving credence to a half-baked, non-scientific notion variously called “creationism” or “intelligent design.”

We dealt with the issue recently on our show and I got a little steamed, as I’m prone to do when faced with shameless lies told at the expense of innocent children. Evolution, of course, has mountains of evidence on its side—the fossil record; genetics; observations of rapidly mutating species in nature in the lab, as well as some compelling new computer models. I challenged our creationist guest to provide similar evidence for his point of view. He couldn’t... because there isn’t any. But it got me thinking: education that ignores the facts could be a lot more fun.

For instance, generations of school kids have been taught that George Washington and his troops defeated the British after crossing the Delaware River in wooden rowboats. Plenty of scholarship backs that up. But we don’t have any of the actual boats, do we? Who’s to say that Washington didn’t ditch the watercraft and instead cross the river on the backs of specially trained dinosaurs? No evidence for that - but in Kansas, we don’t need no stinkin’ evidence.

How about math? The diameter of a circle equals twice the radius? Nah, in my new new math, the diameter of a circle equals time to order out for pizza. Doesn’t sound like mathematical science to you? Yeah... and what’s your point?

All that’s necessary for ignorance to triumph is that people who know better step aside and get out of its way. We might want to consider that as we sit back twiddling our thumbs and playing politics while Kansas spirals into the Dark Ages, dragging its unwitting children with it.

That's the most intelligent thing I've ever heard from cable news.

Ditto -- But I haven't been watching much cable news lately [And CNN get it's 10 minutes per day to WOW me with the news of the world. I figure if something really important happens -- Like California finally cracks off and falls into the ocean -- I'll hear the noise from here in DHC.]

Karen on 05.09.05 @ 07:25 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Whiskey Bars....

Michael Froomkin over at Discourse.net has posted this funnie:

Can I Deduct Laphroaig as a Medical Expense?

"Whisky ‘helps fight cancer’

Drinking malt whisky may help prevent cancer, a scientific conference has been told.

The medicinal properties of antioxidants in red wine are well known, but delegates at a biochemistry conference were told that whisky offered “even greater health benefits”.

Dr Jim Swan, a consultant to the drinks industry, said: “There has been much in the news about the health benefits of antioxidants in red wine. By contrast, very little has been said about malt whisky distillery science.

“However, research has shown that there are even greater health benefits to people who drink single malt whiskies. Why? Single malt whiskies have more ellagic acid than red wine.”

But is there more ellagic acid in a small whisky or a large glass of red wine?

And does that I mean I can deduct the Laphroaig if I just drink it for, um, medicinal purposes? Especially given what it’s selling for these days
And, of course, there’s always a killjoy somewhere:

However, Dr Lesley Walker of Cancer Research UK, pointed out that the same acid was found in fruit, and said she was “very concerned” that whisky was being promoted as a cancer prevention agent without data to support the claim.
“On the contrary, there is considerable data documenting the link between drinking excess alcohol and the increased risk of a number of cancers, particularly in smokers,” she said.

I don’t smoke, so that should be no obstacle.
If the tax break thing doesn’t work out, maybe I’ll just eat more raspberries."

Reminds me of that song: "Show me the way to the next Whiskey Bar. Oh, Don't ask why. Oh, Don't ask why..." (But I forget who performed it - Anyone remember? Got to be of a *certain age* to recall that one.)

Karen on 05.09.05 @ 04:52 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Happy Birthday!

William Martin "Billy" Joel turns 56 today.

Len on 05.09.05 @ 01:02 PM CST [link] [ | ]

More Bad Science...and It's Not Only in Kansas, Toto...

I posted a comment in the previous piece about Gay men being refused to be allowed to serve as anonymous sperm donors. Here is the link to this latest FDA policy item: Gays To Be Banned As Sperm Donors (from The Associated Press.)

"(New York City) The Food and Drug Administration is about to implement new rules recommending that any man who has engaged in homosexual sex in the previous five years be barred from serving as an anonymous sperm donor.

The FDA has rejected calls to scrap the provision, insisting that gay men collectively pose a higher-than-average risk of carrying the AIDS virus. Critics accuse the FDA of stigmatizing all gay men rather than adopting a screening process that focuses on high-risk sexual behavior by any would-be donor, gay or straight.

"Under these rules, a heterosexual man who had unprotected sex with HIV-positive prostitutes would be OK as a donor one year later, but a gay man in a monogamous, safe-sex relationship is not OK unless he's been celibate for five years," said Leland Traiman, director of a clinic in Alameda, Calif., that seeks gay sperm donors.

Traiman said adequate safety assurances can be provided by testing a sperm donor at the time of the initial donation, then freezing the sperm for a six-month quarantine and testing the donor again to be sure there is no new sign of HIV or other infectious diseases.

Although there is disagreement over whether the FDA guideline regarding gay men will have the force of law, most doctors and clinics are expected to observe it.

The practical effect of the provision — part of a broader set of cell and tissue donation regulations that take effect May 25 — is hard to gauge. It is likely to affect some lesbian couples who want a child and prefer to use a gay man's sperm for artificial insemination.

But it is the provision's symbolic aspect that particularly troubles gay-rights groups. Kevin Cathcart, executive director of Lambda Legal, has called it "policy based on bigotry."

"The part I find most offensive — and a little frightening — is that it isn't based on good science," Cathcart said. "There's a steadily increasing trend of heterosexual transmission of HIV, and yet the FDA still has this notion that you protect people by putting gay men out of the pool…."

Karen on 05.09.05 @ 12:44 PM CST [link] [ | ]

"The world seems made for those not cursed with self-awareness." --Annie Savoy

According to XM's Entertainment Report, Paris Hilton thinks that it's cool that people seeing House of Wax are cheering and laughing when she's killed in the movie. Quoth the heiress:

Everyone knows I'm not really dead. They just think it's a really cool death scene.
Then again, there is such a thing as "wishful thinking"....

Len on 05.09.05 @ 12:23 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Real Time...

As it WAS a busy week, I only caught up to my TiVo-ed episode of Real Time with Bill Maher on HBO last night (after I finished cleaning the tile grout disaster. LOL). It was one of Maher’s better ones of the season...just a HOWL.

But - I had to send Andrew Sullivan a quick "Slap" for sounding like a DOLT on the Constitution and it's intellectual background and the Founder's original intent. Sheesh, and I actually thought he read Jon Rowe’s wonderfully concise and intuitive Blog offerings on this subject -- at least sometimes any way.

Our Constitution was not, as Sullivan erroneously claimed, in opposition to All of British History and their systems of personal rights and rules. It was formulated in direct opposition to “Kingships” which must be viewed through the lens as a “divinely ordained source of power manifested in the body of the ruler” premise for leadership. That is main the source of the renunciation of the religious “Divine right of Kingship model.” But our founders did not ignore the other British legal concepts of the Magna Carta, Statute of 1 Westminster, the 1689 English Bill of Rights or their misconception of Blackstone’s commentaries; nor the philosophical ideals of previous “free thinkers” when they crafted their model for the U.S. Constitution. So, Sullivan mis-spoke entirely in suggesting, as he did, that our founders abandoned ALL of the British model as a basis for our Constitutional document or meaning of the words it chooses to express these ideals.

For anyone interested in following upon this subject - get yourself a copy of "Novus Ordo Seclorum" by Forest McDonald and read the first couple of chapters about the Intellectual Origins of the Constitution of the United States. It's readable for even people with out a legal degree and/or a complete background in the various philosophers or the British legal system. McDonald makes it quite understandable and interesting too.

But Bill Maher got Andrew Sullivan with this funnie of an exchange (begun about the Religious Right going after Judges) which was TOO FUNNY as it is TOO TRUE. Maher humorously pointed out that Gay’s are just the type of people directly in the cross-hairs of the Religious Right agenda -- like it or not.

Click on the “more” button to read further an Unofficial Transcript I typed of this segment of the Real Time show of May 6, 2005 (probably not entirely error free transcript…but a good effort).

Karen on 05.09.05 @ 11:32 AM CST [more..] [ | ]


Also via Jo Fish, more proof that George W. Bush is a craven coward:

I got my new issue of Leatherneck: Magazine of the Marines in today's mail. I just had to share this letter to the editor in the Sound Off section from an eagle-eyed old salt, and the editor's response:
Why doesn't the Commandant trust his Marines?

I'm a bit embarrassed to ask this. In the March 2005 issue of Leatherneck, page 20 includes a photo of Company B marching in the Presidential Inaugural Parade. The Marines didn't have bolts in their M1 rifles. Nor did the color guard on page 21.

The rifles are not cleared with the bolts locked in the rear of the receivers; they are missing. The operating rod is forward and the follower is exposed.

What gives?

SgtMaj Thomas R. Jablonicky USMC (Ret)
Colby, Wis.
And the response:
Our readers don't miss a thing.The nation is at war and, consequently, security at the inauguration and related events was high. According to Lance Corporal Earnest J. Barnes, Public Affairs Office, Marine Barracks, Washington, D.C., the bolts were removed from the rifles carried by Marines in the inaugural parade for security purposes by order of the Secret Service. Gunnery Sergeant David Dunaway, USMC (Ret) of Shoreline, Wash., and Joseph Berthelot of Syracuse, N.Y., also took notice. - Sound Off Ed.
The implication here is that the Secret Service fears that one or more of the Marines marching in the Inaugural Parade might attempt to assassinate the President? And who, we might ask, gave them that idea?

My guess: The Coward in Chief....

From Alternate Brain, the source of the quote from Leatherneck (who is, obviously, a Marine veteran himself):
The other day I accused Tom DeLay of insulting a Marine, but this tops that by orders of magnitude. Bush has managed to insult every Marine that ever lived. If anybody had tried to get at the president, those Marines would have fallen all over themselves trying to protect his chickenshit ass, working rifles or no. What is the president afraid of? If he's afraid of his own Marines, he's doing more wrong than we ever thought.

How do you think those Marines must have felt, knowing their own Commander-in-Chief had so little faith in them that he took away their stock in trade lest they turn on him?

I got news for you, Chimp: If they'da wanted your ass dead, you'd be dead. Just be glad no one who really wishes you harm realized at the time that you had disarmed your ceremonial guard.

What a fuckin' coward. I have never liked him, but this time I'm ashamed of him.
[Emphasis added --LRC]

Len on 05.09.05 @ 10:38 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Must reading.....


November 4, 2004

Dear George,

You don’t mind if I call you George do you? When you sent me a letter offering your condolences on the death of my son, Spc. Casey Austin Sheehan, in the illegal and unjust war on Iraq, you called me Cindy, so I naturally assume we are on a first name basis.

George, it has been seven months today since your reckless and wanton foreign policies killed my son, my big boy, my hero, my best-friend: Casey. It has been seven months since your ignorant and arrogant lack of planning for the peace murdered my oldest child. It has been two days since your dishonest campaign stole another election…but you all were way more subtle this time than in 2000, weren’t you? You hardly had to get the Supreme Court of the United States involved at all this week.

You feel so proud of yourself for betraying the country again, don’t you? You think you are very clever because you pulled the wool over the eyes of some of the people again. You think that you have some mandate from God…that you can “spend your political capital” any way that you want. George you don’t care or even realize that 56,000,000 plus citizens of this country voted against you and your agenda. Still, you are going to continue your ruthless work of being a divider and not a uniter. George, in 2000 when you stole that election and the Democrats gave up, I gave up too. I had the most ironic thought of my life then: "Oh well, how much damage can he do in four years?" Well, now I know how much you have damaged my family, this country, and this world. If you think I am going to allow you another four years to do even more damage, then you truly are mistaken. I will fight for a true vote count and if that fails, your impeachment. Also, the impeachment of your Vice President. The only thing is, I'm not politically savvy, and I don't have a Karl Rove to plan my strategy, but I do have a big mouth and a righteous cause, which still mean something in this country, I hope.

All of this lying, fooling, and betraying must be “hard work” George. You really think you know what hard work is?

George, let me tell you what “hard work” really is.

Hard work is seeing your oldest son, your brave and honorable man-child go off to a war that had, and still has, no basis in reality. Hard work is worrying yourself gray and not being able to sleep for 2 weeks because you don’t know if your child is safe.

Hard work is seeing your son’s murder on CNN one Sunday evening while you’re enjoying the last supper you’ll ever truly enjoy again.

Hard work is having three military officers come to your house a few hours later to confirm the aforementioned murder of your son…your first born…your kind and gentle sweet baby.

Hard work is burying your child 46 days before his 25th birthday. Hard work is holding your other three children as they lower the body of their big “baba” into the ground. Hard work is not jumping in the grave with him and having the earth cover you both.

But, Dear George, do you know what the hardest work of all is? Trying to digest the fact that the leader of the country that your family has fought for and died for, for generations, lied to you and betrayed your dear boy’s sense of honor and exploited his courage and exploited his loyalty to his buddies. Hard work is having your country abandon you after they killed your son. Hard work is coming to the realization that your son had his future robbed from him and that you have had your son's future and future grand-children stolen from you. Hard work is knowing that there are so many people in this world that have prospered handsomely from your son's death.

George, I must confess that I and my family worked very HARD to re-defeat you this time, but you refuse to stay defeated. Well, we are watching you very carefully. We are going to do everything in our power to have you impeached for misleading the American people into a disastrous war and for mis-using and abusing your power as Commander-in-Chief. We are going to scream until our last breath to bring the rest of our babies home from this quagmire of a war that you have gotten our country in to: before too many more families learn the true meaning of Hard Work. We know it is going to be an uphill battle, knowing how Republican Congress is, but thanks to you, we know the meaning of Hard Work and we’re not afraid of hard work at all.

The 56,000,000 plus citizens who voted against you and your agenda have given me a mandate to move forward with my agenda. Also, thanks to you and your careless domestic policies, I am unemployed, so this will be my full-time job. Being your political downfall will be the most noble accomplishment of my life and it will bring justice for my son and 1125 (so far) other brave Americans and tens of thousands of innocent Iraqis your lies have killed. By the way, George, how many more innocent Iraqis are your policies going to kill before you convince them that you are better than Saddam? How many more of their cities are you going to level before you consider that they are liberated? If you really had any moral values, or if you were an honorable man at all you would resign. My son was a man who had high moral values and true courage. Humanity lost a bright light on April 04, 2004. I will live the rest of my life missing Casey desperately. Thank you for that, George. Have a nice day.

God Bless America!! We surely need it!

Cindy Sheehan
Broken hearted mother of a True American Hero: Spc Casey Austin Sheehan, KIA 04/04/04 Sadr City, Baghdad

"When I despair, I remember that all through history the way of truth and love has always won. There have been tyrants and murderers and for a time they seem invincible but in the end, they always fall - think of it, always."
- Gandhi

And how much do you want to bet that condolence letter was machine signed?

Whenever I think of how badly the chickenhawks have fucked up their war, I think that maybe Robert A. Heinlein was on to something....

Credit: pointer to Cindy Sheehan's open letter via Jo Fish

Len on 05.09.05 @ 10:30 AM CST [link] [ | ]

The Great Philosophers: Lennon, McCartney, Harrison, Starr

Well, at least the first three. According to Beatles Philosophy:

This page proves what we all knew but were afraid to say. The Beatles' talents were not confined to music. Collectively they display a philosophical understanding that rivals the greats.
This page is a wiki, so feel free to add your own observations....

Len on 05.09.05 @ 09:38 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Thought for the Day, bonus twofer edition...

in honor of last weekend's premiere of House of Wax:

Upon reflection, the creators of "House of Wax" are pretty savvy. Nobody's buying a ticket to bask in the sublime genius of Jared Padalecki's (Dean from "Gilmore Girls") acting; people are coming for the vicarious thrill of seeing Hilton, the "star" of "The Simple Life" and assorted night-vision porno clips get brutalized (at the screening I attended, the audience cheered wildly when she finally bought it). I confess, I wanted to see the Vacuous One bite the big one as much as anybody, but I couldn't deny the way this film advances the baffling Hilton success story. It's a credit to the skill of her handlers and the unswerving bone-headedness of the American public that this idiot is still in the public eye. And they even found a way to work in scenes of Dalton filming her at night with his videocamera. Subtle.
--Pete Vonder Haar

When I die the audience erupts in laughter. Of course, these are the same fools who buy my books and jewelry, Google my name, view my home video, party at my clubs, drool at my billions, watch season after tiresome season of my TV show, buy my DVD's, and now patronize
House of Wax. Guess who's laughing now, you suckers!
--Paris Hilton [as channeled by Mark Ramsey at MovieJuice]

Len on 05.09.05 @ 06:29 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Benefit HOGS

Paul Krugman (NY Times) has this absolute GEM about the Bush - “How to add Injury to the Insult of getting elected by the barest hair on his chinny-chin-chin Mandate and Political Capital to Spend” Presidency – final turning of the screws to attempt to paint his revises crock’o’crap Soc. Sec. Plan as “offering” a real solution which show up how Democrats (as David Brooks put it) …don’t really mean the “wealthy” (depending on that definition) should provide a shared sacrifice and accept cuts now for the priviledges and benefit of “Saving Soc. Sec.” today.

Mr. Krugman writes:

”…Before I take on this final insult to our intelligence, let me deal with a fundamental misconception: the idea that President Bush's plan would somehow protect future Social Security benefits.

If the plan really would do that, it would be worth discussing…”

Take a full read through The Final insult and Krugman’s explanation to this fundamental BIG LIE in dealing with the latest Right Wing Hogwash at what “On the Table Now” --“Come and get it…Sooie, Sooie, Soooooie” --for all those benefit HOGS out there. [And you KNOW who you are...right?]

Karen on 05.09.05 @ 04:12 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Mom's Dilemma Day

Ahhh…Mother’s Day. A day for all those great MOM things and thoughtful MOM projects.

Some projects turn out wonderful -- Like flower shopping and planting colorful arrangements in the front garden:

momgood1 (83k image)

Other projects turn out to be more Mom’s Day Headaches -- Like children attempting to clean the bathroom tile grout. [With enough cleaner stuff spread about for about ten bathrooms, and then letting it dry and forgetting about it.]

mombad1 (44k image)

Oh…and Happy Mother’s Day!!!

Karen on 05.08.05 @ 04:40 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Expect a whole buncha plagues to hit West Virginia, soon....

since they won't let Jesus Christ get a driver's license there.

Haven't they learned? It's not politic to piss off The Big Boss's Son....

Len on 05.08.05 @ 01:06 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Correct word order is still a problem for me....

:: how jedi are you? ::

Credit: BSTommy

Len on 05.08.05 @ 11:25 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Why do I get the feeling that this poll is rigged?

Over at Film Threat, Pete Vonder Haar has just posted his review of House of Wax, in which he characterizes the film:

The unstoppable tide of horror movie remakes rolls on with “House of Wax,” a 21st century updating of the 1953 Vincent Price classic. The latter was itself a remake, which leads me to believe there needs to be some kind of limit on the amount of times you can make the same movie (that’d be bad news for Jane Austen fans). But back to “House of Wax,” which treats audiences to the likes of Chad Michael Murray and Paris Hilton instead of Vincent Price. Lucky us. The movie bears virtually no resemblance to the 1953 film, beyond the title and the act of coating human beings in hot wax. Faithfulness to the source material becomes less and less important the further you get from the original, and I’d say odds are that the teens Warner Bros. are hoping will buy tickets for “House of Wax” have never even heard of its namesake, much less seen it.
But over to the right side of the revew we get a Film Threat Poll:
Pretend like you're actually going to go see "House of Wax". Now, the reason you're going to see it is...

1) I'm a fan of the Vincent Price version and I'm curious to see how this remake holds up.
2) Wax figures give me the creeps.
3) I want to see Paris Hilton die like the pig she is.
Is anyone surprised to learn that the voting is currently at 88% for "3" and probably rising by the minute? (Incidentally, if you'd answer "3" go to Pete's review and then vote in the poll yourself.)

UPDATE: Obviously, Warner Brothers has no illusions about what the selling point for House of Wax is. If this is the way it's being promoted, this may set box office records:

Though this isn't the first time such a gimmick has been used to promote a movie:
"Willard" is a remake of the 1971 film, which was a surprise hit at the box office. My explanation at the time: People had been waiting a long time to see Ernest Borgnine eaten by rats and weren't about to miss the opportunity.
--Roger Ebert
Credit: Mark Ramsey ("MovieJuice Web Diary")

Len on 05.08.05 @ 11:03 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Thought for the Day:

Never take ecstasy, beer, Bacardi, weed, Pepto Bismol, Vivarin, Tums, Tagamet HB, Xanax, and Valium in the same day. It makes it difficult to sleep at night.

Len on 05.08.05 @ 10:59 AM CST [link] [ | ]

And So It Begins...

The SF Chronicle has published this article Editor of moderate Catholic journal ousted: Criticism of church reportedly rankled Vatican leaders by Laurie Goodstein (NY Times).

”The Rev. Thomas Reese, an American Jesuit who is a frequent television commentator on Roman Catholic issues, resigned Friday under orders from the Vatican as editor of the Catholic magazine America because he had published articles critical of church positions, according to several Catholic officials in the United States.

The order was issued by the Vatican's office of doctrinal enforcement -- the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith -- in mid-March when that office was still headed by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, said the officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak on the matter. Soon after, Pope John Paul II died and Ratzinger was elected pope, taking the name Benedict XVI.

America magazine, a national weekly based in New York City, is a moderate to liberal journal published by the Jesuits, a religious order known for producing the scholars who run many of the church's universities and schools. The Jesuits prize their independence, but like everyone in the church, even their top official, the Jesuit superior general in Rome, ultimately answers to the pope….”

Courtesy of Andrew Sullivan for this post on the New Pope’s first policy objectives -- Silence Any Dissention -- Close Ranks.

Karen on 05.08.05 @ 07:30 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Educational Faux Pas...

I posted earlier about Thomas Friedman (NY Times) writing on the educational failings in a Flat World-er approach to our schools. This comment to a South Knox Bubba post called Zero Tolerance for Idiots, over the student suspended for a phone call from his mother serving in Iraq, just about captures the sense of this phenomenon from Poor Educators at their worst:

Asst. Principal Parham said, ". . .not supposed to use [cell phones] for conversating back and forth."

Worthy of Bush. First, there's no such verb as "conversate," except perhaps in the minds of assistant principals. Second, if there were such a verb, I think that "back and forth" would be implied, unless people rountinely conversated alone or unless people used cell phones only to talk or only to listen.

I suspect Parham will be named head of the No Child Left Behind Program at the school. He's certainly got the potential.” -- Unapologetic.

Karen on 05.08.05 @ 07:16 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Bloggerie Enfotainment

The Latest Rumbling in the Blogosphere: Questions About Ethics by Adam Cohen sugests some Blog oversight is perhaps not unwarranted. Mr. Cohen actually had me going for a few minutes..until I reached this pertinent sentence:

"But more bloggers, and blog readers, are starting to ask whether at least the most prominent blogs with the highest traffic shouldn't hold themselves to the same high standards to which they hold other media."

Most Prominent Blogs with the With the Highest Traffic

*Whew*, that leaves ME in the Clear and Free to Blogs Away At-Will. Standards be damned and all.

So, Mr. Cohen, I'm afraid this further pointed suggestion will just have to wait for more readership:
"Many bloggers who criticize the MSM's ethics, however, are in the anomalous position of holding themselves to lower standards, or no standards at all. That may well change. Ana Marie Cox, who edits Wonkette, notes that blogs are still "a very young medium," and that "things have yet to be worked out." Before long, leading blogs could have ethics guidelines and prominently posted corrections policies….”

As I much PREFER flying under the radar of public scrutiny (and I’m almost certain my co-bloggers agree) -- I’m glad we are off the hook here and can simply continue to try to reach our most Bloggerie desires and Enfotainment-out-reach program for our Readership (such as it is).

And Remember Blog Reader: NEVER ask that question posited above -- and we'll all get along just fine. It's as much on YOU ALL is is on ME to keep this status quo going here. LOL

Karen on 05.08.05 @ 06:56 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Condoms...The Best Hope...

The Pope and AIDS by Nicholas D. Kristof (NY Times) is a stunner of a piece about why the Catholic Church should change its policy on condoms…and PRONTO to address the ever increasing threat of AIDS and AIDS related deaths around the world.

"....So when historians look back at the Catholic Church in this era, they'll give it credit for having fought Communism and helped millions of the poor around the world. But they'll also count its anti-condom campaign as among its most tragic mistakes in the first two millennia of its history.
The Catholic Church helps increase AIDS in the world," said Roseli Tardelli, a Catholic who is editor of the AIDS News Agency in Brazil. She added: "That's wrong. God doesn't like it."

…..(T)here is growing pressure within the church to reconsider its position on condoms.

"If I were pope, I would start a condom factory right in the Vatican," one Brazilian priest told me. "What's the point of sending food and medicine when we let people get infected with AIDS and die?"

In his office, that priest keeps a small framed condom behind glass, with a sign: "In case of emergency, break the glass….."

Karen on 05.08.05 @ 06:28 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Oh the horror, the horror!!!!!

Actually, I think I've blogged this before (I'm too lazy to go searching the archives; so sue me), but since the URL floated across my email inbox again, since the site appears to be updated and since we have about 25 more regular readers than we did when I first mentioned this, it looks like the constellations have all aligned, and it is time once again to mention:

A Photographic History of Michael Jackson's Face

The commentary alone, IMHO, is worth the price of admission.


Len on 05.07.05 @ 06:02 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Thought for the Day:

Then again, it isn’t like Smith’s – or my or anybody else’s – review is going to matter one damn bit when it comes to “Revenge of the Sith.” This is the film for which the expression “critic proof” was invented. Just to give you an idea what I’m talking about, the current over/under on the movie’s opening weekend gross stands at $86 million, with odds on the “over” running 1:3. Clearly, the bookies are betting that it won’t just be the geeks lined up to see this film in the first few days (and frankly, there really aren’t that many of us). Smith has given the flick some nice pre-release publicity, but it – and the avalanche of reviews yet to come – is ultimately meaningless. It’s all just another bit of nerd minutiae for obsessive compulsive dorks like yours truly to chew on for a few more weeks.

Don’t believe me? If you look at the reviews for both of the prequels so far (I checked rottentomatoes.com), you’ll find about a 65% favorable rating for both. If you check the “cream of the crop” reviews however (and yes, I realize Film Threat isn’t included among those), you’ll see ratings only in the 40% favorable range. This is significant because, like it or not, major dailies and TV are where most of the moviegoing public get their upcoming movie info. And yet, even with those sub-par numbers, “Phantom Menace” still grossed $64 million on opening weekend (on its way to $431 million total domestic box office), while “Attack of the Clones” racked up $80 million upon opening ($310 million overall).
--Pete Vonder Haar

Len on 05.07.05 @ 12:17 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Chimeras in our Midsts...

Give Maureen Dowd (NY Times) a read through today. She's got an especially good piece called What Rough Beasts?.

[incidentally, Ms. Dowd forgot a body part on her Chimera: The Dennis Hastert pork-laden belly of the beast.]

Karen on 05.07.05 @ 09:27 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Sports Flame outs...

I’ve often heard about soccer game violence and out of control trampling deaths in other countries where “sports passions” run high and temperatures flare – but this is becoming a first where Flares are flaring – and fireworks are ignited -- and being thrown at Soccer players: Another Flare incident in Euro Soccer. What outrageous soccer violence which ought to be stopped and PRONTO!

Parma goalkeeper Luca Bucci was forced to leave his team's UEFA Cup semifinal match against CSKA Moscow after a firecracker exploded near his head Thursday.

Celebrating fans threw the object onto the field shortly after CSKA took a 1-0 lead in the 10th minute of the match. Bucci was replaced by Sebastien Frey nine minutes later.

CSKA scored twice more and won 3-0 to advance to its first European final, which will be played May 18 in Lisbon, Portugal.

"It's unfair but it's happened in many stadiums. It's a pity that it happened here and I hope it will the first and the last time," CSKA coach Valery Gazaiyev said.

Last month, a Champions League quarterfinal match between city rivals Inter Milan and AC Milan was stopped early because Milan goalkeeper Dida was injured when a flare thrown from the crowd hit him on the shoulder.”

Maybe sports centers should become as security conscious and frisk fan attendees for these incendiary devices as has become the "neccessary evil" of the airport screening process -- a Sad, but necessary fact of life in a world of IDIOT FANS. Shameful practices by moronic, ignorant fans that must be stopped immediately.

Karen on 05.07.05 @ 09:17 AM CST [link] [ | ]

The Flat Worlder's

Thomas Friedman (NY Times) has written this provocative GEM: Tuning in to Jon Stewart, and Britney Schmidt. He muses on the intertwining of the cultural limits of “information” absorption form this viewpoint and the future for these (un) “educated” teens to assimilate into the workforce.

”….Here are the two most important things I learned from a recent book tour: First, many educated people seem to be getting their news from Comedy Central….

Second, and this may be related to the first, there's a huge undertow of worry out in the country about how our kids are being educated and whether they'll be able to find jobs in an increasingly flat world, where more Chinese, Indians and Russians than ever can connect, collaborate and compete with us…..”

The issue as Friedman sees is “On learning to learn {from a} (flat world) perspective.” Give his full article a read through at the link above.

But then again, these are the same “high schoolers” who (by 60% or more) think newspapers ought to be told by the government what is “news” to print and aren’t much better when it comes to the First Amendment protections on Free Speech. Scary!!

Karen on 05.07.05 @ 09:00 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Slippery Spin

Dan Froomkin (Washington Post) writes about the “anonymous” and ubiquitous White House use of “Background Briefing” practices to get their “Spin” on issues into the “news” :

"....Washington journalists and the White House are suddenly engaged in a robust debate over the Bush Administration's frequent use of official but anonymous "background briefings."

A group of Washington bureau chiefs met with Press Secretary Scott McClellan on Friday to urge him to curtail the practice. And on Monday, they sent an e-mail to other Washington editors suggesting that, whenever such briefings are announced, reporters should "raise objections beforehand in hopes of convincing the official to go public."

Background briefings are generally used by the White House to flesh out policy proposals that the president only makes in broad strokes. They also are a frequent feature of foreign trips, used to telegraph what Bush intends to accomplish in meetings with foreign leaders and then to provide a "read out" from those meetings.

Sometimes the anonymous briefers speak before a large audience of reporters; sometimes it's on a conference call.

But the anonymity does not typically translate to frankness. The anonymous briefings tend to be as full of spin and empty of straight answers as the ones that are on the record.
Practically speaking, all that the cloak of anonymity does is hinder accountability and undermine journalistic credibility
The unprecedented secrecy with which the Bush administration operates makes it more imperative than ever for reporters to occasionally grant confidentiality to sources who are taking a risk by exposing information that the public has a right to know.

That's a stark contrast from those maddening White House briefings where a senior administration official stands in front of an auditorium full of reporters, says nothing remotely controversial, and yet insists on being cloaked in anonymity.

From the reporters' perspective, there is really no excuse for the latter."

Karen on 05.07.05 @ 08:42 AM CST [link] [ | ]

I’ve been wondering…

….and especially after reading this one:

I came across this piece about his ex-wife speaking candidly on Charles Graner in this article Ex-wife: Charles Graner a 'monster' reported at CNN.com.:

"He's like my Hannibal Lecter, he really is. He's the monster in my life," said Morris, who has two teenage children from her 10-year marriage with Graner, the central figure in the Abu Ghraib abuse of Iraqi prisoners.

Morris, 34, a nurse who has remarried and lives outside Pittsburgh, said the former U.S. prison guard now serving a 10-year sentence would proudly e-mail his children photos showing tough treatment of Iraqi prisoners.

He would send photos of "these beat up prisoners and blood and talk about how cool it was -- look what daddy gets to do," she said, adding that she did not show them the correspondence
Graner transmitted pictures of the mentally ill prisoner who was the man at the end of England's leash. In one photo the man was covered in his feces.

"The whup ass (beatings) ran like a river," Morris quoted Graner as saying about the frequent beatings of prisoners. "He had complete contempt for prisoners; as far as he was concerned they had no rights," she added in summing up his attitude as a U.S. corrections officer in Pennsylvania.

Some of the e-mails Graner sent to family and friends were cited in his January court-martial.
Asked how Graner might have thought to stack seven naked Iraqi prisoners into a human pyramid, Morris said: "He's obsessed with this kind of stuff."

"He is a sexual deviant," she said. "He was very sexually strange, into very strange things."

As their relationship was faltering, Graner twice set up covert video surveillance of Morris's bedroom -- and then told her about it. On other occasions Graner recounted to guests invented tales about their sexual exploits, Morris said.”

So…what EXACTLY could Lynndie England have seen in this guy???

And maybe she is as “incapable mentally” as the judge who overturned her conviction has suspected….and not merely deficit about telling right from wrong either.

But luckily Richard Cohen has hit the nail on the head, perhaps, in the this analysis of the situation: Victim and Victimizer
"....There is no end to the sadness of Lynndie England. There is no excusing what she did, but explaining is a different matter. She is that rare genuine article, the cliche, the stereotype that turns out upon investigation to be true. She lived with her family in a trailer in West Virginia. She's only a high school graduate. She married when she was 19 -- on a lark, she told her friends, and then for only two years.

She joined the Army Reserve not, as the flag-wavers would like it, for patriotic reasons but for college money (she wanted to be a meteorologist and chase storms). She had an affair or something with Graner in Iraq and has a baby by him. He apparently encouraged her to abuse prisoners. He also married another woman.

A psychologist from her home area testified that England had been a blue baby, born also with a malformation of the tongue that gave her a speech impediment. Apparently, she often chose not to talk at all. She had a learning disability as well. And you can see -- can't you? -- what no one will testify to: She's homely -- and that matters for a woman in America. She posed for pornographic pictures with Graner. The discipline of the Army apparently meant she no longer had to have any herself. This is why fascism can be so (sexually) exciting.
It is the same with Lynndie England. She is the sort of woman who gets used by others, most often men. Powerless everywhere in life except on her end of the leash, she just had to come night after night to the section of Abu Ghraib where Graner held sway. She was admonished for this -- her real work was suffering -- but Graner drew her. She knew that what she was doing was wrong -- "I could have said no,'' she told the military court. "I knew it was wrong.'' But in all likelihood, only theoretically could she have said no. Some women always say yes.

How sad, how ironic, that this wee woman should have become the personification of supposed American arrogance. Like all those convicted for the abuses of Abu Ghraib, she is one of America's little people -- not an officer, not even regular Army, but one of a collection of nobodies just trying to get somewhere better. Lynndie England was one of them, and she is suffering for that -- officially for abusing prisoners, actually for being a loser. Whatever the outcome of her trial, the sentence will be life.”

A very sad commentary on Ms. England, but maybe as true as any other “explanation” for her entire behavior can be…

Karen on 05.06.05 @ 05:41 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Dedication Ceremony…

Here are the final pictures of the Student Assembly for the unveiling ceremony:

art1 (99k image)

The classes are packed into the Library and surrounding stairways and balconies.

art2 (73k image)

The anticipation builds as they watch a slide show presentation of the creation of the work in progress.

art3 (80k image)

The tarp is pulled away to show the finished piece all assembled into a completed work.

art4 (68k image)

The figures are now painted and set for the “Day in the Life of a Heartland Student.”

art5 (63k image)

A “Community Creation” by Ken Olis and the Heartland Children, Teachers and Families.

Too Kool: And a BIG THANKS Ken Olis.

Karen on 05.06.05 @ 03:04 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Gem o'the Day:

From Jerry Politex at Bushwatch:

The courts, DeLay believes, have run amok.
He's catalogued the wrongs that must be righted.
If he already rails against the courts,
Just think of how he'll feel once he's indicted.
--Calvin Trillin

Len on 05.06.05 @ 12:50 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Speaking of triple plays....

I'm taking this under advisement as My Most Favorite Baseball Play Of All Time:

Obviously you don’t need three defensive players to pull off a triple play...sometimes you need more. For example, on May 22, 1949, Dick Wakefield of the Tigers came up to the plate with runners on first and third and no outs in the bottom of the 8th against the Yankees. Wakefield hit a groundball to first baseman Nick Etten who threw home to catcher, Bill Dickey who tossed the ball back to third baseman, Snuffy Stirnweiss, who tagged the runner retreating back to third for the first out. Meanwhile, during the rundown, the runner from first had rounded second and Wakefield headed to second. Stirnweiss tossed to Yankee second baseman Joe Gordon who relayed to Phil Rizzuto to catcher the runner at first in a rundown. Rizzuto threw to back to Stirnweiss who tagged the runner out for out number two. Meanwhile Wakefield, who was near second during the rundown started heading back to first. Stirnweiss threw to Etten, at which point Wakefield headed to second and Etten threw to Rizzuto who made the tag to complete the triple play. For those you scoring at home, the play went, 3-2-5-4-6-4-3-6 with the ball changing hands eight times.
That comes to us courtesy of today's Billy-Ball email newsletter.

Len on 05.06.05 @ 12:13 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Significant dates....

Today is the 90th anniversary of the birth of Orson Welles.

When you are down and out something always turns up - and it is usually the noses of your friends.
--Orson Welles

Len on 05.06.05 @ 09:59 AM CST [link] [ | ]

And speaking of the General...

Apparently, the folks at the Sorry, Everybody website (Americans apologizing to the world for our collective stupidity in returning George Dumbya Bush to the White House) collected many of the pictures posted to the site and turned them into a book. Quite predictably, the waste of organic chemicals who created and inflicts the Little Green Footballs website on the world was quite outraged, and claimed to perceive some sort of inherent contradiction in people opposed to The Chimpanzee in Chief succumbing to "the siren call of capitalism" and publishing a book--as if thinking that opposition to the president automatically implies that one is in some way opposed to capitalism. The mindless drones that frequent LGF, of course, took their clue from Their Demented Leader and began flooding Amazon.com with fake reviews of the book. The good news stemming from that otherwise laughable story, though, is that their actions motivated General J.C. Christian, patriot, to write his own Amazon review of the book:

Not Sorry
Gen. JC Christian, patriot (Tremonton, UT)

Unlike the authors of this book, I'm not sorry that Our Leader is still president. Thanks to him, Iraq now has better torture and rape rooms than it ever did under Saddam.

Our nickle-plated nipple electrodes never rust. They are as dependable on the ten thousandth interrogation as they were on the first. Saddam's cheap little steel electrodes were the butt of interrogator's jokes everywhere.

As for forced sodomy, the Army's M-480B "Bugger Humper" Glowstick is in a class by itself. Unlike the Six Day War era truncheons favored by Saddam's secret police, the M-480B casts a greenish glow that allows the interrogator to clearly see his or her work. It's the kind of technology that makes me proud to be American.

It's obvious that the authors didn't take the time to look into the truth about the war. One has to wonder why they hate freedom so passionately.
Priceless. The General is A National Treasure.

Len on 05.06.05 @ 09:01 AM CST [link] [ | ]

"When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro." --Dr Hunter S. Thompson

Yesterday was not only the National Day Of Reason, as I noted (a couple times), it was also the "National Day of Prayer". And yesterday, apparently, something happened that I've been expecting for quite some time now, but I haven't bothered to mention because it was so weird that people would surely ridicule me and say, "Well, Len, now you've gone off the deep end...."

Yesterday, Pastor Chan Chandler of the East Waynesville Baptist Church, Waynesville, NC, declared that members of the church who were Democrats or who had voted for John Kerry were "against the church", and they were urged either to "repent" their sin or resign from the church. The stories I've been seeing suggest that 9 members were "excommunicated" and another 40 resigned from the church in protest.

Time for some Mencken, I think:

There is, in fact, nothing about religious opinions that entitles them to any more respect than other opinions get. On the contrary, they tend to be noticeably silly.
And another of my favorites:
We must respect the other fellow's religion, but only in the same sense and to the same extent that we respect his theory that his wife is beautiful and his children smart.
Not having met Pastor Chandler's wife and children, I withhold comment. :-) I will, however, be keeping an eye on General J.C. Christian, patriot, who will, I'm sure, have one of his trenchant comments on the situation as soon as the news dispatches catch up with him.

Credit: Daily Kos via GWBblows Blog.

Len on 05.06.05 @ 08:50 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Things that make you go "Hmmmmmmm...."

Going over my email inbox, I click through a link in the email to a Chicago Sun-Times story about Cubs pitcher Mark Prior. Apparently, Prior, in his youth, had been coached by former MLB pitcher Tom House, who recently admitted use of steroids, amphetamines and human growth hormone during the '60s and '70s. Trying to avoid the (probably inevitable) guilt by association, Prior called a news conference to deny use of any performance enhancing (or any other) drugs.

What raised my eyebrows, though, were the sponsored links at the bottom of the page (URLs printed in these ads redacted for reasons you'll realize on a moment's reflection...):

Steroids for sale
Steroids build muscles quickly. Deca, Winstrol, Test, Anadrol

Steroid-Test-Winest V-GH?
better than average Steroids COD C.C. buy 1 cycle 42.95 get 1 Free

Steroids & Sports?
Steroids Boost Performance. Legal- D-Bol, Winni-V, Anodrol, Deca, Test
Y'know, it's bad enough that the sports press has to pile on the steroids hype, but the least they can do is take some affirmative step to keep from receiving ad revenues from the same sources that they pretend so vigorously to condemn....

Len on 05.06.05 @ 07:52 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Thought for the Day:

Up until the spring of 2002, it had been a good, long while since anyone had stumped me with a Superman question. That changed the day I had to face one that, oddly, it had never even occurred to me to ask:

"Why does he do what he does?"

The man who confronted me with those words and got to savor watching a lifetime of smugness evaporate from my face as I flailed for an answer was Dan Didio, Executive Editor of DC Comics, the publishers of Superman's exploits. Again, being a Superman expert is not my day job, though it's certainly a pertinent sideline. For most of my adult life, I've enjoyed a career as a reasonably successful comic book writer, and my boss had just approached me about creating a new Superman series called
Superman: Birthright that would, as he put it, "re-imagine Superman for the 21st century." Understandably, he wanted to get my take on Superman's basic motivation. Why does Superman do what he does? What are his reasons? What moves him to take on the role of everyone's protector and defender? Why does he invariably seek to do the right thing?

"Why? Because," I responded with a telling stammer, "because doing the right thing is...is...is the right thing to do..."

"I'm hiring you to re-imagine harder than
that," my boss insisted....
--Mark Waid

Len on 05.06.05 @ 07:34 AM CST [link] [ | ]

More May Day Fridays...

Another Looooong Week leading into a Crash and Burn Friday…

But having been “plastering” all week on “Community Creations” (dedication is today); and having had a marathon four hour FFMA BOD meeting last night interviewing four potential management company candidates (‘til about 11:15 pm); and tracking down information on Jail legal cases and similar Community issues (Thanks Tim Sandefur for helping!!) -- I am “toasted” through and through…

But, It’s time to move ahead with my Friday Theme of the Month for May:

The Majesty of the Merry Month Means More Mystical Motivation.

And, per usual, Everyone is Welcome join me in this marvelous premise (after my "nap" - LOL) And hopefully I’ll get to a few other posts yet in my in-bin -- but no promises today.

Karen on 05.06.05 @ 05:32 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Hot damn....

Just heard Mike Shannon call a 3-6 (that's what he called it; I'd probably score it a 3-6-3) triple play in the Cards game against the Padres at Busch tonight. Apparently Albert Pujols caught a line drive for the first out, threw to Eckstein to nail the lead baserunner, and then Eck tossed it back to Pujols in time to get the runner heading back to first. According to Shannon, he thought Prince Albert could have had an unassisted triple play; I can't visualize it myself, but I suppose it's possible.

Len on 05.05.05 @ 07:35 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Peggy Phillip sees some good news, for a change....

The Memphis News Diva is happy that Journalists seem to be "significantly more ethical than the average adult".

Lee Wilkins remembers well the reaction she'd often get when identifying herself as a reporter.

"I had a standard line," said Wilkins, now a journalism professor at the University of Missouri-Columbia. "I would always say back, 'I won't accuse you of all the ills of your profession if you won't accuse me of all the ills of mine.'"

Recent research by Wilkins and Renita Coleman of Louisiana State University may provide some vindication for members of a profession that's taken a beating in recent years with high-profile blunders.

Wilkins and Coleman surveyed journalists for the first time using a decades-old model for assessing one's morals, a test given to more than 30,000 people representing numerous professions.

According to the researchers, journalists are significantly more ethical than the average adult -- eclipsed only by seminarians, doctors and medical students.
Note to Professor Steve "I hate doctors" Lubet of Northwestern University Law School: there's mention of doctors there, but no lawyers. Draw your own conclusion.
Journalists had an average score of 48.7 on a 100-point scale, meaning just about half the time, members of the profession make decisions based on the best quality ethical reasoning. That rate was exceeded only by seminarians/philosophers at 65.1, medical students at 50.2 and practicing physicians at 49.2.

Nurses, orthopedic surgeons and members of the Navy are among the groups that trailed journalists. Junior high school students scored lowest, with 20.0, just below prison inmates, with 23.7.
Um.... the implication here is that orthopedic surgeons aren't practicing physicians. (I'm assuming that most people would lump "physicians" and "surgeons" together under the broader category, "doctors". I wonder what the deal is that orthopedic surgeons get their own category. Or is there something so wicked, depraved, and perverse about orthopedic surgeons that their brother medical men don't want anything to do with them?)

I also wonder where lawyers scored (I suspect right above prison inmates).... I'm not at all suprised at the high score of philosophers/seminarians, though I suspect that has something to do with "knowing the correct answers". :-) Interesting that it's seminarians that are listed; the implication is that once they get into the ministry they get significantly less ethical.

I totally believe what they say about junior high students, though; I remember my daughter when she was that age.....*shudder*

Of course, the reason there is that that those are the years between the time the aliens abduct our children and leave ravening, amoral monsters in their place, and the time that the aliens bring our children back. So maybe we should leave them out of the equation there.

UPDATE: In the comments Mike Hollihan makes a couple of points:
They still don't rate too highly at only 48% "ethical" or "...decisions based on the best quality ethical reasoning." Whatever that means.... Notice that the author doesn't mention what the "average adult" rates, either.
Because it's easier, I'll take your second point first. The paper in question is, as it turns out, available online (.pdf format; Adobe Reader or other .pdf reader required), so feel free to give it a read and pick apart the methodology if you want. As to the score of adults in general, I'll do you one better; rather than tell you where the average adult rated I'll reprint the actual table:

Mean P Scores of Various Professions

Seminarians/Philosophers 65.10
Medical Students 50.20
Practicing Physicians 49.20
Journalists 48.68
Dental Students 47.60
Nurses 46.30
Graduate Students 44.90
Undergraduate Students 43.20
Accounting Students 42.80
Veterinary Students 42.20
Navy Enlisted Men 41.60
Orthopedic Surgeons 41.00
Adults in General 40.00
Business Professionals 38.13
Business Students 37.40
High School Students 31.00
Prison Inmates 23.70
Junior High Students 20.00

You started off with: They still don't rate too highly at only 48% "ethical" or "...decisions based on the best quality ethical reasoning." Whatever that means..... "Whatever that means" is basically Lawrence Kohlberg's theory of moral development; the Defining Issues Test (you may be able to take an online version) is based on Kohlberg's theory and your perception of its validity may depend on your acceptance or not of Kohlberg's theory. Given that definition, though, the "P score" is defined (if I'm reading the Coleman and Wilkins article correctly) as the percentage of the time that a respondent makes his/her moral decisions from Kohlberg's "higher" levels of moral development vice from Kohlberg's lower levels.

Kohlberg's "higher" levels of moral development entailed the subject's ability to move beyond mere obedience to authority or reliance on social convention and evidence the subject's ability to make decisions based on understanding of social mutuality, sincere interest in the welfare of others, and respect for universal moral principles and the demands of individual conscience. Further, Kohlberg himself believed that very few individuals made moral decisions from those higher levels; IIRC he never did decide if he'd name anyone who consistently acted from the highest levels of his moral development scale, although he did have a few nominees for that elevated plateau.

So, while 48% (really rounded up to 49%) of action from a higher level of moral development may not look that impressive to you, you may be viewing the scale from a formal schooling biased view of percentage scales, where less than 65-60% is failing. Note that in that perspective, the scores of seminarians (who you'd think as a class would be operating from a "higher level of moral development") is pretty damn poor (barely passing with a D at 65%).

Len on 05.05.05 @ 02:01 PM CST [link] [ | ]

I am pure....

I am:
"You're a complete liberal, utterly without a trace of Republicanism. Your strength is as the strength of ten because your heart is pure. (You hope.)"

Are You A Republican?

Credit: tgirsch at Lean Left

Len on 05.05.05 @ 01:31 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Revisiting statistics....

Bryan at Why Now? reminds us of the deceptive nature of what statisticians like to call a certain "measure of central tendency", the "arithmetic mean" (you're probably more familiar with it as "average"):

When you hear people talking about money you have to watch the words that they use. One of the most important ways to "lie" about income is to convince people that "median" and "average" mean the same thing, and they most definitely do not.

If you have a company where 100 people make $10/hour, 5 people make $20/hour, one makes $40/hour, and the CEO makes $500/hour, the
median income is $10/hour while the average income is $15.33/hour. Note that only seven of 107 people in the company make at least the average income.

When someone like Wal-Mart tells the world that the
average salary for their company is $19,000/year, they don't say how many of their employees actually make that much money. When the top salaries in a corporation are measured in hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars, the average can rise remarkably.
I have a favorite story, probably apocryphal, which illustrates the point in a memorable way. I've used it before in this very spot, but it's worth dusting off again.

I'm told that the Geography Department of the University of North Carolina used to tell prospective geography majors that the average salary of UNC alumni who took their degrees in geography was $250,000 per year.

What they didn't tell their prospective majors was that one of those UNC alumni who took his degree in geography was a gentleman named Michael Jordan, who is better known for his achievements in a field other than geography.

Let s/he who has ears, hear....

Len on 05.05.05 @ 12:50 PM CST [link] [ | ]


This Day Four of the Super Kool “Community Creation” Art Project, and a final day to add the last “Details” to the pieces.

pico1 (66k image)

Here is the Recorder Player now with Hair and Clothing details.

guit2 (64k image)

This shows another musical performer. And shown as the piece will be seen when hung up.

comp3 (61k image)

Notice the added details on the backboards. And even glasses on this Computer Student.

shoe1 (50k image)

Some of the very last details, and since the pieces will be hung up high to be viewed from below, was to add “treads” to the shoes. So…here’s a few I worked on as “Karen having fun with tread details artistic interpretation.” LOL

shoe2 (62k image)

Another of “Karen shoe treads.” And the First Grader Clown.

Tomorrow is the “Dedication Ceremony” when the Triptych of pieces will get put up on the Library wall. (Final picture will be coming tomorrow.)

Karen on 05.05.05 @ 12:13 PM CST [link] [ | ]

All Hail Prince Albert....

Over at the Hardball Times, Studes reviews Michael Schell's Baseball's All-Time Best Sluggers: Ten Things I Learned From A Book. As a little bit of lagniappe, Studes adds an 11th thing he learned from Schell's book:

At his current rate, Albert Pujols will be the eighth-greatest batter of all time.

Just behind Willie Mays and Lou Gehrig, and just ahead of Stan Musial and Ty Cobb.
I will repeat myself: as long as the boy doesn't have a career ending injury, he's headed to Cooperstown.

Len on 05.05.05 @ 11:48 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Practical Household Experimental Science....

According to The Urban Legend Reference Pages, there's an email meme circulating around the 'net listing alternative uses for Bounce® brand fabric softener sheets. Now, the ULRP reports that an intrepid reader of theirs has tested the various alternative uses for Bounce®. The results? At the risk of spoiling your fun: some work; some don't. Follow the second link to find out what the uses are, and which ones work.

Len on 05.05.05 @ 10:51 AM CST [link] [ | ]

A different Descartes joke...

or at least this is one I'd never heard before:

I am, therefore, I think.
Or is that putting Descartes before the horse.

Len on 05.05.05 @ 10:13 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Making Strides in Technology....

Microsoft's AntiSpyware Tool Removes Internet Explorer:

Many Microsoft Windows users who downloaded the recently released AntiSpyware program from Microsoft, or had it installed through an automatic Windows update, woke up to a surprise. Unintentionally, the heuristics of the software detected Internet Explorer as spyware, and removed the program from their systems.

Microsoft has pulled the program from its website until the problem can be corrected. Elias Weatherbee, a Microsoft representative, said the program was "only in beta" and that "a fix was forthcoming."

"It shows how powerful our AntiSpyware program is," said Weatherbee. "Not only is it able to remove spyware from the system, but also the source of most spyware. Our competitors can't match that."

A representative from Lavasoft, which sells Ad-Aware another spyware removal program, complained that Microsoft was using its monopoly and knowledge of the operating system to "offer features that others can't match."

"Tough shit," said Weatherbee.


Symantec Antivirus Research reported that virus sightings were down by 95% this morning.
For those of you not familiar with BBSpot, think of The Onion and you'll get the idea quickly enough....

Len on 05.05.05 @ 10:03 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Just a reminder....

Today is the National Day of Reason. If you're in Memphis, you can meet other reasonable Memphians at Bosco's Squared, 2120 Madison at Overton Square, Memphis, TN at 6 PM tonight. If you're over at the other end o'the state (Knoxvegas area), you can attend a cookout at Tyson Park, 2351 Kingston Pike, Knoxville (Shelter #1), sponsored by Rationalists of East Tennessee (hope the weather is cooperating wit y'all, guys!).

If you're not in Memphis or Knoxvegas, you can find a list of National Day of Reason activities online.

Len on 05.05.05 @ 09:48 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Interesting Photos, Geek Edition....

On a tangent from some online research I did for my last post, I'm pleased to present:

A picture of computing demi-god RADM Grace Murray Hopper, USN, as a mere Lieutenant, Junior Grade. The thing that fascinates me is that this picture is obviously from a time when the WAVES existed as a separate component of the Naval Service (when I was in the Navy, "WAVE" was used colloquially in the fleet as synonymous with "female sailor", but the WAVES had long since ceased to exist as a separate organization in the Navy).

Navy Trivia questions for today:

1) How do I know that this picture dates to the days of the WAVES as a separate component?

2) What's the source of the term "WAVES" for women in the Naval Service?

Answers when I feel like it. :-)

Len on 05.05.05 @ 08:26 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Stupid lawsuits department....

Not stupid as in, "How stupid it is that this old lady should get millions for spilling hot coffee on her lap" or other examples of "lawsuit abuse" that you can probably think of, but stupid as in, "Y'know, maybe we shouldn't have filed that lawsuit in the first place..."

Today's Lockergnome Linux Fanatics newsletter pointed me to LinuxPlanet's review of Mandriva LE (Limited Edition), the latest release of The Distribution Formerly Known As Mandrake. This review interested me because I've been a happy user of Mandrake Linux since about version 8.0, and about once a year (this time of year, in fact) I usually consider buying a copy of the latest general release of Mandrake (well, now Mandriva, but we'll get to that...).

By way of background, Mandrakesoft, the company behind Mandrake Linux, acquired Connectiva, another Linux distribution, and a few months ago, shortly after the acquisition, we received word via Mandrakesoft's customer email newsletter that Mandrake was changing its name to "Mandriva", a portmanteau of "Mandrake" and "Connectiva". I'm also a subscriber to the Mandrake-Linux Yahoo Group (http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Mandrake-Linux/ if you want to check it out for yourself), and we had a brief discussion of the name change on the group (the general consensus was pretty much in the nature of, "WTF?..."), but nobody seemed to come up with any particular explanation of why Mandrake decided to change its name (or "to rebrand", in business jargon). I hadn't given the issue much thought until reading LinuxPlanet's Mandriva review this morning. The first section is titled "The Obligatory Lawyer Razzing", and therein appears this (to me) curious sentence:

Recently, these two distributions merged to form Mandriva, which means "The Hearst Corporation can go perform a physically impossible act" in Esperanto.
This piqued my interest, so I did a quick Google search on "mandrake linux hearst", and came up with this pretty damn significant hit:
MandrakeSoft S.A. initiated an action in a French court against Hearst Holdings, Inc. in an attempt to have Hearst’s MANDRAKE LE MAGICIEN (MANDRAKE) trademark cancelled. Hearst Holdings, Inc. responded to that suit and in December, 2003, the French court ruled in favor of Hearst. The French court concluded in part, that MandrakeSoft S.A.’s use of the trademarks MANDRAKE and LINUX-MANDRAKE, as well as its reservation of numerous Internet domain names that include the term “mandrake,” infringed Hearst’s rights in the MANDRAKE LE MAGICIEN (MANDRAKE) trademark. The court therefore ordered the cancellation of MandrakeSoft S.A.’s various MANDRAKE trademarks and prohibited MandrakeSoft S.A. from using the name MANDRAKE.
[Hyperlink added --LRC]

Suddenly, the scales fell from my eyes and I understood exactly (well, more or less) what had occurred. I'd lived through this once before. Rather than clog up the main page with a long and rather boring story from my past, the one or two of you who might be interested can just click on "more" to see the gory details....

Len on 05.05.05 @ 08:13 AM CST [more..] [ | ]


Michael Kinsley (LA Times) has written this GEM ostensibly about the morass of Bush “ideas” on Soc. Sec. as a “mathematical fraud” which shows that all GW “wants in return is the opportunity to try something that will alienate people from the Republican Party for generations.” Bush Gets B+ for Honesty, Even Courage, on Social Security:

Question: Is the poll troubling?

The president: Polls? You know, if a president tries to govern based upon polls, you're kind of like a dog chasing your tail. I don't think you can make good, sound decisions based upon polls. And I don't think the American people want a president who relies upon polls and focus groups to make decisions for the American people.

— President Bush's

Thursday news conference
Or the president could be struggling toward some kind of Burkean notion that he has been elected to lead people, not to follow their whims, and leadership matters only when it takes people where they don't want to go.….”

But it’s this sentence [emphasis mine] that captures my earlier point To “Lead” where one can not follow… about the Bush “Leadership” versus “Governance” style and whether people really wish to be “lead” into this warped vision of Bush-World as their future.

(Polls seem to indicate a resounding majority of Americans DO NOT want to follow his lead on many of these issues…but then again, according to GW: “What do they know…???”)

Karen on 05.05.05 @ 06:02 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Thought for the Day:

The problem with special-interest conservatives is not that such agenda items violate their greater principles on any given point, any more than the policies promoted by Democratic interests violate liberal principles. Rather, it's that the entire enterprise of running Washington as a special-interest spoils system breeds a bloated, ineffective government—which does very much go against conservative principle. Ten years ago, conservatives defined themselves in large measure by their belief in less government. Many still view themselves that way, but the self-conception no longer has anything to do with reality. A recent Cato Institute study points out that for the 101 biggest programs that the Contract With America Republicans proposed to eliminate as unnecessary in 1995, spending has now risen 27 percent under a continuously Republican Congress. Likewise, the conservative notion of deregulation has been supplanted by a demand for moralistic regulation, while the demand for judicial restraint has been replaced by pressure for right-wing judicial activism.

Over time, the kind of special-interest politics practiced by President Bush and the Republicans in Congress becomes not just hypocritical, but corrupt and ridiculous. The year has been rich in embarrassing episodes: the Department of Education, an agency that many true conservatives believe should not exist, paying right-wing para-journalist Armstrong Williams to promote an expanded federal role in education; former Christian Coalition director Ralph Reed, a moral opponent of legalized gambling, collecting $4 million via Jack Abramoff to help Indians with a casino fight off other Indians with casinos; the new chairman of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, another institution antithetical to conservative principle, demanding more PBS slots for conservatives in the name of "balance." Reagan and Gingrich wanted to cleanse the Augean stables. Bush, Frist, and DeLay merely demand that the patronage now go to their hacks.
--Jacob Weisberg, on "Interest-Group Conservatism"

Len on 05.05.05 @ 05:40 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Concrete Construction

US News Wire had this article on Concrete Construction and Tornado Safety:

”The month of May has the dubious distinction of being the most active tornado month. According to the National Weather Service, the record was set in May 2003, with 543 confirmed tornadoes. The most inherent danger to people and property during tornadoes is the debris carried in the high winds. Enter concrete homes.

Tests comparing the impact resistance of residential concrete wall construction to conventionally framed walls reveal that that concrete homes have the strength and mass to resist the impact of wind driven debris.

To duplicate tornado-like conditions, researchers at the Wind Science and Engineering Research Center at Texas Tech University shot wall sections in a laboratory with 15-pound 2 x 4 lumber "missiles" at up to 100 mph, simulating debris carried in a 250-mph wind.

This testing covered the maximum wind speed generated in 99 percent of U.S. tornadoes. Wind speeds are less than 150 miles per hour in 90 percent of tornadoes.

Researchers tested 4-by-4-foot sections of concrete block, several types of insulating concrete forms, steel studs, and wood studs to rate performance in high winds. The sections were finished as they would be in a completed home: drywall, fiberglass batt insulation, plywood sheathing, and exterior finishes of vinyl siding, clay brick, or stucco.

The concrete wall systems suffered no structural damage during the tests. However, the lightweight steel and wood stud walls offered little or no resistance. In some instances, the debris "missile" perforated completely through the wall.

Concrete homes meet both of the criteria needed to protect occupants in a deadly tornado-structural integrity and missile shielding ability.”

Having grown up in a “concrete house” (the plans for my childhood Park Ridge home came from Florida…hence the concrete under-structure with a brick façade and slate roof) I can say it was built like a brick bomb-shelter. It even had a special tornado/hurricane shelter in the basement. It was a SOLID house, even with six kids running, jumping and rampaging around all those years. But they sure don’t build ‘em like they used to…

Karen on 05.05.05 @ 05:20 AM CST [link] [ | ]

More Kool Art Progress (Day Three)

The Kane County Chronicle had a nice article about the “Community Creations” Art Project I’ve been lending a helping hand to this week. Give it a read at this link:Children Cast Themselves Into Self-Portraits by Brenda Schory.

Here are some more pictures of the progress being made each day:

access1 (59k image)

Accessories were also “plastered” and made ready to add to the piece.

mom1 (65k image)

Yesterday, parts of the “Student bodies” were assembled and arranged on the backboards in the poses. The clothes were stuffed with newspaper and affixed to the board. As you can see, these Art Mom’s are BUSY at work. Children cycled in, class by class, and helped in these tasks.

dad1 (70k image)

Here is and Art Dad helping to attach the arms to a figure. An almost completed figure of a child playing a recorder can be seen in the foreground. Hair and decorations still will be added as finishing touches.

mom2 (76k image)

Joanna Ottley, the PTO Beautifcation Committee Chairperson, discovered Ken Olis and his art work and hired him for this special Heartland Art Project. Hard at work is Joanna!

This project is shceduled to be completed in Four days. They are on target to have all the figures assembled, decorated and detailed with hair and clothing for a dedication ceremony on Friday.

I’ll post pictures of the final pieces when they get hung in the Library.

Karen on 05.04.05 @ 06:08 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Investment opportunity?

Jennifer Wilbanks Runaway Bride Found On My Toast!!!!

Either Jennifer, or maybe the Virgin Mary; I'm a bit color blind in that area of the spectrum:

Thanks to Brian Arner for the pointer.

Len on 05.04.05 @ 04:09 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Is it my imagination....

or is the Levi's ad on this page ("World Gone Pretty"; requires Windows Media Player, it looks like) done with your classic, 11" G.I. Joe figures (albeit perhaps with different, custom made heads)? The way the figures are articulated looks exactly like the classic G.I. Joes of my youth.

And while you're visiting there, check out Dog Anxiety. I got a big laugh....

Len on 05.04.05 @ 09:40 AM CST [link] [ | ]

From the NY Times, some news you can use....

or, rather, your college bound son/daughter can use.

Apparently, the key to acing the new SAT Essay Exam is quantity, not quality.

IN March, Les Perelman attended a national college writing conference and sat in on a panel on the new SAT writing test. Dr. Perelman is one of the directors of undergraduate writing at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He did doctoral work on testing and develops writing assessments for entering M.I.T. freshmen. He fears that the new 25-minute SAT essay test that started in March - and will be given for the second time on Saturday - is actually teaching high school students terrible writing habits.

"It appeared to me that regardless of what a student wrote, the longer the essay, the higher the score," Dr. Perelman said. A man on the panel from the College Board disagreed. "He told me I was jumping to conclusions," Dr. Perelman said. "Because M.I.T. is a place where everything is backed by data, I went to my hotel room, counted the words in those essays and put them in an Excel spreadsheet on my laptop."

In the next weeks, Dr. Perelman studied every graded sample SAT essay that the College Board made public. He looked at the 15 samples in the ScoreWrite book that the College Board distributed to high schools nationwide to prepare students for the new writing section. He reviewed the 23 graded essays on the College Board Web site meant as a guide for students and the 16 writing "anchor" samples the College Board used to train graders to properly mark essays.

He was stunned by how complete the correlation was between length and score. "I have never found a quantifiable predictor in 25 years of grading that was anywhere near as strong as this one," he said. "If you just graded them based on length without ever reading them, you'd be right over 90 percent of the time." The shortest essays, typically 100 words, got the lowest grade of one. The longest, about 400 words, got the top grade of six. In between, there was virtually a direct match between length and grade.

He was also struck by all the factual errors in even the top essays.


Dr. Perelman contacted the College Board and was surprised to learn that on the new SAT essay, students are not penalized for incorrect facts. The official guide for scorers explains: "Writers may make errors in facts or information that do not affect the quality of their essays. For example, a writer may state 'The American Revolution began in 1842' or ' "Anna Karenina," a play by the French author Joseph Conrad, was a very upbeat literary work.' " (Actually, that's 1775; a novel by the Russian Leo Tolstoy; and poor Anna hurls herself under a train.)
[And let's not forget that Joseph Conrad, for that matter, was born Polish (though he later became a naturalized British citizen, and wrote all his works in English)... --LRC] No matter. "You are scoring the writing, and not the correctness of facts."

How to prepare for such an essay? "I would advise writing as long as possible," said Dr. Perelman, "and include lots of facts, even if they're made up." This, of course, is not what he teaches his M.I.T. students. "It's exactly what we don't want to teach our kids," he said.

SAT graders are told to read an essay just once and spend two to three minutes per essay, and Dr. Perelman is now adept at rapid-fire SAT grading. This reporter held up a sample essay far enough away so it could not be read, and he was still able to guess the correct grade by its bulk and shape. "That's a 4," he said. "It looks like a 4."
New and improved? Well, maybe that's half right...

Len on 05.04.05 @ 09:13 AM CST [link] [ | ]

The problem with the world....

is that half the population is below median intelligence.

I belong to a mailing list called "The God/dess of the Month Club". Every month the moderator sends out some information about that month's holidays (especially obscure religious ones) and a fact sheet about some god/dess from some human belief system. And the remainder of the time, there's occasional chit chat.

Yesterday we received this post from the moderator:

I figured the humor part of the main page of the God of the Month Club was pretty obvious.

And yet today I got the following from someone who will remain nameless.


"I gather you have something to do with the God of the Month Club, though just what is unclear. As a matter of fact, your entire web site is maddeningly unclear, if I am interested in giving a God of the Month Club membership to a friend. Where are the details? How do you place an order for membership? What does the recipient actually get? What's the cost? How does the recipient know who gave the membership to him (her)?"


I don't want to sound harsh, but I just guess some people were just born to keep the Nigerian E-Mail scam artists from starving.


The God/dess Of The Month Club:


Len on 05.04.05 @ 08:44 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Dammit, the idea's been taken....

Len on 05.04.05 @ 08:13 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Thought for the Day:

"All these locations are generally in the same reservation as Groom Lake/Area 51," says JA, who, along with DS, was nice enough to take a gander at the pics for me. "Given that this was the location for a lot of the testing for the F117s and various other black craft, it makes sense to have local targets -- keeps you from having to fly over unsecure ground. But the lack of an identifiable golf course is highly suspicious for a supposed USAF facility."
--Noah Schactman, on mystery airfields and other geographical anomalies found on Google satellite photographs

Len on 05.04.05 @ 07:30 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Not a Harley Heaven….

…At least in St. Charles, Illinois according to this story from Tom Schueter (Kane County Chronicle) Residents sound off on Harley noise.

”….Residents attended a public hearing Monday in order to give their opinions about the proposed Zylstra Harley-Davidson Center, a shopping center proposed for 37 acres on the west side of Randall Road north of Oak Street, that would include a Harley-Davidson dealership.

Most of those who spoke are concerned about the potential for noise.

John Schmidt, who lives west of the proposed dealership, said the noise of a Harley can be heard "2 to 3 miles away."

"These straight-pipe Harley-Davidsons shake my house," Schmidt said.

The Planning and Development Committee will take up the Zylstra proposal at its Monday meeting. The plan commission voted to give the project a negative recommendation at its April 5 meeting.
The image of the Harley and its riders also took a beating from the residents.

"It's not something that goes along with the image of St. Charles. When you say St. Charles, you have that allure that anyone else in Kane County would love to have," said resident Brandon Jones...."

Reminds me of a family trip to see Mt. Rushmore in the Black Hill and the Crazy Horse Monument – It was during the annual Sturgis Harley Rally -- with every biker from as many of the 48 continguous States in attendance roaming the beautiful hills and canyons.

But it was the “Biker Babes” that caught the attention of my daughters (who were approx 8, 6 and 4 years old) at the time.

Their eyes took on the size of dinner plates looking at the Harley Women, scantily clad in the merest strips of black leather, sporting assorted tattoos and piercings, streaming past perched on the belly of the Harley Hogs. Coming from the “White bread” area of River Forest, IL, this was a concept of “womanhood” they had never seen before (or after). LOL

Though I tend to agree with Gary, who refers to motor cyclists as "Future Organ Donors." Not the safest mode 'o' transport. Kool to see...but not for me.

Karen on 05.04.05 @ 05:31 AM CST [link] [ | ]

A Capital Performance...

Just got tickets to see The Capital Steps comedy group. They will be appearing at the Hemmens Center in Elgin, Il, on July 2nd.

Give a listen to their latest offering: “My Living Will” at their Capital Steps website.

These folks are terribly funnie and should be a stitch to see live.

Karen on 05.04.05 @ 05:13 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Monster Hangie-Bur Stories...

As an addendum to Len’s previous post about the “Ye Olde 96er” 6 lb “monster burger” (actually eaten in its entirety by one hapless female diner) are these new “Biggest Burger” Stories making the news from Denny’s Beer Barrel Pub - in Clearfield, PA, and not part of the Denny’s franchise restaurant chain -- on AOL and CNN about their 15 lb Beer Barrel Belly Buster.

This $30 monster burger is “FREE” for any two people who can finish it in one sitting as their meal.

The "title" appears to be "safe" for the feat claimed by Ms. Kate Stelnick, 19, of Princeton, NJ, in successfully scarfing an entire Ye Olde 96er. So far, they claim no Belly Buster has YET been successfully demolished.

So Len’s Burger Story still takes the cake, and the salad, and the appetizer, and the knosh….Oh, you know what I mean!!

And here are a few other other monster sandwiches like the Hardee Burger.

[The coinage of "Hangie-Bur" goes to my Nephew, Patrick, who was approx. 3 yrs old at the time-- He was hungry on a long drive home "trapped' in traffic on an expressway in Houston. Undaunted by his mother's attempts to explain there was no way to exit the expressway to get him an immediate snack, he just kept shouting, "I WANT a Hangie-Bur!!! I WANT it NOW!!" -- as only a three year old can. LOL]

So, occassionally, we go out for "Hangie-Burs" too. :-)

Karen on 05.04.05 @ 04:57 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Because it's scrolled halfway down the page....

it's time for another reminder of the premier social event of the Memphis blogging spring:

Date: May 25, 2005
Time: 7:00 PM (tentative)
Location: The Bar-B-Q Shop, 1782 Madison Ave., Memphis, TN (Midtown)
The agenda for the evening is to eat Abby's favorite BBQ, to drink, to congratulate Abby on the successful defense of her dissertation, and to prove to Karen that I don't spend every night home alone with My Dog:

So make sure you get it on your calendars; like you really have something better to do that night?

Ok, ok, I know Rachel has something better to do. But the rest of you.....

Len on 05.03.05 @ 08:38 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Kool Art in the making…

One of the elementary schools here in Dennis Hastert Corner where my daughter attends is working on a Kool Art project this week (and some of us Mom’s are helping out).

Artist Ken Olis is fabricating what he calls “Community Creations”; life sized sculpture portraits of the “day in the life of a Heartland student.” Below are a few pictures of the beginnings of his concept taking shape.

KenOlis1 (72k image)

Ken explains the process and how the figures are made to a group of children.

KenOlis2 (77k image)

Ken’s drawing concept of the 10 figures to be in the final project grouping.

armleg2a (64k image)

The beginnings of the head, arms and legs take shape.

armleg1a (54k image)

Arms and legs will be matched, bodies created of stuffed clothing, heads attached and dressed in shoes – which will all be plastered over to create the completed figures. They will be posed doing "school activites" with appropriate props.

By Friday this Artistic ensemble will be done…so look for more pictures of the finished work.

Tooooo Kool!!

Karen on 05.03.05 @ 03:15 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Why this country's in the toilet and swirling.....

Via Brian Leiter, we're pointed to this interesting piece.

One recent dreary midnight, coming down with a cold and unable to sleep, I lay in bed listening to a call-in talk show from KOA, Denver's clear channel AM radio station. The topic for an hour's discussion, chosen by program host John Caldera, was whether or not it was appropriate to spit a mouthful of tobacco juice and saliva into the face of Jane Fonda.

In Kansas City, Missouri earlier that same day, a man claiming to be a Vietnam veteran stood in line at Fonda's book signing, waiting for the opportunity to spew into the actress's face the gob of juice from tobacco he had been chewing in preparation for his attack. Reports from the scene noted that after wiping the yellow-brown slime from her face, Jane Fonda continued signing books. The spitter was arrested, and calling the target of his gooey blast a "traitor," said he was very pleased with himself for what he had done.

Most who dialed up the Caldera program said they believed spitting on Ms. Fonda was not only justified, but even perhaps an act of heroic proportions. To his credit, Caldera disagreed and made strenuous efforts to enlighten his angry callers, although most of them seemed content with their view that to the spitter belong the spoils. When host Caldera asked one gentleman caller how he'd feel if someone spat tobacco juice in the caller's wife's face and mouth, the caller responded that he hadn't thought about it that way. Still, because of her trip to Hanoi over 30 years earlier, Fonda was fair game for spitters.
Not that this redeems Caldera, much:
Considerable responsibility for the current climate of anger and hostility in America rests on the shoulders of the many talk show personalities who, hour on hour, deliberately stir their listeners' negative emotions through argument, name-calling, deliberate misstatement of facts. Unfortunately on the night in question, John Caldera was no exception. Although he strongly denounced the spitting incident, he repeatedly called Jane Fonda a "traitor," making occasional suggestions about how she might atone for her perceived transgressions. He suggested that there may be no statute of limitations for traitors, implying that callers who also found her actions traitorous could bring her to justice in the courts.

As Caldera saw it, Jane Fonda was a traitor who should be dealt with according to the laws governing traitors, but she should not have to suffer the insult of being spat upon.

It was mildly amusing to hear grown men attempt to justify their pro-spit stance with various inane rationalizations. Amusing, that is, until one caller calmly hinted at an act not previously raised during the evening's discussion. With apparent sincerity, this particular fellow said he'd gladly wait 90 minutes in line for the opportunity to spit in Jane Fonda's face. But, he added, spit would not be his weapon of choice.

Caldera, a skilled performer, gradually drew forth from this possible stalker a desire to kill Jane Fonda. The man would not, however, risk killing her up close and personal while she was autographing his copy of her new autobiography.

What would you do? asked Caldera.

With calm dispassion, the caller replied, "I'd stand outside across the street and 'plink' her when she left the bookstore."

"So you would kill Jane Fonda," Caldera said.

The caller answered, "In a heartbeat."

Caldera paused dramatically and then went to commercial. What interested me was that at no time did Caldera appear to denounce the murder-minded caller's interest in killing a well-known public figure. Possibly the popular radio host did not wish to further inflame the caller, whose emotionless threat might have found many listeners in agreement with his deadly sentiments.

Len on 05.03.05 @ 12:28 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Gem o'the Day:

Just a link because I'm not stealing Gooseneck's bandwidth or his picture (though for all I know he stole it from somewhere else). But go take a look, it's great. It's almost a pity I divorced my second ex.... Her father, a wonderful man who treated me much, much better than I deserved, would love it, I'm sure.

Len on 05.03.05 @ 12:20 PM CST [more..] [ | ]

Speaking of extinct restaurant chains....

the Fark thread referenced earlier pointed me to this Red Barn nostalgia page. Red Barn was a chain of fast food restaurants (barn shaped, of course) which featured burgers, fish sandwiches and chicken (along with several annoying muppet-type mascots called "the Hungries"--Hamburger Hungry, Chicken Hungry, and Fish Hungry--and a seriously annoying ad jingle--"When the hungries hit, when the hungries hit, hit, hit the Red Barn"). This registered with me because back in my childhood in St. Louis there was a Red Barn at the northwest corner of Pernod and Hampton Avenues, right across Hampton from the St. Joan of Arc parish campus (ok, Eschmann, if you're reading here's your cue to speak up in the comments...). The distinctive barn shaped building became a Chippewa First Financial Bank branch sometime; IIRC I was working for a law firm that represented the bank in my first job in the St. Louis area after leaving the Navy JAG Corps. I wonder if the building's still there, and if so, what it's being used for now.

Obviously, I'm overdue for a "whatever happened to my childhood?!?!?!" St. Louis visit soon....

Len on 05.03.05 @ 12:16 PM CST [link] [ | ]

I don't mind spiders....

in fact, I had a running joke with my daughter once which got me in big trouble with my ex-wife; my daughter liked to go to pet stores to look at the animals (well, we weren't really convenient to the zoo, y'know...), and I'd joke with her that I always wanted a pet tarantula. Well, one year about a week before my birthday I got an extremely pissed phonecall from the ex, claiming that my daughter had been dragging her to pet stores insisting that she wanted to buy Daddy a tarantula for his birthday.... Anyway....

via BSTommy, we get these French AIDS awareness ads [WARNING: probably not work safe]. As I say in the title and imply in the first paragraph, the tarantula pic doesn't really bother me, but the other one is going to weird me out for a while yet....

Len on 05.03.05 @ 11:55 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Welcome to all....

We've got a bunch of new inductees in The Rocky Top Brigade.

Welcome, y'all.

[Yes, I've gotten lazy and stopped doing an entry for each new inductee. Why duplicate what SKBubba's already done so well. Get over it, or die with it on your mind.]

Len on 05.03.05 @ 10:31 AM CST [link] [ | ]

When at first you don't succeed, try, try again....

Man shoots self 5 times; jumps off bridge to complete the task.

I really shouldn't make fun of him; I'm so incompetent that if I'd done the same thing they'd be fishing my live body out of the river and hieing it down to The Med.

Apparently, though, he shot himself three times in the head with a .22 caliber pistol, which raises some doubts about a factoid I've heard referred to on an episode of CSI (Thursday nights I often tune in early to SpikeTV, letting CSI play in the background while I wait for MXC to come on), namely that .22 pistols are a choice of professional assassins, supposedly because the bullet enters the skull, but doesn't have enough kinetic energy to leave the skull, so supposedly it rattles around the cranium a bit turning the brain into tossed salad before it finally settles down and stops. Not in this case; apparently even shooting oneself in the head with a .22 is an activity best left to professionals.

Len on 05.03.05 @ 10:15 AM CST [link] [ | ]

From the "There's a sucker born every minute" department:


Frankly, even looking at the larger picture I don't see it, which is why it doesn't surprise me that the reserve on this item (a mere $1) hasn't been met yet....

Len on 05.03.05 @ 09:44 AM CST [link] [ | ]

And while researching that last post....

I found the picture of the iconic Big Boy in this Fark forums thread on "What's your favorite extinct restaurant chain?". The fascinating aspect about this thread (which I've not finished reading yet) is that apparently many of the chains mentioned aren't really extinct, but have apparently severely contracted their operations after a period of national expansion, and simply aren't seen anymore in certain areas of the country.

But I think the first post in the thread, featuring an old "Burger Chef and Jeff" ad from the period when Burger Chef introduced their "Works Bar", is priceless. Brings back many happy memories of a time (pre-teen and early teen years) when my mom used to bribe me to go shopping with her by telling me she'd take me to lunch at the Burger Chef on Chippewa in South St. Louis (which, last I looked, had become a Hardee's, and I don't know if it's still in business in that incarnation or not).

Another favorite post from that thread:

I remember Showbiz! Billy Bob and the Rock-A-Fire Explosion Band! They had this text-to-speech game (high tech at the time) that cost a token to play. I typed in some profanities and it said, with the stick-figure face on the screen frowning at me, "BILLY BOB WILL NOT SAY THAT!" I figured out that if you spelled them phonetcially and replaced the F with PH, well, hilarity ensued.

Len on 05.03.05 @ 08:21 AM CST [link] [ | ]

End of an era....

Glancing at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch [I'm still a St. Louisan at heart; deal with it] website today, I was sad to read that Big Boy's Restaurant in Wright City, MO has closed. The libertarian tax-dodgers among us can point out that it was apparently a tax bill that forced the closing:

For 81 years, the all-you-can-eat fried chicken, cornbread sticks and sweet and sour coleslaw filled up customers sitting at the long wooden tables of Big Boy's Restaurant, which faces Interstate 70 in Wright City.

But now the restaurant is closed, its future clouded, because the state says the restaurant owes more than $30,000 in sales tax.

"We are closed temporarily," says a paper sign taped on the restaurant's front door. "Please accept our apology for any inconvenience."

Longtime workers at the restaurant say they doubt the interstate landmark will open again.
Big Boy's (no relation to the "Big Boy" chain which has featured the iconic "Big Boy" and his Reaganesque pompadour) received its name from the nickname of one of it's early owners:
Interstate 70 travelers will undoubtedly recognize the sign depicting the local Big Boy's: a grinning, buck-toothed man wearing a gray tuxedo and spats and holding a platter of chicken.

It could be a caricature of farmer J.W. Chaney, known as "Big Boy" for the nearly 300 pounds on his 6-foot frame. One morning in June 1924, Chaney and his family were passing through Wright City on the way back from a trip to Colorado, and stopped for breakfast at the Silver Moon Cafe. Chaney loved the restaurant and the surrounding countryside so much he bought the business on the spot. He and his wife and two sons stayed to serve lunch.
The Wright City Big Boy's was famous in the St. Louis area for serving all you can eat (well, chicken and catfish were all you can eat; the steak dinner was one serving of steak, though the sides were all you can eat) "family style" meals (i.e., each item in your meal was served in a separate serving bowl, and you could pile as much on your plate as you could choke down, and send your server back for more). I've spent many a happy mealtime there myself (especially after I moved to the St. Charles area, which is only about a 10-15 minute drive down I-70 from Wright City).

It will be missed.

Len on 05.03.05 @ 08:08 AM CST [link] [ | ]

In case you really didn't think there was a webpage for everything...

try a webpage devoted to the Coelacanth...

If that leaves you saying, "Hunh?", go follow the link.

Len on 05.03.05 @ 07:27 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Real "Finger Food" Stories...

Out of Wilmington, N.C., comes this Real Missing Finger story: Customer finds employee's finger in frozen custard.

”A man who ordered a pint of frozen chocolate custard in a dessert shop got a nasty surprise inside — a piece of severed finger.

The owner of Kohl's Frozen Custard confirmed one of his employees lost part of a finger in an accident with a food-processing machine.

Stowers told a TV station: "I thought it was candy because they put candy in your ice cream ... to make it a treat. So I said, 'OK, well, I'll just put it in my mouth and get the ice cream off of it and see what it is.'"

Stowers said he spit the object out, but still couldn't identify it. So he went to his kitchen, rinsed it off with water — and "just started screaming."

Karen on 05.03.05 @ 07:04 AM CST [link] [ | ]

I'd already gotten offline by the time this had happened....

Amazing comeback last night by the Cardinals; down 9-3 against the Cincinnati Reds in the top of the ninth inning, they exploded for 7 runs to comeback and beat the Reds, 10-9. Over at The Birdwatch, Rob has an interesting take on the last inning of the game, analyzing each play in the context of a win expectancy matrix (for those of you not playing the home game, the win expectancy matrix analyzes the historical trend for a team at bat to win a game given a particular situation (e.g., 1 out, baserunner on second base, trailing by n runs)). In a comment to Rob's post, Brian "Redbird Nation" Gunn puts the Cardinals' feat in perspective:

In the words of Jack Buck: "I don't believe what I just saw!"

I was just checking out the win expectancy finder, and discovered that there were 3,360 games from 1979 - 1990 in which a team trailed by six runs entering the ninth. They won 2 of them. Two! And there were 880 games in which a team was trailing by 5 runs with two outs in the ninth. No team won any of those games. (Although I believe about 3 1/2 yrs ago the Pirates won such a game vs. the Astros.) Amazing. Clearly we were stockpiling clutch hits over the weekend -- all the ones that didn't drop in vs. the Braves came back to us tonight.
And the game adds a data point in favor of Will Leitch's observation:
The Reds are a fun team to watch, because they score a ton of runs and give up even more.

Len on 05.03.05 @ 07:02 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Thought for the Day:

You know, I used to think I didn't like Chip Caray because he was announcing the Cubs, but the one thing that the Braves series is making painfully clear is that I don't like Chip because he is annoying. And then there's Don Sutton. I'm not exactly sure what it is about him, but he's the only person I've ever heard that makes me long for the insight of Hungo. Don Sutton quote of the day:

"How many times does this happen: a pitcher pitches to the presence of that person and to not what he is doing or his physical state at the moment..."

I don't even know what that means. I don't even know what it's supposed to mean. Why is that television color commentary seems indelibly marked with meandering mediocrity. It's the Muzak of insight—like actual commentary, but not really. Or maybe it's just really deep—kind of like contemplating the sound of one hand clapping. Perhaps I'm not in tune with my Chi enough when Sutton or Hungo or any number of the others talk.
--Joe Mammy

Len on 05.03.05 @ 06:31 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Who ARE these people?

Laura Bush Talks Naughty by John Tierne (NY Times):

”….But on Saturday night, Laura Bush set a new standard. After interrupting her husband and telling him to sit down, she did a stand-up routine that included what was probably the first joke told in earshot of a president that involved him and a horse's phallus.

Mrs. Bush called her husband Mr. Excitement for going to bed by 9 o'clock and turning her into a "desperate housewife." She said that Lynne Cheney's Secret Service code name became Dollar Bill after they both went to Chippendales (where they ran into Sandra Day O'Connor and Ruth Bader Ginsburg). Noting that Andover and Yale did not have "real strong ranching programs," she said Mr. Bush had started his ranching career by trying to milk a horse - a male horse.

Her timing had the audience howling, and the edgier lines had them gasping. Jokes about pent-up sexual frustration from a prim librarian? With her born-again husband sitting there and enjoying it? And cameras recording it for Republican preachers who are determined to get sex out of schools and off television?
For the mainly Democratic audience - this was a crowd of Washington journalists and luminaries from Hollywood and Manhattan - it was an evening of cognitive dissonance. How to reconcile this charming image on stage with the Bush they love to bash?

Mrs. Bush's performance, and her husband's reaction, wasn't a shock to the reporters who cover the White House. For years they have tried to convince their friends outside Washington that Mr. Bush is actually not a close-minded dolt, and Mrs. Bush is no Stepford Wife or Church Lady. Yes, they're Texans who go to church and preach family values, but they're not yahoos or religious zealots.

The coverage of Mrs. Bush's comic debut may change some minds, but for devout Bush-bashers, it's much easier to stay the course. If you live in a blue-state stronghold, a coastal city where you can go 24 hours without meeting any Republicans, it's consoling to think of the red staters as an alien bunch of strait-laced Bible thumpers.

Otherwise, how do you explain why they're Republican? Or answer the question Democrats asked in astonishment when they saw Mr. Bush's vote totals: Who are these people?
[emphasis mine]

This is EXACTLY my question…Who are these people?

And WHY exactly did some Voters (any Voters) want these folks to be running our country??? The mystery continues…

Karen on 05.03.05 @ 05:42 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Will these EVER catch on???

Again...just mention a topic in passing (toilets) and articles just *appear* on the subject:

With compost toilets, nothing goes to waste by Laura McCandlish (Columbia News Service)

The compost product fertilizes the earth rather than building up in the sewage system as toxic sludge. In New York City alone, 1.3 billion gallons of such raw sewage are produced every day.

With more buildings across the country angling for LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification status from the U.S. Green Building Council, composting toilets are becoming another tool of the green building trade. While more difficult to employ in urban areas, due to the space required for compost storage and health department restrictions, composting toilets can work well in single-family homes and low-rise buildings.

"There is a growing recognition of the shortage of water and the harmful problems with sewage treatment plants," said Don Mills, a sales representative for Clivus Multrum Inc., a manufacturer of composting toilets. "The green building movement provides an opportunity to bring composting technology to places where it hasn't been before, to more mainstream kinds of structures."

Out of Sweden

Composting toilets were first developed in Sweden in the 1930s but weren't introduced in the United States and Canada until the 1970s. Abby Rockefeller, a descendent of John D., was the first American to install a composting system in her home in Cambridge, Mass. By 1973, she had founded Clivus Multrum, which remains the largest distributor of composting toilets for public use in North America.

In Canada, composting toilets have made their way into retail and academic buildings. The Mountain Equipment Co-op stores in Ottawa and Winnipeg were the first two retail buildings in Canada to meet national green building standards in 2000 and 2002, respectively. They both have composting toilets, recycled wood floors and grassy roofs.

The C.K. Choi Building for the Institute of Asian Research at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver has remained a model of sustainable architecture since it first opened in 1996. The three-story, $4.5 million building features five composting toilets, functioning completely off the sewerage and power grids. And the five compost bins only need to be emptied every 10 years. Ninety percent of the waste is urine, pumped out and treated in a constructed wetland, and red wriggler worms digest the solid waste.

Some University of British Columbia faculty and staff originally were skeptical about having a virtual outhouse within a building. But now the composting toilets are accepted and have generated interest around the world. The toilets also give students renewed hope about the state of the environment."

I really don't want to know, but -- How do "clean" one of these -- and do you have to peek inside while you clean it??

Karen on 05.03.05 @ 05:21 AM CST [link] [ | ]

A Day Late…

...And a Dollar short…I finally got to watching my TiVo’d episode of Real Time with Bill Maher – and the entire Jeff Gannon segment. Aside from the already mentioned “Blinking/Shifty” eyed evasiveness of this guy talking, I think a “micro-expressionist” could have field day just reviewing that tape.

The field of “Micro-expressions” is a semi-new one and there is even a computer based program created by Dr. Terrence Sejnowski, head of the team of researchers who developed the program at the Jonas Salk Institute in La Jolla, California designed to unravel micro-expressions Computer Program Trained To Read Faces Developed By Salk Team .

”A computer program developed by a Salk-led team has been trained to distinguish among a number of facial cues, helping to sort false from genuine expressions. What's more, the program performs as well as a psychologist trained to read faces and markedly better than human non-experts.

"Computers have a difficult time analyzing expressions on faces, something we can do without even thinking," said Terrence Sejnowski, Salk professor and senior author of the study, which appears in the current issue of Psychophysiology.

"But by mimicking the ability of humans to learn by experience, computers have now broken through this barrier," he said.

Investigators hope that their program will prove helpful to law enforcement officials and mental health professionals.

"When someone is lying, their true feelings often flicker across their face in what we call a micro-expression, which is quickly covered up by a posed expression," said Paul Ekman, professor of psychology at the University of California, San Francisco and co-author of the study. "These signals may be too brief for professionals to detect in an interview setting, but they can be picked up if the conversation is videotaped and reviewed."

The problem is that human analysis is labor-intensive and painstakingly slow. "It takes about one hour to score one minute of tape," explained Marian S. Bartlett, Salk postdoctoral researcher and first author of the study. "Our program, on the other hand, can do a minute of tape in about five minutes, and once we optimize the program it will run in near real-time."

The program works by comparing images of faces to 60 filters, or templates, each of which looks for independent components of facial movement in different regions. For instance, raising the left inner brow would increase a face's match to filter no. 1, whereas raising the left outer brow would increase the match to filter no. 2. The computer analyzes the information from all 60 filters and decides whether the collective output matches AU1 or AU2 and so on.

In the current study, the program was trained to recognize six of 46 individual muscle actions described by Ekman. For all six actions, it out-performed human non-experts and performed as well as highly trained human experts. The investigators plan next to teach it the remaining actions and then tackle combinations of these actions.

Karen on 05.03.05 @ 05:16 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Since they went and announced it on the mailing list....

Any Memphis locals wanting to celebrate the "National Day of Reason" with like-minded Memphians should convene at Bosco's Squared, 2120 Madison at Overton Square, Memphis, TN at 6 PM on Thursday, May 5, 2005 (my recollection was an hour off). Plans are to meet on the deck outside if the weather cooperates.

This dignified insurrection is brought to you care of the Memphis Freethought Alliance, though I'm sure there's no need to be a formal member to attend (what better way to find out if the folks in the MFA are your type of people?). But if you'd like fuller particulars, you can email memphisfreethought@yahoo.com

Len on 05.02.05 @ 02:09 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Baseball trivia of the day....

As much as I hate the Atlanta Braves (almost as much as BSTommy hates the Cardinals, and more than I hate the Cubs (which, as a Cards fan I'm required to, even though I really don't hate the Cubs unless they're playing the Cardinals)), I can't pass up passing on this piece of baseball trivia from the Billy-Ball daily email newsletter:

Atlanta’s Chipper Jones has hit all 314 of his career homers while working for Bobby Cox...he needs just six more to tie the record for most homers under one manager at the beginning of a player’s career... Mickey Mantle hit his first 320 homers under Casey Stengel.
If Chipper has to hit seven more homers in his career (and the likelihood that he won't is about the same as the likelihood that Heidi Klum will decide that I'm her one-and-only soulmate, and start stalking me), I'll wish him well and hope he beats the record.

Just as long as he doesn't hit any of those homers against the Cardinals.

Len on 05.02.05 @ 01:48 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Karen's Chicago Trivia Q Answers

Well, next time, I promise it'll be at least a multiple choice style (favored by some folks) for the Trivia Q's...as this was *toooo hard* for everyone to come up with any answers to these questions.

Click on the "more" button for the answers to this week's Trivia.

Karen on 05.02.05 @ 01:41 PM CST [more..] [ | ]

"Why we fight" the Bolton Nomination.....

Thanks to fellow Subic Bay Legal Office veteran Al Hedstrom, who didn't point me exactly to this item, but who did point me to Steve Clemons's blog. In this installment, Steve prints an email he received which most excellently makes the case as to why Bolton's nomination as UN ambassador should be shot down in flames:

Dear Steve:

You have opened many important doors on this blog on the reasons "why we fight" John Bolton's nomination. This isn't just about Bolton's politics or bad behavior -- and its not because of some leftist plot to give Dick Cheney a bad day.

Some of these thoughts have emerged in your posts and in the commentary on The Washington Note, but I wanted to order a few thoughts here:

1) Many thoughtful Americans, both Democrats and Republicans, and even those who are not involved in politics at all, are deeply troubled by the unprecedented decline in America's standing during the past few years.

2) Poll after poll has shown a precipitous drop in favorable attitudes toward the U.S., not only in the Arab and Muslim world, but in Europe, South America, and Asia, and even in our own continent of North America. (i.e. Canada and Mexico ) Anti-U.S. sentiment in the Arab world might be explained away as an unfortunate side effect of the current conflict, but when the entire world simultaneously and suddenly shows a dramatic rise in these sentiments, then any reasonable person should be deeply concerned.

3) John Bolton's views, demeanor, and capacity for engendering animosity are well known. Foreign diplomats have made no secret of their dislike for him.

4) Bolton's opponents believe that America's standing in the world and its ability to inspire are important both to America's and the world's well being. They see Bolton as likely to exacerbate the recent decline in America's standing rather than improve it.

Here is an intro from a Pew Survey on rising anti-Americanism, as well as the report itself, which contains dramatic tables documenting the decline.

Best regards,


Len on 05.02.05 @ 01:23 PM CST [link] [ | ]

I'd been religiously avoiding the whole Jennifer Wilbanks non-story....

but then BSTommy had to go and bring a fact to my attention that I'd managed to avoid hearing about (of course, since I wasn't reading much about the incident, it wasn't that difficult a fact to avoid):

I didn't pay all that much attention to the whole Jennifer Wilbanks/Missing Bride story this past weekend. I generally stay about 20 minutes behind the times. Usually on purpose.

But there was something that caught in my ear, and had me thinking about it a good part of the weekend.

The crazy woman's wedding, right? 14 Groomsmen and Bridesmaids?

What the crap?

Steven and I talked about this a little, last fall, when he was part of a wedding party that was four or five strong on each side. I'd have a hard time filling that bill of four or five other guys to be a groomsman.

But FourFrickingTeen?
I empathize with BST; if it weren't for my best buddy Dave (an occasional commenter around these parts) I'd have trouble coming up with a best man in the event I lose my mind and decide to commit Yet Another Marital Mistake [my current thinking about Holy Wedlock is that the next time I'm tempted to get married I'm just going to take a short cut; I'm just going to find a woman I hate and buy her a house]. So I have a little trouble even comprehending how someone can even stand to think about having a basic Last Days of Pompeii wedding in this day and age.

Thanks to Jo Fish I stumbled across this rant by Doug Gillett, which is the best thing I've read about the whole incident in the last several days:
OK, when she "disappeared" on Tuesday, I guess that was kind of a news story, though I don't know what made her more important than any of the hundreds (if not thousands) of other people who go missing every year, other than the fact that she was cute and white and engaged. But now that we know she had not been kidnapped after all but merely got cold feet and ditched her fiancee, why is this story still getting covered out the wazoo? The situation has been downgraded from "innocent woman kidnapped, possibly dead" to "some dipshit decided she didn't want to get married" and it's still getting deeper media coverage than people getting blown up all over Iraq or reports of torture and abuse at Guantanamo Bay?

Furthermore, it really chafes me that so many people are trying to give Jennifer Wilbanks an out by saying,
Ohhh, the stress of the wedding was getting to her, poor bayyyy-bee! I would imagine that an impending marriage is stressful for approximately 100 percent of the people who have ever gotten married, yet a majority of those people -- a substantial majority, I might add -- have managed not to disappear to the other side of the country and make a bogus 911 call about being kidnapped. Then there's this bit of buffoonery:
Jennifer Wilbanks, the 32-year-old Duluth woman who vanished only days before her expensive and elaborate wedding was to occur, resurfaced Saturday. First, she concocted an excuse for disappearing. Then she admitted she had fled to rethink the wedding.

Experts say she likely couldn't handle the stress of feeling out of control and caught up in something that had grown unexpectedly enormous and couldn't be stopped, Baumgardner and other mental health experts said Saturday.
Something that had grown
unexpectedly enormous? Look, darling Jennifer did not wake up one morning to find that 600 people had somehow invited themselves to her wedding. Couldn't be stopped? Only if someone put a gun to her head and demanded that she keep all two dozen freaking attendants for the wedding ceremony. It seems that what we have here is yet another case of someone seeking "affluence sympathy" -- meaning our society has grown so wealthy and extravagant that people now expect sympathy for the kinds of problems that are spawned by living too well. Your wedding's too big? Awww, somebody needs a hug! Gasoline is too expensive? Awww, nobody told you your 5800-pound, forty-thousand-dollar Ford Expedition would get shitty gas mileage, did they, you poor thing!

Yeah, yeah, I know, bang bang, court is in session, the Honorable Judgey McJudge presiding. But as much as I (usually) hate to be one of those humorless, scoldy liberals whose favorite phrase is "children are starving in Darfur" . . . well, children are starving in Darfur, and yet they're not even on the American public's radar screen because so much of the space is being taken up by some suburban twit who bitched out on her wedding. The Constitution only guarantees you the right to "life, liberty, and the
pursuit of happiness," it does not guarantee you the right to happiness itself, and that means that if you're not happy with how big your wedding has grown and you're not sure you want to get married, you man the fuck up and talk to your fiancee/family about it, you have not suddenly earned the right to go Greyhounding off to Albuquerque and spinning fanciful yarns about how someone supposedly kidnapped your ass. And if for whatever reason you do choose Plan B, you certainly shouldn't get turned into some kind of media darling.

Len on 05.02.05 @ 01:16 PM CST [link] [ | ]

The next time my doctor needs to tweak my diabetes drug regimen....

I'm going to tell him I've always wanted to take an extract of Gila Monster.

As if that's not enough of a cachet, the New York Times article on the drug goes on to state:

The drug, called Byetta, will be the first in a new class of drugs to reach the market for Type 2 diabetes, the form that usually occurs in adults. Studies have shown it can help control blood sugar and also help people lose a few pounds. The drawback for patients is that the drug must be injected twice a day and nearly half the people who use it suffer nausea, at least initially.
Actually, if it needs to be injected that's just the dry run for what I'm already resigned to: eventually having to go to insulin therapy (I was diagnosed young enough that I expect that the drugs I'm taking will wear off before I wear out.... at least I hope so... :-) ). And hey, with the generalized nausea I feel at the state of the world, I'll probably never notice the side effect....

Len on 05.02.05 @ 12:16 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Why I should have gone to grad school....

I'm kidding myself; I'd never have been good enough to realize this ambition. But here's an interesting post from Brian Leiter concerning the move of a philosophy professor from Northwestern University to King's College, London:

Charles Travis (metaphysics, epistemology, philosophy of language) at Northwestern University has accepted a chair at King's College, London to start September 1 (though he will be a visiting professor at Harvard in the fall semester). Together with the recent loss of Tom Ricketts, this is a real setback for Northwestern's coverage in some of the central areas of contemporary philosophy.

UPDATE: Professor Travis wrote in to emphasize that his move had nothing to do with dissatisfaction with Northwestern, but rather with the substantial philosophical attractions of London and King's College, in particular. He did add, interestingly:
My decision [also] does have something to do with dissatisfaction with the U.S. After all George Bush did in his first term to prove that he was unfit to hold any public office--as much as you could expect in that regard from anyone--Americans voted for him anyway. I think that fact speaks more ill of America and its future than all the unspeakable, shameless things Bush has done since re-election. I shall be glad to be living elsewhere.
How many of the recent defections of U.S.-based philosophers to posts in Canada, England, and Australia, one wonders, reflect similar, and all-too-warranted, sentiments and concerns?
And I can already hear the wingnut regiment of the RTB saying, "And good riddance to all of them..."

Len on 05.02.05 @ 12:02 PM CST [link] [ | ]

"When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro." --Dr Hunter S. Thompson

I find it difficult to believe that this isn't a photoshopped gag, but Media Matters for America is running it as a straight item (and they have a video clip [QuickTime, Windows Media] documenting it):

And of course, the wingnuts will say, "consider the source".... A double-edged sword in this context, since this is exactly the type of shenanigans that FauxNews would pull....

Oh, but to live in the days before digital video and image editing wasn't available to the masses.

Credit: GWBBlows Blog

Len on 05.02.05 @ 11:54 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Ok, Party Time!!!!!

I'd floated the idea a while ago, and seemed to get general acceptance (at least nobody objected to the tentative date/time/location). So I'm going to make this the official (well, as official as these things get) announcement.

The middle-to-end of May will see two fairly significant events on the Memphis bloggers' calendar: Abby will be defending her dissertation, and our DBV partner-in-crime Karen will be coming down to visit from the frozen wastes (climatic, political, and intellectual ;-) ) of Dennis Hastert Country, to see what the fetid swamp (climatic, political, and intellectual) of the mid-South is like. So, in order to mark both events, it seems to me an excellent time to have Yet Another Memphis Bloggers' Bash:

Date: May 25, 2005
Time: 7:00 PM (tentative)
Location: The Bar-B-Q Shop, 1782 Madison Ave., Memphis, TN (Midtown)
The agenda will be fairly loose, though I contemplate two essential activities for the evening:
  1. Giving Abby her "attagirls" for her successful defense of her dissertation, and begin the process of marking her relocation to The Hub Of The Universe (in other words, we can sure as heck have a second "going away" party for her closer to her departure in August (IIRC)), and
  2. Subject Karen to her proper punishment, the soft cushions, for her coining of the neologism "Memphonian" (vice the proper "Memphian"; we are looking into the possibility of finding a comfy chair to continue the punishment in the event she's made of harder stuff than we think, and the soft cushions aren't sufficient punishment)
Incidentally, Abby may be interested in noting that, when I Googled "bar b q shop, madison, memphis" to verify the address, her Flickr photoset is the first hit.

Len on 05.02.05 @ 07:47 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Thought for the Day:

Two questions prompted by President Bush's press conference Thursday night: Does he believe what he said about Iraq and North Korea, or was he just yakking? And which prospect is more disturbing?

If the president believes what he said, he doesn't comprehend the nature of either crisis. If he doesn't believe it and was just reciting the usual grab bag of clichés, what was his point? To deflect attention from an as-yet-undisclosed policy, or to obscure the lack of any policy at all?
--Fred Kaplan

Len on 05.02.05 @ 07:11 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Citrus Musings...

Someone dropped off a basket of intellectual tangents on my doorstep recently. Usually it's tangerines or those weird cousins of citri, tangeloes...but this year it was tangents? Who know what gives...

Now some of them were kinda sour, not yet fully ripe nor developed.

A few were shrink wrapped and annoyingly so – where you could see what you wanted to get to but couldn’t quite get a purchase on that slick, slippery impenetrable substance to break through.

Ahh…but a few -- very few; it was sort of a bad batch ‘o’ tangents…musta had some hard freezes and ruined all the usually good ones this year -- these few were ripe and juicy and sweet. Just the way a good tangent ought to be. You could rip right through that juicy flesh and bite right into the concept. Delicious they were and ready for consumption.

The good ones -- I ate ‘em all in fit of hungry passion -- and them sour ones, nobody wants them.

But it did put me in mind of one of my most favorite books (and authors): “Oranges” (1967) by John McPhee. Which is a book about literally everything you could ever wish to know about Oranges; from their place in various cultures and history; to their production and growth cycles.

You can almost taste them…succulent and sweet, dripping in orangy-fruit flavor as you read through the pages of this Oh-So-Sweet book.

Author John McPhee was educated at Princeton University and Cambridge University. His writing career began at Time Magazine and led to his long association with the New Yorker, where he has been a staff writer since 1965. The same year he published his first book, A Sense of Where You Are, with FSG, and soon followed with The Headmaster (1966), Oranges (1967).

This John McPhee bio is from winkipedia

Below is part of the opening paragraph of ORANGES:

”The custom of drinking orange juice with breakfast is not very widespread, taking the world as whole, and is thought by many people to be a distinctly American habit. But many Danes drink it regularly with breakfast, and so do Hondurans, Filipinos, Jamaicans, and the wealthier citizens of Trinidad and Tobago. The day is started with orange juice in the Colombian Andes and to some extent in Kuwait. Bolivians don’t touch it at breakfast time, but they drink it steadily for the rest of the day. The “play lunch” or morning tea, that Australian children carry with them to school is usually an orange, peeled spirally halfway down, with the peel replaced around the fruit. The child unwinds the peel and hold the orange as if it were an ice cream cone. People in Nepal almost never peel oranges, preferring to eat them cut in squares, the way American athletes do. The sour oranges of Afghanistan customarily appear as seasoning agents on Afghan diner tables. Squeezed over Afghan food, they cut the grease. The Shamouti Orange, of Israel, is seedless and sweet, has a thick skin, and grows in Hadera, Gaza, Tiberias, Jericho, the Jordan Valley, and Jaffe; it is exported from Jaffe and for that reason is known universally beyond Israel as the Jaffe Orange. The Jaffe Orange is the variety that British people consider superior to all others, possibly because Richard the Lionhearted spent the winter of 1191-92 in the citrus groves of Jaffe…..

The book is a GEM of Oranges information and history. One of my favorites by this author.

Karen on 05.02.05 @ 04:56 AM CST [link] [ | ]

The Devil’s Teeth

I swear -- just mention a topic and before you know it -- things just start popping up about it out of the mysterious void of the Ethernet.

I was talking about the “robotic fish” picture with faf (over at fafblog), so I had to mention the Robo-Shark
(WARNING: picture) and the Official Robo-Shark Website (WARNING: More Pictures)...

...and before I could even say Selachophobia --It’s Shark week on the NGC channel; the Shedd Aquarium (here in Chicago) is running it’s usual Shark feeding frenzies in their Giant Shark tank; AOL had this one: Shark attacks Man: Fends it off with Surfboard; and even Sports Illustrated has gotten in the act with an article about how just off the coastal shores of California’s San Francisco Bay there is a yearly gathering of Great White Sharks.

For those of you not concerned about More Selachophobia Nightmares or just Just Swimming Against The Stream…click on the “more” button to read this story below the fold:

Karen on 05.02.05 @ 04:22 AM CST [more..] [ | ]

May Days

Apropos of an earlier post called Calendar Days of Wine and Roses… my calendar does have the MOST interesting dates marked with special events and holidays. For instance, here’s a glance at the merry month of May:

May 1:

May Day
Orthodox Easter
Labor Day (Mexico)
Labor Day (Hong Kong)

May 2:

Bank Holiday ( NT AUS, GBR, N IRI, IRI, SCT)
Worker’s day ( Observed ZAF, ITA)
Labour Day (Qland, AUS)
Labour day Observed HKG)

May 3:

Constitution Memorial Day (JPN)

May 4:

People’s Holiday (JPN)

May 5:

Feast of Ascension
Cinco de Mayo (MEX)
Children’s Day (JPN)
Holocaust Remembrance Day
National Day of Prayer

May 8:

Mother’s Day (USA, CAN, AUS, NZL)
Victory Day (FRA)

May 12:

International Nurses Day

May 15:

Buddha’s Birthday (HKG)

May 16:

Adelaide Cup (S AUS)

May 19:

Jose Marti dies at Dos Rios (CUB)

May 20:

Inauguration of the Republic of Cuba in 1902

May 21:

Armed Forces Day

May 23:

Victoria Day (CAN)

May 26:

Feast of Corpus Christi
Lag B’Omer Begins at sundown

May 27:

Lag B’Omer

May 30:

Memorial Day (observed USA)
Bank Holiday (GBR, N IRI, SCT)

Karen on 05.02.05 @ 04:10 AM CST [link] [ | ]

I hate it when we get the important stuff wrong like that....

According to a team of classicists working on newly deciphered manuscripts, it appears that we've been using the wrong Number of the Beast all these years.

A newly discovered fragment of the oldest surviving copy of the New Testament indicates that, as far as the Antichrist goes, theologians, scholars, heavy metal groups, and television evangelists have got the wrong number. Instead of 666, it's actually the far less ominous 616.

The new fragment from the Book of Revelation, written in ancient Greek and dating from the late third century, is part of a hoard of previously unintelligible manuscripts discovered in historic dumps outside Oxyrhynchus in Egypt. Now a team of expert classicists, using new photographic techniques, are finally deciphering the original writing.

Professor David Parker, Professor of New Testament Textual Criticism and Paleography at the University of Birmingham, thinks that 616, although less memorable than 666, is the original. He said: "This is an example of gematria, where numbers are based on the numerical values of letters in people's names. Early Christians would use numbers to hide the identity of people who they were attacking: 616 refers to the Emperor Caligula."
On the other hand, I guess that means that it's now official: 616 (the Grand Rapids, MI area) is now The Area Code Of The Beast.

Len on 05.01.05 @ 07:37 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Ultimately, it's what we deserve, but I don't want to be around to witness it...

A friend forwarded an interesting article to me: Chewing Raw Grubs with the Nutcracker Man

I came away from the meeting deeply struck by one thing. Every person there seemed to understand and acknowledge the coming global human "die-off." The one that has already begun in places like Africa and will grow into a global event sometime within our lifetimes and/or those of our children. The one that will kill millions of white people.

That’s right, clean pink little Western World white people like you and me. Nobody in the U.S. seems to be able to deal with or even think about this near certainty, and the few who do are written off as nutcases by the media and the public. Mostly though, it goes unacknowledged. All of which drives me nuts because the now nearly visible end of civilization strikes me as worthy of at least modest discussion. You’d think so. But the mention of it causes my wife to go into, "Oh Joe, can’t we talk about something more pleasant?" And talk about causing weird stares and dropped jaws at the office water cooler.

Here’s the short course: Global die-off of mankind will occur when we run out of energy to support the complex technological grid sustaining modern industrial human civilization. In other words, when the electricity goes out, we are back in the Dark Age, with the Stone Age grunting at us from just around the corner. This will likely happen in 100 years or less, assuming the ecosystem does not collapse first. And you are thinking, "Well ho ho ho! Any other good news Bageant? And how the fock do you know this anyway?"

For those willing to contemplate the subject, there is a scientifically supported model of the timeline of our return to Stone Age tribal units. A roadmap to the day when we will be cutting up dog meat with a sharpened cd rom disc in some toxic future canyon. It is called the Olduvai Theory.

The *Olduvai theory was first introduced in a scientific paper by petroleum geologist/engineer/anthropologist Richard C. Duncan titled The Peak Of World Oil Production And The Road To The Olduvai Gorge. Duncan ("Dunk") chose the name Olduvai because, among other reasons, "...it is a good metaphor for the Stone Age way of life." It also sounded cool, he confesses. The Olduvai Gorge is a deep cleft in the Serengeti steppe of Tanzania, where Louis and Mary Leakey found the remains of prehistoric hominids, some up to two million years old, and along with the first stone tools, other things such as the skulls of sheep big as draft horses and pigs the size of hippos. Also the skull of "Nutcracker Man," (Australopithecus boisei) so named because of a set of powerful choppers, teeth so strong they could bust the lug nuts off a truck tire, were he around today to work at the Goodyear Tire Center. As to Nutcracker’s "lifestyle" (and we are using the term most generously for a style that had more than adequate pork resources but had not developed a decent pinot grigio to serve with it, or even barbecue sauce for that matter) Dunk says "the Olduvai way of life was and still is a sustainable one—- local, tribal, and solar—- and, for better or worse, our ancestors practiced it for millions of years."

Dunk’s Olduvai theory provides a modern database support structure for the Malthusian argument. The Olduvai theory uses only a single metric, as defined by "White’s Law," and deals with electricity as the most vital expression of other forms of energy such as crude oil or coal. The theory is an inductive one based on world energy and population data, so elegantly simple that any 12th grader can do it, assuming he or she can do multiplication (a risky assumption now that no child has been left behind by our great ownership society.) In the Olduvai schema permanent blackouts will occur worldwide around 2030. Industrial Civilization ends when energy availability falls to its 1930 level. Measured as energy use—<>energy expended or consumed—our industrial civilization can be described as a one-time phenomenon, a single pulse waveform of limited duration which flashed out from the caves to outer space, then back to the caves over approximately 100 years.

So when was the highpoint of the flash? On the average, world per capita energy-use crested around 1977. That was the same year John Travolta made "Saturday Night Fever," which few of us consider much of a highpoint. To make a long story short, there are three intervals of decline in the Olduvai schema: slope, slide and cliff—each steeper than the previous. Right now we are in the slide headed for the cliff. See http://dieoff.org/page125.htm. After more than a decade no scientist has been able to refute it and even given the flexibility and bias inherent in what passes for common sense in this country, it’s still pretty damned hard to argue with.

When we do go off the cliff, the Big Die-off will play no favorites, and will happen everywhere more or less simultaneously. But there are some particularly lousy places to be when permanent worldwide electrical blackouts happen. In or near a big city is the worst. You can imagine the, uh, "discomfort" of billions when the electrical grids die and power goes out across the densely packed high-rise buildings surrounded by a million acres of asphalt. People with no work, no heat, no air conditioning, no food, no water. Put on yer Adidas, it is migration time. Wherein bankers, skinheads, little old ladies and taxi drivers swarm like insects toward whatever passes for the countryside by then. Looks like all those survivalists up in North Idaho and Oregon may be right. Personally, I wouldn’t want to be in New York or Bombay, or even Toledo when the deal goes down, and in fact want to be as distant from a city as one can get without having to be too far into the woods (of which there will de damned few) to eat my daily requirement of tree bark.
I suppose it'll be a dubious honor to know I may have witnessed the "high point" of civilization.

Len on 05.01.05 @ 04:59 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Hot Seats...

As a GUY, Keith Blanchard (Chicago Tribune) writes some of the funniest stuff from his own personal Gender Wars files perspective in a section of the Tribune’s “Q” department called “Male Call.” Here is today's offering: A Question That Makes Men Squirm.

"It's a question that has beguiled man for ... oh, a couple of decades. From the dawn of time until the '60s, the answer was easy.

Should a man give up his seat on a bus to a woman?

This is nothing more than Gentleman 101.

For, without chivalry, are we not just a bunch of monkeys? OK, monkeys with iPods?

Unfortunately, it's not so simple.

Chivalry was born in an age when women were considered the literal property of men.

Its civilities were officially bestowed on "the weaker sex" to make their forced subservience tolerable.

And there is a feminist argument that today, opening doors for women, pulling out their chairs and so on keeps us all chained to that ugly old mind-set, reinforcing the notion that women are naturally frail.

Heck, it's downright condescending to offer one's seat to a woman, and I should be slapped silly for even thinking of it.

See my dilemma?
You have to be a special type of cretin not to give up your seat for the elderly, the pregnant or the little girl struggling with her Lincoln Memorial popsicle-stick diorama.

Likewise, if you're specifically trying to hit on the woman in question, this is clearly protected behavior under the Blonds Prefer Gentlemen Act of 1963.

No, I'm talking about whether to yield my seat to a 30-something, smartly dressed businesswoman. My equal, in other words (except for the smartly dressed part)…."

So, what WOULD be the answer here from you GUYS???

Karen on 05.01.05 @ 04:45 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Karen's CHICAGO Trivia Q's:

As a complement to Len's St Louis Trivia Q's -- here is a Trivia Q about some (but by no means all) of Chicago's History:

1) What were the original two names of Chicago’s Midway Airport?

2) What year was this airport rebuilt and what years was it later renamed?

3) Bonus Q: What year did O’Hare open?

4) What was the name of the necropolis which was moved from the North Avenue Beach area starting in approx. 1856 –1858.

5) Why did this necropolis “move” even occur? Who was responsible for it?

6) What do the letters for the Station “WGN” stand for and what year did they begin broadcasting?

7) On Lake Calumet was some four thousand acres of land that became known as what area of Chicago and was later (1889) annexed into Hyde Park? (Approximately between 11115th Street and 11111th Street)

8) This area was believed to be patterned after which existing experimental European City?

a) Saltaire, France.
b) Guise, France.
c) Essen, Germany

9) What was Chicago’s first newspaper? Who founded this paper and in what year?

10) Who were the three main founders (out of nine original financial supporters) of Northwestern University?

11) What year was Northwestern’s first class held?

12) What was the most popular exhibit NEXT to (but not a part of) the World’s Columbian Exposition of 1893?

13) What was the most popular exhibit on this Exposition’s Midway Plaisance?

14) What was the “hit song” of the 1893 Exposition?

15) What was the only structure to survived the Great Chicago Fire of October 9th, 1871?

Karen on 05.01.05 @ 07:35 AM CST [link] [ | ]


David Brooks has an interesting muse in today NY Times Op-ed pages: Let’s Make A Deal talking about Bill Frist and the “Nuclear Option” to destroy the Senate fillibuster.
But Brooks has (unintentionally) hit the nail on the head about this entire Bush Administration and GOP controlled Congress with this sentence:

”If you are leading one of the greatest democratic institutions in history, it's irresponsible to lead it into this bloody unknown if a deal on the table will give you much of what you want. As one senator who supports changing the filibuster rules says, "Is this what you want on your obit?"

It captures the essence of the complete overreach and irresponsible power grabbing going on from the pinnacle of power on down -- to re-vamp and re-make many of these issues in contravention of the overwhelming poll numbers which show Americans (by a strong Majority) DO NOT favor these things:

· Changing the filibuster rules: Throwing away two hundred years of Senate precedent for a handful of extremist judicial nominees.

· Changing the GOP Senate ethics rules: Weakening their own party standards to protect one House majority Leader: Tom DeLay. (Finally back-peddled this week).

· Changing the Environmental Protections rules with Bush’s “Clear Skies” proposals to make the air and water dirtier: Gee, it’s worked so well for 20 yrs – Lets’ Scrap IT.

· Changing the Soc. Security System: Again, Gee, it’s worked so well for &0 yrs – Lets’ Scrap IT.

And this list goes on…These folks are NOT about “The People’s Business” as expressed by the Majority of Americans -- but their own personal, private agendas and missions.

"Is this what you (WE) want on your (OUR) obit?"

Karen on 05.01.05 @ 07:23 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Significant dates in tin-foil hat history:

Today is the 229th anniversary of the founding of the Illuminati by Adam Weishaupt.

I'm sure you'll find some appropriate way to celebrate today.


Len on 05.01.05 @ 07:10 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Thought for the Day:

Wakko: Hey, mister, what's this?
Blosky: A vomit bag.
Wakko: Ah, poo. I got gypped. There's none in here!

Len on 05.01.05 @ 05:50 AM CST [link] [ | ]

May 2005

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