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

A Question of Impeachment?

Zogby International Reports: No Bounce: Bush Job Approval Unchanged by War Speech: Question on Impeachment Shows Polarization of Nation; Americans Tired of Divisiveness in Congress—Want Bi-Partisan Solutions—New Zogby Poll:

"President Bush’s televised address to the nation produced no noticeable bounce in his approval numbers, with his job approval rating slipping a point from a week ago, to 43%, in the latest Zogby International poll. And, in a sign of continuing polarization, more than two-in-five voters (42%) say they would favor impeachment proceedings if it is found the President misled the nation about his reasons for going to war with Iraq.

Where voters live has some impact on their perceptions. The President’s job rating remains relatively strong in the South, with 51% rating his performance favorably; in all other regions, those disapproving his performance are in the majority.

In a more significant sign of the weakness of the President’s numbers, more “Red State” voters—that is, voters living in the states that cast their ballots for the Bush-Cheney ticket in 2004—now rate his job performance unfavorably, with 50% holding a negative impression of the President’s handling of his duties, and 48% holding a favorable view. The President also gets negative marks from one-in-four (25%) Republicans—as well as 86% of Democrats and 58% of independents. (Bush nets favorable marks from 75% of Republicans, 13% of Democrats and 40% of independents.)

Impeachment Question Shows Bitterness of Divide

In a sign of the continuing partisan division of the nation, more than two-in-five (42%) voters say that, if it is found that President Bush did not tell the truth about his reasons for going to war with Iraq, Congress should hold him accountable through impeachment. While half (50%) of respondents do not hold this view, supporters of impeachment outweigh opponents in some parts of the country.
Among those living in the Western states, a 52% majority favors Congress using the impeachment mechanism while just 41% are opposed; in Eastern states, 49% are in favor and 45% opposed. In the South, meanwhile, impeachment is opposed by three-in-five voters (60%) and supported by just one-in-three (34%); in the Central/Great Lakes region, 52% are opposed and 38% in favor.

Impeachment is overwhelmingly rejected in the Red States—just 36% say they agree Congress should use it if the President is found to have lied on Iraq, while 55% reject this view; in the “Blue States” that voted for Massachusetts Democrat John Kerry in 2004, meanwhile, a plurality of 48% favors such proceedings while 45% are opposed.

A large majority of Democrats (59%) say they agree that the President should be impeached if he lied about Iraq, while just three-in-ten (30%) disagree. Among President Bush’s fellow Republicans, a full one-in-four (25%) indicate they would favor impeaching the President under these circumstances, while seven-in-ten (70%) do not. Independents are more closely divided, with 43% favoring impeachment and 49% opposed.

And Why is that fellow Republicans would only, by a margin of 25%, support impeaching the Prez IF he lied about Iraq??? Yet these self-same pin-heads supported the impeachment for Clinton in a situation where no lives were lost, no Public/Tax money was involved and it concerned only a private indiscretion between two people - but NOT for a WAR of mis-managed deaths which threatens to bankrupt our Nation.

Scum, that's about all you can say about that other 70%of Republicans - Hypocritical Scum.

Karen on 06.30.05 @ 05:44 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Yep, everything in Iraq is hunky dory....

and it's only that evil, liberal media that keeps concentrating on the bad news.


Listen to Christopher Allbritton. He's there. Again.

Since returning, it feels like I'm listening to the same record I've been listening to for a year, only with the volume turned up. Donald Rumsfeld, the American Secretary of Defense, says U.S. is winning the war and that the media are focusing too much on bad news. I know this because the press releases from the American Forces Information Network tell me so:
Progress in Iraq Takes Back Seat to Violence in Media, Rumsfeld Says
By Petty Officer 3rd Class John R. Guardiano, USN
American Forces Press Service


“Bumps in the road”? Just earlier today, presumably before the Iraqi journalist was killed, an Iraqi member of parliament was killed in a car bomb attack. I can't even begin to tell you how many Iraqis have been killed in the weeks I was away. And how many more Iraqis, journalists or otherwise, will die because the Americans can't tell who's friend or foe? Those aren't “bumps in the road.” Those are signs that you went off the road without a map a long time ago.

Where do you even begin combatting the head-in-the-sandism, brazen propaganda and revisionism of the above release. (By the way, it's about the fourth or fifth one I've received in the last few days touting the same theme, apparently in concert with President Bush's push to let Americans know that everything is going hunky-dory.)

News flash: Iraq is a disaster. I've been back
one day, and the airport road was the worst I've ever seen it. We had to go around a fire-fight between mujahideen and Americans while Iraqi forces sat in the shade of date palms on the side of the road, their rifles resting across their laps. My driver pointed to a group of men in a white pickup next to me. “They are mujahideen,” he said. “They are watching the Americans.” Indeed, they were, and so intently that they paid no attention to me in the car next to them. We detoured around two possible car bombs that had been cordoned off while Iraqis cautiously approached.

Rumsfeld's assessment of “good progress” on the constitution is not accurate, as the committee to draw it up still hasn't completely agreed on how the Sunnis will take part.

When I was in Ramadi, I found the morale to be lower than expected. It wasn't rock-bottom among the Marines of the 1st Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, but it wasn't great. Most of the ones I talked to weren't confident they were doing anything worthwhile, and were instead focused on getting home alive. If a few Iraqis had to die to make that happen, well, war is hell.

I'm not sure who's winning this war, the Americans or the insurgents. But I know who is losing it: the Iraqi people. Those bumps in the road are their graves.

Len on 06.30.05 @ 12:27 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Thursday Dog Blogging™

I know I said this wasn't going to be a weekly feature, but dammit this is too good to pass up:

Hat tip: dKos regular Bill in Portland, ME

Len on 06.30.05 @ 11:41 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Yet More Fabulous Art...

As the final set from my “Mom Outings” – My neighbor, Dee, and I had a wonderful time last Thursday at the Art Institute and some of my favorite paintings and other interesting things.

AmGothic (100k image)

Click on the “more” button to see additional of these paintings and art works.

Karen on 06.30.05 @ 10:39 AM CST [more..] [ | ]

From a new addition to the blogroll...

Take it to Karl, which features the input from purported liberal soldiers and their supporters, we get this interesting letter from a retired astronaut/USAF colonel:

I am genuinely pissed off. I am a liberal democrat who was shaken to the core by 9/11. I was ready to back the administration in pursuit of those responsible. With 96 combat missions, 2 space flights, and retired CEO of a Defense Department think tank, I know the ropes and the risks. What we got was an ill advised and unsupportable war in Iraq. Rove is an idiot.


Len on 06.30.05 @ 07:41 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Time to Talk Turkey On G.W.'s Competence

Dangerous Incompetence by Bob Herbert suggests dusting off a few impeachment manuals:

”The president who displayed his contempt for Iraqi militants two years ago with the taunt "bring 'em on" had to go on television Tuesday night to urge Americans not to abandon support for the war that he foolishly started but can't figure out how to win.
On July 2, 2003, with evidence mounting that U.S. troop strength in Iraq was inadequate, Mr. Bush told reporters at the White House, "There are some who feel that the conditions are such that they can attack us there. My answer is, Bring 'em on."

It was an immature display of street-corner machismo that appalled people familiar with the agonizing ordeals of combat. Senator Frank Lautenberg, a New Jersey Democrat, was quoted in The Washington Post as saying: "I am shaking my head in disbelief. When I served in the Army in Europe during World War II, I never heard any military commander - let alone the commander in chief - invite enemies to attack U.S. troops."

The American death toll in Iraq at that point was about 200, but it was clear that a vicious opposition was developing. Mr. Bush had no coherent strategy for defeating the insurgency then, and now - more than 1,500 additional deaths later - he still doesn't.

The incompetence at the highest levels of government in Washington has undermined the U.S. troops who have fought honorably and bravely in Iraq, which is why the troops are now stuck in a murderous quagmire. If a Democratic administration had conducted a war this incompetently, the Republicans in Congress would be dusting off their impeachment manuals….”

Karen on 06.30.05 @ 07:05 AM CST [link] [ | ]


Air America Radio news is reporting that the Spanish Parliament has legalized gay marriage in Spain. A welcome blow to the hegemony of the Catholic Church (which is, of course, opposed to such a move) and a step forward for basic human rights.

Surprised the hell out of me, though.

Len on 06.30.05 @ 07:03 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Calling all War Mongers...Uncle Sam Wants YOU...

Had to find the link to this very good piece by Mark Shields (Creators Syndicate): DEFINITION OF SILENCE.

"What is the definition of silence? That would be Vice President Dick Cheney, House Majority Leader Tom Delay, R-Texas, and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich getting together to swap war stories, or simply to reminisce about their military service.

Each of these distinguished political leaders -- all three enthusiastic backers of the U.S. war in Vietnam during their youth and forceful advocates of the U.S. war against Iraq in their later years -- had been, as young men, eligible for the nation's military draft, and yet none of them spent a day in uniform.

What brings this up is the news that the U.S. Army has, for four months in a row, failed to reach its recruiting goals. Recruitment for the Army Reserves and the National Guard, which between them constitute nearly half of U.S. troops now deployed in Iraq, are down, respectively, 21 percent and 24 percent.

Even the Marines, who had met their recruitment goals every month for 11 years, have failed to meet recent monthly enlistment quotas. Virtually all of the more than 1,700 Americans killed in Iraq belonged to one of these four service groups.

All of this brings to mind the heroic example of the late Paul H. Douglas, who served three memorable terms in the U.S. Senate as a Democrat from Illinois. Right after Pearl Harbor, Douglas, a Quaker who was already a professor at the University of Chicago and an elected Chicago alderman, enlisted as a private in the Marine Corps. He went through boot camp at Parris Island and fought in combat in Pacific landings at Peleliu and Okinawa. He was wounded so severely that he lost permanently the use of his right arm. He won the Bronze Star. Here is the kicker: When Paul Douglas enlisted in the Marines, he was 50 years old.

Now is the time for President George W. Bush to create by executive order the Paul Douglas Brigade, which would actively seek and welcome the enlistment into today's short-handed military the middle-age members of Congress, card-carrying journalists and captains of commerce who missed the chance to serve in their own youth -- because of their commitments to career or comfort -- and could now help prosecute the war they endorsed.

That single act could simultaneously cure the shortage of military manpower and deplete the surplus of civilian hypocrisy. Not a bad deal.”

Karen on 06.30.05 @ 06:42 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Yet Another BlogMeme....

Well, Stan tagged me, so I have to play along. Because I'm a meme whore, ok? Get over it, or die with it on your mind.

The ChildHood Meme: What 5 Things Do You Miss About Your Childhood?

This meme requires you to do the following things:

Remove the blog at #1 from the following list and bump every one up one place. Add your blog’s name in the #5 spot. Link to each of the other blogs for the desired cross pollination effect.

1. Lindsay
2. News to Hughes
3. Fluxion
4. Our Obligatory Blog
5. Dark Bilious Vapors

When your blog reaches the top of the list, you will receive 3,125 different childhoods to choose from. Note, do not break the chain. Myron Bichelmeyer of Culver City, California broke the chain and had to relive his own pathetic childhood. [Obligatory Disclaimer: I am, of course, a thoroughgoing skeptic, and don't take any of that seriously, and I don't expect you to either. But hey, this is a parody of a chain letter, so we'll just play along, OK?]

Next: select new friends to add to the pollen count.

  1. Bryan, because he's good about cross linking to me on general principle.
  2. Big Stupid Tommy, because I haven't seen this cross his blog, and because he inflicted a blogmeme on me Once Upon A Time
  3. Gooseneck, because he hasn't updated his blog in just about forever, and he needs an excuse to do so
  4. Mr. Mike, because he needs to take his mind off local politics for a few minutes ;-)
  5. and Dr. Abby, because being the daughter of her Dr. Dad, I'll bet she had a pretty neat childhood.
Now list the five things you miss about childhood most.

1. Lack of responsibility. Having to be an adult and actually take responsibility for things sucks.
2. Recess. You should be able to break your day up and just go out and play a couple times a day.
3. The joy of Christmas. For me, specifically, that wasn't the joy of giving, it was the joy of getting. Screw the joy of giving; the only disappointment of Christmas morning was that every present under the tree didn't say "To Len" on it....
4. Saturday morning cartoons. I'm probably just living in the past, but they were better then.
5. Summer vacations. Why can't the whole world just take June, July and August off, play sandlot baseball and generally just screw around? Somehow, I think things would be a lot better in the world if we got our priorities straight like that.

Len on 06.30.05 @ 06:30 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Thought for the Day:

Peter Marshall: Now listen carefully, Paul...during the time of the hula hoop, the yo-yo, and Davy Crockett hats, who was in the White House?
Paul Lynde: I'll say the yo-yo!
--"The Hollywood Squares" [TV show]

Len on 06.30.05 @ 05:34 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Dammit, I shoulda listened this afternoon...

Rockies pitcher Byung-Hyun Kim hit Craig Biggio by a pitch in the 4th inning of the Astros-Rockies game this afternoon. That leaves Biggio in uncontested possession of the modern (i.e., 1900 and after) major league record for a player being hit by pitches.

Biggio now takes aim at Hughie Jenkins's all time record of being hit by 287 pitches. 19 to tie; 20 to break.

Len on 06.29.05 @ 08:50 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Gotta Love Those Movie Tie-Ins...

Must be the new “War of The World’s” Movie influence, but can’t be a coincidence that the latest X-Box release is Destroy all Humans.

"Use destructive weapons and innate mental powers to take on the most feared enemy in the galaxy - Mankind! Play as Crypto, an alien warrior sent to Earth to clear the way for the Furon invasion force. Your mission is to infiltrate humanity, control them, harvest their brain stems and ultimately destroy them. You choose the method - infiltration or disintigration!"

My daughter, Cory, has rented it from Blockbuster to see if it’s really worth the “Anal Probe” to “harvest people’s brains.” LOL

Karen on 06.29.05 @ 03:42 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Art Institute Outing

While the family was enjoying Colorado – I was on a “Mom Outing” – My neighbor, Dee, and I had a wonderful time last Thursday (and retroactively apologize for no posts that day) taking the Metra-train downtown.

We had lunch at “The Italian Village” – they have the BEST Tiramisu Ever Made!!! [It means “Lift Me Up” – but we always call it “Carry Me Out” - LOL]

And then on to the Art Institute:

Dee on Michigan Avenue – Art Institute in Background

DeeAI (68k image)

And some of my favorite paintings and other interesting things. But [brain-cramp] I wasn’t really reflecting on posting these - and some I only think of by artiste name, others by the picture name, and few others I don’t know the name at all.

So, just enjoy the pieces as photographed (no Names or Titles). I’ve divided them in to two sets, and first are some Impressionists pieces. (I'll post the other set tomorrow.)

Click on the “more” button to see these paintings and art works.

Karen on 06.29.05 @ 02:34 PM CST [more..] [ | ]

Failure of The Administration Imagination

Despite our Fearless leader's attempts to rouse "support", this this piece by Stephen J. Hedges (Washington Bureau of Chicago Tribune) about the failed imagination of our leaders and military to “understand this global terrorism and the kind of war this is we are fighting:
Critics: Pentagon in blinders: Long before 9/11, the military was warned about low-tech warfare, but it didn't listen is as pertinent today - whatever Bush tried to "explain" in his speech:

” Nearly 16 years ago, a group of four military officers and a civilian predicted the rise of terrorism and anti-American insurgencies with chilling accuracy.

The group said U.S. military technology was so advanced that foreign forces would be unlikely to challenge it directly, and it forecast that future foes would be non-state insurgents and terrorists whose weapons would be suicide car bombs, not precision-guided weapons.

"Today, the United States is spending $500 million apiece for stealth bombers," the group wrote in a 1989 article that appeared in a professional military journal. "A terrorist stealth bomber is a car with a bomb in the trunk--a car that looks like every other car."

The five men dubbed their theory "Fourth Generation Warfare" and warned that the U.S. military had to adapt. In the years since, the original group of officers, joined by a growing number of officers and scholars within the military, has pressed Pentagon leaders to acknowledge this emerging threat.

But rather than adopting a new strategy, the generals and civilian leaders in the Defense Department have continued to support conventional, high-intensity conflict and the expensive weapons that go with it. That is happening, critics say, despite lethal insurgencies in Iraq and Afghanistan.

"They don't understand this kind of warfare," said Greg Wilcox, a retired Army lieutenant colonel, Vietnam veteran and critic of Pentagon policies. "They want to return to war as they envision it. That's not going to happen.”
Chinese war philosopher "Sun Tzu had it right," said one Army lieutenant colonel who spent a year fighting insurgents in Iraq and who requested anonymity. "If you know your enemy and if you know yourself, you'll never lose. We know about half of what we should about the enemy, and we don't know ourselves. We can't figure out what kind of Army we want to be."
"Mass, of men or fire power, will no longer be an overwhelming factor," they wrote. "In fact, mass may become a disadvantage, as it will be easy to target. Small, highly maneuverable, agile forces will tend to dominate."

The article marked a radical departure from military thinking. Until then, the word "insurgency" had been virtually banned inside the Pentagon.

In his 1986 book, "The Army and Vietnam," military analyst and Army veteran Andrew Krepinevich details just how reviled a fight against insurgents is among U.S. military leaders. Top Army commanders in Washington, Krepinevich found, brushed aside orders from President John Kennedy in the early 1960s to build a counterinsurgent capability in Vietnam.

And after the war, he said, counterinsurgency theory was purged from the Pentagon. Instead, the military returned to preparing for a conventional war with the Soviet Union. ….
The Pentagon, though, continued to equip for battlefield warfare, encouraged by a Congress that was more than willing to back big weapons, ships and aircraft programs and the jobs they create.

"There's no money in counterinsurgency," said Hammes, the Marine colonel, who served in Iraq and whose recent book, "The Sling and the Stone," has stirred more debate within the military. "It's about language skills. It's about people. It's about a lot of soft money moving over to [the Departments of] State, Commerce, Treasury, and there's no F-22 [fighter jet] in this program."

A 9/11 realization

On the morning of Sept. 11, 2001, Schmitt, a former Marine and a co-author of the 1989 article, was at O'Hare International Airport on his way to Pittsburgh. Minutes before boarding his flight, he saw a television report that an airliner had hit New York's World Trade Center. He kept watching as the second plane hit.

"I was thinking, `We're at war here,'" said Schmitt, a military consultant based in Champaign, Ill. "This is the new warfare."

The Sept. 11 attacks, Schmitt and others hoped, would bring change within the Pentagon. Even an Al Qaeda terrorist Web site referred to the 1989 article, noting that "some American military experts predict a fundamental change in the future form of warfare" and that "this new type of war presents significant difficulties for the Western war machine."

But little changed. The U.S. forces that flowed into Afghanistan in late 2001 and into Iraq in March 2003 were largely conventional.

The U.S. military quickly toppled the Taliban regime in Afghanistan and the Saddam Hussein regime in Iraq. But after those successes, both the Afghan extremists and Hussein's sympathizers transformed into effective insurgencies.

The mavericks contend that the U.S. response has been a string of classic military mistakes, especially in Iraq.

U.S. forces took over Hussein's palaces and military bases, secluding themselves from ordinary Iraqis and cutting off lines of intelligence. Thousands of innocent Iraqis were wrongfully imprisoned in a ham-handed search for insurgents, breeding contempt for the American occupiers.
"Here's an army that went into Iraq in 2003 with exactly the same set of equipment it had in 1991, with very few modifications," said Douglas Macgregor, a tank commander in the first Iraq war who wrote several books about reforming the Army before retiring as a colonel a year ago. "It hasn't produced anything new at all in 20 years."

Still, the mavericks argue that, even today, changes could have an impact on the way soldiers are fighting.

First, the mavericks call for ground forces to reorganize into distinct, small units--not large, lumbering divisions or expeditionary forces--that will live among Iraqis.

"Why are we still riding around in Humvees?" asks Poole, the retired Marine, whose Posterity Press has published books on counterinsurgent tactics. "In a war like this, you've got to get off the vehicle and into the neighborhood."

Second, more needs to be done to give soldiers language and cultural training, they say, something that officers in the Army and Marine Corps say has recently begun.

A third reform would prescribe a more judicious use of powerful weapons, such as tank rounds and 2,000-pound precision aerial bombs, especially in cities. Insurgencies exploit the deaths of civilians, the mavericks argue.

They say that the most important change would be a new command system, one that bases promotions on initiative rather than obedience and encourages taking risks, recognizing that mistakes will happen.
Additional focus has been put on running road checkpoints, detecting roadside explosives and protecting convoys.

But those efforts give new troops just a brief taste of the challenges they will be facing, and they put a heavy emphasis on defensive measures. According to officers who have been involved in counterinsurgent operations, there still is a reluctance among top commanders to acknowledge the nature of the enemy and what skills American soldiers need to fight.

"There's definitely the sensation that the Army's holding its breath," said one officer who recently took command of deploying forces, "that this will all blow over, and they can go back to what they want to do."
Although they differ on the particulars of changing the military, the mavericks agree that the U.S. effort in Afghanistan and Iraq has been a lost opportunity. At best, they say, the outcome of both conflicts is uncertain. Some say they are doomed.

"There's nothing that you can do in Iraq today that will work," said Lind, one of the original Fourth Generation Warfare authors. "That situation is irretrievably lost."

Karen on 06.29.05 @ 02:05 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Exactly, spot-on right!

Steve Gilliard has exactly the right things to say about the College Repugnican Chickenshits:

You know, normally, I'd be inclined to humor these selfish fucks, but between seeing Bush's audience last night and reading the Daily News this morning, I'm just not in the fucking mood.

Ramona Valdez was 20 years old and she died as a Marine, in combat. Her family had none of the advantages of these people, her age, have had. And they do not even comprehend that the world is not just about words. Valdez's husband desperately wants to go back to Iraq, I guess to avenge his wife's death. Everything good about her is now just a memory.

She could have gone to school, she could have been drinking beer in a hotel. But instead she joined the Marines, just like thousands of other ambitious, but poor kids.

I'm tired of their excuses and their selfishness. I don't think anything but ill comes from Iraq. I wouldn't recommend anyone enlist to fight there. But these kids are utter and contemptible cowards. They think they can win a war by cheerleading and no one disabuses them of this notion. They are being coddled into thinking that a good speech is the same as going to Scout/Sniper school or being an MP and it isn't even close.

Their excuses are so palid, so insulting, so vile that it makes me ill. They want someone else to win a war they cheerlead. They think that all it takes is a good speech.

Part of me is revolted by this, but another part of me is heartened. Because if these people rely only on words, their are as doomed as the New Left was. These kids are being pumped full of the same shit which killed the left. Make a good speech, say the right things, people will like you and you never have to actually deliver as long as everyone feels good.

They should have called this a generation of Bushes and Cheneys
Yep, ranting is safer than enlisting:

Len on 06.29.05 @ 12:44 PM CST [link] [ | ]

SKB Gets It....

From a Chattanooga Pulse article on Certain Happenings in the Tennessee Blogosphere That Will Go Unremarked On Here (because I've yet to decide where I really stand on all the issues):

...[B]oth Conley and South Knox Bubba said last week that blogs should not be seen as a threat to alt weeklies. “Blogs can influence alt weeklies by providing a free flow of ideas,” Conley said. “Alt weeklies can influence blogs by reporting the news and publishing thought provoking commentary.”

South Knox Bubba agreed. “I think blogs are a new information outlet that won’t replace any existing outlets any more than radio replaced newspapers or television replaced radio,” he wrote. “It would appear there is a virtually insatiable appetite for news and opinion. Blogs are just one more offering on the menu.

“Further, blogs will never replace traditional media because we don’t have staff reporters and fact checkers and lawyers on the payroll, and we are in fact dependent on traditional and alternative media to do the actual reporting work on the street. There is some original reporting happening on blogs, but for the most part what we offer is opinion. (And you know what they say about opinions.)”

Len on 06.29.05 @ 12:33 PM CST [link] [ | ]

I didn't catch "The Speech" last night.

I had more important things to do, as the Cardinals were playing the Reds in St. Louis, which meant that XM was broadcasting the Cardinals Radio Network feed, featuring play-by-play by Wayne Hagin and Mike "The Moonman" Shannon. If I have a choice, I want to listen to The Moonman over Chimpy McCoward any day of the week and twice on Sundays.

But for you unregenerate news junkies that just can't get enough, Thomas Nephew at Newsrack features a scorecard on The Speech. Judging just from this summary (and not the other things I've read this morning), I didn't miss anything at all.

Though I'm very heartened by the fact that Even The U.S. Government Ministry of Propaganda mainstream media reported that the only applause for Bush during the entire speech was staged by bAdministration lackeys (I've seen a report that even the Faux Snooze Network reported that, though I don't have any independent confirmation of it).

Damn, it's nice to see the Smirking Chimp's popularity in the toilet and swirling clockwise....

Len on 06.29.05 @ 12:29 PM CST [link] [ | ]

History will be made any day now....

And I'll bet the proprietors of the Plunk Biggio blog couldn't be happier.

Last night, Houston Astros 2B Craig Biggio was hit by a pitch thrown by Colorado Rockies RHP Jason Jennings.

I know, you're saying *yawn* So what?.

Well, it was the 267th time that Biggio had been hit. And that, my friends, ties the modern Major League record, which was held by Don Baylor. Let the folks at Plunk Biggio put it in perspective for you:

If Biggio manages to get hit again, he will be the first person born after the Ulysses S Grant administration to get hit 268 times.
For what it's worth, Hughie Jennings holds the all-time record (at 287, with Tommy Tucker in second place on that list with 272). All Biggio needs is to be hit 21 more times in his career to be the all time plunking champ.

If I were him I'd consider crowding the plate and jumping in front of the ball every chance I got to get that one, myself. But then again, Biggio is a career All-Star and has a good shot at enshrinement at Cooperstown. No doubt he'll be satisfied with the modern record, which he's almost sure to hold all by himself any day now.

Len on 06.29.05 @ 12:16 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Real conservatives are starting to get it....

From a Eugene, OR attorney who was a registered Republican, but no longer: Guest Viewpoint: The party's over for betrayed Republican, By James Chaney:

As of today, after 25 years, I am no longer a Republican.

I take this step with deep regret, and with a deep sense of betrayal.

I still believe in the vast power of markets to inspire ideas, motivate solutions and eliminate waste. I still believe in international vigilance and a strong defense, because this world will always be home to people who will avidly seek to take or destroy what we have built as a nation. I still believe in the protection of individuals and businesses from the influence and expense of an over-involved government. I still believe in the hand-in-hand concepts of separation of church and state and absolute freedom to worship, in the rights of the states to govern themselves without undo federal interference, and in the host of other things that defined me as a Republican.

My problem is this: I believe in principles and ideals which my party has systematically discarded in the last 10 years.

My Republican Party was the party of Abraham Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt, Dwight Eisenhower, Barry Goldwater, and George H.W. Bush. It was a party of honesty and accountability. It was a party of tolerance, and practicality and honor. It was a party that faced facts and dealt with reality, and that crafted common-sense solutions to problems based on the facts as they were, not as we wished them to be, or even worse, as we made them up. It was a party that told the truth, even when the truth came hard. And now, it is none of those things.

Fifty years from now, the Republican Party of this era will be judged by how we provided for the nation's future on three core issues: how we led the world on the environment, how we minded the business of running our country in such a way that we didn't go bankrupt, and whether we gracefully accepted our place on the world's stage as its only superpower. Sadly, we have built the foundation for dismal failure on all three counts. And we've done it in such a way that we shouldn't be surprised if neither the American people nor the world ever trusts us again.

My party has repeatedly ignored, discarded and even invented science to suit its needs, most spectacularly as to global warming. We have an opportunity and the responsibility to lead the world on this issue, but instead we've chosen greed, shortsightedness and deliberate ignorance.

We have mortgaged the country's fiscal future in a way that no Democratic Congress or administration ever did, and to justify the tax cuts that brought us here, we've simply changed the rules. I matured as a Republican believing that uncontrolled deficit spending is harmful and irresponsible; I still do. But the party has yet to explain to me why it's a good thing now, other than to say "... because we say so."

Our greatest failure, though, has been in our role as superpower. This world needs justice, democracy and compassion, and as the keystone of those things, it needs one thing above all else: truth.

Republican decisions made in 2002 and 2003 have killed almost 2,000 of the most capable patriots our country has to offer - volunteers, every one. Support for those decisions was gathered through what appeared at the time to be spin and marketing, but which now turns out to have been deliberate planning and falsehood. The Blair government's internal documentation only confirms what has been suspected for years: Americans are dying every day for Republican lies first crafted in 2002, expanded and embellished upon in 2003, and which continue to this day. This calculated deception is now burned into the legacy of the party, every bit as much as Reagan's triumph in the Cold War, or Nixon's disgrace over Watergate.
Powerful stuff. Go read it all.

Len on 06.29.05 @ 11:58 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Sad news from the Memphis literary scene....

UPDATE: I see Karen scooped me on this. That's what I get for not being a news junkie like she is. I'll still leave this up, since I refer to the local fishwrap's obit vice the AP's.

Local novelist/historian/celebrity Shelby Foote has died at the age of 88.

While Foote started his literary career as a novelist, he is probably best known for his three volume work The Civil War: A Narrative. That work led to a gig as a talking head for Ken Burns's monumental PBS mega-documentary The Civil War, which catapulted Foote into major celebrity status (and, according to a TV interview he gave which I remember seeing, resulted in his receiving a number of marriage proposals). The Burns documentary did so much to bring the limelight to Foote (or so goes the story that I've heard) that he had to give up his long-listed Memphis area telephone number and get an unpublished number, in order to stem the tide of out-of-the-blue telephone calls and in-person visitors to his East Parkway home.

His appearance on the Burns film wasn't his only brush with notoriety, though. According to the obituary in the Memphis Commercial-Appeal:

The American Legion in Memphis considered his novel "Follow Me Down" to be a "dirty book" and took it to the city dump to be burned along with "Lady Chatterley's Lover."

"I considered it an honor to be burned along with D.H. Lawrence," Foote always said.
Come to think of it, I'd be proud to have such a distinction myself.

Requesciat in Pace, Mr. Foote.

Len on 06.29.05 @ 10:02 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Being, as I say, a disloyal alumnus of Northwestern's law school....

it's so nice to see it in the toilet and beginning to swirl clockwise.

I keep my eyes on Prof. Leiter's academic rankings of U.S. law schools, waiting patiently for the day that Northwestern drops out of the top tier.

And then am I going to celebrate!!!!!

Can't happen soon enough for me.

Len on 06.29.05 @ 09:18 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Juan Cole for President!

because he Gets It, while the Idiot in the Oval Office doesn't.

The good Professor Cole gives Bush the smackdown for last night's speech. Give it a read.

Len on 06.29.05 @ 09:13 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Today's Quotables:

Gem of a Quote:

”Sadly, Mr. Bush wasted his opportunity last night, giving a speech that only answered questions no one was asking. He told the nation, again and again, that a stable and democratic Iraq would be worth American sacrifices, while the nation was wondering whether American sacrifices could actually produce a stable and democratic Iraq.”

NY Times Op-Ed.

Karen on 06.29.05 @ 08:48 AM CST [link] [ | ]

The best analysis I've read on this whole fiasco....

Over at his blog (for indeed, that's what it is) ReelThoughts, James Berardinelli has some interesting things to say about the recent Tom Cruise meltdown (note, Berardinelli is apparently managing ReelThoughts by simply using an HTML editor, and not any sort of blog management software, so no permalink seems possible. Use the drop down listbox at the top to find "June, 2005", and look for the post on the June page dated "June 29, 2005" and titled "Cruise Control" if you want to see the source):

A certain degree of eccentricity is expected from celebrities. After all, considering their offbeat career choices (they spend their time pretending to be someone else) and stratospheric salaries, it's unreasonable to think they'll be "just like everyone else." But, with his much-publicized antics during the past six weeks, Tom Cruise has exceeded the curve. He has gone from being one of War of the Worlds' biggest assets to one of its biggest problems. There are two sayings in Hollywood that almost everyone subscribes to: "No publicity is bad publicity" and "There's no such thing as too much publicity." The Cruise situation may prove both sayings to be apocryphal.

When Cruise and Katie Holmes made a public spectacle of their whirlwind romance, it was cute but inconsequential. Little did we know, that was only the beginning. Since then, Cruise has entered a scorched earth mode in which he has taken on all comers. Step aside, Oprah! Watch out, Brooke Shields! Heads up, Matt Lauer!

Most people have religious beliefs, so few can criticize Cruise for his, or for professing them publicly. Opinions are one thing (and you know the saying about them...); the problem is, Cruise doesn't have his facts straight, and when he starts mouthing off about "established historical" incidents that are anything but that, one has to begin wondering where he's getting his information from, and why he isn't checking its veracity beforehand. So, as the truth emerges, he comes across looking like a dolt who believes every urban legend he has been exposed to. A few people have called his recent attacks on psychiatry "dangerous." I disagree. Anyone who looks to Tom Cruise for advice about how to handle a psychiatric problem deserves what they get. What those comments are accomplishing, however, is to make him into a laughingstock.
Berardinelli then speculates that Cruise's latest antics may torpedo Mission: Impossible 3 (apparently burning in Development Hell even as we speak), and make him seriously unbankable for projects after that. But, given my interest in religious affairs (and Cruise's commitment to Scientology puts this whole dog-and-pony-show into the religion category), I was interested in this comment by Berardinelli:
There are similarities between what's happening with Cruise and what happened with Mel Gibson around the time when The Passion of the Christ was released. After all, both situations involve popular movie icons emerging as preachers for a religious cause. But there are differences as well. Gibson may never act in another blockbuster movie, but he has directing to fall back on, and that appears to be what he's interested in doing. Cruise, on the other hand, has never crossed behind the camera (although, like Gibson, he has a successful production company). And Gibson's doctrine represents that of a mainstream religion (albeit a splinter sect)- Catholicism. Scientology, on the other hand, is viewed by many as either a cult or a "fake" religion. Fundamentalist Christians flocked to The Passion of the Christ. Every living Scientologist alive could see a Cruise movie and it wouldn't make a blip at the box office.
I'm in a dilemma meself. As a general rule, I don't like putting money into the hands of shills for movements (religious and otherwise) that I don't approve of; that was a factor (but only one) in my decision not to see The Passion of the Christ (though the main factor was Roger Ebert calling it the most violent movie he'd ever seen--remember, ol' Rog has seen movies like both iterations of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre as part of his job), and it was a big disincentive to go see Battleground Earth (though, of course, the fact that that one sucked so badly means I'd have never gone to see it even if John Revolta weren't a Scientologist). So right there, War of the Worlds comes with a big black mark against it for me. On the other hand, we're talking a huge, action packed mindless brain-drain summer movie (and I enjoy the hell out of spectaculars like that) that appears to be getting good reviews (in this morning's email from Rotten Tomatoes, the Tomatometer is standing at 91% FRESH--meaning that 91% of the critics that Rotten Tomatoes tracks are giving it good reviews).

So I'll probably go, but I'll probably wince a few times when I see Tom....

Len on 06.29.05 @ 08:41 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Gem o'the Day:

Dick Cheney has famously predicted that the Iraq Insurgency is in Last Throes. If so, it’s a remarkable coincidence that these Last Throes happen to look just like a dramatic increase in military effectiveness. Consider the statistics: 1,000 people killed since April, and 70 attacks/day compared to 53/day during this same period in ’04 and 8/day in ’03. If Dick is now seeing a light at the end of the tunnel, it wouldn’t be the first time in military history that this has happened. Remember the Iraqi Minister of Information during the invasion and his Cheneyesque "There are no American infidels in Baghdad. Never!" I’m guessing that at some point in the invasion he probably claimed that the US invasion was in its Last Throes!
--Sher Wright

Remember that Sher is a West Point grad, so he knows whereof he speaks on the question of military effectiveness.

Len on 06.29.05 @ 08:17 AM CST [link] [ | ]

This should be a popular site for Memphians....

given the Bluff City's understandable enthusiasm for things Egyptian (see, e.g.:

The Pyramid


the front gates of The Memphis Zoo)

we now have My Name In Hieroglyphics:

My name using Egyptian Hieroglyphs!

L E N  C L E A V E L I N

Try your name

Script by

Hat tip to Elayne Riggs, whom the press of work and other things has caused me to ignore too much recently.

Len on 06.29.05 @ 08:12 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Well, this is why we're considered a bit weird....

I have a confession to make.

I've indulged in some internet dating. In fact, I've had two long term relationships (a year's duration or more, each) which started on the 'net.

Now, admit that, and some people look at you like you have your privy member growing out of your forehead or something.

Then again, after reading a story like this, one is tempted to look in the mirror and examine one's forehead very carefully: Frostbitten lover deported to U.S.

An American who lost several fingers and toes after sneaking across the border in the dead of winter to visit an internet flame has been deported to the U.S., having never met his Quebec sweetheart in person.

An official with the Canada Border Services Agency confirmed Tuesday that Charles Gonsoulin was deported to the U.S. on June 16, the Canadian Press reported.


The 41-year-old Los Angeles man had asked to be allowed to stay in Canada on humanitarian grounds so he could meet his internet companion. But the plea was rejected at an immigration hearing June 13.
An LA resident. That explains a lot right there... Like how someone would be enough of an idiot to try to cross the Canadian border on foot in the dead of freaking winter.
Gonsoulin had developed an online relationship with Quebec resident Jennifer Couture, but wasn't able to enter Canada legally to meet her because of a past robbery conviction.

He decided to walk across the North Dakota-Manitoba border and make his way to Winnipeg, where he intended to board a bus to meet her.

Gonsoulin was picked up on Feb. 23 on a golf course in southern Manitoba after spending about 100 hours in the cold. He was dehydrated, babbling and severely frostbitten.

He had eight fingers and parts of three toes amputated, and had to relearn how to use his hands and walk.

In March, he pleaded guilty in a Manitoba court to illegally entering Canada and carrying a prohibited weapon. He was given a suspended sentence.
For a second there, I thought that this guy was a gun nut, til I followed the handily provided link to the story about his sentencing; turns out that the weapon was pepper spray, which he was carrying to ward off any animals that he might have encountered along the way.

Hmmmm. Some evidence of prior planning and rational thought there. There might be some hope, after all.

Len on 06.29.05 @ 07:53 AM CST [link] [ | ]

We're going to get some empirical evidence soon....

concerning the Religious Right's belief that allowing same sex marriages is the first step to social collapse.

A same sex marriage bill, establishing the right of same sex couples to contract a civil marriage, passed the Canadian House of Commons on a 158-133 vote yesterday. According to the CBC story cited, this makes Canada "only the third country in the world, after the Netherlands and Belgium, to officially recognize same-sex marriage."

So keep an eye on events over the Northern Border. If Canada doesn't collapse into social anarchy, can we conclude that perhaps the religious bigots are full of shit? Because, face it, there's no evidence whatsoever that extending the benefits of marriage under civil law to same sex couples will in any way undermine society in general or the institution of marriage in particular. The opposition to same sex marriages is religiously based, pure and simple.

And I'm pleased to see that our neighbors to the north have a Chief Executive that Gets It, unlike the poor excuse for a leader that we have below the 49th parallell:

The "vote is about the Charter of Rights," said [Canadian Prime Minister Paul] Martin. "We're a nation of minorities and in a nation of minorities you don't cherry-pick rights."
Unlike the United States, which is on the fast track to become a dictatorship of the (carefully cherry-picked) majority.

Len on 06.29.05 @ 07:41 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Shelby Foote, Author and Historian

Well, for all you Civil War Buffs, is the news that Shelby Foote died Monday at age 88. Civil War historian Foote dies (Associated Press):

" MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Novelist and Civil War historian Shelby Foote, who became a national celebrity explaining the war to America on Ken Burns’ 1990 PBS documentary, has died at 88.

Foote died Monday night, said his widow, Gwyn.

The Mississippi native and longtime Memphis resident wrote a stirring, three-volume, 3,000-page history of the Civil War, as well as six novels.

“He had a gift for presenting vivid portraits of personalities, from privates in the ranks to generals and politicians. And he had a gift for character, for the apt quotation, for the dramatic event, for the story behind the story,” said James M. McPherson, a Pulitzer Prize-winning Civil War historian. “He could also write a crackling good narrative of a campaign or a battle.”

On Burns’ 11-hour PBS series “The Civil War,” Foote became an immediate hit with his encyclopedic knowledge of the war, soft Southern accent and easy manner. With his gray beard and gentlemanly carriage, he seemed to have stepped straight out of a Mathew Brady photograph.

Later he would say that being a celebrity made him uneasy, and he worried it might detract from the seriousness of his work.

Foote worked on the Civil War history for 20 years, using his skills as a novelist to write in a flowing, narrative style.
In 1999, the Modern Library ranked Foote’s “The Civil War: A Narrative” as No. 15 on its list of the century’s 100 best English-language works of nonfiction.

His final novel, “September, September,” published in 1978, tells the story of an ignorant white couple who kidnap the son of a rich black businessman in the 1950s. It became the basis for a TV move starring fellow Memphis resident Cybill Shepherd.

Foote was born Nov. 7, 1916, in Greenville, Miss., a small Delta town with a literary bent. Walker Percy was a boyhood and lifelong friend, and Foote, as a young man, served as a “jackleg reporter” for the crusading editor Hodding Carter on The Delta Star. As a young man, Foote got to know William Faulkner.

During World War II, he was an Army captain of artillery until he lost his commission for using a military vehicle without authorization to visit a female friend and was discharged from the Army. He joined the Marines and was still stateside when the war ended.

He tried journalism again after World War II, signing on briefly with The Associated Press in its New York bureau.

Early in his career, Foote took up the habit of writing by hand with an old-fashioned dipped pen, and he continued that practice throughout his life. Foote said writing by hand helped him slow down to a manageable pace and was more personal than using a typewriter.

In addition to his wife, he is survived by a daughter, Margaret Shelby, and a son, Huger Lee. A graveside service is planned in Memphis on Thursday."

Courtesy of the Daily Herald.

Karen on 06.29.05 @ 07:35 AM CST [link] [ | ]

The Bolton fiasco plays out....

Josh Marshall, citing Steve Clemons, notes that the White House and Senate Republican leadership has pretty well given up on shepherding the Bolton nomination through the Senate. Hot damn! There's spending "political captial" for you. Josh further notes:

What remains to be seen now is whether President Bush will bypass the senate and install Bolton at the UN by a recess appointment.

For starters, it's worth saying that that's the president's right. Whether it's fair in the abstract is just as irrelevant as the question is about the filibuster.

But it is also becoming increasingly clear that winning on Bolton is more important to the White House than having someone in that position who would be in any way effective in the job by any measure. He would, I assume, be the first UN Ambassador ever to be seated who quite publicly lacked the confidence of the United States senate. And what does it tell you exactly about President Bush's foreign policy priorities today -- and all the challenges that the country currently faces in Iraq and elsewhere -- that he's putting so much into sustaining this single nomination? There's nothing else going on in the world that could use the attention and political muscle more than this?
Well.... You do have to credit Bush for his tenacity. He decides he wants something done, and he spares no effort or expense to get it done.

But his choice of goals to exert that effort and spend that expense gives one the impression that Dubya was either born incompetent, or else studied assiduously for years to achieve incompetence. A stunning achievement in any event.

Len on 06.29.05 @ 07:29 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Thought for the Day:

In the June 22 Washington Post, Jeffrey H. Birnbaum reported that the number of registered lobbyists has "more than doubled." Perhaps you think that refers to the large increase in lobbying activity that began in the 1970s, a long-term trend whose most visible measure has been a proliferation of expensive restaurants in Washington, D.C. (Before 1970, your typical lobbyist's idea of haute cuisine was Blackie's House of Beef or Trader Vic's.) But Birnbaum's statistic actually covers a much briefer time frame. The number of registered lobbyists has doubled--are you sitting down?--since 2000. Let me say that a different way. Since George W. Bush became president, the group of people whose numbers constitute the most reliable index I know of the extent to which government policy is for sale has increased 100 percent. Bush's presidency hasn't done much for the economy nationwide, but in Washington it has produced a gold rush.
--Timothy Noah

Len on 06.29.05 @ 06:23 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Stooges Strikes Again..."Sort-tain-Ly"...

Give a “Look” at this “Curly” tattoo found by Stan on his Stan adventures:: Another tattoo show.

And Stan also points out: Actually, he had a whole curly tribute all over his body. Note the "Curly" on his head. He had other Curly and Stooges tattoos. I just took the picture of his back because it was the single largest piece.

Great!! But now that you’ve posted this picture - Everyone is going to want one!!! LOL

Karen on 06.29.05 @ 05:17 AM CST [link] [ | ]

And speaking of autoegocrat....

the dear boy may be in love. He's been blogging a bit about Rachel Lea Hunter, a candidate for a justiceship on the North Carolina Supreme Court. Ms. Hunter's caused autoegocrat to swoon because she's got way bigger cojones than most Democratic and moderate Republican politicians, and she has no hesitation in calling the Rethugnicans exactly what they are: jack-booted fascist thugs. A few GOoPers have called her on it, and she's fought back, with all guns blazing:

I stand by my comments. I am unrepentant and unapologetic for the remarks that I made. A number of you have asked why I made those comments. Up till now, I kept my views largely focused on local, i.e. state, politics. Anything else was not really relevant. But I watched the national scene and became increasingly appalled at what I saw.
She lists a number of appalling developments in American public life, and then continues:
These are just some of the reasons. But if someone had described the above to me and asked me to name a government, I would have thought of a third world dictator or some regime other than the US. And yet it is our government that no longer respects property and liberty rights. Call it what you will, but it has all the hallmarks of a tyrannical government.

The efforts of the individuals in question who twisted my words backfired. I had a handful of disgruntled individuals and one, just one, person called my office. Not only did I have support from across the state, but from across the nation. It was overwhelming. There were people of all political groups who think just like I do on this issue.


I am not a traitor. I love my country. I don't want any more September 11ths. However, the Republicans cannot wrap themselves in the flag and scream "traitor" and "unpatriotic" and call for a person's resignation whenever someone asks a legitimate question about the war in Iraq. I and many Democrats do not need Karl Rove's therapy.

What is needed is some answers. Why did we really invade Iraq? Hostilities were declared to be over in 2003. Saddam Hussein has been captured. His sons are dead. When are we going to leave? How many more Iraqis and Americans must die? How many more billions of dollars that we do not have must be spent?

What are you Republicans so afraid of that you must silence your critics? That we might be right? That the word will get out and spread? Its too late.
I'm not in love, but I'm damned impressed. We need some candidates like that here, instead of the insipid Rethugnicans and Blue Dog Democrats that infest that cesspool called "Tennessee politics".

Len on 06.28.05 @ 09:40 PM CST [link] [ | ]

And the latest on Zach and Love In Action

The State apparently completed its investigation of child abuse allegations, and ruled them "unfounded". Basically, given the difficulties of proving emotional abuse, that's not necessarily surprising.

In order to get your fix on the latest breaking news:

EJ is, of course, all over it.

As is autoegocrat at The River City Mud Company.

Dr. Abby adds some links on the abuse question.

And if you want to get away from the Memphis blogosphere's take on this story, The Republic of T and Pandagon weigh in too.

While the ruling on abuse isn't surprising, I'm wondering why action isn't being taken on a licensure issue? Seems pretty clear to me that what they're doing over there constitutes the unauthorized practice of medicine (psychiatry) and/or psychology. And surely they should be sanctioned for that.

Len on 06.28.05 @ 09:29 PM CST [link] [ | ]

As silly publicity gimmicks go...

This is a pretty damn good one:

Could a hotel be built on the land owned by Supreme Court Justice David H. Souter? A new ruling by the Supreme Court which was supported by Justice Souter himself itself might allow it. A private developer is seeking to use this very law to build a hotel on Souter's land.

Justice Souter's vote in the "Kelo vs. City of New London" decision allows city governments to take land from one private owner and give it to another if the government will generate greater tax revenue or other economic benefits when the land is developed by the new owner.

On Monday June 27, Logan Darrow Clements, faxed a request to Chip Meany the code enforcement officer of the Towne of Weare, New Hampshire seeking to start the application process to build a hotel on 34 Cilley Hill Road. This is the present location of Mr. Souter's home.

Clements, CEO of Freestar Media, LLC, points out that the City of Weare will certainly gain greater tax revenue and economic benefits with a hotel on 34 Cilley Hill Road than allowing Mr. Souter to own the land.

The proposed development, called "The Lost Liberty Hotel" will feature the "Just Desserts Café" and include a museum, open to the public, featuring a permanent exhibit on the loss of freedom in America. Instead of a Gideon's Bible each guest will receive a free copy of Ayn Rand's novel "Atlas Shrugged."

Len on 06.28.05 @ 07:12 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Picasso Art News and Paintings

Picasso pencil nude earns $575,357 Auction of sketches by ex-mistress nets barely believable prices by Rachid Aouli (Associated Press):

”PARIS -- A sketch by Pablo Picasso of his mistress reclining nude sold Monday for $575,357 at a Paris auction where the woman sold 20 of the artist's works.

Describing the pencil on paper sketch in the sale catalog, Genevieve Laporte recalled how she had fallen asleep just as Picasso was preparing to draw: "He waited patiently until I opened my eyes to continue his sketch!"

The Picasso Museum in Paris bought the sensual image entitled "Odalisque" for about three times the estimated price, Artcurial auction house said. Altogether, the sale of Laporte's collection reaped $1.87 million.

A similar sketch, entitled "Le Songe," was sold to an unidentified British collector for $507,239, more than twice the estimated price, said Francis Briest, the auctioneer.

"I am so happy because it has been over 50 years that I have had them," said Laporte, who had a two-year secret affair with Picasso in the 1950s, when she was in her 20s.

Laporte, 79, said earlier this month that she kept the sketches Picasso gave her in a safe because she was worried about thieves, but she now was ready to part with them….”

Apropos of this news item and as part of my “Reverse Mom Holiday” I had a visit to the Art Institute of Chicago and was able to see a few of my favorite Picasso’s [along with lot of other wonderful paintings and art works that I’ll post later.] Some truly World Class art works to see up close:

picasso1a (74k image)

picasso2 (78k image)

picasso3 (88k image)

Karen on 06.28.05 @ 03:21 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Summer Tales of My Nightmares...

Yipes: Just say "Selachophobia" and these Shark Stories are just multipying:

Boy loses leg in 2nd shark attack in 3 days by Bill Kaczor (Associated Press):

" PANAMA CITY, Fla. -- A boy fishing in waist-deep water Monday was critically injured in the second shark attack on a teenager along the Florida Panhandle in three days.

Craig Hutto, 16, of Lebanon, Tenn., was taken to Bay Medical Center in Panama City, where his leg was amputated. He was listed in critical condition but was expected to recover, a hospital spokeswoman said.

The boy was attacked off Cape San Blas, a popular vacation destination about 80 miles southeast of the Destin area, where Jamie Marie Daigle of Gonzales, La., was killed by a shark on Saturday. She was 14.

Erich Ritter of the Shark Attack Institute said the girl probably was attacked by a 6-foot bull shark, based on measurements of the bite wound. He said it was unlikely the same shark was responsible for Monday's attack.

The boy was fishing with two friends when the shark bit him in the right thigh, nearly severing his leg, Gulf County Sheriff's Capt. Bobby Plair said.

The three then tried to wrestle the shark off the boy, hitting it in the nose several times. The teen was pulled ashore by his friends, and a doctor who happened to be nearby began treatment before the boy was taken to the hospital..."

Karen on 06.28.05 @ 03:03 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Gem o'the Day:

In short, there are still plenty of places in this country where, in bar after bar on a Saturday night, somebody will eventually stand up and say, "If a faggot came in here I'd kick his ass!" And this is what makes many gays so cagey. Most of them are too smart to hear that and respond, "Here I am, you savage!"

And I'm not just talking about rednecks here. Even Rick Santorum from Pennsylvania, a well-educated man and one of the highest-ranking Republicans in the Senate, doesn't have a clue. Instead of just shutting his mouth because he doesn't know anything, he actually said that homosexuality was a threat to the American family. Of course, he didn't explain why, he just said it as if it were written in stone.

Did I miss something? I read a lot, but never once have I heard about groups of gays hopping in vans and driving from suburb to suburb, threatening American families. If only somebody could convince Santorum this isn't the case. But in his demented mind, he apparently convinced himself that these same gays are driving into culs-de-sac from coast to coast, jumping out of the vans, running into houses just as families are settling in for their evening prayers, and fucking each other...in front of the kids.

Of course, if it were happening that way, I could understand how families could fall apart and within six months show up on The Jerry Springer Show. Who could blame them? But, like I said, I read a lot, and when I'm not reading, I watch The Jerry Springer Show. A lot. So far, I'm happy to report, there is no concrete evidence to support Santorum's claim. Nothing...

And I think it takes a lot of balls for heterosexuals to make such a fuss over this issue, considering that 50 percent of us can't even stay married. It's not like we have a lock on this institution. For all we know, if gay marriages were figured into the equation, the divorce statistics may even go down. That's actually one of my secret dreams because it would be a hell of a kick in the ass to the religious right.
--Lewis Black, in
Nothing's Sacred

Len on 06.28.05 @ 11:41 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Winter Park: Colorado

Well, the Crew and Hubby are back from the Reunion in Winter Park, Colorado.

While I was enjoying my “Reverse Mom Holiday” at home: Here are a few pictures of their trip at higher (and cooler) elevations and FUN stuff and Bee-A-You-Ti-Full Mountains.

Rocky Mountains, Colo.

rangeMT2 (103k image)

Click on the "more" button to see additional Fam Photos.

Karen on 06.28.05 @ 10:34 AM CST [more..] [ | ]

Rocky Top Brigade Update:

can be found here.

I'm going to break my usual rule of no longer doing individual welcomes of new RTB members to acknowledge that Serrabee of Rock'n'Roll Minor Planets has joined our merry band. I'm pleased by that because I've been reading her for a while now; a native of Knoxvegas, she's become a Memphian by choice, and the Memphis blogworld has become a bit richer for her presence here.

Look forward to seeing her (and a few of the rest of you) at the next local blogger's bash (whenever someone gets around to making the call; I'm sorry, but in order to get me to do it someone's probably going to have to buy Karen another plane ticket to Memphis and put her up somewhere... that's what it took to get me to do it the last time :-) ).

Len on 06.28.05 @ 10:03 AM CST [link] [ | ]

A Luther for our times?

If only....

But Prof. Leiter also shares with us some correspondence from Professor Peter Ludlow (of the University of Michigan):

Here's something you may not have known or suspected. When I grew up my family went to a conservative Christian church and I subsequently went to a Swedish Baptist college in Minnesota. I recently went back to my home town and was sickened by what became of the family church over the last 20 years. The received view is that the conservative christians have taken over the Republican Party. I think the reverse happened. The right wing of the Republican Party has taken over the church. Nothing could be more clear to me. In a fit of revulsion, and with a nod to Marty Luther, I wrote up the following 95 theses on the relighous right: Download ludlows_95_theses_on_the_religious_right.doc [Note: MS Word .doc file --LRC] In lieu of nailing it to the door of the Wittenburg Church I'm sending it to you instead. Not exactly the same thing, I realize. I'm not saying I'm a believer and I'm not saying I'm not, but I am saying that what has happened to the fundamentalist church is revolting.
According to Prof. Leiter, Prof. Ludlow encourages the widest dissemination of his theses. Given that implicit permission, I'm taking the liberty of posting them, in their entirety, below the fold (click "more", below, to read). But if you want, feel free to download the word document (link in the quote), or to visit Prof. Leiter's blog entry (where there is a Rich Text Format file as well).

Len on 06.28.05 @ 09:07 AM CST [more..] [ | ]

Interesting signs of the coming persecution?

Via Brian Leiter, we get a pointer to an interesting discussion of Justice Scalia's dissent in McCreary County v. ACLU by Jack Balkin, professor of law at Yale. Scary stuff:

In his dissent in McCreary County v. ACLU, Justice Scalia forthrightly explains that the Establishment Clause is not about preserving neutrality between religion and non-religion. It is not even about neutrality among religions. Rather, it requires neutrality among monotheistic religions that believe in a personal God who cares about and who intervenes in the affairs of humankind, and in particular, among Christianity (and its various sects), Judaism, and Islam. From the United States as a Christian Nation, we have traveled to our "Judeo-Christian heritage," and now, apparently, to the "Judeo-Christian-Islamic" tradition. There is no such tradition, of course, as various members of all of these religions (and the various sects of these religions) have fought with and persecuted each other for many years. And one effect of Justice Scalia's theory is that he is willing to enshrine a notion of first class and second class citizens based on religion-- first class citizens can have government acknowledge their religion in public pronouncements and displays, while second class citizens cannot. Well, who said that the Constitution prohibited different classes of citizens, anyway? The Fourteenth Amendment? Who cares about your stinking Fourteenth Amendment!

Even so, it is refreshing to have Justice Scalia put his cards on the table
[note: "ed." here highlights Prof. Balkin's comments --LRC]:
[T]oday's opinion suggests that the posting of the Ten Commandments violates the principle that the government cannot favor one religion over another. That is indeed a valid principle where public aid or assistance to religion is concerned, [ed.-- Why?] or where the free exercise of religion is at issue, but it necessarily applies in a more limited sense to public acknowledgement of the Creator. If religion in the public square had to be entirely nondenominational, there could be no religion in the public forum at all. One cannot say the word "God," or "the Almighty," one cannot offer public supplication or thanksgiving, without contradicting the beliefs of some people that there are many gods, or that God or the gods pay no attention to human affairs. With respect to public acknowledgment of religious belief, it is entirely clear from our Nation's historical practices that the Establishment Clause permits this disregard of polytheists and believers in unconcerned deities [does he mean, Deists, like many of the Framers?-- ed.] just as it permits the disregard of devout atheists
. . .
[T]here is a distance between the acknowledgment of a single Creator and the establishment of a religion. The former is, as
Marsh v. Chambers put it, "a tolerable acknowledgement of beliefs widely held among the people of this country." The three most popular religions in the United States, Christianity, Judaism and Islam-- which combined account for 97.7% of all believers [do all of the 97.7% believe in a personal God who intervenes in the affairs of mankind?-- ed.]-- are monotheistic. All of them, moreover (Islam included), believe that the Ten Commandments were given by God to Moses, and are divine prescriptions for a virtuous life [Again, do all of the 97.7% actually believe that the Ten Commandments are the actual word of God actually given to Moses on Mount Sinai? What happened to liberal Protestantism and Reform Judaism?-- ed.] Publicly honoring the Ten Commandments is thus indistinguishable, insofar as discriminating against other religions is concerned, from publicly honoring God. [Except, of course, if you are a Christian, Jew or Muslim who doesn't believe in the Bible literally and who may actually be opposed to sects with such views, in which case the government is taking sides in a theological dispute within the various monotheistic religions-- ed.] Both practices are recognized across such a broad and diverse range of the population-- from Christians to Muslims-- that they cannot reasonably be understood as a government endorsement of a religious viewpoint [unless, of course you look at the actual views and theological disputes among Christians, Jews, and Muslims, which Scalia doesn't bother to do-- ed.]
And there you have it. If you aren't a monotheist who believes in a personal God, the government may disregard you. You don't count. We won't persecute you, of course, that would violate the Free Exercise of Religion. But we can disregard you. You are insignificant. You are not us, or perhaps more correctly, we count you as part of us when government acknowledges God, and disregard your protestations to the contrary that you have been left out.
From there, I posit, it isn't a far jump to the position (and here I'm sure that Christian extremists like Fallwell and Robertson are salivating) that such second class citizenship can include second class treatment as well. Hey you Krishnas! Get the hell out of the airporit, or else start collecting for Jesus/Yahweh/Allah!

I'm sorry. But it really isn't that far fetched.

Especially interesting is this comment to Balkin's post by Our Occasional Reader Jon Rowe:

You are absolutely right about the historical nonsense of a "Judeo-Christian-Islamic" culture.

Back during the time of the Founding there were roughly two schools of thought regarding how to understand religious rights (actually it's more nuanced than this -- more variation, but permit me to simplify).

One school that wanted to give rights only to the different "Protestant" sects of Christianity (not to Jews or Catholics or Muslims).

And the other that would apply rights universally, not only to Jews, Catholics, and Muslims, but to Hindoos, Pagans, and Infidels of every denomination. In other words, Jews and Catholics tended to take their rights with the heretics, atheists, and polytheists.
I added the emphasis there, and I offer apologies to Jon for quoting his entire comment without express permission, but it was too good not to share.

But... If Scalia and his ilk are so hung up on the intention of the Founders (and, taking Jon's comment as a jumping off point, it's to be asked which Founders does Scalia and his acolytes intend to use when they start divining "intentions"), what's to stop them from starting to actively take away rights from the members of the non-Judeo/Christian/Islamic traditions (soon to read, "not-a-member-of-a-Christian-denomination-we-approve-of"?)? After all, that's what the Founders (well, at least some of them) intended!

Of course, the bigger question to me is, why is it necessary to give such scriptural reverence to the intent of the Founders? That was then; this is now. Times have changed (and Scalia probably thinks, not for the better), and we need to take a broader outlook. Certainly the intent of the Founders is one factor to be considered, but it's shouldn't be calcified into a literalist constitutional fundamentalism, should it?

Or does the law (which, after all, isn't all that far removed in methodology from theology) just want to jump on the latest exegetical bandwagon?

Len on 06.28.05 @ 08:44 AM CST [link] [ | ]

MadKane's been busy....

and she gives us a 3-for-1 special: two limericks and a filk. Go check 'em out... And if you're feeling the oppression of the summer heat, the filk (in honor of a recent NYC blogger bash) may help, since it's sung to the tune of "Winter Wonderland".

And if you're fond of Mad's dulcet toned voice, here's the audio link.

Len on 06.28.05 @ 07:41 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Happy Anniversary

Today is, of course, the first anniversary of the U.S. transfer of "sovereignty" to the new Iraqi government.

And according to the Iraq Coalition Casualty Count, since the transfer 885 U.S. personnel, 29 U.K. personnel, and 41 other coalition personnel have lost their lives.

Requesciat in Pace.

Len on 06.28.05 @ 07:33 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Can't Win For Losing...

The Good News and Bad News This is the picture in Iraq: A conflict that the United States cannot easily lose, but also cannot easily win. By Fareed Zakaria (Newsweek):

"…What I worry about is not a defeat along the lines of Vietnam. It is something different. If the insurgents keep up their attacks, prevent reconstruction and renewed economic activity and, most important, continue to attract jihadists to Iraq from all over the region and the world. Last month's leaked CIA report, which described Iraq as the new on-the-ground training center for Islamic extremists, points to the real danger. If thousands of jihadists hone their skills in the streets and back alleys of Iraq and then return to their countries, it could mark the beginning of a new wave of sophisticated terror. Just as Al Qaeda was born in the killing fields of Afghanistan, new groups could grow in the back alleys of Iraq. And many of these foreigners are kids with no previous track record of terror. Some even have European passports, which means that they will be very difficult to screen out of the United States or any other country.

Additionally, by the fall of 2006, it will be virtually impossible to maintain current troop levels in Iraq because the use of reserve forces will have been stretched to the limit. That's when pressure to bring the boys home will become irresistible. And that would be bad news for the Iraqi government, which is still extremely weak and in many areas dysfunctional.

…Secretary Rumsfeld has long argued that American troops should never engage in nation building, leaving that to locals. But while we waited for Iraqis to do it, chaos broke out and terror reigned. So the Army on the ground has ignored Rumsfeld's ideology and has simply made things work. (It's a good rule of thumb for the future.)

But if we want to move beyond coping, we need a full-scale revitalization of Iraq policy, with resources to match it. Muddling along will ensure we don't lose in Iraq, but we won't win either.

Karen on 06.28.05 @ 07:29 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Apropos of my trip earlier this month....

St. Louis architectural photographer Toby Weiss pens a farewell to Busch Stadium.... Go give it a look.

Hat tip: Tom at Pretty War STL.

And while I'm mentioning him, I do want to give a hearty recommendation to y'all regularly to visit Tom at Pretty War STL (and his companion blog Pretty War). Not that it would necessarily matter to my regular readers (both of you), but I've often told people that it's just about impossible to understand Len without having a basic familiarity with St. Louis (particularly the South Side of St. Louis City). Pretty War STL features many photos from St. Louis, and can help give you a good feel for Life in the Gateway City....

And as a St. Louisan in Exile, it's a welcome breath of fresh air from home for me.

Len on 06.28.05 @ 07:18 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Hmmmmm... getting to be as bad as the curse of The Conqueror?

Yesterday Karen noted the death of Paul Winchell, the voice of the character "Tigger" in the movie Winnie the Pooh and The Blustery Day and succeeding films in the Pooh franchise. Now, Mustang Bobby over at Bark Bark Woof Woof tells us of the death of John Fiedler (link to the NY Times obit), who voiced "Piglet" in the Pooh series. Bobby speculates on "The Curse of the Hundred Acre Wood".

Thanks to Bryan at Why Now? for pointing to this; Bryan includes a little more information about Fiedler's other movie roles. As Bryan points out, "He was one of the more recognizable of character actors."

Len on 06.28.05 @ 07:04 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Well, this is pretty clear proof....

I've known a few people who deny that the many reports of a crisis in Army recruiting are true. I suppose one can believe what one wants, but when the Army has raised the maximum enlistment age to 39 (from 34), it's getting a bit harder to deny.

Good luck to Private Winter; I'm afraid she'll need it.

Thanks to Pete for the pointer, and congratulations on his new potential draft eligibility. :-)

Len on 06.28.05 @ 06:47 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Thought for the Day:

Not to worry, the experts say: The suitcase nuke threat is exaggerated--if any were actually out there, given the global surplus of fanatics, by now they'd surely have been used. Producing weapons-grade uranium and plutonium is a huge industrial operation requiring skills and equipment not easily concealed; even the craziest terrorist knows there are easier ways to make things go boom. Despite what alarmists would have you believe, you can't just buy ten kilos of P-239 on the Tashkent black market and get a recipe from alt.nukes.made.simple. To which the pessimist, knowing that we're inevitably headed toward a more nuke-dependent world as other energy sources dry up, can only reply: Not yet.
--Cecil Adams [on the question: is a suitcase sized nuke possible?]

Len on 06.28.05 @ 06:13 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Death of a Tigger...

Paul Winchell - the voice of Tigger in Winnie the Pooh - has died at age 82 in his Moorpark, Los Angeles, home.

”…Over six decades, Mr. Winchell was a master ventriloquist -- bringing dummies Jerry Mahoney and Knucklehead Smiff to life on television -- and an inventor who held 30 patents, including one for an early artificial heart he built in 1963.

But he was perhaps best known for his work as the voice of the lovable tiger in animated versions of A.A. Milne's "Winnie the Pooh" -- with his trademark "T-I-double grrrr-R."

Mr. Winchell first voiced Tigger in 1968 for Disney's "Winnie the Pooh and the Blustery Day," which won an Academy Award for best animated short film, and continued to do so through 1999's "Winnie the Pooh: Seasons of Giving."

Mr. Winchell voiced memorable characters in numerous animated features over the years for Disney and Hanna Barbera. He was Gargamel in "The Smurfs," and Boomer in "The Fox and the Hound."

Mr. Winchell said he always tried to look for characteristics and idiosyncrasies in the voices he created. For Tigger, he created a slight lisp and a laugh. He credited his wife, who is British, for giving him the inspiration for Tigger's signature phrase: TTFN. TA-TA for now.

In 1974, he earned a Grammy for best children's recording with "The Most Wonderful Things About Tiggers" from the feature "Winnie the Pooh and Tigger Too."

Karen on 06.27.05 @ 02:10 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Osama bin Laden found!

Details here

Len on 06.27.05 @ 01:20 PM CST [link] [ | ]

I wonder if any of the justices said, "après moi le déluge"?

SCOTUS bars Ten Commandments display at courthouses

It's the right decision, but you know what's next: the culture war escalates, starting now. And the wingnut Christians are going to start screaming "Persecution!" And start their plans to persecute others, themselves (see: United States Air Force Academy, if you want an idea of where we're headed).

Len on 06.27.05 @ 12:13 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Only too true, alas....

From today's Ironic Times:

Karl Rove: Democrats Agents Of Satan
Democrats apologize for provoking remark.

Len on 06.27.05 @ 09:09 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Them Summer Wasps...Where's my rolled up newspaper?...

"Post to the Host:
I am traveling from Arizona to Massachusetts to celebrate my prized grandson's Bar Mitzvah. We have tickets for our family for your show at Tanglewood on July 2...these Wil requested as one of his gifts to go see that "Guy Noir" guy. My query is, how do I submit a card so that my grandson, Wil, will be recognized on this show?

Coralee Edwards
Willcox, AZ

Coralee, bring the boy down to the stage during the intermission and hand him up to me. I'm the guy in the black suit and the red shoes. Put a sticker on Wil that says Wil and of course a yarmulke wouldn't hurt. I'll show the bar mitzvah boy to the crowd and we can all sing "For he is Coralee's grandson" to the tune of "For he's a jolly good fellow" and then I'll give him back. If he wanted, he could tell the joke about the bees who go to the bar mitzvah and wear yarmulkes so nobody will think they're wasps.

Garrison Keillor at his webpage: A Prairie Home Companion.

Karen on 06.27.05 @ 08:30 AM CST [link] [ | ]

The Lack-Of-Intelligence of I.D.

Just can’t resist yet another GEM of an entry in the I.D. debate (as if there really ought to be any debate at all – LOL)

”Does God Have Back Problems Too?
· The illogic behind 'intelligent design.'

In 1829, Francis Henry Egerton, the eighth Earl of Bridgewater, bequeathed 8,000 pounds sterling to the Royal Society of London to pay for publication of works on "the Power, Wisdom, and Goodness of God, as Manifested in the Creation."

The resulting "Bridgewater Treatises," published between 1833 and 1840, were classic statements of "natural theology," seeking to demonstrate God's existence by examining the natural world's "perfection."

Current believers in creationism, masquerading in its barely disguised incarnation, "intelligent design," argue similarly, claiming that only a designer could generate such complex, perfect wonders.

But, in fact, the living world is shot through with imperfection. Unless one wants to attribute either incompetence or sheer malevolence to such a designer, this imperfection — the manifold design flaws of life — points incontrovertibly to a natural, rather than a divine, process, one in which living things were not created de novo, but evolved. Consider the human body. Ask yourself, if you were designing the optimum exit for a fetus, would you engineer a route that passes through the narrow confines of the pelvic bones? Add to this the tragic reality that childbirth is not only painful in our species but downright dangerous and sometimes lethal, owing to a baby's head being too large for the mother's birth canal.

This design flaw is all the more dramatic because anyone glancing at a skeleton can see immediately that there is plenty of room for even the most stubbornly large-brained, misoriented fetus to be easily delivered anywhere in that vast, non-bony region below the ribs. (In fact, this is precisely the route obstetricians follow when performing a caesarean section.)

Why would evolution neglect the simple, straightforward solution? Because human beings are four-legged mammals by history. Our ancestors carried their spines parallel to the ground; it was only with our evolved upright posture that the pelvic girdle had to be rotated (and thereby narrowed), making a tight fit out of what for other mammals is nearly always an easy passage.

An engineer who designed such a system from scratch would be summarily fired, but evolution didn't have the luxury of intelligent design.

There's much more that the supposed designer botched: ill-constructed knee joints that wear out, a lower back that's prone to pain, an inverted exit of the optic nerve via the retina, resulting in a blind spot.

And what about the theological implications of all this? If God is the designer, and we are created in his image, does that mean he has back problems too?…”

[By David P. Barash, David P. Barash, a professor of psychology at the University of Washington, is coauthor of "Madame Bovary's Ovaries" (Delacorte Press, 2005).]

Courtesy of LA Times.

Karen on 06.27.05 @ 08:15 AM CST [link] [ | ]

As he says, not a match made in heaven....

In an interesting post about the admitted cowardice of Volokh Conspirator Juan Non-Volokh, Brian Leiter tells us a bit about his [Prof. Leiter's, not Coward Non-Volokh's] past:

Throughout my time in law school and graduate school, I wrote opinion pieces for the school newspapers defending a political point of view essentially the same as the one expressed on this site. I published all those under my own name too. My views were so well-known (or notorious, depending on whom you asked), as it were, that in the joke Michigan Raw Review the year I graduated, it was suggested that Ann Coulter (a year behind me in law school, and not much different than she is now) and I would marry and have children. (This wasn't thought to be a match made in heaven!)
For those of you who don't play the home game, Prof. Leiter bills himself as "as Social Democrat".

To quote Pinky (of "Pinky and the Brain"): "I mean, what would the children look like?"

Len on 06.27.05 @ 07:45 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Moon Over New York...

”As several polls reveal Americans' growing discontent over the war in Iraq, tens of thousands are expected to flock to venues in New York, Washington DC, Chicago and Los Angeles to support the Reverend Sun Myung Moon challenge Christians, Muslims and Jews to overcome their differences, promote inter-religious dialogue, and work as "Ambassadors for Peace" in the Middle East and the world.

The four-day, four-city tour, entitled "Now is God's Time" launches in New York's Jacob Javits Convention Center on Saturday, June 25. The next day, the coast-to-coast tour makes its second stop in Washington, DC, and moves to Chicago on Monday, June 27. The tour's final stop will be in Los Angeles on Tuesday, June 28. An estimated 50,000 people are expected to attend the four events; thousands more will participate by satellite link.

"Now is God's Time," says Moon, 85. "He cannot be satisfied with only spiritual progress. I have promised Him that I will bring His children together as one. Heaven cannot tolerate religious and ethnic divisions any longer."

This is the latest in a series of efforts by Moon, who has worked diligently with spiritual leaders from a variety of denominations and faiths worldwide. During 2004 he assembled 11,000 religious and civic leaders in Israel and Palestine as "Ambassadors for Peace," including 1,300 ordained clergy from the U.S., and 2,200 from Europe, Asia and Africa. Delegates met with Israeli and Arab leaders, and conducted community service projects in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Bethlehem, Haifa and other cities. They joined hands in prayer services, on peace walks, reconciliation ceremonies, and conducted other demonstrations of unity and faith. Special delegations went to Gaza to dialogue with Palestinian leaders at the grassroots level and see, firsthand, the tragic circumstances of the Palestinian people….”

Yikes, A reprise of the Rev. Moon in New York City.

[And I have to admit I DO actually know someone who is a member of their group and was married in one of those arranged marriages – yet still is apparently happily-so even all these years later –meebe 25 yrs so far. But that's a story for another day.]

Courtesy of US News Wire.

Karen on 06.27.05 @ 07:44 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Dialing 9/11...

Sherm Wright has a good post on the latest Karl Rove incident:

The White House and indeed the entire right wing media establishment have been diligently defending his comments. But is defense enough? My free advice to Karl is that he should turn up the heat by pointing out additional liberal failings revealed by 9/11. For example, liberal reaction to 9/11 clearly showed the bankruptcy of liberal energy policy. The Bush Administration had a muscular reaction to the terrorist attack as it related to oil: accelerating the slurping of domestic reserves. What was the liberal reaction? A wimpy call for conservation to reduce reliance on this essential but finite resource from a volatile part of the world. In other words, liberals want to hamper America’s strength by denying ourselves our God-given right to all the oil we feel like consuming when and how we want to consume it! Like, if you’re thirsty you should drink up. Can a high-performing athlete keep his strength up if he lets himself get dehydrated? Denying America its full measure of consumption is a call for weaknesses! It’s like saying we should compete with one arm tied behind our collective back! And energy policy is just the beginning....
Go give the whole post a read.

Len on 06.27.05 @ 07:36 AM CST [link] [ | ]

More "Lions and Tigers and Bears...Oh , My..."

”What is happening in Minnesota?

Wednesday's near fatal mauling of a 10 year old boy in Little Falls, Minn. is just the most recent tragic, and preventable, incident involving privately owned big cats. Earlier this month a lion was killed after escaping its inadequate enclosure and 9 tigers may have to be destroyed because there is no safe secure facility with room to house them. Similar incidents are occurring at an alarming rate across the country.

"There's dumb and dumber... and dumbest of all is to keep big cats and think that you, your friends or the public are safe. 'Lightning' has struck three times in Minnesota this month. Isn't about time the authorities acted with wisdom and responsibility and ended the keeping of exotic wild animals as pets?" said Will Travers, CEO of the Born Free Foundation.

Sheesh!! I covered this earlier this month but tho’ the Rules would seem deceptively simple:
”1. Immediately report any situation involving wild animals that seems dangerous to people and/or inhumane to animals to local police, animal control and CWAPC;

2. Learn about the laws in your neighborhood. If there are no regulations, contact your government representatives to say you would support legislation to regulate the private ownership of wild animals; and

3. Never buy a wild animal as a pet!

I Guess not for STUPID MORONS who think of these as “house pets.”

Courtesy of US News Wire

Karen on 06.27.05 @ 06:53 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Thought for the Day:

Yes, the long war on Christianity. I pray that one day we may live in an America where Christians can worship freely! In broad daylight! Openly wearing the symbols of their religion.... perhaps around their necks? And maybe--dare I dream it?--maybe one day there can be an openly Christian President. Or, perhaps, 43 of them. Consecutively.
--Jon Stewart [comment on Rep. John Hostetler's (R-IN) comments on the "long war on Christianity" in the U.S.]

[If you follow the link, be aware that the quote occurs about midway through the clip, so pay attention. Though I do encourage you to follow the link; the bare quote lacks Stewart's intonation during this passage, which is priceless....]

Len on 06.27.05 @ 06:19 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Middle Initials

This afternoon, I noted that one of the changing displays on the Flynn Broadcasting billboard on Union Ave. read, in an takeoff of those fawning "W" car stickers:


The Messiah

But for it really to be parallel to the "W" stickers, shouldn't it read like this?


The Messiah

Brock on 06.26.05 @ 07:21 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Gem o'the Day:

James Wolcott, on the most overrated blogger in history, InstaIdiot:

I stray into Instadunce as rarely as possible, wishing to spare myself the antic-less antics of a performing flea with only a couple of tricks in its repertoire.

Len on 06.26.05 @ 02:37 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Shades of Reality From the Real Hotel Rwanda...


"Imagine you are a man called Zuzu, living a quiet life in suburban Chicago. Back home in Rwanda you were a big shot, a prince of the streets in the capital city of Kigali. You were also feared as a suspected member of the Interahamwe, one of the Hutu militias that caused the green hills of Rwanda to run with the blood of your Tutsi ethnic rivals.

If half the things your accusers say about you are true, you had the power to spare a life or take one with the wink of an eye.

They say you took part in the slaughter of 800,000 men, women and children in 100 spring days in 1994. The victims were machine-gunned while praying in church and blown up while bathing their newborn babies. They were hacked to death limb by limb with machetes and thrown into rivers. Husbands were killed in front of their wives and then the wives were raped in front of their children. Infants were bashed with clubs. Why not? They were just cockroaches; at least that's what the Hutu militiamen called them.

Eventually, though, your side lost. The Tutsis rallied and threw tens of thousands of Hutus into overcrowded, crumbling stone prisons. Some of the most brutal or most unlucky were tied to poles driven into the dusty red clay of a soccer field, sheathed in black hoods and shot through the heart and head in front of thousands of cheering survivors.

You managed to escape capture and ran-all the way to the United States.

You are smart and tough and it wasn't all that hard to get the gates of America to open up: You lied.

Easy as that. You changed your name and turned reality on its head by telling immigration officials that you were a victim of the genocide.

Maybe you had to bite your tongue not to laugh when you said it. But whatever you did, you persuaded the American bureaucrat sitting across from you at an immigration center in Zambia to hand you the keys to your new country.

In your heart you are still a prince, even though in America you are just a clerk at the Chika Market in Bolingbrook, selling goat meat and Plantain Fufu Flour.

From morning to night, immigrants from Nigeria, Chad, Ghana, Rwanda and elsewhere come into the store to purchase a small taste of home.

One day, a countryman recognizes you. He sounds the alarm: Zuzu is alive and he is here.

The ghosts of the past begin to close in..."

They found this man, Zuzu, living in a small, rather non-descript house in Romeoville, Illinois.

Give the rest of the article a full read at the link above.

Karen on 06.26.05 @ 02:31 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Geeks of all sorts...

And here I thought Mr. Fixit was gone by Keith Blanchard (Chicago Tribune) answers that '00 dilemma of what is a Tool-Geek to do these days?

" I used to carry one of those Leatherman multipurpose tools around, but not anymore. Why? Well, one reason's the hassle at the airport.

If you hate being bullied over nail clippers, try showing up at the gate with a 17-piece multitool featuring a saw, two knives and an ice pick.

By the time you come to your senses, you'll be at baggage-claim carousel No. 1 in Guantanamo.

But the real reason I don't carry a Leatherman now is that there just isn't all that much a man can fix with hand tools anymore.

You can't repair a PDA or a digital watch or a cell phone. All the critical parts are sealed in little compartments you can't crack open without voiding your warranty. And even if you dared, the Leatherman, sadly, doesn't feature microtweezers and a soldering iron.

The golden age of the mechanical world is behind us.

A generation ago a bent coat hanger would fix the reception on your TV; a quarter taped to a phonograph's arm would keep a skipping needle in the groove. You could reach in and unstick your own typewriter without calling tech support.

I'm nostalgic for the sound a dial phone made retracting after each number: dut-dut-dut-dut-dut.

I miss Doorbell 1.0. No custom theme songs; just an electrical jolt bluntly flinging a magnetic bar back and forth between two chimes, ding and dong.

Back then, knowing you could fix the things you owned made you their master. That new digital camera? I wouldn't know where to start ... and that means it owns me.

I hate knowing that when it breaks, I'll have no choice but to take it to the repair shop, where they'll explain it's cheaper just to replace it.

Anyway, my wife's clothes dryer conked out the other day. That may sound offensive, "my wife's clothes dryer," but there's no point in even pretending I know how to use it. In our '50s-style domestic arrangement, she does all our laundry.

The catch: When an appliance breaks, fixing it is my job.

Now, I know how a dryer works. It's basically a steel box with two things in it: a great big drum that the clothes tumble around inside, and a small motor, anchored to the box, that turns it.

The drum isn't anchored at all; it's just pinched loosely in place so it can spin freely; the motor turns it by way of a long, skinny belt that wraps around the drum, pokes through an "idler pulley" that keeps the tension constant, and loops around a cog on the motor. And that's it.

Refreshingly simple.

But there's knowing how something works, and there's knowing what to do when it stops working. I have never fixed a dryer before and wouldn't know where to begin.

So, being a modern-minded guy, I decided to Google it. I typed in "Broken Whirlpool dryer! Help!" without the punctuation, and within microseconds I had 68,500 options, from sites like applianceaid.com and doityourself.com and cheapapplianceparts.com. I was able to read the instructions online, download installation photos and have the necessary parts (about $20 for both the belt and the idler pulley) overnighted to the house. They did everything but dry the actual clothes.

And now my dryer--yes, it's my dryer now--is running like a champ. A little ironic that I needed cutting-edge computer technology to indulge my old-school Mr. Fixit side? Maybe ... or maybe I just have to start thinking outside the tool belt. Hey, think I can Google "Need Clever Idea to Finish Newspaper Column?"

And Don't forget them Techno-Wizard-Geeks either. Come in handy in this Millenium to have yer very own Wizard (or at least be on goods terms with one - *wink*)

Karen on 06.26.05 @ 01:45 PM CST [link] [ | ]

A brain drain in progress?

Over at The Leiter Reports, we see a post about an increasing number of U.S. philosophers who are taking overseas (and Canadian) academic posts. In a fairly rare move for Leiter, he's opened up comments to ask if this is happening because U.S. philosophers want to flee the oppressive political climate in the U.S.

I'll be watching this one carefully.

Len on 06.26.05 @ 01:35 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Real selachophobia nightmares:

Sharks -Yikes

Teen Girl Dies After Shark Attack in Florida:

"SANDESTIN, Florida (June 25) - A 14-year-old girl died after being bitten by a shark Saturday while swimming in the Gulf of Mexico off the Florida panhandle, police said.

The girl, a visitor from Louisiana who has not been identified pending notification of her relatives, was swimming with a friend off a campground near Destin in Walton County when the two encountered the shark, the Walton County Sheriff's Office said in a statement.

"The shark was feeding on a large school of fish at the time," the statement said.

The shark bit one of the girls, who managed to get back to shore and was taken to a hospital, where she was pronounced dead, the statement said.

The other girl, also 14, narrowly escaped injury, officials said.

Beaches in the area were closed immediately after the incident, which happened just before noon.
Florida recorded 12 shark attacks last year, none fatal, according to the International Shark Attack File, a group at the Florida Museum of Natural History that tracks shark attacks worldwide.

Thirty shark attacks were reported in the United States last year. There were 61 worldwide, seven of them fatal.

The attack came near the height of the summer tourist season in the Florida Panhandle. Crowds were drawn to the beaches Saturday by temperatures in the upper 80s and high humidity.

"There are a lot of people on the beach,'' said Mike McKee, front desk supervisor at the Hilton Sandestin Beach Resort and Spa. He said hotels are typically booked to capacity at this time of year. "This doesn't happen very often at all - very, very seldom,'' he added."

Juxtaposed against movie plot selachophobia and I just can’t get away from them sharks - The conclusion of an epic SHARKOS trilogy!:
"Please allow me to introduce you to my latest script, THE RETURN OF SPACE SHARKS, last episode of the trilogy KING SHARK, PLANET SHARK.

THE RETURN OF SPACE SHARKS Space Shark dies and is buried at the bottom of the ocean, by the evil sharkies. Planet Sharkos is now being ruled by the ancient evil sharkie priests. Under their command, a huge and vast army of evil sharkies is sent to invade planet earth. General Sharkmembrane leads them. However, accidentally, they destroy Sharkos, their own planet, during their mission. Now, invading earth is the only possibility for them to survive. Will the evil sharkies accomplish their mission and rule over mankind? How?"

[posted by The Empress]

Karen on 06.26.05 @ 12:58 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Cardinal Nation is in a bit of a twitter....

over the fact that the broadcast rights to Cardinal games in the St. Louis area might be shifting from KMOX radio (aka, "the mighty MOX" for their longtime domination of the St. Louis airwaves) to much smaller, less powerful KTRS. Over at The Cardinals Birdhouse Rex Duncan, writing about that possible shift, writes:

The game of baseball and its relationship with fans is hidebound in tradition. Can anyone imagine not singing “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” before the home half of the seventh inning?
Hmmmmmm.... how quickly we forget.

Not to pick on Rex (who's a hell of a good writer, one of the best (if not the best) on The Birdhouse roster), but actually for the longest time (from the early seventies, if not earlier, IIRC, to the mid-90s when Anheuser-Busch sold the team to the current ownership group) they never played "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" in St. Louis during the seventh inning stretch; they played "Here Comes the King" (the Budweiser ad jingle) instead of "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" (which they played between the seventh and eighth innings).

And what about the depressing period after 9/11, when "God Bless America" replaced "Take Me Out..." as the seventh-inning stretch tune in every professional ballpark? The less said about that the better, I say. I only hope that's run its course. Especially if the Yankees make the postseason again; I'm getting so f*cking sick of hearing Ronan Tynan singing "God Bless America" I'm going to have an apoplectic fit if I hear it one more time...

But alas, hearing something other than "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" during the the seventh inning stretch is depressingly common....

So much for the sacredness of tradition, I fear.

Len on 06.26.05 @ 12:22 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Evils of I.D. or A Simple Plan

EVOLUTION OF A DICHOTOMY Blame evil on the Great Designer by Ron Grossman (Chicago Tribune):

"….Some believers think they've found a way out of that ethical cul-de-sac via a hole they perceive in evolutionary theory. Virtually no scientists agree with them, but for the moment, let's look at it from their perspective.

Too complex for accident

Intelligent Design's partisans argue that life is too complex to be the product of accident intersecting with environmental advantage. Humans depend upon dozens of organs, each made up of numerous smaller systems, all of which have to mesh perfectly.

There wouldn't have been enough time, even in the billions of years the universe has been around, for all of that to evolve by trial and error, Darwin's opponents argue. Therefore, there must have been a blueprint for life--and thus a designer to bring a cosmic T-square and triangle to it.

On an intuitive level, Intelligent Design has a certain appeal.


Now consider a more problematic example, say, a cancer ward in a children's hospital.

If the world is the product of a blueprint, then it must have contained the specs for suffering no less than it did pleasure.


If the Designer created not just sunsets but also infants starving in Sudan, what kind of example is he to hold up to schoolchildren?

Thinking about the horrors the Designer committed, impressionable young people might conclude that they are similarly unbound by any ethical limits.

In fact, that's a vexing question for all streams of religious thought, but especially for monotheistic ones. Polytheistic systems can slide by the problem.

The ancient Greek pantheon had lots of gods, depicted by Homer as a divine and dysfunctional family. Some of the Olympians favor one group of humans, the Greeks, while other gods side with the Trojans.

So the escalation of earthly disputes into war, and the suffering it brings even to non-combatants, is hardly surprising. It goes with the territory of being human.

Dual gods duel

The ancient Persians confronted the problem of evil head-on. They posited the existence of two gods. One is a god of good, the other is a god of evil. The world is a kind of playing field where the two gods struggle for supremacy, the battle now going one way, then the other.

Humans are caught in the middle, which is why our lives are a mixture of pleasure and pain.

That Persian dualism so neatly corresponds to experience that the Romans almost adopted it when they went shopping for a faith to replace the polytheism they'd inherited from the Greeks. But in the end, the Romans converted to Christianity, a monotheism with the built-in problems of a one-god universe.

Preachers of monotheistic faiths sometimes explain evil's existence by shifting the burden to mankind. Their arguments are usually variations on a theme: We each create our own hell. Roughly, the thesis is that God created a good universe, but humans muck it up with their misdeeds.

Now, I am willing to accept my share of the blame, according to that formula.

I suspect others can too.

Many adults recognize how often they have screwed up, and thus we could understand evil that befalls us as being the product of our own shortcomings.

But come back to the example of infants with terminal diseases.

What possible misdeeds could they have committed in their foreshortened lives to warrant such painful punishments?

Beyond that, he can only urge that Christians must trust that, in some mysterious way, a benevolent God hovers over the universe where they suffer.

Intelligent Design, though, takes away that option.

In an attempt to rid the universe of Darwinian accident, it winds up ridding it, as well, of divine mystery. Its very logic leaves no metaphysical wiggle room--ironically, since its sponsors are otherwise highly vocal Christians.

Jehovah is jealous

They honor the Old Testament, whose creator is far from a coolly detached Designer.

Jehovah makes no secret of his personality traits.

"For I, the Lord, your God, am a jealous God," he says. The Old Testament creator knows that his awesome power can paralyze humans with fear. After destroying his first creation with a flood, he put rainbows in the sky, so Noah's heirs wouldn't cringe with every raindrop.

Those nuances have made the Bible a perennial best seller, an ethical chapbook upon which generations of children have been raised.

But this newfangled notion of a Designer who lays it out, once and forever, with no possible revisions, who utters not one word of explanation, who drafted a blueprint, and by his silence says: Take it or leave it?

That's not the kind of creator I want my children and now my grandchildren to learn about.

When it comes to taking religion out of the public schools, it could make the ACLU seem like pikers."

Well, so far as this points out the "flaws" in the ID thinking as it relates to EVIL and Suffering in the world -- can’t have one without the other -- and if ID is responsible for both, then I agree the premise of "What does that say about the Designer?”

In a Monotheistic Designer Approach Tradition, this Entity is responsible for it all…so evil and suffering and death and destruction...why it all ID's “good works.” And what does that say about our abilities to thwart death, alleviate suffering, improve conditions? Or conversely, to be abused and maltreated and taken advantage of by others and merely be content with it being our ID lot in life.

Sorry doesn’t work for me, nor answers any real issues. And time to repost my piece about “A Simple Plan.”

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

Karen on 06.26.05 @ 09:35 AM CST [more..] [ | ]

Batman Begins: Or Fails.... (a dialogue of sorts)

Karen: ...Depending on how ya look at it.

Hokay, I saw Batman Begins and I did really want to like and enjoy it. However – it just failed to pull it off in the end.

Now Jon Rowe [who did a review here] who is much more of a Comics afficionado than I will Ever Be, may know whether this re-telling of the origins of the Bruce Wayne/Batman tale in any way matches the actual written comic by DC or not.

But just as a story, it has fallen far from the "comics" style and characters than any of the previous film (or the comic-book-look and visuals of "Dick Tracy" for instance). It falls into the general realm of action thriller fantasy a la James Bond or Vin Diesel XXX movies. Moreover, it rips off many other tid-bits from so many films -like Bruce Lee Movies, T3, Crouching Tiger - Hidden Dragon, James Bond - that's hard to even put it in the same grouping as either the TeeVee series or any of the Batman Movies (Batman, Batman Returns, Batman Forever or Batman & Robin).

Len: Ok. Compared to the earlier offerings in the Batman "franchise" we've got a significantly more "action-oriented" flick in the Bondian mode. From what I can see though, that's been something that's gradually affected the live-action comic book genre for a number of years now. That didn't bother me quite as much.

What interested me is that this "reboot" of the Batman franchise takes a much, much deeper look at the origin of the Batman than we've ever seen before in any media I'm familiar with. (Warning: I'm not really a true comic book geek or fanboy; I know a bit more about comics characters and history than the average American of my age, but that's not saying much. So it's possible that recent issues of
Batman, Detective Comics, or other "Batman family" comics may have established much of the origin story we see here.) The origin story has some definitely "non-canonical" aspects, as we'll see later. But I don't see that as necessarily something to criticize, as long as they make the story work. And to a degree, they do.

For a further review click the "more" button to read below the fold. [WARNING: There may be SPOILERS below the fold. You Have Been Warned.]

Len on 06.26.05 @ 09:15 AM CST [more..] [ | ]

Thought for the Day:

[Calvera has just captured the Seven.]
Calvera: What I don't understand is why a man like you took the job in the first place, hum? Why, heh?
Chris: I wonder myself.
Calvera: No, come on, tell me why.
Vin: It's like this fellow I knew in El Paso. One day, he just took all his clothes off and jumped in a mess of cactus. I asked him that same question, "Why?"
Calvera: And?
Vin: He said, "It seemed like a good idea at the time."
The Magnificent Seven [film]

Len on 06.26.05 @ 08:32 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Thought for the Day:

It's a well-known truth that there are no new stories to be told. But I wish Hollywood would do a better job of dressing up the old ones so it doesn't seem like every movie is a carbon-copy. As if it isn't bad enough that seemingly 1/3 of the high-profile motion picture are re-makes or sequels, a majority of the other 2/3 stays so close to formula that they seem like remakes. There are few things more disheartening than to know from the beginning how a movie is going to end, and to anticipate nearly every step of the plot. This sameness is one of the many things that's killing motion pictures, and rendering the experience of watching them a shadow of what it once was.
--James Berardinelli

Len on 06.25.05 @ 03:10 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Myths and Truths

Martin Frost has written a wonderful piece about the regurgitated Myths of this Iraq war:

The real question one has to wonder is: "Why would Rove dredge up this supposed Liberal attitude about the 9-11 incident at all?"

But the answer is yet again clear, the conflation of 9-11 with Iraq, Saddam Hussein and the War On Terror. As Frost deftly points out, there was 90% or better support (public and political) for the war to get Osama bin laden and Mullah Omar and the the Taliban in Afghanistan directly related to 9-11.

But once the Administration began it's all out media and politcal operation to shift focus to a war with Iraq - that's where the idea that the "War on Terrorism" encompassed this regime with the "mythical" WMD's and "bringing the War to the Terrorists" really needs this kind of Lying Tripe rehashed by Karl Rove to regenerate support for it's NOT ABOUT 9-11 and Fighting "Those" Terrorists -but for this diversion in Iraq on G.W.'s theory of a more "General Terrorism" round the world.

It's not and has never truly been about 9-11 and "those terrorist" responsible for the World Trade Center destruction but the Bush Legacy War and War Presidency as "Imagined" in some far off historical treatise they dream will get written in some distant future time. Bush 43 as the savior of all Time with his Darth and Turd Blossom by his side.

So, the Myth must be perpetuated, fed constantly with this political rhetoric or suffer the ignominy of Truth getting the best of it. And, as we all know by now, Truth is not allowed to ever get the upper hand in this Administration. Truth must sit cowed and repentant in the dark sunless corner for the “Reality” crafted by this President in his own image.

Give read to this article by clicking on the "more" button or at this link:
Iraq: Bush Myths vs. Reality.

Karen on 06.25.05 @ 06:47 AM CST [more..] [ | ]

Traitors Against These United States

The Daily Kos has said it well:

Karl Rove, Traitor.

And Now we ought to consider those who cover up and LIE for traitors and shield them from investigation of their crimes. And shame on this despicable and cowardly bastard of a President and V.P. we must all endure because of you "Buyer's remorse" MORONS out there.

You got your "Four More Years" childishness of desires via imbecilic sound bites, but it's the rest of the nation that must suffer for your brain-dead choices.

and this from James Wolcott on The Sociopath (Psychopath) Karl Rove: A-Roving We Will Go:

"....Now I don't expect Rove to apologize for his slander, any more than I await an act of contrition from a sociopath. And I spy a similar beam of hope that Billmon does in his brilliant analysis of Rove's calculated affront.

"...I actually think Rove's rant should be seen as a somewhat encouraging sign. Rove and his idiot chorus aren't roaring at the top of their lungs to try to drown out the liberals -- that would be absurd overkill, given how effectively the corporate media has ridiculed and/or demonized the likes of Howard Dean and Dick Durbin. No, Rove's hate rally is aimed squarely at suppressing the growing doubts of the great silent majority -- and even, to a certain extent, those of the conservative true believers, some of whom are showing ominous signs of war weariness..."
"So Rove is falling back on his classic strategy of rallying the base. What's more, he's mainlining it a much rawer and more savage version of the conservative message than the White House usually permits itself. While the customary surrogates -- Fox News, Rush, the blogger hyena pack -- have snarled and snapped, the results apparently have been found wanting. Now Bush's 'brain' is stepping into the ring himself.

"But, like fellow psychopath Mike Tyson [Billmon says psychopath, I say sociopath: we're probably both right], Rove isn't just telegraphing his punches, he's also displaying the depths of his fear. The rhetorical ear chewing and head butting is a clear sign the champ doesn't have the juice any more, and knows it. Rove is trying to get by on sheer intimidation. He's pushing as many primordial conservative buttons as he can -- leaning on them, in fact -- in hopes he can once again make the dreaded liberals the story, not the march of folly currently sinking into the Iraqi quicksands."

Rove will no problem rounding up a posse. They're already galloping ahead of him. Bill O'Reilly wants the hosts of Air America rounded up. Ann Coulter routinely conflates liberals and traitors. Etc...."

Karen on 06.25.05 @ 06:09 AM CST [link] [ | ]

War Mongers

I missed this GEM from Paul Krugman (NY Times) yesterday [and the full text is below the fold for the complete article] where he deftly takes on thebAdministration for their lies and deceptions as answerable to the American Public - if they would suffer to be questioned -- about G.W.'s WAR.

So click on the "more" button to give a read to The War President by Paul Krugman.

Karen on 06.25.05 @ 05:53 AM CST [more..] [ | ]

More from the "Sponge-Brain" Affiliated Groups:

This Illinois affiliate of James "Sponge-brain" Dobson's group is now trying to effect his own version of media "impartiality" on the world:

” Illinois Family Institute Executive Director Peter LaBarbera said today that the expected participation of Chicago media organizations in the city's "gay pride" parade Sunday "mocks the ideal of media objectivity and fairness."

LaBarbera urged the media not to repeat last year's spectacle in which several major Chicago media corporations, including CBS 2, ABC 7, NBC, WGN, and Chicago Public Radio (WBEZ), fielded floats in the city's annual "pride" parade.

"By siding so openly with one side of a very controversial issue, the media risk further alienating that silent majority of Illinois citizens who are tired of press bias and who do not believe that aberrant sexual and gender lifestyles are something to be proud of," he said.

"Are the Chicago media so jaded that they cannot even see the pitfalls of participating in a parade that mocks traditional religion and celebrates behaviors regarded as wrong or sinful by millions of city inhabitants?" he asked.

The erotically-charged Chicago "gay pride" parade celebrates homosexuality, transsexuality and even sadomasochism, through annual participants like the Chicago Hellfire Club.

LaBarbera said media involvement in the parade amounts to a "de facto endorsement of homosexuality. It shows that they have given up on neutrality."

Homosexuality, "gay marriage," and pro-homosexual programs in schools remain deeply divisive issues that deserve of impartial, balanced coverage, he said.

"This is not like participating in the St. Patrick's Day Parade, which everyone supports. By marching with the go-go boy dancers, transvestites and liberal special-interest organizations like Equality Illinois and PFLAG, the media are showing their true colors-and they match the rainbow flag of pro-'gay' activists," LaBarbera said.

He called on Chicago media leaders to return to a high standard of professionalism that eschews advocacy or partisanship of any kind.
Illinois Family Institute is a non-profit group affiliated with Focus on the Family that defends marriage, the natural family and the sanctity of life in Illinois.”

Courtesy of US News Wire.

Karen on 06.25.05 @ 05:42 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Selachophobia Soup...

"Following is a statement by the World Wildlife Fund praising Disney's decision to drop shark fin soup from the menu:

"We applaud Disney for making the right decision to remove shark fin from their menu because of their commitment to conservation and responsible consumption," says Ginette Hemley, Vice President for Species Conservation. "Many shark populations are under attack by man. Despite their fierce reputation, sharks are preyed upon by humans for their meat, teeth and as the ultimate fishing trophy. Disney's action today helps pull sharks from the jaws of yet another threat."

WWF-US has an on-going partnership with Disney's Animal Kingdom to enhance biodiversity education and address sustainable consumption with leaders in education and industry. This decision shows their commitment to ocean conservation and working with the conservation community to protect marine biodiversity.
Known in the United States as World Wildlife Fund and recognized worldwide by its panda logo, WWF leads international efforts to protect endangered species and their habitats and to conserve the diversity of life on Earth. Now in its fifth decade, WWF, the global conservation organization, works in more than 100 countries around the world."

Courtesy US News Wire.

Karen on 06.25.05 @ 05:35 AM CST [link] [ | ]

The Politics of TRUTH

”All it would take is enough of us rebelling against a perverse culture in which "political courage" is oddly defined as "telling the truth." After all, if we don't make the world safe for our leaders to do the right thing, who will?

"I like a look of agony, because I know it's true," wrote Emily Dickinson. It may not be agony citizens are looking for, but common sense tells them that the ratio of fact to flimflam has reached depressing lows.”

[Beyond Viagra Politics by Matt Miller.]

Karen on 06.25.05 @ 05:32 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Excellent analysis, from a thoughtful, reasonable conservative....

Torture Isn't a Laughing Matter--It's Deadly Serious, from The Belgravia Dispatch. Especially good, in that it delivers a well deserved smackdown to James Lileks, one of the biggest wingnut idiots in Right Blogistan:

But I guess this is the kind of stuff that leaves tough guys from Ye Stolid Heartland like Lileks supremely Not Giving A Shit (or maybe titillated--it's kinda hard to tell from his sophomoric ditty over at the aptly named screed-blog).

Lileks, detailing a different interrogation than the one mentioned in the Economist, writes:
Invasion of Space by Female: Over the next few days, al-Qahtani is subjected to a drill known as Invasion of Space by a Female

Mind you, this is considered punishment. Right now across America there are guys who are seriously peeved because they ordered “Invasion of Space by a Female IV” on pay-per-view and the cable went out. They’re on the phone admitting they wanted it, and demanding they get IV and V no charge, understood?...

...One suspects it isn’t the presence of a woman that bothers him; it’s the fact that she doesn’t take any guff, looks him in the eye, laughs at him, blows smoke rings in his face and generally fails to behave like one of the 72 docile celestial whores he was promised. In short: he was broken by the concise application of cultural insensitivity.
How witty and whip-smart! Applause all around right blogosphere! He writes like a dream and he's one of our own! Hurrah. Or not. Poor Lileks, no? It looks like he's clicked on the Dominatrix-Spankavision-Pay-for-View-Channel one too many times on his travels around Minnesota motels or such. And so gotten a little carried away with his fantasizing about all those prison warden hotties----sultry vixens who don't take any "guff" from assorted sand-nig&*az--whilst going about the hard, patriotic duty of nobly rubbing America's finest D cups in detainees faces so as to Save the Republic. So let's help him climb back on the clue train, shall we? The real issue here, at least for anyone with half a brain, is that we cannot win a long-term war on terror by being widely seen to denigrate the religion and mores of those we seek to win over to our political model. As Michael Ignatieff writes in the New Republic:
Thinking that torture will help us in a war against terror also falsifies what our problem is. We think that our problem is information, and so we need torture to get the truth. In reality, before September 11 there was plenty of information in the possession of the American authorities (noise, but no signal). No, our problem is not a problem of knowledge. It is a problem of belief. It is not what terrorists know that makes them dangerous; it is what they believe. And beliefs cannot be changed by physical duress. Indeed, they may be reinforced. Those who survive torture become living monuments to the brutality that has been inflicted upon them. If they die under torture, they become martyrs to their cause.

Any counter-terror campaign is a battle to persuade as well as to dissuade. Terrorists do need to know that what they believe about us is false. They believe that we are weak and will not fight; and so we should prove them wrong. They believe that we are hypocrites; and so they need to know that we actually believe in the constitutional prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment. They need to know all this if we are to win. Winning is about not losing our nerve, about not losing control in the face of provocation. The military logic of terror is to provoke us into reciprocal atrocity that will lose us the war for legitimacy and the war for opinion.

[Emphasis in original --LRC]
Go read the whole thing.

Len on 06.24.05 @ 11:47 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Mike Luckovich...

has it exactly right...

Len on 06.24.05 @ 11:24 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Wanna be a statistic too?

I am! If you want to be one too, just follow the link:

Take the MIT Weblog Survey

We'll keep this link up in the sidebar until final survey results are published in July.

Brock and Karen, the survey specifically takes co-blogging into account, so feel free to participate if you want.

Len on 06.24.05 @ 10:48 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Walks of Fame...

Since I know Len is a fan of this reviewer (and he IS a Chicagoan), I'm sure he'll be pleased to note that Roger Ebert [of former Siskel & Ebert fame - now Ebert & Roper] has gotten his own "Walk Of Fame" star in Hollywood.

And...hoping Len hies himself to see "Batman Begins", we plan to do an Ebert and Roper style review of cross point for all our readers here at DBV. Oh, won't that be FUN!!! And should fit right into this current event for ole' Roger.

Hip-Hip Hooray for Roger Ebert!!!

Courtesy of The Daily Herald.

Karen on 06.24.05 @ 10:38 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Bush's incompetence in picking ambassadors

Len on 06.24.05 @ 10:26 AM CST [link] [ | ]

And here's why Discovery Channel's "100 Greatest Americans" is a joke:

From the ascerbic computer cursor of Dave Palmer, on the SKEPTIC list:

The Discovery Channel's asinine 100 Greatest Americans show is down to its top five greatest Americans. Most of those who made the top 25 were recent celebrities. Coming in at #6, yes the sixth greatest American ever, was none other than Dubya. That alone should give you the measure of the room. Left in the dust were such nobodies as Jefferson, Edison, the Wrights, and FDR. The only artist of note who even made the top 100 was Twain.

The top five vying for the grand prize of a lifetime supply of Rice-a-Roni and Turtle Wax are: Ben Franklin, George Washington, Abe Lincoln, Martin Luther King, and...gag me with a spoon...Ronnie Reagan.

They even have a "celebrity panel" that is somehow supposed to lend some kind of credence to this farce. The panel consists of Dennis Miller, Ann Coulter and Randy Jackson. Hey, Dennis, Ann, remember now: only ONE of you can suck Reagan's dick at a time...

Len on 06.24.05 @ 09:58 AM CST [link] [ | ]

More Friday News...

Now here is news I like to read about: Saving Sea Turtles:

” Preliminary results from the first large-scale testing of specially designed fishing hooks are being presented at the Annual Meeting of the Inter- American Tropical Tuna Commission in Lanzarotte, Spain. Thus far, the results indicate the use of circle hooks can reduce the number of endangered sea turtles killed in long line fishing operations by as much as 90 percent, World Wildlife Fund said today.

Incidental death-as a result of traditional long line fishing operations-is one of the main reasons for the precipitous decline of loggerhead, and giant leatherback turtles, whose numbers in the Eastern Pacific have plunged by more than 90 percent over the past 20 years.

The results of a year-long study involving 115 Ecuadorian fishing vessels found "bycatch" was dramatically reduced when the boats replaced their traditional "J' shaped hooks with specially designed circle hooks. "This is a win-win situation. We were looking for a way to save the turtles without putting the fishermen out of business. The preliminary results indicate we've found it. Circle hooks seem to be an effective new tool in our efforts to address this urgent conservation problem" said Moises Mug, Fisheries Coordinator for WWF's Latin America and Caribbean program.
-- WWF is now conducting or supporting turtle conservation work in 45 countries and is engaged in every major international turtle conservation policy discussion underway. In the eastern Pacific, WWF has a long history of constructive engagement in the bycatch reduction work of IATTC, and is now formally represented on the Commission. In the western Pacific, WWF has helped shape the new Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission policies, which will be important in reducing turtle bycatch in longline fisheries.

-- Scientists estimate that as many as 200,000 loggerheads and 50,000 leatherbacks are caught annually by commercial long-line tuna, swordfish, and other fisheries.

Courtesy of US news Wire.

Karen on 06.24.05 @ 09:46 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Movement on, and hopefully against, "Love in Action"

Apparently, someone's taken Dr. Abby's Dr. Dad seriously. The good news is that the State of Tennessee's Department of Health (Child Services) is launching an investigation into the "Love in Action" homosexual re-education camp. Looks to me like foremost on the list of concerns is that such a program should be state licensed, and apparently "Love in Action" isn't. (Quick show of hands: who's really surprised by that news? Nope, me neither.)

I'm not going to repeat any of the great work that's been done by other bloggers. Go check these sources for the details:

Dr. Abby, the Lady Cutie Troublemaker (Read Abby's post first; huge, fact filled post. Abby even referred the media to her dad (a psychiatrist) for expert comment.)

E.J. at Cherry Blossom Special

autoegocrat at The River City Mud Company

The Pesky Fly at The Flypaper Theory

Southern Voice Online

Congrats to all the activists who made this happen!

Len on 06.24.05 @ 09:21 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Legal scholarship is a joke...

and will remain so until law schools shitcan student-edited law reviews and get some semblance of peer review (and, where necessary, subject-matter expert reviews by scholars who know something about disciplines other than law) in the profession's journals. The Panda's Thumb shows us why. Reading this, I'm damn grateful I didn't go to Washington University's law school, but as a loyal alumnus of Washington (A.B., Philosophy, 1979) I'm deeply embarassed for the University as a whole. Especially embarassing for Washington University is that the University itself is considered a world class institution, especially in the biological and biomedical sciences. That the law school should be publishing shit supportive of "Intelligent Design", and sullying the good reputation of the University as whole, is a shame. If there were any justice in the world, the entire editorial board of the Washington University Journal of Law & Policy would be taken out and shot and the journal disbanded.

Len on 06.24.05 @ 08:32 AM CST [link] [ | ]

A Darwin Award in the making...

Josh Schulz over at Schulzone tells us of an idiot in Phoenix flying a kite with a thunderstorm brewing. With powerlines nearby, even.

More chlorine for the gene pool, one can hope.

Len on 06.24.05 @ 08:22 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Here's our new "fair and balanced" PBS...

Sherm Wright has a wonderful post on some of the changes we could be seeing: Bear Right on Sesame Street

Len on 06.24.05 @ 08:18 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Memphis themed folk art... :-)

A mosaic of Elvis Presley, made out of Post-It Notes™.

Credit: Pretty War for the pointer.

Len on 06.24.05 @ 08:02 AM CST [link] [ | ]

The Duel

As a substitute "Cat Blogging Friday" I've got this Cat and Pup poem. [More of a "Poetry Corner Friday" with this other of my favorite poems.]

The Duel

By Eugene Field (1850-1895)

The gingham dog and the calico cat,
Side by side on the table sat;
T’was haf-past twelve, and (what do you think!)
Nor one nor t’ other had slept a wink!
  The old Dutch clock and the Chinese plate
  Appeared to know as sure as fate
There was going to be a terrible spat.

(I wasn’t there, I simply state
What was told to me by the Chinese plate.)

The gingham dog went , “bow-wow-wow!”
And the calico cat replied, “mee-ow!”
The air was littered an hour or so,
With bits of gingham and calico,
  While the old Dutch clock in the chimney-place
  Up with it hands before its face,
For it always dreaded a family row!

(Never mind: I’m only telling you
What the old Dutch clock declares is true!)

The Chinese plate looked very blue.
And wailed, “Oh, dear! What shall we do!”
But the gingham dog and calico cat
Wallowed this way and tumbled that,
  Employing every tooth an claw
  In the awfullest way you ever saw –
And, Oh! How the gingham and calico flew!

(Don’t fancy I exaggerate –
I got my news from the Chinese plate!)

Next morning where the two had sat
They found no trace of dog or cat;
And some folks think unto this day
That burglars stole the pair away!
  But the truth about the cat and pup
  It's this - they ate each other up!
Now what do you really think of that!

(The old Dutch clock it told me so
And that is how I came to know.)

Karen on 06.24.05 @ 07:48 AM CST [link] [ | ]

And remembering an earlier post....

namely this one:

Right wing pundits can get away with any damn thing they want. So can right wing politicians.

Sam Johnson can joke about dropping a nuclear bomb on Syria WHILE IN CHURCH, and this all passes away like it never happened, but Dick Durbin makes one comment, and it's hanging time.

There is nothing any Republican can say, no moral horror they could call for that would cause them any sense of shame *ever*
This week, of course, Karl "Bush's Brain" Rove added a data point to that observation by making his famous, fatuous comment about 9/11:
Rove, in a speech Wednesday evening to the New York state Conservative Party just a few miles north of Ground Zero, said, "Liberals saw the savagery of the 9/11 attacks and wanted to prepare indictments and offer therapy and understanding for our attackers." Conservatives, he said, "saw the savagery of 9/11 and the attacks and prepared for war."
Unfortunately, the band of conservatives in the bAdministration "saw the savagery of 9/11 and prepared" for the wrong war--namely the one in Iraq. Iraq had as much to do with 9/11 as I have had to do with the St. Louis Cardinals winning the National League Pennant last year.

Divide and conquer--that's "The Architect"'s plan. And unfortunately, we as a people are so stupid we'll let this scum manipulate us...

UPDATE: And here's Josh Marshall on the Rove fiasco:
For Rove, the war on terror, Iraq and Afghanistan have always been nothing more than tools of domestic politics. He speaks for the president and the president speaks for him. So all of that applies to the president too unless and until we hear from him.


The president and his partner are more concerned with going to war with half the country than they are with war against the country's enemies abroad. Until the president thinks differently on that key point there's simply no point in dealing with him on anything.

Len on 06.24.05 @ 07:34 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Speaking of Fables...

Apropos of Len's post about Golf...and my comment of the "enticements" of the sport - here is the complete Fable of "The Spider and the Fly" [Hope you enjoy it.]

The Spider and the Fly

A Fable by Mary Howitt (1799-1888)

“Will you walk into my parlor?” said the spider to the fly;
“Tis the prettiest little parlor that ever you did spy.
The way into my parlor is up a winding stair,
And I have many pretty thing to show when you are there.”
“O no, no,” said the little fly, “to ask me in vain,
For who goes up your winding stair can ne’er come down again.”

“I’m sure you must be weary, dear, with soaring up so high;
Will you rest upon my little bed?” said the spider to the fly.
“There are pretty curtains drawn around, the sheets are fine and thin,
And if you like to rest a while, I’ll snugly tuck you in.”
“O no, no,” said the little fly, “for I’ve often heard it said,
They never, never wake again who sleep upon your bed.”

Said the cunning spider to the fly, “Dear friend, what shall I do,
To prove the warm affection I’ve always felt for you?
I have within my pantry good store of all that’s nice;
I’m sure you’re very welcome; will you please to take a slice?”
“O no, no,” said the little fly, “kind sir that can not be;
I’ve heard what’s in your pantry, and I do no wish to see.”

“Sweet creature!” said the spider, “you’re witty and you’re wise,
How handsome are your gauzy wings, how brilliant are your eyes!
I have a little looking-glass upon my parlor shelf,
If you’ll step in one moment, dear, you shall behold yourself.”
“I thank you, gentle sir,” she said, “for what you’re pleased to say,
And bidding you good-morning, now, I’ll call another day.”

The spider turned him round about, and went into his den,
For well he knew the silly fly would soon be back again:
So he wove a subtle web, in a little corner sly,
And set his table ready to dine upon the fly.
Then he came out to his door again, and merrily did sing,
“Come hither, hither, pretty fly, with pearl and silver wing,
Your robes are green and purple, there’s a crest upon your head;
Your eyes are like bright diamonds, but mine are dull as lead.”

Alas, alas! How very soon this silly fly,
Hearing his wily flattering words, came slowly flitting by.
With buzzing wings she hung aloft, then near and nearer drew,
Thinking only of her brilliant eyes, and green and purple hue;
Thinking only of her crested head – poor foolish thing!
Up jumped the cunning spider; and fiercely held her fast.
He dragged her up his winding stair, into his dismal den,
Within his little parlor, but she ne’er came out again!

And now, dear little children, who may this story read,
To idle, silly, flattering words, I pray, you ne’er give heed.
Unto an evil counselor close heart , and ear and eye,
And take a lesson from this tale of the Spider and the Fly.

Karen on 06.24.05 @ 07:26 AM CST [link] [ | ]

I'm late to the party, as usual....

and as one who generally has been an admirer of Justice John Paul Stevens, I have to confess a great deal of disappointment in him.

Of course, the big legal news yesterday is the Supreme Court decision in Kelo v. New London, which held that the government's right of eminent domain can be exercised on behalf of private developers. Stevens wrote the majority opinion in that one, joined by Kennedy, Souter, Bader Ginsburg and Breyer.

It's interesting that I find myself more in sympathy with the dissenters: O'Connor (that's not surprising; she can be reasonable from time to time), Rehnquist, Scalia and Thomas.

Oh God. Whenever I find myself agreeing with Scalia and Thomas I am seriously tempted to rethink my position. But not now...

The majority says that local governments know best what the greater public good is, so if they elect to exercise the eminent domain power in favor of private developers it must therefore be because it redounds to the public good. Hmmmmmm....

Like there aren't local and state government officials who don't equate "the public good" with "money in my pocket" (see: Ford, John, as a case in point).

But it's sure interesting to hear Sandra Day O'Connor sounding like a bleeding heart liberal:

Any property may now be taken for the benefit of another private party, but the fallout from this decision will not be random. The beneficiaries are likely to be those citizens with disproportionate influence and power in the political process, including large corporations and development firms.
UPDATE: Bryan at Why Now? asks an excellent question:
I have a history question for the Supremes who voted for this: how, exactly is this different from what Andy Jackson did to the Cherokee over your Court's objection? If it was wrong for Jackson to steal land from the Cherokee, how can it be right for a city to take these peoples' homes? Haven't you just negated the value of real estate law in the US, I mean why bother to file a deed if elected officials can decide to take your property?
He also points us to an interesting post by "the good Roger Ailes" that reminds us that when Bush was managing general partner of the Texas Rangers, he made use of a similar exercise of eminent domain to steal the land on which The Ballpark in Arlington was built.

But will any of the Bush supporters who might pile on the Supreme Court majority for their Kelo decision remember that? I doubt it.

Len on 06.24.05 @ 06:56 AM CST [link] [ | ]

I just can't resist....

Karen's a golf enthusiast. I'm not (if you want my take on golf, just pick up any of the George Carlin albums featuring his monologues on sports in general or on golf in particular; the short form: golf is a dull, boring game, and golf courses are a waste of real estate). So I was interested to read this in Slate today: Caddy Hacks: Golf, the ultimate symbol of Republican corruption

On a Wednesday afternoon earlier this month, top Republicans quietly disappeared from Capitol Hill. House votes were suspended for several hours. What was afoot? An urgent briefing on Iraq, the troubled economy, the coming avian flu pandemic?

Not exactly. The event that lured away the Republican throng, which included House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, was the Booz Allen Hamilton pro-am golf tournament held in suburban Maryland. Alas, politics waits for no tournament, and back on the Hill there was trouble. Short-handed Republicans on the House Committee on International Relations nearly lost a major vote on U.N. reform when two of their own defected to vote with the Democrats. According to
Roll Call, Indiana Republican Dan Burton had ignored a specific warning not to miss the vote, which Republicans barely squeezed out, 24-23. A "freshly-sunburned Burton" returned to the Hill the next day to read that he might have sabotaged his chance to assume the committee's chairmanship next year.

For many Republicans, it seems, golf is like sex—it leads to reckless risk-taking. Sure, the game has its Democratic draw: Bill Clinton, for one, was a famous addict. But in today's Washington, golf is an intensely Republican sport. George W. Bush, Tom DeLay, Bill Frist, and Rick Santorum are all fanatics. John Kerry, Hillary Clinton, Harry Reid, and Nancy Pelosi are decidedly not.


At the same time, the Republican obsession with golf reveals the party's phony posturing as the champion of average Americans. All the hand-wringing among Democrats about why liberals don't go to NASCAR races or duck hunts misses the fact that Tom DeLay and Bill Frist don't go to monster-truck night with the guys from
Deliverance either. They hit the links at exclusive country clubs with rich donors and corporate lobbyists. That's who they are. Golf is an expression of the party's elite upper-class id.

And that id is what's corrupting the party. Consider the Abramoff scandals. Time and again, golf was the bait that Jack Abramoff—the conservative superlobbyist now under federal investigation—used to lure Republican politicians into his realm. When Abramoff shuttled dozens of congressmen and their staffs to the Northern Mariana Islands in the 1990s, as part of his campaign to keep local sweatshops free from regulation, the group teed up at Saipan's LaoLao Bay Golf Resort. "It seemed to be so much about golf," one disillusioned conservative who traveled to Saipan recently told my New Republic colleague Franklin Foer. Abramoff even billed the island government for minutes spent booking tee times.

Several other dubious Abramoff exploits have featured golf, including the two trips that now have Majority Leader DeLay in deep trouble.


It's safe to assume that Republican politicians and lobbyists don't spend all their time on the links trading putting tips. "Even conversation on the course is strategic," explains this profile in Lodging Magazine of Republican hotel-industry lobbyist Jack Connors. "Connors deliberately doesn't bring up business when paired with a legislator at a fundraiser: Invariably, however, somewhere on the back nine the legislator will ask, 'Jack, what's on your mind these days?' " Republican Rep. Joel Hefley recently recounted for the Hill "a golf outing where a lawmaker, whom he would not name, kept telling a lobbyist how much he admired his golf bag. Sure enough, the lawmaker soon had a new golf bag."

Some of the best evidence about the sport's corrupting function comes from a golf retreat/fund-raiser held three years ago in West Virginia for two of DeLay's political action committees. Energy-company executives paid as much as $25,000 to attend the retreat, which was held on the eve of House and Senate negotiations over a bill in which they had a huge stake. One of the executives later described tooling about in a golf cart with a top DeLay aide and pitching his case about the bill directly to the majority leader. For this, even the somnolent House ethics committee felt obliged to admonish DeLay.
Makes me glad I never got into the game.

Len on 06.24.05 @ 05:38 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Thought for the Day:

He couldn't act worth crap.
--Mark Koenig [on New York Yankees teammate Babe Ruth's acting talent]

Len on 06.24.05 @ 05:22 AM CST [link] [ | ]

A modest proposal....

Over on the SKEPTIC mail list, a discussion of "Gay Pride" celebrations has (as usual) been subject to a bit of thread drift. However, that thread drift resulted in what looks to me like an excellent suggestion by listmember Dave Palmer (sterling skeptic, über-rationalist, and magician extraordinaire) as to how the fight for gay marriage rights should be conducted:

FWIW, here is my advice to the gay community: put the gay pride stuff on hiatus.

No, wait, put down the torches and pitchforks, let me explain.

For the last few decades, societal acceptance of homosexuality has kinda been slouching towards given. Sure, there are exceptions, but generally, society was becoming less hung-up about it.

Then the neocons seized power...and I don't have to tell anyone what THAT means for equal rights. Forget about going back in the closet, there are people in power trying to figure out how to get you back into JAIL. And in the Muslim world? Fuhgettaboutit....

There are now two major obstacles in the path of equality for homosexuals:

1) They are up against an enemy that has an intrinsic, engraved-in-stone moral view that dictates that homosexuality is actually EVIL, or at least wrong. These people never give up, they never back down a single inch, they don't play fair, and they have absolutely no compunctions against lying or taking stands that have zero basis in reality or logic. Further, now that they are in power, they are doing everything they can (which is quite a bit) to have their moral views codified into law. We should not expect to see that trend evaporate any time soon.

2) The general public are sheep. All it takes is a good rousing speech about god and the flag and patriotism and the evil, evil people who are out to destroy all that, and the sheeple will willingly march right off a cliff. This isn't new, it's pretty much the story of all human history. One important property of sheeple is that their heads have a 1-bit colorspace: every issue is either black or it's white. You're with us or against us.

Thus, what I propose is that the entire gay community and everyone who supports equality should lay aside EVERY other activity for awhile, and instead concentrate on flipping ONE SINGLE BIT in the heads of the general public. We'll get to that one bit in a moment.

Look: the gay pride parades and such AREN'T HELPING. When people see a lineup of guys in purple sequined jockstraps marching down the street, all it does is reinforce stereotypes. After the gay pride parade passes by, the neocons slink up behind and start whispering in people's ears, "now do you want THAT taught in schools? Do you want YOUR son to think that's cool?" Imagine how far the civil rights movement would have gotten in the 60s if black people demonstrated by sitting around en masse on the stoop with fried chicken and malt liquor.

Now, SHOULD gay people be able to parade any way they want in public, even stereotypically? Damn straight (er, you should pardon the expression...). But they need to wake up and realize there's an emergency situation here, and they are not fighting a rational foe. The gay community faces an ugly but necessary choice, much like blacks did at the dawn of the civil rights days: just keep your head down and hope you personally don't get lynched, or stand up and put your ass on the line in the hopes that you can fix the system.

There is, however, one chink in the moralist armor: because of earlier civil rights action, the sheeple have more or less gotten it into their heads that it's wrong to discriminate against a type of people based on how they were born (or at least, that it's not right to make laws against people based on how they were born). And that's why the right wing continues to bolster the notion that homosexuality is a
lifestyle As long as they can get the general public to believe that gays CHOOSE to be that way (or at least to not think about it too much), they can get them to go along with the conclusion that gays don't deserve to have equal rights. After all, people choose to rob banks or be liberals, and we don't give THEM equal rights, do we? A lot of people, if you REALLY pressed them, might profess to believe that gays are born and not made, but that vital connection is just not being made in their heads.

So THAT is the bit that must be flipped. The gay community and everyone who supports full equality should spend every waking minute, every dime, every watt of energy towards getting the message out that homosexuals are BORN and not MADE. Get people on TV relentlessly pounding out that message. Save up your pennies and fund real, honest-to-gosh scientific research, and then get the results in front of the public's eyes. Challenge EVERY SINGLE use of the word "lifestyle," don't let a single one past. Make it the one, central, unequivocal message of the entire gay community, and save everything else, EVERYTHING, for another day. The goal here is to make the notion that gays choose to be that way as ridiculed as something out of the Weekly World News.

And the program must be FOCUSED, to a fine, laser-like point. Don't go around saying, "gays are born not made, and thus gay marriage should be legal." You've got to remember that these are just simple folk. These are people of the land. The common clay of the world. You know... morons. If you make a statement that has the structure "fact, therefore opinion," and the people disagree with the opinion, then the fact generally gets tossed in the dumpster as well. You need to stay focused and on-message for as long as it takes.

And if such a program is executed with enough drive and intensity, then eventually thoughts will begin to bubble up in the heads of common folk: "let's see here...so gays are born that way. Hmmm, kinda like blacks or other ethnic groups. Isn't that interesting? And waitaminit, didn't I hear somewhere that it was wrong to discriminate against blacks and stuff? Hmmmm...that means something....ooo, American Idol is on!"

No, we're not gonna wake up one morning six months later and everyone will be in favor of gay marriage. But it WILL begin to change the fundamental way that the general public thinks, and THAT is what is necessary (one should note that is ALWAYS the most vital thing in any inequality struggle. Laws are nice, but they don't change what's in people's heads). The day you hear somebody say something like, "you're against gays? That's, like, racist, dude," you know the plan is working (we'll leave proper selection of pejoratives for another day....). And finally, some day when some holier-than-thou politician stands up and says he wants to make a law preventing gays from being schoolteachers, the connection will click.

Anyway, that's what I think.

Len on 06.23.05 @ 09:51 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Can we use the f-word now?

Right-wing propagandist Bill O'Reilly has called for the FBI to arrest Air America radio hosts, according to Media Matters. Quoth O'Reilly:

Everybody got it? Dissent, fine; undermining, you're a traitor. Got it? So, all those clowns over at the liberal radio network, we could incarcerate them immediately. Will you have that done, please? Send over the FBI and just put them in chains, because they, you know, they're undermining everything and they don't care, couldn't care less.

One has to wonder who would get to make the determination of who is a mere patriotic dissenter and who is a treasonous underminer in O'Reilly's America.

Lindsay Beyerstein.)

Brock on 06.23.05 @ 07:39 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Famous Fafblogger Unmasked!

Neil Sinhababu, a.k.a. the Ethical Werewolf, has discovered the secret identity of Fafblogger Medium Lobster.

It's none other than CIA Director Porter Goss!

Sinhabubu made the discovery while reading this Time magazine interview with Goss. Note the unmistakable Lobsteresque style:

Q. When will we get Osama Bin Laden?
Goss: That is a question that goes far deeper than you know...

Q. It sounds like you have a pretty good idea of where he is. Where?
Goss: I have an excellent idea of where he is. What's the next question?

Q. ...Could the US go to war again based on false intelligence?
Goss: I would not agree to surmise that America has gone to war based on false intelligence. I would say that the right question is: Should America be checking out threats to America?

To your limited perception, he appears to be just another CIA director. To your limited perception.

Brock on 06.23.05 @ 07:12 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Yet Another Data Point....

in support of the proposition that there's a website for every niche interest:

Cinemorgue Actor's Annex

Cinemorgue is a listing of actresses and the various on-screen deaths they've died. The Actor's Annex does the same for actors.

And while we're on the subject of niche websites, I can't ignore Mr. Skin, which purports to be about the most comprehensive guide to celebrity movie nudity on the Web. And if you can't guess from that description (if not from the name itself) that Mr. Skin is probably not work-safe....well you deserve whatever punishment your boss metes out to you for visiting.

Len on 06.23.05 @ 12:37 PM CST [link] [ | ]

"Mission Accomplished", revisited

This gets it exactly right.

Len on 06.23.05 @ 12:10 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Thursday Dog Blogging™

No, this isn't going to be a weekly feature, but I couldn't resist this one:

This is Cash vom Kraftwerk, who is one of a number of puppies available from Kraftwerk K9, Inc., a kennel in the Pacific Northwest.

If I had $2500 and my own house, this would be my puppy.

Len on 06.23.05 @ 12:07 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Ban flag burning? How about banning these?

Over at AMERICAblog, a pictorial listing of additional constitutional amendments that we probably need as much as we need an amendment to protect statutes against flag desecration.

Len on 06.23.05 @ 11:47 AM CST [link] [ | ]

More apropos the Durbin controversy....

An excellent post by Thomas Nephew over at Newsrack: Look pretty similar to me. Just go read it. I won't even urge you to tell Thomas I sent you (though if you want to I won't object).

Some days, Rethugnicans, and their continued defense of the indefensible, make me ashamed to be an American.

Len on 06.23.05 @ 09:22 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Memo to Blogtopia: try to shrink those heads a bit.

My hosting company sends its customers a newsletter every month. The newsletter is in an HTML based email format, and a "feature" of every month's issue is a customer poll, and the results of last month's poll.

I received my June 2005 newsletter this morning, and the poll results interested me. The May 2005 poll was "How credible do you consider the information you read in blogs?"

The results:

As credible as printed news: 6%
As credible as what I see on the TV news: 7%
As credible as what I hear on the radio news: 6%
Not at all credible: 20%
I don't read any blogs: 61%

Granting, this isn't a very scientific sampling, but the thing that interests me is that the readership of my hosting company's newsletter is most probably a fairly internet savvy, web aware, tech oriented bunch. After all, they're running websites, and using the services of the hosting company to do it. A purely scientific poll sampling the general public would probably show a lot more than 61% of respondents in the "I don't read blogs" category. And probably a couple percentage points more respondents in the "Not at all credible" category.

So let's let go of our little delusions, wake up, and smell the coffee, folks.

We're not the cutting edge of the new journalism. We're not even seriously threatening the old journalism.

We're, for the most part, sitting in our little public cages or cubicles, mentally masturbating, and amusing a self-selected audience. The vast majority of the great unwashed public wouldn't know us if we went out and kicked them in their collective butts, and of those that do know us, the vast majority find us to be less than credible.

That being said, I will go on record to the effect that everything you read here from Karen is God's own, complete Gospel Truth, and you can take that to the bank.


Len on 06.23.05 @ 09:17 AM CST [link] [ | ]

The myths of left-wing influence in academia and the media....

Brian Leiter gives us an interesting perspective on the myth that the academic world and the media in this country are unduly influenced by the left wing. The good professor quotes from correspondence (an email, I presume) that he has received:

I am from Ireland and had the good fortune to spend a year in [a top law school in the Southeast, name omitted] this year. It came as somewhat of a shock to me that the student body were so conservative (although, to be fair it is [name of Southern state omitted]). In particular, I remember one class in Law and Economics (know your enemy) where a student advocated a position which the professor (correctly) identified as a socialist one. The student then backed down. I am far from claiming that socialism is "right" but it was also interesting that this signalled the end of discussion, i.e. socialism is "wrong".

I do not mean to suggest that the Prof would not have entertained a discussion about the matter-the student pre-empted him by self-censoring. This, to me, is a perfect example of what you are talking about in both posts. You create a fictitous "left", i.e. Harvard etc., which is actually right-of-centre and then self-censor all viewpoints which fall outside this "left" and the true right. Needless to say, this has a very powerful legitimising force by constricting the debate sphere which leads, although this might be a leap, to a situation where most academics, influenced by their surroundings, not to pursue issues with the same intellectual vigour.

I will say, however, that I had a great time in [school name omitted] and met many wonderful people. The education was also fantastic.

I have enjoyed reading your weblog since I found it. Keep up the good work.

P.S. I first noticed this trend when I arrived in the states to find CNN and the New York Times pilloried as left-wing where they would not be considered so in Ireland. Ireland is not an overly-liberal country by any means.

[Emphasis added. --LRC]

Len on 06.23.05 @ 08:46 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Here in Tennessee.....

This is the kind of representation we have in the Senate....

Sad, ain't it? The only thing sadder is the collection of dolts, imbeciles, and morons lined up to try to replace him.

Update: And meanwhile MadKane weighs in on the Frist Flop. (Audio version here.)

Len on 06.23.05 @ 08:22 AM CST [link] [ | ]

And here's a set of words that I never thought I'd see strung together like this...

Laser-controlled headless zombie flies

Found in this week's edition of Ten Things I Didn't Know Last Week, by Dave Studeman over at The Hardball Times.

Len on 06.23.05 @ 07:46 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Thought for the Day:

The problem with Mr. and Mrs. Smith is that it's really two movies in one. The first is a sly comedy/thriller worthy of Hitchcock, and the other is a big, noisy summer action flick. The marriage of these two, like that of the title characters, is tempestuous, with each side in a constant struggle for dominance. When Mr. and Mrs. Smith is smart and sassy, it's a lot of fun. But when it's loud and dumb (which is too often for my taste), it's mindless and a little tedious. This is mediocre, forgettable entertainment. It doesn't really satisfy, but you probably won't exit the theater feeling gypped.

The premise is simple enough: John and Jane Smith (Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie) are a happily married couple who work as assassins for rival firms. Neither is aware of the other's occupation, and, to the outside world, they look like a traditional, upper-class suburban couple, albeit without the dog and the 2.5 kids. In fact, to keep the spark in their marriage of five or six years, they visit a marriage counselor. Then, one unfortunate day, a client double-books a hit, with John and Jane unknowingly assigned to eliminate the same target. When their take-down schemes prove to be incompatible, they lose the mark and discover a few things about each other. The resulting domestic strife makes the events of
War of the Roses seem tame by comparison.

When director Doug Liman (
The Bourne Identity) focuses on the characters and their non-traditional relationship, he's on safe ground. Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie smolder, and their chemistry (regardless of whether it did or did not expand beyond the screen) couldn't be better. Whether they're shooting at each other, tossing around double entendres, or ripping each other's clothing off, Mr. and Mrs. Smith's two stars are sexy and magnetic. Foreplay for the Smiths involves not only disrobing, but disarming.
--James Berardinelli

Len on 06.23.05 @ 06:25 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Rick Ankiel Watch

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch ran a story about how onetime Cardinals pitching sensation Rick Ankiel is doing in the low minors. For those of you not playing the home game, Rick first came up with the Cardinals in 1999 at age 19, and for two years ('99 and '00) did an absolutely spectacular job for such a young player (arguably, '99 might have been attributed to small sample size distortions, as Rick pitched in only 9 games and 33 innings, but '00 was no fluke; Rick played in 31 games (starting 30 of them), pitched 175 innings, racked up 11 wins and 7 losses, got 194 strikeouts, and registered an ERA of 3.50 (as against a league average of 4.64)).

Then, of course, came the 2000 postseason, where Rick picked up a case of Steve Blass disease (i.e., the seemingly complete and utter inability to throw strikes, even if his life depended on it). By 2002, Rick was back in the minors, where the organization diligently worked on him (and he underwent surgery that kept him out of action for a season), briefly to surface with the Cardinals in September of 2004. After a disappointing spring training in 2005, Rick announced that he was giving up on pitching, and would attempt to break into the bigs again as an outfielder.

According to the Post, Ankiel's hit 7 homers in 80 at bats. That's the good news. The bad news is that when he started the season, with Class AA Springfield (Texas League), he went 1 for 20 (with, I believe, no homers) before being placed on the disabled list. Upon activation from the disabled list, he's been playing with the Class A Swing of the Quad Cities (Midwest League). Quoth the Post:

Ankiel has seven homers in just 80 at-bats over 22 games for the Swing. He is batting .263 with 20 RBIs, a .330 on-base percentage and .588 slugging percentage.

National baseball columnist Ken Rosenthal of The Sporting News, writing on FOXSports.com, quoted a major-league executive who said Ankiel probably will make it back to the majors as an outfielder.

"When he takes batting practice with the other kids he's with, it's different," the unnamed executive told Rosenthal.

"He hits the ball harder, farther. He does have a chance."
Um... excuse me for being a cynic... Of course I'd expect Ankiel to hit the ball harder, farther than the other kids in high A ball. For Christ's freaking sake, Rick's 25 years old (he'll turn 26 in July), which is several years older than the average for kids playing A ball (when Rick was that age, he was pitching in the majors...). And of course Rick was pitching in the National League, where he actually got to see (and occasionally, hit) major league caliber pitching.

Maybe before we start projecting a new major league career for Rick, we should see how he's hitting in AA and AAA first.

Len on 06.22.05 @ 10:57 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Speaking of Lists...

The American Film industry has compiled a few GEMs in the List Department of 100 years of 100 Lists and this one of the Top 100 Movie Quotes based on atleast 400 entries.

So check them out and "here's looking at you, kid."

Karen on 06.22.05 @ 02:41 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Long after all other forms of religious discrimination are stamped out...

atheists will still be fair game....

[Who am I kidding? Since religious partisans just love to fight with each other over who has the best imaginary friend, there'll be no end to religious discrimination. However, it'll still be the case that the deluded will still resent those of us who don't share their delusions. Anyway...]

Via Brian Leiter, we're pointed to this story about Tim Shortell, a sociologist at Brooklyn College of the City University of New York system, who has apparently been pressured to decline election by his colleagues to chair the sociology department there, allegedly because of an atheist polemic he published at a private website, anti-naturals.org. Supposedly, the tone of the essay was considered "offensive". Katha Pollitt, at The Nation, makes a very good point:

Besides, so what if Shortell's essay is offensive? Brooklyn College is a public, secular institution, not a Bible college. The Sun claimed Shortell's disdain for religion would cloud his judgment of job candidates, but there was never any evidence that this would be the case. No student ever complained about his teaching; his colleagues trusted him enough to elect him to the post; the student work posted on his website is apolitical and bland. Predictions of bias, absent any evidence, are just a backhanded way of attacking his beliefs. You might as well say no Southern Baptist should be chair, since someone who believes that women should be subject to their husbands, homosexuality is evil and Jews are doomed to hell won't be fair to female, gay or Jewish job candidates. Or no Orthodox Jew or Muslim should be chair because religious restrictions on contact with the opposite sex would privilege some job candidates over others.

But nobody ever does say that. As long as a believer ascribes his views to his faith, he can say anything he wants and if you don't like it, you're the bigot. Simplistic as Shortell's essay is, it does raise a useful point: Faith and morality are not only not the same, as Americans like to think, they express contradictory impulses. I believe Kierkegaard said something along these lines in
Fear and Trembling in his discussion of Abraham's willingness to sacrifice his son. Or as the physicist Steven Weinberg put it more recently: "With or without religion, you would have good people doing good things, and evil people doing evil things. But for good people to do evil things, that takes religion." Would Weinberg be too "offensive" for CUNY? [Emphasis added. --LRC]
More on the story over at Majikthise, who also references an essay by Jerry Krase, one of Shortell's colleagues, which suggests that there are undercurrents of academic infighting to the story as well. Even so, that Shortell's atheism can be used as a weapon against him is something that all of us unbelievers (and if this keeps up, it won't be too long before "unbeliever" won't mean "atheist", it will mean "not-a-member-of-an-evangelical-Christian-denomination-of-which-we-approve") should be on our guard against...

Len on 06.22.05 @ 02:37 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Hope he doesn't mind the "publicity"....

One of the members of a mailing list which I happen to "own" (i.e., administrate) is Stan Schwarz, who also maintains Our Obligatory Blog out of the same webspace. Stan is by day a sysadmin for the U.S. Geological Survey's Pasadena Field Office, which means that he supports the computer systems for a group of seismologists. In his spare time (among other activities, I assume), he cruises both the real and virtual worlds finding interesting things....

In the real world, Stan got a mention in Steve Harvey's L.A. Times column for finding an interesting traffic sign, and gets occasional mentions in the local news in connection with earthquakes in his area causing a huge jump in hits on his webserver.

In the virtual world, I like his discovery that Google Maps can be used for some virtual atomic tourism. Were you aware that some craters from late '50s and early '60s nuclear testing can be seen in satellite photos? Take a gander at the links that Stan's unearthed, and you will be....

Len on 06.22.05 @ 01:49 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Buyer's Remorse...

Second-Term Blues by Howard Kurtz (Washington Post) just about say it all in this paragraph:

"…But the most important explanation for Bush's problems is what might be called his bait and switch. Bush campaigned in 2004 on one set of ideas, but he is pursuing a radically different agenda. His program has been inverted. The issues he talked about the most last year, such as terrorism, are off the radar, while those he rarely highlighted are front and center…”

So, been asking this question for while: WHO are these folks? These “one issue voter” who don't support this group of Presidential Policies? It's YOU voters who have now left the country and US to grapple with this increasingly Unpopular President and his unpopular legacies agenda he's got on his desk? But your Buyer's Remorse is a bit late...eh?

Or consider this one:
"…Adding to Bush's woes, perhaps the single most popular piece of legislation that has any chance of landing on his desk this year is a bill to lift restrictions on stem-cell research. He has promised to veto it.…”

About the only thing he could be working for as the National Concensus of popular support and interest and the dolt wishes to Veto this legislation. It's going to more than just a LONG Four More Years at this rate of Nightmares 6-months down the road of his reelection.

Karen on 06.22.05 @ 12:05 PM CST [link] [ | ]

If we could but only Hope...

David Ignatious (writing in Slate) has this interesting view of Condi Rice's recent "democracy speech":

Rice's Useful Rhetoric:

"...That "glass house" aspect of Rice's proclamation can help keep the Bush administration honest about some of its toughest foreign policy decisions. It's the secular equivalent of "What Would Jesus Do?" What would a democratic nation that cares about the rule of law do about the detention camp at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba? What energy policies are appropriate for a nation that advocates change in Saudi Arabia?

Rice was not advancing an expedient wartime ethic, of the sort we have heard too often from the Bush administration, but a universal moral one. America's mission, by her account, isn't a war against terrorism but a struggle for democracy. That may sound like a mere change in semantics, but it moves the United States from a situation in which every Muslim is a potential enemy to one in which every Muslim is a potential ally. Again, amen...."

One could hope that this message would have some truthful resonance, but only if the hard-liners would embrace it fully and stop shirking their moral duty in this context.

It's probably time to revisit in a piece I wrote a while ago about how our government and bAdministration wishes to have the world "perceive" it to be the White-Hatted John Wayne of Righeousness, while simultaneously acting with the part of the dubious-morality of "Dirty Harry" in its policies.

Click on the "more" button to read this piece.

Karen on 06.22.05 @ 10:49 AM CST [more..] [ | ]

Playing Those Mind Games...

I knew there was a reason I liked to play HALO. According to Steven Johnson, author of Everything Bad Is Good For You, he writes about how Pop Culture is actually making us smarter and improving our intellect (some of us anyway – LOL).

"Drawing from fields as diverse as neuroscience, economics and media theory, Johnson shows that the junk culture we’re so eager to dismiss is actually making us more intelligent…."

This also fits into an article recently about how mental stimulation can help you avoid Alzheimers. So Keep playing those Video Games and don’t let your mind go soft…your very health and mental well-being depend upon it!!! LOL

Karen on 06.22.05 @ 10:34 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Well, it's simply a matter of definition....

Over at Why Now? Bryan makes an offhand observation at the beginning of a more astronomically themed post:

In Britain and Ireland the Summer Solstice is the midpoint of Summer, while the US generally calls it the beginning of Summer. No clear reason for the difference, nor is there any real rule about when seasons start.
Personally, I've always wondered why people in the U.S. are fixated on the summer solstice as being "the first day of summer". Operationally, I think that this definition works better: "Summer: In the U.S., the period between Memorial Day and Labor Day, inclusive."

Think about it. That's when we do our traditional summer activities, such as school recesses and summer sessions), vacations, swimming, picnics, outdoor recreation, etc. And the three summer holidays line up very nicely. Memorial Day is the first day of summer. Independence Day (in the U.S.) represents the midsummer holiday, and Labor Day is the end of summer holiday.

It's all arbitrary, but I think my definition hews better to how we actually behave as a nation.

Len on 06.22.05 @ 08:00 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Here's something to consider as you fill out your All-Star ballot

Josh over at The Birdwatch points us to this post at Baseball Musings:

Derrek Lee and Albert Pujols each helped their team to victory last night with home runs. Pujols is having a Pujols year. Great batting average, great OBA and an excellent slugging percentage. Derrek Lee is putting up even better numbers. He's slugging in the .700's, over .100 points better than Pujols.

For whom do you vote when you fill out your all-star ballot? Do you vote for someone based on a great 1/2 season, or do you go for someone who is consistently great throughout his career?
I can't put my finger on the exact cites right now, but the timing of the Major League Baseball All-Star Game has been a bone of contention among some hardcore baseball fans for a while. The All-Star Game comes in the middle of the regular baseball season, and given the natural human tendency to pay attention to things that have happened recently as opposed to taking a longer term view (this is the reason that any given radio station listener poll of "The 100 Greatest Songs of All Time" tends to have 80-85 songs on it that were recorded in the last two years) the placement of All-Star voting in the first half of the season tends to cause fans (or more accurately, those fans who don't reflexively vote for the players on their favorite teams) to focus on not-quite-so-hot players who are having outrageously good April/May/June performances (like Lee, say, who, while putting in a stellar performance so far this season, is performing at a level or so above his norm), while discounting players who performed equally over their norms in the last half of the previous season.

Personally, I give a bit more weight to consistency over what appears to be a fluke half season, myself, but the argument can be made that I'm just giving in to my admiration for Albert the Great (and I'm a big Pujols fan; I have no doubt that the boy is headed to the Hall of Fame). But ultimately, the All-Star Game is about who the fans want to see; that's why we let them vote. So if Derrek Lee wins out over Albert, that's by definition A Good Result. Right?

Len on 06.22.05 @ 07:10 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Linus speaks....

A day or two ago John Paczkowski at Good Morning, Silicon Valley posted an interesting interview with Linus Torvalds, where Linus weighed in on the future of Microsoft vis a vis the rise of open source software. [Boldface indicates the interviewer's questions.]

Open source programs have clearly made some great advances in the past few years. We've seen it with Linux and Mozilla. What sort of future do you foresee for open source? What do you foresee happening to software vendors tied to proprietary software models?

The power of open source really lies in various groups improving and building on an increasingly bigger existing base and slowly turning that base into commodity. One of the keywords here is "slowly" - it's by its very nature pretty evolutionary, i.e. it takes time. It's, in my opinion, also pretty unstoppable, but the process definitely makes it possible for proprietary vendors to generally take advantage of the open source commodity base, and continue to be proprietary "on top" of that base.

So I don't think the proprietary vendors go away per se, I think they just end up moving higher up in the food chain.


Microsoft has spent so much time protecting the desktop that a myriad of other opportunities passed it by -- search, for example. Open source software is cutting into Microsoft's virtual monopoly of desktop software as governments and corporations become attracted to the cost savings they offer. Meanwhile, innovators like Apple and Google are becoming more prominent in the technology universe. What do you see happening to Microsoft in the years ahead?

This is exactly the kind of question I have a very hard time answering.

Microsoft really is a fairly interesting vendor in this space. Unlike most proprietary vendors, it's one of the very few ones whose bread and butter comes directly from its commodity market, and even its specialized offerings often sell because of its near dominance of a market that certainly looks to be commoditized over the next decade or so.

So it's no wonder that Microsoft is one of the very few players who really don't seem to like open source. Most other vendors seem to see open source as a platform that they can ride on, while to MS it's a threat to how they do business.

That said, I don't see the MS market going away very fast, and I don't see why MS couldn't continue to function as a software company even if they don't control the commodity market any more. In many ways I think MS is in the same situation that IBM was in two decades ago, losing control of the basic market -- and thus the dominance of the market -- but not necessarily going away or even necessarily shrinking.

I think the really interesting question is what happens to their profit margins. It's almost all profit for them right now. I don't think that's sustainable in any market, and yes, I believe that open source is one of the things that will "correct" the software market.


What will happen to the PC world if Microsoft’s market share should decline? What will the technology landscape look like?

If Microsoft loses its dominance, that's likely a good thing for the market in general. Again, see the IBM connection from a few decades back: More open competition tends to make the market not only more lively, but also tends to grow it.

So the notion that many people seem to have that the PC market lives and dies by MS dominance would seem to have no basis in reality. If anything, near-monopolies tend to stifle things.


What will happen if Microsoft’s market share doesn't decline? What will the tech business landscape look like in a world in which Microsoft not only retains its current position, but extends it to other realms -- the living room, financial services, etc.? What does the "Microsoft forever" world look like to you?

I just don't believe in dynasties. Things erode over time. Successes start to take themselves for granted, and the successful companies aren't nimble and hungry enough any more.

In the tech market in particular, companies just don't tend to stay on top forever -- they become irrelevant either because of their own missteps or because their market just isn't the "happening thing" any more. You can only skate the cutting edge for so long.

So the question is how the decline happens, and in what timeframe. Will open source be a factor? Almost certainly. Will it be the factor? I don't know.

Len on 06.22.05 @ 06:24 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Thought for the Day:

Larry the Cable Guy, on the other hand, makes me believe - if there is a god - he either abandoned his creation some time around the Pleistocene Era or is actually consciously evil, a la, Prince of Darkness.

I first became aware of him on Sirius' uncensored comedy channel, where he's quite popular (probably because many Sirius subscribers are truck drivers who have consumed such insane quantities of crank they can no longer discern human speech from the incessant drone of their own engines). The majority of Larry's shtick is predicated on how women think differently than men and thinly veiled slurs against homos, which are immediately made better by his please for forgiveness from Jesus. Then he'll trot out the defense that the country has gotten "too P.C." for comedy, which is still the best refuge for the guy who wants the freedom to make jokes about niggers and faggots.

There are three possibile explanations for the phenomenon that is Larry:

1) The redneck act is total bullshit. Not to say the dude is from Finland (he's actually from Nebraska, which makes the Stars and Bars cap a little suspect), but the only way his alleged "jokes" work at all are when they're delivered in conjunction with the sleeveless plaid shirt, trucker cap, and exaggerated moronic drawl. Played straight, his routine would get him booed from the stage at Bob's Country Bunker.

2) It's all an elaborate gag at his own expense. In other words, he's making himself the joke by presenting an outre image of the undereducated, ignorant American. Trouble is (and this one's a long shot), the vast majority of his audience aren't grasping the subtlety of the gag. You can make the argument that Andrew Dice Clay was attempting something similar with his "Diceman" persona, but his fans were overwhelmingly Iroc-driving mooks who shared Diceman's affection for the word "gash."

3) He's n a successful biological project financed by a joint venture between Clear Channel and NASCAR, who cloned him from genetic material collected from the port-o-johns of Talladega Superspeedway.

Whatever the answer, I'm clearly in the minority. He has the highest charting comedy album since 1978 (Steve Martin's A Wild and Crazy Guy) and his 2004 tour outgrossed Chris Rock's.

Meanwhile, Bill Hicks is still dead.
--Pete Vonder Haar

Len on 06.22.05 @ 05:25 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Memo to the bAdministration: Actions speak louder than words

from Billmon:

A brief squib from the front page of today's Wall Street Journal:
Rice, in Egypt, said that the U.S. is no longer willing to tolerate repressive regimes to bolster regional stability. She flew next to Saudi Arabia.
I just love deadpan humor.

Len on 06.21.05 @ 12:21 PM CST [link] [ | ]

And here's a good argument against popular democracy...

Support for governor plunging, poll finds Can you believe it? Ah-nuld, the Groping Gubernator, is unpopular now!

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger suddenly ranks among the most unpopular governors in modern California history, as residents grow increasingly unhappy about the action hero-turned-politician's budget plans and his call for a special election, according to a new Field Poll.

Less than a third -- 31 percent -- of the state's adults approve of the job the governor is doing in Sacramento, down from 54 percent in February. The numbers are only slightly better among registered voters, 37 percent of whom are happy with Schwarzenegger's performance and 53 percent dissatisfied.

"There's very little for the governor to cheer about in this poll,'' said Mark DiCamillo, director of the Field Poll. "There's a very broad-based view that the governor is off on the wrong track.''

Schwarzenegger's approval rating among registered voters is lower than any number recorded by the Field Poll for governors Ronald Reagan, Jerry Brown and George Deukmejian. He now ranks fourth in unpopularity, behind Democrats Gray Davis and Pat Brown and Republican Pete Wilson.
Though I suppose that Ah-nuld is consoling himself that he's still more popular than Gray Davis at this point.

Though that could change if Ah-nuld keeps it up.

Len on 06.21.05 @ 12:09 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Looks like an excellent cause to me...

As a veteran, the College Republican pukes and other chickenhawks who think that the Iraq war is a wonderful thing as long as it isn't their lives on the line make me sick. So I'm happy to support General J.C. Christian, Patriot, in his latest project: Operation Yellow Elephant

The objective of OPERATION YELLOW ELEPHANT is to recruit College Republicans and Young Republicans to serve as infantry. They demanded this war and now viciously support it. It's only right that they also experience it.

The 56th College Republican National Convention (June 24-26) and the Young Republican National Convention (July 6-10) are the settings for most of the ops.

The General encourages his readers to take the initiative to create materials and to plan and conduct special operations. Please let him know what you've done and he'll try to post it.

Regular readers know that the General is a proud heterosexual, Christian conservative. He is not trying to embarrass the College Republicans. Rather, he believes that by encouraging them to enlist, he is pushing them to be more vocal about the good work their doing to make our homeland safe--things like holding affirmative action bakesales, holding immigrant hunts, almost single-handedly funding Ann Coulter, David Horowitz, and Michelle Malkin, relieving the elderly of the burden of having money, and punching out Joan Jett.
Go follow the link to Jesus' General for a quick outline of the project and collection of links so you can learn more.

And of course, there's a really cool graphic:

Len on 06.21.05 @ 11:56 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Not a Slice of Humble Pie To Be Found...

And a good entry in the debate of the bAdministration's expansion of Federal Powers via their legislatiive efforts and the imposition of Federal Laws taking over the states turf is this one:
What Became of Federalism? by John Yoo(Law professor at UC Berkeley). The Bush White House has been favoring Federalism over the States rights for some time...despite the core principle of the supposed cornerstone of GOP-ism of less "Federalism" and "Big Government Intrusions."

"…The best of intentions may be behind these measures, but they follow a dangerous constitutional strategy. Demanding rigid, one-size-fits-all nationwide rules counteracts the benefits of federalism, which calls for decentralized governance. Federalism allows states to compete for residents and businesses. Some will choose to live in California because they are willing to trade high taxes for strong environmental rules, while others may want to live in Massachusetts because of gay marriage.

Worse, imposing national rules in these areas suppresses the ability of states to serve as "laboratories of democracy." As Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis observed, "It is one of the happy incidents of the federal system that a single courageous state may, if its citizens choose, serve as a laboratory; and try novel social and economic experiments without risk to the rest of the country."

Expand federal power and you retard the innovation that can answer difficult national problems.

Washington should only intervene when it's clear that a single federal rule will solve a nationwide problem that cannot be cured by individual states.

Federalism bestows a third benefit. The framers sought to create a competition between the states and Washington to prevent government from trampling on individual liberty.

Because of federalism and a separation of powers, James Madison wrote in the Federalist Papers, "a double security arises to the rights of the people. The different governments" — state and federal — "will control each other; at the same time that each will be controlled by itself."

Early in his presidency, Bush pledged to "make respect for federalism a priority in this administration," and he affirmed the founders' belief that "our freedom is best preserved when power is disbursed."

Now he should give the Supreme Court an example to follow by heeding his own words, remaining humble about the abilities of Washington to cure social problems and appointing federal judges who understand the importance of states.

Uhhh…only thing, Mr. Yoo, is that you’re talking bout this TONE DEAF President. This - I don’t care about the Polls-Showing-What-The American-Public-Really-is-Concerned-About President.

And he should be Humble??? Who do you think your kidding here?? GW wouldn’t know Humble If it Jumped up and Bit Him on the Nose (or any other body part for that matter). Just SOOO not in his repertoire of sound bytes. Couldn't find a slice of Humble Pie within a thousand miles or Light-years of this Guy - let alone hope he might partake of it.

So dream on Mr. Yoo - and keep hoping GW will see the "Light" (some light anyway that points the direction the country wants to GO.)

Karen on 06.21.05 @ 09:26 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Less Intelligence in the Designers of ID...

Yet another good piece about the I.D. Lacking in intelligent design people in this article by Mort Kondracke: 'Intelligent Design' Belongs in Church, Not Biology Class.

"...But ID isn't science. Its concepts can't be independently verified. In essence, ID holds that living organisms are so complex that they couldn't be the product of blind natural forces, but had to be the work of a Designer - or, at least, a designer.

The scientific problem is this: There is no way to locate actual evidence of a designer, be it small-d or big-D. Proponents of ID, including some sophisticated scientists, point to holes in Darwinian explanations for the development of life and say that only "intelligent design" can fill the gap. But that's not proof of design...."

Courtesy of Real Clear Politics.

Karen on 06.21.05 @ 08:38 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Definitive evidence of the bAdministration's military incompetence....

When I read things like this story, I wonder why the families and friends of service members in Iraq don't rise up as one and demand the impeachment, delivery to the Hague, and trial and execution of the idiots in Washington for their crimes against humanity (not to mention the negligent homicide of their sons and daughters):

John Tod of Mesa had been prepared to face Father's Day worrying about his son's pending date with the war in Iraq.

Then Uncle Sam stepped in with more disappointing developments.

Marine Pfc. Jeremy Tod called home with news that his superiors were urging him and fellow Marines to buy special military equipment, including flak jackets with armor plating, to enhance the prospects of their survival.

The message was that such purchases were to be made by Marines with their own money.

"He said they strongly suggested he get this equipment because when they get to Iraq they will wish they had," Tod said.

Total estimated cost: $600.

Tod said his son's call about two weeks ago from the Marine Corps Air Station-Yuma was a sobering reminder that the military is not prepared to equip Pfc. Tod and fellow Marines with the best equipment.
It seems to me that there is a First Law of Military Preparedness: if your soldiers and marines have to buy their own equipment with their own money before they are deployed, then you are not prepared to fight the war you're contemplating. Even if you look like a chimp, and need a successful war to bolster your political capital (and to prove to your satisfaction that your dick is bigger than your Dad's...)

Fucking morons. And to think they're contemplating invading Iran.

We deserve to lose in Iraq. I hope we don't, but we sure as hell deserve to...

Len on 06.21.05 @ 08:02 AM CST [link] [ | ]

It's official....

MadKane can play the "nerdier than thou" trump card on me. She's now officially podcasting. If you're into the podcasting thing (I've not jumped on that particular bandwagon yet, but to each his/her own), you can find her podcast feed here.

And for her inaugural podcast, you can hear her perform her latest filk, "Cheney's Last Throes", sung to the tune of "On Top Of Old Smokey":

Dick says the insurgents
Are in their last throes,
The war's almost over,
We're beating our foes.

Iraq violence surges.
It's gotten much worse.
Yet Cheney keeps telling
Lies chapter and verse.
So what are you waiting for? Go read/sing for yourself/listen to Mad sing all of this latest gem....

Len on 06.21.05 @ 07:35 AM CST [link] [ | ]

"Duke-gate" is expanding...

[I know. I really hate the "-gate" suffix thing. I really do. But the caffeine hasn't kicked in yet (I'm learning--the hard way--that people do apparently develop a tolerance to caffeine, and I'm really not ready to knock down two full pots of coffee (straight from the carafe) just to acquire a luxury like "consciousness"), and I'm therefore not as creative as I ought be. So learn to live with it, or die with it on your mind, as A Great And Good Friend Of Mine would say.]

Via this morning's Talking Points Memo, Josh Marshall clues us in that there are further revelations in the Randy "Duke" Cunningham apparent payola scandal:

We'd heard this was coming. Now Copley News Service's Marcus Stern has the goods: "A defense contractor who took a $700,000 loss on the purchase of Rep. Randy Cunningham's Del Mar residence in 2003, and provided a yacht for his use in the nation's capital, forced his employees to make political contributions that benefited the San Diego Republican and other members of Congress, according to three former senior officials of the company.(emphasis added)"

There's also this intriguing nugget: "A third former employee of MZM described being rounded up along with other employees one afternoon in the company's Washington headquarters and told to write a check with the political recipient standing by. The former employee didn't give the name of the politician receiving the donations."

Boy, would it be fun to know who that 'political recipient' was.
Oh, I don't know; right now I'd give you two guesses, and the first two don't count. But Josh points out:
And perhaps not that hard since the universe of members of Congress spending serious time on the MZM gravy train seems not to have been that large.

Earlier we told you about Rep. Virgil Goode (R) from Southside Virginia. But don't forget about the rest of folks who got money.

Like Katherine Harris.

In the 2004 cycle the MZM political action committee gave out $34,000 to House candidates. The totals go like this ...

Cunningham, Randy "Duke" (R-CA) $6,000
Forbes, J Randy (R-VA) $5,000
Goode, Virgil H Jr (R-VA) $10,000
Harris, Katherine (R-FL) $10,000
Hunter, Duncan (R-CA) $1,000
Renzi, Rick (R-AZ) $2,000

So Katherine Harris got $10,000 from the MZM Pac. And during the same cycle she got another $32,000 from employees of MZM.

Actually, not just during the same cycle. If you look at this read-out from OpenSecrets.org you'll see that that $32,000 came in 16 checks for $2000 each. And 14 of those $2,000 checks were written out on one day -- March 23rd, 2004, a Tuesday.

The two other were written out on April 1st, 2004 a Thursday by MZM owner Mitchell Wade's wife: Christiane Wade.

With Cunningham and Goode, Mitchell Wade had some very specific piece of business he wanted help with. What was his angle on Katherine Harris?
Damn. Katherine Harris? Corrupt? Who'da thunk it....

Len on 06.21.05 @ 07:25 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Thought for the Day:

For the lay reader, the first impression of movie science is that it takes a lot of research to prove a little common sense. One study mentioned in the meta-paper puts forth an elimination rule: If you go to the theater with a bunch of friends and one of you has already seen one of the movies that's playing, chances are that all of you will see something else instead. Elsewhere, though, the paper's dense social-science prose can be unpacked to reveal sharp insights and (maybe) a faint sense of humor. Here's how the authors summarize the process by which expensive bombs like The Adventures of Pluto Nash come into the world: "[W]hen costs are sunk progressively and information on a project's quality is revealed gradually, rational decision makers can carry projects to completion that realize enormous ex post losses." Rational decision-making led to a $100 million film with Eddie Murphy running a nightclub on the moon in the year 2087. That's funny.
--Michael Agger

Len on 06.21.05 @ 06:17 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Leaping Lizards...

My July 2005 edition of Scientific American has a wonderful article about How Dinosaurs were able to grow so large and how quickly they were able to reach maximum size. Newsweek also has coverage of this new fossil discoveries and the life of Dinosaurs.

You can also check out Dinosaur Bone Histology and see What’s inside a dinosaur bone.

Karen on 06.21.05 @ 04:16 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Barbaric Treatment

The 11-year old Wife by Nicholas Kristof (NY Times) about the plight of women in Pakistan and the treatment from their government:

”…Yet it's crucial to remember that Ms. Mukhtaran is only a window into a much larger problem - the neglect by General Musharraf's government of the plight of women and girls.

Early this year, for example, a doctor named Shazia Khalid reported that she had been gang-raped in a government-owned natural-gas plant. Instead of treating her medically, officials drugged her into unconsciousness for three days to keep her quiet and then shipped her to a psychiatric hospital.

When she persisted in trying to report the rape, she was held under house arrest in Karachi. The police suggested that since she had cash, she must have been working as a prostitute. Dr. Shazia's husband has stood by her, but his grandfather was quoted as suggesting that Dr. Shazia had disgraced the family and should be killed.

On average, a woman is raped every two hours in Pakistan, and two women a day die in honor killings.
When a group of middle-class Pakistani women demonstrated last month for equal rights in Lahore, police clubbed them and dragged them to police stations. They particularly targeted Asma Jahangir, a U.N. special rapporteur who is also the head of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan.

Ms. Jahangir says the directions to the police about her, coming from an intelligence official close to General Musharraf, were: "Teach the [expletive] a lesson. Strip her in public." Sure enough, the police ripped her shirt off and tried to pull her trousers off. If that's how General Musharraf's government treats one of the country's most distinguished lawyers, imagine what happens to a peasant challenging injustice...”

Karen on 06.21.05 @ 04:03 AM CST [link] [ | ]

There's probably some significance to this...

but for the life of me, I can't figure it out... Grapefruit may make women seem younger

A study of smells shows that the scent of grapefruit on women make them seem about six years younger to men. However, grapefruit fragrance on men does nothing for them.

The study by the Smell and Taste Institute in Chicago was conducted by Institute director Alan Hirsch. Hirsch smeared several middle-aged woman with broccoli, banana, spearmint leaves, and lavender but none of those scents made a difference to the men.

But the scent of grapefruit changed men's perceptions. Hirsch said that when male volunteers were asked to write down how old the woman with grapefruit odor was, the age was considerably less than reality.
I suppose I'll get suspicious if, the next time I go on a date, I smell grapefruit...

Len on 06.20.05 @ 09:33 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Apropos of Dick Durbin's remarks...

I liked this comment at Making Light:

At this point, I'm so cynical, I don't care anymore what the right's response to Durbin is. Right wing pundits can get away with any damn thing they want. So can right wing politicians.

Sam Johnson can joke about dropping a nuclear bomb on Syria WHILE IN CHURCH, and this all passes away like it never happened, but Dick Durbin makes one comment, and it's hanging time.

There is nothing any Republican can say, no moral horror they could call for that would cause them any sense of shame *ever*

The Republican party has no business condemning Durbin. And Democrats have no good reason to take any criticism from Republicans on their rhetorical tactics. Not for another thousand years.

Don't fall for the criticism. Tell the Republicans to go to hell, and keep the focus where is belongs. On torture, on the fact that our troops have been made into torturers, on the fact that our government now proclaims it has the right to 'disappear' anyone anywhere, never give them a trial, and execute them if desired.

Don't give up on the focus."

Len on 06.20.05 @ 12:46 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Why I shouldn't take weekends off...

because I miss news like this: US 'losing in Iraq' - Republican Senator Hagel

Good news of sorts. Before one can solve a problem, one has to realize that the problem exists. Hagel's at least showing more awareness of the problem than the droids in the bAdministration.

Len on 06.20.05 @ 11:42 AM CST [link] [ | ]

The Little Muncher Turns 25...

And couldn't resist this GEM from the Daily Herald about the 25 year Anniversary of "Pac-Man" [my all-time favorite Video Game - EVER] in this article Wocka, wocka, wocka: Pac-Man hits 25 years.

I used to know a guy who worked as a video gamer repair man and had the "secret" path to follow to get all the Fruit, Ghosts and Dots. He's easily get like a score of 180,000 and go sliding through more than a dozen screens and many of the "Intermission" screens (like the "Meeting", "The Love" "The Wedding" etc.) in one sitting. I have a few of the later generations of the games for PC and Xbox, but the original Game-Room version is still my first FAV Video Game. I even had phone that was a Pac-man and hinged to open - revealing the dialing-buttons and to "answer" it when a call came in.

Hip-Hip-Hooray for Pac-man.

Karen on 06.20.05 @ 10:00 AM CST [link] [ | ]

A High-Tech Convention...

Described as the “World’s Fair of The Future” is the upcoming Wired Next Fest 2005 this Friday and Saturday at Chicago’s Navy Pier.

This article Making Progress (Daily Herald) also features a picture of the new “Segway Centaur” - an Off-the-Road Four-Wheeler.

The hard copy has a list of times and events and more at www.nextfest.net

Hmmm...maybe I might have to make that part of my downtown outing later in the week. Could be too Kool to check out the lastest Techie-gadgetry in the offing.

Karen on 06.20.05 @ 09:51 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Thought for the Day:

Enough about the quirks of screenwriters and directors. The narrator informs the viewer that with space exploration came peace on Earth. In 2001, the United Nations rules the planet with a fair and benevolent hand and the pioneering men of its space agency explore the solar system. This expedition was apparently scrambled to suddenly investigate Uranus (Don complains about having to cancel social plans). The crew is now hurtling through space on their way to the seventh planet. Actually, they are traveling at a velocity I find incomprehensible. (I might keep using that word. It does mean what I think it means.) The crew casually remarks that they passed the moon twelve minutes ago and will reach Mars' orbital path in forty minutes. HOLY FREAKING COW! Depending on where Mars is at in its orbit and their cruising speed, we are still talking about, say, ten percent of the speed of light. If the speed itself does not impress you, think of the acceleration involved. I think that the crew would look like pancake batter.
--Andrew Borntreger [on the film
Journey to the Seventh Planet]

Len on 06.20.05 @ 07:17 AM CST [link] [ | ]

And Maybe it's About Intelligent Aliens...

Dispatches From the Culture Wars has this excellent piece about the Lacking in Intelligence Design People and a link to this article More on the Intelligent Design and Experts won’t back Dover: School district lawyer claims conflict with intelligent-design advocates .
And this to say:

”….The [Discovery Institute] has been in a bind from the moment this case started. For the past few years, both sides in this dispute have been waiting for the case - the legal test case that would determine once and for all whether ID can be taught in public school science classrooms or whether the previous precedents against teaching "creation science" will be applied to ID in a similar manner. That's what all of the activity in this area for the last decade has been building toward. Everything that ID advocates have done during that time has been designed (yes, intelligently) to put legal distance between ID and the type of creation science that was banned from public school science classrooms in the Edwards decision. It's not by accident that the Wedge strategy was worked out by an attorney, Phillip Johnson. Johnson knew that the courts would not allow an explicitly religious idea be taught in public schools, so it was necessary to distance ID as much as possible from religion and make it appear to be religion-neutral.

This is why you hear constantly from ID proponents that the designer is not necessarily God, it could also be, for instance, aliens (never mind that this is flatly contradicted by the fact that the DI's official definition of Intelligent Design includes the claim that "certain features of the universe" are "best explained by an intelligent cause" - the makeup of the universe itself is well outside the reach of "aliens", because aliens, like humans, are part of the universe itself. No, their definition requires that the designer be outside the universe itself and hence "supernatural" because their definition combines cosmological and biological design). This is also why the DI was so upset by the discovery and release of the Wedge Document, because that document makes explicit the fact that the entire ID movement and strategy was designed as part of a larger campaign of Christian cultural renewal (which is also why the DI changed the name of its ID component from the Center for the Renewal of Science and Culture to merely the Center for Science and Culture). The DI is nothing if not politically savvy and they know that these little rhetorical details make a big difference. They also know that the success or failure of a court case to determine whether ID meets constitutional muster for public school science classrooms depends largely on how well they separate ID from religion….”

Now, generally, I feel it’s up to an individual as what they *wish* to believe (as long as they don’t try to embody their religious beliefs in our secular government or laws for the rest of us) - But I have to ASK:

Who in their Right Mind wants to argue for teaching I.D. on the basis that it’s not Really about God or a Divine Supernatural Being, but potentially ALIENS who are the responsible force for the organization “the certain unexplained features of the universe.”

Sheesh…just goes to show the levels of nonsensical some people will argue (without any rhyme, reason or proof) simply because part of the world and universe are as yet Beyond our ken or full explanation in all the workings and details.

Karen on 06.20.05 @ 07:00 AM CST [link] [ | ]

A Better Idea...

Not on Faith Alone by Mario Cuomo is a very good piece on the Stem Cell Research debate with a proposed idea for a better “concensus” to define the “life” beginnings of this clump of cells and not suffering the narrow dictates of a single individual’s personal religious views:

"…But our pluralistic political system adopts rights that arise out of consensus, not the dictates of religious orthodoxy; and if such rights are adopted - approving abortions or financing stem cell research on leftover embryos - they will be the law of the land, even if religious dissenters, through their tax dollars, end up helping to pay for things that they find anathema. Every day Americans who abhor the death penalty, contraceptives, abortions and war are required to pay taxes used in part for purposes they consider offensive. That is part of the price we pay for this uniquely successful democracy.

So far neither Mr. Bush nor religious believers have convinced a majority of Americans that the use of embryonic stem cells inevitably entails the murder of a human being. Most Americans, vividly aware of the millions of tragic victims of Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, cancer and spinal cord injuries, believe that embryonic stem cell research may provide cures. They will demand that Congress act to realize that potential.

If the president vetoes a bill that advances that potential, he will have to provide more than sincere religiosity to prove that human life exists as early as fertilization, a proposition that even the Roman Catholic Church and other religions have historically disputed.

The best way to test that proposition would be to employ a panel of respected scientists, humanists and religious leaders to consider testimony from bioscience experts describing when consciousness first appears, when viability outside the womb usually occurs, and how other religions treat the subject. They would then provide their conclusions to lawmakers.

Such a panel, the Task Force on Life and the Law, has been operating effectively in New York since 1985, devising public policy to address issues like euthanasia, the definition of death, surrogacy births, the withholding and withdrawing of life-sustaining treatment, reproductive technology and other difficult questions generated by rapid advances in medical technology. The panel's decisions on the definition of death, do-not-resuscitate orders and organ and tissue transplants were all adopted by the Legislature.

If indeed such a panel confirms that Dr. Marburger is right and science cannot supply the proof that human life starts at conception, then the president's position is based only on his particular religious faith. If so, the president would be wrong to deny the rest of America that does not share his faith the vast potential benefits of embryonic stem cells.”

Karen on 06.20.05 @ 05:55 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Fight at Your own Risk...

Someone Else’s Child by Bob Herbert (NY Times), reflects on “how you win a war that your country doesn't want to fight.”.

And makes one “wonder” how eager G.W. would have been to invade Iraq if he had not two college aged daughters, but two sons - (Jim and Bill instead of Jenna and Barbara):

”…. [F]rom the very start of this war the loudest of the flag-waving hawks were those who were safely beyond military age themselves and were unwilling to send their own children off to fight.

It's easy to be macho when you have nothing at risk. The hawks want the war to be fought with other people's children, while their own children go safely off to college, or to the mall. The number of influential American officials who have children in uniform in Iraq is minuscule.

Most Americans want no part of Mr. Bush's war, which is why Army recruiters are failing so miserably at meeting their monthly enlistment quotas. Desperate, the Army is lowering its standards, shortening tours, increasing bonuses and violating its own recruitment regulations and ethical guidelines.
Americans do not want to fight this war.

The president and these home-front warriors got us into this war and now they don't know how to get us out. Nor do they have a satisfactory answer to the important ethical question: how do you justify sending other people's children off to fight while keeping a cloak of protection around your own kids?…”

Karen on 06.20.05 @ 05:36 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Dry as Bonz

It hasn’t rained but a few fake drops in weeks around here – as this article, Municipalities crack down on water violators (by Eric Schelkopf – Kane County Chronicle) explains:

”If you are watering your lawn, you had better make sure you are doing it on the right day.

Municipalities are cracking down on lawn-watering violators in the face of dry conditions. And no significant rain is in the forecast for the next several days.

The average 6 inches of rain that fell across Illinois from March through May was about half the normal rate, yielding the fourth-driest spring on record, said Jim Angel, state climatologist with the Illinois Water Survey. May averaged less than 2 inches, the sixth driest.

Most municipalities in central Kane County have lawn-watering regulations.

These regulations, in most cases, limit watering with an unattended sprinkler to between 6 a.m. and 9 a.m. and again between 6 p.m. and 9 p.m. Those with an even-numbered address can water on an even-numbered day, and those with an odd-numbered address can water on an odd-numbered day.

Hand watering is permitted at all times except in South Elgin, where residents who live east of Randall Road only are permitted to hand-water their lawns, plantings, flowers and trees on odd-numbered and even-numbered days, depending on their address….”

Bleh!! - Yet another housey job in these dry, dry conditions. Need to start doing that “rain dance.”

Karen on 06.20.05 @ 05:25 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Thought for the Day:

Brain: Do you realize what we will do with this pollen, Pinky?
Pinky: Ummm... open a boutique?
Brain: Yes, that's it. We'll open a boutique and sell ladies' clothing and pollen.
--"Pinky and the Brain"

Len on 06.19.05 @ 10:45 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Thought for the Day:

Favorite Sayings: "There's a sucker born every minute, and two to take him." This may have been true in the past, but now, if you adjust for the increased population base, birth control, and the so-called moral decline, not only are there five suckers born every minute, there are now fifty-three to take him. "Life is short." Sorry. Life is not short, it's just that since everything else lasts so long--mountains, rivers, stars, planets--life seems short. Actually life lasts just the right amount of time. Until you die. Death on the other hand, is short.
--George Carlin

Len on 06.18.05 @ 06:07 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Not Your Regular "Green Eggs and Ham"...

Check out this Capital Steps Dr. Seuss version of the story of “Deep Throat.”.

I have tickets to see the Capital Steps on July 2nd at the Hemmens Center in Elgin, Illinois.

Should be great fun!!

Karen on 06.18.05 @ 12:50 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Black Holes...

Found this FAB picture of an art work (in the Chicago Tribune Entertainment/Arts Section) entitled "BlackHole":

blackhole (14k image)

Karen on 06.18.05 @ 12:47 AM CST [link] [ | ]

American marketing...

Having been here numerous times and knowing it's impossible to not see the ubiquitous red shopping bags with smiling young girls mudges in tow, I thought this one was Priceless:Dad braves American Girl Place by Michael Bologna (Special to the Chicago Tribune):

"Mark Twain once said, "There are two kinds of people in this world: those who would prefer an afternoon at American Girl Place and those who would prefer an extended root canal without benefit of anesthetic at the hands of a second-year dental student."

I've had the dental student experience, so I decided to test Twain's insight by opting for a father-daughter afternoon at AG Place, a slick doll emporium, theater, restaurant and shrine for young girls located just steps from the Water Tower and North Michigan Avenue.

AG Place has had its share of detractors since opening in 1998. It has been criticized as being commercial and self-indulgent. Activists in Pilsen were upset when AG published a book in which the parents of Mexican-American doll Marisol, concerned about their daughter's safety, decide to move from Pilsen to Des Plaines.

In light of such controversy, I let my daughter Grace and her trusty $100 doll Kit guide me through the AG subculture.

(I should note that this mission was almost dead on arrival. A call to the reservations hot line revealed that the musical show had been sold out for weeks as well as the cafe's afternoon tea. Finally, the clerk squeezed us in for lunch the following week, and I paid a $2.50 reservation fee.)

At the age of 8, Grace loves a lot of things--soccer, ballet and fishing to name a few--but there is a special place in her heart for her one and only AG doll. When we arrived, our waiter Carlos asked if there were any special requirements for Kit. Grace requested a small chair and a cup and saucer. Grace loved the attention from Carlos and fussed over Kit as if she were a long-lost sorority sister meeting her for lunch. I was definitely the third wheel at this reunion, but it was cute to watch.

While Grace served Kit a hot beverage, I scanned the room. There were approximately 100 people in the cafe and 55 dolls. Most were girls with adult female supervision. I saw a handful of poorly behaved boys and darn few fathers. I appeared to be the only man unattended by a woman. I ate the only slightly guy thing on the menu, the "Cafe Turkey Burger." Thankfully, Kit agreed to simply snack off of our plates. With tip, the unremarkable meal set us back $45.

Grace and I asked Carlos if he'd ever witnessed anything unusual in the store. He pointed to a memorable incident involving a fist fight between two 6-year-old girls following an argument over which was prettiest.

After lunch we roamed the store and the AG museum in the basement observing the dolls, clothes and books. Grace certainly enjoyed seeing the latest fashions and accessories and she told me stories about the different dolls based on her previous experience with the books. But she was offended as a consumer, commenting at one point, "these prices are just ridiculous."

There's Nellie's spring party dress ($22), Kaya's teepee and bedroll ($94) and Marisol's "born to dance" performance trunk ($48). We also noticed a dozen girls queuing to have their dolls' hair coifed (between $10 and $40). The only thing we ultimately purchased was a glossy photo of Grace and Kit presented to look like the cover of AG magazine ($20).

I ultimately felt very conflicted about the experience. The consumerism certainly bothered me as a parent. On the other hand, the dolls and their personalities told stories about friendship, courage and integrity. I could also see that my daughter cherished the experience, and what kind of father would I be if I censored the sheer joy of being a girl?

In this respect, the AG experience was nothing like a trip to the dentist."

For those of you who have never been to American Girl Place, it's a marketing experience extraordinaire. I recommend it for that piece of Americana alone. :-)

Karen on 06.18.05 @ 12:45 AM CST [link] [ | ]

History in the making...

We Are Our History -- Don't Forget It by David Gelernter (LA Times):

”Not knowing history is worse than ignorance of math, literature or almost anything else. Ignorance of history is undermining Western society's ability to talk straight and think straight. Parents must attack the problem by teaching their own children the facts. Only fools would rely on the schools.

My son told me about a high school event that (at first) I didn't understand. A girl in his English class praised the Vietnam War-era draft dodgers: "If I'd lived at that time and been drafted," she said, "I would've gone to Canada too."

I thought she was merely endorsing the anti-war position. But my son set me straight. This student actually believed that if she had lived at the time, she might have been drafted. She didn't understand that conscription in the United States has always applied to males only. How could she have known? Our schools teach history ideologically. They teach the message, not the truth. They teach history as if males and females have always played equal roles. They are propaganda machines.

Ignorance of history destroys our judgment….”

This is a problem as much as the revisionist historians in our midst who seek to recast, remould and rewrite event to their liking and fit their world view.

Scary stuff to be sure.

Karen on 06.17.05 @ 03:19 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Avast Ye Pirates...Ahoy..

The McLauchlan Family Reunion - which will be held this week in Colorado (wherein I am getting a "Reverse Mom Holiday" to do housey stuff and Have Fun at Home Without Everybody) - will be the attendance of Uncle Jack Berkey.

Captain Jack will be flying the Infamous Skull and Cross Bones on any sailing jaunts taken by the merry crew. So, in honor of his Supreme Pirate-ness, I found this over at Rum & Monkey: And using my Jihasit Name, I entered this:

What kind of pirate am I? You decide!
You can also view a breakdown of results or put one of these on your own page!
Brought to you by Rum and Monkey

UPDATE: And "speaking of Women Pirates" I Forgot about this set of" Pirates Gals" pictured over at "Thought Not" Blog (and Oliver works at an art gallery - So That's where these pictures came from!!!) But be Warned; They're not yer Grandfather's Pirate Pictures!!! LOL

Karen on 06.17.05 @ 01:22 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Speaking of slide rules....

Earlier I was lamenting the death of the slide rule. For those of you who want to relive old times, you can find a gallery of working virtual slide rules. By the miracle of JavaScript, just drag the various components, and refresh your skills with a slipstick.

Len on 06.17.05 @ 12:16 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Yuk o'the Day:

How many surrealists does it take to change a light bulb? The fish!

Len on 06.17.05 @ 08:08 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Dammit, I'm late to the party, as usual....

Josh Schulz, one of my partners in crime over at The Birdwatch (as little as I've posted there because of other commitments and lack of inspiration, can I really call myself a partner in crime there, or more of an unindicted co-conspirator?), and his wife Kim celebrated the first birthday of their daughter, Kyra, an occasion made more joyous by the fact that apparently the delivery was a bit touch and go there for a little bit. My belated best wishes for a very happy birthday to the birthday girl, and to the proud parents.

Of course, in his birthday post Josh had to go link to his Flickr photostream, and of course once there I couldn't resist poking about in it. Thus, I learned that Josh is the first person of my acquaintance to not only take, but to save on the Web for all the world to see, a photograph of his wife's placenta post-delivery. I have to praise such demented genius....

In case your mouse finger is running ahead of your brain, I'll point out that the placenta pic is labelled "Gross", and some might just find it that (as for me, I spent too many hours as an assistant public defender poring over autopsy photographs to find a mere placenta particularly distressing). You Have Been Warned.....

Len on 06.17.05 @ 07:06 AM CST [link] [ | ]

"I'll spend some on loose women and Irish whisky. The rest I'll just squander." --Tug McGraw

... on what he intended to do with a signing bonus. Speaking of squandering....

It certainly appears that, rather than spending that political capital he said he'd earned, President Bush has pretty well squandered it. The CBS story listed notes how Bush's poll numbers are pretty well in the tank:

After his election victory, President Bush said he had earned political capital and he planned to spend it. But six months into his second term, that capital appears to be all but gone.

In a CBS News/New York Times poll out Thursday, more than half the public disapproves of the job he's doing. And it gets worse from there:
  • Only 39 percent approve of his handling of the economy.
  • Only 39 percent approve of his handling of foreign policy.
  • Only 37 percent approve of his handling of the war in Iraq.
  • Only 25 percent approve of his handling of Social Security.
  • Only the campaign against terrorism gets the approval of more than half those questioned.
Oh well, I guess the public is entitled to one blind spot....

Actually, the thought occurs to me that Bush's "political capital" was pretty much nonexistent. I'm not sure that the majority of voters who cast their ballots for the Bush/Cheney ticket really were voting for Bush, as much as they were voting against Sen. Kerry, on the principle that they were going to go with the lesser of two evils (I'd characterize choosing Bush over Kerry as going for the evil of two lessers, myself, but we all know how I feel about The Crawford Village Idiot...). Despite Bush's attempt to characterize it otherwise, that's not much in the way of "political capital" to spend. And you'd think that the Chimp in Chief would begin to realize something, namely that we as a nation didn't put him in office because we're just wild about his policies and his vision of what America should be....

Thanks to Bryan at Why Now? for pointing me in the direction of the CBS News poll...

Len on 06.17.05 @ 06:47 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Great days in American History....

today is the 64th anniversary of the introduction of Cheerios.

Go crazy; have a bowl to celebrate.

Len on 06.17.05 @ 06:33 AM CST [link] [ | ]

BSTommy says it all....

in an admirable (for its brevity) review of Batman Begins:

I Have Seen the Batman....

...And it is Good.

Len on 06.17.05 @ 06:32 AM CST [link] [ | ]

The timing just has to be right....

I'll warn Karen not to click on the link here, since there's a prominent picture of an open-mouthed shark right there by the first paragraph, but for the rest o'you pop culture afficionados not disabled by selachophobia, Slate's "Summer Movies Week" features an interesting review of an unfortunately neglected sub-genre (the shark attack thriller): Sharksploitation! Jaws and the sad decline of the shark movie. An interesting analysis of why, despite the incredible success of Jaws there has been such a depressing dearth of sharks ripping apart hapless humans in movies.

All considerations of pacing and characterization aside, Jaws' success seems like a matter of timing—the movie worked because technology was just good enough to make the shark, and pre-CGI audiences were just green enough to scream at him.

Len on 06.17.05 @ 05:56 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Thought for the Day:

There are few things more miserable than the red-eye flight back to anywhere from Las Vegas, especially when you're unable to sleep and the movie playing is The Wedding Date (starring Debra Messing and Dermot "Hey, This is My Second Shitty Movie with 'Wedding' in the Title" Mulroney in a reverse twist on Pretty Woman's "whore makes good" theme). Continental also, for some reason, really enjoys taking off from one terminal (C) and landing at another one (E), necessitating a 3/4-mile walk to get to one's car.

But you don't want to hear about that. You want to know about [a] all the money I won, [b] the booze I drank, and [c] the colorful personalities I met during my adventures in Vegas. These can be addressed pretty easily: [a] $12 on a Star Wars slot machine, [b] beer, mostly, and [c] none, after Friday.

Wasn't up for gambling most of the time I was there, for some reason. I've come to the conclusion that casinos disturb me, and not just for the legions of zombie tourists playing the slot machines arrayed in ranks around the creamy nougat center of craps and blackjack tables. No, I think this it's because this is one of the first times I ever spent a significant amount of time outside while in Vegas. And after taking in the "scenery" at the Palms hotel pool or the view from the Ghostbar, subjecting yourself to the unending parade of blinking lights and droning beeps and whistles inside is somehow not so appetizing.

Another creepy thing all of us in attendance noticed: the entire city of Vegas seems to be on the same soundtrack. Every casino, club, and party we went to played the same goddamn songs, even if there was an alleged DJ present. Worse, all seemed to be roughly one year old. There was that one about not being a "holla back girl," whatever the hell that means, and also the one by some girl who claims her milkshake brings "all the goys to the barn," or something. Fairly innocuous, you say? Not 50 times over the course of two days.

I mean, I always assumed Vegas (the Strip, especially) was this massive networked series of gaming and security systems, all run by some vaguely Yog-Sothothian being housed in a giant cave under Nellis Air Force Base. I just wasn't expecting it to be confirmed so conclusively.
--Pete Vonder Haar [on his trip to CineVegas]

Len on 06.17.05 @ 05:31 AM CST [link] [ | ]

And...About Helping those Women to get a leg up in the World

"The following is a statement of Population Connection:

We are very disappointed by today's vote in the U.S. House against restoring U.S. aid to the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA). The Maloney amendment offered a chance for Congress to stand up and say that it will not tolerate the deliberate misuse of human rights law to punish an organization that is working to promote human rights.

Ignoring the findings of a host of respected international monitors, and the advice of its own three-person fact finding team, the Bush administration has withheld funding to UNFPA for three years in a row. The decision has undermined UNFPA's efforts to bring basic reproductive health care and voluntary family planning to women and families in nearly 150 countries. The administration is harming efforts to prevent and treat obstetric fistula, to end the horrific practice of female genital mutilation, to increase the availability of contraceptives and yes, to improve human rights in China.

But, if the president were interested in actually improving the lives of women in China, rather than in blocking support for international family planning programs, he would be leading the charge for increased support for UNFPA. Every legitimate investigation of the UNFPA program in China has reported the same thing: the agency is the most effective force for positive change within the Chinese population program. Only UNFPA has gotten the Chinese government to moderate its oppressive one-child policy and to agree to unfettered independent investigation of accusations of coercion.

Indeed, UNFPA's program in China is specifically designed to move the government away from coercion and toward a more rights- based approach. In areas that UNFPA works, abortion rates have fallen dramatically, and women are offered more choice -- and that approach is spreading to other areas of China. Problems still remain within the government program and abuses almost certainly still occur. But that means the U.S. should restore its support to the one agency advocating human rights within China instead of refusing to help."

Courtesy of US News Wire.

Karen on 06.17.05 @ 05:21 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Those Better Aptitudes...

Aptitude Adjustment by Richard Cohen (Washington Post) is yet another entry in the Men/Women Debate over aptitude and intrinsic qualities suitable for certain abilities.

”….I cannot be certain that Lawrence Summers, the president of Harvard, has read the article. But if he did, I bet he wondered why it is possible to suggest that certain Jews are smarter than other people but not remotely possible to suggest that women might not be as brilliant in science and engineering as men. When Summers did precisely that back in January -- when he wondered out loud about such matters as "intrinsic aptitude" -- he got his head handed to him. He was not, mind you, stating this as a fact -- just throwing it out along with other factors that might account for why men outnumber women on the science, engineering and math faculties of first-rate universities. What he did not do -- and this was his mistake -- was limit the possibilities to the only politically correct one: sexual discrimination of one sort or another.

But if Jews could adapt to their environment in a certain way, why couldn't women or men? After all, to the eye, there is no distinction between a Jew of European origin and a non-Jew of European origin -- or even a Jew of non-European origin. Yet to that same eye, there is plenty to distinguish a man from a woman. They have bodies designed for different things. If, as the Utah scientists propose, Jews adapted to their environment to produce better businessmen (and not better farmers or soldiers), then why couldn't men or women have adapted to their particular environments in a similar way? Maybe -- just maybe -- there's a link between not being able to express your feelings and solving Fermat's Last Theorem? (Notice the question mark.) I understand full well that beliefs in racial or ethnic superiority or inferiority have accounted for tragedies beyond comprehension -- everything from the Holocaust in Europe to slavery in America. But at root, these were ideologies in which facts either did not matter or were concocted to serve a predetermined end. This is what happened with Summers. He was shouted down not because he was wrong, but because he ought to be wrong; not because he might not be right, but because he should not be right. It did not matter to many of his critics that at least since the 1980s, researchers have found boys doing better at math than girls -- not all boy and all girls, mind you, just those at the highest ranges of achievement. Among the very best, boys are the very bestest.”

But what I’ve suggested is that while it’s most possible that Women would not be much better suited (on the whole) to outperform Men at Math…they would be suited to do a MUCH Better Job of running the World.

We’ve had – what? – four thousand years of male dominated Nations (kingdoms, empires, villages, communities, whatever…) and the world really isn’t that much better off to the degree of peaceful cooperation and functioning than it was during the Egyptian consolidation of Upper and Lower Mesopotamia, the Roman expansion of the Empire, the Huns invading Europe, the Crusades, WWI, WWII or our now WWIII (as some call our “War on Terrorism”).

So, for those of you who haven’t followed my occasional megalomaniac rants:

It’s Time to Let Women Run the World.

Hey, it couldn’t be half as bad the Crap going on today – and might just be a Whole Lot Better!!!

Karen on 06.17.05 @ 05:07 AM CST [link] [ | ]

June Jolity

Yet another Friday in June – It’s been so horribly DRY – No rain here for weeks and weeks. Should be doing a Rain Dance instead. However, here’s my meditational moment to share today:

Juvenescent June Jives Justifying Joyousness

Everyone is invited to join me as we make our way into the weekend. *grin*

Karen on 06.17.05 @ 04:29 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Apropos of "The Big Fight"....

which Karen mentioned earlier (the Mike Tyson-Kevin McBride bout which seems to have ended Tyson's career), I was surfing past the MSN website when I saw a link with this text associated with it: "McBride: 'Tyson bit my nipple'".

That is really way more than I needed to know....

Len on 06.16.05 @ 08:03 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Dr. Abby's Dad rocks!

As Abby notes that her dad has weighed in on the situation with Zach, the Memphis area teen who, after coming out to them as being gay, has been placed by his parents with "Love in Action", a program which purports to "normalize" homosexuals (I'm unsuccessfully trying my best not to refer to it as a "homosexual re-education camp"... ok, now I've got that out of the way). I hope Abby doesn't mind me quoting it in full; it's one of the best commentaries on the situation I've read. Abby's dad (who, IIRC, is a psychiatrist by profession) wrote this email to Love in Action, when he learned of their planned press conference this morning:

TN Mental Illness Law

"Press Conference: LIA will be hosting a press conference on Thursday, June 16, 2005 at 11 a.m. at our facility at 4780 Yale Road. "

At your press conference, please bring the evidence to show that Zach has been involuntarily committed to treatment at your facility for a mental illness as defined above under the laws of the State of Tennessee, and that your facility is licensed to manage such cases. We’re not interested in what you "think." We’re interested in the legality of what you "do."

Abby’s Dad, M.D
If you're trying to keep tabs on the situation, you probably should be keeping an eye on: E.J. at Cherry Blossom Special (UPDATE: E.J. notes that he attended the press conference this morning; expect a report from him in the next 12-24 hours, I'd wager), The Pesky Fly over at The Flypaper Theory (in his post on this Pesky mentions that the Memphis Flyer had a reporter there, though unfortunately that reporter wasn't him), autoegocrat at the River City Mud Company (who posed two interesting questions for Smid and Co.), and Dr. Abby at Adventures with Dr. Lady Cutie Troublemaker. All of them have been providing regular updates as the situation warrants.

Len on 06.16.05 @ 07:01 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Doing my part for Memphis Tourism...

Via Dr. Abby, I was referred to a "travel-wiki" page about Memphis. Dr. Abby urges us to add our contributions, so the Memphis entry will be useful.

I've added my two cents worth (well, actually two sentences). Anyone want to guess which two sentences they are?

Len on 06.16.05 @ 12:30 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Hmmmmm... I might go just for the novelty value...

During a weekend when I should be going to see Batman Begins (probably not though; plans are in the works to spend a good chunk of Saturday/Sunday with a friend, so I may be scarce--well, more scarce than usual--this weekend), my brain will probably be burning idle clock cycles wrapping itself around this:

"Logline: Sometimes even a small crime can pay off big!

Genre: Action / Crime

Synopsis: A Coen Brothers styled crime caper about a down and out ex-boxer, who stumbles upon a robbery being planned by a trio of ex-carnys (a dwarf, a sideshow strongman, and a lady fortune-teller)."
To quote famed philosopher Han Solo, "I've got a bad feeling about this...." Really, about the only folks I know who can pull off a Coen Brothers styled crime caper adequately are the Coen brothers themselves, and some of the critical reception of their latest work suggests that maybe even they aren't up to it anymore (see, e.g., the "rotten" that The Ladykillers got at Rotten Tomatoes; though frankly I agreed with James Berardinelli's assessment myself. Then again my taste has always been remarkably similar to Berardinelli's, so no surprise there).

Len on 06.16.05 @ 10:23 AM CST [link] [ | ]

More audio blogging....

by my favorite recovering lawyer and poet, MadKane.... Today's installment: Lynching Is Bad? Who Knew?. Link to the audio version is at the bottom of the post.

Len on 06.16.05 @ 10:08 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Apropos of the Kraftwerk concert.....

A member of the ANTENNA mail list has noted that he's uploaded a few photos of their recent concert in Venice (June 11, 2005) at: http://www.settemarzo.it/download.html. There are also a few audio and video files of earlier Kraftwerk appearances as well.

Len on 06.16.05 @ 08:50 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Never let it be said....

that we never got something for our space program dollars:

Sunset on Mars, courtesy of a Mars Rover. If this piques your interest, you can read more about this picture here.

Len on 06.16.05 @ 08:41 AM CST [link] [ | ]

How does my name get on these lists?

Today's "Fun with the Spam Folder" entry: an email with the subject line, "Pill to improve cum flavour".

This is depressing. Depressing because, frankly, the flavour (or flavor, if you prefer) of my...um... secretions is a matter of pressing interest to..... nobody.

Though it does bring back a few memories of when I was in graduate school, and had enough time that I could maintain a presence on USENET, including several newsgroups in the alt.sex.* hierarchy. I think it was in alt.sex proper, back in 1995 when we had a very interesting discussion of the effect of various foods and beverages on the flavor of semen.... Supposedly, regularly drinking Dr. Pepper is supposed to make one's man juices quite flavorful (I have to confess here that all my information on this question is, at minimum, third hand....).

Any of our enterprising readership who wants to draw up a research protocol can get in touch with me privately. I might have a few connections that might get us some grant money. All I want is credit as prime investigator and lead author; I'll even let someone else on the research team have all the fun (after all, someone on this project needs to remain detached...).


Len on 06.16.05 @ 08:27 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Thought for the Day:

As Bush's undersecretary for arms control for the nearly four years since 9/11, Bolton has had an epic chance to show that he gets the picture. Policing weapons of mass destruction is an increasingly important non-zero-sum game, something that many nations have a stake in and that can succeed only with the cooperation of many nations. Thus, Bolton could have championed international agreements that make weapons facilities abroad, as well as potentially nefarious "dual-use" industrial facilities abroad, more transparent. Instead, he has opposed such initiatives because, under them, American facilities would undergo the same monitoring as foreign facilities. (I cited specific examples in an op-ed last month.)

At the root of this stance is Bolton's conception of national sovereignty—his belief that America can best control its destiny by eschewing constraints on its behavior. What he seems not to grasp is that non-zero-sum dynamics typically make controlling your own destiny impossible in the absence of cooperation with others; and cooperation with others typically means agreeing to do certain things in exchange for their agreement to do certain things.

I'm not just talking about "agreeing to do things" in a legalistic way. There is also the informal logrolling among nations that is a prerequisite for making the U.N. a vehicle for American interests. On that first video, Bolton says the United States should only "make" the U.N. work "when it wants it to work." But since 14 other nations have a Security Council vote, and four of them have a veto, we can never make it work without someone else's support. And sometimes making it work in ways that are important to us but less important to others will mean agreeing to help, say, Britain or China make it work sometime down the road in ways that are important to them and not obnoxious to us. If you take another look at that Bolton video, you'll get the distinct impression that this sort of dynamic is alien to him. The U.N., he seems to believe, should be briefly animated on those occasions when it directly serves vital American interests and should spend all other moments as a corpse. ("There is no United Nations," as the nominee for U.N. ambassador puts it.)

Or, if you don't want to look at the video, look at Bolton's life. His defenders dismiss as irrelevant the parade of former colleagues who have testified that he is an abrasive, abusive, bullying creep. But what does it mean when most people who have worked with a person dislike him? It probably means he has a highly zero-sum view of the social landscape and thus misses the opportunity to profitably play non-zero-sum games (i.e., make and keep friends). And it means he misses the same point that Bolton misses in the context of the U.N.: It's not enough to seek allies when suddenly some multilateral project is really important to you; you have to have built alliances by helping allies on projects that are important to them. Building international support, like building social support, is a long-term project, best left in the hands of people who understand this.

Now Bolton, in having to scramble desperately to secure confirmation, is paying for all the enemies he's made in Washington. To some extent America is in the same position. Under President Bush it has made more enemies than it had to, because his foreign policy has been counterproductively unilateralist and gratuitously antagonistic. But there is hope that Bush has turned over a new leaf. He vowed to nurture alliances in his second term, and his inaugural address tied America's welfare to the welfare of people abroad.

Sen. John Kyl, R-Ariz., says the "character assassination" of Bolton is intended to provide a "smokescreen" for the real aim of Bolton opponents—opposition to Bush's foreign policy. But if Bush is telling the truth about his hopes for multilateral cooperation, Bolton won't serve Bush's foreign policy; he'll just make us more enemies. And all that "character assassination"—evidence that Bolton doesn't know how to pursue self-interest at the individual, much less national, level—explains why.
--Robert Wright

Len on 06.16.05 @ 08:02 AM CST [link] [ | ]

More "David Brooks Get it Wrong Again on Class Musings"...

Ahh...here we go again with the alter-ego of the nefarious David Brooks attempting to re-write all 50’s and 60’s history right up to the present day with his own personal “let’s attack them Liberals with a bunch of false crap” in this one: Joe Strauss to Joe Six-Pack.

”….If you read Time and Newsweek from the 1950's and early 1960's, you discover they were pitched at middle-class people across the country who aspired to have the same sorts of conversations as the New York and Boston elite.

The magazines would devote pages to the work of theologians like Abraham Joshua Heschel or Reinhold Niebuhr. They devoted as much space to opera as to movies because an educated person was expected to know something about opera, even if that person had no prospect of actually seeing one.

Middlebrow culture was killed in the late 50's and 60's, and the mortal blows came from opposite directions. The intellectuals launched assaults on what they took to be middlebrow institutions, attacks that are so vicious they take your breath away.

Clement Greenberg called the middlebrow an "insidious" force that was "devaluing the precious, infecting the healthy, corrupting the honest and stultifying the wise." Dwight Macdonald lambasted the "tepid ooze" of the Museum of Modern Art and the plays of Thornton Wilder. Basically, these intellectuals objected to the earnest and optimistic middle-class arrivistes who were tromping over everything and dumbing down their turf.

At the same time, pop culture changed. It was no longer character-oriented; it was personality-oriented. Readers felt less of a need to go outside themselves to absorb works of art as a means of self-improvement. They were more interested in exploring and being true to the precious flower of their own individual selves.

Less Rembrandt, more Me. Fewer theologians, more dietitians….”

But luckily we have David’s own tortured, "Alice Through The Looking Glass" recreational drug-induced stupor of words from back in 2004 before the Nov. Election to bash him upside his pointy little-pinhead:
“…there are two sorts of people in the information-age elite, spreadsheet people and paragraph people. Spreadsheet people work with numbers, wear loafers and support Republicans. Paragraph people work with prose, don't shine their shoes as often as they should and back Democrats.

C.E.O.'s are classic spreadsheet people. According to a sample gathered by PoliticalMoneyLine in July, the number of C.E.O.'s donating funds to Bush's campaign is five times the number donating to Kerry's.

Professors, on the other hand, are classic paragraph people and lean Democratic. Eleven academics gave to the Kerry campaign for every 1 who gave to Bush's. Actors like paragraphs, too, albeit short ones. Almost 18 actors gave to Kerry for every 1 who gave to Bush. For self-described authors, the ratio was about 36 to 1. Among journalists, there were 93 Kerry donors for every Bush donor. For librarians, who must like Faulknerian, sprawling paragraphs, the ratio of Kerry to Bush donations was a whopping 223 to 1.

Laura Bush has a lot of work to do in shoring up her base.

Data from the Center for Responsive Politics allows us to probe the emerging class alignments, but the pattern is the same. Number people and word people are moving apart.

Accountants, whose relationship with numbers verges on the erotic, are now heavily Republican. Back in the early 1990's, accountants gave mostly to Democrats, but now they give twice as much to the party of Lincoln. Similarly, in the early 1990's, bankers gave equally to the two parties. Now they give mostly to Republicans, though one notices that employees at big banks, like Citigroup and Bank of America, are more likely to give to Democrats.

But lawyers - people who didn't realize that they wanted to be novelists until their student loan burdens were already too heavy - are shifting the other way. This year, lawyers gave about $81 million to Democrats and about $31 million to Republicans.

Media types are Democratic, of course, but one is dismayed to learn that two-thirds of employee donations at Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation went to Democrats. Whatever happened to company loyalty?

If you look at the big Kerry donors, you realize that the days of the starving intellectual are over. University of California employees make up the single biggest block of Kerry donors and Harvard employees are second, topping folks from Goldman Sachs and others in the supposedly sell-out/big-money professions.

Academics have had such an impact on the Democratic donor base because there is less intellectual diversity in academia than in any other profession. All but 1 percent of the campaign donations made by employees of William & Mary College went to Democrats. In the Harvard crowd, Democrats got 96 percent of the dollars. At M.I.T., it was 94 percent. Yale is a beacon of freethinking by comparison; 8 percent of its employee donations went to Republicans.

It should be noted there are some professions that span the spreadsheet-people/paragraph-people divide. For example, lobbyists give equally to both parties. (Could it possibly be that lobbyists don't have principles?) And casino people split their giving, with employees at Harrah's giving mostly to Democrats and employees at MGM Mirage giving mostly to Republicans.

Why have the class alignments shaken out as they have? There are a couple of theories. First there is the intellectual affiliation theory. Numerate people take comfort in the false clarity that numbers imply, and so also admire Bush's speaking style. Paragraph people, meanwhile, relate to the postmodern, post-Cartesian, deconstructionist, co-directional ambiguity of Kerry's Iraq policy.

I subscribe, however, to the mondo-neo-Marxist theory of information-age class conflict. According to this view, people who majored in liberal arts subjects like English and history naturally loathe people who majored in econ, business and the other "hard" fields. This loathing turns political in adult life and explains just about everything you need to know about political conflict today.

It should be added that not everybody fits predictably into the political camp indicated by a profession…”

So, let’s see…who’s really responsible for a the cultural malaise of a country listening to a “dumbed down President” who can’t talk his way out a paper bag at any press conferences without Jeff Gannon to “help” him out on any issue, let alone responsible for the attacks on the “middlebrow culture” according to David’s trite little piece of anaylsis???

Oh, and let’s not forget the all out rape, ravage plunder and destroy assault on our national educational budget and educational Pell Grants by the GOP and Team Bush. The “Let’s Spend us into Deficit Overdrive to Create My War Legacy Priorities” bAdministration.

Remember those things…Pell Grants? Money from our government to actually allow them middle class and lower income folk to AFFORD to send their kids to get a college education to become even passingly familiar with this “loss of culture among the middlebrow” Dear David laments so poetically!!

And which GOP Budgets have systematically year after year cut with the same slash and burn pen – all endowment programs with an approach to winnowing this middle-class. The main agenda being to the improving [via tax cuts and legislative efforts like the Bankruptcy Act, the Death Tax Ac, Soc Sec. Privatization accounts, etc.] the conditions for the very rich and creating [in increasing numbers] the ranks of the very poor.

So, get you history and facts correct, David Brooks, when you wish to point fingers at the sorry state of the national culture and educational opportunities for these learned skills.

Karen on 06.16.05 @ 06:18 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Feeling Safer Yet??

Airport Security's Grand Illusion By Anne Applebaum (Washington Post):

"...By their own account, federal screeners have intercepted "7 million prohibited items." But of that number, only 600 were firearms. So, according to the calculations of economist Veronique de Rugy, 99.992 percent of intercepted items were nail scissors, cigarette lighters, penknives and the like.

Yet this mass ceremonial sacrifice of toenail clippers on the altar of security comes at an extraordinarily high price. The annual budget of the federal Transportation Security Administration hovers around $5.5 billion -- just about the same price as the entire FBI -- a figure that doesn't include the cost of wasted time. De Rugy reckons that if 624 million passengers each spend two hours every year waiting in line, the annual loss to the economy comes to $32 billion. There has also been a price to pay in waste, since when that much money is rubbed into a problem with that kind of speed -- remember, the TSA had only 13 employees in January 2002 -- a lot of it gets misspent. In the case of the TSA, that waste includes $350,000 for a gym, $500,000 for artwork and silk plants at the agency's new operations center, and $461,000 for its first-birthday party. More to the point, the agency has spent millions, even billions, on technology that is inappropriate or outdated.

In fact, better security didn't have to cost that much. Probably the most significant measure taken in the past four years was one funded not by the government but by the airline industry, which put bulletproof doors on its cockpits at the relatively low price of $300 million to $500 million over 10 years.

In extremely blunt terms, that means that while it may still be possible to blow up a plane (and murder 150 people), it is now virtually impossible to drive a plane into an office building (and murder thousands). By even the crudest cost-benefit risk analysis, bulletproof cockpit doors, which nobody notices, have the potential to save far more lives, at a far lower cost per life, than the screeners who open your child's backpack and your grandmother's purse while you stand around in your socks waiting for them to finish.

But, then, this isn't a country that has ever been good at risk analysis. If it were, we would never have invented the TSA at all. Instead, we would have taken that $5.5 billion, doubled the FBI's budget, and set up a questioning system that identifies potentially suspicious passengers, as the Israelis do. Even now, it's not too late to abolish the TSA, create a federal training program for airport screeners, and then let private companies worry about how many people to hire, which technology to buy and how long the tables in front of the X-ray machines should be (that last issue being featured in a recent government report). But every time that suggestion is made in Congress, someone denounces the plan as a "privatization" of our security and a sellout.

Which is why I conclude that we don't actually want value for money. No, we want every passenger to have the chance to recite that I-packed-these-bags-myself mantra to a uniformed official before boarding an airplane. Magic words, it seems, are what make Americans feel really safe."

Karen on 06.16.05 @ 04:48 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Lions, and Tigers, and Bears...Oh, MY!!!

Ya think this is a good idea????

"IFAW (International Fund for Animal Welfare http://www.ifaw.org) today announced that Kentucky has passed a amendment that would ban certain types of dangerous exotic pets. The initiative is one supported by IFAW and other animal welfare groups.

Kentucky's regulation prohibits pet ownership of dangerous animals such as elephants, lions, bears, tigers, rhinos, leopards and certain primates. People who currently own these animals will be allowed to keep them as pets but are prohibited from breeding them or obtaining new ones. The ban does not apply to circuses or zoos.

There are an estimated 10,000 tigers being kept as pets in the United States alone, more than twice the number left in the wild worldwide. There is no federal law that prohibits owning a tiger or lion as a pet. IFAW has been working state by state to strengthen laws regarding exotic pet ownership. Since 1990 pet tigers have killed 11 people and mauled 60 others.

"Exotic pet ownership is out of control in the United States and stronger laws and regulations - like the one Kentucky just passed - are the first step in controlling this situation," said Sarah Wry, Program Manager for IFAW.

About IFAW (International Fund for Animal Welfare)

IFAW works to improve the welfare of wild and domestic animals throughout the world by reducing commercial exploitation of animals, protecting wildlife habitats and assisting animals in distress. IFAW seeks to motivate the public to prevent cruelty to animals and to promote animal welfare and conservation policies that advance the well being of both animals and people. IFAW is headquartered in Yarmouth Port, MA, and has offices in 15 countries worldwide."

Courtesy of US News Wire.

Karen on 06.16.05 @ 04:28 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Recalls in the works...

If you own one of these Volkswagons:

" WASHINGTON, June 15 /U.S. Newswire/ -- Volkswagen will pay $1.1 million to resolve its failure to promptly notify EPA and to correct a defective oxygen sensor affecting at least 329,000 of their 1999, 2000 and 2001 Golfs, Jettas, and New Beetles, federal officials announced today. This is the largest civil penalty to date for this type of violation.

As part of this settlement, Volkswagen completed a voluntary recall of the affected vehicles at a cost of over $26 million. Vehicles with the defect may release thousands of tons of harmful pollutants including nonmethane hydrocarbons (NMHC) and carbon monoxide (CO). NMHC are key reactants in the production of ozone, a major contributor to cancer-causing smog. CO impairs breathing and is especially harmful to children, people with asthma, and the elderly.

"Reliable and effective automobile pollution control systems are an important part of this nation's air pollution reduction strategy," said Thomas V. Skinner, acting assistant administrator of EPA's Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance. "This case demonstrates EPA's commitment to ensuring that automobile manufacturers comply with emissions regulations."

Kelly A. Johnson, acting assistant attorney general for the Justice Department's Environment and Natural Resources Division, said the "penalty imposed in this case underscores auto manufacturers' obligation to promptly alert the EPA of defects in emission control devices. The Department of Justice is committed to vigorously enforce companies' responsibility to adhere to environmental laws."

The defect occurs gradually on engine start-up in cool and damp environments when the oxygen sensor (part of the emissions control system) cracks from "thermal shock." The dashboard indicator light illuminates, telling the owner to "Check Engine." Volkswagen received numerous warranty claims associated with cracked oxygen sensors during the winter of 1999-2000, but did not report the defect to the EPA until June 2001. EPA had already discovered excess emissions from a randomly selected vehicle during a routine test.

In addition to paying the civil penalty, pursuant to the consent decree lodged today, Volkswagen will also improve its emissions defect investigation and reporting system to ensure future compliance.

The proposed consent decree is subject to a 30-day public comment period and final court approval. For more information about the settlement, see:


For more information on recalls, see: http://www.epa.gov/otaq/recall.htm."

Courtesy of US News Wire.

Karen on 06.16.05 @ 04:25 AM CST [link] [ | ]


Also been enjoying some more summer flowers in my garden: Here's two studies of the fabulous Orangy-Reds of daisies and geraniums.

flower1 (115k image)

geranium (122k image)

Karen on 06.16.05 @ 04:07 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Bishop Spong

I took the "Theological World Quiz" Len posted and had this score:

You scored as Modern Liberal.

You are a Modern Liberal. Science and historical study have shown so much of the Bible to be unreliable and that conservative faith has made Jesus out to be a much bigger deal than he actually was. Discipleship involves continuing to preach and practice Jesus' measure of love and acceptance, and dogma is not important in today's world. You are influenced by thinkers like Bultmann and Bishop Spong.

Modern Liberal


Neo orthodox

Classical Liberal

Roman Catholic

Evangelical Holiness/Wesleyan


Reformed Evangelical


But what struck was the reference to Bishop Spong. The Chicago Tribune had published an editorial piece by him and so I had sent an e-mail comment via his webpage...and so I get these e-mails periodically from his webpage. And this one yesterday stuck me as rather interesting:

"Marcia via the Internet writes:
"Why do others such as Tim LaHaye and certain church groups, who I
presume are well educated on biblical matters, insist that every word
in the Bible is inerrant. Have they never been introduced to Biblical
criticism? Could they be afraid to question?"

Dear Marcia,

Religion is a strange and sometimes even an irrational thing. People
have an amazing ability to compartmentalize learning so that various
things never have to interact in their minds. So it is that apparently
educated people can actually suspend their thought processes and reject
evolution for "creation science," seek to deny that homosexuality is a
given rather than a chosen way of life or even believe that miracles
occur whenever they pray for them. It is not that their minds are
closed so much as it is that they cannot allow anything into their
minds that threatens the core of their security-giving religious faith.

As I get older, I am impressed by two constant truths

1. It is not easy to be human. Anxiety and mortality have to be
embraced by self-conscious creatures and that is what makes our
humanity so unique among the creatures of this earth.

2. Religion is primarily a search for security and not a search for
truth. Religion is what we so often use to bank the fires of our
anxiety. That is why religion tends toward becoming excessive,
neurotic, controlling and even evil. That is why a religious government
is always a cruel government.

People need to understand that questioning and doubting are healthy,
human activities to be encouraged not to be feared. Certainly is a vice
not a virtue. Insecurity is something to be grasped and treasured. A
true and healthy religious system will encourage each of these
activities. A sick and fearful religious system will seek to remove

Thought you all might find this query and response intriguing.

Karen on 06.16.05 @ 04:02 AM CST [link] [ | ]

And speaking of working hard…

…Dang – I missed this yesterday while I was hard at work trying to catch up the rest of my mom duties:

”Medical Marijuana this A.M/. [Rick Brookhiser]

Anyone who wants to support the Hinchey- Rohrabacher bill allowing states to permit medical use of marijuana should call his congressman (see below).

Chemotherapy, which I had in 1992, wasn't all bad. I looked very cool bald; it gave a nice grey perm when my hair came back (why couldn't it bring more hair back? can't they cut it with menoxydil?); and it did stop my unpleasant visitor.

But the nausea was not cool, and only the illegal drug worked once the legal ones had failed.

John Walters says there is no medical evidence for marijuana's effects. He is a liar or an ignoramus, probably both.

Congress is expected to vote Wednesday morning on a medical marijuana amendment -- introduced by U.S. Reps. Maurice Hinchey (D-NY) and Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) -- that would bar the U.S. Department of Justice from raiding, arresting, and prosecuting patients who are using medical marijuana in the 10 states where it's legal under state law.

MPP has last-minute intelligence that many members of Congress are on the fence and need to hear from their constituents. This is where you come in.

We are asking elite activists like you to call five of your friends or family members on Wednesday morning and ask them to call their U.S. representative. Even messages right up to the time of the vote could impact the swing votes in Congress.

It's easy, and you can spend as much or as little time as you want before the vote on Wednesday. Here's how to help:

(1) Call through your friends who you think are most likely to support the issue now and see if they are willing to help.

(2) Tell them to call the capitol switchboard at 202-224-3121, give the operator their zip code, and ask to be connected to their representative; they don't even need to know the representative's name to do this.

If you're not sure what to tell your friends who are willing to call, here's some guidance. When the receptionist for the congressperson -- not the capitol receptionist -- answers the phone, your friends should say: "Hi, this is [name]. I live in [city], and I understand that my representative needs to decide today how to vote on the Hinchey-Rohrabacher medical marijuana amendment to the Science-State-Justice-Commerce bill. I'm calling to ask for a vote in favor of the amendment."

This is your last chance to speak out before Congress votes, so please get your friends to start calling on Wednesday morning!

Courtesy of The National Review.

And checking up on this Bill's status for passage:
"Although the amendment was defeated by a vote of 153-272 in the House...The vote was largely on party lines, with Democrats lining up 30-2 in support, and Republicans 16-3 in opposition.

Libertarian-leaning Rep. Dana Rohrabacher of Huntington Beach admirably led the Republican support with an impassioned speech on behalf of medical marijuana. He was joined by Rep. Mary Bono (who has taken a lot of heat from her Palm Beach constituents), and Rep. Bill Thomas, the crusty Bakersfield committee chairman who has some independent ideas about drug policy.

Notable among the sea of hard-core Republican opponents was governor-wannabe Rep. Darrell Issa, leader of the Davis recall campaign.

Under the leadership of Rep. Nancy Pelosi, the state's Democrats lined up solidly in support of the Hinchey-Rohrabacher amendment. Two exceptions were Democratic congressmen Dennis Cardoza of Merced (emulating the law-and-order conservatism of his predecessor Gary Condit), and Joe Baca of San Bernardino. Rep. George Miller, a known supporter of medical marijuana, was absent for the vote.

Among Democratic Presidential candidates, Rep. Dennis Kucinich (OH) voted in favor of the Hinchey/Rohrabacher amendment, while Rep. Richard Gephardt (MO) was absent for the vote. "

Karen on 06.16.05 @ 03:53 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Those Un-Dead (Bad) Ideas...

Now, just to make sure we residents of Dennis Hastert Corner haven’t forgotten what a great, hard working guy is our Home-Boy, Dennis Hastert – he sends out these glossy 8x10 photo-op updates [at our taxpayer expense of course] to promote the GOP agenda disfavored by 58% of Americans.

DHCsocsec1a (97k image)

DHCsocsec2a (101k image)

Or as one recent commentator noted at another site:
"Since George Bush is Brain-Dead already, his ideas are “Un-dead” and can never really be destroyed. They just keep coming back like evil un-dead zombies or vampires."

And so it seems with this notion to create a partial Privatization of Social Security via the implementation of “Personal Accounts.” -- No matter how the numbers don’t add up. No matter how these are NOT “private nest eggs in your name – out of reach of the government.” No matter how this would, of necessity cut back on the current benefits paid out to retirees and soon-to-be retirees. – The GOP, and Home-Boy, Denny, just keep trotting out these damnable lies and distortions trying to push an agenda 58% (or more) of Americans are opposed to.

Yep, they’re working hard – but hardly for us!!!

Karen on 06.16.05 @ 03:46 AM CST [link] [ | ]

The Law Steps In...

Apropos of my earlier post on Illinois protections for breast-feeding mothers is this Chicago Tribune follow up States offer varying protections for breast-feeding moms by Alison Neumer.

"Barbara Walters isn't the only one who freaks out around women who breast-feed--recently, the TV host said she felt "very nervous" sitting next to a nursing mother on a plane--but that's where the law steps in.

Two-thirds of all states provide some type of protection for mothers who breast-feed in public. In Illinois, women have the right to breast-feed their children in any public or private location. So there, Babs.

But nursing moms planning to travel this summer, beware: Not all our neighbors are quite as chill. Some states provide only minimal protection, such as exemption from public indecency laws.

For a full state-by-state index of breast-feeding laws, check out National Conference of State Legislatures, ncsl.org, or La Leche League International, lalecheleague.org.

- - -



LAW SAYS: A mother may breast-feed her infant in any public or private location where she is legally permitted to be.

A 2001 statute requires employers to provide unpaid break time for mothers who need to express milk. Employers also must make an effort to provide a private location, other than a toilet stall, where a woman may express milk.



LAW SAYS: A woman may breast-feed anywhere she is legally permitted to be.



LAW SAYS: Women breast-feeding their infants are exempt from public nudity laws.



LAW SAYS: Breast-feeding mothers are exempt from indecency laws."

Karen on 06.15.05 @ 01:55 PM CST [link] [ | ]


Since Brock is a vegetarian and always looking for good substitutes for meatless cuisine, it appears the Fast Food Industry has begun to come round to the vegetarian/healthy way of thinking: What's next for fast food? McTofu?: As established chains slowly change ways, a new player hopes to spark a revolution by Andrew Martin (Chicago Tribune national correspondent):

”THE LATEST FAST-FOOD TREND isn't about secret sauces, it's about promoting freshness, quality ingredients and healthful eating. Among the claims:


Locations: 4

Opened: 2001

Ingredients do not contain additives or preservatives. The chain also uses organically raised or grown ingredients in many of its items.


Locations: 450

Opened: 1993

Uses mostly animals raised outdoors without hormones or antibiotics.


Locations: More than 30,000

Opened: 1955

Offers a fruit and walnut salad.


Locations: More than 11,000

Opened: 1954

Has added Morningstar Farms garden veggie burgers to the menu.”

And I thought I recalled Len saying he'd enjoyed Chipotle when he visited Chicago - so you were eating "healthy" and probably didn't even realize it!!

Karen on 06.15.05 @ 01:45 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Bad Ideas Department....

Proposing an amendment to the Constitution of the United States to repeal the 22nd amendment to the Constitution. (Introduced in House)

For those of you not playing the home game, the 22nd Amendment is the one limiting the President to two terms.

Though for whom it might be a bad idea would remain to be seen. After all, repeal of the 22nd amendment would allow Bill Clinton to run again.

And that would be great entertainment, watching the Rethugnicans go absolutely apeshit at that thought....


Len on 06.15.05 @ 12:29 PM CST [link] [ | ]

David Letterman gives Dubya some advice....

Frankly, I think Bush should go with number 2 (but only after we make sure Darth Cheney doesn't become President), but I understand Dave had to go for what's funniest: Top Ten Ways George W. Bush Can Regain His Popularity

10. Dip into social security fund to give every American free HBO

9. Use diplomacy to bring peace to Brad, Jen and Angelina

8. Try fixing Iraq, creating some jobs, reducing the deficit and maybe capturing Osama

7. Figure out a way for the Yankees to win a game

6. Replace his "country simpleton" persona with more lovable "hillbilly idiot" image

5. Use weekly radio address to give Americans a Van Halen twofer

4. Get Saddam to switch to boxers

3. Ditch the librarian and make Eva Longoria First Lady

2. Resign

1. Jump on Oprah's couch while professing his love for Katie Holmes

Len on 06.15.05 @ 12:19 PM CST [link] [ | ]

As a Tennesseean I can tell you that....

Bill Frist is as bad a senator as he is a doctor.

And it appears that as a doctor, he's a fucking disgrace.

Remember the Terri Schiavo media circus? Back when Doctor Bill viewed a video of Terri Schiavo, and gave us all his considered medical opinion that she wasn't in a persistent vegetative state? Among other reasons, he said that she was responsive to visual stimuli.

Well, the Schiavo autopsy results were released this morning. And according to the autopsy report, Terri was blind. Which would have made it a bit difficult for her to respond to visual stimuli.


Other interesting results of the autopsy: Contrary to the allegations of Schiavo's parents, there was no evidence of physical trauma to Ms. Schiavo, and no evidence that she had been abused by her husband. And her brain weighed approximately 615 grams, which meant that it was about half the size of a normal adult human brain. To nobody's surprise, the autopsy results are consistent with her dying of dehydration; however, there is nothing to indicate exactly why she collapsed back in 1991.

Len on 06.15.05 @ 12:16 PM CST [link] [ | ]

More fun from the spam folder....

Another spam, this one with a subject line of "Summer with Levitra Rich".

Why do I think Levitra Rich would be a good stage name for a porno actress?

Len on 06.15.05 @ 09:56 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Random pictures of life in midtown Memphis....

A comment from Dr. Abby's blog, by Dr. Abby (who, in her post, is complaining of the heat here in the Bluff City):

Yesterday, I saw one of my regular dumpster divers pulling out a busted AC window unit. I also saw a large African-American woman wearing an oversized orange t-shirt and a crayon yellow Heidi wig walking very slowly down Madison while eating from a family-sized bag of Lay’s potato chips, but that’s another story.

Len on 06.15.05 @ 09:33 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Here's how you make them queers straight.....

Via The Flypaper Theory (wherein Ye Peskye Flye gives us a peek at his Memphis Flyer column coming out today...), we get this explanation from John Smid, the director of Memphis area "homosexual conversion center" Love in Action (LiA is the place where Zach, local teen who came out to his parents, is being "treated"):

How does God make a gay man straight? In 1997 John Smid the ex-gay Director for Love in Action, a homosexual conversion center located in Memphis, tried to explain this mystery to the Memphis Flyer. He said he would use non-Christian terms, to make it easier for secular types to understand.

"I'm looking at that wall and suddenly I say it's blue,” Smid said pointing at a yellow wall. “Someone else comes along and says, `No, it's gold. But I want to believe that wall is blue. Then God comes along and He says, `You're right, John, [that yellow wall] is blue. That's the help I need. God can help me make that [yellow] wall blue."

You don’t have to be a psyche major to recognize that Smid’s metaphor for gay conversion is the dictionary.com definition of delusional: “A false belief strongly held in spite of invalidating evidence.”
If I'm understanding Smid's analogy correctly, then, his "converted" homosexuals are merely homosexuals who think that they're heterosexuals, but really aren't.

I'd love to see the statistics on recidivism of LiA alumni. My guess is that it's pretty damn high.

Len on 06.15.05 @ 09:25 AM CST [link] [ | ]

First review I've found of Coke Zero

at Signifying Nothing. I'm a bit disappointed by Chris's saying "you’re not likely to confuse it with Coca-Cola Classic, unless you just haven’t had a Coke in a long time"--goddammit, I want a sugar-free Coke Classic; is that too much to ask out of life?--but if it's an improvement on diet Coke (which I like ok; certainly very superior to Diet Pepsi), I'll buy it.

Len on 06.15.05 @ 09:14 AM CST [link] [ | ]

And it was made here, by the way....

Over at Slate, Christopher Kelly takes Memphis filmmaker Craig Brewer's soon-to-be-released film Hustle and Flow as the starting point for some musings on the rise of "the indie blockbuster": The Pimp Who Saved Hollywood.

Those who enjoy debating whether American independent filmmaking has become completely co-opted by the Hollywood monolith, or merely 97 percent co-opted, would have had a grand ol' time at the premiere party for Craig Brewer's Hustle & Flow (Paramount Classics, opening July 13) at this year's Sundance Film Festival.

It had been a sluggish first few days for the dramatic features, with the usual mixture of allegorical dramas starring slow-moving turtles and quirky comedies starring thumb-sucking teenagers. But suddenly a palpable Sundance buzz was in the air.
Hustle & Flow—a drama about a Memphis pimp named DJay (the gifted Terrence Howard, late of Crash) who dreams of becoming a hip-hop star—had brought the crowd to its feet that evening at the Park City Racquet Club. And now hundreds of partygoers huddled around heat lamps in the freezing cold, asking all the familiar questions: How much might the movie sell for? How much could it gross theatrically? And how big a windfall did its producer, John Singleton (of Boyz n the Hood fame), stand to reap? (Singleton and producing partner Stephanie Allain financed Hustle & Flow out of pocket, for about $3 million, after shopping the project around and reportedly getting turned down by every studio in town.)

One thing lost in all the excitement was the small matter of the movie itself—which is mostly just shameless, crowd-pleasing drivel. Howard burns with old-school charisma, but he's forced to play one embarrassing ghetto cliché after another: a pimp with a heart of gold (i.e., he smacks his bitches, but only when they deserve it), suffering through an early midlife crisis (i.e., he just can't see himself doing the pimp thing into his 40s). DJay's rise to superstardom is a dopey,
Rocky-style wish-fulfillment fantasy, replete with musical numbers from the MTV Jams recycling bin. (Sample lyrics: "You know it's hard out there for a pimp / When you're trying to get money for the rent.") And Brewer hasn't quite figured out how to illustrate his lead character's misogyny without exulting in it: The camera gets in close to the actresses' jiggling backsides; the dialogue—including one soon-to-be-famous line about the constitution of a female pig's genitalia—is even more revolting.

The movie sold to Paramount Classics (partnering with MTV Films) for a reported $9 million; Singleton received an additional $7 million, earmarked for him to produce two more "indie," urban-set, youth-oriented dramas. The next indie sensation was born. Funny, though, that this "vision of what's hip and what Hollywood isn't doing," as Singleton has described it, should look exactly like what Hollywood's been doing for years.

Len on 06.15.05 @ 06:42 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Thought for the Day:

Baseball fans throughout the nation stood up and applauded when Seabol’s ringing pinch-hit, first-pitch, seventh inning shot cleared the visitors' bullpen by a very healthy margin. His home run trot reminded us all of the fallen Scott Rolen in its haste and modesty. No lolly-gagging around. No enjoying the moment. None of the cadillacking that he was arguably entitled to.

To his great credit, Seabol, faced with the most emotional moment of a long and undistinguished baseball career, lowered his head, ran from base to base, touched them all and disappeared into the Cardinal dugout. Almost at gunpoint from his teammates, he ducked out once to doff his cap in smiling acknowledgement of the curtain call from the 50,000 plus Cardinal faithful in attendance.

Scott Seabol is 30 years old. With the exception of a 3-week, one-at-bat stint with his ironically original team, the New York Yankees, he has been a career minor league player. He was called up a couple of weeks ago to help replace the injured Rolen. When Rolen returns, it is possible that Seabol will return to the relative baseball obscurity of the AAA Memphis Redbirds.

So Sunday was Seabol’s day in the sun, the punctuation of a career spent waiting for this magical moment when all the karmic forces of nature came together at home plate at Busch Memorial Stadium in St. Louis, Missouri and he jumped on it. He beat the team that originally drafted him, the team that only gave him three weeks in the majors, the team that cut him, released him, fired him. His home run turned the momentum of the game around so that the Cardinals could defeat the Bronx Bullies of inflated payroll and remarkable underachievement. To paraphrase the Cardinal Bard Mr. Shannon, ol' Abner had really done it again this time.
--Rex Duncan [on Scott Seabol's game winning home run in the 6/12/2005 Yankees/Cardinals game]

Len on 06.15.05 @ 06:14 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Well, how can you have a theological worldview if you don't have a theology?

You scored as Emergent/Postmodern. You are Emergent/Postmodern in your theology. You feel alienated from older forms of church, you don't think they connect to modern culture very well. No one knows the whole truth about God, and we have much to learn from each other, and so learning takes place in dialogue. Evangelism should take place in relationships rather than through crusades and altar-calls. People are interested in spirituality and want to ask questions, so the church should help them to do this.



Modern Liberal


Classical Liberal


Neo orthodox


Roman Catholic


Evangelical Holiness/Wesleyan




Reformed Evangelical




What's your theological worldview?
created with QuizFarm.com

Of course, the problem with this quiz is that it assumes belief in God. Then again, what's an atheist like me doing taking this quiz anyway?

Via: The Forbidden Notes of the Boîte Diabolique (still listed in the extended blogroll as "Turquoise Waffle Irons in the Backyard"; I know, I really need to do some serious revision there...), who also scored 18% Roman Catholic. In my case... Well I was born/raised Catholic, but I avoided Catholic college/university like the plague, so I can't attribute my Catholic score to going to a Jesuit university. However, I'm more inclined, myself, to believe that there's a small core of Catholic beliefs and attitudes which resonate with a "emergent/postmodern" or "modern liberal" worldview, and that's what accounts for that score.

And the 0% fundamentalist is spot on. I'd have been depressed beyond the ability to describe if I'd gotten any non-zero score on the fundamentalist scale.

Len on 06.14.05 @ 09:21 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Another reason why I didn't stay in Chicago after graduation....

Chicago judge jails pregnant juror for contempt.

A pregnant woman who spent three days in jail after skipping out of jury duty has received an apology from the judge who had her arrested.

Cook County Circuit Judge Preston Bowie said Monday he made a mistake when he issued an arrest warrant for 21-year-old Monique Mitchell of South Holland, Ill.

"This was a mistake on my part, and I apologize for it," Bowie said. "A judge, like everyone else, makes mistakes."

Mitchell was picked to serve on a jury early last month. She telephoned the court the next day and said she wasn't feeling well and wouldn't be back. When she didn't return phone calls from a sheriff's deputy, the judge issued an arrest warrant.

She was arrested at her home and spent three days in jail before being released on a $25,000 signature bond.
Apparently, it never came out during jury selection that she was pregnant (which surprises me; usually a standard question that is asked in jury selection is if any potential jury member suffers from any medical conditions that might interfere with the discharge of their duties if selected to serve on a jury. Didn't she speak up at that time?).

Well, the judge tried to be nice abou it:
After offering his apology, the judge had one last word for Mitchell: "I hope your next call to jury service will be an enjoyable one."
Somehow, I think the apprehension (pun intended) will probably preclude that.

Len on 06.14.05 @ 08:42 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Thinking of buying a spare ticket outside the ballpark? Think again.....

A new ticket scalping scam is being seen around ballparks where the stadium uses barcoded tickets which are scanned, and the tickets are then returned to the customer, whole (i.e., untorn). Such a system has been in place here at AutoZone Park since at least last year (if not earlier), and such a system was in place at Busch Stadium during my recent visit to see the Red Sox/Cardinals game.

It didn't take long for a dishonest person to realize that, being in possession of an untorn ticket, it'd be no problem to slip that ticket to a confederate outside the stadium, who could then sell the ticket to an unsuspecting schlub looking to get into the game.

The problem is that, once the unique barcode on the ticket is scanned, a computer "invalidates" that ticket for the day's(evening's) game. If someone else presents that ticket later in the evening, s/he will be denied admission to the ballpark, and will be, if necessary, politely but firmly escorted away. And of course, any money paid for the bogus ticket is lost.

Caveat emptor. Especially emptores purchasing tickets from guys on the street.

Len on 06.14.05 @ 08:33 PM CST [link] [ | ]

I've only been to Disney World once....

for the annual International Sybase Users' Group conference in August, of 2000, and unfortunately I was both so broke and so busy that I didn't get around to getting to EPCOT. In the light of a recent AP story, I should probably be grateful: Boy, 4, dies after spin on Disney ride.

This ride was apparently a "simulation" of a space flight to Mars, complete with a centrifuge allowing riders to experience acceleration effects of up to 2g. At this point, I've not read anything to indicate what the child died of. But apparently the ride is rough enough that there are a number of disqualifying medical conditions (I'm hypertensive, though controlled well by medication, so I would be disqualified), so it's possible some hidden medical condition caught up with the unfortunate child.

So it wasn't the typical amusement park tragedy I'm familiar with. At Six Flags St. Louis there was a notorious case of a rather rotund woman--so rotund she couldn't lock the safety bar over her belly--who rode a roller coaster by simply holding the unlocked bar against her belly, and the operator let her ride that way. Of course, when the roller coaster, in the course of the ride, zigged, her body, governed by Newton's First Law of Motion, continued to zag. Unfortunately for her, that path was basically away from the roller coaster car and into empty space.

Needless to say, she didn't survive the failure to follow her car and the rest of the riders, as her body, after following the dictates of the First Law of Motion, proceeded to follow the principle of Universal Gravitation.

However, she provided some morbid Six Flags St. Louis wag with a new principle of roller coaster operation:

"The ride isn't over 'til the fat lady flings."

Len on 06.14.05 @ 08:23 PM CST [link] [ | ]

From the Halls of Montezuma...

Dan Froomkin (Washington Post) gives us a truly “insider’s” look at the configuration of the West Wing Power Suites at El Rancho Blanco. Check out this at Inside The Real West Wing versus the previous map of the floor plan just prior to the bAdministration Power shuffle.

Also read Froomkin’s full article: Corridors of Power.

Karen on 06.14.05 @ 02:22 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Sleepy Findings...

Ahh, now here’s some Exciting research I’ll get into, after I go take a NAP. LOL

[BSTommy are you taking down notes here???]

”Researchers and clinical sleep specialists will present latest findings and discuss treatments that affect 70 million sleep disorder sufferers in the U.S.

WHO: The Associated Professional Sleep Societies (APSS), LLC, is a joint venture of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine and the Sleep Research Society. The 19th Annual Meeting of the APSS will bring together an international body of 5,000 leading researchers and clinicians in the field of sleep medicine.

WHAT: More than 1,000 research abstracts will be presented and discussed during the Annual Meeting, bringing to light new findings that enhance the understanding of the processes of sleep and aid the diagnosis and treatment of sleep disorders such as insomnia, narcolepsy, and sleep apnea.

WHERE: Colorado Convention Center, 700 14th Street, Denver, CO 80202

WHEN: Monday, June 20 to Wednesday, June 22

WHY: With an estimated 70 million people in the United States suffering from a sleep disorder, and millions more worldwide, the information presented and discussed during the meeting is of paramount importance to both the medical community and the general public alike.

CONTACT: Kathleen McCann of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, 773-791-5260 or kathleenmmccann@hotmail.com, Web: http://www.apss.org

Courtesy of US News Wire.

Karen on 06.14.05 @ 02:13 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Them I.D. Rascals...

Evolution Blog has a good piece from last week [Hey, I’ve been Bizee – Hokay] about David Heddle and the falsifiability of the I.D. movement. So give it a read at this link.

Karen on 06.14.05 @ 02:06 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Hitting Them Where They Deserve It...

Now finally a columnist after my own heart on the issue of how to deal with those slimy, dirty-dog, below-the belt, lying SOB’s of the GOP strategists:Democrats, don't put muzzle on Dean by DeWayne Wickham (USA TODAY):

”Instead of muzzling Howard Dean, Democrats should give him a bullhorn. Rather than urging him to retreat from his attack on Republicans, party leaders ought to send him off to a political war college — preferably the one the late GOP strategist Lee Atwater attended.

As chairman of the Democratic Party, which is teetering between political renewal and functional extinction, Dean should be making war, not peace. But that's exactly what his critics within the party seemed to be suggesting last week when they admonished him for his tough talk about Republicans.

"The Republicans are not very friendly to different kinds of people. They're a pretty monolithic party. They all behave the same, and they all look the same," he said days earlier. He also said the GOP is "pretty much a white, Christian party" and Republicans "never made an honest living in their lives."

Understandably, Dean's verbal barrage drew a return salvo from Republicans, who accused him of hitting below the belt. Surprisingly, it also sparked friendly fire from some Democrats, who worried aloud that he was unnecessarily alienating Republicans.

While, in fact, what he said about the GOP stretches the truth, it also rallies the Democratic troops, something the party has had difficulty doing since Bill Clinton left the White House.

Lesson from GOP

Ironically, Dean's negative talk is something Atwater, who managed the 1988 presidential campaign of George H.W. Bush, turned into an art form. When the story broke that Willie Horton, a black convicted murderer, raped a white woman and assaulted her fiancé while on a weekend furlough from a Massachusetts prison, Atwater went on the attack. He vowed to link Horton so closely to Bush's opponent, Massachusetts Gov. Michael Dukakis, that people would think the career criminal was the Democratic candidate's running mate.

Republican leaders, eager to extend their party's control of the White House beyond the eight years of Ronald Reagan's presidency, didn't chastise Atwater for playing to racial fears and stereotypes in linking Horton to Dukakis. Instead, they made him party chairman.

Not long after he assumed that post, Atwater put his crosshairs on then-Arkansas governor Bill Clinton, a Democrat he correctly feared might keep Bush from winning re-election. Atwater plotted to use allegations of drug abuse and womanizing to derail Clinton's political career. "We may or may not win, but we'll bust him up so bad he won't be able to run again for years," Atwater said, according to The Hunting of the President: The Ten-Year Campaign to Destroy Bill and Hillary Clinton, a 2000 book by Joe Conason and Gene Lyons.

Liberal label

Despite expressing his regret for these actions shortly before his untimely death in 1991, Atwater's go-for-the-jugular brand of politics has become a lethal weapon in the Republicans' arsenal. It is what motivates GOP operatives to quickly label Democrats as liberal — and to treat liberalism as a dirty word.
To his credit, Dean has broken ranks with those Democrats who think the best defense is to seek cover and then throw themselves on the mercy of voters on Election Day. The time has come for Democrats to fight back. They should explain what it means to be a liberal, not allow Republicans to define them. They should answer hyperbolic attacks with exaggerated speech of their own, if that's what it takes to stave off political annihilation.

For much of this decade, right-wing Republicans have dominated the public square, shouting down some on their political left and drowning out others who have tried to counter their bombast with civil responses. The time has come for Democrats to give as good as they get.

Americans, for the most part, love politicians who fight for what they believe — and they abhor political wimps. Dean is a fighter, albeit one who needs to learn that in an ideological spat, a well-placed jab often can do more damage than a barrage of roundhouse punches.

But he can't learn that lesson if Democrats won't let him take the fight to the GOP.”

And a POX on you Karl “The Turd Flower” Rove and Dick “Darth” Cheney. Take that GOP SCUM!!!

Karen on 06.14.05 @ 10:29 AM CST [link] [ | ]

As a St. Louisan In Exile....

I approve wholeheartedly of SKBubba's last photo from the road. I won't steal SKB's bandwidth, or his pic. Just go see it.

Len on 06.14.05 @ 09:36 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Have you just swallowed poison? No ipecac in the house?

Well, just use this:

to induce nausea. That's the proposed "U.S. National Christian Flag". From their Vision Statement:
Our nation was built on Christian principles. We believe this is why God has blessed us with bounty and strength. So our flag is affectionately dubbed 'Beauty & Bands'. His favor has backed up our witness of Him in all nations....we're loving our Jesus in the U.S. of A.
So Mike, you agree with them that our nation was founded on Christian principles. So will you be flying the U.S. National Christian Flag below your flag? I'm sure they'll be happy to overlook your atheism, though you may want to figure out where you'll put all the tracts, etc., you'll probably be getting. Not to mention keeping a few refreshments around for all the missionaries who'll be around to save your soul (since they'll probably see you as ripe for conversion, unlike more a more hard core case like me).


And I almost forgot: Happy Flag Day, y'all!

Hat tip: KTK at Lean Left

UPDATE: The folks at U.S. National Christian Flag must be having a bit of financial trouble; I notice that the direct link to the flag graphic isn't working, and if you try to look at the flag graphic directly you get a "This Account Has Been Suspended; Please contact the billing/support office as soon as possible." I guess I'll have to capture this smaller, less impressive graphic until they get their financial act together.

UPDATE II: Now an attempt to follow the link to the U.S. National Christian Flag website gives us a "bandwidth" exceeded error message. While I'd like to think that DBV is approaching the Daily Kos in stature, and InstaHack (no link; y'all surely know my contempt for Reynolds) in influence, and that the Christian Flag site has been forced to its knees by "the Dark Bilious Vapors effect" (a wholly un-owned subsidiary of the Slashdot effect), the more likely explanation is that the site was either Slashdotted or Instalanched. Or a whole bunch of us citizens of Left Blogistan, doing our thing, managed to all link to the same site at the same time, and together wielded the power of Mighty Slashdot, and Inexplicably Influential InstaDip.

God, I love being one of the first in on a fad!

Len on 06.14.05 @ 09:29 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Some familiar names.....

At his blog, Brian Leiter's announced that he's accepted an invite to join the Editiorial Board of The IVR Encyclopaedia of Jurisprudence, Legal Theory and Philosophy of Law. The IVR, for those of you not playing the home game, is The International Association for Philosophy of Law and Social Philosophy ("IVR?" I hear you ask. "How the f*ck do they get 'IVR' out of that?" Well, "IVR" derives from the official name of the association, which is German: "Internationale Vereinigung für Rechts- und Sozialphilosophie". Quit being so damned Anglo-centric).

Out of curiosity, I had to check the rest of the membership of the Encyclopedia's editorial board, and I saw a couple of familiar names: Stanley Paulson ( William Gardiner Hammond Professor of Law and Professor of Philosophy (extraordinarily content-free page here), Washington University in St. Louis) and Carl Wellman (Hortense and Tobias Lewin Distinguished University Professor in the Humanities, Emeritus (just about as content-free a webpage as Prof. Paulson's; obviously the Philosophy Department is revising its website), Washington University in St. Louis). Those in addition to a few second tier names (like Richard Posner's)...


The names of Professors Wellman and Paulson are familiar to me because I took my bachelor's in philosophy at Washington University, and I had the opportunity to work closely with both men. The University can be proud that both are associated with the institution, unlike the University's association with a certain Repugnican turd (and worse, his wife) they gave faculty appointments to to help fill said turd's resume in between his terms of sucking off the public trough.

And more importantly, Professor Leiter can be proud to be associated with such exemplary scholars. :-)

Len on 06.14.05 @ 08:55 AM CST [more..] [ | ]

No, you weren't planning to get anything done today, were you?

From the Phun with Phlash Department: De-Animator. Just you and a six-shooter against the zombies. And if you figure out how to win, clue me in, OK?

Credit: Josh Schulz

Len on 06.14.05 @ 08:20 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Landmark dates in Pop Cultural History.....

Today is the 29th anniversary of the premiere of The Gong Show, which proved definitively that there was no depth that the average American wouldn't stoop to in order to be on television.

And realize this, if it weren't for Chuck Barris having gotten the inspiration to create and produce The Gong Show, we would probably not have to endure the unending stream of "reality TV" shows that glut the airwaves like cars on an Atlanta freeway during rush hour.

So the topic for today's essay contest: "Chuck Barris: unappreciated genius, or perpetrator of crimes against humanity?" Deadline tomorrow at 5PM. Good luck!

Len on 06.14.05 @ 08:12 AM CST [link] [ | ]

And MadKane makes a big techno-leap....

as she ventures into the big world of "audioblogging" with her Ode to Misogyny, on the latest feud in Left Blogostan. Also, if you haven't checked, she's added an audio of herself reciting her Dopey Decision Explained in Verse.

I suppose it's only a matter of time before she'll be podcasting... Great job, Mad! Keep up the innovations.

Len on 06.14.05 @ 08:05 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Let's set the Wayback Machine to last March....

Paul Krugman addresses the health insurance crisis yesterday in his column: One Nation, Uninsured Prof. Krugman notes:

The great advantage of universal, government-provided health insurance is lower costs. Canada's government-run insurance system has much less bureaucracy and much lower administrative costs than our largely private system. Medicare has much lower administrative costs than private insurance. The reason is that single-payer systems don't devote large resources to screening out high-risk clients or charging them higher fees. The savings from a single-payer system would probably exceed $200 billion a year, far more than the cost of covering all of those now uninsured.
Since the subject's out there, it's not a bad time do toot my own horn a bit and point out that I have a post on this very subject back in the archives: Such a wonderfully ironic twist.....

I don't care if you go read that one, but it does reference a piece by Phillip Longman in the Washington Monthly which addresses the superiority of "socialized" medicine, in the form of the Veteran's Administration health care system, over traditional private health insurance plans. Note that, in addition to the cost savings that Prof. Krugman notes, the VA Health System is abie to innovate, especially in the application of information technology and economies of scale to the practice of medicine in the institutional context. Why? Because the economic model for American medical practice simply doesn't promote quality in medical practice:
As Lawrence P. Casalino, a professor of public health at the University of Chicago, puts it, “The U.S. medical market as presently constituted simply does not provide a strong business case for quality.”

Casalino writes from his own experience as a solo practitioner, and on the basis of over 800 interviews he has since conducted with health-care leaders and corporate health care purchasers. While practicing medicine on his own in Half Moon Bay, Calif, Casalino had an idealistic commitment to following emerging best practices in medicine. That meant spending lots of time teaching patients about their diseases, arranging for careful monitoring and follow-up care, and trying to keep track of what prescriptions and procedures various specialists might be ordering.

Yet Casalino quickly found out that he couldn't sustain this commitment to quality, given the rules under which he was operating. Nobody paid him for the extra time he spent with his patients. He might have eased his burden by hiring a nurse to help with all the routine patient education and follow-up care that was keeping him at the office too late. Or he might have teamed up with other providers in the area to invest in computer technology that would allow them to offer the same coordinated care available in veterans hospitals and clinics today. Either step would have improved patient safety and added to the quality of care he was providing. But even had he managed to pull them off, he stood virtually no chance of seeing any financial return on his investment. As a private practice physician, he got paid for treating patients, not for keeping them well or helping them recover faster.

The same problem exists across all health-care markets, and its one main reason in explaining why the VHA has a quality performance record that exceeds that of private-sector providers. Suppose a private managed-care plan follows the VHA example and invests in a computer program to identify diabetics and keep track of whether they are getting appropriate follow-up care. The costs are all upfront, but the benefits may take 20 years to materialize. And by then, unlike in the VHA system, the patient will likely have moved on to some new health-care plan. As the chief financial officer of one health plan told Casalino: “Why should I spend our money to save money for our competitors?”

Or suppose an HMO decides to invest in improving the quality of its diabetic care anyway. Then not only will it risk seeing the return on that investment go to a competitor, but it will also face another danger as well. What happens if word gets out that this HMO is the best place to go if you have diabetes? Then more and more costly diabetic patients will enroll there, requiring more premium increases, while its competitors enjoy a comparatively large supply of low-cost, healthier patients. That's why, Casalino says, you never see a billboard with an HMO advertising how good it is at treating one disease or another. Instead, HMO advertisements generally show only healthy families.

In many realms of health care, no investment in quality goes unpunished.
Give Longman's article a close reading, and contemplate well the structural problems in U.S. health care. The VA's example demonstrates that they aren't insoluable. But to solve them, we have to be willing to give up our idolatry of that false god, The Free Market.

Len on 06.14.05 @ 07:45 AM CST [link] [ | ]

It makes two of us....

Josh Marshall is musing:

I'm really curious to see whether this story (noted below) about Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham (R) gets much pick up or not in the press.
In case you missed it (and what with the verdict in the Jacko case, the odds are about 100-1 or better that you did), here's the "noted below":
It's always curious how some people succeed wildly in one line of business and then fail just as miserably in another.

A fine example seems to be that of Mitchell Wade.

Wade is the owner of MZM, Inc., a defense contractor, which says on its website that it has "Offices in Washington, D.C.; Baltimore, Md.; Charlottesville, Va.; Tampa, Fla.; Martinsville, Va.; San Diego, Calif.; Seoul, South Korea; Stuttgart, Germany; and Baghdad, Iraq."

Back in November 2003, Wade was apparently looking for a house to purchase and 'flip' in the San Diego area. So he purchased the San Diego home of Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham (R), a prominent member of the House Appropriations Committee's Defense Subcommittee, for $1,675,000.

But pretty much from the start Wade dealt himself deep in the hole because he turned around and put it right back up for sale at about the same price. As you can see, here Wade severely constrained his ability to profit from reselling the house because he was offering to sell it for the same price he'd just bought it for.

But things only got worse from there.

As this article in today's
San Diego Union-Tribune explains, the house sat unbought and unoccupied for 261 days. And Wade had apparently seriously overestimated the value of the property.

When the place finally sold, it went for only $975,000, thus saddling the unfortunate Wade with a loss of some $700,000.

I guess it goes without saying that that experience probably soured Wade on the real estate game for good.

But at the same time as all this was happening, according to the article, Wade's defense contracting business started going like gang-busters. In the words of the article, "Wade, who had been suffering through a flat period in winning Pentagon contracts, was on a tear – reeling in tens of millions of dollars in defense and intelligence-related contracts."

(Cunningham is also a member of House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.)

Now, it seems some pesky government do-gooder types are asking whether something might not have been quite above board about all this. When the Union-Tribune tried to get in touch with Wade, it turned out he was "traveling without access to a telephone." But MZM official Scotty Brumett explained that -- contrary to what I had assumed -- the purchase was not part of a money-making venture but the company's effort to raise its profile in the San Diego area: "We were looking at expanding our company presence in San Diego. We looked at the property and thought it would work for us. But after we bought it, we realized that it did not meet our security or our corporate needs."

Meanwhile, Cunningham told the paper that "My whole life I've lived aboveboard. I've never even smoked a marijuana cigarette ... I feel very confident that I haven't done anything wrong."
Because, as we all know, you can't be a real criminal, or for that matter, you can't even sin, if you've never even had a puff of the ol' heathen devil weed. But wait, there's more. Do you think that Rep. Cunningham can explain some of these rather suspicious circumstances further? Of course not! Because, after all....
Cunningham told the paper he couldn't discuss the contracts he'd helped MZM land because they were "very, very classified."
How convenient....

Len on 06.14.05 @ 07:04 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Iraq decision chronology

is up at uggabugga. As stated, "subject to update". That was brought to my attention by Bryan at Why Now?, who adds:

The only thing that was missing was the act of Congress that authorized an attack, so I pulled one from the CNN archives: Senate approves Iraq war resolution
Friday, October 11, 2002 Posted: 12:35 PM EDT (1635 GMT)
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- In a major victory for the White House, the Senate early Friday voted 77-23 to authorize President Bush to attack Iraq if Saddam Hussein refuses to give up weapons of mass destruction as required by U.N. resolutions.

Hours earlier, the House approved an identical resolution, 296-133.
The emphasis in that quote was provided by Bryan, who continues:
Notice the part I emphasized. Nothing is mentioned except the WMDs. The act authorized an attack for that single reason. Saddam had no WMDs. Saddam had given them up. Saddam had complied with the UN Resolution. Bush had no authorization to go to war. The war was illegal.

There was one, and only one reason for the war. That reason was stated in the Congressional resolution. That reason was reported at the time. None of the "other reasons" that have been trotted out by the Bushevikis since the start of the war have any relevance.
Of course, the Downing Street Memo and other evidence goes further. Basically (and uggabugga's timeline points this out), from the very first days of the Bush bAdministration, a war against Iraq was planned, and the bAdministration fudged and manipulated "intelligence" in order to maufacture a casus belli where none existed.

Can we say "crimes against humanity"? Can we say, "waging aggressive war"? Can we blatantly steal one of Billmon's greatest graphics? (No, we can't (or more accurately, we won't), but we can certainly link to it here. And be sure to read the accompanying post here.)

Len on 06.14.05 @ 06:47 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Thought for the Day:

...Lewin offers a few additional insights on coprophagy, including 1.5 paragraphs on its practice among humans, the general message of which is that only pranksters and crazy people do this. "However," his inner scientist compels him to observe, "consumption of fresh, warm camel feces has been recommended by Bedouins as a remedy for bacterial dysentery; its efficacy (probably attributable to the antibiotic subtilisin from Bacillus subtilis) was confirmed by German soldiers in Africa during World War II." Never mind the cataclysmic case of the runs those German soldiers must have had to try this therapy. What I want to know is how the Bedouins figured it out: "Whoa, bacterial dysentery! Let's eat some camel crap."
--Cecil Adams

Len on 06.14.05 @ 05:54 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Steve makes prison wine

Don't miss the latest post in the hilarious Steve, Don't Eat It! series at The Sneeze. Steve makes prison wine!

Brock on 06.13.05 @ 07:12 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Dear Mr. President, there are too many states.

Prof. C. Etzel Pearcy of California State University has created a map reducing the number of states to thirty-eight. Western Tennessee would become part of "Ozark," along with northern Mississippi, southern Missouri, most of Arkansas, and a bit of Oklahoma.


Brock on 06.13.05 @ 06:59 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Pretty good comeback....

It's come to my attention that former Vice President Al Gore has won a "Webby" Lifetime Achievement Award in recognition of the pivotal role he played in the development of the Internet.

According to fellow RTB member Bob Stepno, however, the award presented the challenge of a lifetime to a politician such as Gore. The Webbies demand that acceptance speeches be limited to only 5 words.

Gore's 5 word acceptance speech:

"Please don't recount this vote."

Congratulations Mr. Vice President!

Len on 06.13.05 @ 01:11 PM CST [link] [ | ]

I hope so. I really, really, hope so....

A guest editorial by Prof. Amy Ross (Dept. of Geography, University of Georgia) over at Informed Comment is music to my ears:

I do believe that Bush and other high-level administration officials will face a court someday, but I think it will be after 2009, and probably in a national court such as Brussels or Madrid (exercising universal jurisdiction) rather than the [International Criminal Court].
If Prof. Ross's speculation comes true (and I'm not holding my breath), it is to be fervently hoped that The Smirking Chimp and his co-conspirators will find themselves under the in personam jurisdiction of that court.

Len on 06.13.05 @ 12:58 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Interesting list...

from Prof. Juan Cole: Top Ten Things You Wouldn't Expect to Happen if You Listened to Bush and Cheney.

Len on 06.13.05 @ 12:45 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Karen's Answers to Chicago Q Trivia (Part 2):

1) Len posted a picture of a Chicago place used in a Steve McQueen movie (The Hunter –1980) featuring a car chase scene with an-action-stunt of the vehicle driving off the parking garage and landing in the Chicago River below - What is the name of this building/landmark?

d) Marina City Tower

2) As another Movie Q: What Chicago “landmark” frequented byu Chicago gangsters dating back to the era of prohibition did they blow up in the 19 movie “Thief“ with James Caan?

a) The Green Mill Lounge

Greenmill1 (45k image)

”The Green Mill Cocktail Lounge in Chicago, IL notoriety dates back to Prohibition, when Chicago gangsters used the club as a headquarters.

Situated in Chicago’s Uptown neighborhood, the Green Mill Cocktail Lounge, opened in 1907 as a beer garden named Pop Morris’s Garden. Tom Chamales purchased the bar in 1910, expanding the structure, adding live entertainment, and renaming the establishment the Green Mill Cocktail Lounge. Since then the lounge has become a popular jazz venue. During Prohibition, the Green Mill remained open as a speakeasy and gained a reputation as a gangster hangout favored by Al Capone.

Considered the birthplace of the slam movement in the U.S., the Green Mill has been a fixture of the slam scene for almost two decades. In 1985, Marc Smith launched a reading series at the Get Me High Lounge, another Chicago jazz club. A year later, he relocated the series to the Green Mill and named it the Uptown Poetry Slam. The first slam took place on July 25, 1986, and has been a weekly feature at the lounge ever since
The Uptown Poetry Slam presents guest performers from around the country, an open mike for newcomers, and a slam competition, all for a mere five-dollar cover charge. Between two to eight poets vie for the top slot in the slam competition each week and three audience members serve as judges. The poets go head to head in a series of readings until the judges determine a winner. The winning poet has a choice of two prizes: ten dollars or the Big John Scam: five lottery tickets.”

3) What was the first Movie Palace built in Chicago in 1921?

d) The Chicago Theater

4) A Chicago reporter gave this U.S. dept. of Justice unit it’s name back in 1929 – What were they called?

b) The Untouchables

5) What was the name of the short lived Federal League baseball team that first played in Wrigley Field in 1914?

e) The Chicago Whales

”The Chicago Whales were owned by Charles Weeghman and were the original team to occupy Wrigley Field as part of the Federal League. That league folded in 1916 and Weeghman purchased the National League Chicago Cubs and moved them from the west side to the “Friendly Confines’ of the new ball field.”

6) Chicago was the home to many famous “puppeteers” and Lawry’ the Prime Rib was originally a puppet theater. What puppets appeared there?

b) The Kungsholm Puppet Theater

”The Italian Renaissance style mansion (home to Lawry’s) was first built as a private residence for L.Hamilton McCormick - nephew of the Reaper-King, Cyrus Hall McCormick, and his British wife, Constance Plummer. Mrs. McCormick was one of the “society hostesses” of the era during the 1890’s.

After being widowed in 1934 and raising her 3 sons (Alister, Leander Jr. and Edward Hamilton) Mrs. McCormick leased the home to Mr. Pierre Nuytens from 1935 to 1937 – and he trans formed the 400 person capacity ballroom into the Continetal Casino.

In 1937, famed restaurateur, Fredrik A. Chramer leased the building and opened an expensive Scandinavian “smorgasbord.” The Kungsholm dining room was decorated in a Moderne Swedish style with coats of arms representing each of the three Scandinavian countries. It was Chramer who turned the ballroom into a home movie theater and in 1940 was inspired by Danish puppet shows to create the internationally known Kungsholm Puppet Theater.”

7) The term “The Windy City” was aptly coined for both the meteorological conditions of the Great Plaines weather and the Political “long winded-ness” of Boastful Chicago Politicians. It first became a phrase used in 1885 in what newspaper?

c) Cleveland Gazette

8) Bonus: This nick name “The Windy City” is shared by what other city?

a) Wellington, New Zealand

Karen on 06.13.05 @ 12:37 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Busier Than You Can Imagine...

Holy Cats...these SBC / D-link / AOHell folks sure take up some time!!!

Considering this all started at 3:30 a.m. this morning, I should count my lucky stars I'm done with at least part of these DSL woes by Noon!! LOL

Got a new modem from the SBC people to replace the existing DSL. Turns out the first two SBC tech- help people were less than fully helpful. The first tech support person was unable to fully get the DSL up and connected or access anything cause it was before 7 a.m.

Then, their next Tech support person got me connected - but only directly via a hard wired ethernet cable to the new modem (on my laptop that I use the Wifi D-Link router to regularly connect with). But the silly dolt neglected to "offer" to tell me thay have a second level of SBC support for routers to get to the "bridge" option - and told me AOL or D-Link would do that set -up. Bleh!!

Yet another 1-1/2 hours on various hold and tech-support avenues with AOL and D-link...I end up back to SBC tech support and FINALLY get the offer of second level HELP!! Sheesh.

And that gets me to round about Noon with access to my web browsers (and this post!! LOL)

Add in watering the lawn - it's my day for odd addresses. Now the washer folks were here too!! But only PART of the parts arrived...Bleh!! But...they have an appliance part-store some where round here...so they'll be back in bout a half hour to finish that!! I Hope. Yippee. (Day 15 without a washing machine.)

Then, THEN, I get to shop for Lindsey's 14th birthday and think on that "special dinner"...Oh JOY...she's Fourteen!!

Plus my Fur-kid, Sami, HATES her caged confinement - but she's mending - so she'll have to just *whine* like a "squeaky wheel" till she's 100% better.

*Whew* Enough from the life'o' Karen for ya ??? LOL at least for today....eh? :-)

So...I will post those Trivia answers - but I'm not sure what else I'll get to today. Laundry I hope. LOL

Karen on 06.13.05 @ 12:29 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Gem o'the Day:

One of the more outrageous things -- among many -- about the war in Iraq is the way it has become deeply entwined with the Republican Party's war for political hegemony at home, thanks to the Bush administration's unabashed belief in the slogan of every successful political machine: "To the victors go the spoils."

Considering how the war in Iraq is going we could perrhaps amend that to read: To the
losers go the spoils. But the principle, or rather utter lack of principles, remains the same.

We saw this in the staffing of the occupation authority in Baghdad with GOP hacks and the sons and daughters of the conservative apparat, and even more spectacularly (not to mention obscenely) in the Pentagon's various contracts with Halliburton.

If the symbol of the Roman state was a statue of a she wolf suckling the city's founders, Romulus and Remus, then I think America should have one of a sow, suckling every defense contractor, hack politician and PR operative in Washington.

Len on 06.13.05 @ 12:27 PM CST [link] [ | ]

This slipped by me this weekend.....

Keep in mind, these are supposedly "Our Iraqis":

An hour before dawn, the sky still clouded by a dust storm, the soldiers of the Iraqi army's Charlie Company began their mission with a ballad to ousted president Saddam Hussein. "We have lived in humiliation since you left," one sang in Arabic, out of earshot of his U.S. counterparts. "We had hoped to spend our life with you."

But the Iraqi soldiers had no clue where they were going. They shrugged their shoulders when asked what they would do. The U.S. military had billed the mission as pivotal in the Iraqis' progress as a fighting force but had kept the destination and objectives secret out of fear the Iraqis would leak the information to insurgents.

"We can't tell these guys about a lot of this stuff, because we're not really sure who's good and who isn't," said Rick McGovern, a tough-talking 37-year-old platoon sergeant from Hershey, Pa., who heads the military training for Charlie Company.


The reconstruction of Iraq's security forces is the prerequisite for an American withdrawal from Iraq. But as the Bush administration extols the continuing progress of the new Iraqi army, the project in Baiji, a desolate oil town at a strategic crossroads in northern Iraq, demonstrates the immense challenges of building an army from scratch in the middle of a bloody insurgency.

Charlie Company disintegrated once after its commander was killed by a car bomb in December. And members of the unit were threatening to quit en masse this week over complaints that ranged from dismal living conditions to insurgent threats. Across a vast cultural divide, language is just one impediment. Young Iraqi soldiers, ill-equipped and drawn from a disenchanted Sunni Arab minority, say they are not even sure what they are fighting for. They complain bitterly that their American mentors don't respect them.

In fact, the Americans don't: Frustrated U.S. soldiers question the Iraqis' courage, discipline and dedication and wonder whether they will ever be able to fight on their own, much less reach the U.S. military's goal of operating independently by the fall.
Is the bAdministration even aware of how badly they've fucked up Iraq?

Len on 06.13.05 @ 11:59 AM CST [link] [ | ]

A follow up on the failed Bill O'Reilly cruise....

We noted in an earlier post the cancellation of a politically themed cruise featuring a personal appearance by Fox Snooze Network partisan hack Bill "Loofah Man" O'Reilly for lack of interest. A member of one of the mail lists I subscribe to (where we've discussed the failure of said cruise) had this to say about the matter this morning:

That's bizarre. I would have thought the opportunity to punch O'Reilly right in the face, out there in international waters where the laws are few and far between, might have generated a lot of interest. Maybe they marketed the cruise to the wrong crowd.
I guess there are some mysteries we'll never know the answer to.

Len on 06.13.05 @ 07:33 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Well, we don't have a tip jar....

But The Beloved Proprietor Here (that's me; check the domain name) is contemplating the purchase of a new watch. A discussion thread on one of his mailing lists is also making him a bit nostalgic for The Good Old Days before electronic calculators, when the ability to use a slide rule was a distinguishing mark of incipient geekdom (and FWIW, I was reasonably proficient at using a slipstick back in grade school).

So if anyone's thinking of showing her/his appreciation for the Pearls of Deathless Wisdom And Other Bits o'Choice Entertainment provided by This Humble Blog, I'll consider this as a suitable token of your appreciation. Email me for the shipping details.


Len on 06.13.05 @ 07:27 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Europe: the Dittohead Paradise?

Sherman Wright has apparently recently returned from a European trip, and he offers (over the course of several days) a few musings on why the right-leaning libertarian types should be praising Europe as an example of what we ought to be doing:

Europe as a Dittohead Paradise

During these experiences I began thinking of what America’s right wing Dittoheads would make of these experiences. Not that experiencing cultures that developed in parallel with American culture would be high on their priority list. For one thing, Europe consists entirely of Foreign Countries. For another, it has a reputation among US right wingers of being a hotbed of socialism and government activism. This is why Bush’s first visit to Europe was remarkably late in life (considering how cosmopolitan his Dad is). My diverse experiences last week, sharpened by my sensitivity to the right wing inconsistency, convinced me that Dittoheads are missing out by not looking to Europe as an embodiment of economic and libertarian values they espouse. Let’s spend a couple of days considering this question.
Europe: The Dittohead Economic Paradise
A key Dittohead virtue is everyone paying their own way. They hate “socialism,” which they define as the government providing a service that could be provided by the private sector. I put socialism in quotes because they interpret any spending to “promote the general welfare” (using the phrase from the Constitution) as taking from one citizen to give to another. If the government doesn’t provide any services whatsoever to individuals, then this “taking” problem is solved. What does this look like? It looks like every individual individually paying for anything and everything. And, to a large degree, this is what Europe looks like. Despite its reputation for socialism, there is a far larger degree of pay-as-you-go than most Americans would believe.
Europe: The Dittohead Property Rights Paradise
Another very obvious aspect of life in Europe that Dittoheads would doubtless find endearing is the respect afforded to private property. The beach at Rimini is an excellent example. Imagine a very wide and very long stretch of gorgeous beach, comparing favorably to, say, California. Recall that in California there is no private ownership of a beach. Citizens of California are free to walk for miles along their beaches, even in front of celebrity homes. You can walk on the beach in Rimini too, but you have to pay.
Europe: The Dittohead Paragon of Freedom
In fact, it’s difficult to drive and stay alive on the autostrada! You discover why you have two eyes – one is for watching the road ahead and the other is for watching the rear view mirrors for Mercedes, BMWs, and Porsches barreling down the road in your lane at twice your speed. I saw no indication that anything resembling a speed limit exists on those highways. I never saw any speed limit signs or, for that matter, Polizei. I recall from my years in Bavaria that if you get hit from behind in the left lane, it’s your fault! The bottom line in Europe is that every driver feels he (and it’s usually a he behind the wheel) has a right to go as fast as his wheels will turn, and the police are happy to go along with this. Instead of stopping speeders, their role is to clean up the messes on the roads that occur all too often. I saw plenty over the years, and am lucky I wasn’t involved with any of them! This is right in line with Dittohead values. So what if driving like a maniac causes fatalities among people not actually putting the pedal to the metal? Who said life was fair?

Len on 06.13.05 @ 06:21 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Thought for the Day:

Ginsberg's Theorem:
You can't win. You can't break even. You can't quit the game.

Freeman's Commentary on Ginsberg's Theorem:
Every major philosophy that attempts to make life seem meaningful is based on the negation of one part of Ginsberg's Theorem. To wit:

1. Capitalism is based on the assumption that you can win.
2. Socialism is based on the assumption that you can break even.
3. Religion is based on the assumption that you can quit the game.

Len on 06.13.05 @ 05:49 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Thought from the Seventh Inning Stretch....

Jeeeezus, Mike Ditka can't carry a tune in a bucket. And it's not like "Take Me Out To The Ball Game" is that challenging, vocally.

I don't know what your day job is anymore, Mike, but don't give it up.

Len on 06.12.05 @ 09:03 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Karen's Chicago Trivia Q (part 2):

End of the Line by Nancy Watkins (from the Chicago Tribune Archives) is a historical Tid-bit about the last of the Chicago street cars put out of commission in 1958. (Missing on-line is the hard copy picture of Streetcar to make the June 21st Clark to Wentworth run.)

FEW TEARS WERE shed at the running of the last streetcar in Chicago. Trolleys were noisy, what with all the clang-clang-clanging. They carried high labor costs. They were unable to detour around accident scenes or traffic jams, and in fact they often caused traffic jams.

Still, it was the end of an era, and scores of passengers wedged into old NO. 7213 in hopes of a souvenir or bragging rights. AL CARTER (watch this space for more about Al) went home with both: the distinction of being the last rider, and his transfer autographed by the conductor.

Number of streetcars operating in Chicago at their peak in the 1930s: 3,742. Number in use by the last day: 56.

What replaced the streetcar named Desire in New Orleans in 1948: A BUS NAMED DESIRE.

Streetcar fare in 1880: 5 cents. CTA fare in 1958: 25 CENTS.

Foot-warming device on the floors of early Chicago streetcars: STRAW.

- 0 -

Now every shadow that I meet, they all know my name /And they whisper, 'What's the matter, hon, /Don't you know you're riding on the ghost train? '


This dovetails with my Chicago Q Trivia (Part 2):

Just to commemorate Lens’ recent foray to the hinterlands of the Windy City and His Photo Post of the City. Here is another Trivia Q&A about Chicago – and because we haven’t had one in ages. *smile*

1) Len posted a picture of a Chicago place used in a Steve McQueen movie (The Hunter –1980) featuring a car chase scene with an "action-stunt" of the vehicle plunging off the parking garage and landing in the Chicago River below - What is the name of this building/landmark?

a) RR Donnelley Center
b) Lake Point Tower
c) Chicago Tribune Tower
d) Marina City Tower
e) The Merchandise Mart

2) As another Movie Q: What Chicago “landmark” frequented by Chicago gangsters and dating back to the era of prohibition, did they blow up in the movie "Thief" with James Caan?

a) The Green Mill Lounge
b) The Cubby Bear Tavern
c) Berghoff’s
d) The Biograph Theater

3) What was the first Movie Palace built in Chicago in 1921?

a) The Oriental Theater
b) The McVickers theater
c) The Esquire Theater
d) The Chicago Theater
e) RKO Place Theater

4) A Chicago reporter gave this U.S. Dept. of Justice Prohibition Unit it’s name back in 1929 – What were they called?

a) Ness’s Squadron
b) The Untouchables
c) Operation Al-Anon
d) Eliot’s Eleven

5) What was the name of the short lived Federal League baseball team that first played in Wrigley Field in 1914?

a) The Chicago Stoats
b) The Bear Claws
c) The Weeghman Warriors
d) The Wrigleyville Waves
e) The Chicago Whales

6) Chicago was the home to many famous “puppeteers” and Lawry’s: The Prime Rib was originally a puppet theater. What puppets appeared there?

a) The Kuklapolitans: Kukla, Fran and Ollie
b) The Kungsholm Puppet Theater
c) Garfield Goose and Friends
d) King Friday the Thirteeth and Mr. Rodgers

7) The term “The Windy City” was aptly coined for both the meteorological conditions of the Great Plaines weather and the Political “long winded-ness” of Boastful Chicago Politicians. It first became a phrase used in 1885 in what newspaper?

a) The Hearst Chicago Examiner
b) The Chicago Daily Mail
c) Cleveland Gazette
d) The Louisville Courier-Journal
e) The Chicago South Side Daily Sun

8) Bonus: This nick name “The Windy City” is shared by what other city?

a) Wellington, New Zealand
b) Bradenton, Florida
c) Seward, Alaska
d) Bathurst, Brunswick, Canada

Karen on 06.12.05 @ 11:41 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Thought for the Day:

As for the receptions of the ex-Cardinals, they were unsurprisingly mixed. Tino's sarcastic remarks about St. Louis had gotten all the way around the Busch Stadium bowl by the time he was announced as a pinch hitter, and he got reamed by the crowd. Tony Womack wasn't cheered as much as I expected; presumably the fans have already forgotten last year's sparkplug for Eckstein and Grudzielanek. It's okay, Tony, Bo Hart and Kerry Robinson know what you're going through.

But the biggest boos came for Jason Giambi, oddly enough, and they came bigger the drunker the people in the row in front of me got. "Sprinkle some juiiiiiice on it, Jason!" was a laugh riot in the first inning, but by the sixth it was
The General, Duck Soup, Clerks, and Some Like it Hot all rolled up into one brilliant package. When I suggested that it was getting funnier every time they said it--five times in twenty seconds at one point, a veritable land-speed record--they... thought I was being serious. I sprinkled a little juice on their evening by not convincing them otherwise.

All in all, I like my drunk fans a little more inventive; I'll never forget the time, at a game against the Dodgers, that some fans in front of me began to proclaim that players "Had a two in their name! That means... double plaaaay!" At first they saved this for a specific player, but then for any player with a two in their "name." By the time they were thrown out(!), they were saying it regardless of whether or not men were on base, or what the player's number was. That is the kind of artistry I think today's drunken fan is sorely lacking.
--Dan@Get Up, Baby! [on the 6/10/05 Cards/Yankees game]

Len on 06.12.05 @ 08:48 AM CST [link] [ | ]

More on That NIMBY...

As some added background to my *whine* about the NIMBY of the Kane County Adult Corrections facility proposed for the property situated directly behind my home - is this piece from the Kane County Chronicle: Jail project more than just jail.

It’s not as much the safety issues or “neighborhood” hysteria over property values (long term or otherwise) but the COSTS of building this 777–1700 bed Beast on the proposed site.

For one "small" thing, there is a NICOR gas line and easement dissecting the property (N to S) almost in half. They can’t build it on the opposite half and create any connection tunnel to the existing Court House. (Thus they would still need to provide “secure transportation” even that short distance.)

On the side of the easement - where the Court House is located - is poor-building site soil conditions occupied by a razor wire enclosed Lead-contaminated retention pond. (Currently an ongoing lawsuit with the builder over a poorly sealed metal roof that allowed Lead to leach into this pond.) The County would need to do a major environmental clean–up and earth moving project to rehabilitate this area for any large scale building proposed. The cost just keep escalating here - don't they...???

So, to build this Proposed Jail for $43 to $47 million dollars of “guesstimated” costs (and this only the shell and structure of the building, not including extras or cost to operate it) – currently that’s the entire amount of money available for ALL county projects. These added expenses, as well as the items listed in the article linked above, will determine the feasibility of this whole project and plan.

Keeping my fingers crossed that they will be forced reconsider and pursue other options which are more cost effective and neighborhood-friendly for this entire area – as this proposed plan IS NOT.

We’ll see how impervious to financial realities this Kane County Board really is. And there is always the next election to express our dissatisfaction with the way this issue has been dealt with and the voters of Kane County.

Karen on 06.12.05 @ 07:08 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Fur-Kid Update

I've got my little Fur-Kid, Sami (the Dachshund), in her old cage for a bout of en-forced Bed-Rest. I am hopeful that with some medications and this kind of healing rest-break, she'll be able to get over her neck injury and get back to being her ole' Houndie self again soon.

Though I could tell she was having bad puppy-karma memories of being caged or something becasue she got so agitated and shivering when I put her on her blankets inside that cage. She's such a good dog there is never a need to cage her...so this was not part of usual routine of places to be for a rest. But the Vet and Dr. Mom say she must rest to get better.

Sami - On her 5th Birthday, Jan 27th.
In her "usual" favorite resting spot in the front window.

sami3 (79k image)

So, keep your finger crossed that she heals and send her some good vibes to get on the mend. :-)

Karen on 06.12.05 @ 05:22 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Rusted Iron...


Now, I hate to be a spoil-sport, but here’s someone I WON’T miss if he never returned to the Celebrity-sports spot-light:

Tyson Refuses to Answer Bell in Shocking Defeat: Loss to McBride Might Mean End of Boxer's Comeback Attempts.

Awww...This man is such a thug and a *luser* despite all the opportunities and good-luck graces he’s gotten in life. Good Riddance!!

Good-bye Mike Tyson – and don’t the Door hit ya on the Ass on your way OUT.

Karen on 06.12.05 @ 05:14 AM CST [link] [ | ]

A Most Un-Popular Guy...

Writing about the nexus of Mark Felt as “Deep Throat” in the “Watergate” scandal and the investigative powers of a “Free Press”, Frank Rich (NY Times) makes the connection to the reign of King George II here in the U.S. and his attempts to intimidate those from criticizing his White House or Administration in this piece called Don’t Follow The Money:

"…The fundamental right of Americans, through our free press, to penetrate and criticize the workings of our government is under attack as never before" was how the former Nixon speech writer William Safire put it on this page almost nine months ago.

The current administration, a second-term imperial presidency that outstrips Nixon's in hubris by the day, leads the attack, trying to intimidate and snuff out any Woodwards or Bernsteins that might challenge it, any media proprietor like Katharine Graham or editor like Ben Bradlee who might support them and any anonymous source like Deep Throat who might enable them to find what Carl Bernstein calls "the best obtainable version of the truth."

The attacks continue to be so successful that even now, long after many news organizations, including The Times, have been found guilty of failing to puncture the administration's prewar W.M.D. hype, new details on that same story are still being ignored or left uninvestigated.

THE journalists who do note the resonances of now with then rarely get to connect those dots on the news media's center stage of television. You are more likely to hear instead of how Watergate inspired too much "gotcha" journalism. That's a rather absurd premise given that no "gotcha" journalist got the goods on the biggest story of our time: the false intimations of incipient mushroom clouds peddled by American officials to sell a war that now threatens to match the unpopularity and marathon length of Vietnam….”

Sad state of affairs for both the Free Press (and the investigative journalism) and us (the public) to be credibly informed.

Yet there is a substantial segment of the populace “beginning” to recognize this “biil of goods” they’ve been sold in this fake “Uniter -working on issues important to you” of a President? (And who ARE you Folks come late to “smelling that ‘wake-up’ coffee” here???)

As Dan Froomkin (Washington Post) write in this piece; The Increasingly Unpopular President:
”When President Bush says "polls go up, and polls go down," he's about half right.

Two new public-opinion surveys show Bush's poll numbers are dropping into solidly negative territory.
In the just-out Associated Press/Ipsos poll, Bush's job approval ratings and the public's confidence in the direction he's taking the nation are both at their lowest levels ever.

A whopping 55 percent of those polled actually disapprove of the job he's doing, compared to 43 percent who approve.
When is it time to start referring to Bush as an unpopular president? When his approval ratings are solidly below 50 percent for at least three months? Check. When his approval ratings on his signature issues are in the red? Check. When a clear majority of Americans say he is ignoring the public's concerns and instead has become distracted by issues that most people say they care little about? Check.”

How long can he remain this Un-Popular a guy before the public demands some changes in his policies and attitudes??

Karen on 06.12.05 @ 04:54 AM CST [link] [ | ]

St. Louis Cardinals Hall of Fame and Museum

The day of the Cards/Red Sox game I needed to kill a little time between the end of my delightful stadium tour and the beginning of the game, and since I was in the neighborhood (and since Sandy had got me in), I decided to take a look around the St. Louis Cardinals Hall of Fame Museum. The Museum, in the same building as the International Bowling Museum and Hall of Fame (at 111 Stadium Plaza in Downtown St. Louis) is a repository of St. Louis Major League Baseball history.

Pictures, as usual, below the fold.

Len on 06.11.05 @ 10:44 PM CST [more..] [ | ]

Fun with ambiguous modifiers....

Checking the spam folder (which I have to do regularly; Eudora has a tendency to put legit but unsolicited emails in the spam folder. If I hadn't checked the spam folder as religiously as I do, I'd have missed Karen's first email to me, and she probably wouldn't be part o'the happy crew here), I saw a mail with the subject line "Nourishing spermatozoa".

Which immediately got me thinking. Was this a spam about how I could nourish my spermatozoa, and make them bigger, more robust, and more fit to propagate the species? Or how spermatozoa could be the cornerstone of a great, nutritious diet?

These are the thoughts that kept me out of the really good schools.

Len on 06.11.05 @ 01:18 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Finally Microsoft gets with the program....

Internet Exploder Exploiter Explorer gets tabbed browsing, finally.

As Eric notes:

What's next? Tabbed Firefox, Safari and Netscape browsers? OMG!


Len on 06.11.05 @ 12:25 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Post-Less for A While...

I've been in the midst of some pet health care issues [along with my own leg problems - though that one is about 95% better - *smile* ]. So, it's been a tough and busy week, and I've currently got a sedated dog - following x-rays to rule out a fracture. The most like suspect is a spinal neck injury, which Dachshunds are prone to - along with various back problems as they age. :-(

I have to see what treatment options and medication *might* make her better and well again. And whether a visit to a dog-neurologist is warranted and (IF) surgery is recommended - should it be done? or will my poor houndie get worse and suffer neurological paralysis from this? Not a good set of conditions.

And not a lot of time to post...but be back in a bit - and perhaps an update. I trust Len and Brock will *pick-up* the slack until I sort things down. :-)

Karen on 06.11.05 @ 12:18 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Time to go vegetarian?

or maybe just swear off beef for the duration: Brain degeneration at the Dept. of Agriculture (David Shuster)

Since this is the time of year when so many of us head to barbecues, I want to alert you to a story you need to know. Our federal government is putting all of us at risk of mad cow disease. And the incompetence and erratic approach of the Department of Agriculture has become so bizarre that one begins to wonder if some officials at that agency are deliberately trying to get fired.

First, a refresher: Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy or BSE is an infectious disease in cattle that causes their brains to degenerate. Animals with the disease will often stagger and become hopelessly agitated before they die, thus the name “mad cow.” The disease is usually fatal to people who eat infected beef. And since the proteins that cause the disease can survive temperatures hot enough to melt lead... turning a hamburger into a hockey puck (while killing off other potential problems) will not make BSE meat safe to eat.

At the moment, there appears to be an outbreak of mad cow disease in Japan... and American researchers are incredibly nervous that we may be on the verge of a deadly mad cow outbreak here in the United States. That’s what makes the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s approach so troubling.

As it stands, the U.S. Department of Agriculture refuses to even consider the main recommendations put forward by the World Health Organization that have stopped mad cow disease across Europe. What are these recommendations? The first is testing. The other is to stop the practice of feeding cow blood, tissue, and slaughterhouse waste to other cows. I can hear some of you now: “Come on, Shuster, that feeding practice is so grotesque it couldn’t possibly be happening in the United States.”

Actually, it is happening a lot. Sure, there are some livestock producers who don’t give their animals the kind of feed that contains cow blood or waste. But many livestock producers do. And the fact is, much of the commercially produced calf feed available today contains the very stuff that could spread mad cow disease throughout our food chain.

What is the Department of Agriculture doing about this? Nothing. As I said, the Department of Agriculture refuses to even consider stronger regulations that would put an end to this disgusting practice. But it gets even worse. The department is doing everything it can to assure the public that our food chain “is safe.” Thus, we have a ridiculous pep rally like the one on Thursday at the University of Minnesota. Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns will, as his press release says, “hold a roundtable discussion regarding the safety of North American beef...” Those invited to participate include USDA officials, producers, packers, and others. Who are the others? Groups that don’t want more testing and don’t want the government passing regulations that would make calf feed cleaner and thus slightly more expensive. In fact, consumer groups, organic livestock companies, and beef producers who oppose allowing cows to eat cow blood and slaughterhouse waste will not be allowed to participate.

The irony is that if the Department of Agriculture really cared about the U.S. meat industry, the department would add a little pain now to prevent the industry from being decimated down the road when an outbreak occurs and nobody wants to buy U.S. meat. But once again, it’s all about short-term profits and paying back your political contributors. And consumers are left holding the bag... or in this case, mourning the deaths of loved ones who could die suddenly from the human form of BSE.
Of course, it's a great American capitalist tradition that no potential problem gets addressed until it becomes an actual problem, and people start dying, all in the name of profit maximization.

In a thread on the SKEPTIC mailing list, one of the regular contributors reminded us of a quote from Dilbert that is appropriate to these practices: I think that they'd kill us in our sleep and sell our organs if the return on investment was right...

It's only a matter of time.

Len on 06.11.05 @ 12:10 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Apropos of Zach....

the Memphis area teen who came out as gay to his parents, only to find himself subject to a "reprogramming" program.... General J.C. Christian, Patriot, has taken note of his case. In an open letter to John Smid, the executive director of "Love in Action" (the program in which Zach is being held), the General goes over the rules of the programs and makes some helpful suggestions. This rule interested me:

No television viewing, going to movies, or reading/watching/listening to secular media of any kind, anywhere within the client's and the parent's/guardian's control. This includes listening to classical or instrumental music that is not expressly Christian (Beethoven, Bach, etc. are not considered Christian).
Whoever classified Bach as "not Christian" is obviously ignorant about classical music. As ignorant of classical music as s/he is ignorant of the genesis of homosexuality, I'd wager.

Len on 06.11.05 @ 11:56 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Dunno about you.....

but I wonder what the White House and the Secret Service have to hide: Democrats fear cover-up in probe of ouster at rally

Three congressional Democrats used the word "cover-up" Thursday in complaining about lack of results in the Secret Service investigation into the forced removal of three people from a presidential speech in March.

The Secret Service and the White House both know, but refuse to reveal, the identity of the man who looked and acted like a Secret Service agent, and ousted the three from the president's Denver appearance solely because of a "No more blood for oil" bumper sticker.

The Secret Service has said the man was not an agent. The White House says he was a White House volunteer.

Sen. Ken Salazar and Reps. Mark Udall and Diana DeGette, all of Colorado, months ago demanded and got the Secret Service to launch an investigation into possible charges of impersonation of an agent.

But nearly three months after the incident - and weeks after the agency interviewed witnesses in Denver - they have heard nothing in response.

"The lack of information from the Secret Service and the White House and their unresponsiveness toward this matter gives the appearance of either disinterest or a cover-up," the three wrote in a letter to Secret Service Director Ralph Basham.
Typical bAdministration shenanigans; they'll only tell you what they want you to know, and a lot of what they will tell you is lies, distortion and wishful thinking.

The U.S. is going to hell in the proverbial handbasket, and we deserve it.

Len on 06.11.05 @ 10:35 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Gem o'the Day:

I'm not sure I have anything to add at the moment to the growing chorus of outrage at what we've collectively allowed to happen just off our shores. But there is some mix of grim appropriateness and shameful symmetry to the fact that we've chosen the one piece of territory in the Americas free of free elections, civil rights and civil liberties to build our own human rights free zone.
--Joshua Micah Marshall, while writing on Sen. Mel Martinez's (R-FL) partial endorsement of Sen. Joseph Biden's (D-DE) call to shut down the prison camp at Guantanamo

Len on 06.11.05 @ 10:27 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Why are we f*king around with "No Child Left Behind".....

which causes teachers to "teach the tests", and administrators to fudge the districts' test scores, when the true bedrock of education--libraries--are in such pitiful shape?


Baltimore County isn't alone in its need for funding for new library books.
  • Last winter, the Washington Post reported that books in school libraries across the Washington (D.C.) area still speak of communist rule in the Soviet Union, of apartheid in South Africa, and of Golda Meir as the prime minister of Israel.
  • Librarians in Chattanooga, Tennessee, reported that the area's school libraries are underfunded. The librarians identified problems such as a shortage of current books and other materials, particularly in science; insufficient time to spend with students; and a lack of time to plan with teachers.
  • In Boston, according to a Boston Globe news story, "many school library book collections in Massachusetts are stuck in the '50s and '60s."
  • In one Philadelphia elementary school, the library, with its broken furniture and moldy, smelly books, is in such bad condition that the principal has closed it to students.
The "last major infusion of money to support school library collections was in the late '60s, early '70s, and that's where a lot of the collections sit," M. Ellen Jay, former head of the American Association of School Librarians, told ABC News recently.


School library collections are frozen in the 1970s because that's when a major change in funding occurred: Federal money previously aimed specifically at library materials was reallocated to block grants that are administered on the local level.



Asked whether it is better to have outdated books or no books on library shelves, Shontz, Selverstone, and Curtis all replied, emphatically and without hesitation, "No books."

"Outdated books give students misinformation," Selverstone told Education World. "Our mission is to give them correct and credible information."

Curtis agreed. "We betray children when we put outdated information on our shelves," she told Education World. "We're working toward better understanding of a global world, toward multicultural sensitivity. These goals are not promoted by outdated information." She has a "shelf of shame" in her office where she keeps examples of outdated school library books.

In addition, Curtis said, "if you don't have nice new books that kids want to read, they won't read. We're trying to get children to read more."

"Old books do more harm than good," Shontz told Education World. She cautions librarians to look carefully at any book dated earlier than the 1990s in fields such as science, sex education, geography, and travel. "Outdated books keep stereotypes alive," she said.



The love of books-- of holding a book, turning its pages, and looking at its pictures-- isn't a very potent argument for funding new books in the face of current budget restrictions. But recent research offers more concrete evidence that investments in school libraries produce dividends in student achievement.

In April, the
School Library Journal reported findings from studies done in three states: Alaska, Colorado, and Pennsylvania. That report, Dick and Jane Go to the Head of the Class, contends that data from those three studies indicate that students in schools with strong library media programs learn more and score higher on standardized tests than do their peers in schools with less adequate library facilities.
Pardon my cynicism, but given that our "edjermacation President" is a notorious non-reader (which explains, in part, why he's one of the most incurious and ignorant men ever to occupy the Oval Office), I don't think we're going to see much movement on this front anytime soon.

And compounding the shame: his wife is a librarian. You'd think she'd give him a swift kick in the ass to help get his priorities straightened out....

Len on 06.11.05 @ 09:30 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Hmmmmm.... the public has better taste than I thought....

Apparently, right-wing hack Bill O'Reilly had sponsored a cruise (featuring hisownself as the main attraction, no doubt) and shilled it relentlessly on his popular cable TV show.

The cruise has been cancelled for lack of interest.

Passage on the November cruise cost between $1,099 and $1,629 before taxes - which would have scored two private appearances by the star of "The O'Reilly Factor," as well as a lecture from former U.S. Sen. Jeremiah Denton (R-Ala.) and a symposium on "How to Combat the ACLU."

"These types of cruises featuring politicians or about a political issue - either conservative or liberal - are usually quite popular," said Brian Major of Cruise Lines International Association, an industry group.

"So this is really surprising that this one didn't sell enough to happen," Major said.

The Thomas More Center asked the organizing travel agency, Corporate Travel Services, for an extension to book more guests, but it still wasn't able to sell enough tickets to make the voyage feasible, Costanzo said.

A spokeswoman for Corporate Travel Service confirmed the cruise was sparsely booked, but would not provide details.
Couldn't have happened to a more deserving guy.

Len on 06.11.05 @ 08:46 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Thought for the Day:

In 1954, Fawcett Publications shut down their line of comic books due to a court ruling against the publisher resulting from a long-running plagiarism lawsuit from DC Comics (claiming that Captain Marvel was a direct "steal" of Superman). Fawcett's remaining stash of unpublished comic book stories were purchased by Charlton Comics, which they repackaged in a number of short-lived generic titles -- and it's hard to get more generic than DANGER AND ADVENTURE!
--Scott Shaw! [on the Charlton Comic book "Danger and Adventure!"]

Len on 06.11.05 @ 07:59 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Miscellaneous Chicago pics...

And to finish memorializing my Chicago trip, a few stray pics I snapped along the way, presented in no particular order. Below the fold, of course....

Len on 06.10.05 @ 08:43 PM CST [more..] [ | ]

Test your skill.....

Can you tell the computer geek from the serial killer? It may be harder than it seems at first glance.....

Len on 06.10.05 @ 07:31 PM CST [link] [ | ]

The problem with this family....

is that it seems that everyone, the parent included, could stand to have some adult supervision: Boy, 11, crashes after mom lets him drive

CHICAGO (AP) -- A woman allowed her 11-year-old son to drive the family's minivan to his elementary school, where the boy crashed the vehicle near a group of children.

No one was hurt. The boy, however, was expelled from school, and both he and his mother were ordered to traffic court later this month.

The crash happened Monday outside St. John Fisher School on Chicago's South Side, not far from where the children were lining up to go inside. The minivan jumped the curb and hit a school zone sign as the boy tried to turn a corner, authorities said.

Police said they don't know why Erin Sarandah decided to let her son drive the couple of blocks from home to the school while she and her daughter were passengers.
Did they think of asking her? Or did she not have a good answer? (I know, damn lawyer advised her to exercise that pesky "right to silence" thing that I keep hearing about.)

Len on 06.10.05 @ 07:18 PM CST [link] [ | ]

The fun is in watching everyone point at everyone else saying, "They did it, not me!"

Chips found in place of woman's ashes:

HOUSTON (AP) -- Two daughters have sued a synagogue after they found a potato chip can in place of their mother's remains behind the locked, glass door of her niche in a mausoleum.

When the women visited Vivian Shulman Lieberman's niche in a Houston mausoleum a year ago, they found the cedar chest containing her ashes missing and a can of sour-cream-and-onion potato chips in its place.

The ashes are still missing, said Philip Hilder, an attorney for Lieberman's two daughters.
However, if the niche in the mausoleum is mine, check that can before drawing any conclusions. I'm the kinda guy that'd have his ashes put in a can that used to hold KC Masterpiece BBQ potato chips, just for the cachet.

Len on 06.10.05 @ 07:12 PM CST [link] [ | ]

What we have here is a geek with too much time on his hands....

The Periodic Table of Haiku. Click on an element, and get a haiku about it. Just a random click revealed:

56 Barium

the bitter cocktail
of a colonoscopy --
grin and barium

Len on 06.10.05 @ 07:07 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Oh wow.... I get to scoop Karen on a golf story....

Cousins shoot back-to-back aces. That's "holes in one" to you non-golfers (I'm not a golfer either, but I know enough golfers that I've picked up some of the terminology. Not much).

CHENANGO FORKS, N.Y. (AP) -- Ruthie MacDonald has been golfing for more than two decades and she's never seen anything like it. It's a good bet she probably never will again. MacDonald and her cousin, Joanie Villecco, each carded a hole-in-one on consecutive shots Wednesday morning in the Chenango Valley State Park Women's Golf Association league.

Villecco went first, and she knocked her 9-iron tee shot into the hole on the downhill 115-yard third hole at Chenango Valley State Park Golf Course. The shot landed just short of the green, rolled toward the hole and banked in off the pin.

"We were all excited. It was her first one. We were just jumping up and down, congratulating, hugging," MacDonald said Thursday. "On that hole, you're looking down. It was so plain to see."

Once the celebration subsided, it was MacDonald's turn to hit.

"The glory was all over. I got up there and didn't think anything about it," said McDonald, who hit a 7-iron and then stared again in disbelief. "I just swatted the ball, down it went, bounced twice, hit the pin and went in. We just couldn't believe it."

So much for that 15 minutes of fame.


"We started screaming," McDonald said. "They could hear us all over the course. To have it happen twice like that is just a miracle."

Just about. According to Golf Digest, the odds are 17 million-to-1 for two players in the same foursome to hit a hole-in-one on the same hole.
I want to see the calculation of those odds, myself.

Len on 06.10.05 @ 06:45 PM CST [link] [ | ]

A Few Good (Interesting?) Shows this Weekend on TeeVee:

The Chicago Tribune "Tempo" section had this list of offerings: Nine shows to watch this weekend:

"Chicago Tonight," 7 p.m. Friday, WTTW-Ch. 11: Host Bob Sirott does a half-hour interview with minor-league baseball team owner Mike Veeck, son of legendary White Sox owner Bill Veeck. Mike talks about his dad, "Disco Demolition Night" and his new book, "Fun Is Good: How to Create Joy and Passion in Your Workplace and Career."

"Russell Simmons Presents Def Poetry," 10:30 p.m. Friday, HBO: The interesting series begins its fifth season by including a guest spot by elusive and unpredictably peripatetic Dave Chappelle, videotaped last winter.

"Chicago Tribune Printers Row Book Fair," 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and 11:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday, C-SPAN2: C-SPAN2's Book TV provides live coverage of Printers Row Book Fair events and call-ins with authors; participants include Richard Posner, Geoffrey Stone, Kevin Boyle, John Harris and Michael Lind. More programming details are available at www.booktv.org.

"The Dead Zone," 9 p.m. Sunday, USA Network: As the fourth season of this stylish, spooky series begins, psychic Johnny Smith (Anthony Michael Hall) must stop the possible assassination of a slick and sleazy politician, Greg Stillson (Sean Patrick Flanery), and as if that weren't enough, he's still trying to prevent the nuclear Armageddon he sees in his scariest visions. Paired with the second season of USA's "The 4400," this promises to be one enjoyable night of TV.

"Super Troupers," 9:30 p.m. Saturday, WTTW-Ch. 11: If you've ever danced or sung along to the irresistible tunes of ABBA, this retrospective of the Swedish band's chart-topping pop career is for you.

"Danica Patrick's Race for Indy," 6:30 p.m. Saturday, ESPN: Not sick of the Danica hype? Relive her groundbreaking season and Indianapolis 500 race in this one-hour special.”

There a couple others on the list but these struck me as an interesting group - and I enjoy "Dead Zone" as a Sci-Fi mystery based on the Stephen King novel of the same name - So I'd like to see the season premiere.

Karen on 06.10.05 @ 04:37 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Not a Review from Cheech and Chong...

Excellent Op-Ed piece by the Editorial Board of the Chicago Tribune: Marijuana as Medicine.

”The Supreme Court has ruled that the federal government is fully within its rights to override state laws and prosecute patients who use marijuana for medical purposes. The question now is: Why does it bother?

Once upon a time, the idea of smoking pot to treat an illness may have sounded like something out of a Cheech and Chong movie. But no one is laughing anymore. Over the last two decades, a growing body of evidence has vindicated the value of cannabis for a variety of serious conditions, with minimal risk.

In 1999, the Institute of Medicine, a branch of the federal National Academy of Sciences, commissioned a thorough evaluation of all the data available on the subject and found that "nausea, appetite loss, pain and anxiety ... all can be mitigated by marijuana." The New England Journal of Medicine supports allowing medical use of cannabis, arguing that "a federal policy that prohibits physicians from alleviating suffering by prescribing marijuana for seriously ill patients is misguided, heavy-handed and inhumane."

After the Supreme Court ruling, John Walters, head of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, waxed triumphant, asserting that "science and research have not determined that smoking a crude plant is safe or effective." He's misrepresenting the research--and he neglects to mention that the federal government makes it extremely difficult for scientists to do studies that might yield better data.

The public is open to a different approach. Ten states have passed laws that effectively protect patients using pot for therapeutic needs, according to the Marijuana Policy Project. Another 20 have measures on the books endorsing medical marijuana. According to a 2002 Time/CNN poll, 80 percent of Americans favor the idea.

Yet the federal government has refused to budge--going so far as to send federal agents to destroy plants grown by patients and their caregivers in California, which has legalized medical marijuana. That's how Monday's Supreme Court decision came about. But even as the court upheld the right of the federal government to prosecute such cases, it made plain its doubts about the wisdom of the policy.

Maybe this verdict will finally force Congress to recognize the urgent need for change. Currently, the federal government classifies pot as a Schedule I drug--a designation reserved for substances with serious potential for abuse and no therapeutic value. Drugs of this kind may not be prescribed by physicians. Marijuana's inclusion is absurd, considering that doctors are allowed to prescribe morphine and cocaine.

Even the DEA's chief administrative law judge ruled in 1988 in favor of reclassifying cannabis. "Marijuana in its natural form is one of the saf-est therapeutically active substances known to man," he wrote. "It would be unreasonable, arbitrary and capricious for the DEA to continue to stand between [patients] and the benefits of this substance." But the DEA refused.

Some members of Congress have had enough. Reps. Maurice Hinchey (D-N.Y.) and Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.) plan to introduce a measure to forbid the Justice Department from going after patients using pot in states where it is permitted. That would be a good first step.

One president after another, and one drug czar after another, has insisted on treating pot as intolerable for any reason. The policy is an embarrassment based on misinformation and blind ideology. It's time Congress demanded a change.”

Karen on 06.10.05 @ 10:59 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Thought for the Day:

Why announce this chip swap a year before it will even begin for customers?

This is the biggest question of all, suggesting Steve Jobs has completely forgotten about Adam Osborne. For those who don't remember him, Osborne was the charismatic founder of Osborne Computer, makers of the world's first luggable computer, the Osborne 1. The company failed in spectacular fashion when Adam pre-announced his next model, the Osborne Executive, several months before it would actually ship. People who would have bought Osborne 1s decided to wait for the Executive, which cost only $200 more and was twice the computer. Osborne sales crashed and the company folded. So why would Steve Jobs -- who knew Adam Osborne and even shared a hot tub with him (Steve's longtime girlfriend back in the day worked as an engineer for Osborne) -- pre-announce this chip change that undercuts not only his present product line but most of the machines he'll be introducing in the next 12 to 18 months?

Is the guy really going to stand up at some future MacWorld and tout a new Mac as being the world's most advanced obsolete computer?

This announcement has to cost Apple billions in lost sales as customers inevitably decide to wait for Intel boxes.
--Robert X. Cringely [pbs.org, on Apple's announcing OS X for Intel]

Len on 06.10.05 @ 06:33 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Motivational Teaching...

Behind Every Grad… by Thomas Friedman (NY Times) is a story of some “meat and potatoes” inspirational motivation for teachers:

”You don't expect to learn much at a graduation ceremony - especially if you're the commencement speaker. But I learned about a truly important program at the Williams College graduation last Sunday.

Every year, in addition to granting honorary degrees, Williams also honors four high school teachers. But not just any high school teachers. Williams asks the 500 or so members of its senior class to nominate the high school teachers who had a profound impact on their lives. Then each year a committee goes through the roughly 50 student nominations, does its own research with the high schools involved and chooses the four most inspiring teachers.

Each of the four teachers is given $2,000, plus a $1,000 donation to his or her high school. The winners and their families are then flown to Williams, located in the lush Berkshires, and honored as part of the graduation weekend.

On the day before last Sunday's graduation, all four of the high school teachers, and the students who nominated them, sat on stage at a campuswide event, and the dean of the college talked about how and why each high school teacher had influenced the Williams student, reading from the students' nominating letters. Later, the four teachers were introduced at a dinner along with the honorary degree recipients.

"Every time we do this, one of the [high school] teachers says to me, 'This is one of the great weekends of my life,' " said Williams's president, Morton Owen Schapiro. "But it is great for us, too. ... “

Sounds like an excellent program of inspiring teachers to be the best and earn the accolades and $$ for doing a well-done job. And how many students have been motivated by those "Exceptional" teachers who go above and beyond in the efforts. Awards and praise have some meaning when they are connected to this kind of merit program.

Karen on 06.10.05 @ 05:45 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Lacking in Class (Middle Class)...

Excellent piece by Paul Krugman (NY Times) today: Losing Our Country:

”….Since 1980 in particular, U.S. government policies have consistently favored the wealthy at the expense of working families - and under the current administration, that favoritism has become extreme and relentless. From tax cuts that favor the rich to bankruptcy "reform" that punishes the unlucky, almost every domestic policy seems intended to accelerate our march back to the robber baron era.

It's not a pretty picture - which is why right-wing partisans try so hard to discredit anyone who tries to explain to the public what's going on.

These partisans rely in part on obfuscation: shaping, slicing and selectively presenting data in an attempt to mislead. For example, it's a plain fact that the Bush tax cuts heavily favor the rich, especially those who derive most of their income from inherited wealth. Yet this year's Economic Report of the President, in a bravura demonstration of how to lie with statistics, claimed that the cuts "increased the overall progressivity of the federal tax system."

The partisans also rely in part on scare tactics, insisting that any attempt to limit inequality would undermine economic incentives and reduce all of us to shared misery. That claim ignores the fact of U.S. economic success after World War II. It also ignores the lesson we should have learned from recent corporate scandals: sometimes the prospect of great wealth for those who succeed provides an incentive not for high performance, but for fraud.

Above all, the partisans engage in name-calling. To suggest that sustaining programs like Social Security, which protects working Americans from economic risk, should have priority over tax cuts for the rich is to practice "class warfare." To show concern over the growing inequality is to engage in the "politics of envy."
Reversing the rise in inequality and economic insecurity won't be easy: the middle-class society we have lost emerged only after the country was shaken by depression and war. But we can make a start by calling attention to the politicians who systematically make things worse in catering to their contributors. Never mind that straw man, the politics of envy. Let's try to do something about the politics of greed.”

Karen on 06.10.05 @ 05:34 AM CST [link] [ | ]

A Million Dollar Map...

Interesting Tid-Bit from the Chicago Tribune (when I finally get around to reading my newspapers - after my massive laundry attack – LOL) 1507 map in new territory: $1 million by Michael McDonough (Associated Press):

”LONDON -- A nearly 500-year-old map from the first set to identify the New World as "America" and depict the Pacific Ocean was sold Wednesday for a record $1 million, an auction house said.

The printed map, one of only four known surviving examples produced by a group working under German cartographer Martin Waldseemueller, was bought by Charles Frodsham and Co. Ltd., which makes, collects and deals in items ranging from clocks to maps and books, Christie's auction house said.

Christie's said the $1 million price--$880,000 plus auctioneer's premium--was the highest amount ever paid for a single-sheet map at an auction. The auction house had said it expected the map to fetch $900,000 to $1.46 million

"We are absolutely delighted to have bought the map," said Richard Stenning, a director of Charles Frodsham.

Scholars created the set of maps--believed to be components of the earliest printed globe--based on explorers' accounts, and they drew the Pacific Ocean before Europeans had discovered it. The work depicts a land mass labeled "America" that corresponds to part of South America….”

It's only too bad the on-line article does not show the picture of the actual map - as does the hard copy of the Tribune.

Karen on 06.10.05 @ 05:22 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Pablo Neruda...

To finish off my week of pieces from the works of Pablo Neruda is a final poem from a book titled: Veinte Poemas de Amor, una Cancio`n Desesperada (“Twenty Love Poems and a Song of Despair.”)

As the title implies, it’s a combination of passionate verse and expressions of grief. This edition was published in 1924 and translated by W.S. Merwin. Here is poem # 20: Tonight I can Write:

Hope you have enjoyed them this week.

Twenty Love Poems and a Song of Despair
By Pablo Neruda

Tonight I can write

Tonight I can write the saddest lines tonight.

Write for example: ‘The night is fractured
and they shiver, blue, those stars, in the distance’

The night wind turns in the sky and sings.
I can write the saddest lines tonight.
I loved her, sometimes she loved me too.

On nights like these I held her in my arms.
I kissed her greatly under the infinite sky.

She loved me, sometimes I loved her too.
How could I not have loved her huge, still eyes.

I can write the saddest lines tonight.
To think I don’t have her, to feel I have lost her.

Hear the vast night, vaster without her.
Lines fall on the soul like dew on the grass.

What does it matter that I couldn’t keep her.
The night is fractured and she is not with me.

That is all. Someone sings far off. Far off,
my soul is not content to have lost her.

As though to reach her, my sight looks for her.
My heart looks for her: she is not with me

The same night whitens, in the same branches.
We, from that time, we are not the same.

I don’t love her, that’s certain, but how I loved her.
My voice tried to find the breeze to reach her.

Another’s kisses on her, like my kisses.

Her voice, her bright body, infinite eyes.

I don’t love her, that’s certain, but perhaps I love her.
Love is brief: forgetting lasts so long.

Since, on these nights, I held her in my arms,
my soul is not content to have lost her.

Though this is the last pain she will make me suffer,
and these are the last lines I will write for her.

Karen on 06.10.05 @ 05:07 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Jocund June...

Yet another Friday in June – So, here’s my meditational moment to share today:

Joie de Vivre Joins Jubilation in Jaunty June

Everyone is invited to join me as we wend our way into the weekend. *grin*

Karen on 06.10.05 @ 05:00 AM CST [link] [ | ]

More o'Chicago: Millennium Park

Just because I had a camera and the novelty hadn't worn off yet... Pictures are, of course, below the fold.

Saturday morning, with some time to kill before leaving for the concert, I decided to take off for Millennium Park after my sentimental breakfast at the Original Pancake House.

Len on 06.09.05 @ 10:02 PM CST [more..] [ | ]

Good ol' Yankee ingenuity....

Hacking Google Maps to add value to Google's mapping software:

Tracking sexual predators in Florida. Guiding travelers to the cheapest gas nationwide. Pinpointing $1,500 studio apartments for rent in Manhattan.

Geeks, tinkerers and innovators are crashing the Google party, having discovered how to tinker with the search engine's mapping service to graphically illustrate vital information that might otherwise be ignored, overlooked or not perceived as clearly.

"It's such a beautiful way to look at what could be a dense amount of information," said Tara Calishain, editor of Research Buzz and co-author of "Google Hacks," a book that offers tips on how to get the most out of the Web's most popular search engine.

Yahoo and other sites also offer maps, but Google's four-month-old mapping service is more easily accessible and manipulated by outsiders, the tinkerers say.

As it turns out, Google charts each point on its maps by latitude and longitude - that's how Google can produce driving directions to practically anywhere in the nation. Seasoned developers have figured out how to match these points with locations from outside databases that can contain vast amounts of information - anything from police blotters to real estate listings.

Thanks to Adrian Holovaty, 24, who overlayed Chicago Police Department crime statistics on a Google map, house-hunters in the Albany Park neighborhood can pinpoint all the sexual assaults in the district between May 19 and April 19 on a single map. With each crime marked by a virtual pushpin, Chicagoans can quickly learn what dangerous train stations, pool rooms and alleys to avoid.

Holovaty hopes to make the maps more current by persuading Chicago police to provide the data directly, rather than forcing him to glean it from the department's Web site. Police seem amenable - he's got a meeting with them next week. But community activist James Cappleman is already impressed with Holovaty's Chicagocrime.org - no longer do citizens have to trust politicians crowing about safer streets.


Visitors to Floridasexualpredators.com, which combines Google Maps with data on convicted sex offenders, can call up maps of their communities and click on the pushpins to see the name, last known address and mug shot of each offender.

Drivers searching for their area's cheapest gas can go to www.ahding.com/cheapgas, which blends Google Maps with data from Gasbuddy.com's database of prices at individual gas stations.

Home buyers can pinpoint the locations of houses in their price range at Cytadia.com. And renters can turn to Housingmaps.com, which melds the technologies of Craigslist and Google, to spot available housing in 29 cities including San Francisco, New York, Los Angeles and Chicago.

All these sites are operating without Google's permission, clearly violating the company's user agreement. But none charges any fees, and Mountain View-based Google, which declined to comment through a spokesman, has made no effort to shut them down.

"Why would they?" asks Kenneth Tan, who works for a Chicago-based media research firm and is relying on Housingmaps.com to find a new place in New York. "This is fantastic publicity for the company."

Len on 06.09.05 @ 07:06 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Housework Hell...

Oh My Goodness...

If you're all wondering if I fell off the edge of the World this afternoon (measured by lack of posts) -- I can only plead Housework Deja Vu times ten.

Since I got home (days and days ago) from Memphis, my Maytag Neptune Washing Machine has been unable to work properly and wash and spin the clothes. I was promised "priority service" from my contract with SEARS, but what I've gotten is a date one week later (June 7th) to fix this beast. Following that mountain of laundry piled up that week - said Sears mechanic showed up - only to tell me he did not have the parts to fix this problem.

Now, I'm not a mechanic or a washing machine engineer, but this thing can't have more than 20 parts in the entire thing. Yet he shows up without them on his truck. WTF!!

He orders the parts which were promised for today. (Day 11 without a washer, if your counting - times FIVE people in this house - mulipled by 95 degree weather of stinky sweaty clothes...and you begin to Get the Picture.) Well, the parts did not all arrived today, and more are promised for tomorrow, Friday, June 10th. But since I've missed my "window" of service, the next date for a technician was for Friday, June 17th!!! Yikes!!! :-(

So, you can IMAGINE I'm less than a happy customer (and I ought to mention this washer is only 2yrs old.) Spent 50 minutes this morning on HOLD to reach Customer Service. Talked to uptee-ump Service Managers - and was able to bump up the service visit to next Monday, June 13th.

[Tho' I wasn't really in danger of running out of items - being as Clothes Horse runs in my family. LOL. But the children are down to bathing suits and gym shoes. But it's certainly hot enough to get away with that for yet a awhile longer.]

Meanwhile, my MOST Excellent neighbors have been allowing me to use their washing machine to attempt to catch up on what must be 15+ loads of clothes. So, it's been an ALL Laundry - All Folding kind of Housework Hell - But a Mom's gotta do what a Mom's gotta do!!

Karen on 06.09.05 @ 04:56 PM CST [link] [ | ]

"When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro." --Dr. Hunter S. Thompson

Michael Jackson's Fate on an Ashtray

As I am wont to say, further comment would be superfluous.

Len on 06.09.05 @ 03:51 PM CST [link] [ | ]

More on Apple's decision to start porting to Intel hardware...

Robert X. "The Real Bob" Cringely has an interesting analysis. If true, it might spell the first real chance for the end of Microsoft dominance of the PC desktop:

[W]hat is the driving force [behind Apple's move to Intel hardware]?


Here is my analysis based on not much more than pondering the five questions, above, and speaking with a few old friends in the business. I won't say there is no insider information involved, but darned little.

The obvious questions about performance and 64-bit computing come down to marketing. At first, I thought that Steve Jobs was somehow taking up the challenge of making users believe war was peace and hate was love simply to show that he could do it. Steve is such a powerful communicator and so able to deceive people that for just a moment, I thought maybe he was doing this as a pure tour du force -- just because he could.

Nah. Not even Steve Jobs would try that.

The vaunted Intel roadmap is nice, but no nicer than the AMD roadmap, and nothing that IBM couldn't have matched. If Apple was willing to consider a processor switch, moving to the Cell Processor would have made much more sense than going to Intel or AMD, so I simply have to conclude that technology has nothing at all to do with this decision. This is simply about business -- BIG business.

Another clue comes from HP, where a rumor is going around that HP selling iPods could turn into HP becoming an Apple hardware partner for personal computers, too.

Microsoft comes into this because Intel hates Microsoft. It hasn't always been that way, but in recent years Microsoft has abused its relationship with Intel and used AMD as a cudgel against Intel. Even worse, from Intel's standpoint Microsoft doesn't work hard enough to challenge its hardware. For Intel to keep growing, people have to replace their PCs more often and Microsoft's bloatware strategy just isn't making that happen, especially if they keep delaying Longhorn.

Enter Apple. This isn't a story about Intel gaining another three percent market share at the expense of IBM, it is about Intel taking back control of the desktop from Microsoft.

Intel is fed up with Microsoft. Microsoft has no innovation that drives what Intel must have, which is a use for more processing power. And when they did have one with the Xbox, they went elsewhere.

So Intel buys Apple and works with their OEMs to get products out in the market. The OEMs would love to be able to offer a higher margin product with better reliability than Microsoft. Intel/Apple enters the market just as Microsoft announces yet another delay in their next generation OS. By the way, the new Apple OS for the Intel Architecture has a compatibility mode with Windows (I'm just guessing on this one).

This scenario works well for everyone except Microsoft. If Intel was able to own the Mac OS and make it available to all the OEMs, it could break the back of Microsoft. And if they tuned the OS to take advantage of unique features that only Intel had, they would put AMD back in the box, too. Apple could return Intel to its traditional role of being where all the value was in the PC world. And Apple/Intel could easily extend this to the consumer electronics world. How much would it cost Intel to buy Apple? Not much. And if they paid in stock it would cost nothing at all since investors would drive shares through the roof on a huge swell of user enthusiasm.

That's the story as I see it unfolding. Steve Jobs finally beats Bill Gates. And with the sale of Apple to Intel, Steve accepts the position of CEO of the Pixar/Disney/Sony Media Company.

Remember, you read it here first.

Len on 06.09.05 @ 01:09 PM CST [link] [ | ]

If you forget me...

Now, I did mention that Pablo Neruda had a “tempestuous” relationship with the woman he married (Matilde Urrutia) so some of these poems also reflect their lovers’ quarrels. Like this one (yet a favorite of mine):

The Captain's Verses
Pablo Neruda , 1952



I want you to know
one thing.

You know how this is:
if I look
at the crystal moon, at the red branch
of the slow autumn at my window,
if I touch
near the fire
the impalpable ash
or the wrinkled body of the log,
everything carries me to you,
as if everything that exists,
aromas, light, metals,
were little boats that sail
toward those isles of yours that wait for me.

Well, now,
if little by little you stop loving me
I shall stop loving you little by little.

If suddenly
you forget me
do not look for me,
for I shall already have forgotten you.

If you think it long and mad,
the wind of banners
that passes through my life,
and you decide
to leave me at the shore
of the heart where I have roots,
that on that day,

at that hour,
I shall lift my arms
and my roots will set off
to seek another land.

if each day,
each hour,
you feel that you are destined for me
with implacable sweetness,
if each day a flower
climbs up to your lips to seek me,
ah my love, ah my own,
in me all that fire is repeated,
in me nothing is extinguished or forgotten,
my love feeds on your love, beloved,
and as long as you live it will be in your arms
without leaving mine.

Karen on 06.09.05 @ 12:19 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Another Reason to Love my TiVo...

I’m not sure if I should be worried about my “pop-culture” quotient OR be so very Proud of the fact that reading through my June 10th edition of Entertainment Weekly [they publish a weekly Top TeeVee show chart and for that edition (not yet on-line) the entire list of 156 shows in rated order] and I watch not even a handful of these GEMs (read: facetious irony) nor do I even know more than half of them by their titles.

Like # 34: NUMB3RS (tied with “The West Wing”) – What is this show – but more importantly – do I really care???

Or # 50: Listen Up (tied with “The Simpsons” and “The Simple Life 3”) – Ditto above.

Or #100: Complete Savages – Ditto above.

All the way down to # 156 – BMOC – or as I could acronym – WTF???

Ah well, I’ll just have to stick to my own tried-and-true stations (PBS, WTTW, BBCAmerica, C-Span, Comedy Central, and Premium Cable) and their shows cause Main-stream TeeVee hasn’t got a Ghost of a chance of appealing to me or ME except in very limited quantities. LOL

Karen on 06.09.05 @ 12:08 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Why not just pack us all in standardized coffins....

it'd make the cleanup easier if the plane crashed. Check out this idea for airline "seating" for short haul airline flights:

From: Futuristics: Commercial Aviation Transportation Gallery

Len on 06.09.05 @ 12:01 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Thought for the Day:

Retailers can drop from the luxury market to the mass market. (See, for example, the cheaper Jaguar X-types and the more expensive XK models.) But it's not clear they can do the reverse and move from low-end to high-end. What if Hyundai were to unveil a $50,000 luxury SUV? It would have difficulty getting its existing customers to trade up. If they could afford to—or wanted to—pay $50,000 for a car, they probably wouldn't be Hyundai customers in the first place. And snobbish Lexus owners wouldn't deign to consider a premium-priced Hyundai. McDonald's probably wouldn't do too well with a $15 McKobe burger. The connoisseurs would wrinkle up their well-trained noses in distaste, and the regulars would be priced out of the market.

What's more, Wal-Mart has been until recently a famously inward-looking company. Its competitive advantage has always been the stuff behind the scenes—sourcing, logistics, inventory control, cost control. Wal-Mart has always been less interested in, and comparatively weak on, external factors like public relations and marketing. For four decades, that formula has worked fine. The coastal elites who run ad agencies, the media, and large companies have long been forced to trek to Bentonville, Ark., to educate themselves about the consuming and retailing habits of middle America, to acknowledge Wal-Mart's power, and to nod dutifully at the hokey Wal-Mart cheer. Now, the calf-skin shoe will apparently be on the other foot. Seeking growth, Wal-Mart will have to familiarize itself with the shopping habits of people with whom they are not familiar: yuppies, urban sophisticates, bourgeois bohemians, suburban nondesperate housewives, kids with trust funds, foodies, health nuts.
--Daniel Gross

Len on 06.09.05 @ 11:38 AM CST [link] [ | ]

6/6/2005: Busch Stadium Tour

Sandy Ellebracht, one of my high school classmates, is now Director of Visitor Services for the International Bowling Museum and Hall of Fame in St. Louis. The IBM&HoF also houses the St. Louis Cardinals Hall of Fame (formerly located in Busch Stadium proper), and its staff also conducts tours of the Stadium. When Sandy heard that I was passing through St. Louis on my way back from the Kraftwerk concert, she offered two inducements for me to stay in St. Louis an extra night: tickets to the St. Louis Cardinals-Boston Red Sox game on Monday, June 6 (a game that was sold out for months prior to gameday, IIRC), and a stadium tour that she'd guide herself. The personalized tour was itself sufficient inducement, but I'm not one to turn down free tickets to a ballgame (as a couple low level VIPs in the Memphis area can tell you), so I kept mum and accepted the tickets.

A few highlights of the day below the fold (another one of those photo-heavy posts...).

Len on 06.08.05 @ 11:18 PM CST [more..] [ | ]

Fayette County less evangelical than Shelby County?

Via Between Two Worlds and Andrew Sullivan, here's an interesting set of maps detailing weekly church attendance in the U.S. for evangelicals, Catholics, and mainstream Protestants. (Which, for some reason, they refer to as "mainline" churches. I thought mainlining was what junkies did with heroin, but what do I know? :)

Take a close look at the evangelical map, and notice the lone yellow (12.4% to 16% weekly church attendance) county in the southwest corner of Tennessee. You might at first think that's Shelby County, where Memphis is, and where thousands and thousands of non-church-going heathens like me reside. You'd be wrong.

Shelby County is the light brown (16% to 20.4% weekly church attendance) one due west of the yellow one. The yellow one is largely rural Fayette County, where I grew up, and attended what I suppose would be classified as an evangelical church (Southern Baptist). It's a big surprise to me that the survey ranks Fayette County as overall less religious than Shelby, for all three classes of churches.

It's certainly no surprise that there's a smaller percentage of churchgoing Catholics (less than 1.0%) in Fayette County. I knew exactly two Catholic kids when I was growing up (and exactly zero Jews). And I'm not surprised that there is a smaller percentage of churchgoing mainstream Protestants (1.8% to 2.8%), but only because I thought they'd be displaced by a greater number of evangelicals. That percentage seems quite low to me. Are Methodists counted as mainstream or evangelical? As I recall, my high school class was a mix of Baptists, Church of Christers, Methodists, and Presbyterians, probably in that order, and I think most of them went to church on a weekly basis. (I know the Church of Christ kids did.)

Is rural Fayette County really the most secular county in the Midsouth?

Brock on 06.08.05 @ 08:24 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Catching up on reading; a quick blogaround

These things struck me as interesting as I took a look at all the blogs I'd neglected while on last weekend's trip:

Len on 06.08.05 @ 03:50 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Los verso del Capitán

Just by way of some background for those not familiar with these poems or Pablo Neruda he wrote these particular pieces about Matilde Urrutia. She married him 1955 and these express his passionate devotion to her as well as their lover’s quarrels. He received the Noble Prize in 1971, was well known in his native Chile as a fiery political poet and became the Chilean Ambassador to France in the 1970’s. He died in Santiago, Chile on September 23, 1973. These translations were done by Donald D. Walsh.

The Captain's Verses
Pablo Neruda , 1952


When I can not look at your face
I look at your feet.

Your feet of arched bone,
your hard little feet.

I know that they support you,
and that your gentle weight
rises upon them.

Your waist and your breasts,
the doubled purple
of your nipples,
the sockets of your eyes
that have just flown away,
your wide fruit mouth,
your red tresses,
my little tower.

But I love your feet
only because they walked
upon the earth and upon the wind and upon
the waters,
until they found me.



When your hands go out,
love, toward mine,
what do they bring me flying?
Why did they stop
at my mouth, suddenly,
why do I recognize them
as if then, before,
I had touched them,
as if before they existed
they had passed over
my forehead, my waist?

Their softness came
flying over time,
over the sea, over the smoke,
over the spring, and when you placed
your hands on my chest,
I recognized those golden
dove wings,
I recognized that clay
and that color of wheat.

All the years of my life
I walked around looking for them.
I went up the stairs,
I crossed the roads,
trains carried me,
waters brought me,
and in the skin of the grapes
I thought I touched you.
The wood suddenly
brought me your touch,
the almond announced to me
your secret softness,
until your hands
closed on my chest
and there like two wings
they ended their journey.

Karen on 06.08.05 @ 12:47 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Gem o'the Day:

For the benefit of my non-law readers: the classic law school exam gives the student 3 to 4 hours to write out an analysis of the legal issues presented by various hypothetical situations; the answers are handwritten in "blue books," which consist of ten-or-so lined white pieces of paper between light blue covers. A student might fill out two or three of these blue books in the course of the exam. Once the exams are turned in, faculty have 4-6 weeks to read and grade them all (law faculty do their own grading). In a typical first-year law school class, this may mean grading anywhere from 80 to 125 student exams--or, in other words, thousands of handwritten pages in bluebooks.

So much by way of background. One of my colleagues (who shall remain nameless) recently offered the following memorable characterization of the experience of grading dozens and dozens of bluebooks from the same class: "It feels like you are watching endless re-runs of episodes of Gilligan's Island, with the vague sense that you had something to do with the plot."
--Brian Leiter

Len on 06.08.05 @ 09:46 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Note to Kenneth Tomlinson…

….Keep your POLITICS out of my Corporation for Public Broadcasting…

"THE CONTROVERSY over recent actions by the chair of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting might not be so disturbing if the organization were not engaging in the exact kind of political interference it was designed to prevent.

Kenneth Y. Tomlinson, who has quietly headed CPB for 18 months, recently emerged with an agenda that includes hiring monitors to find examples of liberal bias on public affairs shows, appointing ombudsmen to carry out further monitoring and making thinly veiled threats to pull funding for shows that don't meet his fairness criteria.

Mr. Tomlinson's first salvo was to cut Bill Moyers' weekly show, NOW, from one hour to 30 minutes after Mr. Moyers' departure, then fund two programs with conservative viewpoints: one hosted by Paul Gigot, editor of The Wall Street Journal's editorial page, the other by former CNN commentator Tucker Carlson. Now Mr. Tomlinson is considering launching an investigation into whether National Public Radio's Middle East coverage is pro-Arab.

To view these moves in their proper context, it's important to understand the origins of the CPB.
Congress established the CPB in 1967 as part of a new public broadcasting infrastructure. Unfortunately, in creating the system, Congress failed to set up an endowed trust to pay for programming, so monies are allocated annually by a panel of commissioners appointed by the U.S. president. The CPB was charged with shielding public broadcasting from political pressure and with ensuring that programming is objective and balanced.

Unlike the time-honored philosophy of openness and collaboration practiced by CPB boards for decades through Republican and Democratic administrations, the current board appears to prefer to work behind a wall of secrecy, shrouding its motives and agenda.

Mr. Tomlinson's reported efforts to terminate funding of startup national news programming appear to be an attempt to prevent the development and success of original content aimed at one of public broadcasting's core missions: to provide in-depth, contextual programming that promotes diverse voices and serves the underserved.

It is important to note that a recent survey of the American public commissioned by the CPB, undertaken jointly by a Republican and a Democratic polling firm, found that "the majority of the U.S. adult population does not believe that the news and information programming on public broadcasting is biased." Specifically, 78 percent of the general respondents indicated that NPR did not have a liberal bias.

In another study, the NPR listening audience identified itself as one-third conservative, one-third independent and one-third liberal. And congressional support for public broadcasting is and always has been bipartisan in nature.

Now The New York Times reports, "An association of news ombudsmen has rejected an attempt by two ombudsmen from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting to join their organization as full-fledged members, questioning their independence."

Ironically, the CPB's scrutiny of public radio has a minimal effect on NPR, as CPB funding to NPR is minimal. Rather, it's the individual stations across America that will suffer if the CPB withholds grants to them as a way of protesting perceived NPR biases.

Locally, WYPR-FM has always attempted to fairly present all sides of an issue. The Marc Steiner Show and the 22 other programs produced by WYPR-FM are most certainly inclusive. While 7 percent of WYPR-FM's annual budget comes from the CPB, if the CPB pursues this errant course and attempts to assert influence upon our content, WYPR-FM would immediately reject CPB funds.

Government tampering with independent journalism is a very bad idea reserved for tyrannical governments. Attempting to inject balance into public broadcasting is an imprudent, and quite possibly dangerous, idea.

Anthony S. Brandon is president and general manager of WYPR-FM, a public radio station serving Maryland.”

Courtesy of The Baltimore Sun.

Karen on 06.08.05 @ 09:43 AM CST [link] [ | ]

If I only had a Brain…

Now here is an interesting piece from Michael McGough (Guest Op-ed for the Post Gazette): Intellectual Capital: 'My brain made me do it'.

”What happens to guilt and innocence when an MRI can tell you who is likely to commit a violent crime?

Suppose you're a juror in the trial of an accused child molester. A medical expert called as a witness for the defense says that magnetic resonance images of the defendant's brain show unusual activity in an area that lights up in many -- though not all -- pedophiles. Are you now willing to acquit the defendant on insanity grounds?

A different scenario: You are on the board of a private school and a fellow board member proposes that prospective teachers be subjected to the brain imaging mentioned above as a way to weed out abusers. Do you vote yes?

The questions are mine, but I pose them in the spirit of a program I attended last week at the American Enterprise Institute on "The New Neuromorality." For a good part of the day, philosophers, neuroscientists and lawyers wrestled with literally mind-boggling questions like "What do recent findings in neuroscience tell us about the ability of people to make moral judgments or reasoned decisions?" and "Does this new science undermine the concept of free will?" There was unanimity on neither question….”

Click on the "more" button to read the rest of this piece.

Karen on 06.08.05 @ 09:35 AM CST [more..] [ | ]

Pulling a "Zell" on Us...

Now why is that Zell Miller can be as vicious and nasty in his efforts to trash Democrats and be applauded by the GOP??

Or the Vixen of Vipertude, Ann Coulter (a notoriously offensive, malicious tongued and spiteful pundit) is the “Darling of the Conservative Right Wing GOP” no matter how vile she is??

Or Tom De Lay and Bill Frist can use their "First Amendment" priviledges to all but incite violence against our Judiciary with nary but a GOP spank on their wrists??

And yet let one Democrat (Howard Dean) spout off with some milquetoast criticism and they go all whining crazeee pulling a "Zell Miller" at how “over the top” it is for anyone on the opposite side to have their say.

Check out these two pieces Dean is Clearly Still Not Ready for Primetime By Susan Estrich (Writing for Real Clear Politics) and Dean Does It Again By Howard Kurtz (Washington Post).

UPDATE: Apropos of the above piece – AOL News Service has this article: Dean Defends Criticism of Republican Party Some Prominent Democrats Distance Themselves From Remarks.

Karen on 06.08.05 @ 09:27 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Thought for the Day:

Anyway, back to Amanda. At this point I am obliged to point out that Amanda was cute. In fact, she was distractingly cute. She was thirty, I'd guess, and looked Latina. She smiled all the time, a sexy, gleaming smile, and laughed when I made even the lamest stab at a joke. She leaned across her desk toward me as we talked. Rule number one of sperm banking: The people who recruit donors are invariably women, and they are invariably good-looking. I suspect—no, I am sure—that this is deliberate, to get donors excited to join the Fairfax team.

Yet Amanda's sexiness presented a kind of paradox. The chief activity of the sperm bank—its entire purpose—is masturbation. But my interview with Amanda was actually designed to desexualize what I would be doing. It eliminated the embarrassment that men feel about masturbation by replacing it with tedium. After the review of my application, Amanda walked me, step by countless step, through the qualification process—if my sperm count were above such-and-such a number, I would make the next round. There would be blood tests for gonorrhea, syphilis, hepatitis, and scary diseases I had never heard of. They would give me a renal ultrasound. My sperm would again be counted, frozen, thawed, and recounted. Its motility—how well it swims—would be tested and retested. Only then would I finally be admitted as a donor—and even that was contingent on passing regular blood tests. Amanda listed what I would be required to supply to the bank if I qualified: baby photos, an audio CD about myself, essays on such topics as "What is your most memorable childhood experience?" and "What is the funniest thing that ever happened to you?"

Amanda held forth enthusiastically and at great length about money. "You will get paid $50 per usable specimen, for starters. Then you will get $5 for every vial from the specimen. The average is 10 to 14 vials per specimen. When a vial is released from quarantine after six months, you will get another $5. So the average payment is $209 per deposit." She paused. "Now, this is ordinary income, but we don't do withholding. We send checks twice a month, but later we will just give you a check every six months. We will send you a 1099 form at the end of the year."

Amanda had managed to take a mysterious and sexual and profound process and make it sound exactly like ... a job. I considered asking her about the 401(k) and dental benefits.
--David Plotz [on becoming a sperm donor]

Len on 06.08.05 @ 08:31 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Yes, Boston can be beat.

Twice, even. 9-2 tonight.

Let's go out on the field tomorrow thinking "SWEEP", guys...

Len on 06.07.05 @ 10:38 PM CST [link] [ | ]

An Evening With Kraftwerk, The Annotated, Illustrated Setlist

[This is the post I'd have liked to post Sunday morning, if only I'd had the pictures with me and the time. Apologies in advance for the poor quality of some of these shots; as you might imagine, the conditions weren't exactly optimum for digital photography with a relatively inexpensive camera.]

Once upon a time, not very long ago (until about 9:15 PM or so last night, in fact), I used to tell people that the Kraftwerk show at Chicago's Riviera Theater on June 6, 1998, was the best concert I'd ever attended in my life.

Not any more.

Last night's show by the masters of "robot pop" simply blew me away (almost literally as well as psychologically; they had the volume cranked up pretty damn high). I was expecting to enjoy myself immensely. I wasn't expecting to have a 2+ hour eargasm.

Not that I'm complaining, you understand.

I'm really not in a position to give a detailed review of the concert. I'm not a professional music critic, of course, and one of the reasons is that, at a show like this, I like to let the music carry me away (or at least get into my being) and affect me viscerally. Trying to review this concert is too intellectual an activity for me here; even though I'm probably the most overintellectuallizing person I know, I didn't want to intellectualize this experience. I just wanted to merge with the music, and for the most part I got my wish.

For what it's worth, though, here's an "annotated" setlist of last night's concert, as I remember it (I was taking notes on the setlist, so I'm pretty sure that I've got the selections down reasonably pat):

"Pre-show": My tickets (and the Ticketmaster website for the Riviera) said that Kraftwerk would be openiing at 9:00 PM "sharp". Alas, 9:00 PM sharp turned into 9:00 PM flat, as the appointed time came and went without any appearance by the man-machines from Düsseldorf. About 9:10 or 9:15 the house lights were still up, but we could hear synthesizer notes (some tantalizingly familiar) coming from behind the plain white curtain onstage. Finally, the house lights dimmed....

Meine Damen und Herren..... Ladies and Gentlemen.... Heute Abend... Die Mensch-maschine.... Kraftwerk It was tough to hear the vocoder intro, what with the crowd going completely batshit once they heard the beginning of the intro.... The opening bars of "Man-machine" began wafting out as red spots backlit four figures standing at their synthesizer workstations, casting familiar silhouettes against the curtains.

Set list [source album in italics]

First set (band dressed in dark grey suits):

Man-Machine/The Man-Machine

Planet of Visions/no album; CD "single" release of a variant as "Expo 2000""

Tour de France 2003 and Chrono (medley)/Tour de France Soundtracks

I'm fudging this one because I'm not such an obsessive Kraftwerk nerd that I can tell the difference between "Tour de France Etape 1", "Tour de France Etape 2", "Tour de France Etape 3" and "Chrono". I'm pretty sure I heard "Chrono" in there, and I do recognize the basic "Tour de France" theme from the 2003 album; that's as good as I can call it
Tour de France 1983/released as a single in '83, also featured as a track in Tour de France Soundtracks

Both "Tour de France" versions had some great accompanying video footage of the Tour. TdF 2003 appeared to have more modern footage; TdF 1983 was more vingage footage. How appropriate. It was during TdF 1983 that I noticed that it was Ralf Hütter (I think) doing all the vocals, a pattern which continued all evening.
Vitamin/Tour de France Soundtracks
Excellent accompanying video of tumbling pills/capsules, plus the obligatory projected lyrics. Vitamins must apparently come in effervescent tablets (like Alka-Seltzer here) in Europe, since that was a continuing theme in the video. The last tableau of the video was the word "VITAMIN", dissolving away in effervescence like an effervescent tablet. I couldn't resist the bad pun; I leaned to my companion and said, "Look: alpha-seltzer." She didn't swat me, so it may not have been that bad.

"Autobahn" is my all time favorite Kraftwerk song, so I was in ecstasy during this one. Great vintage videos of the Autobahn, as featured in the 1998 concert, too.
The Model/The Man-Machine

Neon Lights/The Man-Machine

"The Model" and "Neon Lights" are a pair of vintage favorites of mine. I still think that "Neon Lights" is one of the most emotionally compelling of their songs. One member of the ANTENNA mailing list (I think) said that he broke into tears when he heard it. I can undertand why. I came close myself.

I think that Radioactivity is one of Kraftwerk's most underappreciated albums, at least most underappreciated by the band itself, since the only cut they do from that album in concert is "Radioactivity". My dream is that someday, before I die, they'll add "Ohm Sweet Ohm" to their concert setlist, and that I can attend that concert.
Trans Europe Express, Abzug, Metal on Metal/Trans Europe Express

My second all-time favorite Kraftwerk work. Excellent railroad oriented videos, including those of the actual Trans Europa Express...
Curtain falls....

Second set (band still in dark grey suits, but their ties incorporate blinking red LEDs):


If you viewed the "Numbers" live performance video I posted here a few days ago, you have a good idea of how this one came across. Much, much more impressive in person, though.

Probably my number three all-time favorite after "Autobahn" and "TEE". I thought I'd heard a rumor that this had been dropped from the concert setlist. I was relieved to see it performed here. It's a fun song in recording; it's awesome live.
More Fun To Compute and Home Computer/Computer World

Pocket Calculator, Taschenrechner/"Pocket Calculator" is from the U.S. release of Computerworld; "Taschenrechner" is the German version of "Pocket Calculator", and probably was released on the German version of that album.
Another one that rumor said had been dropped from the concert playlist. A real fun song live, so I was glad it was still in. However, I wish they'd bring back the little "pocket calculators" that they used to play this one in the 1998 concert. Instead of "Dentaku", which I was expecting, they sang "Pocket Calculator" in another language (maybe French; I couldn't recognize it, myself) after the English version.

UPDATE (6/10/05): According to MzDe, a member of ANTENNA - The International Kraftwerk Mailing List, they played "Taschenrechner", the German version of "Pocket Calculator", in the DC and New York concerts. Assuming the Chicago setlist didn't vary from the DC/NYC setlists, it's most likely that the foreign language version was in fact "Taschenrechner"
Curtain falls.....

Third Set (The Robots):

We hear the opening bars of "We Are The Robots", as the curtain is backlit (in brilliant white light), casting silhouettes of three of the robots onto the curtain (alas, the photo I tried to get of that didn't work out). I was worried that one of the robots had broken, but when the curtain rose I was relieved to see that we were just sitting at a less-than-optimum angle; when the curtain rose we saw all four robots, as they finished up a rousing rendition of "We Are The Robots" that absolutely wowed the crowd. That was the only song of that set. Curtain falls.....

Final Set (the band wears the florescent "wire frame" suits):

Elektro Kardiogramm/Tour de France Soundtracks

Maybe my taste is poor. It seems that a lot of comments on the ANTENNA mail list deprecated this one. I liked it just fine...There's something about that relentless, driving cardiac beat that just grabs me in the gut...
Aéro Dynamik/Tour de France Soundtracks

Boing Boom Tschak and Music Non Stop/Electric Cafe

Great computer animations (many of the CGI head of Florian created for the video). As a touch, each member (starting with Florian Schneider (I think) on the far right) walked away from his console to stage right, bowed to the audience, and then exited the stage, ending with Ralf walking off alone while the ending bars of "Music Non Stop" played on... A distinct touch, in my opinion.

Len on 06.07.05 @ 10:20 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Apropos of this weekend's festivities....

I've just received word from Amazon that my copy of Minimum-Maximum, Kraftwerk's new 2 CD release of live performances, shipped yesterday. Should be here in the next day or two....

Hot damn!

Len on 06.07.05 @ 05:37 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Ok, now bear with us....

I'm back. And it was a very long, hectic, but ultimately quite enjoyable extended weekend. Now to get the tons of pictures culled, touched up, and posted....

Sunday was a bit longer day than I planned. I should have figured that Karen would never let me leave Chicagoland without coming to see her little corner of Dennis Hastert Country, and ultimately she prevailed on me to make the trip. I'm glad she did though, as I also got to make the acquaintance of her husband, Charlie, and two of her three lovely daughters (the eldest middlest was off Doing Her Own Thing, which kids that age are wont to do. That's cool). And she was a gracious hostess, and plied me with munchies and diet Coke (I'm a reasonably cheap date, at least when I want to be).

The difference in our contexts made for some fun disconnects, though. I'm not used to tollways (even when I lived in Chicago I never had reason (or means) to explore those parts of Chicagoland where tollways are just a part of everyday life. So I was a little discombobulated that I actually had to pay money to use the roadway to get to her little corner of DHC heaven. Because tolls are a part of everyday life for her, she never thought to mention to me that I'd better have money with me (I didn't see any stickers saying that the toll attendants took plastic). Fortunately for my disposition, I had money.

And it was an interesting conversation as I was getting my directions back to the highway:

Karen: Ok you see the county courthouse there? [Well, I saw some building; one of the few that didn't look residential in nature, so there wasn't a big leap to assume that it was a courthouse.] Now over there to the left is the salt dome.

Len: Salt dome?

K: You know, when it snows and they put salt on the roads...

L: Yes; they used to do that in St. Louis. But salt dome?

K: Well, that's where they keep the salt.

L: Silly me; I thought they kept it in big piles out somewhere...
I've lived way too long in a city where the idea of snow abatement is to tell the citizenry to stay holed up in their homes til it thaws....

But thank you, Karen; it's nice to get an idea of where you live and to get to meet (at least most) of your family.

Len on 06.07.05 @ 04:25 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Thought for the Day:

Courtesy of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch:

Yes, Boston can be beat. 7-1 in a complete game by Matt Morris. So maybe we can exorcise our demons, too.

Len on 06.07.05 @ 04:11 PM CST [link] [ | ]

After School Images...

The Chicago Tribune has republished this most “interesting” Tid-Bit from Michael Kranish (Boston Globe) about the GPA of both Sen. Kerry and the Prez.: Kerry, Bush had similar grade average while at Yale.

I’ve always been of the opinion that it’s not how WELL you do in school, but WHAT you make of it later.

But unfortunately the Karl Rove scripted and memorized sound-bite driven, fake bonhomie, Texan “gentleman rancher” image cultivated by our Prez had much more cache with the electorate than the more “intellectual” but oftimes carefully obtuse Kerry pearls of un-wisdom.

So, perhaps even that simple generalization has to go by the wayside in our upside down, sliding backwards world. And clearly there was naught but a hair’s-breath of difference between them on the academic scale to account for it all.

Karen on 06.07.05 @ 09:02 AM CST [link] [ | ]

More Neruda...

The Captain's Verses
Pablo Neruda , 1952


Do you see these hands? They have measured
the earth, they have separated
minerals and cereals,
they have made peace and war,
they have demolished the distances
of all the seas and rivers,
and yet,
when they move over you,
little one,
grain of wheat, swallow,
they can not encompass you,
they are weary seeking
the twin doves
that rest or fly in your breast,
they travel the distances of your legs,
they coil in the light of your waist.
For me you are a treasure more laden
with immensity than the sea and its branches
and you are white and blue and spacious like
the earth at vintage time.
In that territory,
from your feet to your brow,
walking, walking, walking,
I shall spend my life.

Karen on 06.07.05 @ 08:04 AM CST [link] [ | ]


Ahhh…Dump that Wrigley's brand -- Finally, a CHEWING GUM for every mood or social situation:

Try this one if you’re TOO WIRED:

Or this one in cases of Selechophobia Nightmares.

And this one to handle those Uncomfortable Social Moments.

Courtesy of Engrish.

Karen on 06.07.05 @ 07:46 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Tainted Reasoning....

Instead of writing a detailed “analysis” of Gonzales v. Raich (which could only be both a boring and fruitless exercise at this point), I’m going link to a very well done editorial by the Chicago Tribune: Pot and the Constitution.

This editorial juxtaposes the extremes of the Supremes efforts to “justify” this intrusive Federalism trumping State laws in the case of Medicinal use of Pot but not over Gun in School Zones as an “appropriate” Congressional power to regulate Interstate Commerce for the “safety” of our citizenry.

I agree wholeheartedly with the conclusion of this piece [emphasis mine]:

”But in the end, despite what it admitted were the "troubling facts of this case," the Supreme Court bent over backward to give lawmakers in Washington the benefit of every doubt. By a 6-3 vote, the court found that marijuana grown in these conditions could possibly have an impact on interstate commerce--even if the pot at issue never elicited a payment or crossed a state line.

The key difference with past decisions limiting congressional power, the court said, was that in the other cases, such as the Gun-Free School Zones Act, Washington was not regulating economic activity, and this time it was. That claim is certainly debatable, to say the least. But Justice John Paul Stevens, writing for the majority, said the connection was close enough for government work: "We have never required Congress to legislate with scientific exactitude."

So the federal government has the power to punish sick people using cannabis as medicine, on the advice of their doctors, even in states where medical marijuana is allowed. What the federal government doesn't have, even after this decision, is a good reason to do so.

Karen on 06.07.05 @ 07:14 AM CST [link] [ | ]

More Summer Reading...

Mort Kondracke has written an interesting piece for Real Clear Politics -
Will Bush's Idealism Lead U.S. To Lose 'War With Islam'?
-- and listed a potentially fascinating book to read:

”It certainly is no summer beach read, but you'll be edified - and lots of people will be angered - by Robert Merry's new book, "Sands of Empire," a rich and deep critique of President Bush's alleged "Crusader State" foreign policy.

I think that Merry, president and publisher of Congressional Quarterly, is far too pessimistic in saying that Bush is leading the country toward "calamity" by pursuing a policy of "humanitarian imperialism." But Merry not only argues his case forcefully, he also bases it on intellectual history dating to the 17th century….”

So give his article a full read by clicking on the link above.

Karen on 06.07.05 @ 06:58 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Shamelessly Funnie...

Whiskey Bar has a Funnie “swipe” at David Brooks over the "Watergate" and "Deep Throat" revelations in this piece Young Bobos in Paradise.

”Several people, including Brad DeLong, have taken swipes at this column by David Brooks (who increasingly resembles the stupendously clueless "Arfy" of Catch-22)….”

Click on the “more” button to read further.

Karen on 06.07.05 @ 06:36 AM CST [more..] [ | ]

A Study in Contrasts:

In a place where “perception is reality”, Home-Boy, Denny Hastert clearly had the WRONG reality as you contrast these two blurbs from US News Wire:

"House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) today issued the following statement in response to the latest efforts by Democratic leaders to halt America's economic growth:

"Democratic leaders must be living in their own fantasy land to believe that obstructing progress will do anything to help the American people. It's the Republicans' pro-working family agenda that continues to help America's economy. Unemployment is now at 5.1 percent, the lowest it has been since before the September 11th attacks. We've had steady job growth the last two years, and a record number of Americans now own a home of their own. I urge the Senate Democratic Leadership to join the Republicans who operate in a reality where the American people are put first."

The Senate has yet to consider the following House-passed initiatives:


[ US News Wire.]

Compared to this recent study (also dovetailing with the previous study linked here) and you’ll get the idea of where the GOP and the bAdministration has taken the stray path to the National goals of Average Americans:
”The Feldman Group released a survey Thursday showing that voters share a set of national ideals. Sixty-two (62) percent believe America is the greatest country on Earth and cite self-determination and equal rights as core ideals on which American Exceptionalism rests.

Voters are deeply critical of elected officials, as 72 percent believe that elected officials in Washington do not see the nation's problems and opportunities in the same way they do. They believe the country is divided (62 percent) but they lay much of the responsibility for divisions on politics and politicians.

"As challengers, Democrats should be speaking to the failure of Republican incumbents to stand up for our shared ideals, rather than advocating for a particular class or group," said pollster Diane Feldman. "In the wake of September 11, voters want their leaders to pull the country together around common ideals and common challenges."

Democrats who define themselves clearly around shared ideals will find an audience who embraces their policy priorities. Voters worry that the ideal of self-determination is at risk in an economy that demands more skills and more knowledge. Consequently, they believe that investing in education and job training will help the economy more than cutting taxes by a 69 percent to 25 percent margin.

In addition, voters see the cost of health care and retirement insecurity as top threats to the American Dream for themselves and their families. By a 67 percent to 28 percent margin, voters think the federal government needs to play a larger role in making sure that all Americans have affordable, quality health care and a secure retirement rather than leaving the responsibility to individuals.
Diane T. Feldman is president of The Feldman Group, a highly regarded national political research firm that has worked with Democratic candidates, unions, issue campaigns, and initiatives across the country."

[ US News Wire.]

This is the main disconnect: That the GOP IS NOT operating in any reality where the policies proposed match the concerns of the majority of the electorate. It's time for the Prez and the GOP to get on the "National Agenda" for the benefit of all Americans and put aside these divisive and *loser* propositions which cater to only their extremely small conservative base or issues for the wealthy few.

Karen on 06.07.05 @ 06:23 AM CST [link] [ | ]

About Them Pesky Mosquitos…

....Which we have LOADS of here in DHC:

Consumer Report's (CR) tests also compared Cutter Advanced with several deet products for odor, feel, and damage to different materials. The results found that Cutter Advanced had only a very faint aroma of corn chips, while deet products had a faint chemical odor. Only the deet-heavy repellents left skin feeling greasy. Deet damaged or stained plastic and leather.

CR suggests you should consider Cutter Advanced with picaridin, particularly if you need just a few hours of protection and if you don't like the odor or feel of repellents containing deet."

Courtesy of US News Wire.

Karen on 06.07.05 @ 06:09 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Oink or Ouch…

The Piglet Book will be out soon...

The Illinois Policy Institute (IPI), Illinois's only state focused free-market think tank, in conjunction with the nation's premiere taxpayer watchdog, Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW), will hold a press conference on Wednesday, June 8 to release the Illinois Piglet Book, a detailed analysis of $600 million in wasteful spending in the state's budget.

Featured speakers will include: Greg Blankenship, executive director, IPI; Michael Van Winkle, public policy director, IPI; David Williams, vice president of policy, CAGW. CAGW's mascot Porky will also be on hand.
With IPI's inside knowledge of the Illinois state budget, the Illinois Piglet Book combines elements of two perennial CAGW publications, the Congressional Pig Book and Prime Cuts, both published annually and dealing with federal government pork and waste. The Illinois Piglet Book touches on some of the many areas in the state budget where wasteful spending can be eliminated, providing a valuable resource to legislators and concerned taxpayers.

Whether it is $37.6 million for the Illinois Sports Facilities Authority, more than $27 million for the Sparta World Shooting Complex, or $150,000 for the development of grapes and wine, there are enough examples in the Illinois Piglet Book to make any hardworking Illinois taxpayer weep.
Illinois Policy Institute (IPI) is a nonprofit think tank seeking to preserve and strengthen critical societal institutions in Illinois through the promotion of free markets and limited government.

Citizens Against Government Waste is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization dedicated to eliminating waste, fraud, mismanagement and abuse in government.”

Courtesy of US News Wire.

Karen on 06.07.05 @ 05:49 AM CST [link] [ | ]

My Kids will NEVER enlist in the military now….

Pentagon Announces Plans to Close Camp Snoopy.

”BLOOMINGTON, MN—The Pentagon announced Monday that Camp Snoopy, the largest indoor family theme park in America, is one of 34 major bases scheduled for closing as part of a vast military repurposing and realignment designed to save almost $50 billion.

"We never enjoy having to close a base," said Anthony Principi, chairman of the Pentagon's Base Realignment and Closure Commission. "But Camp Snoopy is a relic of America's Cold War past. Everything in the facility—from the Petting Zoo to the Extreme Trampoline to the Pepsi Ripsaw Roller Coaster—was conceived at a time when America's primary military threat was the Soviet Union. After careful evaluation, we determined that the only thing Camp Snoopy was enabling our soldiers to fight was boredom."

According to an official Pentagon statement delivered Tuesday by Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, most of the 300 men and women stationed at Camp Snoopy will be honorably discharged in a ceremony to be held in front of the Rock 'N' Wall.

Camp Snoopy Gen. Manager Craig Freeman said the camp's decommissioning "came out of nowhere…."

Courtesy of The Onion.

Karen on 06.06.05 @ 05:32 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Medical Marijuana Goes Up in Smoke...

I haven’t had a chance myself to “parse" the recent U.S. Supreme court decision concerning the Commerce Clause and California medical marijuana usage in Gonzales v. Raich. I'm not sure when I'll get to this (I have a meeting tonight and several over the next couple days - more FFMA stuff -- but Hey, somebody's gotta do it...)

But The Agitator and The Daily Dish, plus AOL news alerts each have something on this States rights versus Federalism.

You can read the full opinion yourself at Gonzales v. Raich.

Karen on 06.06.05 @ 02:29 PM CST [link] [ | ]

More Neruda...

The Captain's Verses
Pablo Neruda , 1952


All night I have slept with you
next to the sea, on the island.
Wild and sweet you were between pleasure and sleep,
between fire and water.

Perhaps very late
our dreams joined
at the top or at the bottom,
up above like branches moved by a common wind,
down below like red roots that touch.

Perhaps your dream
drifted from mine
and through the dark sea
was seeking me
as before,
when you did not yet exist,
when without sighting you
I sailed by your side,
and your eyes sought
what now-
bread, wine, love, and anger-
I heap upon you
because you are the cup
that was waiting for the gifts of my life.

I have slept with you
all night long while
the dark earth spins
with the living and the dead,
and on waking suddenly
in the midst of the shadow
my arm encircled your waist.

Neither night
nor sleep could separate us.

I have slept with you
and on waking, your mouth,
come from your dream,
gave me the taste of earth,
of sea water, of seaweed,
of the depths of your life,
and I received your kiss
moistened by the dawn
as if it came to me
from the sea that surrounds us.

Karen on 06.06.05 @ 10:33 AM CST [link] [ | ]

"The worms crawl in...the worms crawl out..."

For all you “Six Feet Under” (HBO) fans, the show is about to start it’s new season TONIGHT: this Monday, June 6th at 8pm (CST) rather than in it’s usual Sunday night spot.

Karen on 06.06.05 @ 07:44 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Visions of Man-Machine...

Not to step on Len’s post (and I KNOW he’ll have some great pictures of his attendance at Kraftwerk Concert to post once he reaches his home Wi-Fi again) but I couldn’t pass up on adding this review from the Chicago Tribune: Fusion of Man and Machine:

”Kraftwerk knows how to make an entrance. With the sequenced pitter-patter beats of "The Man-Machine" -- part "Pong," part ping-pong, part "Speak & Spell" showcase -- bouncing off the walls of the sold-out Riviera Saturday night, - part Pong, part ping-pong, part "Speak & Spell" showcase - the four members of the venerated German electronic act cast striking, larger-than-life backlit silhouettes against a deep red screen.

But then The screen lifted to reveal a quartet of rather ordinary middle-aged men, each identically outfitted in a sharp black suit and standing behind some sort of ultra-modern lectern.podium. It looked less like the start of a concert and more like the beginning of a PowerPoint presentation.

It was a fittingly contemporary sight from such a futuristic band, but then, the future is now. Rarely has a band of such iconoclastic misfits felt so at home in so many different eras of pop music. For Kraftwerk, the future has always been "now," whenever "now" happened to fall.

After all, the future was back in the '70s, too, when Kraftwerk, formed in Dusseldorf, Germany, quickly made the case for homemade electronic instruments, drum machines and ingenious assembly line songs that sounded as if like they were created by robots, for robots. The future was also the 1980s, when Kraftwerk's influence could be heard in dozens of acts, from the hip-hop of Afrika Bambaataa to the synth pop of New Order and Depeche Mode and even to the abrasive agit-punk of Big Black, who famously covered the band's "The Model."

Lately, elements of Kraftwerk are inescapable. Every electronic act stationed behind a laptop owes a debt to these Teutonic pioneers. Whether he knows it or not, hot hip-hop producer Lil Jon owes a debt as well. Heck, even rock icons U2 covered Kraftwerk's "Neon Lights" on a recent single, and the upcoming Coldplay album credits the band not just as inspiration but for the hook borrowed for the song "Talk."

As performers, however, Kraftwerk falls closer to performance art. Listen to the new live album "Minimum-Maximum" while staring at the cover and you more or less get the idea of watching four stationary men work diligently yet mysteriously at their anonymous machines.

But to do so would miss the indelible charm of watching Kraftwerk in the flesh. The visuals projected behind the band, matched methodically to the music, vacillated from charming to psychedelic, stock footage colliding with primitive computer-drawn images. The band, while never particularly active, was not entirely immobile. It was almost sweet to watch these self-consciously cold performers actually bobble in place, taken over by the hypnotic rhythms and beguiling melodies of "Trans-Europe Express," "Autobahn" or "Pocket Calculator." Founding member Ralf Hutter in particular appeared pleased and animated, though fellow founder Florian Schneider barely cracked a smile the whole night.

Henning Schmitz would cup his hand around his mouth conspiratorially to speak what few vocals find their way into Kraftwerk songs, his voice heavily processed and hardly recognizable as human. Fritz Hilpert (like Schmitz, a studio rat enlisted to fill the ranks of Kraftwerk in recent years) moved and grooved as he manipulated notes and melodies.

Did it really take four people to do what Kraftwerk did Saturday? No, of course not.

Thanks in part to the advances made by experimental groups such as themselves, a DJ could replicate the whole Kraftwerk set with a tiny briefcase-size groovebox. But that misses the point. Kraftwerk's music always underlined the sci-fi redundancy of humanity in the shadow of specialized machines, so what better way to present that theme than to transform into anonymous automatons themselves?

Less a band, proper, Kraftwerk was more like a collective of mechanized workers, each member suited to a specific task in the construction of each song. Or, in the case of "The Robots," not suited at all, as the living, breathing members of Kraftwerk were replaced by automated showroom dummy likenesses.

Yet at the same time, the human element did shine through, whether in the cautionary dance menace of "Radioactivity" or the playful "Music Non Stop."

Kraftwerk may present itself as a robotic parody of a soulless, clinical, corporate world, but the gray hair, sly smiles and bald pates are reminders of the heart beating behind the robot facade.”

Karen on 06.06.05 @ 07:36 AM CST [link] [ | ]


Now, except for former Florida Senator Bob Graham (writing with Jeff Nussbaum) in their book “Intelligence Matters” - this is the first mainstream call for re-visiting the “impeachment” dialogue I’ve come across:

The “I” Word by Ralph Nader and Kevin Reese reviews the grounds for giving ole’ GW the Heave-Ho based on what we now KNOW to be his cooking the books to get a trumped up war to remove Saddam Hussein as his policy objective prior to 9/11 – the facts be damned.

” THE IMPEACHMENT of President Bush and Vice President Cheney, under Article II, Section 4 of the Constitution, should be part of mainstream political discourse.

Minutes from a summer 2002 meeting involving British Prime Minister Tony Blair reveal that the Bush administration was ''fixing" the intelligence to justify invading Iraq. US intelligence used to justify the war demonstrates repeatedly the truth of the meeting minutes -- evidence was thin and needed fixing.

President Clinton was impeached for perjury about his sexual relationships. Comparing Clinton's misbehavior to a destructive and costly war occupation launched in March 2003 under false pretenses in violation of domestic and international law certainly merits introduction of an impeachment resolution.

Eighty-nine members of Congress have asked the president whether intelligence was manipulated to lead the United States to war. The letter points to British meeting minutes that raise ''troubling new questions regarding the legal justifications for the war." Those minutes describe the case for war as ''thin" and Saddam as ''nonthreatening to his neighbors," and ''Britain and America had to create conditions to justify a war." Finally, military action was ''seen as inevitable . . . But the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy."

Indeed, there were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, nor any imminent threat to the United States:

The International Atomic Energy Agency Iraq inspection team reported in 1998, ''there were no indications of Iraq having achieved its program goals of producing a nuclear weapon; nor were there any indications that there remained in Iraq any physical capability for production of amounts of weapon-usable material." A 2003 update by the IAEA reached the same conclusions.

The CIA told the White House in February 2001: ''We do not have any direct evidence that Iraq has . . . reconstitute[d] its weapons of mass destruction programs."

Colin Powell said in February 2001 that Saddam Hussein ''has not developed any significant capability with respect to weapons of mass destruction."

The CIA told the White House in two Fall 2002 memos not to make claims of Iraq uranium purchases. CIA Director George Tenet personally called top national security officials imploring them not to use that claim as proof of an Iraq nuclear threat.

Regarding unmanned bombers highlighted by Bush, the Air Force's National Air and Space Intelligence Center concluded they could not carry weapons spray devices. The Defense Intelligence Agency told the president in June 2002 that the unmanned aerial bombers were unproven. Further, there was no reliable information showing Iraq was producing or stockpiling chemical weapons or whether it had established chemical agent production facilities.

When discussing WMD the CIA used words like ''might" and ''could." The case was always circumstantial with equivocations, unlike the president and vice president, e.g., Cheney said on Aug. 26, 2002: ''Simply stated, there is no doubt that Saddam Hussein now has weapons of mass destruction."

The State Department in 2003 said: ''The activities we have detected do not . . . add up to a compelling case that Iraq is currently pursuing . . . an integrated and comprehensive approach to acquire nuclear weapons."

The National Intelligence Estimate issued in October 2002 said ''We have no specific intelligence information that Saddam's regime has directed attacks against US territory."

The UN, IAEA, the State and Energy departments, the Air Force's National Air and Space Intelligence Center, US inspectors, and even the CIA concluded there was no basis for the Bush-Cheney public assertions. Yet, President Bush told the public in September 2002 that Iraq ''could launch a biological or chemical attack in as little as 45 minutes after the order is given." And, just before the invasion, President Bush said: ''Facing clear evidence of peril, we cannot wait for the final proof -- the smoking gun -- that could come in the form of a mushroom cloud."

The president and vice president have artfully dodged the central question: ''Did the administration mislead us into war by manipulating and misstating intelligence concerning weapons of mass destruction and alleged ties to Al Qaeda, suppressing contrary intelligence, and deliberately exaggerating the danger a contained, weakened Iraq posed to the United States and its neighbors?"

If this is answered affirmatively Bush and Cheney have committed ''high crimes and misdemeanors." It is time for Congress to investigate the illegal Iraq war as we move toward the third year of the endless quagmire that many security experts believe jeopardizes US safety by recruiting and training more terrorists. A Resolution of Impeachment would be a first step. Based on the mountains of fabrications, deceptions, and lies, it is time to debate the ''I" word.”

Back before the “four more years” crowd (convinced GW was our "WAR President") had their way at the polls, the 9/11 Commission report cited a “failure in imagination” as the Bush administration mind-set resulting in that fatal catastrophe. Unfortunately, “lessons learned” is not a strong suit in our President’s efforts and he just keeps “failing to imagine” the unintended consequences of his actions no matter how much advice, warnings and objections surface before he implements his plans of attack.

Senator Bob Graham was right when he stated that this outright incompetence and “failure in leadership at the highest levels of government” (plus all the other assorted maneuvers and cover-ups for poor government) should result in the removal of this President.

I applaud Senator Graham, Ralph Nader and Kevin Reese for this strong stance and call for the responsibility of these failures to be addressed which are “so serious that it warrants the removal of George W. Bush from office.”

But is any one else out there ready to call this Prez to account for these actions???

Karen on 06.06.05 @ 06:21 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Weekend Warriors Beware....

Now here's something I can relate to this week...

"With summer close at hand, we all tend to be more active and spend time in our favorite recreational pursuits. That's why this is National Safety Month a time to remember to play it safe to prevent warm weather activities such as rock climbing and boating from becoming tragic.

Even everyday activities can lead to accidents.

Nearly 550- thousand people are injured on bicycles annually, along with 104- thousand on skateboards, 92-thousand on trampolines and 88-thousand on playground equipment. Lawnmowers hurt another 88-thousand yearly.

But the largest number of Americans suffer injuries simply going up and down the stairs in their homes more than one million a year."

[Courtesy of US News Wire.]

....Given my recent "klutz" activity of merely stepping off the curb in front of Café Francisco on the final day of my Memphonian "Mom Holiday." I severely pulled my calf muscles behind my right knee (OUCH) and needed a wheelchair assist to make it through the Memphis airport and crutches here at home. [So, I had to *miss* National Trails Day and *skip* the hiking. :-( ]

But not to worry - the Wonderful Magicians (Dr. G and Dr. T) have worked their craft and I've gotten better each day. I'm even ambulatory once again without crutches. Hip-Hip-Hooray!!!

So, Beware of them Summer Accidents anyway -- all you "weekend warriors." LOL

Karen on 06.06.05 @ 05:54 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Gaseous rates rising...

"Following is the daily "Profile America" feature for June 6 from the U.S. Census Bureau:

Profile America Monday, June 6th. With vacation season starting, millions of Americans will take to the highways once again to visit the seashore, the mountains and the nation's national parks. The recent increases in the price of gasoline means that fuel will become a major part of the cost of our vacations.

It was on this day in 1933 that the first federal gasoline tax was levied at the rate of 1 cent a gallon. State taxes at the time were a little over 3-1/2 cents a gallon. Now, state taxes on gasoline vary widely from 30 cents a gallon in Rhode Island to 7-1/2 cents in Georgia. In 1970, the average vehicle in the U.S. got 12 miles to the gallon now, that figure is 17 miles per gallon.
Sources: 440 International Calendar of Events Historical Statistics of the United States: Colonial Times to 1970."

Courtesy of US News Wire.

Karen on 06.06.05 @ 05:39 AM CST [link] [ | ]

We're all Up that Creek....

Bob Herbert (NY Times) discusses in this Op-ed piece: The Mobility Myth about the vanished “Class Mobility” which has accelerated to warp speed under Mr. Four-More-Years:

”….Put the myth of the American Dream aside. The bottom line is that it's becoming increasingly difficult for working Americans to move up in class. The rich are freezing nearly everybody else in place, and sprinting off with the nation's bounty.

Economic mobility in the United States - the extent to which individuals and families move from one social class to another - is no higher than in Britain or France, and lower than in some Scandinavian countries. Maybe we should be studying the Scandinavian dream.

As far as the Bush administration is concerned, the gap between the rich and the rest of us is not growing fast enough. An analysis by The Times showed the following:

"Under the Bush tax cuts, the 400 taxpayers with the highest incomes - a minimum of $87 million in 2000, the last year for which the government will release such data - now pay income, Medicare and Social Security taxes amounting to virtually the same percentage of their incomes as people making $50,000 to $75,000. Those earning more than $10 million a year now pay a lesser share of their income in these taxes than those making $100,000 to $200,000."

The social dislocations resulting from this war that nobody mentions have been under way for some time. But the Bush economic policies have accelerated the consequences and intensified the pain.
A big problem, of course, is that American workers have been hurting badly for years. Revolutionary improvements in technology, increasingly globalized trade, the competition of low-wage workers overseas and increased immigration here at home, the decline of manufacturing, the weakening of the labor movement, outsourcing and numerous other factors have left American workers with very little leverage to use against employers.

Many in the middle class are mortgaged to the hilt, maxed out on credit cards and fearful to the point of trembling that all they've worked for might vanish in a downsized minute
The privileged classes, with the Bush administration's iron cloak of protection, avoid their fair share of taxes, are reluctant to pay an honest dollar for an honest day's work (the federal minimum wage is still a scandalous $5.15 an hour), refuse to fight in their nation's wars, and laugh all the way to their yachts.

The American dream was about expanding opportunities and widely shared prosperity. Now we have older people and college grads replacing people near the bottom in jobs that offer low pay, no pensions, no health insurance and no vacations.

A fellow named Mark McClellan, who was bounced out of a management position when Kaiser Aluminum closed down in Spokane, Wash., told The Times in the "Class Matters" series: "I may look middle class. But I'm not. My boat is sinking fast."

Just goes to show we’re not “all in the same boat” - let alone with enough paddles to make it up that creek.

Karen on 06.06.05 @ 05:32 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Attacks of Weltschmerzen...

This FridgeMagnet offering of The Bush Press Conference response Generator is kinda FUNNIE but rather Sad-in-a-real-world “Weltschmerz” sort of way.

Weltschmerz is defined by my In Other Words: A Language Lover’s Guide to the Most Intriguing Words Around the World [by Christopher J. Moore – published by Levenger Press (2004)] as:
Wetschmerz [velt-shmairtz] (noun)

This is a compound word consisting of *Welt*, meaning “world” and *Schmerz*, meaning “pain.” Just as your head can hurt (Kopfshmerzen), or you can suffer from a stomachache (Magenschmerzen), so the world can hurt too. In its mildest form, this is “world-weariness.” At the other extreme, it’s an existential pain that leaves you reeling with a damaging, head clutching depair.

Yep – have to say I OFTEN feel a real Weltschmerz attack after listening to our Fearless Leader speaking in public. Bleh!!!

[Hat Tip to Tom Lampe at Pretty War via Mark Morford at SFGate.]

Karen on 06.05.05 @ 05:36 PM CST [
link] [ | ]

More Neruda...

The Captain's Verses
Pablo Neruda , 1952


My eyes went away from me
following a dark girl who went by.

She was made of black mother-of-pearl,
made of dark-purple grapes,
and she lashed my blood
with her tail of fire.

After them all
I go.

A pale blonde went by
like a golden plant
swaying her gifts.
And my mouth went
like a wave
discharging on her breast
lightningbolts of blood.

After them all
I go.

But to you, without my moving,
without seeing you, distant you,
go my blood and my kisses,
my dark one and my fair one,
my tall one and my little one,
my broad one and my slender one,
my ugly one, my beauty,

made of all the gold
and of all the silver,
made of all the wheat
and of all the earth,
made of all the water
of the sea waves,
made for my arms,
made for my kisses,
made for my soul.

Karen on 06.05.05 @ 11:26 AM CST [link] [ | ]

An Evening With Kraftwerk, Riviera Theater, Chicago, IL, June 4, 2005

Once upon a time, not very long ago (until about 9:15 PM or so last night, in fact), I used to tell people that the Kraftwerk show at Chicago's Riviera Theater on June 6, 1998, was the best concert I'd ever attended in my life.

Not any more.

Last night's show by the masters of "robot pop" simply blew me away (almost literally as well as psychologically; they had the volume cranked up pretty damn high). I was expecting to enjoy myself immensely. I wasn't expecting to have a 2+ hour eargasm.

Not that I'm complaining, you understand.

I'm really not in a position to give a detailed review of the concert. I'm not a professional music critic, of course, and one of the reasons is that, at a show like this, I like to let the music carry me away (or at least get into my being) and affect me viscerally. Trying to review this concert is too intellectual an activity for me here; even though I'm probably the most overintellectuallizing person I know, I didn't want to intellectualize this experience. I just wanted to merge with the music, and for the most part I got my wish.

For what it's worth, though, here's an "annotated" setlist of last night's concert, as I remember it (I was taking notes on the setlist, so I'm pretty sure that I've got the selections down reasonably pat):

"Pre-show": My tickets (and the Ticketmaster website for the Riviera) said that Kraftwerk would be openiing at 9:00 PM "sharp". Alas, 9:00 PM sharp turned into 9:00 PM flat, as the appointed time came and went without any appearance by the man-machines from Düsseldorf. About 9:10 or 9:15 the house lights were still up, but we could hear synthesizer notes (some tantalizingly familiar) coming from behind the plain white curtain onstage. Finally, the house lights dimmed....

Meine Damen und Herren..... Ladies and Gentlemen.... Heute Abend... Die Mensch-maschine.... Kraftwerk It was tough to hear the vocoder intro, what with the crowd going completely batshit once they heard the beginning of the intro.... The opening bars of "Man-machine" began wafting out as red spots backlit four figures standing at their synthesizer workstations, casting familiar silhouettes against the curtains.

Set list [source album in italics]

First set (band dressed in dark grey suits):

Man-Machine/The Man-Machine
Planet of Visions/no album; CD "single" release of a variant as "Expo 2000"
Tour de France 2003 and Chrono (medley)/Tour de France Soundtracks

I'm fudging this one because I'm not such an obsessive Kraftwerk nerd that I can tell the difference between "Tour de France Etape 1", "Tour de France Etape 2", "Tour de France Etape 3" and "Chrono". I'm pretty sure I heard "Chrono" in there, and I do recognize the basic "Tour de France" theme from the 2003 album; that's as good as I can call it
Tour de France 1983/released as a single in '83, also featured as a track in Tour de France Soundtracks
Both "Tour de France" versions had some great accompanying video footage of the Tour. TdF 2003 appeared to have more modern footage; TdF 1983 was more vingage footage. How appropriate. It was during TdF 1983 that I noticed that it was Ralf Hütter (I think) doing all the vocals, a pattern which continued all evening.
Vitamin/Tour de France Soundtracks
Excellent accompanying video of tumbling pills/capsules, plus the obligatory projected lyrics. Vitamins must apparently come in effervescent tablets (like Alka-Seltzer here) in Europe, since that was a continuing theme in the video. The last tableau of the video was the word "VITAMIN", dissolving away in effervescence like an effervescent tablet. I couldn't resist the bad pun; I leaned to my companion and said, "Look: alpha-seltzer." She didn't swat me, so it may not have been that bad.
"Autobahn" is my all time favorite Kraftwerk song, so I was in ecstasy during this one. Great vintage videos of the Autobahn, as featured in the 1998 concert, too.
The Model/The Man-Machine
Neon Lights/The Man-Machine
A pair of vintage favorites of mine. I still think that "Neon Lights" is one of the most emotionally compelling of their songs. One member of the ANTENNA mailing list (I think) said that he broke into tears when he heard it. I can undertand why. I came close myself.
I think that Radioactivity is one of Kraftwerk's most underappreciated albums, at least most underappreciated by the band itself, since the only cut they do from that album in concert is "Radioactivity". My dream is that someday, before I die, they'll add "Ohm Sweet Ohm" to their concert setlist, and that I can attend that concert.
Trans Europe Express, Abzug, Metal on Metal/Trans Europe Express
My second all-time favorite Kraftwerk work. Excellent railroad oriented videos, including those of the actual Trans Europa Express...
Curtain falls....

Second set (band still in dark grey suits, but their ties incorporate blinking red LEDs):

If you viewed the "Numbers" live performance video I posted here a few days ago, you have a good idea of how this one came across. Much, much more impressive in person, though.
Probably my number three all-time favorite after "Autobahn" and "TEE". I thought I'd heard a rumor that this had been dropped from the concert setlist. I was relieved to see it performed here. It's a fun song in recording; it's awesome live.
More Fun To Compute and Home Computer/Computer World
Pocket Calculator/Computerworld
Another one that rumor said had been dropped from the concert playlist. A real fun song live, so I was glad it was still in. However, I wish they'd bring back the little "pocket calculators" that they used to play this one in the 1998 concert. Instead of "Dentaku", which I was expecting, they sang "Pocket Calculator" in another language (maybe French; I couldn't recognize it, myself) after the English version.
Curtain falls.....

Third Set (The Robots):

We hear the opening bars of "We Are The Robots", as the curtain is backlit (in brilliant white light), casting silhouettes of three of the robots onto the curtain. I was worried that one of the robots had broken, but when the curtain rose I was relieved to see that we were just sitting at a less-than-optimum angle; when the curtain rose we saw all four robots, as they finished up a rousing rendition of "We Are The Robots" that absolutely wowed the crowd. That was the only song of that set. Curtain falls.....

Final Set (the band wears the flourescent "wire frame" suits):

Elektro Kardiogramm/Tour de France Soundtracks
Maybe my taste is poor. It seems that a lot of comments on the ANTENNA mail list deprecated this one. I liked it just fine...There's something about that relentless, driving cardiac beat that just grabs me in the gut...
Aéro Dynamik/Tour de France Soundtracks
Boing Boom Tschak and Music Non Stop/Electric Cafe
Great computer animations (many of the CGI head of Florian created for the video). As a touch, each member (starting with Florian Schneider (I think) on the far right) walked away from his console to stage right, bowed to the audience, and then exited the stage, ending with Ralf walking off alone while the ending bars of "Music Non Stop" played on... A distinct touch, in my opinion.
We managed to be able to get a camera into the theater, and after I get on the road I'll be headed over to see my companion and we'll download the pictures onto my laptop. Unfortunately, after that I'm headed to my dad's, where I'll be unable to connect to the interweb for the period of my visit. On Tuesday or Wednesday, though, keep your eyes on this space for an illustrated setlist....

Len on 06.05.05 @ 10:56 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Thought for the Day:

Pete "Dead Meat" Thompson is dead. So is Mo Green, Tataglia, Barzini, the heads of all the five families. It is at moments like these, my dear friends, that we must ask ourselves: "How can this not be part of some larger plan?" Do good men like Dead Meat Thompson just blink out one day like a bad bulb? I mean, one minute you're in bed with a knockout gal... or guy, and the next, you're a compost heap. Doesn't that bother any of you? Because it scares the living piss outta me!
--Admiral Tug Benson [film
Hot Shots!]

Len on 06.05.05 @ 09:52 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Who's Herbert Hoover???

"House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi released the following statement this morning on the Bureau of Labor Statistics' announcement that only 78,000 jobs were created in May, far lower than what economists had predicted:

"Today's anemic jobs numbers confirm that President Bush has still failed to create a single new private-sector job since he became President. He continues to be the first President to lose jobs on his watch since Herbert Hoover.

"Yet Republicans remain in denial. On Tuesday, the President declared that he is satisfied with our economy and that 'our economy is strong.' But Democrats are not satisfied. And more importantly, Americans are not satisfied.

"Republicans' failed economic policies are making the middle- class squeeze worse, and may jeopardize America's long-term competitiveness.

"Job growth is disappointing and wages are stagnant, while gas prices, health care costs, and college tuition are all rising rapidly. Workers continue to struggle; another 7,000 manufacturing jobs were lost in May. And long-term unemployment is historic and widespread -- recent studies have shown that long-term unemployment has stayed above 20 percent for 31 consecutive months.

"Democrats have solutions to create millions of new jobs, spur innovation, and invest in America to advance economic security for all of America's families."

Courtesy of US News Wire

Karen on 06.05.05 @ 09:24 AM CST [link] [ | ]

And just in time for tonight's show....

The Chicago Sun-Times's pop music critic interviews Kraftwerk.

While the guitar-centric Rock and Roll Hall of Fame has yet to recognize their contributions, though they've been eligible for several years now, many fans hold Kraftwerk in as high regard as the Beatles, the Rolling Stones or any of rock's icons.

Founding members Ralf Hutter and Florian Schneider, the so-called "Beach Boys of Dusseldorf," were to the development of synthesizers and electronic music what Chuck Berry was to the guitar and rock 'n' roll -- the pioneering force in the sound's development, as well as the creators of a hugely influential canon of work, with classic albums such as "Autobahn" (1974), "Trans-Europe Express" (1977) and "The Man-Machine" (1978).

Kraftwerk hasn't played in Chicago since 1998, when the group packed up its famous Kling Klang Studio and reconstructed it onstage at the Riviera Theatre for one of the most incredible concerts I've ever witnessed.
I was there. I agree 1000%.

Len on 06.04.05 @ 01:13 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Coming to terms with "My Chicago".... (part two...)

In case anyone read the first installment of this saga and was wondering: yes, I got to The Original Pancake House this morning, yes, they're still doing the mushroom omlette, and yes, it's still excellent (and as Karen pointed out in an email this morning, the coffee's excellent too, a fact that I forgot or I'd have mentioned it when I was writing yesterday). After the OPH, I took in Millennium Park and stolled back to the hotel, those pics may have to wait a while, though. Like 'til I get back to Memphis, even (sorry, but when I'm at Dad's I won't have any 'net access at all).

Anyway, for the one or two of you who are interested, further Chicago Catharsis Photos below the fold....

Len on 06.04.05 @ 12:29 PM CST [more..] [ | ]

Thought for the Day:

I'm from Downers Grove, Illinois. We had a blackout there the other day, but fortunately the police made him get back into his car before he got too far.
--Emo Philips

This joke, of course, sounds better than it reads.....

Len on 06.04.05 @ 11:45 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Poem by Neruda

The Captain's Verses
Pablo Neruda , 1952



Take bread away from me, if you wish,
take air away, but
do not take from me your laughter.

Do not take away the rose,
the lanceflower that you pluck,
the water that suddenly
bursts forth in your joy,
the sudden wave
of silver born in you.

My struggle is harsh and I come back
with eyes tired
at times from having seen
the unchanging earth,
but when your laughter enters
it rises to the sky seeking me
and it opens for me all
the doors of life.

My love, in the darkest
hour your laughter
opens, and if suddenly
you see my blood staining
the stones of the street,
laugh, because your laughter
will be for my hands
like a fresh sword.

Next to the sea in the autumn,
your laughter must raise
its foamy cascade,
and in the spring, love,
I want your laughter like

the flower I was waiting for,
the blue flower, the rose
of my echoing country.

Laugh at the night,
at the day, at the moon,
laugh at the twisted
streets of the island,
laugh at this clumsy
boy who loves you,
but when I open
my eyes and close them,
when my steps go,
when my steps return,
deny me bread, air,
light, spring,
but never your laughter
for I would die.

Karen on 06.04.05 @ 08:16 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Selachophobia Horoscopes???

The Onion has posted this Funnie about Your Horoscope:

For Len:

Cancer: (June 22—July 22)
The great white shark is brutally tenacious in pursuit of its prey, as you will discover after changing your name and moving to land-locked San Antonio.

For Me:

Scorpio: (Oct. 24—Nov. 21)
A combination of mistakes involving geography, bravado, and making promises while drunk will soon result in you going over Sioux Falls in a barrel.

Gee…and I HAD other plans this summer. DRAT!!! And damn those Unlucky Stars!!! LOL

[Hat Tip to David Chalmers at fragments of consciousness.]

Karen on 06.04.05 @ 06:35 AM CST [link] [ | ]


Conglomerate has this "interesting" query/muse on Co-blogging called Blogging Synergies by Gordon Smith:

"Assume Blog A attracts 500 visitors per day, and Blog B attracts 300 visitors per day. Some people visit both blogs. For the sake of argument, assume that 100 people visit both blogs daily. If the authors of Blog A and Blog B combine to form a new blog -- say, Blog C (Conglomerate!) -- how many visitors should they expect to attract?

The answer, of course, is that it depends. When people blog together at the same site, their blogging may be influenced by their close interaction. They may blog more often than if they were blogging alone because they feel pressure to provide content to the joint enterprise. Or they may blog less often because others are carrying part of the load. They may blog about different topics than they would have were they blogging separately. In any event, my experiences here at Conglomerate and at Times & Seasons convince me that group blogs have interaction effects. In other words, the group blog is different than the sum of its parts...."

Give it a full read to see how this concept strikes you...and it's curious to me as I've joined this Bloggie group of DBV.

As to *what effect* that has had -- postive in readership or interest in this Blog - well, can't exactly say. But from my point of view, it's been most positive for all the new friendships and conversations exemplified by my recent visit to Memphis to meet-cha' all. So, I'm giving it a thumbs-up and I hope you all agree and enjoy our combined insanity and musings here. We are still Having FUN - and getting our chance to Have Our Say in the Bloggosphere.

Karen on 06.04.05 @ 06:11 AM CST [link] [ | ]

The Belfast Cowboy

Surfing through the Rolling Stone webpage, I came across this article about one of my favorite musicians, The Belfast Cowboy: Van Morrison: Renaissance Van At 59, Van Morrison is just hitting his stride (by David Wild).

"Everybody loves a Van Morrison song...

....Morrison presents music as he's always heard it: rooted in R&B, but without limits of any sort. It's a sound that began for him in childhood, during the Fifties in Belfast. His father, George, a shipyard worker, was an avid fan of American music. "That was my initiation," he says. "It was a combination of my father's record collection and my friends who were into music. When I was growing up, you didn't have all these categories. Jazz was a very broad term -- it covered all sorts of blues and folk and gospel. That's my kind of jazz. In those days, Woody Guthrie was sold in a jazz shop. Jazz included everything from New Orleans jazz to British traditional jazz to Leadbelly to Ray Charles."

Morrison and Charles duet on Morrison's "Crazy Love" (from 1970's Moondance) on Charles' final album, the Top Ten hit Genius Loves Company. Morrison also wrote a song for soul legend Solomon Burke's latest album, Make Do With What You Got. "If it weren't for guys like Ray and Solomon, I wouldn't be where I am today," he says. "Those guys were the inspiration that got me going. If it wasn't for that kind of music, I couldn't do what I'm doing now."

As for what that is, Morrison keeps it simple: "I'm basically a working musician doing the same thing as when I started out, except that I'm better and more successful. But I'm doing the same thing I've been doing for over forty years now. It's what I do. It's who I am."

I saw him perform one time (oh...about a good 20-25 years ago) and he was FAB. Looks like I'm going to have to buy another CD to make sure I'm current in my collection. *smile*

Karen on 06.04.05 @ 05:40 AM CST [link] [ | ]

In the making...

AOL (tho’ true computer Techno-Geeks Hate AOL and its sucky browser) has its daily offerings of Trivia and Tid-bits that can amuse.

Here’s one from Moviefone with a “behind the scenes”video clip of the making of ”Revenge of the Sith” and interview with George Lucas at this link plus some other Star Wars related links.

And the May 19th and 25th editions of Rolling Stone have these interviews The Force Behind Star Wars where "George Lucas talks about why robots need love and where Wookies come from" and The Cult of Darth Vader about "behind the mask of the greatest villain in movie history."

Karen on 06.04.05 @ 05:30 AM CST [link] [ | ]

More Fahrenheit 451

Seems that the Religious right is off on a psuedo book-burning effort as explained by Jonathan Chait (Guest Op-Ed LA Times) The Right's Wrong Books:

”I try very, very hard not to think of the conservative movement as a gaggle of thick-skulled fanatics. To help me along in this process, I seek out well-reasoned commentary from conservative intellectuals such as Tod Lindberg of the Washington Times and Ramesh Ponnuru of the National Review. But my efforts at ideological toleration inevitably get spoiled when something comes along like Human Events magazine's list of the "Ten Most Harmful Books of the 19th and 20th Centuries."

Human Events is a conservative weekly that Ronald Reagan was known to favor, and which the Wall Street Journal called a "bible of the right." It compiled its list by polling a panel of conservative academics (such as Robert George of Princeton University) and Washington think-tank types (such as Fred Smith of the Competitive Enterprise Institute). As such, it offers a fair window into the dementia of contemporary conservative thinking.

One amusing thing about the list is its seeming inability to distinguish between seminal works of social science and totalitarian manifestos. Marx, Hitler and Chairman Mao sit alongside pragmatist philosopher John Dewey and sex researcher Alfred Kinsey. You'll be comforted to know that Mao, with 38 points and a No. 3 ranking, edged out Kinsey, with 37 points. "The Feminine Mystique," meanwhile, checks in at No. 7, with 30 points, just behind "Das Kapital," which totaled 31 points.

Harmful books that got honorable mentions but couldn't crack the top 10 include John Stuart Mill's "On Liberty," Sigmund Freud's "Introduction to Psychoanalysis" and Charles Darwin's "The Descent of Man." Oh yes, and Lenin's "What Is to Be Done." (If you don't see the link between arguing for individual rights, exploring scientific mysteries and constructing a brutally repressive Bolshevik terror state, then clearly you're not thinking like a conservative.)

Interestingly, "The Protocols of the Elders of Zion," a czarist forgery that incited countless massacres and inspires anti-Semites around the world to this day, failed to rate a mention. On the other hand, "Unsafe at Any Speed" and "Silent Spring," which led to such horrors as seat belts and the Clean Water Act, did. (Given that "Unsafe at Any Speed" launched the career of Ralph Nader, who went on to put George W. Bush in the White House, I wonder if conservatives might one day deem it one of the most helpful books of the last two centuries.)

Possibly even more amusing are the explanations for each book's inclusion. They read like 10th-grade book reports from some right-wing, bizarro world high school. John Maynard Keynes' seminal "The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money" argued that during recessions governments should cut interest rates, reduce taxes and increase spending, and during expansions do the opposite. It makes the list because, Human Events explains, "FDR adopted the idea as U.S. policy, and the U.S. government now has a $2.6-trillion annual budget and an $8-trillion debt." (But didn't Keynesian policies help win World War II and then produce 25 years of phenomenal prosperity? And wasn't that debt less than a trillion dollars before Reagan took office?)

The squib on "The Feminine Mystique" begins with a fairly anodyne summary of Betty Freidan's pioneering feminist tract. Rather than explain what's so dangerous about allowing women the choice of having a career, though, Human Events proceeds to quote a review that "Friedan was from her college days, and until her mid-30s, a Stalinist Marxist." Not just a Stalinist, but a Marxist to boot!

Personally, I fail to see how Friedan's communist past — she was 42 when she published "The Feminine Mystique" — would discredit her insights about the repressive nature of a world in which women were discriminated against or barred outright from most professions and much of public life. Especially because the conservative movement was itself heavily salted with ex-communists. But then, my mind has already been poisoned by Dewey, Mill and other liberal relativists.”

Karen on 06.04.05 @ 04:47 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Coming to terms with "My Chicago".... (part one...)

As some readers of this august blog, and some of my closest friends (the two sets do intersect) know, I am a not-at-all-proud-and-totally-disloyal alumnus of Northwestern University School of Law. That means that I spent three years living in Chicago, most of it wallowing in misery and self pity.

As long as I'm here, I'm trying to see if perhaps I can exorcise a few of these demons (what the hell; it's cheaper than therapy. I'm staying at the Best Western River North Hotel, which is not at all far from the old haunts of my debauched law student youth. So shortly after setting in here, I started out the hotel door and started north. My mission: to see if I could recapture some pleasant memories of my three years here.

No, I still despise Northwestern University School of Law, and if I didn't know it was a felony I'd bomb it. Repeatedly. But I was able to find a few happy memories (as well as a sad one or two, and a couple "you wont see this in Memphis" sights that brought at least a slight smile to my face). Pictures (WARNING: lots of pictures) and text below the fold.

Len on 06.03.05 @ 11:59 PM CST [more..] [ | ]

Thought for the Day:

Rush isn’t annoying in this regard because he’s a racist (although the statement definitely had racist overtones, and he has a history of this sort of thing). He’s annoying because he was a shitty football commentator. ESPN made an investment into him as an “everyman voice” on ESPN NFL Sunday, not realizing that a multimillionaire far-right celebrity who censors opposing viewpoints from his show might not be the best guy to sit on a panel of lively, active debaters who know a hell of a lot more than him about the subject matter. The solution was to sit him over on the side and let him get on air when the producers said so, during his “Rush Challenges”. When he “challenged”, he just let loose with it. And it was crappy. Other than the McNabb comment, there isn’t a whole lot to his tenure at ESPN, it being that forgettable. He doesn’t know football, and when Michael Irvin is shutting you down in a debate, it’s time to just back away and go home. Of course if “home” is also known as “Pfizer Florida”, that might not be a good idea. Limbaugh, after years of dictating to everyone to his left exactly why they were wrong, dangerous, unfit to run the country, envious of its downfall – and usually because of some personal moral failing such as adultery or political disagreement (Tom Daschle, mind you, was SATAN to this man in 2002). Rush personally constitutes one of the largest drug rings in Florida, and he couldn’t beg for forgiveness fast enough.
--Jesse [pandagon.net, on Rush Limbaugh]

Len on 06.03.05 @ 08:16 PM CST [link] [ | ]

A Worthwhile Debate on the Blogs...

Excellent debate surrounding the Founding fathers and their Christian values has been going on over at Jon Rowe’s Blog at this link and here cross-referencing the blog conversations at Southern Appeal about the post and in the 45+ Haloscan comments found there.

So give it a read.

And Awesome research work from our most Brilliant Thinker and Libertarian Law Professor: Jon Rowe. Good Going!!!

Karen on 06.03.05 @ 05:09 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Beyond Mere Mortal Comprehension...

Apropos of Len’s Do It Yourself Engrish Translation Funnie, Michael Froomkin (Discourse.net) posts this one about a program utilizing computer translations of common phrases called Of the Vista of the alcohol it is.

Give it a read for a Friday Funny. LOL

Karen on 06.03.05 @ 01:52 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Stem Cell Research Debate

Beware of Stem Cell Theology by Jerome Groopman (Guest Editorial Washington Post) was a good piece about the stem cell research issues:

At many pivotal moments in American history, leaders have turned to the Bible to justify their actions. The Founding Fathers, at the advent of the Revolution, inscribed the Liberty Bell with a line from Leviticus proclaiming freedom throughout the land. Martin Luther King Jr. thundered that he had gone to the mountaintop and, like Moses, was ready to show his people the promised land. Church and state are separated by law, but our country's visionaries assume a mantle of morality by invoking the priests and prophets of Scripture.

Last week, in opposing a bill that would allow discarded early embryos to be used as sources of stem cells, House Republican leader Tom DeLay cast himself with the originators of the three major monotheistic faiths. "An embryo," he said, "is a person, a distinct internally directed, self-integrating human organism. We were all at one time embryos ourselves. So was Abraham. So was Muhammad. So was Jesus of Nazareth."

Secular scientists are often quick to dismiss faith as having any relevance to their work, but in fact much of our moral code, personal and civil, is rooted in religious tradition. The Bible and its commentaries are a wealth not only of ethical imperatives but also of insights into character and behavior. It is foolish or naive to ignore this fact.

But it is also foolish, and wrong, to use the founders of Judaism, Islam and Christianity as foils to support the current administration's views on pressing moral questions in medicine. It demonstrates a remarkable ignorance about the diversity of religious thought concerning when life begins, when it ends and what makes it sacred.

DeLay and others who oppose stem cell research on theological grounds might be surprised to learn that it is not Abraham but Adam whose life and circumstances are interpreted by Jewish and Muslim thinkers when they assess the morality of this science. In Genesis, God breathes into a lump of clay to form the first man, Adam. Thus, life is seen as beginning when organs, particularly the lungs, develop, since it is then that the vital spirit arrives. The Talmud states that before 40 days, what is in the uterus is akin to water, not a human being. DeLay would do well to return to the Bible, because rabbis and imams who read it as their source of inspiration would not concur that Abraham's life and Muhammad's life were defined some seven to eight days after their conception, the time when researchers take stem cells from the blastocyst.

In the Gospels Jesus does not directly speak to when the soul enters the flesh. So, certain Christian theologians have taken the words of the Prophet Jeremiah as a proof text about when life begins. "I knew you before you were formed in the womb," Jeremiah says, speaking in God's voice. The Vatican and several fundamentalist Protestant groups interpret this to signify that the soul is inserted at the moment of conception.

Other Christian thinkers find this one verse much too vague to conclude that an early embryo is ensouled. As to the embryonic development of Jesus and his being a "self-integrating human organism," that issue has vexed Christian scholars for centuries and led in part to the schism between the Roman and Eastern Orthodox churches about the nature of the Nazarene.

Theology is also the basis upon which the Bush administration opposes any measures short of abstinence to stop the spread of HIV. This position comes in part from viewing sex strictly as procreation, because God's first commandment in Genesis to man was to be "fruitful and multiply." This injunction, though, does not necessarily proscribe interruption of intercourse or the use of spermicides.

Rather, some theologians refer to the sin of Onan, who spilled his seed on the ground, as a major rationale for banning contraception. Yet, the "sin" involves a back story beyond procreation per se. Onan was supposed to fulfill the obligation of Levirate marriage, the ritual that involves wedding the widow of your brother. This custom clearly worked to retain the property of the clan among its progeny.

A Levirate obligation as the basis for modern sex education seems far afield to other religious thinkers. So, these liberal theologians select verses from Scripture that provide ballast, in certain circumstances, to the imperative to be fruitful and multiply. Deuteronomy implores us to "choose life"; how life is chosen, indeed sustained, in the face of a fatal epidemic such as AIDS is open to discussion. Certain people of faith, including Catholic priests, have argued that distributing condoms fulfills the injunction to "choose life" by safeguarding the uninfected living.

Opponents of stem cell research also fear a "slippery slope" that scientists might slide down in pursuing this work. That concern is warranted, since every new medical innovation carries with it both promise and peril. But those who make public policy based on theology would do well to pay attention to their own footing. Scripture can be read in many ways, and verses can be conveniently selected in the Old Testament, New Testament and Koran that condone or conflict with their point of view. If we learn anything from Abraham, Muhammad and Jesus about interpreting the mind of God, it is that such interpretation should be done cautiously, with humility, not glibly, and with understanding that we should pause to consider whose mind we are reading.

--The writer is a professor at Harvard Medical School and chief of the division of experimental medicine at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center.--

The Chicago Sun Times also had this interesting editorial piece about the Bush threatened Stem Cell legislative Veto: Despite Bush's claims, stem cell bill is reasonable.

UPDATE: Yet another interesting entry into the frey: Stem Cell Wedge?
by David Corn which will appear in the June 20th edition of The Nation.

Karen on 06.03.05 @ 06:25 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Neruda Poem...

I’ve been wanting to post a few of my favorite poems by Pablo Neruda, and there isn’t any particular segue into them as a topic, except as I periodically feel like re-reading them on occasion. So, I’m going to post some here and there…and hope you enjoy them as much as I do.

The Captain’s Verses were many poems written about (to) the woman who became his wife and they reflect his passion and desire for this woman. This one is called “Desire: The Tiger”:

The Captain's Verses
Pablo Neruda , 1952



I am the tiger.
I lie in wait for you among leaves
broad as ingots
of wet mineral.

The white river grows
beneath the fog. You come.

Naked you submerge.
I wait.

Then in a leap of fire, blood, teeth,
with a claw slash I tear away
your bosom, your hips.

I drink your blood, I break
your limbs one by one.

And I remain watching
for years in the forest
over your bones, your ashes,
motionless, far
from hatred and anger,
disarmed in your death,
crossed by lianas,
motionless in the rain,
relentless sentinel
of my murderous love.

Karen on 06.03.05 @ 06:13 AM CST [link] [ | ]

June Meditations...

The first Friday of the new month of June – So, here’s my meditational moment to share today:

Juxtaposing Jim-Jam Jingoisms Jells with Jocund Joie de Vivre in June

Everyone is invited to join me as we wend our way into the weekend. *grin*

Karen on 06.03.05 @ 06:04 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Memphis Visit Finale...

Here are the last of the Memphis pictures I took. Now they’ve each gotten their own day to be posted and I can relive the moment. Then there are all the "mind's eye pictures" which were not in my camera and I can go back and upload those in my own personal graymatter too - But can't postie them tho' (*smile*) - so here’s the final few:

Cafebealestreet (63k image)

Entrance to Beale Street and Blues Cafe

bealestreet (96k image)

Looking up Beale Street

We also hit the “Flying Saucer” for a beer. For those of you who haven’t yet been there, the Flying Saucer has a list of 217 beers from around the world and a few assorted wines and non-alcoholic types of beer. IF you try 100 of them, then you qualify for a “memorial plate” with your name hung on their wall. For each additional 100 beers you drink, they change your plate color to reflect that dubious accomplishment. I had to try Flying Dog Bite Ale (Boulder, Co.) but passed on the Flying Dog Bite Heat Wheat Beer (Boulder, Co.) – as I prefer ale. :-)

All in all a wonderful “Mom Holiday” and Len was a great tour guide and squire…even if he is only a Memphonian at heart. LOL

Karen on 06.03.05 @ 05:54 AM CST [link] [ | ]

I'll be hitting the road soon....

so I won't be assaulting the readership with too many more Kraftwerk posts.... Save for the concert summary (should I elect to post one...)

This shot features the florescent "wire frame" suits that the group has worn for part of their concerts since, IIRC, about 1997 or so (I'm remembering that they first wore them at the 1997 Tribal Gathering festival in Luton Hoo, Kraftwerk's first live concert in 15 years or so).

Len on 06.02.05 @ 01:05 PM CST [link] [ | ]

As if you don't have enough on the Internets to suck your life away...

Thinking Machine 4. A computer chess game with a difference; basically a set of highlighted lines will appear on the board after you move; this represents the machine "thinking" over its next move. Supposedly, the program running this isn't playing a grandmaster level game, so if you're a fairly decent chessplayer (i.e., you can whoop my ass at chess 9.8 out of 10 times) you will probably beat it fairly regularly.

Len on 06.02.05 @ 12:20 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Proud Parents...

End of another School Year.

Last night was the 8th Grade Graduation for Daughter #2. Lindsey is our "excellent" student (every parent deserves at least one of these) And got her "Presidential Education Award" (with an auto-pen signed Letter from GW - Bleh!) as well as her "President's Academic Fitness Award."

[Interestingly, or rather sadly, she is only one of 7 children of her "team" of 75 students to actually get a "fitness award" for 50-sit-ups, 50-push-ups, suicides, 7 min. mile, etc. And the same percentage for the entire 500+ class - pretty sad commentary on the lack of fitness for our teens, barely 10% qualify as "physically fit." :-( ]

Lindseygrad (119k image)


grad1 (74k image)

Getting Her Promotion Certificate

Lindsgrad2 (95k image)

Proud Parents

Plus - last night was the Fifth Grade “Lock-In” end of the year party. Daughter #3 received her “send-off” certificate and was voted Most Likely to Become a Talk Show Host. LOL

Karen on 06.02.05 @ 08:03 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Thought for the Day:

Their recent hot streak has gotten them above .500. Whoop-dee-do, I mean, Whoop-dee-done.
--Bill Chuck (Billy-Ball, his ownself) [on the 2005 Chicago Cubs, 6/1]

Len on 06.02.05 @ 07:30 AM CST [link] [ | ]

The Art of Lying…

Bob Herbert (NY Times) has captured, in a short piece - Truth and Deceit - the very essence of the “trouble” with our “disassembling” Prez.:

“….At a press conference on Tuesday, President Bush, speaking about detainees who had complained of being abused, said they were "people that had been trained in some instances to disassemble - that means not tell the truth." Mr. Bush meant, of course, to say dissemble, which really means to deliberately mislead or conceal. Nevertheless, he knew what he was talking about. The president may have stumbled over the pronunciation, but he's proved time and again that he's a skillful practitioner of the art.

The lessons of Watergate and Vietnam are that the checks and balances embedded in the national government by the founding fathers (and which the Bush administration is trying mightily to destroy) are absolutely crucial if American-style democracy is to survive, and that a truly free and unfettered press (which the Bush administration is trying mightily to intimidate) is as important now as it's ever been.

There you have it in a nutshell. Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon, drunk with power and insufficiently restrained, took the nation on hair-raising journeys that were as unnecessary as they were destructive.

Now, in the first years of the 21st century, George W. Bush is doing the same.

Congress and an aggressive press ultimately played crucial roles in bringing the truth about Vietnam and Watergate to light.

A similar challenge exists today. We'll see how it plays out.”

And for those who still “believe” in this disgraceful excuse for a Fearless Leader – I’ve got a nice bridge I can sell ya…real cheap.

Karen on 06.02.05 @ 06:56 AM CST [link] [ | ]

"Play Ball" in Memphis...

A BIG Thanks to Len’s friend Peggy - who got us tickets to not just one, but two Memphis Redbirds Game. (Memphis Redbirds v. Oklahoma Redhawks)

autozoneentrance (74k image)

Entrance to AutoZone Park

autozone2 (71k image)

Inside the Park [non-game day]

autozonepark (62k image)

Redbirds v. Redhawks

autozoneHill (73k image)

The “Hill” seating area

autozonefood (56k image)

The Upper Level Food Court

clammons (62k image)

Funnies: Rodger Clam-mons

sharkie (103k image)

More Selachophobia Funnies: Sharkman

redhots (58k image)

The Red Hots

Karen on 06.02.05 @ 06:33 AM CST [link] [ | ]

This Judge's Decision Hasn't Got A Prayer...

...of a chance to succeed on an Appeal.

Apropos of Len’s post about the Wiccan’s and the Indiana Judge’s ruling forbidding these parents from teaching a‘Pagan’ religion to their son, is this decision:

”NEVADA CITY, Calif., May 31 - Followers of an ancient European faith with Norse roots today hailed the Supreme Court's unanimous decision protecting the religious rights of prisoners. (Cutter v. Wilkinson, No. 03-9877)

The ruling, which upholds the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act, recognizes the rights of prisoners to religious materials and services regardless of their faith.

"For years, Asatru prisoners have struggled for the right to practice our religion," said Stephen McNallen, director of the Asatru Folk Assembly, a national religious organization dedicated to the pre-Christian faith of Europe. "This decision will make it much harder for prison administrators to deny them this right."

Asatru -- a native pre-Christian European religion originally practiced by the Anglo-Saxons, the Norse, and the Germanic tribes-has been a legally recognized religion in the United States since 1972. The Supreme Court Justices made it clear that little-known religions, or those with very different beliefs from the mainstream, deserve the same protection as those with many millions of followers.

McNallen believes that Asatru has a definite place in correctional institutions. "The native spiritual path of the European peoples carries incredible rehabilitative, transformative, and healing power for those who approach it with openness and reverence," he said. "How can it be in the interest of the state to deny us our spiritual birthright in such a win- win situation?"

About the Asatru Folk Assembly: The Asatru Folk Assembly (AFA) was established in 1994 to practice, promote, and further evolve the indigenous European faith. The AFA's Director, Stephen A. McNallen, was a pioneer in the revival of the Asatru religion, helping to bring it to the United States in the late 1960s. For more information, visit http://www.runestone.org.”

Courtesy of US News Wire.

Karen on 06.02.05 @ 06:21 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Heavenly Wheels?

If you were hankering to get in a bid on the late Pope John Paul II’s wheels – well, you’re just gonna have to hang on to your check book for a while longer…

‘Pope car’ headed back to Sugar Grove: Judge halts auction until father, son resolve ownership differences. by Leslie Hague (Daily Herald Staff Writer):

"An auction to sell the only car known to be owned and driven by the late Pope John Paul II is off.


On Wednesday, lawyers representing auction house Kruse International, based in Auburn, Ind., and those of Jerome Rich of Sugar Grove agreed that Kruse will return the car to Rich.

Rich’s son, Jim, had kept the 1975 Ford Escort inside his shuttered Sugar Grove restaurant, Chicago West, and had planned to auction it this weekend in Las Vegas to pay off his debts.

However, both Riches claim ownership of the car. Kane County Judge F. Keith Brown issued an temporary restraining order last week that the car not be moved or sold until the ownership issue was ironed out, but Dean Kruse, owner of Kruse International, said at that time he didn’t need to follow an out-of-state order.

By that time, the car had been moved to Indiana...."

And so, the legal battle continues.

Hey, I’ve often said it’s quite interesting living here in DHC, and occassionally something even happens around here. So, I'll let you know when this dispute is settled and YOU can get your chance to own the Pope-mobile. LOL

Karen on 06.02.05 @ 06:10 AM CST [link] [ | ]

From the "What Will They Invent Next" Files...

Plastic that can stop a nuclear blast?

“…(What he) achieve(d) was a flame retardant wig but it eventually led to the discovery of a plastic that can stop a nuclear blast.”

Courtesy of Improbable blog.

Karen on 06.02.05 @ 05:55 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Interesting speculation

From today's Baseball Prospectus Newsletter:

When somebody like Albert Pujols blows into Denver (as if there are a lot of guys out there like Albert Pujols), don’t you find yourself asking how crazy his numbers would look if he played there full time?

I asked Clay Davenport to take Pujols’ numbers from the first four years of his career and adjust them as if he'd played his home games in Coors Field rather than Busch Stadium:

Year	  Actual	Translation
2001 .329/.403/.610 .365/.439/.679
2002 .314/.394/.561 .345/.424/.618
2003 .359/.439/.667 .389/.470/.723
2004 .331/.415/.657 .360/.445/.716

Tot .333/.413/.624 .365/.444/.684

Clay writes:

Pujols has a 1037 OPS in a park that averaged a .972 factor over these four years. The translation moves him to a 1.167 average park over the four years. His PF goes up by 20%, so his OPS should go up by ~10% (because runs go up twice as fast as OPS). Our crude estimate is 1.10*1037 = 1141; the more rigorous DT estimate is 1128. Close enough to not be considered outlandish.

Len on 06.01.05 @ 03:05 PM CST [link] [ | ]

With the US leg of Kraftwerk's 2005 tour well underway....

the membership of ANTENNA - The International Kraftwerk Mailing List is getting quite excited--particularly those of us who have our tickets:

and who will be in attendance at one of the upcoming concerts (or who have already attended one or more of the shows where Kraftwerk has already performed).

In case you are curious what it is I'm excited about, well, here's a sample (Windows Media Player required):

Numbers (Live: San Francisco, 2004): Broadband, 56k

And if, after watching this, you don't understand why I'm excited... well... It's a Kraftwerk thing. If I have to explain, you wouldn't understand.

Len on 06.01.05 @ 02:15 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Phun with Phlash.

Beer Golf.

Go on, go visit. You weren't planning to get any useful work done today, anyway. Were you?

Len on 06.01.05 @ 12:45 PM CST [link] [ | ]

There must not be much to amuse folks out there in Knoxvegas these days.

It appears that in Knoxville, home of the flagship campus of the University of Tennessee (and the UT Lady Volunteers, who boast the NCAA's winningest coach of all time in Pat Summit), apparently the natives all have their knickers in a twist because one Brittany Jackson, Lady Vol basketball player who just graduated this spring, has apparently decided to make a valiant attempt to avoid having to get a real job by positioning herself for a modelling career. And from what I can tell, she seems to be quite well qualified for it:

The problem for right thinking Knoxvillians (and no doubt other fans of the Lady Vols) is that Ms. Jackson, seeking to capitalize on her, er, assets, posted some fairly "revealing" photos on her website (i.e., bikini pics for those of you who have dirty minds and are assuming she posed nude or something). If you want the gory details, go see Thursday Night Fever where at least some of the pictures in question are preserved for posterity. (Thank you, Mr. Roboto!)

Um... according to Ms. Jackson's bio, she's 21 (turning 22 in late July), which means she's old enough to vote, drink, and decide to exploit her body for commercial purposes in any legal manner she chooses without a bunch of pitiful busybodies looking out for "what's best for her...." If anything, this is certainly going to help recruiting for the Lady Vols, I'd think ("Play for us, then become a highly paid, glamorous model!"). And definitely it'll drive enrollment at UT, at least among college aged males, for quite a few years. Don'cha think?

Gotta love living in the Bible belt.

Len on 06.01.05 @ 12:37 PM CST [link] [ | ]

The truth will out....

But, as Tim Noah tells us, the MSM doesn't seem to be picking up on this significant admission: Fox News Admits Bias!

Sound the klaxons! Corporate Message breakdown at Fox News! This is not a drill. Repeat: This is not a drill. Assume battle stations! Fire in the hole! A-woo-ga! A-woo-ga!

The usually disciplined foot soldiers at Fox News have long maintained that their news organization is not biased in favor of conservatism. This charade is so important to Fox News that the company has actually sought to trademark the phrase "fair and balanced" (which is a bit like Richard Nixon trademarking the phrase "not a crook"). No fair-minded person actually
believes that Fox News is unbiased, so pretending that it is calls for steely corporate resolve. On occasion, this vigilance pays off. Last year, for example, the Wall Street Journal actually ran a correction after its news pages described Fox News, accurately, as "a network sympathetic to the Bush cause and popular with Republicans." Getting one of this country's most prestigious newspapers to state that up is down and black is white is no small public-relations victory, and if we can't admire Fox News' candor, we can at least marvel at its ability to remain on message. Or rather, we could admire it, before Scott Norvell went and shot his big mouth off.

Norvell is London bureau chief for Fox News, and on May 20 he let the mask slip in, of all places, the
Wall Street Journal. So far, the damage has been contained, because Norvell's comments—in an op-ed he wrote decrying left-wing bias at the BBC—appeared only in the Journal's European edition. But Chatterbox's agents are everywhere.

Here is what Norvell fessed up to in the May 20
Wall Street Journal Europe:
Even we at Fox News manage to get some lefties on the air occasionally, and often let them finish their sentences before we club them to death and feed the scraps to Karl Rove and Bill O'Reilly. And those who hate us can take solace in the fact that they aren't subsidizing Bill's bombast; we payers of the BBC license fee don't enjoy that peace of mind.

Fox News is, after all, a private channel and our presenters are quite open about where they stand on particular stories. That's our appeal. People watch us because they know what they are getting. The Beeb's institutionalized leftism would be easier to tolerate if the corporation was a little more honest about it.
Norvell never says the word "conservative" in describing "where [Fox's anchorpeople] stand on particular stories," or what Fox's viewers "know … they are getting." But in context, Norvell clearly is using the example of Fox News to argue that political bias is acceptable when it isn't subsidized by the public (as his op-ed's target, the leftish BBC, is), and when the bias is acknowledged. Norvell's little joke about clubbing lefties to death should satisfy even the most literal-minded that the bias Norvell describes is a conservative one. (Lord only knows where Norvell acquired the erroneous belief that Fox News is "honest" about its conservative slant; perhaps he's so used to Fox's protestations of objectivity being ignored that he literally forgot that they continue to be uttered.)

Len on 06.01.05 @ 08:14 AM CST [link] [ | ]

This day in entertainment history.....

June 1 is a very, very significant day in entertainment history.

On June 1, 1967, the Beatles released what is considered to be one of the most influential, greatest albums in rock music history: Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band.

Then, one year later, on June 1, 1968, the CBS television network premiered the first episode of Patrick McGoohan's cult classic TV series, The Prisoner....

I am not a number! I am a FREE MAN!

Len on 06.01.05 @ 08:04 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Getting even closer....

And here we have a picture of the famous "Robots"; no doubt when this was taken the band was performing "We Are The Robots":

Len on 06.01.05 @ 08:00 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Thought for the Day:

But at least this journey through a galactic Thomas Kinkade gallery keeps viewers awake: Those who dozed through the C-SPAN soporifics of Attack of the Clones will be relieved to find that Sith is crammed with action. Lucas packs his latest with physics-defying deep-space dogfights and zhoozhing lightsaber battles, frequently cutting back and forth between two simultaneous melees on separate planets, deploying his signature Flash Gordon wipes. Deadly glowsticks lop off hands at an alarming rate, with at least five lost in the first hour; the picture's gruesome climactic duel goes for the legs as well, ending up with a scene out of Monty Python and the Holy Grail. It's a peculiarly obsessive motif that probably helped garner the film a PG-13 rating. Chalk it up to either the compulsive castration imagery befitting such a famously oedipal epic, or transferred wartime anxiety about an escalating population of limbless veterans. In service of the film's near nonstop string of showdowns, each planet is filled with dramatic architecture: Ports, homes, and congressional chambers are all built on teetering platforms atop vertiginous chasms, connected by dangerously slender walkways. Somehow a galaxy-spanning civilization with faster-than-light travel and intelligent droids never got around to inventing guardrails.
--Ed Halter [
The Village Voice, on the film Revenge of the Sith]

Len on 06.01.05 @ 07:58 AM CST [link] [ | ]

More Memphis Visit...

Yet another day we went to Overton Park and through the Art Museum and took in the Memphis Zoo. We saw the World famous Chinese Panda Bears (munching on bamboo) among other wonderful creature-features at the zoo (but forgot my camera in the car - so no Panda pictures.)

zoo1 (67k image)

Memphis Zoo

zoo2 (83k image)

Memphis Zoo

Len also found a FAB breakfast spot, worth all of the “word of mouth” praise for the Excellent food: Brother Juniper’s.

broJext (107k image)

Exterior and Front garden area of Brother Juniper’s

broJsign (83k image)

As the Sign says: Voted Best Breakfast In Memphis.

broJ2 (79k image)

Karen & Len

Be Warned...it's a popular breakfast venue and there can be a "wait" for a table, but the food is GREAT. :-)

Karen on 06.01.05 @ 05:42 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Mental "Gaps" in ID teaching...

Master Planned: Why intelligent design isn’t by H. Allen Orr (New Yorker) is about the Dover, Penn. School Board’s decision to require the teaching of ID because "the board decreed that 'students will be made aware of gaps/problems in Darwin’s theory and of other theories of evolution including, but not limited to, intelligent design.'"

Karen on 06.01.05 @ 05:27 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Decisions, decisions...

Conglomerate has a good analysis of the recent Supreme Court decision in the Andersen Case.

Karen on 06.01.05 @ 05:19 AM CST [link] [ | ]

More Male Modeling...

The Urge to Win by John Tierney (NY Times) is an interesting follow-up on one aspect of the men’s/women’s issues and debate.

Yet, as I read this piece, it's not so much about competition to Run the World, but men competing with men (and presumably women with other women) for the "Prize" of a marriage partner and on the single criterion of a "male's reproductive sucess."

Too limiting of a definition there: That's more of an inter-competative reproductive scenario which may/may-not have relevance to the overall "competative" personalities of the average Jane or John Doe. Yet it fails to address the fundamental issue of whether the World on the whole would be better served by Feminine model of Cooperative-negotiation versus the Male model of Aggressive-domination.

[Give it a read by clicking the “more” button.]

Karen on 06.01.05 @ 05:16 AM CST [more..] [ | ]

June 2005

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