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

Listening to the Cards-Dodgers game on XM Radio this afternoon....

Since the game is in LA, XM is picking up the Dodgers' radio feed. That means I'm hearing Vin Scully call the game. For the first three innings, at least.

And Vin is referring to Cardinals 2B Mark Grudzielanek as "Grassolanek" (or at least that's what it sounds like). [Granting, this isn't as bad as the time that Harry Caray kept referring to then Cardinals catcher Tom Pagnozzi as "Tom Paggliozzi", but in Harry's defense, he'd just come back to the Cubs broadcast booth after his stroke, and I was (and still am) inclined to cut Harry a lot of slack for that reason.]

Vin, if you weren't a living legend I'd have to give you a whole ration o'shit.

But I've got to give Vin credit. On the same play he referred to Grudz by that bastardized neologism, he was admiring the defensive acumen of the Cards in general and right fielder John Rodriguez in particular (on a play where the Dodgers had two men in scoring position and should have, by all rights, scored two runs, Rodriguez both played the ball perfectly and hit the cut-off man to hold the Dodgers to only one run). And then, on the next play, in which Cards left fielder John Gall had a part, Scully actually made reference to that favorite passage of us high school Latinists: "Gallia est omnis divisa in partes tres."

Any baseball play-by-play man who can pull a reference to Caesar's Commentarii De Bello Gallico into his broadcast is definitely deserving of enshrinement in Cooperstown.

I stand in awe.

Len on 07.31.05 @ 04:09 PM CST [link] [ | ]

autoegocrat and The River City Mud Company are back....

after a brief hiatus, with a very good post on why the ever-more-likely "Revoltin'" John Bolton recess appointment as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations should worry you. [Note: "Revoltin' John Bolton" ™ and © MadKane]

Note that autoegocrat mentions, towards the end of that post, some news that I'm hearing more and more: that the U.S. has contingency plans in place for a nuclear first-strike against Iran.

Go back and re-read that bolded phrase. I'll wait for you.

I don't know if that bothers you, but I know it sure scares the shit out of me.

Be afraid, be very afraid.

Len on 07.31.05 @ 01:25 PM CST [link] [ | ]

From the "Why this Fading Republic will Perish--sooner than you think" Department:

Josh Marshall passes on some news about the Ohio 2nd Congressional District special election:

I haven't written on this. But there's a congressional candidate named Paul Hackett, a Marine corps vet of this Iraq war, who's is in a harsh, down and dirty race in Ohio's 2nd District and in the midst of getting the worst slime treatment you can imagine from the Republican machine.

By the end of it, his volunteering to serve in the war zone will probably be cast as a sign of some deep character flaw or softness on terrorism.
[emphasis supplied --LRC]
That's why we call them Rethugnicans.

But you may remember that there are other sins that Hackett has committed that have aroused the ire of the Rethugs. First, This Humble Blog recently picked up on a gem of his that I'm going to reprint here, Just Because I Can:
The only way I know how to support the troops is by going over there. All the chicken hawks back here who said, "Oh, Iraq is talking bad about us. They're going to threaten us" - look, if you really believe that, you leave your wife and three kids and go sign up for the Army or Marines and go over there and fight. Otherwise, shut your mouth.
--Paul Hackett, Democratic candidate for Congress from Ohio's 2nd Congressional District, Major, U.S. Marine Corps Reserve, and Iraq War veteran (quoted in Salon)
And over at Whiskey Bar, Billmon identifies a couple other reasons why the Rethugnicans are interested in defeating Major Hackett, and none of them redound to the credit of the Party of Lincoln (not to mention that they are just further data points in favor of the view that The Imminent Death of the American Republic can be expected Real Soon Now):
Under the circumstances, the GOP's decision to throw $500,000 in slime ads at Hackett in the closing days of the race could be seen as the equivalent of the Mafia's old practice of shooting suspected snitches in the face with a soft nosed bullet -- as a way of making a point. That's how the reptiles are trying to spin it, anyway:
What prompted the committee's entry into the Schmidt-Hackett race was a comment made by Hackett in a USA Today article published Thursday. Hackett, talking about his service as a marine in Iraq, is quoted as saying, "I've said I don't like the son-of-a-b--- that lives in the White House. But I'd put my life on the line for him."

Because Hackett said that, Forti said, "we decided to bury him."
Imagine what they would have done to him if he'd said something naughty about Cheney!

Actually, I think the "revenge" angle is pure propaganda, a clever way to gull the media into believing this is
not a crash effort to keep Hackett from getting close enough for him and the Dems to claim a moral victory. But the fact that the GOP can afford to dump $500k into a race just to keep the opposition from scoring a few bragging points (or to punish the crime of lese majesty -- take your pick) is a sign of just how much of a financial supercharge 10 years of DeLayism have given the machine.
Speaking of whom, I'm finding it harder and harder to believe that, were one to visit Abraham Lincoln's tomb today, that one would not hear a whirring noise coming from it....

Spin away, Abe. Spin away....

Len on 07.31.05 @ 12:36 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Inspiring a sad musing....

Over at "Our Obligatory Blog", net friend Stan Schwarz tells us of a teacher who changed his life, obviously for the better. It's a fun little story, and well worth taking a gander at....

Though he makes me realize that I can't name a teacher in my whole academic career who was in any way so influential that I can say that s/he changed my life.

Not one.

I was going to end this by saying I'd think about it, and see if I couldn't identify a teacher who'd had a life-changing influence on me, but then it hit me that this was simply silly. If there were such a teacher in my life, s/he would come to mind immediately. The very fact that I'd have to think about it proves to me that such a teacher has as much objective existence as "the present King of France", to use a famous example.

This is not to say that I've not had any good teachers. In fact, I can name one right off the bat--Carl Wellman, the premier scholar in ethics during my time at Washington University; my only hesitation at calling Professor Wellman "good" is that it just isn't a good enough superlative, but for that matter "most excellent" isn't good enough to describe him, either--and I don't feel that taking some time to think about all my teachers to identify the good ones isn't that silly. But none, alas, provided me with any sort of "life changing" experience.

One might have. In fact, I've never forgiven Steven Lubet, of Northwestern University School of Law, for two things he did while he was one of my clinical teachers there. The first thing was being such a scathing critic of my work under him that, depressed for a week afterward, I gave serious thought to dropping out of law school.

The second thing I've never forgiven him for is later calling me into his office, tempering his criticism, telling me that it was meant not to be harsh, but to inspire me to be the best lawyer that I could be, and causing that depression to lift. As a result, I finished law school. If he'd have just kept his goddamned mouth shut, I'd have dropped out of law school, and saved myself a lot of time, money, and heartbreak.

And probably be precisely where I am now.

So....I've had the worst of all possible worlds. Not only have I not had the pleasure of a teacher who changed my life for the better; I've had one who, when he could have changed my life for the better, totally fucked up.

Nothing to do but soldier on, I guess.


Len on 07.31.05 @ 12:05 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Blog crushes?

Now, on the opposite end of the spectrum from Serious On-Line Dating Hopes and Aspirations, I found this GEM about "Blog Crushes."

Alright, here is gal on a blog called Perverted Republican. [Tho' I think that is Redundant - LOL] With this tag-line: ….thinking outside of the heart-shaped box....determined to obliterate the stereotype that Republicans are prudes....

Her About Me says:

Name: blondage
Location: Somewhere in the Hawwwwt South

[And this added Disclaimer:]

This site is intended for ADULTS ONLY! If you are not of age, literally or figuratively, get the hell out!!!!!!! *cracks whip*

She writes:
" I'm smitten

Blogosphere crushes.

*happy sigh*

Is anyone else suffering from one? Or two? Or ten?

I can think of............oh.........a DOZEN men in particular.

I must be the queen of the blog crush.

The Blondage Twelve.


Clever men all...

They make me smile and make me think......and they never throw their underwear on my floor.....

Oh what the hell. I'm naming names, alphabetically of course...."

But me thinks she goes a tad overboard with these 12 Bloggie Crushes of Blogger’s Sites.

Sheesh, ya’ think she does fancy herself the “queen of the blog crush” or is she just a bit too young to KNOW Better!!

Let's hear it readers...What say you all to "Blog Crushes"????


Karen on 07.31.05 @ 09:33 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Unsurprising, but sad news....

Raymond "Lee" Cunningham, dead at age 100.

I know that very few of you are obsessive enough Cardinals fans (or for that matter, obsessive enough baseball fans) to have this fact at your fingertips, but "Lee" Cunningham was, for a brief time (less than a year I think), the oldest living former MLB player, and by virtue of that, the oldest living former Cardinal (having played a few games for the Redbirds in 1931-32).

And now, as The Cardinals Birdhouse writers have put it, he's gotten his callup to That Higher League.

Requesciat in Pace, Lee.

Len on 07.31.05 @ 09:19 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Thought for the Day:

Mom kept telling me that hard work never killed anyone, but I figure, why take chances?

Len on 07.31.05 @ 08:59 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Terribly Sad, Kinda Internet Dating, On-Line Thing...

Our very own Daily Herald started a webpage (caught up in all the Bloggie Fever and Hype of the past few months) called Beep: Honk Your Horn.

One entry was from this gal and her re-entry into On-Line dating:

"...I checked all the boxes in my new profile and came up with a crafty bio. I typed a decent headline and chose a username I liked. I even spent time customizing a search.

I awaited the results:

"We couldn't find any matches for that search ... but don't let that stop you!"

What? You couldn't find any matches for my search? I LIVE IN CHICAGO, home of 3-plus million people.

Where did I go wrong? I had checked "any" for income and profession, hair color and spirituality. Did limiting myself to only men 5'9" and taller weed everyone out? Or perhaps it was my requirement that he had completed high school.

This is not a good sign.

I am crushed.

I will have a glass of wine...."

Yikes!!! Being Happily Married™ I don't live in that world of "Dating" (On-Line or Off-Line either) -- BUT, I would hope that If I ever had to look for another Heart's Desire™ I wouldn't end up with not a single, solitary match for my Womanishly Good Qualities™.


I've always been of the notion that there is "someone for everyone" (and maybe even more than one "someone") -- But this gal may be the dis-proof of that Theory 'o' Life. And sadly so, for her. :-(

Karen on 07.31.05 @ 08:46 AM CST [link] [ | ]

More Use-Less But Interesting Objects...

I am considering taking a Chicago Faux-Historical Tour of Gangsta Places in Da City. My friend, Linda, has been wanting to do this bus tour trip.

But on their Website for The Untouchable's Tour, I came across some Schwaggy promotional items -- and this one caught my eye as yet More Use-Less, but interesting objects: Magnetic Bullet Holes.

Although I can think of a mutitude of reasons why my kids would want exactly that item!!! LOL

Karen on 07.31.05 @ 08:25 AM CST [link] [ | ]

More Faux Holidays...

Yet another Faux Holiday has come and gone on Friday: System Administrator Appreciation Day.

A special day, once a year, to acknowledge the worthiness and appreciation of the person occupying the role, especially as it is often this person who really keeps the wheels of your company turning.

This appreciation day includes many system administrators:

* Computer Administrators
* Network Administrators
* Internet Administrators (webmaster)
* Telephone (PBX) Administrators
* Voice-Mail Administrators
* Database Administrators (DBA)
* Email System Administrators
* Mainframe Administrators

They have a nice description of what an S.A. does and some nifty gift ideas (but to avoid Schwag: any stuff with the Company's own Logo orused as promotional give-aways) for your SysAdmin.

But Boo Whoo, I have no S.A. (only my techno-Wizards, Len and Brock)-- who I am sure were appropriately Appreciated on Friday at their respective places of employment. :-)

Karen on 07.31.05 @ 08:12 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Thought for the Day:

The Bears end up with bad players in several categories: a black kid, two Spanish speakers, an Indian, a kid almost too little to hold the bat and another one in a motorized wheelchair. What they have in common is not their minority status, but their inability to play the game.

They revived my own childhood memories of Little League, which I hated; it was a meritocracy in which good players were heroes and I was pointed toward right field with the hope that I would just keep on walking. Well, of course it was a meritocracy. Sports involves winning, and winning involves skills. What I could never figure out was how some kids had always been good at sports and others would never be any good, no matter how hard they tried: Kids like me, so nearsighted that the approach of a ball had to be described to me by teammates.
--Roger Ebert [on the film
The Bad News Bears (2005)]

Len on 07.30.05 @ 05:16 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Employment Law 101 (Illinois Style)

Apropos of Len’s post about goings-on here in local Chicago/Illinois Politics and Hizzoner Richard Daley and the $10,000 bounty offer from Gary Skoien (Chairman of the Cook County GOP party): Is this updated tid-bit about a little “Employment Law 101”:

"The U.S. Constitution may guarantee that Cook County GOP Chairman Gary Skoien can’t be arrested for criticizing Chicago Mayor Richard Daley. It doesn’t say he can’t be fired.

State and federal employment laws give bosses wide latitude in assuring that their employees don’t embarrass or endanger their companies with the things they say.

In fact, as a so-called “at will” state, Illinois says most employees work at the discretion of their companies and may be fired for almost any reason, or, in some cases, no reason at all.

Illinois doesn’t require employers to be fair about a firing, barring just discriminatory firings for age, creed, race and sex.

“Your employer can control what you do off the job,” said Helen LaVan, professor of management at DePaul University in Chicago.

Just two days after Skoien offered a $10,000 reward for information leading to the indictment and conviction of Chicago Mayor Richard Daley, Skoien’s boss at The Prime Group, a real estate development firm, told him Daley is a personal friend and the real estate company needs good relations with the city.

So after 15 years with The Prime Group, Skoien was fired.

He says he won’t sue but even if he did, his case would be a long shot, according to LaVan...."

Courtesy of Mike Comerford: Government may not be able to censor you, but your boss can; (Daily Herald).

And there are rising questions about whether Skoien ought to retain his GOP Chairmanship in the wake of this Fiasco. Might be "Hasta la Vista, Gary."

Karen on 07.30.05 @ 08:46 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Birthday Suits Welcome...

Vienna's Leopold Museum is featuring 180 works in a new exhibit. These masterpieces which originally scandalized the Viennese “when native Art Nouveau masters like Klimt, widely known for his sensuous "The Kiss," began producing works some critics panned as ‘indecency,’ ‘artistic self-pollution’ and borderline pornography…. include Klimt's "Nude Veritas," an 1899 painting of a naked young woman with wildflowers in her hair”


”Scores of naked or scantily clad people wandered the museum, lured by an offer of free entry to "The Naked Truth," an exhibition of early 1900s erotic art, if they showed up wearing just a swimsuit or nothing at all.”

This exhibit is on display through Aug. 22. in Vienna.

Apparently it’s a “Come as You are Party” or “Birthday Suits Welcome.”

Courtesy of The Chicago Tribune.

Karen on 07.30.05 @ 08:31 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Of Planets and Black Holes...

Well – when I last visited Pluto…it sure looked like a planet to me…

Astronomers Claim Discovery of 10th Planet
By Alicia Chang (Assoc. Press):

”Astronomers announced Friday that they have discovered a new planet larger than Pluto in orbit around the sun. The finding will likely renew debate over what exactly is a planet and whether Pluto should keep its status.

The unnamed object - the farthest-known object in the solar system - is currently 9 billion miles away from the sun, or about three times Pluto's current distance from the sun. Astronomers do not know its exact size, but its brightness shows that it is at least as large as Pluto and could be up to 1 1/2 times bigger…

"This is the first object to be confirmed to be larger than Pluto in the outer solar system,'' Michael Brown, a planetary scientist at the California Institute of Technology, said in a telephone briefing.
The briefing was hastily arranged after Brown received word that a secure Web site containing the discovery was hacked and the hacker threatened to release the information. [and What's with these "hackers"???]

Brown labeled the object as a 10th planet, but there are scientists who dispute the classification of Pluto as such. There is no official definition for a planet and setting standards like size limits or orbital patterns potentially invites other objects to take the "planet'' label.
The new planet is rocky and icy, similar to Pluto, and is the third brightest object located in the Kuiper belt, a disc of icy debris beyond the orbit of Neptune, Brown said.

It has taken scientists this long to find the planet because its orbit is at an angle compared to the orbits of most planets….”

But, as I was being chased by them jealous and pesky Black Holes, I never noticed yet another planet in the vicinity myself.

Now the folks at the Hayden Planetarium will have to update their Digital Universe to include this new Planetary Heavenly Body (once it’s named) in the fields of orbit around our Sun.

Always more to do in this universe. Sheesh!! -- an astronomer’s work is never done!!! LOL

Karen on 07.30.05 @ 07:16 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Tonight's Blogger Bash

Just a quickie. We all convened at Dish, at the northeast corner of Cooper and Young in Midtown, at the appointed time. While Dish does indeed have wi-fi access (at least a couple others were able to get online, from what I could see), my allegedly wi-fi enabled Palm Tungsten C obstinately refused to connect to the access point, so I wasn't able to do a quick live blog of the event, like I'd hoped. :-(

Eric Janssen (Webraw, Quixtar Blog, and Plug In) made an appearance early in the evening, but he had daddy duty tonight, so he was on his way to take his kids to see Sky High. Since that movie's been getting some good reviews, I have no doubt that he and his sprouts had a great time; still it was good to catch up with Eric for a bit.

Other attendees, in no particular order: E.J. ("fresh", if that's the right term, from the afternoon Love in Action rally), Dr. Abby, Dr. Dad, Abby's Mom (the "baseball fanatic", as Abby described her, so I knew we'd get along just fine), Aaron, "Mr. Mike" Hollihan, Mark, Phil Harwell, Brock, Chris Davis, and, capturing the prize for longest trip to make it to the Bash, Bruce Garrett, who was visiting us from Baltimore, Maryland, home of Sportsmans Park East Oriole Park at Camden Yards and the St. Louis Browns Balitmore Orioles (Karen, as soon as I can get the information I'll tell you how to send Bruce the traveling trophy... ;-) ).

All, in all, the company was superb; I got a chance to catch up with everyone present, and to bid farewell to Dr. Abby and Aaron. Good food, a great atmosphere, and plenty of good things to drink to keep the conversation flowing. If you're a Memphis blogger, and you missed it.... Well, it was your loss, but remember that you're more than welcome to the next Bash.... Tonight was, as all prior Bashes have been, an evening's dignified insurrection well deserving of:

The Art Schroeder Memorial Synopsis™

A great time was had by all, and nobody was arrested.

Len on 07.29.05 @ 11:09 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Frist flip-flops on embryonic stem-cell research....

and may well have insured his retirement to private citizenhood, vice moving into the Oval Office come 2008 (we can only hope!). The Pesky Fly has the story.

Len on 07.29.05 @ 11:54 AM CST [link] [ | ]

The Truth About Term Limits (A Very Bad Idea, indeed)

From Chris Lawrence who, as a political scientist, knows whereof he speaks, I'm sure:

... pretty much everyone who’s studied the issue of term limits seriously finds that the effects of term limits are pretty much the opposite of those promised by proponents: instead of producing "citizen legislators" who aren’t beholden to parties or organized interests, it produces a legislature full of political novices who have to rely on unelected party leaders and lobbyists, since they lack the political expertise and experience necessary to exercise good independent judgment.

A far better method for producing an accountable legislature is to ensure vigorous competition for seats, which suggests that Mississippi would be better served by overhauling the gerrymandered monstrosities we call legislative districts than selecting a fresh batch of mediocre politicians every eight years from constituencies that are the result of racial and partisan redistricting.
That's probably advice that would be well taken elsewhere than Mississippi, I'm sure....

Len on 07.29.05 @ 11:49 AM CST [link] [ | ]

One More for the Road...

Beer-Can Chicken with Cola Barbecue Sauce:

Now this was just becoming the rage in Minnesota when I moved in 2002, but it's also known by earthier names (or variants there of) as Beer Bottom Chicken.

Beginning with: “Open a can of beer and drink half”, and these other ingredients:

1 (12-ounce) can beer
1 cup hickory wood chips
2 teaspoons kosher or sea salt
2 teaspoons brown sugar
2 teaspoons sweet paprika
1 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
1 (4-pound) whole chicken
Cooking spray

The operative part of the Cooking is to “Holding chicken upright with the body cavity facing down, insert beer can into cavity.”

And then the Trick is to Balance the Little Fryer Upright like a tripod on the beer can while its’cooking.

And as the Chef says:
"I like any recipe that starts with, 'Open a can of beer and drink half'" says Raichlen. American ingenuity has produced a variety of beer-can roasters that hold the can in place and stabilize the tipsy chicken. Aluminum cans bend easily under the pressure, so when piercing holes, it's a good idea to use a can-holding gadget.

Can’t say as I’ve ever had the “Cola Sauce” [see recipe at the link above] but this Beer Butt Chicken recipe is supposed to yield very flavorful, juicy and tender bird. So, If yer wondering what to fix this weekend on the grille - Enjoy!!

Karen on 07.29.05 @ 11:34 AM CST [link] [ | ]


Josh Marshall reminds me of what was one of the featured stories on Rachel Maddow's Air America show this morning, namely, that "Revoltin'" John Bolton "forgot" that he'd been interviewed by the State Department Inspector General in connection with their inquiry as to how the Iraq-Niger yellowcake story managed to find its way into the State of the Union address. This is by way of explanation of why Bolton told the Senate, in connection with his confirmation hearings on his now dead appointment as U.N. Ambassador (well, dead in the Senate, though I'm hearing rumors that Bush will be giving him the expected recess appointment, possibly as early as next week), that he'd never given testimony or statements in connection with any investigations during his tenure at the State Department.

I don't know about any of the rest of you, but this is reminding me of a classic Steve Martin schtick from one of his albums. In that monologue, Martin states that he'd decided that he was never going to file an income tax return again, but that he had no fear of going to jail for it, because he'd thought of a perfect, iron-clad excuse that would get him off if the IRS ever caught up with him and inquired as to why he hadn't filed tax returns.

That excuse?

Iiiiiiiiii..... forgot!
Yep. Works for me.....

Len on 07.29.05 @ 09:31 AM CST [link] [ | ]

In this, the last season of play at Busch Stadium II....

fans are getting mushily sentimental over the "Millions of Memories"™ that they have collected over the past 40 seasons.

But over at his blog, "Fuck Your Couch", Alex Fritz is casting doubts on one of those memories, as he debunks The Legend of Mike Laga. For those of you who aren't obsessive Cardinals fans, Mike Laga is pretty much a non-entity with one fluke season (1984) who toiled with the Tigers, Cardinals and Giants, and who's major claim to fame is that he is allegedly the only player in history to hit a baseball completely out of Busch Stadium II (though that was a foul ball, not a home run). "Allegedly", because, as Alex points out, the evidence that Laga actually did accomplish that feat is a bit lacking.

Len on 07.29.05 @ 07:55 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Chocoholic Day Dreams...

Now IF Memphis had a few of these places for the next Blogger Bash... I might be persuaded to come there. LOL

A Place for Cocoa Nuts by Amy Chozik (The Wall Street Journal) [courtesy of the Daily Herald] explains:

"New chocolate cafés cater to Chicagoans with a sweet tooth. Three more are on the way - including one in Naperville

At Ethel's Chocolate Lounge in Chicago's Lincoln Park neighborhood, couples and families relax on plush pastel-colored furniture, eating champagne chocolates and sipping mocha drinks. Behind a glass pane, espresso, pina colada and honey-flavored truffles sell for about $42 a pound. A sign reads "Chocolate is the New Black."

Naperville already is home to several chocolate shops, but Ethel's would be the first with café seating.

The $14.5 billion U.S. chocolate industry could use a shot of espresso. Dominated by decades-old products like Hershey bars and M&M's, the industry has posted annual sales increases of less than 3 percent from 2002 to 2004, reports the National Confectioners Association, an industry trade group. Meanwhile, sales at upscale coffee and cocoa stores (a category that includes Godiva as well as sit-down spots like Starbucks) rose 20.6 percent in the same period.

"The only way for chocolate makers to see real growth is through innovation," says Susan Fussell, a spokeswoman for the National Confectioners Association in Vienna, Va.

Mars' Haugh says that in small quantities, chocolate isn't any more unhealthy than other popular indulgences. A four-piece serving of Ethel's chocolate has about 160 to 220 calories, about the same amount as a latte made with whole milk. "Ethel's is about maximizing the chocolate experience. It's not about volume," says Haugh. The company says it expects customers to stay for a couple of hours during a typical visit.

The chocolate lounge dates back to 17th-century London, about a century after cocoa was brought to Europe from Latin America. Designed for the elite, European chocolate houses offered comfortable seating where the upper crust could socialize while drinking hot chocolate. .... Even the most diet-conscious consumers said they would occasionally splurge on "premium" chocolate - in terms of calories and money - if it was part of a broader social experience."

Chocoholics are welcome at these places in Chicago:

Ethel's Chocolate Lounge

• 527 Davis St., Evanston

(847) 424-0790

• 819 W. Armitage Ave., Chicago

(773) 281-0029

• North Bridge Mall, 520 N. Michigan Ave., Chicago

(312) 464-9330

Hershey's Chicago

• 822 N. Michigan Ave., Chicago

(312) 337-7711

And our own Geneva Chocolatier:

Graham's Fine Chocolate's

302 S. 3rd Street
Geneva, Il

(630) 232-6655

[Which has always had seating - indoor and outdoor - for its patrons to enjoy the chocolates and handmade ice creams. To DIE for.]

So, when the next Bash is held at a Memphis Chocolate Shop... count ME in!!!


And a HAPPY MOVE for Dr. Abby and Best Wishes for her new City and Job. We will be sure to read about it on her blog soon.

Karen on 07.29.05 @ 07:13 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Jobs Interviews I can Say "NO" to:

Never had an Interview quite like this one:
`Stress' job interview a signal to look elsewhere
by Carol Kleiman (Chicago Tribune):

"Stress interviews: Many managers and hiring officers in the human resources profession think that keeping job applicants "off balance" and on the defensive by asking somewhat obnoxious questions is the best strategy to find out exactly what the job seeker is "made of." And they also are convinced it's a good way to observe how candidates think and react with no time to prepare.

But "stress" interviewing is not popular with job seekers, who think it's unfair. Job applicants complain to me about being asked if they had a happy childhood, how do they react to authority, what they would do if they found one of their colleagues was spreading ugly rumors about them and what animal would they like to be?

And that's just for openers.

"The great U.S. Navy admiral Hyman Rickover is said to have sawed off chair legs just to see how candidates reacted when the chair collapsed under them. Another interviewer told me he required candidates to tie their shoes in front of him because he believed their tying technique revealed great insight into their potential.

And while the executive recruiter urges employers not to use "stealth" questions in interviews but to use professional assessment firms instead, he also advises job applicants to "think twice about working for a company that would encourage such a counterproductive interviewing technique."

In other words, don't take the abuse...."

Karen on 07.29.05 @ 06:56 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Still working away on my PC...

However, came a cross a couple of GEMs which must be posted in the meanwhile:

Now even Stan will have to admit this is one for the books: Tattooed Chinese Pigs

"...The idea was cooked up by Belgian artist Wim Delvoye, who has hired a small staff of local farmers and tattoo artists to raise some 20 sows and use them as canvases for skin art at his rustic China base, Art Farm.

"I decided to do something in China first, and I realized tattooing pigs would be a good introduction to the country. It's low-tech," Delvoye, 40, told Reuters.

The pigs get sedatives before they go under the needle and are carefully raised until their natural deaths, normally well past the six-month mark when farm pigs are slaughtered...."

and this picture of one of the "works of art" (tho it says they tranquilize them first *Whew*) Harley Hog.

Karen on 07.29.05 @ 06:45 AM CST [link] [ | ]

MasterCard Red Sox parody ad has a permanent home.

Back in January I posted a link to a masterful Comedy Central parody of MasterCard ads, premised on the tendency of sports fans to make rash "promises" as expressions of hope for their team: "I'd give my left nut for the Sox to win the World Series". Unfortunately, Comedy Central has long since pulled that item from their website, and I was worried that it was no longer generally available.

However, in looking for something else I was happy to see that Web humorist Al Lowe (better known to some computer gamers as the creator of the Leisure Suit Larry series of mature themed computer games) has archived this gem (Windows Media Player required). So enjoy!

Len on 07.29.05 @ 06:08 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Thought for the Day:

There surely are instances in which overzealous school administrators and others go too far in the cause of nondiscrimination, silencing religious speech that is clearly protected by the First Amendment. Such infringements should be fought for reasons both principled, because Christians have the same right to free speech as everyone else, and political, because these abuses generate a backlash that ultimately harms the cause of church-state separation.

But the ACLU doesn't need to be told to take this stance -- it already has, despite attempts by the Christian right to distort its record.

In 2003, Jerry Falwell published a piece on the right-wing Web site Newsmax titled "The Case of the Offensive Candy Canes." "Seven high school students in Westfield, Mass., have been suspended solely for passing out candy canes containing religious messages," he wrote. A few paragraphs later, he continued, "The fact is, students have the right to free speech in the form of verbal or written expression during non-instructional class time. And yes, students have just as much right to speak on religious topics as they do on secular topics -- no matter what the ACLU might propagate."

In fact, the ACLU submitted a friend-of-the-court brief in the case defending the students on the grounds that, as the ACLU's attorney said, "students have a right to communicate ideas, religious or otherwise, to other students during their free time, before or after class, in the cafeteria, or elsewhere."

Nevertheless, stories about the ACLU and its evil plots against Christian confections proliferated in the right-wing media. And this points to the problem with taking seriously many of the Christian right's complaints about secular hostility to their religious expression. Last year, the evangelical right was up in arms over a so-called war on Christmas, symbolized by the decision of Federated Department Stores, which owns both Macy's and Bloomingdale's, to use the phrase "Happy Holidays" instead of "Merry Christmas." But that move was inspired by capitalism -- the company wanted to make as many customers feel as comfortable as possible in order to get their money -- not by legal secularism or anti-Christian bias.
--Michelle Goldberg [salon.com]

Len on 07.29.05 @ 05:50 AM CST [link] [ | ]

From the "Alas, too true!" department:

From The Late Show with David Letterman, Top Ten George W. Bush Solutions For Global Warming:

10. NASA mission to turn down the sun's thermostat

9. Federal subsidies to boost production of Cool Ranch Doritos

8. Fast track Rumsfeld's "Colonize Neptune" proposal

7. Convene Blue-Ribbon Committee to explore innovative ways of ignoring the problem

6. Let Hillary worry about it when she takes over

5. I dunno---tax cuts for the rich?

4. Give the boys at Halliburton 90-billion dollar contract to patch hole in ozone

3. Switch to Celsius so scorching 98 becomes frosty 37

2. Keep plenty of Bud on ice

1. Invade Antartica

Len on 07.28.05 @ 12:50 PM CST [link] [ | ]

And the General is on the case....

General J.C. Christian, Patriot, follows up on the rumors about Turd's mistress:

Karen Johnson
Infrastructure Solutions

Dear Ms Johnson,

There are rumors floating around the internet that you are Karl Rove's concubine. Is it true? I sure hope so.

There's nothing wrong with serving as his concubine. It's a position steeped in ancient biblical tradition. Mr. Rove, the deliverer of elections and master of the Christian base, deserves a stable of mistresses just as David, the slayer of Goliath and king of God's chosen people, had his own harem of concubines.

More importantly, it would put an end to all the talk about Mr. Rove and that harlot, Jeff Gannon. Every time I think about it, I get this mental picture of Mr. Rove on all fours like Ned Beatty in Deliverance, his flabby flesh rippling and his belly and man-breasts bouncing in a rhythm dictated by Gannon's furious pounding and punctuated by Karl's calf-like bellows. I'd rather not have to picture that anymore.

Heterosexually yours,

Gen. JC Christian, patriot

Len on 07.28.05 @ 12:33 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Yer fifteen minutes of fame start now....

Congratulations to Memphis blogger Mark at The Conservative Zone, who came home from a gaming outing with his buddy "Mr. Mike" Hollihan of Half-Bakered to find out that his "Hanoi Jane" post had made the Washington Post:

It took only a few nanoseconds for the right side of the blogosphere to get fired up.

It took, in fact, only two words: Jane Fonda.

News that the actress and activist is planning an antiwar bus tour was greeted by calmly reasoned analysis.

The Conservative Zone:

"Hanoi Jane is at it again. . . . In 1972, she committed Treason when she collaborated with the enemy and urged that US soldiers quit fighting. Today, she is calling for an immediate troop withdrawal from Iraq, leaving them in the lurch and unable to withstand the terrorist forces.

"This B-I-T-C-H is a traitor twice now in my eyes. She has the right to voice her opinions, but her past actions have branded her a traitor and she deserves to be treated like one."
Mark's already aware that his fifteen minutes of fame have started, so if you feel tempted to go visit him, be civil (if you're not already on that side of the aisle that's predisposed to be civil to him). I've met Mark, and he's a pretty nice guy, and not as reality challenged as some wingnuts. I'm sure he even parsed the HTML "sarcasm" tags in Howard Kurtz's post there, even if he isn't letting on (that I can see). :-)

Idle question... Is Mark still a member of The Rocky Top Brigade? He links to the old RTB page and does mention it on his main page, but I don't see him in the group blogroll at the side of the new RTB page. Just curious....

Len on 07.28.05 @ 10:17 AM CST [link] [ | ]

More PC Woes…

Well, just a few days ago I sorted out the home office of PC’s and updated everything, reconfigured and wiped all the PC’s to have a fresh start. Things are working great!!

But now I will get to my PC…

I’m about to go into the belly of my PC Beast. Long story short - when we got these PC’s (five IBM Think Pad Laptop’s) for the business office, my husband had the “Brilliant” idea to partition my computer’s hard drive with both XP and Win 98 – XP being just a few weeks on the market and perhaps incompatible with much of our existing programs and printers and modems. In his theory, I could then run both OS’s and work between them without a loss of functioning if XP did not support all our hardware and existing programs.

It didn’t exactly work out that way. Win 98 is still an awful OS: keep malfunctioning and locking up…is essentially useless. So, I’m wasting half of my hard drive on this horrible Win 98 OS, and have abandoned that side of the partition for the XP side. But that’s not the only reason to repartition and get rid of the Win 98; as I am now getting “Blue Screen” error shut downs on the XP side. [Which Len tells me are really, really bad error messages and my PC is in some serious trouble!!]

I am currently busy off loading all of my files, pictures and saved stuff onto CD’s to ready this for a major OS overhaul and reinstall of XP. But, I have come across some Google searches indicating some folks have attempted this repartition process and had a total system failure with the inability to reboot their PC at all.

Techie-dweeb that I am, this could get quite *interesting* and I may be off-line for longer than I anticipate. But Len will take up the (s)lack of posts – and he’s already been quite Bizee today – til I am back and fully PC operational yet again.


Karen on 07.28.05 @ 09:05 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Techno-Geek Political Humor

Yes, Virginia, there really is such a beast. Here's The War On Terror: As viewed from the Bourne shell. And if you're not a Unix geek (i.e., not Brock, not Bryan, or not Josh; did I miss anyone?) and therefore don't get the jokes, here's The War On Terror--For Dummies (i.e., the geek jokes explained for non-geeks).

Credit: Josh

Len on 07.28.05 @ 07:51 AM CST [link] [ | ]

More musings on "The PR Initiative Against Terror"...

um, excuse me.. that's "The PR Initiative Against Violent Extremism". MadKane gives us her take, in verse.

Audio version here.

UPDATE: More kudos to Mad! Bush Watch picked up on this poem (and the audio link) and featured it on today's entry (scroll to "Thursday, July 28, 2005" if you're not viewing this one today).

Well done!

Len on 07.28.05 @ 07:39 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Interesting rumors from Karen's neck o' the woods....

Karen's Representative in Congress is the Honorable *snick* Dennis Hastert.

Rumors are filtering out from Chicagoland that Hastert may be exerting influence on the bAdministration to insure that Patrick Fitzgerald, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois and Special Prosecutor in the Valerie Plame identity-leak investigation, is not reappointed to that office (i.e., U.S. Attorney) when his term ends this October. Apparently, if Fitzgerald is not appointed, it would not be a "Saturday Night Massacre" scenario resulting from his handling of the Plame case, but rather would be a payback for Fitzgerald's aggressive prosecution of political corruption cases in the Land o'Lincoln. From the Chicago Tribune article:

Former U.S. Sen. Peter Fitzgerald said Wednesday he believes there is mounting political pressure to oppose the reappointment of U.S. Atty. Patrick Fitzgerald this fall, given his aggressive prosecution of government corruption in Illinois.

The former senator questioned whether House Speaker Dennis Hastert, the state's top Republican, would support the prosecutor when President Bush decides whether to extend his term in Chicago.

But Hastert, who often battled with Sen. Fitzgerald while the two Republicans served together in Congress, quickly shot down the ex-senator's claims. Hastert's office said the decision rests entirely with President Bush and Hastert has no role whatsoever in whether the prosecutor keeps his job.

Fitzgerald was the state's Republican U.S. senator in 2001 when he went outside Illinois' political and legal circles to recommend Patrick Fitzgerald, who was then a federal prosecutor in New York. Peter Fitzgerald contends that the subsequent indictment of former GOP Gov. George Ryan and the federal investigation of Mayor Richard Daley's City Hall have angered powerful politicians in both parties. The Fitzgeralds are not related.

"I'd be pleasantly surprised if Speaker Hastert recommended Patrick Fitzgerald for reappointment," the former senator said in a telephone interview, echoing comments he made in a WGN-TV interview Wednesday.

"But I'm beginning to sense that a lot of people, a lot of criminals, may hope that October brings them a new U.S. attorney in Chicago, one perhaps a little bit more malleable and acceptable to influence from leading Republicans and leading Democrats."
Josh Marshall points out that Patrick Fitzgerald's term as U.S. Attorney in Chicago is a separate matter from his appointment as special prosecutor in the Plame investigation:
Now, there are a few points to make clear here -- the most important of which is that, at least in my understanding, Fitzgerald's appointment as special prosecutor in the Plame case is entirely separate from his appointment as USA in Chicago. So presumably getting dumped from one wouldn't affect his tenure in the other. Still, canning him in the main job wouldn't be a bad way of getting some pay back.
Of course, even if Fitzgerald is canned as U.S. Attorney, there's absolutely no danger that he'll be seen laying in the alleyways of Chicago as a drunken, drug addicted bum anytime soon. Indeed, most likely this rumor is causing the greatest amount of excitement in the conference rooms of big law firms in Chicago and New York, where some firm management committees are trying to devise the compensation package most likely to entice Fitzgerald to come toil in their litigation departments....

UPDATE: Steve Gilliard has some great comments on the breaking news that the Cook County (IL) GOP has offered a $10,000 reward for evidence leading to Chicago Mayor Richard Daley's indictment and conviction on corruption charges:
Daley affair: 10G reward
CHICAGO--The Cook County Republican Party is offering a $10,000 reward for information leading to an indictment and conviction of Mayor Richard Daley, whose administration has been buffeted by scandal.
A: Just $10K? That's not even a good kickback

B: They ran Alan Keyes for Senate

C: Wasn't George Ryan a crook?

D: I think that's Patrick Fitzgerald's job
Just as good is this gem:

Only $10G's, dad would be so ashamed.

Len on 07.28.05 @ 07:32 AM CST [link] [ | ]

It's things like this that make me proud to have been a military lawyer....

From today's New York Times: Military's Opposition to Harsh Interrogation Is Outlined

Senior military lawyers lodged vigorous and detailed dissents in early 2003 as an administration legal task force concluded that President Bush had authority as commander in chief to order harsh interrogations of prisoners at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, newly disclosed documents show.

Despite the military lawyers' warnings, the task force concluded that military interrogators and their commanders would be immune from prosecution for torture under federal and international law because of the special character of the fight against terrorism.

In memorandums written by several senior uniformed lawyers in each of the military services as the legal review was under way, they had urged a sharply different view and also warned that the position eventually adopted by the task force could endanger American service members.

The memorandums were declassified and released last week in response to a request from Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina. Mr. Graham made the request after hearings in which officers representing the military's judge advocates general acknowledged having expressed concerns over interrogation policies.

The documents include one written by the deputy judge advocate general of the Air Force, Maj. Gen. Jack L. Rives, advising the task force that several of the "more extreme interrogation techniques, on their face, amount to violations of domestic criminal law" as well as military law.

General Rives added that many other countries were likely to disagree with the reasoning used by Justice Department lawyers about immunity from prosecution. Instead, he said, the use of many of the interrogation techniques "puts the interrogators and the chain of command at risk of criminal accusations abroad."

Any such crimes, he said, could be prosecuted in other nations' courts, international courts or the International Criminal Court, a body the United States does not formally participate in or recognize.


The memorandums provide the most complete record to date of how uniformed military lawyers were frequently the chief dissenters as government officials formulated interrogation policies.
As a former Navy JAG, I'm glad to see that the Navy and Marine Corps legal communities are represented in this dissent:
Rear Adm. Michael F. Lohr, the Navy's chief lawyer, wrote on Feb. 6, 2003, that while detainees at Guantánamo Bay might not qualify for international protections, "Will the American people find we have missed the forest for the trees by condoning practices that, while technically legal, are inconsistent with our most fundamental values?"

Brig. Gen. Kevin M. Sandkuhler, a senior Marine lawyer, said in a Feb. 27, 2003, memorandum that all the military lawyers believed the harsh interrogation regime could have adverse consequences for American service members. General Sandkuhler said that the Justice Department "does not represent the services; thus, understandably, concern for service members is not reflected in their opinion."
[emphasis supplied --LRC]
But then again, we've seen how Dumbya Bush and his buffoons "support the troops" before, so their lack of concern for service members should come as no surprise.

UPDATE: Over at Newsrack, fellow RTB member Thomas Nephew gives play to a few thoughts on the subject himself.

Len on 07.28.05 @ 07:14 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Good question...

Josh Marshall asks a very good question concerning the latest brouhaha over the John Roberts Supreme Court nomination:

Out of the corner of my eye I've been watching this growing dispute over whether and which 'documents' about Judge Roberts the White House will turn over to the senate as part of his confirmation hearings. And quite apart from the particular documents in question, I'm wondering what the argument is, precisely, for the White House having access to any more information in the process of nominating Roberts than the Senate should have in confirming him.

It seems like a basic point of logic. Why should the senate's call be, by definition, less well-informed than the president's?
Excellent question, though of course I'm not expecting any good answers from this bAdministration. Given their past history, I can only assume that there's something embarassing in the documents that they're desperately trying to hide.

Len on 07.28.05 @ 07:05 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Thought for the Day:

The trouble with "Divided by God" is that Feldman seems to accept McConnell's legal argument as the actual political motivation of the Christian right. Values evangelicals, in his telling, just want to be heard along with everybody else. "In its most sophisticated and attractive form, values evangelicism is actually a type of mutliculturalist pluralism, professing respect for faith as faith and for cultural tradition as tradition," Feldman writes. "This inclusive vision of a society in which one can partake in the common American project by the very act of worshipping as one chooses is more than broad enough to accommodate new religious diversity that has come about as a result of Muslim, Hindu and Buddhist immigration."

If this is what "values evangelicism" is, then the term is almost meaningless, since it doesn't apply to any of the leadership of the Christian right, the group that's actually fighting the culture wars that Feldman is trying to mediate. Consider, for example, how the Family Research Council -- the Washington spinoff of James Dobson's enormously powerful Focus on the Family -- reacted in 2000 when Venkatachalapathi Samuldrala became the first Hindu priest to offer an invocation before Congress. "While it is true that the United States of America was founded on the sacred principle of religious freedom for all, that liberty was never intended to exalt other religions to the level that Christianity holds in our country's heritage," the group said in an apoplectic statement. "Our Founders expected that Christianity -- and no other religion -- would receive support from the government as long as that support did not violate peoples' consciences and their right to worship. They would have found utterly incredible the idea that all religions, including paganism, be treated with equal deference."

This was not an isolated outburst -- it wouldn't be hard to find enough similar quotes to fill a volume larger than Feldman's entire book. Sure, the Christian right may invite a token rabbi -- often the South African ultraconservative Daniel Lapin -- to its functions to promote an image of ecumenism, but that cannot hide the motivating belief in Christian supremacy, spiritual and political, at the movement's core.
--Michelle Goldberg [salon.com, on Noah Feldman's
Divided by God]

Len on 07.28.05 @ 06:16 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Blogger Bash (repost)

The Time Has Been Set, so we can now set the spatio-temporal co-ordinates with a reasonable degree of certainty:

Where: Dish
948 S. Cooper
Memphis, TN 38104
[Midtown Memphis]
When: 6:30 PM (or 1830 to those of you who are military, police, healthcare workers or others who naturally think in terms of 24 hour clocks) Friday, July 29, 2005, unless I'm misreading the calendar (which I've done in the past...)
So be there or be square. And that's an "exclusive OR", as we say in the computer biz. The only person allowed to be there and be square is me, since I'm constitutionally incapable of being anything other than square. But the rest of y'all aren't so constrained....

Len on 07.27.05 @ 10:10 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Little Shop of Horrors:

Don’t know if walking into a bathroom full of these Floral GEMs would make me RUN in the other direction or think I was on an episode of “Punked.”

Courtesy of Elayne Riggs.


Karen on 07.27.05 @ 04:37 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Santorum, Latin for "asshole"

For some reason, Rick Santorum's been my bear of the blogs today. (I've earlier mentioned my concept of "the bear"; I stole it from a Lewis Black schtick.)

Anyway, a few interesting things about Santorum came to my attention:

Len on 07.27.05 @ 01:24 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Why do we have to support our troops like this?

Steve Gilliard shows us an email his friend Jen received at work:

Hi! All, Today I come to you with a heavy heart to tell you that my nephew, Major Peter S. - US Army, is in Iraq and has been there for over two months. I promised to send to him and his buddies the following items that they need and cannot afford to purchase in Iraq.

Shaving Cream, Disposable Razors, Handkerchiefs, Q-tips, Visine, Benadryl, Rolaids, Caladryl, Bug Spray, Deodorant, Toothpaste, Toothbrush, Mouthwash, Suntan Lotion, Gum, Bandaids, Bengay, Chapstick, Dental Floss, Breath Mints, Soap, Shampoo, and Conditioner

Anything that you can give to help my nephew and his fellow soldiers will be greatly appreciated. I have a box in front of my cubicle, Location: xxxxx where you can put in any of the above items. Thank you for your support and please keep my nephew Peter and all are armed service men and women in your prayers. Best Regards,
[emphasis in original --LRC]
It's bad enough that our troops can't get such necessities, but the reason they can't just about knocked me over:
Now, I interact with this woman a lot, and my first question was why does he not get any of these things either for free or subsidized at the comissary? Her answer shocked me:

"He's apparently in a private unit near someone high-up, and they are near a huge contractor area. The contractors get paid so much money that the local stores have jacked up the prices on everyday items to insane levels. He can't afford stuff that he could get in the dollar store back home--mouthwash, tissue packs, razors, you name it--it's all a fortune now for him."

Remember, during the Gold Rush, fresh eggs sold for a dollar apiece ($23 in 2003).

Letting our military get gouged is just disgraceful. Letting others profiteer off of them WHILE THEY ARE THERE is even more disgusting. The fact that they suffer like this guarding contractors who make ten times what they do is just the fecal icing on the shit cake. He can't get a fucking TOOTHBRUSH? That's insane.
[emphasis in original --LRC]
Well, I'm not surprised when I hear mercenaries "contractors" whining that the troops mistreat them.

I'm surprised the troops don't just blow their heads off. Were I sitting on the jury hearing that case, I know I'd never vote to convict them.

Len on 07.27.05 @ 12:46 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Where a "Turd" Can Blossom...

Daily Kos has an article about Rove’s secret affair.

But the Funnie is in the 410 (so far) comments:

”And another thing, WHO THE HELL CARES?!? (4.00 / 6)

I do not care if Clinton gets a blow job from his internet. {sic} I do not care if Karl Rove is having an affair either. Can we please all collectively stop falling into this neanderthal mindset that we should condemn a public officials public perfomance based on their private lives? I don't care if Rove is having sex with tibetan yaks if he's a decent public offical.{sic}

As you poitned {sic} out there's a million other things Karl Rove has done that are corrupt and evil and totally a matter of public interest. Rove revealing the name of his secret love is not even in the same league as him revealing the name of a CIA agent. Why this is news, I have no idea. Why this is FRONT PAGE ON DKOS news, I have even less of an idea.”

Followed by this comment:
”Best typo ever (4.00 / 6)

I do not care if Clinton gets a blow job from his internet.

My internet certainly doesn't do that.”

And this further follow-up comment:
Mine Neither... (4.00 / 7)

I want to know who his ISP is.

Karen on 07.27.05 @ 12:33 PM CST [link] [ | ]

A Story of Kindness and Helping

Been meaning to write about this story that was in our Golf Digest Magazine about the extraordinary kindness and good heartedness of John Daly.

Grip it, rip it and share it by Bob Verdi (Golf World):

"...In 1991 John Daly was nothing when he entered the PGA Championship at Crooked Stick GC, just outside Indianapolis. He wasn't yet Wild Thing whose "Grip It and Rip It" doctrine soon would captivate audiences worldwide. He was the ninth alternate in the field, replacing Nick Price. The rest, as they say, is hysteria. Daly won against all odds, fast-forwarding a career that has elevated him to star status.

But during the first round in 1991, a violent storm enveloped Crooked Stick, and as spectators scurried toward shelter, one of them didn't make it. Tom Weaver was struck by lightning and died instantly. He was 39. He left behind a wife and two girls. Little could he have imagined how they would have been picked up by a mere golfer after that tragedy. "I felt I was almost responsible for him being killed," Daly recalls in a lengthy interview appearing in August's Golf Digest.

So after receiving his $230,000 check, Daly dedicated $30,000 toward the education of Karen, 8 at the time, and Emily, who was 12. Daly was engaged to his second wife then and already was juggling debts and demons. But this rabid drinker, gambler and smoker also is a compulsive giver, and Daly says the donation was a no-brainer, which tells you a lot about what's beneath all those logos.
Big news. [fastforward to this year]

Karen would be graduating from Indiana University, where she majored in biology, with plans to become a doctor. And then Emily--now Emily Edmondson, of Oswego, Ill.--was going to earn her degree as a respiratory therapist from College of DuPage, not far from Chicago. Steve and Dee wanted Big John to know about the fruits of his largesse, and Daly was touched. "It's amazing what a little money can do when it's spent on the right reason," Daly said at last week's Cialis Western Open, where he admitted he's liking life more now and dwelling less on negatives...."

Karen on 07.27.05 @ 12:04 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Gem o'the Day:

The only way I know how to support the troops is by going over there. All the chicken hawks back here who said, "Oh, Iraq is talking bad about us. They're going to threaten us" - look, if you really believe that, you leave your wife and three kids and go sign up for the Army or Marines and go over there and fight. Otherwise, shut your mouth.
--Paul Hackett, Democratic candidate for Congress from Ohio's 2nd Congressional District, Major, U.S. Marine Corps Reserve, and Iraq War veteran (quoted in Salon)

Credit: via dKos

Well 101st Pissing-In-Your-Pants Keyboarders.... Why the fuck haven't you joined up?

Ah, I remember... Because Ranting Is Safer Than Enlisting:

Len on 07.27.05 @ 11:56 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Rook Resumes...Ranting

Rook’s Rant has fixed his webpage after his encounter with the Vicious Attack Internets: Ok, Back Up And Running:

”As you can see, I am back. I lost the posts all the way back to July 15th. For those of you whom left comments about the passing of The GirlFriend™'s mother, thank you again.
I really am disappointed that I lost those posts, but that is the chance I took when I decided to try the beta of Movable Type.

I will be hacking the default template and restoring the old look. I just do not have the time to do so this evening. I have to get up and go to work in the morning. Rest assured that I am not going to do any intentional re-designing. I was happy with the old look.

Update: I forgot to mention-I am allowing only authenticated comments, i.e., you have to log into TypeKey to be able to leave comments. Sorry, but I do not have spam protection installed at the moment. However, it really is not a big deal, go get yourself a free account with TypeKey.

But I can’t [won’t] leave a comment IF I must sign up and create some TypeKey account. This is not a "Diss" to Rook’s Rant…more a recognition of my severe Techno-dweeb limits.

Last time I tried something like this (on E-Blogger) just to leave a comment -- I ended up inadvertently creating a brand new E-Blogger WebPage in my name instead. So, if ya ever run across this mis-begotten Page and it’s single “test- post” you’ll know why it’s there. However, being a total Dweeb, I don’t remember how to access it, nor edit it, nor delete it.

There it sits --a forgotten little web-page all by it’s lonesome, Road-Kill on the Bloggie Highway.

Karen on 07.27.05 @ 11:49 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Video Gag o'the Day....

This is absof*ckinglutely a work of genius: The iPod Flea.

Len on 07.27.05 @ 11:27 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Attack 'o' Life and Attacks of Paper Wasps...

Lest you all think I’ve just been being a typical summer slacker -- I’ve been having Attacks 'o' Life™ around here.

Had loads of catching up to do after my Summer Cold and finally (Finally) got rid of the garage full of office furniture moved to the new office space. But that meant I had to do my Spring Cleaning in July. On the upside of all this work is that I get to put my car back into its spot in the nice organized garage.


However, we (read husband) have “lost” the fittings and screws to reassemble the furniture. And now we (read ME) have to find them – even tho’ I’ve never seen them and wasn't here when the furniture was moved in – It’s, of course, ALL MY FAULT they are Missing!! I keep "looking for them" and maybe magically they will reappear from somewhere...Bleh!!!

But then, complete one task and yet another is on hand. The Attack of the Paper Wasps:

We have a small wooden deck that is most attractive to Paper Wasps and they have built numerous nests. But they are nasty little beasties and my daughter got stung this weekend. So, time to take care of the Paper Wasps and Destroy their nesting places. (And not get Stung myself. OUCH!)

There were 7-8 fairly large nests and more being built. So, Me against the Attack of the Paper Wasps…yet another summer screenplay in the making. LOL

But then, (and not because it’s less significant… but more this is the chronology of events) was the news that my Nephew, Ross, was in a serious (near fatal) car accident.

He is in a burn unit in a Houston hospital after being thrown out of the SUV in a roll-over car accident and then having the vehicle land on top of him, severely burning him with the car exhaust pipes. This was part of the e-mail update:

He is going to be in the hospital for at least 10 days. He has a fractured hip injured pelvic joint that will heal without surgery but requires no load on his legs for 2-3 months---i.e., wheelchair once he can move. He has staples in his head where he was cut, a big gash in his hip, scrapes all over. Plus, a couple of deep burns from the exhaust pipes as he ended up under the truck after being ejected.

He is in the burn unit at the hospital now as he is going to have skin graft surgery on his legs on Thursday. The good news is that he did not suffer any brain damage, but the bad news is that he recalls the horror of the incident in extreme detail and knows how close he came to death.

Apparently he was a passenger with two other friends, and they were exiting the highway. He’d unbuckled his belt to reach in the back seat for something, when the SUV (those top-heavy vehicles) hit the soft shoulder on the ramp and did a vehicle roll-over. He was thrown out the window and the vehicle rolled over his lower half and then ended up on top of his-waist and legs resulting in his further burn injuries.

Yikes!!! This has been a horrible event and we are hoping and wishing him a good recovery from this accident. [Once, many years ago, I had second degree burns on my leg and it was terribly painful, so I can imagine this is one of the worst parts. And skin grafts for burns sounds even more painful.]

So, I’ll be posting yet again, once I get caught up to things around here and things settle back down.

Karen on 07.27.05 @ 08:35 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Geekiest. Comic. Strip. Ever.

Everybody loves Eric Raymond

And if your reaction is, "Who the f*ck is Eric Raymond?".... well, all I can say is, "It's a geek thang. If you have to ask, you'll never understand."


And for the rest of you who recognize the names of Eric Raymond, Richard Stallman, and Linus Torvalds.... Enjoy!

Len on 07.27.05 @ 07:33 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Garry Trudeau can see the handwriting on the wall....

Further comment would be superfluous.

Len on 07.27.05 @ 07:07 AM CST [link] [ | ]

From the "Life in the Bluff City" department....

Well, I'm not sure that the local convention an tourism board can call this a selling point, but I note (with no small degree of amusement) that when Slate wanted to do a head to head competition between insect repellants, searching for the best of the bunch, they conducted their tests in Memphis, legendary home of some of the world's most vicious mosquitoes.

Well, as mom used to say, everyone's got to be the best at something....

Len on 07.27.05 @ 06:18 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Wait? Didn't these clowns get elected because they would be "better" at fighting terrorism?

Over at Slate, Fred Kaplan gives us a scathing review of the bAdministration's latest national security initiative: Say G-WOT? Terror attacks, Taliban resurgence, suicide bombs—obviously, it's time to change the slogan.

One question comes to mind while reading the New York Times' report today that the Bush administration has decided to change the name of its counterterrorist campaign from "the global war on terrorism" to "the global struggle against violent extremism": Are these guys really this clueless?

What else to make of the story's opening sentence:
The Bush administration is retooling its slogan for the fight against Al Qaeda and other terrorist groups, pushing the idea that the long-term struggle is as much an ideological battle as a military mission, senior administration and military officials said Monday.
Three subquestions arise just from the lead. First, this is the administration's solution to the spike in terrorist incidents, the Taliban's resurgence in Afghanistan, and the politico-military deterioration in Iraq—to retool the

Second, the White House and the Pentagon are
just now coming around to the idea that the struggle is as much ideological as military? This wasn't obvious, say, three or four years ago?

Apparently not. Eric Schmitt and Thom Shanker, the
Times reporters who co-authored the article, note:
Administration and Pentagon officials say the revamped campaign has grown out of meetings of President Bush's senior national security advisers that began in January, and it reflects the evolution in Mr. Bush's own thinking nearly four years after the Sept. 11 attacks. [Italics added.]
It took four years for the president of the United States to realize that fighting terrorism has a political component? It took six months for his senior advisers to retool a slogan? We are witnessing that rare occasion when the phrase "I don't know whether to laugh or cry" can be uttered without lapsing into cliché.
Send in the clowns.....

We could have done better.... we could have done much better than this.

Len on 07.27.05 @ 06:10 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Thought for the Day:

But merely practicing curriculum-standard classical music and actually having demonstrable "classical training" are two very different things. The problem comes when "taking classical lessons," "getting accepted to a conservatory," and "working with a classical voice coach" are confused with concepts like "mastery," "virtuosity," and, yes, "training."

Take Alicia Keys, for example. A capable pianist, she studied classical piano for more than a decade as a youth and makes a point of taking C.F. Hanon's technique bible, The Virtuoso Pianist, on tour. Truly "classically trained," right? Well, maybe. A lot of people studied classical piano in their youth—by itself it means nothing. Imagine someone claiming pro baseball skill based on 10 years of Little League and high-school experience. And, while many advanced players use The Virtuoso Pianist to maintain technique, it's really just a building block. Familiarity with advanced material and techniques doesn't qualify as "training," either. Downbeat magazine ripped Keith Emerson a new one in a scathing review in the late '70s, posing the rhetorical question, "What can he do that any second-year conservatory student can't?" Ouch.

With that kind of face job always on the horizon, why do claims of classical training remain so prevalent? First of all, few artists are foolhardy enough to allow anyone to describe them as a true classical virtuoso. Stating a provable, publicity-worthy fact—that a headbanging guitarist negotiates Bach lute pieces in his spare time—is enough. Fans and journalists often do the embellishing on their own ("Dude, you can hear their classical training in that melody in the middle of 'I'm About To Go Postal' "). Which brings up the second reason pop stars use the term so widely: It lets people know that you are a serious musician, and not just a singing aerobics instructor.

"Oftentimes, people don't have the courage to let their music stand on its own," O'Riley says. "They have to pull out the 'classically trained' badge just to have some sense of pedigree."
--Tony Green

Len on 07.27.05 @ 05:56 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Blogger Bash....

The Time Has Been Set, so we can now set the spatio-temporal co-ordinates with a reasonable degree of certainty:

Where: Dish
948 S. Cooper
Memphis, TN 38104
[Midtown Memphis]
When: 6:30 PM (or 1830 to those of you who are military, police, healthcare workers or others who naturally think in terms of 24 hour clocks) Friday, July 29, 2005, unless I'm misreading the calendar (which I've done in the past...)
So be there or be square. And that's an "exclusive OR", as we say in the computer biz. The only person allowed to be there and be square is me, since I'm constitutionally incapable of being anything other than square. But the rest of y'all aren't so constrained....

Len on 07.26.05 @ 08:18 PM CST [link] [ | ]

What is the airspeed velocity of an unladen swallow?

For those of you who've wanted to know the answer to that question since the first time you saw Monty Python and the Holy Grail, you can find the answer here.

Because you're not planning to do anything useful this afternoon, right?

Len on 07.26.05 @ 02:04 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Updated the blogroll...

In the wake of the retirement of South Knox Bubba, The Rocky Top Brigade has found a new 'net home, and that home has been majorly refurbished. Go check it out.

Len on 07.26.05 @ 01:28 PM CST [link] [ | ]

From the What Will these Idiots Think of Next: Erototoxins???

Dispatches from the Culture Wars has this Abstinence –Only Idiocy:

“July's Idiot of the Month award goes to Judith Reisman, a nutty anti-anything-sexual crusader who is astonishingly popular with social conservatives. Reisman is one of the leading lights of the "abstinence-only sex ed" movement and a longtime anti-porn and anti-gay activist with a history of saying absolutely loony things. Her latest contribution to absurdity is the notion of "erototoxins", which she invented out of whole cloth and foisted on an unsuspecting Congress last year. "Erototoxins" are brain chemicals allegedly released in the brain when one views pornography, chemicals which, Reisman says, are highly addictive and turn those who view pornography into something like a porno zombie…”

Karen on 07.26.05 @ 01:24 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Laid off from HP, Kodak or Kimberly-Clark? Looking for a job? Take heart, here's MadKane to the rescue....

with her advice for job hunters: "Working Stiffed". If you prefer, here's the audio version.

Len on 07.26.05 @ 12:34 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Speaking of Phobias....

The “Hey Deb” ( column in our local Daily Herald) has one about Metallophobia: a fear of Metal.

Well, My Selachophobia may be irrational but at least I can live with it. It does not interfere with my daily life as some phobias could. Having Metallophobia could make it difficult to deal with silverware,
zippers, metal objects hinges, latches, door knobs. Or as the article points out: dentists, car keys, money, school lockers. Yikes.

Made me think about some of the other phobias on the list and there is a website to check an entire A-Z list of phobias.

Heres’ a few quirky ones:

Bridges / of Crossing Them - Gephyrophobia.

Bald People - Peladophobia.

Being Beaten By a Rod, or of Being Severely Criticized - Rhabdophobia.

Cooking - Mageirocophobia.

Crucifix, The / Crosses - Staurophobia.

Erect Penis - Medorthophobia.

Erection, Losing an - Medomalacuphobia.

Genitals, Particularly Female - Kolpophobia.

Genitalia, Female – Eurotophobia

Number 13 - Triskadekaphobia.

Peanut Butter Sticking To The Roof of The Mouth - Arachibutyrophobia.

Poetry - Metrophobia.

Fear of Mirrors – Eisoptrophobia.

Some have multiple names: like fear of Cats – is Aclurophobia / Ailurophobia / Elurophobia / Felinophobia / Galeophobia / Gatophobia. Tho’ Len says these are not all correct using the the true Greek prefixes such as “Gatophobia” which is probably Spanish in origin. :-)

Well there is even a fear of Phobias - Phobophobia. But while its clear there is a Phobia name for everything under the sun and moon and stars… just be thankful you don’t’ have the “Charlie Brown” special: A fear of Everything - Panophobia, Panphobia, Pamphobia, or Pantophobia. LOL

Karen on 07.26.05 @ 12:31 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Hey, if the man can sell a bogus war like Iraq, he can sell used cars....

Here's The Colin Powell Used Car Certificate (.pdf file; needs Adobe reader or another such viewer) telling you what a great car I have to sell you.

So are you ready to buy?

If you have a car to sell, you too can get Colin to put his stamp of approval on your car. Just visit this page, fill in the blanks, and click the button....

Credit: Thomas in Frankfurt, via Elayne Riggs who featured this as her Silly Site of the Day yesterday.

Len on 07.26.05 @ 12:29 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Sounded so convincing to me....

Interesting story of the day: Who wouldn't fall for such a clever trick?

PALERMO, Italy (Reuters) - An Italian couple stole 50,000 euros from a woman in the Sicilian city of Palermo after convincing her they were vampires who would impregnate her with the son of the Anti-Christ if she did not pay them.

The man, a cabaret singer, and his girlfriend took the money from their victim over four years by selling her pills at 3,000 euros each that they said would abort the Anti-Christ's son.
And let's see..... there's P.T. Barnum's motto, "There's a sucker born every minute." And then add to that Canada Bill Smith's addendum to Barnum's motto: "It is morally wrong to allow a sucker to keep her money...."

Len on 07.26.05 @ 08:20 AM CST [link] [ | ]

My sentiments exactly....

Seen on a car in Midtown Memphis: Bush deserves a fair trial.

Len on 07.26.05 @ 08:15 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Thought for the Day:

A large part of the legend of Hustle & Flow is its electric Sundance reception and $9 million advance from Paramount and MTV Films: You can picture all those white executives in their furs and parkas pouring out into the frigid Utah night chanting, "Whoop that Trick! Whoop that Trick!" But I think they were responding to something other than the smell of money and the attractive notion that a pimp can also be an artist. (That's gotta resonate in Hollywood.)
--David Edelstein

Len on 07.26.05 @ 08:12 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Excellent questions; I hope they're not expecting any answers from Dumbya...

From this weekend's New York Times: All Quiet on the Home Front, and Some Soldiers Are Asking Why

WASHINGTON, July 23 - The Bush administration's rallying call that America is a nation at war is increasingly ringing hollow to men and women in uniform, who argue in frustration that America is not a nation at war, but a nation with only its military at war.

From bases in Iraq and across the United States to the Pentagon and the military's war colleges, officers and enlisted personnel quietly raise a question for political leaders: if America is truly on a war footing, why is so little sacrifice asked of the nation at large?

There is no serious talk of a draft to share the burden of fighting across the broad citizenry, and neither Republicans nor Democrats are pressing for a tax increase to force Americans to cover the $5 billion a month in costs from Iraq, Afghanistan and new counterterrorism missions.

There are not even concerted efforts like the savings-bond drives or gasoline rationing that helped to unite the country behind its fighting forces in wars past.

"Nobody in America is asked to sacrifice, except us," said one officer just back from a yearlong tour in Iraq, voicing a frustration now drawing the attention of academic specialists in military sociology.

Members of the military who discussed their sense of frustration did so only when promised anonymity, as comments viewed as critical of the civilian leadership could end their careers. The sentiments were expressed in more than two dozen interviews and casual conversations with enlisted personnel, noncommissioned officers, midlevel officers, and general or flag officers in Iraq and in the United States.

Charles Moskos, a professor emeritus at Northwestern University specializing in military sociology, said: "My terminology for it is 'patriotism lite,' and that's what we're experiencing now in both political parties. The political leaders are afraid to ask the public for any real sacrifice, which doesn't speak too highly of the citizenry."


While officers and enlisted personnel say they enjoy symbolic signs of support, and the high ratings the military now enjoys in public opinion polls, "that's just not enough," said a one-star officer who served in Iraq. "There has to be more," he added, saying that the absence of a call for broader national sacrifice in a time of war has become a near constant topic of discussion among officers and enlisted personnel.

"For most Americans," said an officer with a year's experience in Iraq, "their role in the war on terror is limited to the slight inconvenience of arriving at the airport a few hours early."
[emphasis supplied --LRC]
But no wonder. "Patriotism" these days consists of either enriching someone in Taiwan by purchasing a "Support the Troops" magnet, or sniveling behind a keyboard in support of a bAdministration that lied to the Congress and the American public to justify sending those troops there, and who, even now, would rather leap to the support of a Turd down the hallway from the Oval Office, even when that Turd has compromised vital secrets and injured the security of the United States.


If that's "patriotism", I don't want to be a patriot.

Len on 07.25.05 @ 12:20 PM CST [link] [ | ]

From the "Alas, too true!" department:

From today's Ironic Times comes this headline:

U.S. Losing Lead in Science And Engineering
Becoming dominant in quackery and superstition.

Len on 07.25.05 @ 10:00 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Blogger Bash this Friday.....

Looks like Dish won the poll, so Dish it is. We're still a bit up in the air on the time, though Dr. Abby's suggesting 6 PM. That's cool by me. Keep your eyes on Dr. Abby's blog for further details.

Len on 07.25.05 @ 09:34 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Record Setters....

This year Guinness World Records celebrates its 50th anniversary. Smithsonian Magazine (hard copy) has a nice article (only a short few paragraphs on its on-line site) about some of the major feats which have gone into the history books and Guinness Book of World’s records.

If you were tempted into submitting one to Guinness, Be Warned,

”…nine full time researchers monitor current records, witness attempts and handle 60,000 inquires a year from would-be record setters, more than half from the United States.

Only 15 percent of all new proposed attempts get the Guinness go-ahead.
All sanctioned attempts must meet Guinness’ rigorous guidelines…Even if all criteria are met and existing record is broken, there is no guarantee that it will make into the book; lest the annual edition run to 3,000 pages, only about 10 % get into print.”

Karen on 07.25.05 @ 07:58 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Amazing Elasmobranchs...

This is quite a summer for SHARKS and Smithsonian (August 2005) has a Kool one about Sharks with an article: The Surprising Science of Sharks with loads of interesting tid-bits of information [which I read even though I can’t (can’t) look at the pictures.]

Consider a few of these great facts about these Selachophobe Nightmares:

-- Sharks belong to a group of fishes known as Elasmobranchs that also includes rays and skates. Elasmobranchs lack an air bladder that give other fish bouyancy, and their skeletons are made of if light cartilage instead of bone.

-- John McCosker’s adventurous fieldwork in the 1980’s confirmed other’ research that indicated Great Whites, unlike most fish, are warm-blooded (as are makos and salmon sharks).

-- During three decades spent swimming with hammerheads, Peter Klimley, now a biologist at the U of C at Davis, concluded that they navigate by sensing magnetic “roads” that radiate from underwater mountains.

--- Shark skin is covered with millions of tiny toothlike scales called dermal denticles. They not only make the skin rough; they increase the durability and may help to reduce drag.

-- The tiny black dots cover their heads like a five o’clock shadow are pores that lead to the ampullae of Lorenzini, named after the Italian biologist, Stefano Lorenzini, who described them in 1678. The pores connect to canals filled with conductive gel and then sensory chambers that detect tiny electric fields animals give off.

--- Like other fish, sharks also sense vibrations through their lateral lines, the receptors that run beneath the skin from tail to snout.

-- The animals’ legendary sense of smell can detect blood and body fluids suspended in the water in minuscule amounts – down to parts per billion.

Pretty awesome facts. But, sadly the article is also about the worldwide over-fishing and endangerment of certain species of Sharks. It would cause a severe ocean wide ecosystem problems to have these populations permanently depleted – but I can still hope to keep them out of my Nightmares in all their forms and species.

Karen on 07.25.05 @ 07:44 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Talk about niche programming....

I see that longtime 'net friend Stan Schwarz may be spending more time in front of the tube, now that we learn that there is not just one, but two tattoo themed reality shows haunting the basic cable channels.

I wouldn't have thought there was a critical mass of viewers for such a show. Shows you how much I know.

Len on 07.25.05 @ 06:30 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Thought for the Day:

Peter Marshall: Paul. A recent navy picture had Admiral Zumwalt kissing Admiral Duirk. Why?
Paul Lynde: Too long at sea!
--"The Hollywood Squares" [TV show]

Len on 07.25.05 @ 06:21 AM CST [link] [ | ]

From the "learn something new everyday" department:

Mr. Roboto at Thursday Night Fever tells us that he and his TNF partner in crime Captain T are semi-pro miniature golfers in the Pro Putters' Association Southern Region.

Something else you'll learn: more about Putt Putt Golf™ than you ever knew. Or may ever want to know.

Complete with pictures.

Len on 07.24.05 @ 09:08 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Congrats are in order!

To Dr. Abby, who yesterday emailed her (hopefully) final copy of her Ph.D. dissertation to her department chair.

Now, where's the party at Friday night (so I can plug it here before magic time arrives)?

And while you're at it, go to Dr. Abby's blog and give her some love. Her brain is being fried by the oppressive heat we're having here in Memphis.

Len on 07.24.05 @ 08:59 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Will the Cardinals have to start 2006 with an 81 game road trip?

Probably not, but I'm beginning to wonder. I'm watching the ESPN Sunday Night game between the Cubs and Cardinals, in St. Louis, and Jon Miller is mentioning somthing that I'm hearing more and more in the past several days: apparently, the new Busch Stadium will not be complete come opening day, 2005. So far, the plans have it being in a condition that will allow it to open and host the 2006 home opener, but the stadium won't be completed until August, 2006, according to the reports I'm hearing.

Doesn't sound like a lot of wiggle room if any problems occur during the construction this winter.

Len on 07.24.05 @ 08:23 PM CST [link] [ | ]

The worst is yet to come...

From Editor and Publisher we learn that lawyers for the Department of Defense have refused to obey a federal court order requiring them to release as yet unseen photographs and videos from Abu Ghraib prison.

So what is shown on the 87 photographs and four videos from Abu Ghraib prison that the Pentagon, in an eleventh hour move, blocked from release this weekend? One clue: Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld told Congress last year, after viewing a large cache of unreleased images: "I mean, I looked at them last night, and they're hard to believe.” They show acts "that can only be described as blatantly sadistic, cruel and inhumane," he added.

A Republican Senator suggested the same day they contained scenes of “rape and murder.” No wonder Rumsfeld commented then, "If these are released to the public, obviously it's going to make matters worse."

Yesterday, news emerged that lawyers for the Pentagon had refused to cooperate with a federal judge's order to release dozens of unseen photographs and videos from Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq by Saturday. The photos were among thousands turned over by the key “whistleblower” in the scandal, Specialist Joseph M. Darby. Just a few that were released to the press sparked the Abu Ghraib abuse scandal last year, and the video images are said to be even more shocking.

The Pentagon lawyers said in a letter sent to the federal court in Manhattan that they would file a sealed brief explaining their reasons for not turning over the material. They had been ordered to do so by a federal judge in response to a FOIA lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union.
Why does it not surprise me that the bAdministration thinks that the American public are a bunch of mushrooms? After all, all the bAdministration has done is feed us shit and keep us in the dark.

UPDATE: Over at the Flypaper Theory, The Pesky Fly has some good words on this topic:
Hey my Republican pals, how does it feel to be the party of torture?

The Pentegon, in defiance of a court order is AFRAID to release new torture pics.

Shrub might use his FIRST veto to strike down any bill that might prohibit torture, or that calls for a deeper peek into how we got here in the first place.

This is bold.

This is brazen.

This isn't about any ol' sodomy; we're talking about CHILD SODOMY!

Cheney's afraid that such legislation might limit the powers of the most empowered President in history. Amazingly telling.

Len on 07.24.05 @ 08:14 PM CST [link] [ | ]

From the playing with words department:

A Great And Good Friend tells me that in Old Blighty they're playing with a new term for Al Qaeda suicide bombers: "Islamakazes".

Unfortunately, this was a telephone conversation, so I don't have a Web reference.

Len on 07.24.05 @ 07:50 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Star war Episode III: The Backstroke of the West (or, Engrish meets George Lucas, to our amusement)

Any of you out there who are fans of Engrish need to catch this. Matthew in Beirut shows us the hilarity that ensues when you take a bootleg DVD of Star Wars III, dubbed into Chinese (for the primary intended audience), and then subtitle it back into English--using the Chinese dialogue as your source for the English subtitles.

Here's a taste:

Don't remember Revenge of the Sith being such a blatantly religious movie, do you?

(if you go visit Matthew's blog, you'll see exactly what "Presbyterian Church" is the translation for, and in the comments a visitor explains why. Fascinating stuff.)

Len on 07.24.05 @ 01:10 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Speaking of faf and his PIE blogging Fridays:

A while ago - I was surfing through my Dictionary of Idioms (I like dictionary's as well as books) looking for the origin of the expression "a short walk off a long pier" and while I didn't find that one, I found lots about PIE:

Just make sure you're not actually eating pie (or anything) when you read this...it's not too appetizing:

Eat Humble Pie: This expression is similar to 'eat crow" but comes from medieval times, when there really was a pie called umble or numble pie. Umbles were the heart, liver, entrails of deers and other animals...only servant ate pies made out of animals' guts.

[If you EVER see any pies like this...RUN in the opposite direction!!]

"Umble" was changed to"humble" which means lowly or meek, by the early 1800 the expression "eat humble pie" had come to mean profusely appolgizing for a humiliating error.

Finger In every Pie: The image that possibly created this expression might be of a person who can't decide what pie he or she wants - blueberry, pecan, peach - so they stick a finger in Every Pie to get a Taste of Each. [Uhhh...I would prefer not have known this myself.]

Think of each "pie" as a different activity or project, and when you put your finger into this "pie" you have an interest or responsibility for that activity. [Sure...and you have a sticky, gross, pie covered finger too!!!]

Thus, to have a finger in every pie means to have a part in something, to be involved in many matters, businesses and activities.

[Right...And who wants to EAT any of those pies NOW - I want to know??]

So readers Be Cautious about these very serious dangers of eating "certain" pies. It's not a simple as I always thought or as faf's fabulous PIE Blogging Friday makes it sound.

And No need to thank me for this vitally important educational material... It's my pleasure...anything for PIE.

Karen on 07.24.05 @ 11:54 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Houston…We have a problem…

Rook’s Rant is having a Serious problem:

I Broke It:

Opps, I done broke my MT installation. I have hand coded this post in. I figure I will wait until Monday when I hopefully will hear from the MT Beta team. Until then, there will be no further posts.

Or is it really just a case of the Vicious Attack Internets??

We last saw these evil ones headed for the vast wastelands of Village-Idiot-ville (where there is NO pie to satisfy their voracious appetites)

Some readers may recall the NUMEROUS instances of DBV Gettting EATEN by These Vicious Attack Internets and how they trapped yours truly for an entire weekend:
”The vicious internet(s)...or it's assassin "script in cgi", have EATEN our blog over at DBV. We have a serious case of "post-list-less-ness" that can only be cured by PIE! Send PIEs...as many as possible. Until we are able to rebuild...we are being held in a corner by vicious attack internet(s)

"...nice doggie...nice doggie..." Grrrrr. Grrrrr.”

Thanks to the quick and tireless Techno-Wizardry of Len (and PIE from faf to distract the Vicious Attack Internets) we have been up and experienced only minor issues since that time. Even Greymatter has been playing *nice* and cooperative since we quit using "Posts On Top" for the blog.

But…apparently the Vicious Attack Internets may have struck Rook's Rant and could be on the loose yet again. So, here’s hoping a quick recovery and blogs’s away for Rook’s Rant on Monday. And Beware of the Vicious Attack Internets.

Karen on 07.24.05 @ 11:22 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Thought for the Day:

Recently, studio executives have figured out how in-demand trailers for "event movies" are. This year, for the first time, they are exploiting them in a new way - advertising when they are going to be shown. This first happened for Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith. Fox widely advertised that the worldwide debut of the full trailer would be during an episode of the TV show, "The O.C." The ratings spike for the episode indicated that some people were watching not because they cared about the lives of the characters, but because they wanted to see two minutes of Anakin, Obi-Wan, and Palpatine. I missed the TV premiere, but caught the trailer a couple of days later before a showing of Robots.

Now, it's happening again. Universal has announced that tomorrow (Monday June 27), it will air a 150-second spot for December's
King Kong remake across all of its NBC/Universal TV stations. As a bonus, it will be available in high definition (for those channels that are available in HDTV). It will start at 8:59:30 pm and conclude at 9:02:00. By revealing the time of the trailer, however, it's more like NBC is scheduling it than advertising it. This peek at Peter Jackson's King Kong just happens to be a lot shorter than anything else airing on NBC that night - and probably more entertaining.
--James Berardinelli

Len on 07.24.05 @ 09:02 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Baby Sitting Blues...

Must have missed this hoopla a week or so ago…but Amanda Craig (London Times) has captured the Funnie (or angst nightmare) of that ever elusive search for the “proper child care” attendant:

”… The revelations by Daisy Wright, the former nanny to the film star Jude Law, that she had fallen into bed with her employer is a drearily familiar tale. Even worse is a story about a mother who found her nanny was keeping a blog on her erotic fantasies about other women and her employers’ private lives.

Helaine Olen reveals in The New York Times how she was blithely informed of this by Tessy, a 26-year-old former teacher who worked for her for five months. “The more she posted, the more life in our household deteriorated,” she writes. It was only when Tessy wrote that she’d have herself sterilised and blogged rows between Olen and her husband that she finally got the sack.

As one who sacked 13 nannies in the first three years of my children’s lives, I find myself torn between exasperation and sympathy….”

And Glad I am to be done and DONE with that phase of child rearing and a Bleh!! on finding Baby Sitters– but those are stories for another day. LOL

Karen on 07.24.05 @ 06:46 AM CST [link] [ | ]

A Well Aimed and Deserved Kick...

From the acid-pen of James Wolcott: a Bernard Goldberg kick in the pants:

“….As many of you are no doubt aware, Al outranks me. He's #37 on Bernard Goldberg's list of the 100 people screwing up America--a book that should be more properly titled, Hey, You Liberals, Get Off My Lawn!--while I place at #64. Yet I'm not envious. If anything, I'm embarrassed that my ranking is as high as it is. I've only been screwing up America for a few paltry years while Oliver Stone and others who placed below me in this feebleminded gimmick of a fake book have spent decades of blood, sweat, and tears trying to undermine everything Goldberg holds dear in the studios of Fox News, where he seems to have set up a cot in the green room so that he can be always on call.

And if I may venture a modest editorial opinion of Goldberg and his pseudo-book, his inclusion of former CBS colleague Dan Rather on the list--at #12, no less--shows what a backstabbing little careerist fuckrat he is.

But fear not, I shall not use such language on Air America. I shall speak with the dulcet tones of Sir John Gielgud reading a selection from Gerard Manley Hopkins…”

Karen on 07.24.05 @ 06:34 AM CST [link] [ | ]

The Patriotic Pot Boils...

In addition to articles about how Former CIA officer have been critical of Bush and Rove; David Corn has an excellent post and piece from a former CIA veteran about the meaning of this to the CIA agency and officers:

"...And so the real issues before this Congress and this country today is not partisan politics, not even the loss of secrets. The secrets of Valerie Plame's cover are long gone. What has suffered perhaps irreversible damage is the credibility of our case officers when they try to convince our overseas contact that their safety is of primary importance to us. How are our case officers supposed to build and maintain that confidence when their own government cannot even guarantee the personal protection of the home team? While the loss of secrets in the world of espionage may be damaging, the stealing of the credibility of our CIA officers is unforgivable....

There is a very serious message here. Before you shine up your American flag lapel pin and affix your patriotism to your sleeve, think about what the impact your actions will have on the security of the American people. Think about whether your partisan obfuscation is creating confidence in the United States in general and the CIA in particular. If not, a true patriot would shut up.

And BuzzFlash has this very intriguing piece from a contributor about the potentrial of a Rove Pardon before the crime is prosecuted al la Daddy Bush’s actions in averting a trial for former Defense Secretary Casper Weinberger and five others during the Iran-Contra weapons sales scandal:
"...That's right, the father of our current president, and former head of the CIA successfully kept special prosecutor Lawrence Walsh from exacting justice for crimes committed during the Iran Contra illegal war which was secretly run out of the basement of Ronald Reagan's White House.

You may recall when members of the CIA illegally traded arms for the crack cocaine that then saturated our West Coast neighborhoods and then somehow U.S. citizens who were being held as hostages in Iran got mixed up in that very clandestine and very, very illegal deal.

Unfortunately, you and I will likely never know the answer to who masterminded that one because Poppy Bush actually did order Executive Clemency for those whom Special prosecutor Walsh had just nailed. But did Bush Sr. have an act of compassion in his mind, or was he motivated by loyalty and self-preservation? And did this act harm the best interests of the citizens of this country?

Because wasn't this an abrogation of Judiciary power by the Executive Branch? It is now obvious that a proper determination of the Weinberger Six's fate by our court system could have stood as a very real deterrent to those now in the Executive cabinet who committed the very real and very dangerous crime of spotlight-the-agent.

Allowing former Defense Secretary Casper Weinberger and five others to skate away scot-free from their heinous actions likely did more harm than anyone ever thought possible.at the time. Besides making it possible for others higher up in that earlier Administration to avoid any threat of embarrassment or inconvenience that an indictment might have rendered, it also set a dangerous precedent and virtually guaranteed that there would be an escape plan for future White House Cabinet members as long as the President could be tied to the crime solely by the threat of their testimony..."

Karen on 07.24.05 @ 06:20 AM CST [link] [ | ]

I didn't know He came in cans

Purchased at the Asian Market on Ridgeway today:

GOD Super Blend Coffee

GOD Super Blend Coffee, imported from Japan.

Brock on 07.23.05 @ 10:28 PM CST [link] [ | ]

I am Data

Not at all surprising.

Which Fantasy/SciFi Character Are You?

Chris Lawrence and Alex Knapp.)

Brock on 07.23.05 @ 10:09 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Thought for the Day:

"I think he's a good broadcaster," [ESPN.com analyst Rob] Neyer says. "He knows a lot about a lot of stuff. If I wanted to have somebody come in and teach how to hit, turn a double play, steal a base, he'd be the guy. But stats analysis is not what he does well. He certainly has a blind spot."

A small community has developed around that blind spot. Not long ago, a man named Mike Carminati found himself reading Joe Morgan's ESPN.com chats and routinely deconstructing them in e-mails with a friend. When he started a blog in 2002, Carminati moved the chat recaps online, and so began Joe Morgan Chat Day, in which Joe would be compared to some of the world's great thinkers. The site, while not the first to titter at Joe's many fallacies, at least epitomizes much of the Morgan-bashing: bemused, mordant, and, above all, a little disappointed. Joe, these people seem to be saying, many of them the geeks playing video games, should be one of the good guys. Joe Morgan: Judas of the nerds. The blog Athletics Nation now offers a T-shirt that reads "Joe Morgan can kiss my bunt!"

"When he started broadcasting," Carminati says, "there were things he'd say that were completely counter to the way he played the game. It was the way he'd combine certain ideas. He'll make a reasonable statement, then combine it with a totally outlandish statement that makes no sense whatsoever." How do you think we got Enron? "His logic takes this leap. It's kind of ingenious in its own way." (Surprisingly, Carminati enjoys the ESPN
Sunday Night Baseball broadcasts. "You have to be in the right frame of mind," he says. "It's like watching Reefer Madness.)
--Tommy Craggs [
SF Weekly on HoF 2B/ESPN analyst Joe Morgan]

Len on 07.23.05 @ 11:35 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Lirty Dies...

On July 4th we went to see the Capital Steps at the Hemmens Center (Elgin, Il.). We heard this very funnie Lirty Dies rountine which is now up on their webpage for a listen. Click on the This link and choose: "Lirty Dies: The Spurld of Warts" in your preferred format.

This comedy troupe was very entertaining and put on a wonderful show. :-)

Karen on 07.23.05 @ 09:46 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Halley VI...

One site I’ve been enjoying lately (and I believe it was from South Knox Bubba link ) is 75 Degrees South for it’s incredible views of the “otherworldly” life at the Southern hemisphere in Antarctica and the awesome pictures of this crew at the Halley Station.

Here are couple pictures of the Halley VI design being built by the British Antarctic Survey – Natural Environment Research Council.

Halley VI Day Picture:

Halley VI Night Picture:

Designed by Faber Maunsell

There is also a Kool animation movie of the space at this link:
Walk -Through.

Visit their site and see other great pictures of this crew and places I’m glad I don’t live (even temporarily) where it’s minus 28.4C degrees. Yipes!!!

Karen on 07.23.05 @ 09:14 AM CST [link] [ | ]

World Class Ugly...

Jill, over at Skippy The Bush Kangaroo has posted this "ugly dog" picture to amend her post about them “Ugly, Lying GOP Scum Bucket Traitor-Rationalizers.”

But this pooch is positively Adorable:

Compared to the World Class UGLY Dog: SAM

And neither Pup deserves to be associated with the Traitorous GOP party who just can't wrap their minds around doing what is GOOD and RIGHT for These United States and denounce Karl "Turd" Rove and I. "Traitor" Lewis Libby for their heinous actions.

[For the true story behind Sam, the "world's ugliest dog," check out his entry at Snopes.]

Karen on 07.23.05 @ 08:53 AM CST [link] [ | ]

And you think you have crime in your neighborhood?

Down in Florida, so the AP informs us, authorities are looking for a "naked tickler". Apparently, a naked man is breaking into houses in Florida and trying to tickle women's feet while they sleep. Most of the victims are over 60.

No arrests yet; apparently authorities have little to go on.

Len on 07.22.05 @ 06:50 PM CST [link] [ | ]

I see where Karen will be able to go shopping soon....

According to the AP, Jennifer Lopez will be opening her first U.S. "JLo" boutique at Marshall Field's State Street store in Chicago:

Electric-pink cargo pocket knit pants, a faux crocodile leather clutch purse and a wild rose camisole with a removable garter belt are among items likely to be featured at the singer-actress' store within a store.
Obviously the arbiter of taste for the coming years....

The first JLo boutique opened in, of all places, Moscow.

Len on 07.22.05 @ 06:39 PM CST [link] [ | ]

For the Karen Files: Really useful information...

Now here is something I can REALLY use:

Rubik's Cube Solver by Eric Dietz (c) 2003 version beta: Enter your cube's configuration in the space provided below, and hit Solve.

This site is from a webpage Digg.com about a "...site that “combines social bookmarking, blogging, RSS, and non-hierarchical editorial control”. Users post links to sites of interest. Others can then decide to digg them, which constitutes a vote for the recommendation. If enough users digg a link then it gets moved to the front page. Each link can have a few sentences of description and comments are enabled on all posts."

[Courtesy of Crooked Timber.]

Karen on 07.22.05 @ 03:47 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Friday Nightmares...

Ewww….ICK [and I studiously avoid pictures when EVER possible] but popped in on this one by accident at Cake Eater Chronicles about a monstrous Selachophobia Nightmare that clocked in at around 1000 lbs.

Sheesh, guess I'll have to wait till the dratted picture scrolls off the page before I visit this site. Bleh!!


Karen on 07.22.05 @ 03:34 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Double Super Secret Background...

From yesterday’s Washington Post We now know at least one more puzzle piece about the memo on Valerie Plame’s classification in the CIA: “SECRET”

” The paragraph identifying her as the wife of former ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IV was clearly marked to show that it contained classified material at the "secret" level, two sources said. The CIA classifies as "secret" the names of officers whose identities are covert, according to former senior agency officials.

Anyone reading that paragraph should have been aware that it contained secret information, though that designation was not specifically attached to Plame's name and did not describe her status as covert, the sources said. It is a federal crime, punishable by up to 10 years in prison, for a federal official to knowingly disclose the identity of a covert CIA official if the person knows the government is trying to keep it secret.”

It's not merely whether Traitor Karl “Turd” Rove is the only "source" of this leak. Even "discussing" "double super secret background" information with non-classified clearance folks = violation of his ethical Non-Disclosure Agreement and Executive Orders and other moral lapses.

It's would indeed be a *shame* if Rove is not *punished* for those violations that are crystal CLEAR from the e-mail and testimony of Matt Cooper concerning the discussion he had with Ole “Turd” about this classified topic.

Moreover, IF this entire defense of "Turd" is constituted by the phrase: "Yeah, I heard that too" in a conversation that covers TWO MINUTES. That's a LONG time - Try sitting and watching your clock go by and see just how LONG that is. If that's all that was *supposedly* said in a conversation that lasts TWO MINUTES.

Rove is a Dirty Scum Bucket Political Hack (and discusser) of information he should have known was not appropriate to discuss with reporters. This story is long from over and the Icing on the Cake will be the form of any indictments forthcoming from Fitzgerald’s office.

Can’t wait to see those indictments.

Update: The NY Times has this latest entry: For Two Aides in Leak Case, 2nd Issue Rises into the Traitor Rove-gate issues.

Click on the "more" button to read below the fold on this Update

Karen on 07.22.05 @ 08:25 AM CST [more..] [ | ]

Gem o'the Day:

From the Operation Yellow Elephant Blog:

The Battle Hymn of the 101st Fighting Keyboarders
(Sung to the tune of the Marine Corps Hymn)

'tween the walls of mommy's basement
On the floors our spunk has stained
We fight our fights through proxy
With a mouse, keyboard, and brain
First to call for wars of freedom
Policies that kill the poor
We'll do the least that we can do
And fight with our keyboard.

Our George was safe - he made the Guard
And Rush had a sore ass;
Deferments saved Dick's butt five times
But not the working class;
In the dorms of far-off college quads
A light year from the war
You will find us cursin' Democrats
One Hundred-One Keyboards.

There's beer for us and guns for them
And each one has a role;
We're many so glib, we'll flame a Lib,
As warfare takes its toll;
If the Army and the Navy
Are understaffed in war;
Go find another place to turn
We're the One Oh One Keyboards.
God, I wish I had such talent.

Len on 07.22.05 @ 08:22 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Electric Speed...

I found this tid-bit of analysis in “Everything Bad Is Good For You” by Steven Johnson about our Bloggie-At-The-Speed –Of-Light –Culture and “The Sleeper Curve” [explained in this previous post].

”Technology amplifies the “Sleeper Curve” in one final respect: it introduces new platforms and genres at an accelerating rate. We had thirty years to adapt to the new story telling possibilities of cinema, then another twenty for radio, then twenty years of present state television. And then the curve slants upward: five years to acclimate to the VCR and video games, then e-mail, on-line chats, DVD’s, TiVo, the Web – all becoming staples of the pop-culture diet in the space of a decade. McLuhan had a wonderful term for this accelerating sequence, “electric speed”:

’Today it is the instant speed of electric information that, for the first time, permits easy recognition of the patterns and the formal contours of change and development. The entire world, past and present, now reveals itself to us like a growing plant in an enormously accelerated movie. Electric speed is synonymous with light and with understanding of causes.’

McLuhan believed that this rate of change shed light on the hitherto invisible ways in which media shaped a given society's worldview; it let us see the impact of the medium and not just the message.
What they've learned is not just the specific rules intrinsic to a particular system; they've learned abstract principles that can be applied when approaching ANY complicated system...because they've learned general rules for probing and exploring a piece of technology, rules that come in handy no matter what...you put in front of them.

So, perhaps these bloggie new skills and Web-communications ARE good for me and you can Teach and old dweebie New Tricks. LOL

Karen on 07.22.05 @ 07:31 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Yuk o'the Day:

From an email correspondent....

The Difference between male and female friendship: A married woman spends the night with her lover, and the next day tells her husband that she slept over at a friend's house. He calls his wife's ten best friends and not one of them knows a thing about it. On the other hand, a married man spends the night with his lover, and the next day tells his wife that he slept over at a friend's house. She calls her husband's ten best friends and eight of them verify that he really did sleep over at their house while the other two claim he is still there!

Len on 07.22.05 @ 07:27 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Thought for the Day:

Despite the problems of home ownership, I'm glad I live in modern times. If I'd been born into an early Native American tribe, for example, I'd be in trouble. All of my homespun arrowheads would be round because I would be afraid to make sharp ones. I'd have to hope I hit a bison in a pre-existing wound, making him so depressed he committed suicide, preferably somewhere near a roaring fire that someone else had lit. It would take me forever to cut up a bison with my homemade knife - also a smooth round rock. And there's the problem of my being a vegetarian. And don't get me started about the Native American washroom facilities. I'm reasonably sure my Native American nickname would be Man Who Used Poison Ivy Leaves In a Hilarious Way.
--Scott Adams

Len on 07.22.05 @ 06:44 AM CST [link] [ | ]

A quick blogaround....

Because, alas, Real Life™ is seriously interfering with my blogging this week.

Len on 07.21.05 @ 02:41 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Apropos of Karen's followup on James "Scotty" Doohan....

where she notes that, while Doohan's memory will forever be associated with the Trekker catchphrase, "Beam me up, Scotty", in fact he never uttered that famous phrase in the run of the show.

That reminds me that there are a number of such famous catchphrases that never were really said. In addition to "Beam me up, Scotty", these immediately jump to mind:

"Play it again, Sam."

"Elementary, my dear Watson."
I'm throwing this open to the readership (both of you... :-) ). Are there any other famous catchphrases that never really appear in the movie/TV show/novel/stories that they're associated with?

Len on 07.21.05 @ 12:03 PM CST [link] [ | ]

A fitting memorial…

As a follow up to Len’s post about the death of James “Scotty” Doohan (1920-2005) is this tid-bit about his wishes:

Doohan inspired the phrase "Beam me up, Scotty," although Capt. Kirk never issued that order until the fourth movie. He told his family he wanted his ashes blasted into space, Stevens said. Houston-based Space Services Inc., which specializes in space memorials, said it would send Doohan's remains, along with those of 125 others, aboard a rocket later this year.

Courtesy of The Chicago Tribune:(AP story by Bob Thomas).

Karen on 07.21.05 @ 11:15 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Hot damn!!! Success!!!

In connection with work related duties, I've acquired Yet Another Wireless Playtoy, and I'm testing out the internet and web configuration. So if this post shows up then I've accomplished something important. Not to mention that this may be a way to live blog the next Blogger's Bash if it's held somewhere with wi-fi access.

The miracles of technology never cease.

Len on 07.21.05 @ 10:57 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Some Abortion Theories and Anomalies to Consider...

Is this Supreme Court nominee really just about Abortion?

Froma Harrop (Houston Chronicle) suggests If Roe Goes Down, So Does GOP:

”… But serious incursions on the right to abortion would change that. I wouldn't want to be a Republican politician the day that suburban mothers learn there's no legal way to end their 16-year-old daughter's unwanted pregnancy….”

But there are other reasons for the significant support for the policy allowing choice for women for abortion. There is the theory that perhaps the decrease of unwanted, unloved and aborted children has contributed to an overall reduction in crime. As Burt Constable points out in this piece If Abortion becomes a crime, criminals won’t be scarce:
”… In his summer blockbuster (second to “Harry Potter”) book, “Freakonomics,” award-winning University of Chicago economist Steven D. Levitt replaces those anecdotal abortion conjectures with cold, hard numbers, and this provocative conclusion: “Legalized abortion led to less unwantedness; unwantedness leads to high crime; legalized abortion, therefore, led to less crime.”

With the help of co-author Stephen J. Dubner of The New York Times, Levitt notes that “in the early 1990s, just as the first cohort of children born after Roe v. Wade was hitting its late teen years — the years during which young men enter their criminal prime — the rate of crime began to fall.”

Looking at the myriad reasons women give for aborting a pregnancy, Levitt says: “When a woman does not want to have a child, she usually has good reason. … The very factors that drove millions of American women to have an abortion also seemed to predict that their children, had they been born, would have led unhappy and possibly criminal lives.”

The relationship between legalized abortion and crime isn’t a simple correlation or a coincidence, Levitt argues. Legalized abortion causes less crime, he says.”

Haven’t yet bought “Freakonomics” but these are some interesting "food for thought" concepts in the debate over the merits of these policies and what significant changes can bode – good or ill - for the future.

Karen on 07.21.05 @ 10:17 AM CST [link] [ | ]

For the guy who has everything....

including a taste for tortilla chips and salsa.... our pals over at Archie McPhee (Outfitters of Popular Culture) give us: The Salsa Sombrero:

For only $16.95, you too can have a sombrero shaped tortilla chip bowl with a central compartment to hold your salsa. But even better, the bowl has a retractable "dome" which snaps back when you press the button allowing you access to your salsa. And while the lid is retracted, the bowl plays a snazzy little Mexican tune. Then the lid snaps back over the salsa, keeping it safe until the next moment that you have a hankering to hear that Mexican tune again.

So how can you resist? Hie thyself to the McPhee website and buy two. And tell 'em Len sent you.

Len on 07.21.05 @ 09:03 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Mentally Addled And drooling...

The mentally addled David Brooks (NY Times) positively simpers and cooes (drooling all the while, no doubt) over the nomination of John G. Roberts in the piece A Competent Conservative.

Yipes - With all the slavering Conservatives are doing over this Supreme Court nominee - I feeling like I'm gonna need a Shower from the slimy drool!!!

Karen on 07.21.05 @ 07:56 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Thought for the Day:

The 1980s represented Star Trek's Golden Years. The movie series became so popular that after the blockbuster success of Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home (the only Trek movie to earn more than $100 million - the eventual gross would be close to $200 million in today's admission receipts), a new TV series was commissioned. "Star Trek: The Next Generation" was an unqualified success. New fans were born. Star Trek, the cult phenomenon, had gone mainstream.

The first sour note came in 1989 with the release of
Star Trek V: The Final Frontier. Studio heads decided that the poor box office indicated that the original crew had become "irrelevant." (The more likely reason, that the movie stunk, never occurred to them.)
--James Berardinelli

Len on 07.21.05 @ 07:43 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Scotty beams up for the last time....

James Doohan, dead at age 85

My favorite Scotty line:

Scott: Do you mind a little advice? Starfleet captains are like children. They want everything right now, and they want it their way. But the secret is to give only what they need, not what they want!
LaForge: Yeah, well I told the captain I'd have this analysis done in an hour.
Scott: How long would it really take?
LaForge: An hour!
Scott: Oh, you didn't tell him how long it would
really take, did you?
LaForge: Well of course I did.
Scott: Oh, laddie, you've got a lot to learn if you want people to think of you as a miracle worker!
Star Trek: The Next Generation, "Relics", Stardate 46125.3

Len on 07.20.05 @ 01:11 PM CST [link] [ | ]

So long, SKB, we'll miss ya....

I'm late to the party, so you probably know that Rocky Top Brigade demi-god South Knox Bubba has hung up his spikes. According to Jo Fish at Democratic Veteran, SKB has informed him that blogging has become less of a pleasure, and more of a burden, so he's bowing out. I personally (and I'm sure I can speak for Karen and Brock as well) wish SKB and Mrs. Bubba all the best in the future. We'll miss ya!

And if you ever decide to come out of retirement, SKB, I know your loyal readers will be back.

UPDATE: Fellow RTB member Thomas Nephew at Newsrack has a post where he does a good job of assembling pretty much all the blogospheric comments on SKB's retirement. Follow that link for your one stop shop for catching up on the news.

Len on 07.20.05 @ 12:39 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Oh the humanity!!!!

Oh the horror!!!

From Anthony Rickey at Three Years of Hell...:

Right, I've not had a lot of sleep, but I just turned on one of these European MTV knock-offs and found out that there's a Nelly/Tim McGraw duet on the tube. For a second, I thought I was hallucinating from lack of sleep.

I take it this has been around for a while, but it's been off my radar screen. What were they thinking? And how long has this been around?
If you were drawing up a list of musical acts that I'm not going to listen to before hell freezes over, the names of both Nelly (even though he is a fellow St. Louisan) and Tim McGraw would be very high on that list (as rap and country are two genres I actively avoid), so I have to confess that I'm the last person to answer Tony's question. But the very thought of a Nelly/Tim McGraw duet inspires me to steal a line from Lewis Black: Nelly and Tim McGraw are two acts that shouldn't be on the same stage together. Hell, Nelly and Tim McGraw are two acts which shouldn't be in the same state together.

Under the category of "things that make you go hmmmmmmm...." department, I see that normally more awesome than words can describe AllMusic Guide needs to get a few good proofreaders, factcheckers, or both. Under their entry for Nelly, the text claims that Nelly was born in St. Louis, in the biographical factoid listing at the left hand side of the page it claims that he was born in Dallas, Texas. Obviously, he couldn't have done both. I don't think....

Len on 07.20.05 @ 12:33 PM CST [link] [ | ]

More Moon Anniversary Geekiness

Google Moon. Basically, Google Maps of the moon. Complete with tags showing you the location of all the moon landing sites.

There's also a pretty sight gag in there, but I'm not going to spill the beans. Go look for it yourself.

Credit: Josh Schulz

Len on 07.20.05 @ 12:20 PM CST [link] [ | ]

And the problem with being a topical poet (or comic, or pundit, or whatever)...

is that sometimes what you plan to do is overtaken by events. Misled (as pretty much all of us were) by the constant media bleat for a couple days that Judge Edith Clement was going to be named to replace retiring Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, MadKane had a nice little limerick all prepared for the occasion. But Bush's naming Judge John Roberts instead meant that she had to gear up an short notice and prepare a different limerick to memorialize his nomination.

And if you'd rather listen than read, here's the audio version.

Len on 07.20.05 @ 12:15 PM CST [link] [ | ]

And for a weekday's amusement....

Keyboard Kommando Komics Presents: The Adventures of Battle-Action Bush and the Keyboard Kommandos

Credit: Elayne Riggs

Len on 07.20.05 @ 12:09 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Karl Rove needs a new nickname.

I propose a variation on his old one. No more "Turd Blossom". From now on, Rove should be known simply as "Turd".

Because, like a turd, he appears to be in the toilet and beginning to swirl clockwise. According to Murray Waas, it looks like Turd's excuses are unravelling, and the FBI and U.S. attorneys on the case probably smell blood in the water:

White House deputy chief of staff Karl Rove did not disclose that he had ever discussed CIA officer Valerie Plame with Time magazine reporter Matthew Cooper during Rove’s first interview with the FBI, according to legal sources with firsthand knowledge of the matter.

The omission by Rove created doubt for federal investigators, almost from the inception of their criminal probe into who leaked Plame's name to columnist Robert Novak, as to whether Rove was withholding crucial information from them, and perhaps even misleading or lying to them, the sources said.

Also leading to the early skepticism of Rove's accounts was the claim that although he first heard that Plame worked for the CIA from a journalist, he said could not recall the name of the journalist. Later, the sources said, Rove wavered even further, saying he was not sure at all where he first heard the information.
Back in my prior lifetime as a criminal defense lawyer, I've seen this scenario unfold numerous times. Suspect says story A to the cops. Then he starts shooting his mouth off, telling his lawyer story B, and family and friends a (possibly related) story C.

Pretty soon the cops don't even have to work hard. By the time the suspect is done, he's spun such a web of inconsistent stories that no jury in the world would believe whatever he says on the witness stand (if he's stupid enough to testify on his own behalf), even if it were merely to assert that the sun had risen in the east that day.

Keep talking, Turd. I want to see you talk yourself into a nice long prison sentence.

Len on 07.20.05 @ 12:00 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Things I’m NOT tempted to DO…

Stan has this latest installment from his Summer FUN: Body Art Festival.

And check out the gal pictured on Page 1, in the center row, far right side - with the threads and bangles. OUCH!! I get the shivers just Looking at that one. Yipes.

Updated: Unless, of course, one is talking about "Tattoed Fruit"???

More from the "What will they Think of Next Department." Check out this from The NY Times: Tattooed Fruit Is on Way.

" A pear is just a pear, except when it is also a laser-coded information delivery system with advanced security clearance.

And that is what pears - not to mention organic apples, waxy cucumbers and delicate peaches - are becoming in some supermarkets around the country. A new technology being used by produce distributors employs lasers to tattoo fruits and vegetables with their names, identifying numbers, countries of origin and other information that helps speed distribution. The marks are burned onto the outer layer of the skin and are visible to discerning consumers and befuddled cashiers alike...."

Better the Pear than ME!! LOL

Karen on 07.20.05 @ 07:24 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Hot Fun In the Summer Time:

Now some folks just take off blogging for the summer: Like Is That Legal; or Evolution Blog.

Or closed up shop all together: Like South Knox Bubba. (Boo Who, we’ll miss You.)

And yet others find “Guest Bloggers” to take up the reins of the commenting while they are busy, Like Discourse.net and Quixtar.Blog.

But Not Subliminal Kool-Aid. No Time off for this Bloggie guy. He is still having “Hot Fun In The Summertime”: Or so it sounds like in a trip down memory lane in this piece. LOL

So, while I'm still recuperating and operating in Slooooow Motion. Enjoy your Summer Too!!

Karen on 07.20.05 @ 07:09 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Happy Engrish...

Still feeling under the weather literally and figuratively this week. But here are a couple of funnies for today: From one of our Fav Funnie sites: Engrish.

Not quite sure How this Toy is supposed to work (if ya look closely at the picture on the front –Makes it it look the girls Hit each other with this “hammer” like a Socker-Bopper™. But not one I have in my voluminous Toy Bins.

And the Blogger Bash “may” still taking requests for sites to have the Farewell to Dr. Abby Party…may I recommend: This FUN Place? LOL


Karen on 07.20.05 @ 06:48 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Thought for the day:

That's one small step for man; one giant leap for mankind.
--Neil Armstrong, July 20, 1969

Len on 07.20.05 @ 06:29 AM CST [link] [ | ]

And speaking of double whammys....

As a Type 2 diabetic, this article on "double diabetes" interests me. And is also, frankly, a bit scary. Bad enough that your body stops producing insulin (Type 1).... but then to start to develop insulin resistance (Type 2) on top of that....

Talk about lotteries you don't want to win...

Len on 07.19.05 @ 08:13 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Well, I can think of one explanation....

According to an article in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the Archdiocese of St. Louis has evicted a series of lunchtime theology lecture/discussions from their previous venue at the Archdiocese's Cardinal Rigali Center:

A popular Aquinas Institute round-table discussion series on issues of Catholic theology has had to find a new home. Without giving a reason, the St. Louis Archdiocese has refused to allow the discussions to continue at the Cardinal Rigali Center in Shrewsbury.

The action has puzzled Aquinas' president, the Rev. Charles Bouchard, who described the tenor of the round tables as "a setting for informed conversations, not opinions." He said he had received no complaints about the programs from archdiocesan officials.


In May, Aquinas called the Rigali Center's building administrator to schedule the space for next year's lectures.

"We assumed it would be a pro-forma thing," Bouchard said. "But Mary DeFrank said she had been instructed not to let us use the facility, and if we had questions we should ask the archbishop."

DeFrank would not confirm the conversation, saying only "I think you need to talk to the archbishop."


Bouchard said the response to the program "has been overwhelming."

But there were some round-table topics that were controversial. In October, Bouchard led a heated discussion at a round table on a Catholic's responsibility in the voting booth. Last summer, Burke suggested that Catholics who voted for politicians who support abortion rights may have committed a grave sin and would have to go to confession before receiving Communion. Facing a somewhat hostile crowd, Bouchard defended Burke's theology on the matter.

A January round table, also led by Bouchard, focused on lay ministry, an issue that has been a source of tension between Aquinas and Burke.


For the 2005-2006 academic year, the round table will move to the Orlando Gardens Banquet Center in Marlborough. Bouchard said the facility is better suited to the program because there are fewer stairs for attendees to negotiate. But he said he is mystified as to why Burke decided to kick a fellow Catholic institution off archdiocesan property. "I'm very discouraged," he said.
No mystery to me, Fr. Bouchard. Archbishop Burke is a dictatorial asshole, and you've pissed him off, no doubt. Right now, if I had the money to bet, I'd start betting heavily that His Assholiness shuts down your round-tables shortly. And I'd lay more money down that he's going to run Aquinas Institute out of his archdiocese.

Whatta prick.

Len on 07.19.05 @ 07:56 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Why l'affaire Plame really matters, Part 2

Jonathan Alter at Newsweek has a lot to say that's worth reading about this case, but this passage makes an excellent case for why Karl Rove should be convicted of espionage, and put away for a long, long time (if not executed):

Was Plame "fair game," as Karl Rove told Chris Matthews? George H.W. Bush didn't think so. Even after Wilson embarrassed the president publicly, Bush Sr. wrote Wilson—whom he had appointed to various ambassadorial posts—to congratulate him for his service and sympathize with him over the outing of his wife. The old man was head of the CIA in the 1970s and knows the consequences of blowing the identities of covert operatives.

But does his son? A real leader wouldn't hide behind Clintonian legalisms like "I don't want to prejudge." Even if the disclosure was unintentional and no law was broken, Rove's confirmed conduct—talking casually to two reporters without security clearances about a CIA operative—was dangerous and wrong. As GOP congressman turned talk-show host Joe Scarborough puts it, if someone in his old congressional office did what Rove unquestionably did, that someone would have been promptly fired, just as the president promised in this case. Scarborough, no longer obligated to toe the pathetic Republican Party line, says it's totally irrelevant if Joe Wilson is a preening partisan who misled investigators about the role his wife played in recommending his Niger trip. The frantic efforts of the GOP attack machine to change the subject to Wilson shows how scared Republicans are that the master of their universe will be held accountable for Rove's destructive carelessness.

To get an idea of how destructive, I talked to Melissa Mahle, a former CIA covert operative turned author whose career parallels Plame's. She explained what happens when someone's cover is blown. It isn't pretty, especially when, like Plame, you have been under "nonofficial cover" (working for a phony front company or nonprofit), which is more sensitive than "official cover" (pretending to work for another government agency). The GOP's spinners are making it seem that because Plame had a desk job in Langley at the time she was outed, she wasn't truly undercover. As Mahle says, that reflects a total ignorance about the way the CIA works. Being outed doesn't just waste millions of taxpayer dollars; it compromises hundreds of other people in the field you may have worked with in the past.

If Bush isn't a hypocrite on national security, he needs, at a minimum, to yank Rove's security clearance. "Whether you do it [discuss the identity of CIA operatives] intentionally or unintentionally, you have not met the requirements of that security clearance," Mahle told me.

The bigger question is what this scandal does to the CIA's ability to develop essential "humint" (human intelligence). Here's where the Iraq war comes in again. The sooner we beef up our intelligence, the sooner we crack the insurgency and get to bring our troops home. What does it say to the people doing the painstaking work of building those spy networks when the identity of one of their own becomes just another weapon in the partisan wars of Washington? For a smart guy, Karl Rove was awfully stupid.
[emphasis supplied --LRC]
Not just awfully stupid. Criminally stupid. And I hope he pays the full price for that criminal stupidity.

Len on 07.19.05 @ 12:53 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Really Support The Troops: Listen to them!

Operation Truth. And see their ad in the Washington Post.

Len on 07.19.05 @ 12:32 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Gem o'the Day:

Rove's Last Stand

As a Little Bighorn buff, I couldn't resist....

Credit: Billmon, where you can go to see the full sized version.

Len on 07.19.05 @ 11:50 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Postless and Listless

I've been fighting a summer cold (Bleh) and unable to turn the corner on this yet. But still have a full plate of duties and issues. Tho’ I am working in what seems like slow-motion.

The most pressing issue and emergency is Saving Our Trees. This is the worst set of drought conditions in the area since 1936. It hasn’t rained but once (for a few minutes) since June 4th. Our trees in the entire Fisher Farms area are stressed and many are dying.

Our subdivision of homes is fairly new (less than 5yrs) and much of the landscaping is only 2-3yrs old. The extreme drought is affecting our smaller trees – and even larger ones are stressed too.

So, we’ve contracted with our Association Landscapers to get them watering with special bags called “gator” bags (which are refillable) in an attempt to save as many trees as we possible can to prevent a massive die-off. While I’m sure this wont’ be inexpensive, it will cost less to save these trees (if it’s not too late) than the replacement costs of so many dead trees.

Meanwhile…posting is slow going for a bit, till I sort these things through and hopefully get rid of this Summer listlessness and cold.


Karen on 07.19.05 @ 09:03 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Ironic Times: Good news for Bush; very few say he's "not to be trusted"

The Ironic Times released the results of their latest poll, which we're sure the GOP will be spinning soon; only 14% of their respondents said that President Bush was "not to be trusted". Here's the breakdown:

Len on 07.19.05 @ 06:59 AM CST [link] [ | ]

From "Back in Iraq", this is interesting....

Christopher Allbritton gives us a glimpse into the mindset of Iraqis.... and shows us the suprising fact that the Iraqis, despite the evidence of their own senses, think that we're much more on top of things than we in fact are:

BAGHDAD—The Iraqi national psyche is a Janus-faced beast when it comes to belief. On the one hand, Iraqis on the street will believe the very last thing you tell them. No conspiracy theory is too outlandish not to find some traction among the population. In a fit of black humor the other day I joked with A., my office manager and Y., an interpreter for us, that the Kurds were obviously behind all the suicide bombings.

Why? Because they could use a civil war between Shi'a and Sunni to claim Kirkuk and draw a green line around their territory. No one gets in from south of this line. Bingo! Instant Kurdistan. Or, alternately, if the Arabs discover this fiendish plot and counter-attack, the Kurds can set down their green line and set their pesh merga to defend their territory. Either way, they get Kirkuk and a state. Game, set, match.

Now, I don't really believe this. But A. and Y., got into the “fun” of it, and said I should go tell a few people on the street my theory. “In two days, it will be on every front page in the country,” A. said. Y. protested that it wouldn't be true. Ah! I countered. It doesn't matter if it's true or not. It only matters if enough people believe it to be true.

Y. smiled. “Now you are thinking like an Iraqi,” he said.

And yet, tell an Iraqi that many of the problems of their country—lack of security, meddling by Iran, Shi'a-Sunni violence, Zarqawi—is a result of a cascading series of American blunders and incompetence, and they will refuse to believe it. “America put a man on the moon,” said a friend of A. as we puffed on a
nargilah last night. “That America has f**ked up so much is very hard for us to accept.”

“Iraq is harder than the moon,” I said, to much amusement. But like my earlier joke about the Kurds, it was black humor, and The Plot always hovered nearby.

Robert Fisk once wrote about Lebanon that The Plot—the plans of foreign powers to defeat and humiliate Lebanon during its 1975-1990 civil war—was always present in his conversations with Lebanese. He joked that The Plot should have its own chair at the table at every meal, since it was always a topic of dinner conversations. Well, Iraq has the same mentality. It is inconceivable to Iraqis that America, as powerful as it is, could have bungled this place as badly as it has. Americans walked on the moon! And they can't find Zarqawi?

It's a fair criticism, I suppose. But it's a frustrating phenomenon for a reporter to deal with, because getting people to tell you what's going on without the conversation degenerating into a convoluted sequence of events is next to impossible.

Len on 07.19.05 @ 06:48 AM CST [link] [ | ]

You had to figure this was coming....

According to our pals at The Smoking Gun, the Dr. Huey P. Newton Foundation, Inc., of Oakland, CA, is close to receiving a trademark on the phrase "Burn Baby, Burn". The purpose? Makes a great name for a hot sauce, doesn't it?

Len on 07.19.05 @ 06:33 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Geek Playtoy of the Day


Orbitron is a satellite tracking system. Basically, if you're an amateur astronomer, or other person with an interest in knowing where just about Every Artificial Earth Satellite Ever Launched (and quite a few other orbiting objects, like rocket boosters) is at any given time, day or night, Orbitron is a must-have. You can "mark" your position on the world map (and, to make your life easier, there's an extensive list of cities and places, including Memphis!), and the program will give you a little sound alert whenever a satellite passes within "eyeshot" of your position (i.e., if you were outside, able to observe, and conditions were favorable, you could see the satellite in the sky from your position). It's interesting to run Orbitron in the background (say, during the workday), and see how many satellites pass by.

For example, as I write this (0607 CDT on Tuesday, July 19, 2005) one orbital object has just appeared on the western horizon (Delta 2 R/B(1)), and it will pass almost nearly overhead tracking almost due west to east, while in a few minutes (about 7-10 or so by my estimate) Informator 1 R/B will appear on the southern horizon and track almost due south to north, also passing nearly overhead.

Awesome. Then again, I'm easily amused.


Len on 07.19.05 @ 06:12 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Thought for the Day:

It takes more nerve to praise pop entertainment; it's easy and safe to deliver pious praise of turgid deep thinking. It's true, I loved "Anaconda" and did not think "The United States of Leland" worked, but does that mean I drool at the keyboard and prefer man-eating snakes to suburban despair?

Not at all. What it means is that the star rating system is relative, not absolute. When you ask a friend if "Hellboy" is any good, you're not asking if it's any good compared to "Mystic River," you're asking if it's any good compared to "The Punisher." And my answer would be, on a scale of one to four, if "Superman" (1978) is four, then "Hellboy" is three and "The Punisher" is two. In the same way, if "American Beauty" gets four stars, then "Leland" clocks in at about two.

And that is why "Shaolin Soccer," a goofy Hong Kong action comedy, gets three stars. It is piffle, yes, but superior piffle. If you are even considering going to see a movie where the players zoom 50 feet into the air and rotate freely in violation of everything Newton held sacred, then you do not want to know if I thought it was as good as "Lost in Translation."
--Roger Ebert

Len on 07.19.05 @ 05:43 AM CST [link] [ | ]

A DigiCam, a packet of Gummi Bears, and way too much time on one's hands....

Put 'em together, and you have The Seven Gummie Sins; the Seven Deadly Sins as dramatized by gummi bears.

Credit: Serrabee

And as long as we're on religious themes, this seems as good a place as any to mention The Brick Testament. Bible stories illustrated by means of Lego™ based dioramas. Inspired.

And yes, Virginia, you can model circumcision using Lego™ figurines.

Who'da thunk it?

Len on 07.18.05 @ 09:28 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Blogger Bashing: Part Two

I'm still late to the party. But if you're local and interested in coming, go to Dr. Abby's blog and cast your vote for the venue.

So far, Dish in Midtown is the runaway favorite. But with only 7 total votes in, that may change.

Len on 07.18.05 @ 09:08 PM CST [link] [ | ]

We stand corrected...

Thanks to Kim Schulz (Josh's lovely and multi-talented wife), we're informed that the Jewish musician Matisyahu (who we mentioned yesterday), isn't a Hasidic Jewish rapper, he's a Hadisic Jewish reggae star (the domain name of Matisyahu's official website, http://www.hasidicreggae.com/ makes that perfectly clear).

I regret the error; the fact is that I'm not into reggae (and don't even get me started on rap/hip-hop), and I'm a bit color blind in that area of the spectrum. In the video clip of Matisyahu's Jimmy Kimmel Show appearance that appears on the I Am Bored post I cited, Kimmel refers to Matisyahu in his introduction as a "Jewish rapper". In situations like this, when I am completely ignorant, I defer to what I would think is the superior information of one who should know.

Then again, that means I am relying on Jimmy Kimmel. And if that's the case, I deserve to have my ignorance exposed to the world to see.


And for the record, Kim tells us (and a quick look around the Web confirms) that Matisyahu isn't a joke along the lines of The Electric Amish. Which is cool with me; it's just that these days it's getting a bit difficult to tell the serious acts from the satirical ones without a scorecard.

UPDATE: And for any of you locals who are interested, Matisyahu will be playing Memphis at the Hi-Tone on September 28. Be there or be square.

Len on 07.18.05 @ 06:59 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Thought for the Day:

Victor Von Doom is the evil nemesis. His company, Von Doom Industries, is having financial trouble. Imagine that, a company called "Doom" failing to attract investors. That's like a restaurant called Eat Shit failing to attract diners.
--Mark Ramsey [moviejuice.com, on
The Fantastic Four]

Len on 07.18.05 @ 06:25 AM CST [link] [ | ]

From the Practical Moral Theology Department....

I've confessed in this space that I have done a bit of online dating, and I'm still occasionally "meeting" people online, mostly as chat friends vice face to face. So far it's amounted to a bit of harmless fun, a few good dates, and even fewer relationships of any length. But a recent conversation with a chat friend has me wrapping my mind around a conundrum that's occupied my attention several times in my life (in other words, this isn't the first time I've become aware of a situation like this one).

Recently I've had a few conversations with a new online friend who lives a bit aways from me (defined as farther than a block's radius, but closer than 600 miles). Of course, when one is my age, one of the first things that gets discussed is children, as in how many does your new acquaintance have and how many live with her? That part of the discussion led to this exchange:

FRIEND: My eldest [mid-20's and in the service at this time --LRC] is my ex-husband's. My youngest is 8, and his father wants NOTHING to do with him, though he does send support and pays for doctor's and dental bills, so I guess I don't have much to complain of.
ME: Well, you're lucky there; there are a lot of deadbeat dads out there who try to skip out completely on support.
FRIEND: Yeah. We were engaged when I got pregnant. Once he learned that my son was on the way he decided he didn't want to be a father at his age, so he broke the engagement.
ME: That's sad. Well, I can understand; I really don't want to be a father again at my age. I don't really look forward to putting a kid through college in my mid-to-late 60's. But you know, if he didn't want to be a father, there
are things that he could do to prevent that.
FRIEND: Well, he's Catholic....
A little later in the conversation, I learned that after my new chat friend and her fiance had broken the engagement, she then learned that he was still married. Granted, he was separated pending divorce, but the divorce wasn't final, and he had never told her about that....

Well, I'm sure you see the part that I find so puzzling.... We have a guy here who, apparently, has no great qualms about having sexual intercourse with a woman not his wife, and who in the eyes of the Church is, quite probably committing adultery (we don't know for sure, because my friend didn't tell me whether her paramour was validly married "in the Church" or not). But he refuses to use contraception because "he's Catholic", the implication of her statement being that he felt it was morally wrong for him to use contraception. More wrong than committing fornication/adultery.

Well, maybe my morals have become a bit perverted, but I was raised Catholic, and I didn't do too badly at four years of Catholic grade school religion class, four years of Catholic CCD/PSR (PSR = "Parish School of Religion"; i.e., Catholic "Sunday School" for those of us who were attending public school at the time), and four years of Catholic high school. And along the way, during those 12 years of Catholic religious education I got the distinct impression that the Church rather heavily condemned having sex with a person you weren't married to--not to mention that it wasn't at all better (and probably, in fact a good deal worse) to be having sex with someone not your spouse when in fact you have a spouse out there!

So we have a guy out there who's thinking, "Fornication/adultery? Not a biggie. But contraception? Good God, I can't do that! I'm Catholic! The Church would never forgive me!"

Is it just me, or do any of you see the disconnect?

So I suppose I'm just opening this up to the readership. Anyone out there with a better grounding in Catholic moral theology wanting to explain to me how using contraception is somehow a worse sin than fornication or adultery? How someone can still consider himself "a good Catholic" while still getting some non-marital or extra-marital nookie, as long as s/he doesn't use the dreaded contraceptives? Last I remember looking into the matter, all of those acts were considered pretty damn grave sins. So it seems to me, as long as you're going to go ahead and commit fornication/adultery, you should at least be rational about it, and use a contraceptive as well. Because, as I remember it, if you die after the act of fornication/adultery, I'm not convinced that your deciding not to use a contraceptive is enough of a factor in mitigation to save you from the fires of Hell.

Or am I just full of shit again?

These are the thoughts that kept me out of the really good schools
--George Carlin

Len on 07.17.05 @ 05:27 PM CST [link] [ | ]

What's in a Name...

‘Tis but thy name that is my enemy.
Thou art thyself, though not a [Valerie Plame Wilson].

What’s [Valerie Plame Wilson] ? It is nor hand, nor foot,
Nor arm, nor face, nor any other part
Belonging to a [wo]man. O, be some other name!
What’s in a name? That which we call a rose
By any other word would smell as sweet.

So [Valerie Plame Wilson] would, were [s]he not [Joe Wilson’s Wife] called,
Retain that dear perfection which [s]he owes
Without that title.

[Valerie Plame Wilson] doff thy name.
And for thy name - which is no part of thee –
[Save Traitor Karl from the ignominy of revealing your Non-Identity.]

[Many Advance Apologies to Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet, Act 2; Scene 1.]

Karen on 07.17.05 @ 05:06 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Love In Action/Refuge (LIA/R) Update....

I'm a bit late to the party, but....

The story of Zach and his commitment to the LIA/R reeducation camp made the New York Times today. I first found this at Steve Gilliard's News Blog. Steve first quoted LIA/R head honcho John Smid:

"In my life I've been out of homosexuality for over 20 years, and for me it's really a nonissue," Mr. Smid said.

"I may see a man and say, he's handsome, he's attractive, and it might touch a part of me that is different from someone else," he said. "But it's really not an issue. Gosh, I've been married for 16 years and faithful in my marriage in every respect. I mean I don't think I could white-knuckle this ride for that long."
and then Steve replies:
Ok, who believes this.

You know in the 28 years I've noticed potential sexual partners, I've never once said a man is attractive. Not once, at least not in the way I would describe women. So how deep in denial is this guy?

And his parents think they can fix him like a broken watch. It's sad really. In America, if you don't know you like women at 16, you probably don't. Mentally disabled boys want to get laid, for God's sake, so we're talking a basic impulse. And if a 16 year boy says he's gay, well, he's probably gay It can literally be a life or death act. It couldn't be more serious. Not only are you risking parental disapproval, but physical assaults as well, it's no fashion statement. There are no male LUGs. You mess around with guys, it's a defining act.

The odds are high that this kid will be as gay when he leaves as when he comes out. And he should be, because that's who he is. No one raised me to chase women, much less date them, that I learned on my own. Was I recruited into heterosexuality by pretty girls and Penthouse Forum? I don't think so. I was headed that way to start with. So why should it be different for gay men?
In other news on the Zach/LIA/R front:

Len on 07.17.05 @ 02:40 PM CST [link] [ | ]

There are some things you just can't wrap your mind around....

and for me, a Hasidic Jewish reggae rapper is one of them (link to a QuickTime video of a recent Jimmy Kimmel show; you may need QuickTime to see it).

Hat tip: Thomas Nephew at Newsrack

UPDATE: This is a preemptive strike against the inevitable comment...

I have given due consideration to the possibility that Matisyahu is an elaborate joke, just like the concept of an Amish rock band (and for the record, I have copies of every Electric Amish CD ever produced to date). In fact, if Matisyahu is a joke, it's an absolutely f*cking brilliant one. So far, though, I'm not sure I can tell if it's a joke or not.

Then again, if I see The Electric Amish on Letterman, Conan, or Jimmy Kimmel anytime soon, I'll revise that assessment.

Len on 07.17.05 @ 01:38 PM CST [link] [ | ]

The other U.S. casualties....

It's bad enough that doing your duty for your country can get you killed, wounded, maimed, or dismembered. But there are other ways you can get injured, too:

Most of the men in 4th Squad, Charlie Battery, fought two wars while they were in Iraq. There was the war against the insurgents that had them patrolling for roadside bombs and raiding houses at all hours. Then there was the war back home, which had them struggling, over phone lines from 7,000 miles away, to keep their marriages and their bank accounts intact.

They say they eventually got used to the bombs. The crazy possibility of dying any minute didn't haunt them so much. But that other war, that was the one that tore them up in the downtime spent in Sgt. Cox's trailer at Camp Victory. It would get quiet, and then one or another of them would ask: "So, how are things going at home?" And they would begin to brood.

They all knew about "Jody," the opportunist of Army lore who moved in on a soldier's girl while the soldier was off fighting a war. They had sung hundreds of cadences in basic training deriding the name. But it had always seemed like a joke, something that happened to other guys.

After all, Sgt. Brent Cox, 36, and his wife, Kristina, were expecting their first child after 12 years of marriage.

Pvt. Ray Hall, 21, was married to his high school sweetheart, an airman first class stationed in San Antonio.

Spc. Jason Garcia, 23, believed that his on-again, off-again relationship with the mother of his then-2-year-old son was on again; he had given her his ATM card as a gesture of commitment.

But on the long-awaited day in February when the three soldiers returned here to Ft. Hood, Texas, turned in their rifles and stood on the parade field, only Hall had a sweetheart there to meet him. And he found himself wishing she hadn't come at all.

After surviving the chaos of Iraq, thousands of soldiers have become casualties of a fight they were poorly trained for: keeping control of their family lives during the separation of war. Men and women who feel lucky their units suffered few fatalities say they can name dozens who returned to empty houses, squandered bank accounts, divorce papers and restraining orders.

The Army divorce rate has jumped more than 80% since the fighting began overseas in response to the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. The courts around Ft. Hood, the Army's largest post, may have to add another judge to handle the caseload. Divorce lawyers hire extra staff whenever a division prepares to come home.

To a soldier in battle, the threat of a family falling apart can be a dangerous distraction. "That's probably the worst part about being over there," said Hall, now back at Ft. Hood and facing a marriage so damaged it may not survive. "Your wife's cheating on you, you know she's been spending all your money the entire time, and there's nothing you can do about it. You think about that more than you do a bomb on the side of the road."

For some in the 4th Squad, the tensions played out nightly in Camp Victory's "Internet cafe" — the Army trailer with rows of computers where soldiers flocked to contact their families. Some found more pain there than comfort. Cox's wife was five months pregnant when she announced she was leaving him and going back home to Lawton, Okla.

Hall visited the Internet trailer less often after he checked the phone messages on his home answering machine one day and heard another man tell his wife he loved her.

Garcia stopped hearing from his girlfriend and started tracking his bank account. He said thousands of dollars of his saved pay was gone and she had found somebody else.

Credit chain: Steve Gilliard, who got it from Atrios (I think) without giving a link to him.

Len on 07.17.05 @ 12:28 PM CST [link] [ | ]

The Sleeper Curve...

Been reading “Everything Bad Is Good For You” by Steven Johnson.

Aside from very pertinent points about the increased intricacy and level of depth to TeeVee, Movies, Entertainment and Gaming activities – regardless of the overall “Quality” of these offerings - in what Steven Johnson refers to as “The Sleeper Curve.”

In short, “The Sleeper Curve” is the concept [as demonstrated in his book] that the culture is getting more intellectually demanding as a result of the increased media access to both more forms of pop-cultural experiences and the kind of sophisticated analysis and storyline or plot decoding it takes to watch even the worst offerings of the entertainment industry – be it video games, television, movies or internet exchanges via blogs and on-line activities as simple as IM-ing. That there is a “long term trend in pop-culture … towards increased complexity” and that this is in turn, increasing the cognitive abilities of people as a whole.

Johnson makes a very good argument about the internet and blogging too. He writes about how there is a “trend towards increased social network complexity” and how this has embraced “the many forms of participatory electronic media – from e-mail to hypertext to instant messages and blogging.”

The rise of the Internet has challenged our minds in three fundamental and related ways; by virtue of being participatory, by forcing users to learn new interfaces, and by creating channels for social interactions.

Almost all forms of online activity sustained are participatory in nature: writing e-mails, sending IMs, creating photo logs, posting two page analyses of last night’s (TV) episode. Steve Jobs likes to describe the difference between television and the WEB as the difference between lean-back and sit-forward media. The networked computer makes you lean in, focus, engage, while television encourages you to zone out (Though not as much as it used to, of course.)....
…A decade ago Douglas Rushkoff coined the phrase “screenagers” to describe the first generation that grew up with the assumption that the images on a television screen were supposed to be manipulated; that they weren’t there for passive consumption. The next generation is carrying that logic to a new extreme: the screen is not just something you manipulate, but something you project your identity onto, a place to work through the story of your life as it unfolds.
The second way in which the rise of the Net has challenged the mind runs parallel to the evolving rule system of video games: the accelerating pace of new platforms and software applications forces users to probe and master new environments. Your mind is engaged by the interactive content of the networked media – posting a response to an article online, maintaining three separate IM conversations as the same time – but you’re also exercising cognitive muscles interacting with the form of the media as well: learning the tricks of a new e-mail client, configuring the video chat software, getting your bearings after installing a new operating software.…The same principle holds true for digital technologies, only the interfaces have expanded dramatically in depth and complexity…..

Then there is the matter of social connection…the new social networking application have done something that the visionaries never imagined: they are augmenting our people skills as well, widening our social networks and creating new possibilities for strangers to share ideas and experiences.

Karen on 07.17.05 @ 12:15 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Rovian spin contradicted by Matt Cooper.

dKos quotes the relevant passages, because Time's put the story up behind their "paid subscriber" wall:

I told the grand jurors that I was curious about Wilson when I called Karl Rove on Friday, July 11...... But then, I recall, she said something like, "Hang on," and I was transferred to him. I recall saying something like, "I'm writing about Wilson," before he interjected. "Don't get too far out on Wilson," he told me. I started taking notes on my computer, and while an e-mail I sent moments after the call has been leaked, my notes have not been [...]

As for Wilson's wife, I told the grand jury I was certain that Rove never used her name and that, indeed, I did not learn her name until the following week, when I either saw it in Robert Novak's column or Googled her, I can't recall which. Rove did, however, clearly indicate that she worked at the "agency"--by that, I told the grand jury, I inferred that he obviously meant the CIA and not, say, the Environmental Protection Agency. Rove added that she worked on "WMD" (the abbreviation for weapons of mass destruction) issues and that she was responsible for sending Wilson. This was the first time I had heard anything about Wilson's wife.

Rove never once indicated to me that she had any kind of covert status. I told the grand jury something else about my conversation with Rove. Although it's not reflected in my notes or subsequent e-mails, I have a distinct memory of Rove ending the call by saying, "I've already said too much." This could have meant he was worried about being indiscreet, or it could have meant he was late for a meeting or something else. I don't know, but that sign-off has been in my memory for two years.

A surprising line of questioning had to do with, of all things, welfare reform. The prosecutor asked if I had ever called Mr. Rove about the topic of welfare reform. Just the day before my grand jury testimony Rove's lawyer, Robert Luskin, had told journalists that when I telephoned Rove that July, it was about welfare reform and that I suddenly switched topics to the Wilson matter. After my grand jury appearance, I did go back and review my e-mails from that week, and it seems as if I was, at the beginning of the week, hoping to publish an article in TIME on lessons of the 1996 welfare-reform law, but the article got put aside, as often happens when news overtakes story plans. My welfare-reform story ran as a short item two months later, and I was asked about it extensively. To me this suggested that Rove may have testified that we had talked about welfare reform, and indeed earlier in the week, I may have left a message with his office asking if I could talk to him about welfare reform. But I can't find any record of talking about it with him on July 11, and I don't recall doing so.
That's good news. And reading this over at Billmon makes my disposition even brighter:
I just got off the phone with a friend of mine, a veteran investigative reporter, who in turn said he recently talked to one of his old editors, who covered Patrick Fitzgerald when he was an assistant U.S. attorney going after mob guys in New York. So my friend asked him what he thought of the guy.

This is from my friend's memory, but given that he's got 20+ years in the business, and I've known him longer than that, I trust his quotes:
"Fitzgerald is a prosecution machine," the old editor said. "When he wants somebody, he goes after them with whatever he's got. If he can't make the case he started with, he'll figure out what you did do and hit you with that. He's relentless, and he doesn't give a flying fuck about the press or the First Amendment. He'd throw us all in jail if it would help him make his case."

Be afraid, Karl. Be very afraid.
Add to that this assessment by Frank Rich in the New York Times:
Mr. Fitzgerald, both young (44) and ambitious, has no record of Starr- or Ashcroft-style partisanship (his contempt for the press notwithstanding) or known proclivity for committing career suicide... That the investigation has dragged on so long anyway is another indication of the expanded reach of the prosecutorial web.
The odds of Karl "Turd Blossom" Rove being frogmarched and doing some time certainly looks better and better.

And that would really make my day.

Len on 07.17.05 @ 12:03 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Our sympathies go out today....

to Tommy "Big Stupid Tommy" Acuff, who found himself becoming a statistic last night when the store he works at as a manager was robbed at gunpoint. Hopefully, there'll be a satisfying ending to the story:

An opinion?

They'll get them. There are cameras. We've got them on
several cameras. One of them even looks straight at a camera at one point. Even while trying to sort the shit in my head out, I thought to myself "how could you be so blinkard pig-stupid as not wear masks or to think there aren't cameras?"

Nobody got hurt. That's another fact. I can share that. I can't put into words how thankful I am for that. I largely find myself wandering the line of the agnostic in life, lately, but I did say the small prayer "God, if you're listening, I appreciate that...."
While thankfully, nobody got (physically) hurt, being the victim of a crime of violence like that is still traumatic in itself. So we give Tommy and his co-workers our best wishes for a speedy recovery from the adrenaline rush, and no lasting psychological effects.

Len on 07.17.05 @ 11:49 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Baseball literary übermensch John Thorn has a blog?

Yes, indeedy, and in it yesterday he produced a fascinating post... Who's the "Father of Baseball"? Well, as we all pretty much know, not Abner Doubleday. But more to the point, not even Alexander Cartwright... well, not completely. According to Thorn, baseball as we know it has four fathers:

Every good idea has a multitude of fathers and a bad idea none. Baseball has been unusually blessed with claimants to paternity. Because I have beaten up Abner Doubleday for decades as baseball’s version of the Easter Bunny, I will ease up on him now. However, much indeed remains to be said about how this real General was transformed after his death, largely by sporting-goods magnate and former player Albert Spalding, into a phony Inventor.

Moving beyond the silly but persistent Doubleday legend and such later “Fathers of Baseball” as Henry Chadwick (the game’s great publicist) and Harry Wright (a true innovator on the field and off), I would like to review the intriguing credentials of four other individuals, all of them members of the Knickerbocker Base Ball Club of New York (KBBC) between 1845 and 1857: Alexander Cartwright; Daniel Lucius Adams; William Rufus Wheaton; and Louis Fenn Wadsworth. The name Cartwright is known to many baseball fans, as he was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in the year of its dedication. Adams and Wheaton are known only to specialists, and have been subjects of investigative scholarship over the past decade or so. Finally the mysterious Wadsworth, whom I am have been pursuing for more than twenty years, may now provide the most compelling story of all.

Before we proceed to locate DNA evidence of the game’s true father, let’s set one thing straight at the outset: the 80-year-old Chadwick had it right when he said in 1904, only one year before the formation of the Mills Commission to study the origins of baseball, “Like Topsy, baseball never had no ‘fadder’; it jest growed.”
If you have an interest in the history (or would that be "pre-history"?) of baseball give Thorn's essay a read.

Len on 07.17.05 @ 11:39 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Gem o'the Day:

Ok. More like "Gem o'Friday", but I'm catching up with my baseball reading, OK? Over at the Hardball Times, John Brattain nails one of the reasons why listening to Joe Buck and Tim McCarver call a ballgame is such a pain (though yes, BuckCarver is but a part of John's complaints...):

So … where are we people? The All-Star break is mercifully over. I’m not sure whether to blame FOX or MLB or commissioner Bud Selig or any combination of the three but geez, can we get rid of the technological bells and whistles and mindless, meaningless in-game interviews? Why were fans subjected to an interview with Texas starter Kenny Rogers while NL reliever Brad Lidge’s fireworks were relegated to a small window? We tuned in to watch a ball game which allegedly has baseball‘s best and brightest, not listen to some 40-year-old pitcher with behavioral problems. The whole Buck/McCarver/Chevy/H-H-R-Y-A sign idiocy was beyond pathetic.

This is baseball’s showcase? It was more like a "Price is Right" showcase—a testimony to rampant consumerism. I wish the suits at FOX would require a word limit on announcers. You get to say a certain number of words during the telecast and when you hit your limit you have to shut up for the rest of the night. Just show the ballgame—what fans tune in to see—and not Tim McCarver and Joe Buck’s verbal diarrhea, in-game interviews with cliché-rattling athletes, or special effects that make one think that there’s a 12 year-old computer genius with ADD running amok in the production truck. If FOX and MLB ran a dog show, the “best-in-breed” segment would feature dogs dropping a dookie or puking up carrots in the middle of the floor.

We just want to see baseball’s best doing what they do best.

Len on 07.17.05 @ 11:23 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Great Moments in the History of "Incompetence":

On this day in 1938, aviator Douglas Corrigan made aviation history. Having just completed a transcontinental flight from California to New York, he took off from Floyd Bennett Field in Brooklyn, ostensibly on his return flight to California (according to some stories, Corrigan had attempted to file an amended flight plan for a flight to Ireland from New York, but was turned down). Corrigan was originally vectored eastbound from Bennett Field because of heavy weather to the west, but for unexplained reasons continued to fly eastbound instead of backtracking towards California as he should have.

On his arrival at Baldonnel Airport, Dublin, Ireland 28 hours and 13 minutes later, Corrigan's explanation to authorities was that his trans-Atlantic flight was the result of a navigational error; according to his story he misread his compass while in a cloudbank and believed he was headed towards California and not over the Atlantic. Authorities didn't believe him, and he was disciplined by having his pilot's license suspended until August 4, 1938 (the day Corrigan returned to the U.S.--by steamship).

But on his return, Corrigan received a hero's welcome, and perhaps one of the greatest nicknames of all time: "Wrong Way" Corrigan. Corrigan died on December 9, 1995; until the day of his death he never admitted what authorities and most others suspected: that his flight to Ireland was a deliberate act, and not the result of a navigational error. However, given that at the time of his accomplishment trans-Atlantic flights were still a feat beyond the capabilities of all but the best and bravest pilots, Corrigan still deserves proper recognition for his achievement, even if he had to go about it in an unorthodox manner.

Len on 07.17.05 @ 10:15 AM CST [link] [ | ]

A new Devil's Dictionary

Katrina vanden Heuvel, in The Nation's blog "Editor's Cut". launched a project where she attempted to start the project of building a Republican dictionary:

At least until the draft comes, progressive Americans will not be fleeing en masse to Canada, despite the charming offer of so many compassionate Canadians to sacrifice their singlehood to save us from the "cowboy" Bush. (As the New Yorker 's Hendrik Hertzberg says, the Canadians make us proud to be North Americans.)

After all, who is to say Canada is safe from a preemptive strike? Canada's leaders are a bunch of socialists hostile to our president just like the Baathists were, Canada might have hidden stockpiles of WMD, it possesses a natural resource-- cheap prescription drugs--critical to our people's security, and historically-speaking it would be a really bad idea (see Quebec, Battle of; 1812, War of).

No, alas, we will stay and fight to retake our country from the forces of extremism, corruption, and incompetence that have set up shop in the White House, Capitol Hill, and K Street. Taking our cue from the venerable military strategist Sun-tzu, the first stage of this battle is to understand our opponents, who are as bold as they are devious.

Nowhere is their deception more in need of debunking than in the realm of political discourse, where they have over the last several decades created a veritable Orwellian Code of encrypted language. The key to their linguistic strategy is to use words, which sound moderate to us but mean something completely different to their base. Their tactics range from the childish use of antonyms, i.e., "clean" = "dirty" to the pseudo-academic use of prefixes--"neo" is a favorite--to the pernicious (and very expensive) rebranding of traditional political labels-- "liberal"--as an insult.

We need to break the code by building a Republican dictionary.
Over at Bush Watch, they reprinted Ms. vanden Heuvel's original blog post, and collected some of the best of her reader submissions. Just to give you a taste of the project, and to encourage you to join in the fun, below the fold I've collected a few of "the best of the best".... The first few are Ms. vanden Heuvel's originals (those are uncredited), while the others are reader submissions (credited).

Len on 07.17.05 @ 09:31 AM CST [more..] [ | ]


Over at Bush Watch, they apparently run a feature called "Garlic", which is their parody of The Onion's "What Do You Think?" parody of the "ask the man in the street" columns run by some newspapers (see here for a sample). Of course, for those of you paying close attention, that makes "Garlic" a parody of a parody, which is getting a bit too metaphysical for a Sunday morning before I've had my cup of coffee, but I'll leave that go for now.

This week, "Garlic" addresses the Karl Rove issue:


New York Times pundit Paul Krugman recently wrote, "As part of the effort to discredit Joseph Wilson IV [who questioned certain Bush comments about Iraq's alleged WMDs], Mr. Rove leaked the fact that Mr. Wilson's wife worked for the C.I.A. I don't know whether Mr. Rove can be convicted of a crime, but there's no question that he damaged national security for partisan advantage. If a Democrat had done that, Republicans would call it treason." What do you think?

"This problem stems from the Bush Administration's refusal to document interviews with journalists. Isn't it about time we outlaw documents?"

Darleen Edwards, Librarian

Attacks on someone who contradicts the official line don't have to be true, or even plausible, to undermine that person's effectiveness. All they have to do is get a lot of media play, and they'll create the sense that there must be something wrong with the guy. In short, stop persecuting Mr. Rove.

Ted Daniels, Office Manager
Follow the link to see the whole thing; it's a blast.

Len on 07.17.05 @ 08:39 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Life Imitating the Art of Unreality...

I haven’t even cracked the cover of the new “Harry Potter” book and already the allegories are surfacing between the Good/Evil metaphors of the world of Muggles and Magic and the Increasingly Evil world of Political Spin and Skullduggery at the White House.

Rove’s role hairy in ‘George Bush and the Half-Truth Prince’ by the ever Hillarious Burt Constable (Daily Herald Editorial Columnist) is a GEM. It opens with this comparison:

”Leave the newspaper stories about Karl Rove lying next to that new copy of “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince” this morning and the two begin to blur.

One is a complicated but fascinating tale of Good vs. Evil with flawed heroes, otherworldly villains, tyrannical and incompetent bureaucrats, preposterous myths and plucky pursuers of truth. The other is that new J.K. Rowling book.

You didn’t need Professor Trelawny’s crystal ball to see that joke coming up Privet Drive or Pennsylvania Avenue. But the two stories truly are easy to confuse.

Rove’s loyal supporters are to Democrats what Death Eaters are to Harry Potter.

“I’m loyal to my friends,” says President Bush, who always finds a place for them in his administration.

“I will only truly have left this school when none here are loyal to me,” says Hogwarts headmaster Albus Dumbledore, who always finds ways to keep Harry and his friends, Ron and Hermione, from being expelled.….”

And the rest of the piece continues in this model of more Life Imitating the Art of Unreality. Give the rest of this piece a full read at the link above.

Karen on 07.17.05 @ 08:37 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Thought for the Day:

The Supreme Court's ruling last month upholding the right of the Texas State Capitol to keep a Ten Commandments sculpture - sponsored by that great theologian Cecil B. DeMille to promote his Charlton Heston epic - on its grounds as an historical artifact is arguable from a legal perspective. But to the amateur historian and professional ironist, it's a delight. Because I've been to the Texas State Capitol, and that granite Moses movie ad is one of the least offensive things there.

To wit: there are two creepy monuments dedicated to the Confederacy, one of which features hand-carved testimonials from Jeff Davis and Robert E. Lee lauding rebel soldiers responsible for the Gettysburg deaths Lincoln would hope were not in vain.

Then there's the memorial festooned with a man gripping a muzzle-loader to honor the Heroes of the Alamo, the men who died trying to steal Tejas from the Mexicans, who had taken it from Spain, which had grabbed it from the Indians in the first place. If I remember correctly, not stealing is one of your Top Ten Ten Commandments. One of these Alamo heroes, Davy Crockett, is said to have advised the men there, "Pierce the heart of the enemy as you would a feller that spit in your face, knocked down your wife, burnt up your houses and called your dog a skunk!" Does it get any less "thou shalt not kill" than that?

Another statue honors the beloved Texas cowboy. I happen to be descended from one of these. My Texas cowboy great-great-grandfather, John Vowell, abandoned his newborn baby, Charles, when his Seminole wife died in childbirth. Is it O.K. if I break the commandment about honoring one's father to point out that my great-great-grandfather was a deadbeat dad fiend?

Young Charles, by the way, did not follow in his daddy's cowboy footsteps; by the age of 8, the poor kid was earning a living as a shepherd. Until the range wars, when some of those beloved cowboys symbolized by that statue gunned down all his sheep. Probably not on a Sunday, though. Heavens, no - that's the Sabbath.

I am picking on Texas and its State Capitol only because of the specifics of this Supreme Court ruling. The fact is, any state government in the U.S. is going to look a little phony tacking up Mosaic Law on its lawn next to statues of whatever Puritans or Hawaiian-queen-kidnappers are responsible for any given state's eventual statehood. Maybe phony is not the right word. Maybe the right word is sad.
--Sarah Vowell

Len on 07.17.05 @ 08:23 AM CST [link] [ | ]

7/15/2005 (Game 2): New Orleans Zephyrs 1, Memphis Redbirds 0

I attended the game last night (the second game of the first day/night doubleheader ever held at AutoZone Park), to watch Mark Nussbeck lose a heartbreaker, 1-0 against the New Orleans Zephyrs. Nussbeck can't really be faulted; he pitched seven strong innings, allowing only one run on five hits; the Zephyrs scoring their only run on a sacrifice fly by Dee Brown in the top of the seventh. Unfortunately, while the Redbirds managed to tag New Orleans pitching for six hits, their bats were silent when we had runners in scoring position. It was also a quick game (about 2 hours and 12 minutes or so), which was good because there was an hour and 10 minute rain delay to start:

Fortunately, I was in a position where I could sneak down and get some pretty decent pictures. You can see them below the fold, if you're interested....

Len on 07.16.05 @ 07:33 PM CST [more..] [ | ]

Thought for the Day:

The Aspen Institute is a think tank cum conference promoter based in Washington D.C., but also has a "campus" at its namesake resort city in Colorado (nice work if you can get it.) Every summer the Institute flies assorted journalists, politicians, policy entrepreneurs and celebs out to the high country to bask in each other's glow and share conventional platitudes (and, quite often, their bodily fluids -- or so I've heard.)

It's like those idiotic "Renaissance Weekends" at Hilton Head that Clinton used to love so much. Or, like Davos -- but without the provocative intellectual content. (You have to have gone to a Davos to appreciate what an insult that is.)

The Aspen thing is a very bipartisan deal, which means it covers the entire U.S. political spectrum -- from ultra right to center center center right.

Len on 07.16.05 @ 02:49 PM CST [link] [ | ]

More about those "Summer Blockbusters"...

"I always say, F--- the critics," says the director, with a toothy grin. "That's what "Bad Boys II was, a big F--- you to the critics. I just said, 'I'm going to make it so big and so loud and so over-the-top that the critics will hate it and the audiences will come anyway.' I knew critics would hate it and I knew it would make $100 million."

- Quote from Michael Bay (Director of "The Island") -

Courtesy of Entertainment Weekly [July 22 edition]: "Attack of the Clones," by Daniel Fierman.

Karen on 07.16.05 @ 09:58 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Water Gardens...

And yet another Faux National Holiday...

"More and more homeowners across the country are discovering the pleasure of having a garden pond in their backyard.

That's why this is National Water Gardening Month, featuring home tours, seminars and festivities at garden centers around the nation. While the installation of a pond is hard work, the peaceful sounds of a fountain or waterfall and the colorful water lilies and other plants are a source of lasting beauty and enjoyment.

Many ponds are stocked with either koi or goldfish, which can survive through the winter even in colder climates. The number of U.S. homes with a water garden has grown dramatically in recent years. Now, 15 percent of homes in America have a water garden, up one- third in just four years."

Courtesy of US News Wire.

Karen on 07.16.05 @ 09:03 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Roving Among the Legalisms...

Just a few last “legalisms” about the GOP spinning and twisting in the wind “talking points” about Karl “Turd Traitor Blossom” Rove and the notion that he’s Ollie-Ollie-Oxen-Free from all culpability in discussing Valerie Plame Wilson and/or Joe Wilson’s Wife’s ”…double super secret background for about two mins….”

[See: Matt Cooper's Source: What Karl Rove told Time magazine's reporter by Michael Isikoff:

(Newsweek) with an e-mail to his bureau chief (Michael Duffy) that states: "Subject: Rove/P&C," (for personal and confidential), Cooper began. "Spoke to Rove on double super secret background for about two mins before he went on vacation ..."]

As Mickey Kaus (Slate) tries to “explain away” Did Reporters Leak to Rove? A possibility the press fears - about how - IF Judith Miller may have leaked to Rove instead - this would show “Turd Blossom” was not legally culpable in his actions. The explanation falls slightly short.

It presumes only a single legal theory and I can’t see legally and or logically how this reverse scenario exculpates Rove and or Libby from discussing this issues of any CIA agent’s ”…double super secret background for about two mins….” with every Tom, Dick or Matt Cooper (Bob Novak or Judith Miller) who comes along – conveniently - when they are just trying to politically smear the woman’s husband over WMD's.

But there are other legalisms and theories in play in a time of WAR and at the White House: As this piece by John W. Dean (Findlaw Op-Ed and former counsel to the President)explores It Appears That Karl Rove Is In Serious Trouble:
“…It was just such a risk that convinced Judge Story that "for any person with the agency to take it upon himself to leak information poses a tremendous risk; and that's what, to me, makes this a particularly serious offense." Cannot the same be said that Rove's leak? It dealt with matters related to national security; if the risk Randel was taking was a "tremendous" risk, surely Rove's leak was monumental.

While there are other potential violations of the law that may be involved with the Valerie Plame Wilson case, it would be speculation to consider them. But Karl Rove's leak to Matt Cooper is now an established fact. First, there is Matt Cooper's email record. And Cooper has now confirmed that he has told the grand jury he spoke with Rove. If Rove's leak fails to fall under the statute that was used to prosecute Randel, I do not understand why.

There are stories circulating that Rove may have been told of Valerie Plame's CIA activity by a journalist, such as Judith Miller, as recently suggested in Editor & Publisher. If so, that doesn't exonerate Rove. Rather, it could make for some interesting pairing under the federal conspiracy statute (which was the statute most commonly employed during Watergate)….”

And BuzzFlash links to this piece from Rep. Henry Waxman about the White House Policy Agreements and Executive Orders: Karl Rove's Nondisclosure Agreement:
”…Rep. Waxman released a fact sheet today that explains that the nondisclosure agreement signed by Karl Rove prohibited Mr. Rove from confirming the identity of covert CIA agent Valerie Wilson to reporters. Under the nondisclosure agreement and the applicable executive order, even "negligent" disclosures to reporters are grounds for revocation of a security clearance or dismissal.

….[personnel also] sign a "Classified Information Nondisclosure Agreement," also known as a SF-312, promising not to reveal classified information.[1] The nondisclosure agreement signed by White House officials such as Mr. Rove states: "I will never divulge classified information to anyone" who is not authorized to receive it.[2]

The Prohibition Against "Confirming" Classified Information

Mr. Rove, through his attorney, has raised the implication that there is a distinction between releasing classified information to someone not authorized to receive it and confirming classified information from someone not authorized to have it. In fact, there is no such distinction under the nondisclosure agreement Mr. Rove signed.

One of the most basic rules of safeguarding classified information is that an official who has signed a nondisclosure agreement cannot confirm classified information obtained by a reporter. In fact, this obligation is highlighted in the "briefing booklet" that new security clearance recipients receive when they sign their nondisclosure agreements:

Before ... confirming the accuracy of what appears in the public source, the signer of the SF 312 must confirm through an authorized official that the information has, in fact, been declassified. If it has not, ... confirmation of its accuracy is also an unauthorized disclosure.[3]

The Independent Duty to Verify the Classified Status of Information

Mr. Rove's attorney has implied that if Mr. Rove learned Ms. Wilson's identity and occupation from a reporter, this somehow makes a difference in what he can say about the information. This is inaccurate. The executive order states: "Classified information shall not be declassified automatically as a result of any unauthorized disclosure of identical or similar information."[4]

Mr. Rove was not at liberty to repeat classified information he may have learned from a reporter. Instead, he had an affirmative obligation to determine whether the information had been declassified before repeating it. The briefing booklet is explicit on this point: "before disseminating the information elsewhere ... the signer of the SF 312 must confirm through an authorized official that the information has, in fact, been declassified."[5]

"Negligent" Disclosure of Classified Information

Mr. Rove's attorney has also implied that Mr. Rove's conduct should be at issue only if he intentionally or knowingly disclosed Ms. Wilson's covert status. In fact, the nondisclosure agreement and the executive order require sanctions against security clearance holders who "knowingly, willfully, or negligently" disclose classified information.[6] The sanctions for such a breach include "reprimand, suspension without pay, removal, termination of classification authority, loss or denial of access to classified information, or other sanctions."[7]

The White House Obligations Under Executive Order 12958

Under the executive order, the White House has an affirmative obligation to investigate and take remedial action separate and apart from any ongoing criminal investigation. The executive order specifically provides that when a breach occurs, each agency must "take appropriate and prompt corrective action."[8] This includes a determination of whether individual employees improperly disseminated or obtained access to classified information.

The executive order further provides that sanctions for violations are not optional. The executive order expressly provides: "Officers and employees of the United States Government ... shall be subject to appropriate sanctions if they knowingly, willfully, or negligently ... disclose to unauthorized persons information properly classified."[9]

There is no evidence that the White House complied with these requirements.”

So- Lots more "legalisms" yet in play before the "Fat Lady" sings a "Get Out Of Jail Free" Ditty for Ole' Traitor Karl.

Karen on 07.16.05 @ 08:16 AM CST [link] [ | ]

National Ice Cream Day...

I tend not to like Faux-National-Holidays. But this is one I just might be able to live with...

"Today is a day that almost everyone can celebrate wholeheartedly it's National Ice Cream Day.

Our favorite dessert has been around since colonial times, when George Washington and Dolly Madison served it at their parties and receptions. In those days, ice cream had to be made by hand. The advent of refrigeration saw a huge increase in ice cream sales.

Now, the U.S. makes more ice cream than any other country in the world. The average American consumes about 17 pounds of regular ice cream annually, 7 pounds of low fat ice cream and just over a pound each of sherbert and frozen yogurt. We buy most of our ice cream in supermarkets, and our favorite flavor by far is vanilla.

Courtesy of US News Wire.

Karen on 07.16.05 @ 05:43 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Supreme Questions...

Real Clear Politics offers this piece: "Questioning Judicial Nominees A Duty Not A Privilege" from Senator Charles Schumer for the upcoming nominee for the Supreme Court:

Give this list of questions a read: at this link.

Quite and interesting list of Q's and set of topics.

Karen on 07.15.05 @ 01:24 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Blogger Bashing, anyone?

And for a special cause: it's getting close to the time we must bid the lovely and multi-talented Dr. Abby farewell and good luck in her new digs in the Hub of the Universe. So Dr. Abby's asking, who's up for a Blogger Bash in the 7/29 to 7/31 timeframe (when Dr. Abby's Dad ("Dr. Dad") and Mom will be there to see how much we love our Dr. Abby)? I'm in....

So if you're in too, go over to Dr. Abby's blog and drop her a comment (or comment here/email me and I'll pass the word on).

Len on 07.15.05 @ 01:16 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Josh Marshall makes...

a couple excellent points about Karl Rove, spy:

There's a point that's probably worth raising with our scofflaw Republican friends. All of their arguments now amount to excuses, like those of a small child caught stealing cookies: Joe Wilson's a liar. Plame's covert status wasn't protected well by the CIA. It was just a short phone call. Rove really wanted to speak about welfare reform. Wilson said Cheney sent him to Africa. Plame sent Wilson to Africa. Rove leaked Plame's identity in the interests of good journalism. Wilson went on too many TV shows. On and on and on.

The salient point is not that each of these claims is false. The point is that they're irrelevant. It's the mid-life version of 'He hit me first!' or 'He called me a name!' or other such foolery.

No presidential advisor should ever disclose the identity of a covert agent at the CIA.


And nothing was done amiss? If Rove et al. didn't do anything wrong, why have they spent two years lying about what they did? No law was broken? Then what is Fitzgerald looking at? Why is a grand jury investigating Rove? A prosecutor like Fitzgerald, a Republican appointee, wouldn't be throwing journalists in jail unless he thought he was investigating a serious crime.
[emphasis supplied --LRC]
But unfortunately, the Democratic Party and the American public has let the Rethugnicans get away with this kind of shit for too long. I hope it won't work this time....

Len on 07.15.05 @ 12:01 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Sleazemeister Cunningham is out...almost...

Cunningham won't seek re-election.

Len on 07.15.05 @ 11:51 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Shadows of 1936...

...And not a Rain Cloud in Sight:

Think Today is Dry by Victoria Pierce (Daily Herald):

”Farmers and Gardeners have been scanning the skies in recent weeks, searching for signs of thunderclouds that could bring much-needed rain.

Imagine that quest lasting for nearly a decade.

Folks who lived through the Dust Bowl of the 1930s will probably remember those days as the hottest and driest of their lives.

While dust storms literally blew the topsoil off the Great Plains to the west and south of Illinois, record temperatures were set in several Midwestern states. A heat wave in 1934 killed 679 people in Michigan. And on July 20, 1934, Iowa recorded its highest temperature ever at 118. Two years later Wisconsin’s all-time high of 114 was recorded at Wisconsin Dells.

So far, this summer has not been as hot as the scorchers during the ’30s, but the lack of rain has made this the driest spring and early summer in Illinois since 1936, according to the National Weather Service….”

Along with this similar article about Trees need watering:
"Recent media coverage has drawn attention to Chicagoland’s current drought conditions and the importance of watering trees, not grass.

Trees in our urban and natural landscapes improve our environment in both obvious and subtle ways. They absorb pollutants, cool our neighborhoods, help us conserve energy, provide wildlife habitat, reduce flooding, promote appreciation for nature, and even increase retail success and real estate values.

Many trees already endure stressful conditions in urban areas, and drought can provide their fatal coup de grace, either by directly killing them or by weakening them so they are more susceptible to pests and diseases. It is critical that trees get deeply, thoroughly watered, even as our turf-grass is allowed to go brown. ….”

Trying to convince our DHC neighbors to water their poor trees and bushes to keep them alive. And Hopefully news reports like this one will make them act help to save our trees with a much needed watering.

Karen on 07.15.05 @ 10:13 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Questions I NEVER thought to ASK....

And I've never said Dennis Hastert Corner wasn’t a riotously FUN place to live:

”…A Kane County judge Thursday sentenced Noel Huecias, 37, of 6N693 Tuscola Ave., to 60 days in jail and 12 months of probation for two incidents June 9 when he had sexual contact with a dog in a yard near where he was working.
Huecias pleaded guilty to misdemeanor attempted sexual contact with an animal in exchange for the sentence.
Huecias smiled and seemed relaxed throughout the hearing while his family and friends waited in the audience.

According to police, Huecias pressed himself up against a chain link fence in the 1400 block of South Seventh Street at 9:15 a.m. June 9 and made sexual contact with an Akita.

He was observed coming back to the same house at 12:30 p.m. and jumping the fence. Police officers found him in the yard on his knees with his pants undone trying to get the dog to approach, prosecutors said.

The judge ordered Huecias to get a psychological evaluation and stay away from all animals, including owning household pets. It was Huecias’ first criminal offense.

However, it isn’t the county’s first brush with sexual crimes against animals. An Elburn man was charged with sexually abusing a pit bull owned by a Geneva man last year. He was convicted of damage to property, because a judge ruled that sexual gratification couldn’t be proven.

A St. Charles veterinarian who testified at the trial said that sexual abuse of animals in the area isn’t uncommon.”

[Courtesy of The Daily Herald.]

Sheesh – “sexual abuse of animals in the area isn’t uncommon” – I Guess I should have asked that question along with “how are the schools rated” before we moved out here. :-(

Karen on 07.15.05 @ 10:01 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Some People will do Anything...

...For a Nice Comfy Jail Bed…

“…William Crutchfield was deep in debt and looking for a way out. Authorities say Crutchfield apparently watched with envy as Olympic bomber Eric Rudolph was headed to prison for life and aspired to the same fate--allowing him to live off the government while behind bars.

So he allegedly hatched a twisted plan: kill a federal employee….”

Courtesy of The Associated Press (via The Chicago Tribune) Allure of Jail behind Shooting.

So, Karl Rove…What’s yer Beef? You only needed to jeopardize our National Security and an entire secret CIA under-cover operation for the passport to your nice comfy cell. Never even needed to dirty your petit, lilly white hands or look the people in the face who’s lives and careers you put in danger. Karl’s has got to be the easier route to Prison.

Karen on 07.15.05 @ 09:51 AM CST [link] [ | ]


And The Final Install of my Marathon of Techie-Headaches is now Complete.

This whirl wind of Techie-Woes which began last week went through every computer in my overly populated office of PC’s. I’ve had two PC's to completely Format C:/ and wiped clean the entire hard drive of these machines (and not for the first time either). For that fresh Start- And then the reinstall and Upgrade operating Software from the Hated Windows 98 to Windows XP. Yippee!!

But, Drat, the old Work Horse of a HP OfficeJet T45, she no longer worked on XP (no matter what they offer as a compatible new set of drivers on-line). So, a new NetGear Router (with Kool Firewall and Protection options) and a new HP OfficeJet 7120 printer/scanner/fax/photo machine… and HOURS/DAYS later: I’m Good to GO!!!

Now I have a fully functional work space for the use and entertainment of the entire family.

*Whew* - It’s been a long (and expensive) week for this Techno-Dweeb and quite a mental Techno-Workout!!! LOL

And back to my Bloggerie Desires...once more Battling the Vicious Attack Internets on my Net Surfing Highway of Life. :-)

Karen on 07.15.05 @ 08:14 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Sad, but expected.....

All things considered, I'm surprised this didn't happen ages ago: IBM officially kills OS/2, suggests switch to Linux

BIG BLUE has hammered the final nails into OS/2's coffin. It said that all sales of OS/2 will end on the 23rd of December this year, and support for the pre-emptive multitasking operating system will end on the 31st December 2006.

Not bad, it lived 20 years - but no one could ever say it had a peaceful childhood. From the days of OS/2 Presentation Manager through its switch to Warp, the OS was always be-devilled by Microsoft, which seemed to have its own agenda.

It looks like it's gone then, unless OS/2 is a bit like a corpse in an Edgar Allen Poe novel, and it's being buried while it's still alive. And it will wake up screaming in its coffin shouting "Warp! Warp!".
In spite of the fact that my one attempt to migrate to OS/2 (back when it was OS/2 Warp) apparently chewed up my then existing hard drive (my computer died, and I had to buy a new hard drive to get it to work again), I have to confess I am sad to see this happen. Now there's one less OS choice for people out there....

Len on 07.15.05 @ 07:55 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Thought for the Day:

As a critic, sometimes I think it's good idea to take off the month of August. The dog days, indeed. What can one say when the biggest cinematic event of the month is the release of The Dukes of Hazzard? Hollywood's cannibalization of their small-screen past has become sickening. I am now awaiting movie versions of soap operas.
--James Berardinelli

Len on 07.15.05 @ 06:07 AM CST [link] [ | ]

MadKane has more competition for the title of Liberal FilkMeister...

As The Pesky Fly gives us a most excellent spin on Stand By Your Man, as interpreted from Dumbya's perspective.

Len on 07.14.05 @ 02:04 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Meanwhile, on the other end of The Volunteer State....

what passes for the major newspaper there apparently has its knickers in a twist over cockfighting in the area. But never fear, South Knox Bubba is on the case! Check out the "Homeland Security Cockfight Advisory System". Priceless.

Len on 07.14.05 @ 01:55 PM CST [link] [ | ]

A potential conflict of interest? (UPDATE)

[Updated and moved to the top. --LRC]

Thomas Nephew over at Newsrack makes the excellent point that (at least until Karl Rove's potential status as "criminal defendant" is resolved) maybe it would be a good idea to get Rove out of the loop on pending Supreme Court nominations:

But is this devotion to duty a good thing? Just asking. This is a guy who may be the subject of some serious litigation before too much longer. And this is an administration that believes LBJ-era presidential daily briefings ought to be secret, so they're almost certain to want to block anything incriminating from their own administration from seeing the light of day. Any such assertion of privilege may well reach the Supreme Court.

Do the American people really want to wonder whether there's a little
quid pro quo going on between someone like Karl Rove and a new Supreme Court justice?
Unless it's been determined that Karl's going to be pardoned if indicted. In that case, why doesn't Dumbya pardon Karl now, fire Fitzgerald, and then (one would hope) take the heat from the American public for his "sterling morals".

UPDATE (7/14/2005): Josh Marshall picks up on the meme:
Propriety watch: Should the selection of the next Associate Justice of the Supreme Court be quarterbacked by a man who is currently the subject of an on-going criminal investigation?

Len on 07.14.05 @ 01:09 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Scenes we'd love to see....

Mark A.R. Kleiman makes an excellent argument that the crime that Karl Rove should be indicted for is not a violation of the Intelligence Identities Protection Act, but rather a violation of the Espionage Act (and that there's some affirmative evidence in the public record that an indictment under the Espionage Act might well be forthcoming):

But it seems to me that the Left Coaster has allowed itself to be taken in by the most fundamental piece of GOP spinning: that if Rove didn't violate the Intelligence Identities Protection Act, he's in the clear legally.

The elements of a crime under the IIPA are extremely demanding; one of its drafters has been quoted as saying that the law was written so as to be "hard to break." The elements are: (1) authorized access to classified information, (2) learning the identity of a covert agent (3) intentional disclosure of information identifying the agent to (4) an individual not authorized to receive classified information (5) knowledge that the information identifies a covert agent and (6) knowledge that the United States is taking "affirmative measures" to conceal the agent’s role. For the purposes of the bill, someone is a "covert agent" only if he or she has "served overseas" within the previous five years, creating an effective seventh element.

How likely is it that Rove could be
proven to have known that the United States was still taking "affirmative measures" to conceal Plame's identity? Not very, I'd say.

But Rove's conduct certainly meets the far less demanding elements of the Espionage Act: (1) possession of (2) information (3) relating to the national defense (4) which the person possessing it has reason to know could be used to damage the United States or aid a foreign nation and (5) wilful communication of that information to (6) a person not entitled to receive it.

Under the Espionage Act, the person doing the communicating need not actually know that revelation could be damaging; he needs only "reason to know." Classification is generally reason to know, and a security-clearance holder is responsible for knowing what information is classified.

Nor is it necessary that the discloser intend public distribution; if Rove told Cooper -- which he did -- and Cooper didn't have a security clearance -- which he didn't -- the crime would have been complete.

And to be a crime the disclosure need not be intended to damage the national security; it is only the act of communication itself that must be wilful.

It's also a crime to "cause" such information to be communicated, for example by asking someone else to do so.

Open and shut, I'd say.

Judge Hogan told Judith Miller that the disclosure of information to her, and her potential use of it, were crimes.
That couldn't have been true under the IIPA, since IIPA applies only to officials, not journalists, except where the journalist has a pattern of exposing agents' identities. It would be true under the Espionage Act. Ergo, the use of that statute must be in contemplation.
Karl Rove, convicted spy.

My, how lovely that sounds. And were Karl to be convicted of espionage, I'll waive my objection to capital punishment just for him. Well, no, I won't, but were Karl to fry I'd not feel at all bad about it.

Len on 07.14.05 @ 12:57 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Well, he did head what was once known as....

The Office of the Holy Inquisition....

This just in (well, just in at the DBV newsdesk): Pope Criticises Harry Potter

Pope Benedict XVI has condemned the Harry Potter books as "subtle seductions," capable of corrupting young Christians, in two letters which have now been published online.


The Pope's comments were included in two letters to Gabriele Kuby, the German religious author, who had sent him a copy of her book,
Harry Potter - gut oder böse? (Harry Potter: Good or Evil?)

In one response, dated March 2003, he wrote in German: "It is good that you enlighten us on the Harry Potter matter, for these are subtle seductions that are barely noticeable, and precisely because of that have a deep effect and corrupt the Christian faith in souls even before it could properly grow."

He also thanked the author for her "instructive" book, in which Frau Kuby says the hugely popular Potter novels risk corrupting young people, preventing them from developing a proper sense of good and evil. She argued this could harm a child's developing relationship with God.

In a second letter sent to Kuby on May 27, 2003, Cardinal Ratzinger "gladly" gave his permission for Frau Kuby to make public "my judgement about Harry Potter."

He also encouraged her to send her book to the Vatican prelate.
Of course, as J.K. Rowling's spokesdroids were quick to point out, these are judgements that date from a while ago, long before then-Cardinal Ratzinger was elected pope.

Then again, it's not like Ratzinger has been known for his tendency to change his mind....

UPDATE: Jo Fish at Democratic Veteran has some most excellent snark in reference to this story:
Well, I can understand Ratzi's discomfort with Harry Potter, since it is set in an English Boarding School and there is not a single account of a person in a position of trust molesting a student. I mean really, it hardly upholds the standards of the Catholic Priesthood and Right Thinking does it?

Len on 07.14.05 @ 12:39 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Wow... and some people think our governor here sucks....

Apparently, Missourians pretty solidly agree that Governor Matt Blount sucks. According to a Survey USA poll 60% of Missourians disapprove of the job Blount is doing, while only 35% approve (in fairness to Blount, his approval rating is up two percentage points from May, when only 33% of respondents approved of his job performance, though in May only 57% of respondents disapproved of his performance, for that matter).

By comparison, Tennessee governor Phil Bredesen is wildly popular, with a 48% approval rating, though he's also been losing ground since May (when 52% of respondents gave Bredesen a thumbs up).

Len on 07.14.05 @ 12:11 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Thought for the Day:

The Aspen Institute is a think tank cum conference promoter based in Washington D.C., but also has a "campus" at its namesake resort city in Colorado (nice work if you can get it.) Every summer the Institute flies assorted journalists, politicians, policy entrepreneurs and celebs out to the high country to bask in each other's glow and share conventional platitudes (and, quite often, their bodily fluids -- or so I've heard.)

It's like those idiotic "Renaissance Weekends" at Hilton Head that Clinton used to love so much. Or, like Davos -- but without the provocative intellectual content. (You have to have gone to a Davos to appreciate what an insult that is.)

The Aspen thing is a very bipartisan deal, which means it covers the entire U.S. political spectrum -- from ultra right to center center center right.

Len on 07.14.05 @ 08:40 AM CST [link] [ | ]

And now for some sick humor...

Peter Rabbit, Tank Killer

Len on 07.13.05 @ 01:39 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Eanie, Meanie, Meinie, Moe...

Over at The Sneeze there is their International Playground section of Obnoxious Rhymes from Sweden this batch.

Tho’ some of the “subtle” humor is lost in the translation. LOL

Karen on 07.13.05 @ 12:42 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Gem o'the Day: l'affaire Plame Edition

From one of Josh Marshall's readers:

A TPM Reader checks in ...

Let's not forget that the reason the Republicans were angry with Wilson is that he told the truth. And their preferred method of retaliation was to attack his wife. This is generally seen as the mark of a true coward.

The remark by Rove that to me hints at the depths of his depravity is the comment that Valerie Plame was now "fair game." There is something in the offhand quality of that remark, even if Rove was not the one who revealed her identity, that is chilling. This was an agent of the CIA, a woman sufficiently patriotic to have dedicated her career to serving her country. This, supposedly, is what Republicans believe in. Yet once her husband angered the President, she was quickly made into "fair game." And fair game for what, exactly?
'Nuff said.

Len on 07.13.05 @ 12:38 PM CST [link] [ | ]

A Traitor to These United States...

Still being Bizee with My Computer Extravaganza Set-Up, but found yet another reason Ole’ Karl isn’t just a “Liar-Liar-Pants-On-Fire” like all the GOP suck-ups are wishy-wash-ing over about having spoken to Matt Cooper about “Joe Wilson’s” wife working at the CIA. But Karl "Turd Blossom" Rove is a TRAITOR to These United States:

The Rove Review - Shifty Words and Fancy Dancing (by Jack K) has this to say:

...so now we know what we know. Courtesy of a Newsweek revelation of a Matthew Cooper e-mail, we know that Karl Rove told Cooper that "Wilson's wife" was a CIA employee who actually authorized Joseph Wilson's trip to Nigeria that led to the editorial that trashed Gee Dub's claims about Nigerian yellow cake uranium that placed a critical piece of his claim about the absolute grim true badness of Saddam's Iraq that could any moment lead to Condi Rice's infamous "mushroom cloud" sprouting in its deadly glory somewhere in the US. There are some other things we know, too, but time will only tell whether the half-bright pretty boys and girls in the MSM will actually figure out...

...the first thing we know is that Karl Rove is a liar, because he told Cooper that Valerie Plame authorized her husband's trip to Nigeria on behalf of the CIA. Valerie Plame wasn't in a position to make such an authorization, and it was higher authorities in the CIA that were looking for an envoy to make that snooping-around trip...

...the next thing we know is that Karl Rove is a liar and - more to the point - a traitor to this country. He has constantly made a point of playing at the margins of truth, saying that he never told anyone that Valerie Plame was an undercover CIA agent or that he used her name, the implication being that he had no involvement in her outing. As Cooper's e-mail - which was prior to the initial column by that other noted traitor and administration stoolie Bobby Novak - clearly shows, Rove told Cooper that it was Wilson's wife, WHO WORKED FOR THE CIA IN THE AREA OF WMD, who played a central role in Wilson's being selected to go to Nigeria. One little problem, Karl ol' sweet cheeks Snoogums sugar-pie: nobody knew up until that moment that VALERIE PLAME ACTUALLY WORKED FOR THE FRIGGIN' CIA!!!

Let me repeat that unless you missed it.


...as far as anyone knew, Mrs. Wilson was an energy industry consultantfor the consulting firm Brewster Jennings, which itself was a CIA cover asset which is now as worthless as radioactive dirt to the agency. But nobody knew that at the time. As far as Rove's useless, dirty cover comment that he "didn't know her name, didn't leak her name" is concerned, this is all a hammered together backstory that is somehow supposed to convince a jury that a just world would make him come before. He didn't have to use her name, for God's Sake! Joe Wilson wasn't some crazed hermit dropout living in a previously unmapped lava tube out here in Central Oregon; he was a former Ambassador living in a suburb with neighbors and had a history and a biography that my children could discover on the Internet with only a child's googling skills. Rove gave Cooper, prior to any public revelation of the truth of Valerie Plame, everything that was necessary to destroy her cover and ruin her usefulness to the CIA and - just perhaps - put her live personally at risk. His revelation to Matthew Cooper was nothing more than part of an effort to put the lash to Joe Wilson and show just how rough things could get if he didn't shut up and get out of the way of the effort to launch George W. Bush's Grand Nation-Building Adventure in Iraq. Sadly, for both the Wilson's and the country, Cooper wasn't bright enough to figure it out, probably in major part because that whole Big-Time Major League Hot-Shot "Time Magazine-Reporter-With-Deep-White-House-Contacts" gig is such a powerful brain-sucking drug that it just overpowers any sense of critical thought or journalistic integrity...

...it's times like these that make me so very glad that I finally shrugged off all those powerful "All The President's Men" enticements back there in the early '70's that actually caused me to originally major in journalism and turned instead to a degree and career that simply causes me to have frequent and uncomfortable conflicts with the left-hand side of the progressive movement. Forget about Novak; he's a "commentator", a flack for a particular political movement who has been shilling for the protection of the rich and the tight, stern parental control of the actions of everybody else for longer than a good portion of the nation's populace has been potty trained. The true shame is people like Cooper and Judith Miller, who draped themselves in the mantle of the fourth estate as alleged protectors of the ordinary person's right to know what the hell was going on inside the centers of power but instead, in one way or another, got hooked on that sublime yet brutal sweet drug of access and suddenly found it OK to even listen to Karl Rove's sweet nothings without bothering to check a couple of simple facts and say "Wait a Minute! Mrs. Wilson works for "

...we know what we know. What we know is that Karl Rove revealed to a Time correspondent information about the employment of an enemy's wife that nobody knew at the time, that he sure as hell shouldn't have known at the time, which served no purpose other than to cause harm to that enemy and his wife. I almost don't want poor old Karl to have to frog-hop into some courtroom in a frumpy orange jumpsuit to answer charges. I almost want Karl to be out there, free and tall and proud, a true icon of this presidency: the man willing to destroy the career and threaten the life of a woman he never met and willing to destroy an entire CIA operation solely for the purpose of punishing an opponent that was causing his personal meat puppet in the Oval Office a spot of trouble. Karl Rove, now that he's out running around shooting his mouth off, should become the poster boy for the Bush Administration on the strength of what we actually know to be his actual care and concern for this country. It's important for Americans to know what today's Republicans actually stand for, and their overpowering desire to destroy lives and careers of anyone who disagrees or gets in their way is a good place to start. We know what we know, but it's about time that everybody knows....

Correction to an error I just noticed: I just realized in rereading this screed that I got lost somehow in all that Miller/Cooper NYT/Time stuff, so I fixed it....”

Karen on 07.13.05 @ 12:27 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Why l'affaire Plame really matters....

Bryan at Why Now? lays out the big picture. If you're opening up an intelligence operation in a foreign country, here's what you need to do:

You need a front, usually an international business. Business is useful, because most international businesses function in a remarkably similar fashion to covert operations - they bribe people, seek information, hide funding sources, use postal boxes and rented offices to avoid taxes and get business.

The front needs a "legitimate" contact, someone who can be researched and identified. Someone with minor celebrity, such as being the wife of an ambassador, is just about perfect. Someone like that could be checked by intelligence services and ignored.

These front operations need to actually function like the businesses they claim to be, so they will actually pursue business and fulfill contracts to prove they are real. Some percentage of the employees don't know they are working for a covert front, and are totally separate from the espionage function.

If the cover on the front is blown, say someone tells the world that the ambassador's wife is actually an employee for the CIA , there is a problem for everyone associated with the front, not just those who were part of the espionage operation. Counterintelligence people don't like being fooled, so everyone will be hauled in and considered guilty. There is rarely any effort to allow those people to prove their innocence.

The Plame case isn't about just one woman, it is about everyone who worked for her covert operation. Dozens of people have been put in danger because of this revelation, not simply one upper-middle-class Washington suburbanite. Most of those in trouble were not involved in espionage; they are simply "collateral damage" in a nasty little personal feud.
[emphasis supplied --LRC]
Were Rove a decent person, he'd lose some sleep over the harm he's caused to innocent people because he got into a snit at Joe Wilson and needed to get back like the immature little child he is.

But we know Rove isn't a decent person, so I'm sure he's sleeping soundly. When he's not worrying about an indictment. And considering the pardon is probably sitting on Dumbya's desk to be signed when needed, I'm sure he's not worrying about the indictment.

UPDATE: Larry Johnson, a retired CIA officer who was a member of the CIA "entering class" with Valerie Plame makes this point over at Josh Marshall's TPM Cafe:

The misinformation being spread in the media about the Plame affair is alarming and damaging to the longterm security interests of the United States. Republicans' talking points are trying to savage Joe Wilson and, by implication, his wife, Valerie Plame as liars. That is the truly big lie.

For starters, Valerie Plame was an undercover operations officer until outed in the press by Robert Novak. Novak's column was not an isolated attack. It was in fact part of a coordinated, orchestrated smear that we now know includes at least Karl Rove.

Valerie Plame was a classmate of mine from the day she started with the CIA. I entered on duty at the CIA in September 1985. All of my classmates were undercover--in other words, we told our family and friends that we were working for other overt U.S. Government agencies. We had official cover. That means we had a black passport--i.e., a diplomatic passport. If we were caught overseas engaged in espionage activity the black passport was a get out of jail free card.

A few of my classmates, and Valerie was one of these, became a non-official cover officer. That meant she agreed to operate overseas without the protection of a diplomatic passport. If caught in that status she would have been executed.

The lies by people like Victoria Toensing, Representative Peter King, and P. J. O'Rourke insist that Valerie was nothing, just a desk jockey. Yet, until Robert Novak betrayed her she was still undercover and the company that was her front was still a secret to the world. When Novak outed Valerie he also compromised her company and every individual overseas who had been in contact with that company and with her.

The Republicans now want to hide behind the legalism that "no laws were broken". I don't know if a man made law was broken but an ethical and moral code was breached. For the first time a group of partisan political operatives publically identified a CIA NOC. They have set a precendent that the next group of political hacks may feel free to violate.
[emphasis supplied --LRC]
Karl Rove is such a contemptible sleaze that I am ashamed to be a member of the same species he is.

Len on 07.13.05 @ 12:01 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Now they tell us....

Interesting. Before she died (of multiple sclerosis acquired surprisingly late in life--age 50, where, according to her attending neurologist such cases develop more aggressively and patients succumb sooner to the disease), my mother was a breast cancer survivor. She was also an LPN who worked the night shift at St. Louis's Deaconness Hospital (long since acquired by some other health care conglomerate) for a number of years while my brother and I were growing up.

Now, XM's health news minute has referred us to the results of some Danish research which suggests that working the night shift may be a significant risk factor in development of breast cancer:

Women who work at night may well be more likely to develop breast cancer, according to large-scale Danish research.

The statistical study from the Institute of Cancer Epidemiology is the most compelling evidence yet of a link between the two.

It still leaves doctors with little idea as to why there might be a connection, although there is speculation that altered exposure to light during the hours of darkness may trigger hormonal changes which increase the risk.


The Danish study looked at more than 7,000 women between the ages of 30 and 54 years.

Full employment histories were reconstructed dating back to 1964, and the results were altered to take account of other risk factors such as alcohol consumption, and age at the birth of first and last children.

The researchers found that women who had worked predominantly at night for at least six months in their working life had an increased incidence of breast cancer.

Statistically, they were 50% more likely to develop the disease.

Len on 07.13.05 @ 07:39 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Thought for the Day:

You know, I think the biggest difference between Canadians and Americans is the attitude towards weapons. Just recently a woman was travelling from Canada into the US to speak at a conference in Washington, D.C. The immigration officer said that she'd have to prove that she was an American citizen. So she shot him. And he accepted that.
--Dave Broadfoot [ex-"Royal Canadian Air Farce"]

Len on 07.13.05 @ 07:09 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Gem o'the Day: Bonus All-Star Game Edition

[From today's Billy Ball email, mildly edited (labels added for reading clarity).]

"We interrupt this programming for this special announcement - from NBC News headquarters in New York, here is Brian Williams."

Brian Williams:
"In what can only be described as peculiar and unusual, we are told that there will be an announcement tonight of major world consequence coming from the All-Star Game in Detroit.

We are told there will be two speakers and only the first has been identified; that would be the Commissioner of Baseball, Allan "Bud" Selig. For those of you not familiar with Mr. Selig, he is described as a "buffoon" by his detractors and a "spineless lackey" by his supporters. And now, the Commissioner..."

Bud Selig:
"Good evening and welcome to Comerica Park, home of the Detroit Tigers and home to this year's All-Star Classic. The All-Star Game will be just what the name promises -- a monument to people who play a game of unyielding skill with precision, power and grace. Tonight America and the world will see their favorites play the game the way it is meant to be played - drug free.

We know that because tonight, for the first time, as players are introduced, I have ordered them to pee in a bottle and the results of this instant test will be flashed onto that big scoreboard out in centerfield. If that doesn't satisfy those bastards in the US Senate I don't know what will because I refuse to spend another one of my Saturday afternoons washing their cars, watching their bratty kids, and walking their dogs.

But that isn't even the big news of the night. For that I proudly present the man who has graciously agreed to be my successor, the current president of the United States, George W. Bush."

President Bush:
"Thank you Bud, thank you America, and thank you unemployed citizens of Detroit. It is indeed an honor and a thrill for me to be here tonight.

You know baseball is part of the fabric that makes America great. On September 11, 2001 we were viciously attacked and on that date we had to postpone some games, but soon after, we resumed playing because nothing can stop America and nothing can stop baseball...you know what I mean?

Well, actually rain can stop baseball, but it doesn't stop America.

Tonight, I would like to comment on a few things. The first was September 11. The second is Rangers pitcher Kenny Rogers who chose to attend the All-Star Game. In regards to that, I have three words to say: "Don't mess with Texas."

Next, I would like congratulate Bobby Ahbrahu of the Philadelphia Phillies who won last night's home run derby. His skill and power is what makes America great, even though he's from Venezuela...you know what I mean?

I would like to send Bobby Abbareyu to challenge any member of Al Qaeda to a home run hitting contest anytime, any where.

Now, I know you are wondering why I'm here tonight instead of addressing some other problems. Well, for one, I really like baseball. For another, I've never been to an All-Star Game and so far it's pretty cool...you know what I mean?

But, I'm also thinking about our fighting men and women who are watching this game on Armed Services Radio in Iraq. Get back to work! Heh-heh-heh. I think about Iraq. I think about Iraq every day and twice on Sunday. Heh-heh-heh.

That's part of the reason why I'm here. Commissioner Selig declared two years ago that the All-Star Game would "count". But nobody really seems to care who has home field advantage in the World Series.

And so, like I said to Laura the other night, I think it's time to try something new...you know what I mean? Heh-heh-heh.

So, here's what I propose - if the American League wins, I will start working on a plan to balance the budget, and if the National League wins, I will start working on a plan to withdraw our troops from Iraq. I can't tell you what will happen if the game ends in a tie, but here's a hint - 'Good morning, Tehran!'

Okay, it's time for the kick-off and I got to get my hot dog and my Bud...you know what I mean?

God bless America, God bless baseball, and God bless September 11.

Play ball...you know what I mean?"

"This has been an NBC Special Report. We now return you to your regular programming."

Len on 07.12.05 @ 02:00 PM CST [link] [ | ]

WTF is up with the White House Press Corps?

They've suddenly grown testicles and a spine. Air America (Morning Sedition and Al Franken) has been playing tapes of White House Spokesdroid Scott McClellan's press conferences yesterday, and apparently the White House Press Corps has been going after "poor Scotty" for the contradictions between earlier statements he's made about Karl Rove's sterling ethics and complete non-involvement in the l'affaire Plame, and Matt Cooper's email stating that Rove told him about Valerie Plame Joe Wilson's wife:

Q: Does the president stand by his pledge to fire anyone involved in a leak of the name of a CIA operative?

MCCLELLAN: I appreciate your question. I think your question is being asked related to some reports that are in reference to an ongoing criminal investigation. The criminal investigation that you reference is something that continues at this point.

And as I’ve previously stated, while that investigation is ongoing, the White House is not going to comment on it.

The president directed the White House to cooperate fully with the investigation. And as part of cooperating fully with the investigation, we made a decision that we weren’t going to comment on it while it is ongoing.

Q: I actually wasn’t talking about any investigation. But in June of 2004, the president said that he would fire anybody who was involved in this leak to the press about information. I just wanted to know: Is that still his position?

MCCLELLAN: Yes, but this question is coming up in the context of this ongoing investigation, and that’s why I said that our policy continues to be that we’re not going to get into commenting on an ongoing criminal investigation from this podium.

The prosecutors overseeing the investigation had expressed a preference to us that one way to help the investigation is not to be commenting on it from this podium....

Q: Scott, if I could point out: Contradictory to that statement, on September 29th of 2003, while the investigation was ongoing, you clearly commented on it. You were the first one to have said that if anybody from the White House was involved, they would be fired. And then, on June 10th of 2004, at Sea Island Plantation, in the midst of this investigation, when the president made his comments that, yes, he would fire anybody from the White House who was involved. So why have you commented on this during the process of the investigation in the past, but now you’ve suddenly drawn a curtain around it under the statement of, 'We’re not going to comment on an ongoing investigation'?

MCCLELLAN: Again, John, I appreciate the question. I know you want to get to the bottom of this. No one wants to get to the bottom of it more than the president of the United States. And I think the way to be most helpful is to not get into commenting on it while it is an ongoing investigation. And that’s something that the people overseeing the investigation have expressed a preference that we follow.

And that’s why we’re continuing to follow that approach and that policy. Now, I remember very well what was previously said. And, at some point, I will be glad to talk about it, but not until after the investigation is complete.

Q: So could I just ask: When did you change your mind to say that it was OK to comment during the course of an investigation before, but now it’s not?

MCCLELLAN: Well, I think maybe you missed what I was saying in reference to Terry’s question at the beginning. There came a point, when the investigation got under way, when those overseeing the investigation asked that it would be — or said that it would be their preference that we not get into discussing it while it is ongoing.
I think that’s the way to be most helpful to help them advance the investigation and get to the bottom of it.

Q: Scott, can I ask you this: Did Karl Rove commit a crime?

MCCLELLAN: Again, David, this is a question relating to a ongoing investigation, and you have my response related to the investigation. And I don't think you should read anything into it other than: We're going to continue not to comment on it while it's ongoing.

Q: Do you stand by your statement from the fall of 2003, when you were asked specifically about Karl and Elliot Abrams and Scooter Libby, and you said, "I've gone to each of those gentlemen, and they have told me they are not involved in this"?

MCCLELLAN: And if you will recall, I said that, as part of helping the investigators move forward on the investigation, we're not going to get into commenting on it. That was something I stated back near that time as well.

Q: Scott, this is ridiculous. The notion that you're going to stand before us, after having commented with that level of detail, and tell people watching this that somehow you've decided not to talk. You've got a public record out there. Do you stand by your remarks from that podium or not?

MCCLELLAN: I'm well aware, like you, of what was previously said. And I will be glad to talk about it at the appropriate time. The appropriate time is when the investigation...
Unfortunately, the bare transcript doesn't give you an idea of the reporter's obviously rising level of frustration with McClellan's weaseling.

McClellan's being compared in some circles to Richard Nixon's famous press weasel, Ron Ziegler. With good reason.

I really like Pete Vonder Haar's comments:
I understand many people are rah rah-ing the Press Corps and their dogged pursuit of the truth about Karl Rove's involvement in Valerie Plame's outing as an undercover agent. We in Texas have known about Mr. Rove's capacity for scumbaggery and black bag politcal ops for some time (anyone heard from Mark White lately?), but don't let that take away from the fact that a number of people across our great nation would love to see that sneaky little bastard go down in flames (even if this all seems like waaaaaay too much of a hanging curveball for my liking).

But let's not be too hasty forgiving the White House Press Corps, that bastion of Administration apologia for the last five years, for playing yes-men to the White House's unending stream of BS about yellowcake uranium and Iraq's connection to 9-11. It might've been nice if they'd grown a spine some time before March, 2003.

Len on 07.12.05 @ 01:43 PM CST [link] [ | ]

I've said it before and I'll say it again....

Dr. Abby finds some of the most interesting sites on the 'net. Today's installment: Wickerpedia.

Len on 07.12.05 @ 01:26 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Gem o'the Day:

Of course it's fun to see Karl Rove in deep shit, but we should remember that Rove isn't going anywhere (unless indicted) and why:

Democrats should not get too excited about the presumed crisis confronting Rove. Short of a criminal indictment, Rove is not going anywhere. As I wrote in my blog this morning, for Bush to get rid of Rove, would be like Charlie McCarthy firing Edgar Bergen.
--Marshall Whittmann

Len on 07.12.05 @ 12:04 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Great Moments in Memphis Musical History:

51 years ago today, a Memphis truck driver signed a recording contract with local label Sun Records, and quit his day job.

That truck driver's name: Elvis Aron Presley.

And the rest, as they say, is history.

Len on 07.12.05 @ 07:09 AM CST [link] [ | ]

A two front war?

Back around last Thursday, I wrote about how Josh Marshall and (in comments) my co-blogger Brock Sides have expressed the opinion that the nearly simultaneous resignations of Associate Justice Sandra Day O'Connor and Chief Justice William Rehnquist (who hasn't resigned yet, though I'm still reading reports that rumormonger and unindicted co-conspirator Robert Novak is reporting that Rehnquist's resignation is coming Real Soon Now) might well be the best scenario for the Democrats to preserve something resembling the current ideological balance on the Court.

Over on Slate yesterday, longtime professional Democratic functionary Bruce Reed, in his new blog "The Has-Been", lays out the case for the conventional wisdom that two court vacancies aren't better than one. Interestingly enough though, at least he does acknowledge that a two front confirmation war might well be disasterous for Bush or (at least one wing of) the GOP, depending on how Bush handles the situation...

Well, at least the Democrats have two things going for them: Bush's native incompetence, and the fact that Karl "Dumbya's Brain" Rove may be worried about Other Things (like making sure Bush has that pardon ready to sign)...

Len on 07.12.05 @ 06:47 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Techie Woes:

And Techie-Headaches...

Well, I’m not lacking posts recently because of a dearth of things to talk about. Rather I’ve been in riding a whirl wind of Techie-Woes that began last week and is wending it’s way through every computer in my overly populated office of PC’s.

This all started with a SIMs game…and while I’m not naming names, a certain group of children with youthful “impatience” have not HELPED.

But, at the end of the Tunnel of Techie-Delights and a few $$$$ more - will be (could be) a fully functional work space for the use and entertainment of the entire family (with each having a workspace to do that all essential Homework/IM-ing/Ipodian/Media-Playing Extravaganza). :-)

So, just a bit more work and countless installs of routers; printers; software; hardware; new PC and a few thousand reboots…and I’ll be finished soon!!

*Whew* - and for a Techno-Dweeb this is quite the Techno-Workout!!! LOL

Karen on 07.12.05 @ 06:39 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Thought for the Day:

Q. In your review of "Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith," you wrote that the voice of General Grievous "sounds curiously wheezy, considering the general seems to use replacement parts."

I would like to clarify why he wheezes. Cartoon Network within the last year ran a series of short cartoons called "Star Wars: Clone Wars." It was placed in the time period leading up to Episode III. In the final chapter (No. 25), as Grievous makes his escape with Palpatine, he encounters Mace Windu (Samuel L. Jackson). Windu uses the Force to crush Grievous' chest cavity, causing the "wheezing."

So by the time Palpatine is secure aboard the starship, the Episode III movie has begun and, realistically, only a few hours have passed.
--Leonard Blackman, Las Vegas

A. I have received countless explanations of Grievous' condition from readers who go into almost theological detail in their analysis. If they are now expected to incorporate information from the Cartoon Network series into their interpretations, I fear their heads may explode. Continuity is not everything. I grew up watching "Captain Video," on which three rocks were rearranged to indicate they had left one planet and were now on another.
--Roger Ebert, "Movie Answer Man", 5/29/05

Len on 07.12.05 @ 06:15 AM CST [link] [ | ]

A Peculiar Silence…

...From the White House and bAdminstration on this issue of pledges to "fire anyone involved"in the leaking of the identity of the CIA agent, Valerie Plame. As the NY Times reports in this article Rove Comes Under New Scrutiny in C.I.A. Disclosure Case:

”… President Bush's chief spokesman, Scott McClellan, declined to repeat his earlier assertions that Mr. Rove, the deputy White House chief of staff, had nothing to do with leaking the name of the operative, Valerie Plame of the Central Intelligence Agency, to get back at her husband, a former United States ambassador who had publicly challenged Bush administration policy.

Nor would Mr. McClellan repeat his earlier statements that any White House staff person who had leaked the name should be fired.

"I agree with the president when he said he expects the people who work for him to adhere to the highest standards of conduct," Mr. Reid said. "The White House promised if anyone was involved in the Valerie Plame affair, they would no longer be in this administration. I trust they will follow through on this pledge. If these allegations are true, this rises above politics and is about our national security."

Mr. McClellan declined repeatedly, in response to hostile questions, to go beyond his statements that he could not discuss the Plame affair while the investigation into the disclosure of her name was continuing. Mr. McClellan would not budge even as he was reminded of his, and the president's, previous expressions of confidence in Mr. Rove…”

The heat is on to call for Answers and more importantly: Accountability from this bAdministration, The President and All His Men.

Karen on 07.12.05 @ 04:21 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Hot Coffee Anyone?

And I thought Game Cheat Codes were only good for a spiffy upgrade of weapons or vehicles. Silly me.

”…With some code written by Patrick Wildenborg, a 36-year-old Dutch techie, and a few friends, some scenes in the best-selling video game Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas become sexually explicit.

His free code, which can be downloaded over the Internet, acts as a software key, Mr. Wildenborg explained. He said it merely unlocked the sexually graphic images that are hidden inside the game…

Mr. Wildenborg's program, called Hot Coffee, is known as a mod - for code that modifies a game. Such programs have helped spread the popularity and lifespan of many games by adding features and flourishes not imagined by the publishers. For the most part, the industry encourages these hobbyist contributors.

Whether the publishers will be held responsible if they wrote, and then hid, the sexually graphic scenes is not clear. The sexually explicit scenes do not appear with a few keystrokes, as happens with software "Easter eggs" - typically names, messages or games hidden in programs. The graphic episodes in Grand Theft Auto cannot be rendered unless a user downloads the Hot Coffee code or a similar program...."

Courtesy of The NY Times.

[Drat... and "Grand theft Auto" is not even a game I'd own. LOL]

Karen on 07.12.05 @ 04:05 AM CST [link] [ | ]

A first blog post?

Looks like Josh Schulz's daughter is following in dad's footsteps.

Pretty eloquent for a one year old (I think...).

Len on 07.11.05 @ 12:53 PM CST [link] [ | ]

A distinction without a difference?

Josh Marshall had an interesting comment about Karl Rove's crime (or negligence) last night:

So we've got Karl Rove's latest story, as recounted by his lawyer, Robert Luskin.

did spill the beans about Plame in an effort to discredit Joe Wilson. Only he didn't mention the name 'Valerie Plame'. He only spilled the beans about 'Joe Wilson's wife'.

I'm no lawyer. But I'd hate to go into court with my case resting on that distinction.

And remember, the president has certainly known all of this from the beginning.

Len on 07.11.05 @ 12:51 PM CST [link] [ | ]

God (if she exists) save us from the wrath of Wolcott!

And Wolcott certainly delivers in this one: Oliver Stone and Steven Spielberg: The Doublemint Twins of Treason

Whenever a non-controversy galvanizes the bleary eyeballs of America's sentinels of freedom at their computer screens, depend upon Glenn Reynolds and Mickey Kaus to clarify the vital issues involved into clear mud.

Instapundit, displaying the gift for comedy that's made his colleagues avoid him in the faculty lounge, writes: "Hollywood probably is that out of touch with America, which may have something to do with its falling revenues. But hey, the inevitable scene of Jewish office workers staying home will be well received in some other parts of the world. . . ."

He links to Mickey Kaus, who because he lives in Los Angeles and has seen more than his share of billboards behind the wheel thinks he knows something about the movie business weightlessly weighs in with this trail of chicken scratchings...

"Keep Oliver Stone Away from 9/11! Is Oliver Stone really the person to direct a big-budget film about the rescue of Officers McLoughlin and Jimeno from the rubble of the World Trade Center? Stone has shown he has trouble leaving history alone (most famously in JFK); he'll probably have some wacky, conspiratorial left-wing theory to add into the script. ... The McLoughlin rescue is a surprising, moving, and patriotic story if you just tell it as it happened. Do you trust Stone to do that? I don't. ... Is Hollywood so out of touch it thinks Stone's version of 9/11 is what America is clamoring for? After Alexander, at that? ... Stone should be free to say what he wants. But it might be useful for Paramount's Brad Grey to hear that many Americans--including, say, a mob of salivating bloggers--are not eager to provide Stone with a paying audience. ..."

Well, it's so nice and generous of Mickey to say that Stone "should be free to say what he wants." Though "should" sounds a little conditional, a permit that could be revoked. (Why not simply "Stone is free to say what he wants"?)

And I love this solicitude and concern over falling box-office from those who loathe Hollywood to begin with.


Yes, it's awfully arrogant of movie studios not to grant script approval to Mickey Kaus, Captain Courageous, and Little Green Footstool before they begin casting and location scouting--their creative input could be just what Hollywood needs to be saved from itself and restored to the towering glory of the Blacklist era. Though you'd think in Spielberg's case being the director of Saving Private Ryan and Schindler's List, not to mention all his valiant, dedicated work for the Shoah Institute, would earn him a wee bit of slack and benefit of the doubt and smidgen of TRUST. But the neocon Leninists of the post 9/11 era are as unlenient toward deviation as any certitudinous ideologue with goatee and clenched fist, and should Spielberg depict any member of the Israeli assassin squad expressing doubt or regret in lip-biting closeup, he'll be accused of sewing Bin Laden a new robe of snow-white radiance, and the movie will be boycotted by those who never intended to go in the first place but wanted yet another pre-fab outrage to bitch about in their blogs.
And Steve Gilliard weighs in with a few apt observations of his own:
So exactly when was Jarvis a Bronze Star-winning LRRP in Vietnam?

As I remember it, Stone left Yale to become an 11B, served with distinction in four divisions and ended his tour as a LRRP (Long Range Reconnaisance Patrol) member. I don't think Kaus or Jarvis have any call to question Stone's patriotism, especially when I doubt they have his service record. During the Vietnam War, LRRPS went behind enemy lines to do recon and ambushes, often beyond artillery support. It was a very risky job, which only expert infantryman were eligible for. Stone volunteered for this and spent 16 months in Vietnam, four over his required year tour.

I'm tired of the right wing constantly belittling people who have given far more to this country than they ever have or will. Jarvis is free to disagree with Stone and his politics, but to impune his patriotism, one he defended with his life, is just horseshit.
But as we all know, ranting is safer than enlisting:

Len on 07.11.05 @ 11:55 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Muggle of a dream come true…

Proof that “Fan Fiction” is sometimes more than it’s own reward: Web site casts spell on ‘Potter” Author is a modern day story of internet-connectivity on a Super Fan-Club scale as an Indiana young man, Emerson Sprat’s, Muggle.net website earns him both praise and a visit with J.K. Rowling.

“…Mugglenet.com, his dense and authoritative Web site about all things Potter that's so complete Rowling refers to it to keep her plot lines and characters' idiosyncrasies on track.
On her Web site, jkrowling.com, the author has honored a half-dozen fan sites with a little write-up and plaque in a mock trophy room. Among them: Mugglenet and The Leaky Cauldron, and on behalf of her Internet audience, Rowling invited founders Spartz and The-Leaky-Cauldron.org's Melissa Anelli to Scotland for a chat Saturday amid book release festivities.
Because of Mugglenet, Warner Bros. has hosted Spartz on the movie set of "Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire." Last year the studio gave him backstage passes to the New York and London premieres of "Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban" so he could be the eyes and ears of Mugglenet…”

Sounds like Great FUN and have to check out his site…and look for the 101 Ways to Annoy Lord Voldemort and The Wall of Shame.

Courtesy of Eric Gwinn (Staff Reporter) at The Chicago Tribune.

Karen on 07.11.05 @ 10:18 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Dennis is a disappointment (The joys of life in Memphis, Part 2)

After the fun of being under an "inland tropical storm watch" yesterday, Hurricane Dennis is rolling through the Memphis area as we speak, and I have to confess I'm disappointed. From the weather warnings which were posted yesterday, I was expecting wind (at least tropical storm force wind) and a few decent thunderstorms. As we speak it's raining moderately heavily, but hardly torrentially (any given Memphis thunderstorm will generate heavier rain than what I'm seeing right now), but looking out of the window I don't see any indications that any significant wind is blowing at all.

While being a bit less spectacular than I was expecting, the rain here is still a bit of concern, I'm sure. While not exceptionally heavy, the rain has been coming down steadily for several hours--much more steadily than in a typical storm pattern. That being the case, there is most certainly a chance for localized flooding in low-lying areas, though there's no flood warnings covering any local area closer than northern Mississippi.

Just a really gloomy 5 day forecast, unless you're the sort that really likes rain (I know, I know... we're seeing a drought in the mid-South and can really use the rain; that doesn't mean I have to like it personally).

Len on 07.11.05 @ 08:22 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Hard to tell who's more stupid.....

I've just gotten a couple interesting emails that got shunted to the spam folder of one of my Yahoo mail accounts (I maintain a couple Yahoo accounts, one for subscribing to various mailing lists and one for a "spamcatcher" address to use for Web registrations that require an email address).

Both purported to come from "admin@yahoo.com", and both had attachments (files with the .zip extension) that are undoubtedly viral payloads (I'm not downloading them to find out). The first one supposedly told me that my mail account password had been successfully changed, and if I had not changed my password, I should check the attached file for instructions. The second one informed me that my mail account had been suspended for certain "irregularities", and instructed me to open the attachment for information on how to reactivate my account.

Now the regular readers of This Humble Blog are intelligent people, so I'm sure y'all have seen the logical problem with these emails already. But for those of you who are just passing through.... think about it a sec.

Someone is sending me an email telling me my account password has been changed, or that my mail account has been suspended.... but in order to receive it I had to log into my email account (which, of course, is kinda impossible to do if the account's been suspended) with my "previous" password (which, of course, shouldn't work if it's been changed).

I don't know which bothers me worse: that the senders of these viral payloads don't see the inherent logical contradiction in their email, or that there are actually users who will not stop and think long enough to catch the contradiction and realize that the email must be bogus.

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.
--George Carlin

Len on 07.11.05 @ 07:51 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Thought for the Day:

As pundits discuss the impending battle over Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor's successor, they keep lamenting how Ronald Reagan's 1987 failure to place Robert Bork on the court ushered in a baleful period of ideological conflict. We're told that in this "post-Bork era" we should expect another "Bork-style judicial confirmation fight." But the Bork battle was nothing new. Fighting over Supreme Court nominees is practically built into the Constitution. And an actively involved and sometimes obstreperous Senate has been the norm, not the exception, in our past.

Article II of the Constitution puts the power of judicial appointments into the hands of both the executive and legislative branches of government, all but guaranteeing tugs-of-war over the judiciary. Arguing for the ratification of the Constitution, Federalists maintained that an active Senate, charged with providing "advice and consent" on appointments, would check the power of the presidency. "If by influencing the president be meant restraining him, this is precisely what must have been intended," Alexander Hamilton wrote in Federalist No. 77. Or as Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch put it more recently, "We are not a rubber stamp."

The Senate of the 19th century was no rubber stamp. The politics of that period are known for their partisanship, and the judicial wars were no exception. Between 1789 and 1894, 22 of 81 Supreme Court nominees failed to reach the bench as a result of being either rejected, withdrawn, or left unacted upon by the Senate.

The first Supreme Court nomination battle came in 1795, when George Washington chose John Rutledge as chief justice. When John Jay resigned in July 1795, Washington named Rutledge to succeed him using a recess appointment. But when it came time to confirm him, the Senate, although dominated by Federalists loyal to the president, refused to do so—largely because Rutledge had spoken out against the controversial Jay Treaty, which settled a series of post-Revolution conflicts with Britain.

Many of Washington's successors, even the most powerful ones, faced similar defeats. Andrew Jackson, for example, failed to win the appointment of his longtime associate Roger B. Taney in 1835; the Senate was unhappy that Taney, while serving as Jackson's treasury secretary, had helped him kill off the Bank of the United States. (Jackson successfully renominated Taney the following year.)

And so it went for the remainder of the century....
--David Greenberg

Len on 07.11.05 @ 07:04 AM CST [link] [ | ]

An Evening of Indian Classical Dance:

Our friends, Jayesh and Harshida Parikh, invited us to share in the performance of the Dance Debut of their 13yr old daughter, Shivani (along with her classmate Nahel Mehta) performing a Bharatanatyam Arangetram.

”Bharatanatyam is one of the oldest and most celebrated religious dance forms India. It is dedicated to the praise of God through the depiction of religious stories. The history of the Bharatanatyam dance form begins around 2,000 years ago. Originally, it was performed by devadesis, women who performed religious dances in Hindu temples. However, the religious dance has evolved into one of the most popular and revered dance forms in India.

Bharatanatyam is composed of two different types of dance. The first is nritta, or pure dance, and is composed mainly of the intricate movements of the feet and the abstract movements of the rest of the body. The second is abhinaya, or expressional dance, which includes facial expressions and movements of the hands to express moods or feelings.

This dance form takes many years of rigorous training, hard work, and dedication to master. Once a student of Bharatanatyam has reached the highest level of achievement, she performs a Bharatanatyam Arangetram, a two-hour solo dance recital, which qualifies her as a professional Bharatanatyam dancer.”

Guru Smt. Toral Chaudhari (center) who instructed the girls for eight years in these dance forms and expression.

Guru1 (109k image)

Musicians Ensemble:

Shri K. Vinodh Gopianth on a Mrudangam (percussion)
Smt. Toral Chaudhari on the Nattuvangam (hand cymbals/bells)
Smt. Jayanthi Adisubramanian as Vocalist
Shri Prasad Ramachandran on the Violin
Smt. Keerthi Subbaroo on the Veena (string instrument)

musicians1 (101k image)

Nahel & Shivani

nahelshiv1 (102k image)


shivani1 (61k image)

Nahel & Shivani

nahelshiv3 (58k image)

They performed 9 dances: Pushpanjoli; Jatisaram; Shabdom; Varnam; Padam; Kirtanam; Shlokam; Tilana and Mangalam to earn their degrees and certificates as Bharatanatyam Arangetram Artisan Dancers.

Congratulations to Shivani and Nahel!! Spectacular program and performances!!

Karen on 07.11.05 @ 06:08 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Tying up a few loose ends....

Things have been busier than average in my professional and personal lives, not so busy that I have had to curtail blogging (though that may be coming shortly), but busy enough that I've had to pick and choose what I want to blog about, and I've occasionally not gotten to everything I've wanted to blog about. A few things that I meant to mention, until the press of other activity pushed them so far down the stack that I was worried I'd never get to them:

Len on 07.10.05 @ 10:45 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Most excellent. Now let's see the bastard frogmarched....

Credit chain: AMERICAblog via The Flypaper Theory

Len on 07.10.05 @ 08:16 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Come up to speed...

Everything you need to know about blogs:

Blog: The word "blog" is literally shorthand for "boring;" a vulgar, overused word that strikes your ear with the dull thud of a cudgel to the soft spot of a child. It's an abbreviation used by journalism drop outs to give legitimacy to their shallow opinions and amateur photography that seems to be permanently stuck in first draft hell.


Blogger: Term used to describe anyone with enough time or narcissism to document every tedious bit of minutia filling their uneventful lives. Possibly the most annoying thing about bloggers is the sense of self-importance they get after even the most modest of publicity. Sometimes it takes as little as a referral on a more popular blogger's website to set the lesser blogger's ego into orbit.

Then God forbid a blogger gets mentioned on CNN. If you thought it was impossible for a certain blogger to get more pious than he was, wait until you see the shit storm of self-righteous save-the-world bullshit after a network plug. Suddenly the boring, mild-mannered blogger you once knew will turn into Mother Theresa, and will single handedly take it upon himself to end world hunger with his stupid links to band websites and other smug blogger dipshits.

Blogging: If minds had anuses, blogging would be what your mind would do when it had to take a dump.

Blogged: What you call a trivial or largely inconsequential topic once bloggers have processed through every tired detail. For more on this, look into: every minor news story.

Blogosphere: The "blogosphere" is the new buzz word that has replaced "information super highway." It's what idiots like to call a collection of "blogs," otherwise known as a tragedy.


Blawg: Some prick thought it would be clever to spell "blog" phonetically using the word "law" in the title. It's a phrase used to describe blogs primarily dealing with the law and legal issues. Wow, real clever, dipshit. How did you come up with that one?

Blogumentary: There was recently a bit of a feud regarding this word among two bloggers. Apparently some guy decided that they had exclusive right to use the word, not realizing that similar words (docudrama, dramedy, rockumentary, etc) have been free to use for all people since you can't just copyright an entire genre, and more importantly, that it's stupid. Who cares? Blogumentary? Really? Eat shit you morons.


Photoblog: Photoblogs make me yearn for the day when cameras weren't digital, film cost money, and it took time to develop pictures. I remember back when it wasn't easy for any random asshole with a camera to go out take countless pictures of nothing. Nothing is exactly what these pictures are of. No focus, no theme, no message, no posturing. Just countless pictures of Denny's at 2 AM. We don't care that you went to Denny's. You're not an artist. You're not deep. Get a new hobby.

Podcast: Someone had the revolutionary idea of taking a compressed audio file and putting it online. Yeah, doesn't sound so sexy when I describe it for what it is, does it you morons? It would have been a great idea if streaming audio wasn't already around for over a decade before the word "podcast" entered the lexicon. Man, I can't stand the word "lexicon." Talking about all these shitty words has made me start using shitty words. I'm so pissed, I just slammed the door shut on some kid's nuts.


The suffix "pundit:" Stupid.

The prefix "pundit:" Stupid.

Credit chain: SayUncle via South Knox Bubba

Len on 07.10.05 @ 08:03 PM CST [link] [ | ]

A new filkmeister?

Sher Wright is trying to give MadKane a run for her money, it seems. Check out Sher's new lyrics for "The Sesame Street Theme", in keeping with the new Republican regime at PBS.

Len on 07.10.05 @ 06:57 PM CST [link] [ | ]

No surprises here.

Newsweek's Michael Isikoff nails Karl Rove as Matt Cooper's source in the Plame case.

For two years, a federal prosecutor, Patrick Fitzgerald, has been investigating the leak of Plame's identity as an undercover CIA agent. The leak was first reported by columnist Robert Novak on July 14, 2003. Novak apparently made some arrangement with the prosecutor, but Fitzgerald continued to press other reporters for their sources, possibly to show a pattern (to prove intent) or to make a perjury case. (It is illegal to knowingly identify an undercover CIA officer.) Rove's words on the Plame case have always been carefully chosen. "I didn't know her name. I didn't leak her name," Rove told CNN last year when asked if he had anything to do with the Plame leak. Rove has never publicly acknowledged talking to any reporter about former ambassador Joseph Wilson and his wife. But last week, his lawyer, Robert Luskin, confirmed to NEWSWEEK that Rove did—and that Rove was the secret source who, at the request of both Cooper's lawyer and the prosecutor, gave Cooper permission to testify.
I assume that the pardon's on Bush's desk waiting to be signed.

Len on 07.10.05 @ 06:07 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Fun Geek Toys....

GMaps pedometer. This is a Google Maps hack that allows the user to plot a route and get a readout on mileage over the route. And, if you want, you can save a map showing your route (for planning purposes if you're planning a bike ride or jog, or for memorializing a trip you've already taken). According to the developer, it's called the Gmaps Pedometer because its best use is for planning running routes and walking routes (though it appears to work well for bike trips or short car trips as well); it is probably not a practical tool for calculating your mileage on a car trip from New York to LA, though. For what it's worth, the GMaps Pedometer calculates my morning commute as 2.16 miles driving; 2.08 miles walking door to door (unfortunately, my assigned parking lot is a little ways from the building I work in.

Hat tip: Stan Schwarz, who has an example of a saved GMaps Pedometer route if you want to see what it looks like.

Len on 07.10.05 @ 02:13 PM CST [link] [ | ]

The joys of life in Memphis....

According to the National Weather Service point forecast for Memphis, TN, we're under an "Inland Tropical Storm Watch", as Hurricane Dennis bears down on the Gulf Coast. If current storm tracking forecasts prove accurate, the Memphis area should be seeing a bit of interesting weather tomorrow morning as the remnants of the storm blow over the mid-South.

But my best wishes go to our friends in the Pensacola area, who are (even as we speak) getting the worst of it. Keep safe, and don't get blown away, folks....

Len on 07.10.05 @ 02:00 PM CST [link] [ | ]


Cleaning off my pantry shelf, I uncovered a carefully hidden item in what can only be described as an act of “hoarding” by one of my children. (One child a more likely suspect than the others.)

Does every family have a “hoarder?” That child who thinks or feels that they will never get their fair share of goodies unless they secret them away? Or simply wish to be assured of their own special desires to be satisfied by this ill-gotten booty?

And it reminds me of my own family (there were six of us kids.) There was, of course, a hoarder too.

My older sister, Lynn was the culprit. She would take upon her self to pre-select a certain amount of items as her “share” and hide them in obscure places. Then, naturally, she would freely partake of the general hoard until that was decimated. Whereupon she would revert to her “saved goodies” on the professed theory that these were her “fair share” and she hadn’t had enough (or any – to hear her tell it) of the other goods…but had prudently squirreled hers away for that golden moment of enjoyment.

But seeing as this current bout of hoarding was an entire bottle of pancake syrup (presumably “Mrs. Butterworth’s™ – bought on sale – being deemed a better quality than Aunt Jemima’s™ Ole Standby Syrup) seems to be going a “Bit Far” in the usual hoarding efforts - like saving a package of Little-Bites ™ or the occasional Fruit Roll-Up ™ for later.

So, time for true confessions – any of you “guilty” of this high crime and misdemeanor of household sharing? The Equitable Rules of “all for one, and one for all?”

Who’s was a hoarder? And WHY?

Karen on 07.10.05 @ 09:58 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Are We Next Up for National I.D. Cards?

Here is a musical (and flash) commentary on the UK’s national ID card effort to the tune of “The Very Model of a Modern Labour Minister” at this link British National Identity Cards featuring Singing Puppies!!! TOO FUNNIE!

Hat tip to Jon [Guest Blogging at Discourse.net] from the folks at eclectech.

Karen on 07.10.05 @ 07:30 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Thought for the Day:

Kangaroo Jack co-screenwriter Steve Bing made tabloid headlines a while back by (wrongly) denying that he'd impregnated actress Elizabeth Hurley. It's a perplexing mystery why anyone, no matter how callous or cruel, would deny fathering the child of one of the world's most beautiful women, yet take public credit for co-authoring this.
--The Onion AV Club

Len on 07.10.05 @ 07:15 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Fertile Grounds for Beliefs...

This is what you should expect when trying to enshrine one fundamentalist religious belief in the Public realm or the Law: Equal Time for each and every other fundamentalist religious beliefs.
It's All Happening at the Tulsa Zoo:

“…A determined creationist somehow talked three of the four zoo directors, including Mayor Bill LaFortune, into the addition by arguing that a statue of the elephant-headed god Ganesh at the elephant house amounted to an anti-Christian bias toward Hinduism.

…. [T]he directors "clarified" their vote to say they intended no monopoly for the Adam and Eve tale but rather wanted "six or seven" creation myths afforded equal time. There was the rub: there are hundreds of creation tales properly honored by the world's multifarious cultures, starting with the American Indian tribes around Tulsa.

You want creationism? How about the Cherokee buzzard that gouged the valleys and mountains? And why should Chinese-Americans tolerate neglect of P'an Ku and the cosmic egg at the zoo, or Norse descendants not speak up for Audhumla, the giant cow?

The futility of this exercise was emphatically made clear last week when a crowd of critics demanded reconsideration. With the speed of the Mayan jaguar sun god, zoo directors reversed themselves, realizing they had opened a Pandora's box (which see). In stumbling upon so many worthy cosmogonies, Tulsa did us all a favor by underlining how truly singular the evolution explanation is, rooted firmly in scientific demonstration….”

To keep crossing that boundary between Church and State prohibited by our Constitution invites this kind of logic and power for any religion to dominate our institutional governing body and to enact and amend these rules to conform with the prevailing beliefs that are held by a majority at that time and subject to equal time by each and every other major religion…but most people [and particularly fundamentalists] would be bothered by this outcome. It's treading into dangerous territory to step on to that slippery slope based only on one's faith in not falling to the bottom.

Luckily, cooler heads prevailed at the Tulsa Zoo and reconsidered this "Creationist Exhibit."
Second thoughts are a creative characteristic of Homo sapiens, and the Tulsa Zoo directors did well by theirs. They were fortunate to have Ganesh, known to true believers as the remover of obstacles and the god of harmony, on the grounds.

Karen on 07.10.05 @ 06:28 AM CST [link] [ | ]

As The Worm Turns...

The creator of the Sasser worm was in court recently. Apparently the little weasel got a 21-month suspended sentence and was ordered to do community service even after his Sasser program "snarled hundreds of thousands of computers, hitting one-third of Taiwan's post office branches, delaying 20 British Airways flights and forcing British coast guard stations to use pen and paper for charts normally generated by computer. German prosecutors said damages ran into the millions of dollars.

This article by Mike Zimmerman (Associated Press) explains:Sasser Worm Creator's Sentence Suspended.

"VERDEN, Germany -- The teen creator of the "Sasser" Internet worm, which caused millions of dollars in damage worldwide, won't be going to jail despite his conviction Friday on charges including computer sabotage.

Sven Jaschan, 19, who was fingered with the help of reward money from Microsoft Corp., instead got a 21-month suspended sentence and was ordered to do community service, court spokeswoman Katharina Kruetzfeld said.

Jaschan could have been sentenced to up to five years in prison. But, because he was a minor when arrested, prosecutors had only sought a two-year suspended sentence.

"Sven Jaschan avoided a jail sentence by the skin of his teeth because he was arrested within days of his 18th birthday," said Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant for anti-virus vendor Sophos PLC. "In many ways, Sven Jaschan was lucky that the police caught him when they did."

Virus writers have received sentences reduced before because of their age, though an American teenager who created a version of the 2003 "Blaster" worm was sentenced to 18 months in prison. Jeffrey Lee Parson, 19, of Hopkins, Minn., had faced a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

Following the conviction Friday, Microsoft said two people who had helped identify Jaschan would share a $250,000 reward, the first bounty to be paid under its $5 million reward program..."

Karen on 07.10.05 @ 05:47 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Shark Week

Yipes…More $@%!# Shark Week on TeeVee. But this one show actually sounds rather interesting:

Entertainment Weekly (July 15th edition) lists a Discovery Channel Special on at 9-11pm, Sunday, July 17th:

Myth Busters (TV-PG):

”Hosts Jamie Hyneman and Adam Savage kick off Shark Week by questioning whether a real Great White, or rather their mock “Sharammer,” could have done what “Jaws” – Bruce – did in Speilberg’s 1975 Classic: i.e., submerge three barrels, pull a boat backward, puncture a vessel’s hull, and decimate a cage. Though the episode is disappointingly low on fin footage, [DRAT – just what I’d be missing LOL] - It’ll definitely make you look at “Jaws” with a fishy eye. Exhibit A: a final not-so-explosive, shoot-a-scuba-tank test that blows holes in “Jaws” big bang of a climax. Steven, you are so busted. (B)

Look at “Jaws” with a “fishy eye” – Not in my Lifetime!!! You won’t get me watching none of its sequels, prequels or remakes either. Nor close cousins like “Blue Water, White Death.” Boo Who on Shark Week for this Selachophobe. LOL

Also: {Check Local listings} Monday, July 11th has a PBS version of “Guns, Germs, and Steel” [From the book by Jared Diamond] about ”Why do some cultures succeed, while others fail?”.

Should be interesting if they can encapsulate his entire book and premise in a One Hour treatment. But as I like Jared Diamond and this was an excellent book, this sounds worth a viewing.

Karen on 07.10.05 @ 05:41 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Becoming my father

I had one of those "I'm becoming my father" moments this morning.

I was doing yard work, and the sole of one of my sneakers came loose and began flopping around, making it awkward to walk.

So I repaired it. With duct tape.

Now unlike my father, I'm not going to go about wearing these duct-taped sneakers in public. But still, it was one of those moments.

Brock on 07.09.05 @ 05:49 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Dumpster Diving

Via Unfogged, I see that the Hindrocket went dumpster diving at the Democratic Underground, which he says "represent the heart and soul of the left, and, arguably, of the Democratic Party," looking for responses to the July 7 terrorist attacks in London. He digs up this bit of paranoid nonsense:

I am so cynical... That all I can think is "how convenient" that this happened to take the light off Karl Rove.

I don't think anything is on the "up-and-up" anymore, not even terrorist attacks.

That's the worst thing Hindrocket could find at DU? Honestly, I don't think he was trying very hard.

I bet I can find something far worse from a right-wing site, within two clicks of Powerline. Let's see ... scroll down to the "Some of Our Favorites" portion of the Powerline blogroll ... click on the innocuous sounding "Little Green Footballs" ... click on the Thursday Evening Open Thread ... Ctrl-F, search for the word "nuke." Ah, so much delicious right-wing hate to choose from. Like this one, from a commenter who calls himself "savage_nation":

Islam needs to be utterly DESTROYED, BY ANY MEANS NECESSARY!

I want their cities set to the torch, I want their imams decapitated, I want their mosques flattened and the surrounding land salted. I want the Tower of London put back in business cutting off Muslim heads. I want to see Korans cast into burning piles in the center of town. I want their children taken away from them and the parents forcibly sterilized. I want Mecca and Medina vaporized by the biggest nuke we have. I want to see these scumbags put in front of a star chamber.

I want Islam over and done with.

I will NOT be a slave to the belief system of an agent of Satan.

The very heart and soul of the right, I'd say. And arguably, the Republican Party.

Brock on 07.09.05 @ 05:30 PM CST [link] [ | ]

The price of Misplaced Loyalty...Rove Should be Asked to Resign:

A letter penned by Rep. John Conyers (D-MI) calling on Bush adviser Karl Rove to explain or resign over his role in outing a CIA agent has garnered a handful of signatories in the House, RAW STORY has posted.

Just 17 members have signed. Finding congress members to sign a letter during a Congressional recess is often difficult, and Conyers' office has extended a deadline for others to sign on until next Wednesday.

The current signers are Reps. John Conyers, Jr.; Maurice Hinchey; Sheila Jackson Lee; Sam Farr; Diane Watson; Barbara Lee; Zoe Lofgren; Danny Davis; Henry Waxman; Corrine Brown; Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick; Raul Grijalva; James McGovern; Bernie Sanders; Lynn Woolsey; Mike Honda; and Carolyn Maloney.

The letter follows.

July 14, 2005

The President The White House Washington, DC Dear Mr. President:

We write in order to urge that you require your Deputy White House Chief of Staff, Karl Rove, to either come forward immediately to explain his role in the Valerie Plame matter or to resign from your Administration.

Notwithstanding whether Mr. Rove intentionally violated the law in leaking information concerning former CIA operative Valerie Plame, we believe it is not tenable to maintain Mr. Rove as one of your most important advisors unless he is willing to explain his central role in using the power and authority of your Administration to disseminate information regarding Ms. Plame and to undermine her husband, Ambassador Joseph Wilson.

We now know that e-mails recently turned over by Time, Inc. between writer Matthew Cooper and Time editors reveal that one of Mr. Cooper's principal sources in the Plame matter was Mr. Rove.1 This has been confirmed by Newsweek and two lawyers representing witnesses involved in the investigation.2 Mr. Rove's attorney, Robert Luskin, also has confirmed that Mr. Rove was interviewed by Mr. Cooper in connection with a possible article about Ms. Plame three or four days before Robert Novak wrote a column outing Ms. Plame as a CIA operative.3

We also know that Mr. Rove told Chris Matthews that Ambassador Wilson's wife and her undercover status were "fair game."4 A White House source also appears to have previously acknowledged that Mr. Rove contacted Mr. Matthews and other journalists, indicating that "it was reasonable to discuss who sent Wilson to Niger."5

The above facts appear to be directly inconsistent with previous statements by you and representatives of your Administration concerning leaking in general and the Plame case in particular.

For example, on September 30, 2003, you stated "there's just too many leaks [in Washington]. And if there is a leak out of my administration, I want to know who it is."6 You also stated "I want to know the truth. If anybody has got any information inside our administration or outside our administration, it would be helpful if they came forward with the information so we can find out whether or not these allegations are true and get on about the business."7 On October 10, 2003, White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan was asked if Mr. Rove or two other aides in your Administration had ever discussed the Plame matter with any reporter, and he stated he had spoken to Mr. Rove and the others and "they assured me that they were not involved in this."8

Regardless of whether these actions violate the law - including specific laws against the disclosure of classified information9 as well as broader laws against obstruction of justice,10 the negligent distribution of defense information,11 and obligating reporting of press leaks to proper authorities12 - they seem to reveal a course of conduct designed to threaten and intimidate those who provide information critical of your Administration, such as Ambassador Wilson.

We hope you agree with us that such behavior should never be tolerated by any Administration. While it is acceptable for a private citizen to use every legal tool at his or her disposal to protect himself against legal liability, high-ranking members of your Administration who are involved in any effort to smear a private citizen or to disseminate information regarding a CIA operative should be expected to meet a far higher standard of ethical behavior and forthrightness. This is why we believe it is so important that Mr. Rove publicly and fully explain his role in this matter.


Hat tip and Pointer from River City Mud Company.

Karen on 07.09.05 @ 12:28 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Another Artificial Insemination Success Story:

The National Zoo's giant panda, Mei Xiang, "gave birth early Saturday to a squealing, vigorous cub that was conceived through artificial insemination.

The typical cub weighs 3 ounces to 5 ounces and is about the size of a stick of butter. It was too early to determine the gender and exact weight of the cub, zoo officials said, because veterinarians kept their distance, not wanting to interrupt the mother-cub bonding."

Courtesy of The Washington Post.

Karen on 07.09.05 @ 11:20 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Terror's Desires?

Speaking of the “Face of Terror” and its desires: Al Qaeda’s Smart Bombs by Robert A. Pape (Contributing to NY Times Op-Ed - a professor of political science at the University of Chicago, is the author of "Dying to Win: The Strategic Logic of Suicide Terrorism."):

”…To make sense of this campaign, I compiled data on the 71 terrorists who killed themselves between 1995 and 2004 in carrying out attacks sponsored by Osama bin Laden's network. I was able to collect the names, nationalities and detailed demographic information on 67 of these bombers, data that provides insight into the underlying causes of Al Qaeda's suicide terrorism and how the group's strategy has evolved since 2001.

Most important, the figures show that Al Qaeda is today less a product of Islamic fundamentalism than of a simple strategic goal: to compel the United States and its Western allies to withdraw combat forces from the Arabian Peninsula and other Muslim countries.

The bottom line, then, is that the terrorists have not been fundamentally weakened but have changed course and achieved significant success. The London attacks will only encourage Osama bin Laden and other Qaeda leaders in the belief that they will succeed in their ultimate aim: causing America and its allies to withdraw forces from the Muslim world.”

Give this a read and see what you think of this piece and where/what we ought to *expect* next from Al Qaeda.

Karen on 07.09.05 @ 09:43 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Thought for the Day:

There's nothing a World War II buff likes better than seeing American soldiers fight dinosaurs. Or at least, that seems to be the thinking behind "The War that Time Forgot", which regularly, over a period of years, featured exactly that. It was one of the oddest concepts DC Comics ever made a series of — and for the company that did Prez (a teenage U.S. president), Super Chief (an Indian superhero in the old West), Space Cabby (an interplanetary taxi driver) and so much more, that says a lot.
--Don Markstein [on DC's "The War that Time Forgot" comic series]

Len on 07.09.05 @ 09:02 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Brazil Gets Closer...

I’ve been meaning to write about this movie: Brazil (Sheesh, now 20yrs old – 1985) and its’ allegorical relation to the present state of “terrorist” attacks.

For anyone unfamiliar with this “Cult Classic” it stars Jonathan Pryce as Sam Lowry; Kim Greist as Jill Layton; Robert De Niro as Archibald 'Harry' Tuttle; Katherine Helmond .as Mrs. Ida Lowry; Ian Holm as Mr. M. Kurtzmann; Bob Hoskins as Spoor; Michael Palin as Jack Lint; Ian Richardson as Mr. Warrenn; Peter Vaughan as Mr. Helpmann; and Jim Broadbent as Dr. Jaffe.

This cast of wonderful actors is part of the movie’s charm, but more it’s the weird retro-futuristic fantasy and absurd Big-Brother Bureaucracy of the piece that seems most prescient today. You never really know who or what these terrorists in Brazil are, nor what their gripe is with society – except perhaps a reluctance to fill out paperwork, or as Mr. Helpmann describes it, “A case of bad Sportsmanship.”

Here are a rundown of the plot:

”This Sci-fi Orwellian vision of the future: A Computer Techno-Wizard, Sam Lowry, is a bureaucrat in a retro-future. He has imaginings and nightly dreams of a life where he can fly away from technology and overpowering bureaucracy, and spend eternity with the woman of his dreams..

Trying to correct the paperwork mixup that leads to the imprisonment of Mr. Buttle, shoe repairman, instead of Harry Tuttle, illegal freelance Heating Engineer, Lowry meets the woman he is always chasing in his dreams, Jill Layton.

He mistakenly believes her to part of the Terrorist network responsible for a rash of terrorist bombings, and tries to save her too. The mistake just gets bigger and bigger, sucking him in with it until he gets branded a terrorist and becomes hunted by the state himself in the process of correcting the mistake.”

Now, what makes me think of this movie (absurd and far fetched as it may have seemed in 1985) is the “everyday” quality to the bombings. The society while not immune from the effects, simply goes about it’s business, shopping, lunching, daily affairs – stepping over and past the poor unfortunate victims -- Best left to the Professionals to handle. Also the “happy in their work” Information Retrieval “torturers” -- which until the photos of a smiling Lyndie England giving her penial “thumbs-up” from Abu Ghriab surfaced and went round the world, also seemed like an “over-the-top-absurdity” of parody proportions as only the creators of Monty Python could produce.

But today is this piece When Fear Stalks, Tune Out by John Tierney (NY Times):

”Tony Blair was as eloquent as ever when he faced the press at the G-8 summit meeting yesterday, but what was most impressive was what he didn't say. After uttering three sentences of gratitude to the other leaders for their support after the London attacks, he dropped the subject of terror

Instead of giving murderers publicity on worldwide television, he talked about poverty in Africa and global warming. When a reporter tried to distract him by asking what "went wrong" in London, he said it was the terrorists' fault and went right back to the business of the G-8.

But right now the terrorists look more like a small group of loosely organized killers who are less like an army than like lightning bolts - scary but rarely fatal. Except that the risk of being struck by lightning is much higher than the risk of being killed by a terrorist.

It may seem coldblooded to think in probabilities after a tragedy, but contemplating those odds made my walks home a lot easier during the snipers' spree. The other strategy that helped was turning off the television whenever the police and the politicians held press conferences detailing everything they were doing to protect the public.

Occasionally one of those officials urged people to keep their perspective and go on with life, but there was no one quite like Tony Blair. Instead of promising security at home, he discussed problems overseas that he could do something about. Instead of talking about the need for Britons to move on, he moved on.”

And while I wholehearted agree with the idea that it does not do to elevate these murdering bastards to a status beyond their petty, vindictive violence, nor succumb to fear – I wonder how much closer we are to the weird Orwellian absurdities of Brazil than I ever imagined possible when I first saw this film back in 1985.

Karen on 07.09.05 @ 08:43 AM CST [link] [ | ]

This Breaking News: Chief Justice William Rehnquist has not resigned.

Or at least none of my breaking news sources are informing me that he has.

But I see this has the potential to be the "Generalissimo Francisco Franco is still dead" of summer, 2005. I'd consider running with it myself, just to try to get some sort of claim for it being my original idea, but Karen would probably castigate me for making Yet Another Remake of a Hoary Old 70's Joke.

But hey, when I see a fad, I jump on that sumbitch.

Len on 07.08.05 @ 06:25 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Gem o'the Day, Thank Gawd It's Friday Bonus Item:

From Newsrack, one of Thomas's readers writes in with a comment:

from an old Londoner who lived through the Blitz and the IRA bombs: "I’ve been blown up by a better class of bastard than this."

Len on 07.08.05 @ 12:30 PM CST [link] [ | ]

When it rains, it pours? (Revised and updated)

[Updated and pushed to the top. --LRC]

A couple blogs yesterday were writing about rumors along this line, and now Air America's Morning Sedition is reporting that Congress has allegedly been instructed not to take any important actions late this morning between 10 AM and noon, Eastern Daylight Time in anticipation of Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist announcing his resignation from the Court today.

Things could get interesting today.

UPDATE: As of 11:54 AM Central Daylight Time, the CNN.com website has nothing on a breaking Rehnquist resignation. And on the Al Franken Show on Air America, nothing is being said. Guess that the 10-noon EDT speculation was a false alarm.

In comments to an earlier version of this post (now closed) my co-blogger Brock writes:

was just discussing this with my wife, and it seems to me that Rehnquist retiring now, instead of, say, next year, is the best hope we liberals have for preserving the current ideological balance on the court.

With two vacancies at once, Senate Democrats have an opportunity to push for a compromise: a wingnut to take Rehnquist's place, and a moderate to take O'Connor's.
Brock's an astute guy, as demonstrated by the fact that Josh Marshall is thinking along the same lines:
Perhaps I'm not thinking this through clearly enough. So I'd be obliged to hear from others. But assuming that the rumors are true and that Chief Justice Rehnquist will announce his retirement tomorrow, this seems like a good thing for the Dems, not a bad thing.

Obviously that reasoning is premised on the assumption that Rehnquist will retire at some point in the very near future regardless, certainly before the end of the president's tenure in office and in all likelihood before November 2006. So as long as President Bush will appoint Rehnquist's successor, better, it seems to me, that both nominations take place simultaneously.


Perhaps another way to put this is that I think it would be much easier for President Bush to push through one hard-right nominee now and another next spring or next summer than it will be for him to push twice at once.

Len on 07.08.05 @ 11:54 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Well, they do believe that greed is good....

From David Sirota in the Huffington Post:

Media Matters points out that Fox News' top anchorman, Brit Hume, gave us a glimpse into just how cynical, greedy and disgusting the right-wing's outlook on the world is:
"My first thought when I heard - just on a personal basis, when I heard there had been this attack and I saw the futures this morning, which were really in the tank, I thought, 'Hmmm, time to buy.'"
- Fox News's Brit Hume, 7/7/05
That's right - his first thought after hearing about the awful terrorist attack in London today wasn't "how tragic," or "let's say a prayer for the dead," or "how can I help the victims" - his first thought was, there was a terrorist attack, how can I personally profit off it? In fact, his impulse to use the bloodshed to make himself money was so intense, he actually voiced it on national television (FYI - in case you'd like to voice your displeasure, Brit's email address is brit.hume@foxnews.com and his office number is 202-824-6300).
[boldface in original --LRC]
And Josh Marshall, commenting on Hume's "slip", makes another good point:
Name me the major network news anchor who could survive having made such a comment as his first reaction to a major terrorist attack.

That is, one beside Brit Hume, who said it.

Len on 07.08.05 @ 11:42 AM CST [link] [ | ]

The Knives are Sharpened...

"A wanted poster with White House Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove's likeness was tacked up in Adams Morgan. Some have speculated that it was Rove who leaked information that blew a covert CIA operative's cover. (By Chip Somodevilla -- Getty Images)"

ROVEPH2005070702476 (63k image)

Courtesy of the The Washington Post".

Karen on 07.08.05 @ 10:41 AM CST [link] [ | ]

It CAN happen here:

Geneva woman denied the pill by Paul Dailing (Kane County Chronicle):

“A Geneva woman said an Osco pharmacy in St. Charles illegally refused to fill her birth control prescription.

Megan Kelly, 29, said the incident took place Wednesday at the Jewel-Osco at 652 Kirk Road. Kelly said that she was able to fill her prescription at a different pharmacy, but the issue runs beyond her situation.

"Me being a married person, it may not be as emotionally effective as someone who is young and runs into a problem," Kelly said.

Store manager Robert Leengran, representatives from the pharmacy location and Karen Ramos, pharmacy spokeswoman for Osco Drugs, declined comment.

A 150-day emergency rule filed April 1 by Gov. Rod Blagojevich requires Illinois pharmacies that sell contraceptives to fill prescriptions for birth control "without delay." The governor filed a permanent rule April 18 which, unless overturned by the Joint Committee on Administrative Rules, takes effect at the end of August.

"The bottom line is that if the drug is in stock ... it must be dispensed," Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation spokeswoman Susan Hofer said….”

Karen on 07.08.05 @ 08:39 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Everything NEW becomes OLD again...

Posted part of this commmentary about the rash of overrated, overblown, Hollywood Hyped Summer-Blockbuster Failure of Movies. But I thought the entire piece was worth adding here: Nothing's new in Hollywood As remakes crowd screens, crowds opting to stay home by Patrick Goldstein (Los Angeles Times).

So click on the "more" button to read this GEM. And Where, Oh, Where have all the creative geniuses gone????

Karen on 07.08.05 @ 08:32 AM CST [more..] [ | ]

A Work in Progress

Interesting e-mail newsletter exchange from Bishop Spong:

Phyllis from Carefree, Arizona writes:

"Do you think that the Church has adequately explored and explained the spiritual aspects of evolution? What does it mean spiritually that we evolved from apes?"

And Spong's response:
"Dear Phyllis,
In a word my answer to your first question is a very loud NO! Evolution has always threatened traditional Christianity. That is why Charles Darwin is so vigorously attacked, even today, in some religious circles. However, the fact is that the typical religious attack on Darwin is light years away from the place where Darwin made his impact on traditional understanding.

Darwin shattered biblical literalism and its seven-day creation story. The critics of Darwin, unable to meet this challenge, finally accommodated Darwin by suggesting that each of the days referred to in the creation story might have represented eons of time and that the evolutionary method might therefore be accurate. They believed that this compromise left them with the claim of biblical accuracy still in tact. It was a shallow and papered-over peace destined not to last. It only served to keep the Darwinian wolf away from the Christian door for another 100 years.

Eventually, the real Darwinian challenge became visible and, when it did, the whole interpretative myth by which Christianity presented its faith system began to crumble. That myth asserted that in the beginning was a good creation at which time all things bore witness to God's perfection. Then there came an act of rebellion - told in the Garden of Eden story as an act of disobeying God's only prohibition that forbade the eating of the fruit from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. This act plunged the world into a state of sin and separation from which there was no way of escape that was open to the fallen creature. Even God seemed unable to overcome the fall. The flood at the time of Noah was designed to destroy all living things so that God could begin anew with an unfallen world. However, even the righteous Noah still possessed the human weakness that resulted, we are told, from the fall so sin was still present in the human race. Next at Mt. Sinai, we are told that God sent the law to guide human beings back to their original perfection. The fallen human creature was, however, unable to keep God's precepts even when they were fully known. Then God sent the prophets to recall at least the messianic people to God's purpose in creation. However, the prophets were murdered and banished. Finally, the story says "in the fullness of time" God entered human life in the person of Jesus, who bore the punishment of the fall, was victimized by it and paid the price for it in the crucifixion and overcame it in the Resurrection. Finally, the Church was created in which baptism could wash from each newborn life the stain of the fall and the Eucharist or the Mass could reenact, week by week, the drama of salvation so that believers in every age could appropriate for themselves the salvation offered on the cross of Calvary. This Christian myth constituted a neat theological system and it has dominated theological thinking for most of the 2000 years of Christian history. The only problem is that this myth is based on an understanding of human origins that is simply wrong.

Darwin forced us to acknowledge that there never was a finished and perfect creation. Creation, he asserted is an ongoing and unfinished process. Human life is evolving from lower forms of life so it was, therefore, not created perfect. If perfection was not our original definition, then we could not fall into sin, not even metaphorically. This means that there never was something called "the fall." Human beings cannot, therefore, be rescued from a fall that never happened, nor can they be restored to a status that they have never possessed. All life is in flux. That was the Darwinian insight. Our problem is not that we are fallen sinners; our problem is that we have not yet become fully human. If this is so then the old way of telling the Jesus story as the invading divine rescuer of a fallen humanity no longer makes sense. To speak of a Christ, who calls and empowers us to be more deeply and fully human, might be the new way to tell that story. One thing is sure, until we find a new way, there is not much hope for a Christian future."

Very interesting *reconciliation* of the notion of the place of Darwinism as striving for Religious *Perfection* that I rather like and certainly responds more responsibly and with intelligence on the topic than the outright "denial" by the Creationists and I.D. people. Also, much more in line with my notion that If there is any plan it may be a Simple One and that it is still a work in progress.

Karen on 07.08.05 @ 08:22 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Gem o'the Day:

Over at Slate they've launched a new blog, "The Has-Been", by Bruce Reed, former domestic policy adviser to President Clinton and president of the Democratic Leadership Council. In his latest entry (no permalink, alas; look for the Thursday, July 7, 2005 entry if you are chasing hyperlinks), Reed writes about the recent White House defenses of Alberto Gonzalez from extreme conservative factions worried that Gonzalez might be appointed to the Supreme Court:

Bush has finally discovered the downside of interest-group conservatism. One morning you wake up and realize you're not president anymore—you're not even executive director.

Len on 07.08.05 @ 07:30 AM CST [link] [ | ]

The free-market dogma....

I never cease to be amazed by the religious fervor with which seeming proponents of laissez faire capitalism and "free-market regulation" hold their opinions. In an interesting op-ed this morning on obesity policy, Paul Krugman gives us an example. To give you the context, the topic under discussion is the difficulties that public health authorities are encountering in attempting to stem the rising tide of obesity in America:

The obvious model for those hoping to reverse the fattening of America is the campaign against smoking. Before the surgeon general officially condemned smoking in 1964, rising cigarette consumption seemed an unstoppable trend; since then, consumption per capita has fallen more than 50 percent.

But it may be hard to match that success when it comes to obesity. I'm not talking about the inherent difficulty of the task - getting people to consume fewer calories and/or exercise more may be harder than getting people to stop smoking, but we won't know until we try. I'm talking, instead, about how the political winds have shifted.


More broadly, the ideological landscape has changed drastically since the 1960's. (That change in the landscape also has a lot to do with corporate financing of advocacy groups, but that's a tale for another article.) In today's America, proposals to do something about rising obesity rates must contend with a public predisposed to believe that the market is always right and that the government always screws things up.

You can see these predispositions at work in an article printed last month in Amber Waves, a magazine published by the Department of Agriculture. The article is titled "Obesity Policy and the Law of Unintended Consequences," suggesting that government efforts to combat obesity are likely to be counterproductive. But the authors don't actually provide any examples of how that might happen.

And the authors suggest, without quite asserting it, that because people freely choose obesity in a free market, it must be a good thing.

"Americans' rapid weight gain may have nothing to do with market failure," the article says. "It may be a rational response to changing technology and prices. ... If consumers willingly trade off increased adiposity for working indoors and spending less time in the kitchen as well as for manageable weight-related health problems, then markets are not failing."

How can medical experts who see obesity as a critical problem deal with an ideological landscape tilted in the direction of doing nothing?
As I view it, in my own cynical fashion, we have two competing ideas here, and we need to keep them straight. On the one hand, there is something to be said for the virtue of freedom. Each of us are (at least, for the purpose of legal and moral analysis; I don't want to broach the question of free will versus determinism right now) presumed to be free agents who can elect to do whatever we want to do. And given that freedom, there are strong arguments that free agents should be allowed to do whatever they want to do (providing, of course, that the rights and the well-being of others are not significantly and adversely affected). And if people freely choose to engage in behaviors that are objectively detrimental to their health... well, hey--basically each of us is responsible for his/her own damnation, right?

However, that's quite a different thing from the assertion (often made in the serious tones of one proclaiming a religious dogma) that whatever equilibrium point that is found by free market is somehow "correct" in some objective sense. The fact of the matter is that a free market is often the most efficient process by which decisions are made about the allocation of scarce resources. However, unless one wants to define "best outcome" as "outcome reached by the untrammeled operation of free market forces" (a definition that seems to me to be pretty self-evidently wrong), it is clear that there may be situations in which the allocation of resources by a free market may well be "wrong" or "less than optimal" in an objective sense, because the "correctness" of the allocation "decisions" made by a free market will be heavily dependent on the ability of (and the actual use of that ability by) the participants in that market to make rational decisions about their behavior in the market. And even a cursory reading of human history clearly demonstrates that human beings often make decisions that are anything but rational.

Eating decisions in a free market are a case in point. A rational decision maker, examining the medical evidence concerning the health effects of obesity on the population, cannot help but come to certain conclusions about the effect of one's eating habits on one's health. Each individual actor in the market may elect to disregard that evidence and make purchasing decisions that are less than optimum in this context (i.e., choose to go to McDonald's and order the Super Sized 2 Big Mac Value Meal and The Real Thing™ instead of a salad and low-cal dressing), and that's their right. But if we agree that there are certain outcomes which are objectively more desireable than others (e.g., that its is better for the population of the U.S. to, in the aggregate, weigh less than to weigh more), then the fact that most of the people participating in the free market economy make purchasing decisions that result in the less desireable outcomes (namely, that the population is, in the aggregate, getting fatter, not thinner) can only be described as a failure of the free market.

Only a dogmatic adherent of the laissez faire religion could say otherwise with a straight face.

Len on 07.08.05 @ 07:06 AM CST [more..] [ | ]

Thought for the Day:

But in the wake of today's coordinated morning rush-hour bombings in London, [Department of Homeland Security chief Michael]Chertoff did precisely the wrong thing. Without receiving any new credible intelligence, he raised DHS's already discredited color alert to orange, saying he wanted to wake up mass transit authorities. In the process, he gave ever-jittery TV anchors one more reason to prattle on about danger in the United States, even though today's bombings occurred in a different country thousands of miles away and were, comparatively speaking, not an operational success for the jihadists who seem likely to have been behind them.

Perhaps it bears repeating that terrorists seek to alter the way in which we lead our lives, to close open societies, and to turn liberals into authoritarians. Instead of ratcheting up the threat level and along with it public fears, Chertoff should have told Americans what he most certainly knows: that national security officials and local police have been worried about a subway or train attack since last year's bombings in the Madrid transit system, and that they have little reason to be more worried now. Then quietly—rather than with a fuss—he should have increased the police presence in major metropolitan subways so that commuters returning from work tonight would see the effect of the government's concern.

At the risk of seeming callous, the other message Chertoff should have sent is that Americans need to toughen up a bit. Be vigilant; don't panic. Look at how the British are handling these attacks. Their endurance of the Irish Republican Army's 30-year terror campaign has made them masters at picking up the pieces after an attack and moving on. Did they institute a national alert today? No. Did they close down the subways indefinitely? No. Some theaters canceled shows scheduled for tonight, but that was a small and sensible measure taken to lessen the pressures on London's transportation system as it stretched to the limit to get people home from work. Could we possibly expect this sort of sane moderation had Los Angeles been the bombers' target rather than London?
--Tim Naftali

Len on 07.08.05 @ 06:09 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Good Citizenship Accommodations

Over at Crooks & Liars they have posted a nice set of pics of Judy's new Temporary Housing Relocation Accommodations for her "GOOD CITIZENSHIP AWARD" compliments of the federal Government and us U.S. Taxpayers.

Enjoy them Judy - and hopefully your "Source" will join you soon so you won't feel all your misplaced loyalty was undeserved or in the wrong place. See ya maybe in October in time for Trick-or-Treating. But I'm afraid the "Tricks on You" this time.

Karen on 07.07.05 @ 12:21 PM CST [link] [ | ]

More on "The President and All His Men"

The Messiness of promises by Don Wycliff (Chicago Tribune) has it just right:

”… The sky is not falling. The American way of life as we've known it is not coming to an end. Most important, freedom of the press is not about to disappear from these United States, although it will continue to be, as it almost always is, taken for granted and underappreciated by most of those for whose benefit it exists.

Miller, of The New York Times, has gone to jail because she believes that her job as a journalist exempts her from an obligation of citizenship that applies to all but a few other Americans in a few special circumstances: to testify truthfully when called as a witness before a duly constituted federal grand jury.

I happen not to agree with her. I think that even journalists bear that obligation of citizenship, and that if we don't want to get caught up in situations like hers and Time magazine's Matt Cooper's, we need to become far more discriminating about when and to whom we promise anonymity….”

But Good to know the Far Leaning Right always has an answer for everything; As those delusional critics like John at Power Line - With this Single Bald-Faced statement, John has “Answered Everything I Needed or Wanted to KNOW”:
"...It is almost certain that no crime was committed by whoever told Novak (and, apparently, other reporters) that Plame works for the CIA. ….”

Does this Mean we can all go home now John? Since YOU in your infinite Wisdom and Crystal-Ball certainty Already KNOW the Outcome of this investigation… And the LAW to Boot???

And if it weren’t such a serious matter, then why (Oh, Why…) Does Find Law report this:
”Recently, the White House acknowledged that President Bush is talking with, and considering hiring, a non-government attorney, James E. Sharp. Sharp is being consulted, and may be retained, regarding the current grand jury investigation of the leak revealing the identity of Valerie Plame as a CIA covert operative.

(Plame is the wife of Bush critic and former ambassador Joe Wilson; I discussed the leak itself in a prior column, and then discussed further developments in the investigation in a follow-up column.)

This action by Bush is a rather stunning and extraordinary development. The President of the United States is potentially hiring a private criminal defense lawyer. Unsurprisingly, the White House is doing all it can to bury the story, providing precious little detail or context for the President's action.

According to the Los Angeles Times, Bush explained his action by saying, "This is a criminal matter. It's a serious matter," but he gave no further specifics. White House officials, too, would not say exactly what prompted Bush to seek the outside advice, or whether he had been asked to appear before the grand jury….”

So, hang on to your hats, folks. It's gonna be a bumpy ride for Team Bush when this Version of "All the President's Men" goes to Print.

Karen on 07.07.05 @ 09:47 AM CST [link] [ | ]

London Update

According to Christopher Allbritton at Back to Iraq 3.0, Al Qaeda's European chapter is claiming responsibility for the London bombings. You can read a translation of their statement at Back to Iraq.

Len on 07.07.05 @ 09:25 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Inedible Colors

I know there have been studies about how certain colors are *inedible* ascertained by studies adding harmless coloring to dye items and having people eat them as colored meal. Also what colors of foodstuffs children view as appealing and edible.

Apparently “Blue” is deemed the most inedible color – and “Blue Milk” positively wretched….people gag on it, though it's not different in actual taste or texture than regular milk. So, the “Purple” of this Purple Potato Salad item would qualify as a close "Second Most Inedible Color."

The article tries to convince you that:

Some like potato salad hot, drizzled with a tangy vinegar-bacon dressing.
Some like it cold, slathered in mayonnaise or Miracle Whip.
Some - well, OK, one person - likes it purple. With lavender.

But just judging from the picture:

purplesalad1 (89k image)

This is most unhealthly looking Purple-Blue-ish shade of *Inedible* as I've ever seen. Qualifies for the Steve Don't Eat It Webpage.

If you’re brave enough to want to infllict this on your guests or family: Here is the Recipe for Lavender Potato Salad

1 bag (1 pound) small purple potatoes
4 teaspoons dried lavender
1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
1 teaspoon dried basil leaves
1/4 cup light-colored vinegar (rice vinegar or white wine vinegar)
1/4 cup light-colored and light-tasting oil (Canola, grape seed, light olive oil)
Salt and pepper to taste

Boil potatoes until tender.

While potatoes cook, combine lavender, thyme and basil in a small bowl and slightly crush. Add oil and vinegar to create a vinaigrette. Adjust seasonings to taste.

When potatoes are done, drain and peel. Quarter and slice potatoes into 1/4-inch-thick, bite-sized pieces. Pour vinaigrette over cooked potatoes and stir gently. Add more oil or vinegar if desired.
The purple color will heighten as salad sits. Refrigerate or serve warm. Garnish with a fresh sprig of lavender. Serves six.

Karen on 07.07.05 @ 09:04 AM CST [link] [ | ]

And who says businesses don't listen to their customers?

Click the link for the heart-warming story of the invention of the Euphori-Lock.

But I betcha Doug doesn't get a piece of the patent.

Len on 07.07.05 @ 08:54 AM CST [link] [ | ]

The Third Policeman

Human existence being an hallucination containing in itself the secondary hallucination of day and night (the latter an insanitary condition of the atmosphere due to accretions of black air) it ill becomes any man of sense to be concerned at the illusory approach of the supreme hallucination known as death.

--De Selby

[Brian O’Nolan writing as “Flann O’Brien” in The Third Policeman (1967)]

Karen on 07.07.05 @ 08:43 AM CST [link] [ | ]

There's a rumor out there that a cherished dream may come true:

And we may yet see this come to pass:

Rumors on the Internets; Rove indictment "late this week or early next"

I'm not getting my hopes up until and unless it happens. But if Karl Rove ends his career as being someone's prison bitch, then I may have to reconsider my position on the question of the existence of God.

And if Tom DeLay is sent to prison too (indictment doesn't count, because (as Molly Ivins has reminded us) indictment of sitting elected officials is a matter of hallowed Texas political tradition), the evidence may become overwhelming....

Len on 07.07.05 @ 08:35 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Here's the Cliffs Notes version....

if you want quickly to come up to speed on the fast developing Randy Cunningham sleaze-fest, The Swing State Project has a summary.

Len on 07.07.05 @ 07:15 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Our sympathies also go out to....

the people of London, who've just become the victims of a number of explosions on buses and in the Underground.

UPDATE: Don't know to what extent we'll get "up close and personal" updates, but Columbia law student Anthony Rickey is doing half of his 2L summer in London, and he gives us an eyewitness (of sorts) report. Granting that his report basically summarizes to: "I'm ok, but my daily routine has been disrupted." Good to know he's safe, however.

Len on 07.07.05 @ 07:02 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Our sympathies go out to....

BSTommy, who informs us that he just made it to his seats in Atlanta in time for the Cubs-Braves game to be called on account of rain.

I hate when that happens. Especially when one has to travel an hour or two to get to the stadium.

Len on 07.07.05 @ 07:00 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Thought for the Day:

My news-gathering gig over at Rotoworld forces me to read just about every baseball-related article in just about every major newspaper in the country on a daily basis, and so I naturally come across a lot of things that make me shake my head. Leading up to Sunday's All-Star selections, for instance, countless column inches were devoted to which players deserved to make the team, a topic even I am guilty of taking up last week.

By my unofficial count, baseball writers across the country felt strongly that no fewer than about 187 players deserved to have made the AL and NL All-Star teams, which is only about three times as many players as could literally have made the teams. In other words, every guy having something resembling a decent season got a few nice words in the local paper come All-Star time. I supposed it's a bit like a big company handing out a bonus come holiday time to keep the workers happy.
--Aaron Gleeman

Len on 07.07.05 @ 06:40 AM CST [link] [ | ]

More about Plame-Gate:

Let’s start with this lead off Boston Globe article by Robert Kuttner (Co-editor of The American Prospect) [Emphasis mine]:

“….It is a felony for a public official to expose the identity of a CIA agent. After Novak's column was published, Democrats in Congress demanded and got the administration to name a special counsel to investigate the leak. Attorney General John Ashcroft recused himself. His deputy named Chicago US Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald, supposedly a man of high principle and unblemished reputation.

Fitzgerald interviewed many people. He ultimately went after two reporters who had worked on the story of who had leaked to Novak. They were Miller of the Times and Matt Cooper of Time magazine. Both now face jail, as early as this week.

Both have refused to disclose sources despite court orders obtained by Fitzgerald. The Times has stood behind Miller. Time Warner management last week shamefully caved in and turned over notes to the prosecutor. The Supreme Court has declined to review the case.

But what about Novak? He obviously knows who leaked the name to him. Why is Miller, who never even wrote an article, facing jail? If anyone should be threatened with contempt of court, it is Novak.
There are only two possibilities. Either Novak did tell the prosecutor the names of the officials who leaked the name and the prosecutor is going easy on them, or Novak refused and the prosecutor is going easy on Novak. Either explanation reeks of favoritism, selective prosecution, and cover-up.

One leading suspect of having leaked Plame's identity is the president's chief political adviser, Karl Rove. Given how utterly Machiavellian Rove is, readers who take press reports of Fitzgerald's pristine independence at face value are touchingly naïve.

Given the stakes, do you really think this administration would let a Justice Department official just pick some highly independent prosecutor to launch a wide ranging probe -- one that could net Novak, a reliable administration toady, and the chummy high officials Novak talks to, say, Rove or Vice President Dick Cheney?…”

Which has been a question floating around ever since this despicable event occurred.

And “What About Bob?”.

That purveyor of opinions that were calcified fossils of brain-dead weight during the Nixon era not part and parcel of this investigation? Why is this mummified codger who’s opinions lean so Far to the Right he caused himself to tip-over in the shower and break his hip recently, allowed to roam freely the airwaves of CNN and pen ditties for the Chicago Sun Times?

And IF he fully cooperated and divulged these ‘government sources” – why the two years of “cloak and dagger” speculation as to the leaker’s identity? And why is the Administration not “aware” of who this traitorous malcontent is –which would have been exemplified by a judicious demotion of their exalted government position?
Nor is it an accident that this investigation, rather than fingering whoever inside the administration broke the law by outing Valerie Plame, is instead putting the squeeze on two news organizations that just happen to have been critical of the Bush administration, Time magazine and The New York Times, and by extension the entire press corps.

There is no federal press shield law protecting the right of reporters to protect sources, though several states have such laws. And the Supreme Court, in a 5-4 decision back in 1972, rejected the contention that the First Amendment implicitly gives reporters immunity from betraying sources.

As a result, reporters remain vulnerable to selective prosecutorial harassment. In the past, the press has taken big risks to pursue the public interest and has resisted prosecutors' demands to betray sources. Some prosecutors and judges have trod lightly, balancing the First Amendment against other public imperatives, though others disdain the idea of journalistic privilege, and some reporters have indeed served time.

This case is particularly outrageous because a partisan prosecutor is training his guns on the wrong culprits, because the whole affair smells of politics, and because the press as a whole has been far too intimidated instead of standing with the Times and turning a bright spotlight on Fitzgerald and Novak.

The old adage is that ”Bad Cases Make Bad Laws” and could equally apply to this set of facts.

It may also be true that this may be a back-handed way for this Administration to strike at these two particular news organizations with ”selective prosecutorial harassment”, but this entire issue is about a Federal crime which no “reporter shield for sources” could or should cover in this instance. I'm going to refer back to the first sentence: “It is a felony for a public official to expose the identity of a CIA agent.

And finally- “What About Bob?”.

Karen on 07.07.05 @ 05:01 AM CST [link] [ | ]

"The word bipartisan usually means some larger-than-usual deception is being carried out." --George Carlin

Well, maybe not this time.

According to a report in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, there is a bipartisan push in Missouri, supported by former Democratic U.S. Senator Jean Carnahan, among others, to persuade President George W. Bush to appoint former Missouri Republican U.S. Senator John C. Danforth to the Supreme Court vacancy opened by the resignation of Associate Justice Sandra Day O'Connor.

It's an interesting move, and one which leaves me in a bit of a dilemma. There's an interesting debate going on in the comments to the post proposing the Danforth nomination. On the upside, Danforth served honorably (for the most part) in the Senate, representing the state of Missouri capably. He has also recently challenged the dominance of ultra-conservative Christian fundamentalism in the Republican party, urging more moderate Christians bring their values to the political debate. On the downside, Danforth did irreparable harm to the country and to the Supreme Court by being the public champion of the nomination of Clarence Thomas, easily the least qualified, worst Supreme Court appointment of modern times. He also is on record as supporting the reversal of Roe v. Wade.

Bottom line is, of course, that Danforth has no chance of being nominated (though, as a well-respected (by colleagues of both parties) former senator he would, if nominated and agreeable to serving, be confirmed in about 6 minutes in a damn near unanimous voice vote). Danforth simply isn't sleazy enough, so Bush would never consider him. But in the very unlikely event Danforth were nominated and confirmed, I wouldn't be disappointed. Basically, we could do much worse...

In fact, I have no doubt we will.

Len on 07.06.05 @ 07:47 PM CST [link] [ | ]

A Friendly Neighborhood Spot...

And yet another GEM from Engrish (from a few days ago - But Forms take precedence!!!):

Places I've yet to have me morning Cup'o'Joe as inspired by Engrish.

Tho' Vulgar it would be afore I've had a few cups to *jump start* me Graymatter.

Karen on 07.06.05 @ 03:32 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Fun in Lalapoolousa Land...

Brad DeLong has this about Bush and Social Security and how it is now being played (Spun) by Karl Rove as disapproval over lack of movement Towards the President’s proposed Soc. Sec. changes, not disapproval of the changes themselves. How delusional do these folk have to be???

”Even Karl Rove, who's insight and political proficiencies are supposed to be legendary, seems to be completely confused about the reaction to Bush's scheme.

"We've been probably to some degree too successful" in selling private — or personal — accounts, White House Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove said yesterday.

There was a recent poll he had seen that found that about 40 percent of those who disapprove of Bush's performance on this issue actually want private accounts, explained Rove, who stopped by The Washington Post yesterday for lunch. (This is not to say the White House ever, ever looks at polls, though Rove cited several more in the next few minutes.)

"I think their attitude," he said, "is: 'I disapprove of the president's performance on Social Security because he hasn't gotten it done. Hasn't he been talking about this for six months and shouldn't he have gotten it done?' "

But that's completely wrong. Americans overwhelmingly disapprove of Bush's handling of Social Security, but they also reject privatization and benefit cuts, which are central to Bush's plan approach. In fact, all available data shows that the public dislikes Bush's idea more as they learn more about it. The White House hasn't been "too successful"; it's been too incompetent.

Do you suppose these guys are just out of touch with the real world or are they in deep, deep denial? “

Yes..and Yes, Brad. Apparently, guilty on both counts is this bAdministration.

Karen on 07.06.05 @ 01:48 PM CST [link] [ | ]

How not to doctor trees…

"....Dr. Douglas Principato is looking at a Paul Bunyan-sized fine — nearly $60,000 — for felling trees on his property.

Principato bought an aging home in North Barrington a year ago, intending to demolish it and put up another house. A tree service cleared about 40 trees that stood in the way. Principato says most of the trees were dead or dying. But village officials say they have no way of knowing because he didn’t obtain a permit.

But the village has a tree-removal permit requirement and preservation plan in conjuction with any building, expansion or demolition…and contend Principato was told the process and violated it in conducting a “massive tree-cutting.”

The village forester arrived at the fine by identifying 438 inches of trees felled and assesed that at $100 per inch plus seven unknown trees at $750 a piece...."

Courtesy The Daily Herald.

Or Shades of Mr. T who decimated a section of the ancient Oaks and trees in Lake Forest along the North Shore of Lake Michigan a number of years back. Just too much of a good thing in their "spring-cleaning mode."

Karen on 07.06.05 @ 11:52 AM CST [link] [ | ]

From the "Eyewitness to History" department....

Your pals over at Elvis Presley Enterprises (Motto: Elvis's corpse has made more money for us than he ever made for himself while he was alive) have a weekly "Elvis Fact of the Week" emailing which I've subscribed to in my never-ending quest to remake myself as a Memphian (so far, unsuccessful, but we keep trying). The past few weeks the theme has been "Vacation Elvis Style", a 12 part series on the various venues in each of 50 states (and, I assume, D.C.) at which Elvis performed while alive (so, of course, that the true Elvis cultist could engage in a holy pilgrimage to visit each and every one of those venues). Today's installment has finally gotten to Missouri, and in this paragraph we learn of where Elvis played while visiting St. Louis:

On 10/21-23/55 Elvis was a part of shows at St. Louis's Missouri Theater. After that time, all of his shows in St. Louis took place at the Henry J. Kiel Auditorium. His show on 3/29/57 was the last time Elvis wore the pants to his gold lame´suit on stage, preferring for the rest of 1957 to wear the gold jacket with black slacks. Elvis stayed at the Hotel Chase during this visit. He had shows at Kiel Auditorium again on 9/10/70 and 6/28/73 staying at the Chase-Park Plaza Hotel. His last show in St. Louis was on 3/22/76, this time staying at the Bel Air Hilton Hotel.
I mention this because I was present on the occasion of Elvis's last St. Louis concert, since I was at that time working as an usher at Henry J. Kiel Auditorium (now, unfortunately, torn down and succeeded by The Savvis Center, though ESPN.com tells us that the naming rights to The Savvis Center are in limbo (along with the future of the St. Louis Blues NHL franchise), as Wal-Mart heirs Bill and Nancy Laurie are finally deciding to cut their $30 million/year losses and run, selling the hockey team while Savvis, Inc. has negotiated an early termination of its 20 year naming rights agreement with Kiel Center Partners, LP (click on the link provided under "Recent Press Releases")).

Surprisingly, I have few memories of Elvis's last St. Louis concert. The show opened with some Las Vegas comic whose name has long since dropped out of my memory (though I do remember one of his one-liners: "Women don't get ulcers, but they're carriers." I remember that line mostly because a couple weeks after that concert I started dating a woman who was an ulcer victim), and I remember that during intermission some sleazy character frantically hawked silk scarves allegedly used by The King to mop up his sweat during the concert (and apparently, ownership of A Silk Scarf With Some of Elvis's Dried Sweat was A Real Big Thing, to judge from the number of people (mostly women) actually giving up coin of the realm for the same). That and, of course, the statutory rush to the stage by a mob of screaming middle aged women who should have been too embarassed, but weren't.

Dammit, if I knew I was witnessing history in the making I'd have brought a camera.

Anyway, for those of you attempting to make the Elvis Pilgrimage to St. Louis.... I don't think the Missouri Theater is still around (Dave? That reference ring a bell with you?) and of course the closest you'll get to Kiel Auditorium is to to pay homage to The Savvis Center. But if you want to stay in a hotel that Elvis stayed in, The Chase-Park Plaza, is still around (find out more about its storied history here); alas, I don't think the Bel-Air Hilton exists anymore.

And if you go, give my regards to The Kiel Opera House (on, Market Street just to the north of The Savvis Center), and tell it that Len Cleavelin still remembers it. Very fondly. And then rub the nose of the bears. For good luck. :-)

Len on 07.06.05 @ 09:17 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Unfortunately, we know in advance the bAdministration's reaction to this news....

namely, Dubya will stick his head up his ass (if he can find it, which is questionable) so he doesn't have to listen. And then they'll continue to promote abstinence as the only way to fight teen pregnancy: Pediatricians Decry Abstinence-Only Ed

CHICAGO (AP) -- A leading group of pediatricians says teenagers need access to birth control and emergency contraception, not the abstinence-only approach to sex education favored by religious groups and President Bush.

The recommendations are part of the American Academy of Pediatrics' updated teen pregnancy policy.

"Even though there is great enthusiasm in some circles for abstinence-only interventions, the evidence does not support abstinence-only interventions as the best way to keep young people from unintended pregnancy," said Dr. Jonathan Klein, chairman of the academy committee that wrote the new recommendations.

Teaching abstinence but not birth control makes it more likely that once teenagers initiate sexual activity they will have unsafe sex and contract sexually transmitted diseases, said Dr. S. Paige Hertweck, a pediatric obstetrician-gynecologist at the University of Louisville who provided advice for the report.

The report appears in July's Pediatrics, being published Tuesday.

It updates a 1998 policy by omitting the statement that "abstinence counseling is an important role for all pediatricians." The new policy says that while doctors should encourage adolescents to postpone sexual activity, they also should help ensure that all teens -- not just those who are sexually active -- have access to birth control, including emergency contraception.
[emphasis added --LRC]
Though I do have to admit that I find it unsettling (though perversely fascinating) that it appears that pediatric OB-GYN has become a recognized sub-specialty....

Len on 07.06.05 @ 08:19 AM CST [link] [ | ]

And we give our best wishes....

to Nashvegas's supreme online nightlife information source, Thursday Night Fever, which is rebranding itself as an "online magazine" instead of a blog. However, TNF über-source Mr. Roboto notes that the rebranding has nothing to do with the recent reaction of the political bloggers to the proposed Federal Election Commission rule changes (.pdf doc). Nope, quoth Roboto:

So, no, we just think that "online magazine" sounds far less nerdy to 23-year-old girls at bars than that other word.
That other word being "blog".

Len on 07.06.05 @ 08:01 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Gem o'the Day:

Credit chain: Zen Comix via Alternate Brain via Democratic Veteran.

Len on 07.06.05 @ 07:09 AM CST [link] [ | ]

From the "History of Household Appliances" department:

Slate has provided a helpful, slideshow based history of the vibrator. From this we learn that "vulvar massage" by hand dated back the the time of Hippocrates as a therapy for "hysterical" patients, though there seemed to be something of a vogue for it in the 19th century. But even more interestingly, we learn:

Around the turn of the century, entrepreneurs began to recognize the huge potential market for hand-held vibrators for home use. Vibrator innovation was in fact a driving force behind the creation of the small electric motor. Hamilton Beach of Racine, Wis., patented its first take-home vibrator in 1902, making the vibrator the fifth electrical appliance to be introduced into the home, after the sewing machine and long before the electric iron.
Something to think about the next time you reach for Hamilton Beach....

Len on 07.06.05 @ 05:18 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Thought for the Day:

Tom's son is a surly teen. Leave it to a teenager to be difficult when the entire world is on fire. If ever there was a time to tether one's ravenous search for identity, the end of the world would pretty much be it.
--Mark Ramsey [on
War of the Worlds]

Len on 07.06.05 @ 05:12 AM CST [link] [ | ]

In Great Form…

Let’s See - Today was [for the uninitiated] National Form Day which follows July Fourth like Boxing Day follows New’s Year’s Day.

This is day when you fill out Forms, and more Forms. And Forms to confirm the Forms and Information previously provided in earlier Forms.

In Addition to Camp Registration Forms we’ve just gotten our packets for School.

We’ve had High School Registration Forms and Middle School Registration Forms:

Course Fee Statement Forms

Course Schedule Forms

Class Photo Forms

Heath Office Emergency Information Forms

Textbook, Lock and P.E. Forms

Athletic Department Forms

Medication Authorization Forms

PTO Student Directory and Information Forms

Annual Certificate of Residency Forms

Internet Access Policy Forms

Diploma Information Forms

Home Language Survey Forms

Student Code Conduct and Activities Forms

Yearbook Forms

All Sport Forms

Music Boosters Forms

Art Boosters Forms

Academic Foundation Forms

Transportation Department Forms

Medical /Sports Activity Participation Forms

*WHEW* and I’m barely through with these yet and two more Children's School Packets of Forms left to go. LOL

Karen on 07.05.05 @ 04:31 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Best Fourth of July Posts....

Jo Fish calls this "the best July 4th post ever". Until just recently, I wasn't inclined to disagree. But do give it a read; it's well worth remembering that the 4th came shortly after another significant "statement" by Dubya.

But for Best July4th post this year I have to give the nod to Billmon:

I was driving back from a quick trip out of town the other day, and -- on an impulse -- grabbed lunch at a hot dog stand by the side of the highway. I've driven by the place plenty of times (I used to live nearby) but hot dogs aren't one of my staple foods, so I'd never stopped before. But curiosity finally got the better of me.

"Jimmy John's," the sign read. "Home of piping hot sandwiches and the world's best hot dogs." Under the sign was a low brick building with an addition hanging awkwardly on one side. The place looked like it had been around forever -- or at least since 1940, according to the sign.

I went in and bought a dog and a coke and sat down to eat. It was pretty good -- maybe not the world's best, but a lot better than what you get from Oscar Meyer. And piping hot, too.

As I sat there eating, I gradually realized I was surrounded by someone else's life -- Jimmy John's life, to be precise. The walls of the place were covered with photos, newspaper clippings, posters, old calendars and plaques from various civic groups, all documenting the life and times of a hot dog stand owner in a little corner of formerly rural, now suburban, Pennsylvania.

There was a picture of a Jimmy John in an apron and bow tie, standing in front of his original stand -- a tiny box with a counter and an awning and nothing much else -- on opening day. There were pictures of the somewhat larger enclosed lunch counter he built after he returned from the war. And pictures of the existing brick building, which went up in the '60s. There were pictures of what looked to be every single pimply teenager who'd ever worked behind his counter -- and half his customers, too. There was a framed double-page spread from the local newspaper, commemorating the 35th anniversary celebration in 1975. ("Fight inflation, eat at Jimmy John's.") And there were pictures of his retirement party, his 85th birthday party and, finally, a clip of his obituary, dated 2002.

Interspersed with Jimmy John's memorabilia were other local scenes: A crowd watching a horse race at the Montgomery County fair, 1948. Putting the final girders in place on the Commodore Barry bridge, 1963. A newspaper story, with photo, about a two-story outhouse in a nearby hamlet, 1982.

I was looking, in other words, at a thick slice of Americana, dating roughly from the New Deal to 9/11. And looking at the tables around me, I saw a fairly representative slice of middle America -- a little thick around the waist and with absolutely no fashion sense whatsoever, ignorant of the world outside their borders and of much of what lies within them, obsessed with shiny material objects, gullilble in the extreme. But also friendly (sometimes to a fault), loyal, unpretentious, usually honest and often kind. The common man -- the same one who's been coming to Jimmy Johns for the past 65 years.


And I thought to myself: "Well, this is still a pretty great country."

But I was also painfully aware that the reasons why I felt that way had a lot more to do with America's past than its present -- much less its future.

I'm not a big fan of patriotism, at least not as most Americans understand the word. Patriotism is just another word for nationalism, and nationalism in my book is the modern equivalent of the black plague -- an incubator of xenophobia at its least, a killer of millions at its absolute worst. And we've seen enough of the absolute worst over the past century to understand where nationalism could ultimately lead: the extinction of the entire human race.

Still, there are emotional attachments to home -- to the familiar, the dear, the remembered -- that go deeper than the intellect and pull harder than reason. Tribal loyalty is a powerful thing. On the morning of 9/11, I was as much a patriot as any man or woman alive, and would have greedily torn Bin Ladin to pieces with my own hands to avenge "our" dead.

But hatred and revenge are patriotism's curse, not its justification. When Lincoln spoke of "mystic cords of memory" and urged his countrymen to put their common heritage ahead of their political divisions, he wasn't appealing to their tribal loyalties, but their loyalty to an ideal: democratic government under the law. If American patriotism has any claim to be an exception to the general run of blind national chauvinism, it has to be found in that idea. If America is to be an exceptional nation, one worth glorifying above all others, it has to be because of the quality of her justice and the strength of her democracy -- not because of the language she speaks, or the God she worships or the color of her skin. And not because of her material wealth or military power or imperial ambitions. Least of all those.

Pat Buchanan and I agree on very few things, but he wrote something many years ago that I can endorse wholeheartedly: "America was a great country before she was a rich country." In many ways a greater country, I would probably add -- not because she was poor (if you've seen real poverty, Third World poverty, you know there's nothing to admire about it) but because she stood a little less apart from the rest of humanity, and had to rely a little more heavily on the promises inscribed on the Statue of Liberty, rather than power of her aircraft carriers, to impress the world.

What I saw in Jimmy John's hot dog stand was the ghost of an America I used to know -- a land of little guys looking for a place to build something. Of strong unions and good-paying jobs that didn't require a PhD. Of black and white televisions where you could watch the cheesiest ads imaginable. Of corner drug stores and transistor radios and long evenings spent sitting on the front porch, talking to the neighbors.


But the America on Jimmy John's walls, while far from perfect, at least believed in the
possibility of its own improvement. It accepted -- if only out of lingering memories of the Great Depression -- the need for a certain degree of social justice. It distrusted wealth and corporate power and believed, perhaps too much, in the ability of government to help the little guy. It actually thought democracy could work.

Most of all, Jimmy John's America was a country where injustice and corruption and the arrogance of power occasionally ran into organized opposition -- and sometimes even lost. It was the country of Martin Luther King and Marcus Raskin and Saul Alinksy and Caesar Chavez, of Students for a Democratic Society (the pre-Weatherman version) and the March on Washington (all of them), of Pete Seeger and Earth Day, of Stonewall and the Equal Rights Amendment.

Those people, too, believed democracy could work -- if it was given a little push.

But that America is either dead or dying, with the remains memorialized on restaurant walls, or eulogized in essays like this one -- like fossilized insects frozen in amber. Looking through the window of Jimmy John's, I could almost see the mega mall just down the highway, with its chain restaurants and fast food franchises -- the leading edge of a wave of development moving north towards the outer suburbs of Philly. And I realized it won't be too long before the wave hits, and Jimmy John's is bulldozed to make room for a Burger King or a MacDonalds.

You could say the same thing about democracy. America doesn't really believe in democracy any more. It's just a slogan used to sell unpopular wars, or justify the greasy manuevers of a corrupt political machine. America doesn't want social justice, either -- just a few extra crumbs from the tables of the wealthy. It worships power and material success and expects those who don't to hold their tongues. It hears what it wants to hear and sees what it wants to see, and it has a corporate media establishment increasingly dedicated to ensuring that it always does.

Scanning the American Street this 4th of July, I see items such as this:
Conservatives say . . . they have found a formula that will allow them gradually to control the judiciary and revisit the full range of precedents regarding abortion, affirmative action, church-state matters and regulations of business and the environment.
And this:
Mississippi, a state blessed with something like 25% of its population already Medicaid eligible, announced the deepest Medicaid cuts in the nation, including a limitation to no more than five prescriptions (and two non-generics) per month. Not surprisingly, the cause of the cuts is reduced federal funding to the Medicaid program . . .
And this:
Parsley’s call to action bristles with the metaphors of war. In his writings, he casts himself as a gladiator for God, advancing on “the very hordes of hell in our society” . . . He has preached [the] prosperity gospel while accumulating vast personal wealth, including a $1 million, five-bedroom, 5 1/2-bath house with a swimming pool; a $63,000 Cadillac and a $68,000 Lexus LX470 for himself and his wife, Joni; and a $5,000 Polaris all-terrain vehicle.
I read stuff like that and I can see the America that I used to know vanishing before my eyes. And so is the only thing -- the ideal of democratic government under the law -- that could justify being a "patriotic" American.

Without that ideal, patriotism is just tribalism: the mindless glorification of "us" and the demonization of "them." And in the case of America, "us" includes a long list of right-wing idiots who I feel absolutely no affinity with or loyalty to -- beginning with Rush Limbaugh and continuing through the loudmouth Bush supporter who sits just outside my office. I don't want to be in their tribe. And I sure the hell don't want them in mine.

As for the rest of my fellow Americans? Their lives are no more -- and no less -- precious than any other group of human beings with a flag and a national anthem. I don't wish them ill, but the moments when I feel any emotionally solidarity with them (like on the morning of 9/11, or, briefly, in Jimmy John's the other day) are becoming quite rare. I don't really feel like I even know them any more.

Which means that if I still support the war on terrorism, or hope that America finds a way out of the Iraq quagmire, or wish for a more successful U.S. foreign policy, it's not out of patriotism. I live in the United States, my family lives here, and we're not moving, at least not any time soon. That being the case, I'd rather not see it nuked, or hit with a dirty bomb, or anthrax or smallpox. I'd also rather not live in a complete police state, which is what we may get if any of those things happen. That's not patriotism -- just the instinct for self preservation.

But not loving America -- or rather, what America is fast becoming -- isn't the same as believing there are no worse things than America. Bin Ladin and the fanatics who follow him aren't evil because they're the enemies of America, they're evil because they're evil -- because they slaughter innocent people, promote religious hatred and would rather see the Islamic world impoverished and ignorant than freed from their medieval fantasies.

Opposing that also isn't patriotism -- just common human decency, and a (probably vain) hope for a better world than this shit pile we live in.

It's a strange place to end up: a man without a country, grudgingly supporting the country he no longer has because the alternatives are so much worse. But that's how it goes, I guess, in this world of empires and religious fanatics. This hasn't been the kind of 4th of July essay I would have liked to have written -- or might have written in years gone by. But I'm too old and too disgusted to go through the motions of celebrating the national holiday, not when reality is pressing down so hard on the back of my neck.

If that be treason, I suppose I'll just have to learn how to make the most of it.

Len on 07.05.05 @ 12:53 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Here's one for Dr. Abby....

Tom Cruise is Nuts

Len on 07.05.05 @ 12:29 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Because I'm a Know-it-all™

Over at Mama said there'd be days like this, CG gives us a few Fourth of July facts, among which is:

The American national anthem, the "Star-Spangled Banner," is set to the tune of an English drinking song ("To Anacreon in Heaven").
Well, a true history geek knows the original words to "To Anacreon in Heav'n", and he's not afraid to post them!

Words by : Ralph Tomlinson Esq.,
Tune by : John Stafford Smith
'as sung at the Crown Anchor Tavern in the Strand, circa 1780'
Tune used for : "The Star Spangled Banner" by Francis Scott Key

To Anacreon in Heav'n, where he sat in full glee
A few Sons of Harmony sent a petition
That he their Inspirer and Patron would be;
When this answer arrived from the Jolly Old Grecian:
"Voice, Fiddle, and Flute, no longer be mute,
I'll lend you my name and inspire you to boot,

And besides I'll instruct you, like me, to intwine
The Myrtle of Venus with Bacchus's Vine"

The news through Olympus immediately flew;
When Old Thunder pretended to give himself airs.
"If these Mortals are suffered their scheme to pursue,
The devil a Goddess, will stay above stairs."
Hark, already they cry, in transports of joy,
"Away to the Sons of Anacreon we'll fly,

And there with good fellows, we'll learn to intwine
The Myrtle of Venus with Bacchus's Vine"

The Yellow-Haired God and his nine fusty Maids
From Helicon's bank will incontinent flee,
Idalia will boast of tenantless Shades,
And the bi-forked hill a mere desert will be.
My Thunder, no fear on't, shall do its errand,
And dam'me I'll swing the Ringleaders I warrant.

I'll trim the young dogs, for thus daring to twine
The Myrtle of Venus with Bacchus's Vine.

Apollo rose up, and said "Prythee ne'er quarrel,
Good King of the Gods, with my Vot'ries below:
Your Thunder is useless"-- then showing his laurel,
Cry'd "Sic evitabile fulmen, you know!
Then over each head my laurels I'll spread,
So my sons from your Crackers no mischief shall dread,

While, snug in their clubroom, they jovially twine
The Myrtle of Venus with Bacchus's Vine."

Next Momus got up with his risible Phiz
And swore with Apollo he'd cheerfully join --
"The full tide of Harmony still shall be his,
But the Song and the Catch, and the Laugh shall be mine.
Then, Jove, be not jealous of these honest fellows."
Cry'd Jove, "we relent, since the truth you now tell us;

And swear by old Styx, that they long shall intwine
The Myrtle of Venus with Bacchus's Vine."

Ye Sons of Anacreon, then join hand in hand;
Preserve Unanimity, Friendship, and Love!
'Tis yours to support what's so happily plann'd;
You've the sanctions of Gods, and the Fiat of Jove.
While thus we agree, our toast let it be:
"May our Club flourish Happy, United, and Free!

And long may the Sons of Anacreon intwine
The Myrtle of Venus with Bacchus's Vine."
And yes, as of the last few years I have been known to drive fellow baseball fans batshit by singing "Anacreon" rather than "The Star Spangled Banner" before baseball games.

Just call me a contrarian.

For those of you who are interested, you can read up on the whole story over at The Straight Dope.

Len on 07.05.05 @ 08:57 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Economic development news: some interesting facts....

This hits kinda close to home, inasmuch as A Great And Good Friend Of Mine works in the Economic Development field, and she's been instrumental in one or two failed attempts to lure a Toyota plant to her area (as well as a successful attempt to get one of Toyota's suppliers to locate in the area).

Toyota just announced a plan to build a new plant in Woodstock, Ontario. That plant is slated to build 100,000 vehicles a year.

And why did Toyota choose to build its plant in Canada? In four words: An educated workforce matters. And to add a few more: the cost of healthcare is a factor, too.

WOODSTOCK, Ont. (CP) - Ontario workers are well-trained.

That simple explanation was cited as a main reason why Toyota turned its back on hundreds of millions of dollars in subsidies offered from several American states in favour of building a second Ontario plant.

Industry experts say Ontarians are easier and cheaper to train - helping make it more cost-efficient to train workers when the new Woodstock plant opens in 2008, 40 kilometres away from its skilled workforce in Cambridge.

"The level of the workforce in general is so high that the training program you need for people, even for people who have not worked in a Toyota plant before, is minimal compared to what you have to go through in the southeastern United States," said Gerry Fedchun, president of the Automotive Parts Manufacturers' Association, whose members will see increased business with the new plant.


Several U.S. states were reportedly prepared to offer more than double that amount of subsidy. But Fedchun said much of that extra money would have been eaten away by higher training costs than are necessary for the Woodstock project.

He said Nissan and Honda have encountered difficulties getting new plants up to full production in recent years in Mississippi and Alabama due to an untrained - and often illiterate - workforce. In Alabama, trainers had to use "pictorials" to teach some illiterate workers how to use high-tech plant equipment.

"The educational level and the skill level of the people down there is so much lower than it is in Ontario," Fedchun said.
[emphasis added --LRC]
But, here's an interesting twist, which should stick in the craw of those who think that the U.S. health care system is so superior:
In addition to lower training costs, Canadian workers are also $4 to $5 cheaper to employ partly thanks to the taxpayer-funded health-care system in Canada, said federal Industry Minister David Emmerson.

"Most people don't think of our health-care system as being a competitive advantage," he said.
[emphasis supplied --LRC]
Education counts. As well as good, affordable health-care. As Bryan at Why Now? points out:
Remember: with tens of millions of Americans without coverage the US spends twice as much per person for healthcare with worse results than other industrialized countries.
Credit chain: Cookie Jill at skippy the bush kangaroo via Bryan (link above).

UPDATE: South Knox Bubba links to the story as well, and has this to say:
This article is Exhibit A in the indictment of Southern states for their failure to invest in education. It's also a sad commentary on America's general failure to act on providing affordable health care for everyone.

Len on 07.05.05 @ 07:25 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Thought for the Day:

He also liked War of the Worlds, although he thought Tom Cruise would have worked better as an Everyman type of character if almost everybody cast around him didn't seem to be cast for their relative shortness, so as not to make Mr. Cruise seem so tiny. It's like Earth was inhabitated with hobbits, or something.
--Big Stupid Tommy [speaking in the third person on
War of the Worlds]

Len on 07.05.05 @ 05:23 AM CST [link] [ | ]

A face only a Mother [Dog] could love…

DaliWood has this GEM of the Ugliest Dog EVER.

Go give it a viewing – But Warning: I Couldn’t Stop Laughing!!!


Karen on 07.04.05 @ 12:16 PM CST [link] [ | ]

And in honor of the holiday, on the pop-culture front....

Don Markstein, proprietor of the awesome "Toonopedia" Web reference on cartoons and comics, today adds a profile of minor DC superhero Liberty Belle to his collection of profiles....

Len on 07.04.05 @ 09:53 AM CST [link] [ | ]

And pretty soon the "tort reform" folks will start citing this case....

Astrologist sues NASA over crash

MOSCOW, Russia (Reuters) -- A Russian astrologist who says NASA has altered her horoscope by crashing a spacecraft into a comet is suing the U.S. space agency for damages of $300 million, local media has reported.

NASA deliberately crashed its probe, named Deep Impact, into the Tempel 1 comet to unleash a spray of material formed billions of years ago which scientists hope will shed new light on the composition of the solar system.

"It is obvious that elements of the comet's orbit, and correspondingly the ephemeris, will change after the explosion, which interferes with my astrology work and distorts my horoscope," Izvestia daily quoted astrologist Marina Bai as saying in legal documents submitted before Monday's collision.

Len on 07.04.05 @ 09:20 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Too true, alas too true....

From today's Ironic Times:

If convicted, faces promotion and a raise.

Bush Says He Wants Someone Like Scalia and Thomas
Duck-hunting pornophiles coming out of the woodwork.

Rare 1st Edition of Mein Kampf Signed by Hitler Sold For $43K at London Auction
Inscription says, “To my good friend Prescott Bush, best of luck.”

Len on 07.04.05 @ 09:16 AM CST [link] [ | ]

And for a brief "holiday themed" movie break....

Happened to decide to give a view to the classic, The Great Escape this morning, and was treated to the scene where the American prisoners in the POW camp brew up a mess of prison wine (well, I'm going to call it prison wine so I can use that stray link) and share it with the British prisoners for their July 4th celebration.

Incidentally, as I'm sure many of you know, The Great Escape is "based on a true story", and for those of you wanting to know more, there are some good Web resources on the true events:

Len on 07.04.05 @ 08:25 AM CST [link] [ | ]

If you want to get their attention, hit 'em where it hurts....

The Brits are trying a new strategy in efforts to discourage smoking: British government goes after smokers' sex lives

LONDON (Reuters) - The British government launched a series of tough anti-cigarette adverts on Friday with the message that smoking is bad for your sex life because it makes men impotent and women ugly.

The campaign is designed to target young Britons' fears about their sexual attractiveness -- an area the government says is more effective than highlighting general health concerns.

One ad uses a burning cigarette end between two "fingerlegs" as a metaphor for a penis with the strapline "Does smoking make you hard? Not if it means you can't get it up."

Another targets women saying cigarettes lead to premature skin aging and warns that smoking causes "cat's bum mouth."
Of course, this isn't a new strategy; I remember mid-to-late '80s anti-smoking ads in the U.S. featuring Brooke Shields (back when she was considered an icon of smoldering female sexuality) suggesting that she'd never do the horizontal mambo with a smoker because "Smoking stinks"....

But that does suggest something to me... If this news filters into the consciousness of the Religious Right and their allies in the GOP, can we expect to see a pro-smoking push by the conservative wing of Our Only Party? Think of the constituencies that this tactic might appeal to. Of course, the values conservatives would go for anything that might have the effect of rendering teens and young adults sexually unappealing, and which dampens sexual desire and performance in those typically hot and horny age groups. Meanwhile, pro-business interests (particularly the Big Tobacco Lobby) would be gratified by the obvious economic benefits of a turnaround in attitudes towards tobacco. And of course the health-care and pharmaceutical industries would be happy to suck away our remaining dollars (well, those of us who are still insured or can afford health-care and drugs by the time they're through robbing us blind) providing treatment for our cancer and emphysema.

This is such a winner I'm surprised it hasn't been attempted yet. Maybe I should try to copyright or patent the idea, and get some royalties when it happens....

Len on 07.04.05 @ 07:40 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Tranlating Techno-Speak...

Answers to Techno-Speak:

1) Avian species of identical plumage congregate.

-- Birds of a feather flock together.

2) Freedom from incrustations of noxious substances is contiguous with conformity to divine prescription.

-- Cleanliness is next to Godliness.

3) Pulchritude posses solely cutaneous profundity.

-- Beauty is only skin deep.

4) A superannuated canine is immune to indoctrination in innovative maneuvers.

-- You can’t teach an old dogs new tricks.

5) Ululate not over precipitated lactal secretion.

-- Don’t cry over spilt milk.

6) All that coruscates with replendence will not assay auriferous.

-- All that glitters is not gold.

7) The existence of visible vapors from ignited carbonaceous materials confirms conflagration.

-- Where’s there’s smoke there’s fire

8) Mendicants are interdicted from elective recipiency.

-- Beggars can’t be choosers.

9) Probity gratifies reflexively.

-- Virtue is it’s own reward.

10) Male cadavers are unyielding of testimony.

Dead men tell no tales.

11) Inhabitants of vitreous edifices ill-advisedly catapult petrous projectiles.

-- People who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones.

12) Ergonomia exclusive of diversion renders John a hebetudinous progeny.

-- All work and no play makes John a dull boy.

13) He who cachinnates ultimately, cachinnates optimally.

-- He who laughs last laughs best.

14) Abstention for speculatory undertaking precludes attainment.

-- Nothing ventured nothing gained

15) Missiles of ligneous an do non-metallic mineral consistency have the potential to fracture my osseous structure, but malicious appellations are eternally innocuous.

-- Sticks and stones will break my bones, but names will never hurt me.

Hat tip to Clarence Petersen (Chicago Tribune)

Extra Credit:

A. Person possessed of above average growth indicators precipitately descend more severely.

-- The bigger they are the harder they fall.

B. Avian species attracted to the beginning of the diurnal period enjoy the ownership of invertebrate annelids.

-- The early bird catches the worm.

*And HAT's off to Len who got all the translations (sent in an e-mail) just for FUN. :-)

Karen on 07.04.05 @ 07:37 AM CST [link] [ | ]

As the old saying goes....

be careful what you wish for, because you just might get it.

In last Friday's "Moneybox" column in Slate, Daniel Gross points us to an interesting study (.pdf file, Adobe Reader or other PDF viewer required) by law professors Robert Lawless (University of Nevada-Las Vegas) and Elizabeth Warren (Harvard) (and sponsored by the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation) and published in the Califormia Law Review, which suggests that in working so hard to pass the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act of 2005, the financial services industry may have cut off its nose to spite its face. From the Kaufmann Foundation's abstract of the study:

New bankruptcy legislation failed to account for hundreds of thousands of entrepreneurs, independent contractors and self employed individuals who traditionally have turned to bankruptcy relief as an important safety net in their effort to recover from a failed undertaking, according to a new research study.

In fact, large numbers of entrepreneurs use the bankruptcy system, despite official government statistics that say their presence in bankruptcy has declined sharply. A result of the faulty data is a skewed picture of the measurement and strength of the nation's small business economy. The new legislation, according to some experts on entrepreneurship, could also serve to deter would-be entrepreneurs from embarking on risky new business formation.


According to the research, which appears in the most recent issue of California Law Review, owners of small businesses annually file an estimated 260,000 to 315,000 bankruptcies. Those numbers are about nine times higher than the government's official data, which lists only about 37,000 business cases.

Official government statistics report that business bankruptcies began a steady decline in the mid-1980s, when businesses comprised about 18 percent of all bankruptcy filings to their present-day total of only 2 percent of all filings (see Figure 1). Today, corporations and other legal entities comprise almost all of the business filings counted by the government. Entrepreneurs who take on the risk of a new business undertaking have essentially disappeared from the official business bankruptcy statistics.

The authors trace the problem of the faulty reporting to efforts in the mid-1980s to simplify the official bankruptcy reporting process and the advent of new computer software that changed the way attorneys completed forms used to compile the government statistics. This technological change has created a systematic bias in which entrepreneurs were reclassified as consumer cases rather than business cases.
And as Mr. Gross notes:
So, the recently enacted bankruptcy reform may seem like a classic case of ensnaring dolphins in an effort to catch tuna. America's economic system is exceptional in part because it encourages, pardons, and excuses failure. Nobody starts a business intending to go bankrupt, but it happens. And when it does, the nation's bankruptcy system—and its general tolerance of failure—has enabled people to pick up, move on, and try again with relative ease. In today's economy, which affords people unprecedented opportunities to start their own businesses, credit cards are frequently the preferred method of financing. So, while the new bankruptcy law might deter some people from overborrowing, it might also deter some people from leaving their dreary jobs and opening a store, or selling on eBay, or importing T-shirts. At the margins, lots of mundane businesses, and perhaps even a few great ones, may never get off the ground.

The financial services sector plainly got what it wanted in the bankruptcy reform bill. But as Warren and Lawless note, the provisions that prevent discharge from bankruptcy unless the debtor completes a course in personal financial management, that set up means-testing for payment, and that prohibit repeat filings within eight years, "needlessly penalize entrepreneurs who are in bankruptcy court not because [of] overconsumption but because [of] a failed business." In their desire to crack down on consumers, Congress and the financial services companies may be cracking down on the sort of people who, when they succeed, create jobs, pay taxes—and become excellent customers for financial services companies.
Typical big business short-sightedness once again; at least we can take some solace in the fact that in trying to put the screws on consumers the financial services industry has probably stepped on its own dick as well...

Len on 07.04.05 @ 07:17 AM CST [link] [ | ]

"Last throes..."

Over at today's Doonesbury, Garry Trudeau has an apt commentary on how the insurgents are "throwing in the towel".

Len on 07.04.05 @ 06:51 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Thought for the Day:

The president invoked July 4 [in his 6/28 Ft. Bragg address] as well as Sept. 11. He called it a day to celebrate freedom and offer thanks to the troops by flying a flag, writing a letter, helping a military family.

I will fly my flag this Fourth of July, as always, on a small island in Maine. I will fly it for the men and women in harm's way. But I'll fly it as well for the father who protests the military recruiters at his child's high school and the 19-year-old widow who tells ''Good Morning America," ''I just feel enough is enough."

The silenced majority of Americans who believe we were misled into war have no reason to be tongue-tied by a yellow ribbon.
--Ellen Goodman

Len on 07.04.05 @ 05:27 AM CST [link] [ | ]

And wouldn't this be the most wonderful sight?

Credit: Portland Indy Media, via Corked Bats

Len on 07.03.05 @ 08:55 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Those Summer Blockbusters Movies...

"Movie Box Office Slump Continues - Frankly, I'm stumped because who doesn't want to go out of their way as often as possible to pay $8 for popcorn and sit through 20 minutes of ads? And, man, are remakes awesome, or what?"

Dalton Ross: Hit List: Entertainment Weekly - July 8th Edition.

Karen on 07.03.05 @ 10:24 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Rove's Fiery Plame Out...

“…. Now that Time Inc. has turned over documents to federal court, presumably revealing who its reporter, Matt Cooper, identified as his source in the Valerie Plame/CIA case, speculation runs rampant on the name of that source, and what might happen to him or her. Friday night, on the syndicated McLaughlin Group political talk show, Lawrence O'Donnell, senior MSNBC political analyst, claimed to know that name--and it is, according to him, top White House mastermind Karl Rove.

Today, O'Donnell went further, writing a brief entry at the Huffington Post blog:

"I revealed in yesterday's taping of the McLaughlin Group that Time magazine's e-mails will reveal that Karl Rove was Matt Cooper's source. I have known this for months but didn't want to say it at a time that would risk me getting dragged into the grand jury.
Other panelists then joined in discussing whether, if true, this would suggest a perjury rap for Rove, if he told the grand jury he did not leak to Cooper….”

MSNBC Analyst Says Cooper Documents Reveal Karl Rove as Source in Plame Case by Greg Mitchell.

And make no mistake, this is NOT about protecting anonymous sources who act as “Whistleblowers” to expose harms and protect the public. It is the opposite side of that very issue – the two sided coin – of punishing (and properly so) people who leak federally protected secret/confidential/classified information for the purpose of perpetrating harm on the nation and that person (as was done in this instance).

So many commentators are purposely conflating these two issues, and blithely waving this issue around as “the ability of the press to continue collecting and reporting information” and look at who “abused their power” and what this “abuse of power” really involved in this particular situation

It is because a Federal crime was involved and runs up to the highest offices in our government. This investigation into this leak has been going on for nearly over two years. President Bush promised an investigation, yet I’m expected to believe that G.W. (who presumably talks with Karl Rove quite frequently) never was told “Gee, you’re looking to who passed on info about Ms. Plame, it was Me.”

It’s taken a full investigation, a Federal U.S. District Judge, contempt of court citations and all for a question the President and his V.P. could have answered all during this time? All the way up the Supreme Court for this information to be revealed that leads right back to Karl Rove?

It was George Bush Sr. who once stated that there was no excuse for anyone to ever reveal publicly the names of undercover CIA agents, and that people who did so were “traitors to their country.”

Ambassador Wilson was critical of the misinformation Bush touted on WMD’s in the speech for going to war in Iraq, and coincidentally, Karl Rove just happens to reveal Wilson’s wife as a covert CIA agent.
That woman’s life is in jeopardy, and not from some imaginary source, but from her own government and the very highest offices in government. That’s reason enough to demand accountability and responsibility for the people involved in this heinous crime.

All the way up to and including G.W. and His Administration. And how about those Traitors who cover up and lie for these Traitors to our Country? Time to demand and expect some accountability from this President and All His Men.

Karen on 07.03.05 @ 10:10 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Today's Quotables:

“…Mr. Bush could have addressed that question honestly on Tuesday night. Instead of once more cooking the books - exaggerating the number of coalition partners, the number of battle-ready Iraqi troops, the amount of non-American dollars in the Iraq kitty - he could have laid out the long haul in hard facts, explaining the future costs in manpower, money and time, and what sacrifices he proposes for meeting them. He could have been, as he is fond of calling himself, a leader.

It was a blown opportunity, and it's hard to see that there will be another chance. Iraq may not be Vietnam, but The Wall Street Journal reports that the current war's unpopularity now matches the Gallup findings during the Vietnam tipping point, the summer of 1968. As the prospect of midterm elections pumps more and more genuine fear into the hearts of Republicans up for re-election, it's the Bush presidency, not the insurgency, that will be in its last throes. Is the commander in chief so isolated in his bubble that he does not realize this? G.W.B., phone home.

Frank Rich (NY Times): The Two Wars of the Worlds.

Well, the emphasis is mine, but the sentiments and questioning of the Bush Presidential competence and suggestions for impeachment for gross mismanagement and lies over the Iraq War are stirring.

I can only hope that the American, John Q. Public, keeps asking the questions and pressing the issues to put the bAdminstration’s feet to the fire over the direction he is taking this country. Can it be that the other half of the Nation is finally getting the measure of this man…and how he fails to live up to his own hype and faulty legacy? I can but Hope.

Karen on 07.03.05 @ 09:50 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Thought for the Day:

The Honeymooners is arguably the best-loved TV sitcom of all time, alongside I Love Lucy. Its stature should make it immune to remakes. (Although "stature" isn't held in great regard if Hollywood senses the potential for $$ - both Casablanca and It's a Wonderful Life have been remade. It wouldn't surprise me if someone is trying to figure out a way to dumb-down a new version of Citizen Kane.) Yet one of this weekend's "bright ideas" was not only to remake The Honeymooners for the big screen, but to employ an ethnically diverse cast, with Cedric the Entertainer as Ralph Kramden. Turn over in your grave, Jackie Gleason. This is an iconic role. I like Cedric the Entertainer, but the cynic in me thinks the only reason he was chosen is because Hollywood saw the opportunity to lure in what is euphemistically called the "urban audience."
--James Berardinelli

Len on 07.03.05 @ 08:43 AM CST [link] [ | ]

I say again: Dr. Abby's Dr. Dad rocks!

Dr. Abby's Dr. Dad strikes again with this gem of a letter to the Memphis Commercial-Appeal. I'm taking the liberty of copying it in toto (Abby, if you or your dad object to that send me an email and I'll take it down or redact it to conform to fair use) because he hits on exactly what has puzzled me about the State's recent investigation of the "Love in Action" homosexual re-education camp:

While the general outrage at Tom Cruise’s Scientology based attack on Psychiatry is certainly justified, there is a part of what he said that is pertinent to a contemporary Memphis issue. In the past, some individuals were, in fact, committed to mental institutions by their families inappropriately. There was abuse of the desparate treatments of the time - psychosurgery, insulin coma therapy, excessive electroconvulsive therapy. Thereafter, Mental Health Codes were radially changed to protect people from being deprived of their civil liberties by some loophole of mental illness. Facilities offering treatment of any kind had to be licensed, inspected, and had to have specific legal procedures to insure that treatment was consistent with the Bill of Rights - our Constitutional guarantees of Freedom.

The Love in Action facility is a program that offers treatment for "addictions," yet it is operating outside the regulation required for such places. They have no process for guaranteeing "due process" for their clients. Parents can apparently sign their children in for a long period of "treatment," even children sixteen years old. The case of Zach brought this to the public’s awareness, but beyond the specific case, how can such a facility exist without licensure? How can a self declared "treatment" center that holds children against their will be operating with no oversight from the State of Tennessee? If legitimate treatment centers for the treatment of alcohol or drug addictions require licensure, how can a fringe group like Love in Action treat something they claim to be an addiction, namely Homosexuality, without any review by the State?

They were investigated and cleared by DFCS of "Child Abuse." "Child Abuse" is hardly the point. The point is that Love in Action is a Mental Hospital operating without a license!
[emphasis supplied --LRC]

Len on 07.02.05 @ 08:03 PM CST [link] [ | ]

And no, that's not the boyhood alter ego of Bruce Wayne...

In the wake of Sandra Day O'Connor's resignation, South Knox Bubba's on top of the latest breaking news on Bush's preferred Supreme Court nominee: Bush picks Batboy!

If you haven't been playing the home game, you can catch up with the Batboy saga at the website of the Weekly World News, a fine weekly news journal that can be found at your nearest supermarket checkout lane... Just use the handy search box on the index page there to search on "Batboy"....

Incidentally, on the WWN page they display "web stats", and they claim (at least on my most recent visit there to check on how to find your Batboy fix) the University of Missouri (I assume the Columbia campus; the link points to the UMC website at any rate) is number 1 in the list of "top ten visiting universities". I realize that there isn't much to amuse an undergraduate in Columbia (traditionally, UMC students take weekend road trips to either Kansas City or St. Louis; Columbia being very handily located pretty much equidistant from both of Missouri's metropolises), but this....

Len on 07.02.05 @ 07:44 PM CST [link] [ | ]

And where's the outrage?

Via Brian Arner at Resonance, we're pointed to this news:TSA contractor wasted millions, audit shows

The money was spent in the name of improving security at the nation's airports:
  • $526.95 for one phone call from the Hyatt Regency O'Hare in Chicago to Iowa City.
  • $1,180 for 20 gallons of Starbucks Coffee -- $3.69 a cup -- at the Santa Clara Marriott in California.
  • $1,540 to rent 14 extension cords at $5 each per day for three weeks at the Wyndham Peaks Resort and Golden Door Spa in Telluride, Colo.
  • $8,100 for elevator operators at the Marriott Marquis in Manhattan.
  • $5.4 million claimed for nine months' salary for the chief executive of an "event logistics" firm that received a contract before it was incorporated and listed its address at a post office box.
Those details are contained in a federal audit that calls into question $303 million of the $741 million spent to assess and hire airport passenger screeners for the newly created Transportation Security Administration after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. The audit, along with interviews with people involved in the passenger-screener contract, paints a rare and detailed portrait of how officials at the fledgling agency lost control of the spending in the pell-mell rush to hire 60,000 screeners to meet a one-year congressional deadline.
Brian puts the ultimate question very well:
It's funny how may Rightists nearly have a cow regarding the government "waste" when it comes to NPR and other cherished whipping boys, yet are silent when it comes to this kind of stuff.
Funny, indeed.

Len on 07.02.05 @ 07:31 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Makes you wonder if the guy who named this was color-blind....

Here's a flickr picture of a "red tide" in La Jolla, CA. And yes, the "red tide" is that florescent blue patch at the lower right (mouse over the area and a pop-up "label" will tell you...).

Credit: Josh Schulz

Len on 07.02.05 @ 07:15 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Dammit, there's the bear again....

The title is a reference to a Lewis Black schtick. From memory:

It's like if a friend of yours tells you there's a bear wandering around, shitting all over town. You say, "Nah, can't be," but the next day there's the bear, following you around...
In my case, my bear seems to be the musical group Black Eyed Peas. First it was a Best Buy TV ad in which they were featured. Then, on my way to Chicago to see Kraftwerk I spent the night at my Dad's (in the St. Louis area), and damned if they weren't featured on The Today Show the next morning (every Friday during the summer, apparently, The Today Show was featuring mini-concerts by currently popular bands). That was the breaking of the dam; it seems like every time I turn around I'm seeing or hearing some sort of Black Eyed Peas reference. Just now, on the radiocast of the Cardinals-Rockies game Mike Shannon felt some compulsion to mention them... (Ok, yes I know what the compulsion was: Fair St. Louis is going on on the Gateway Arch grounds this weekend, and the Black Eyed Peas are apparently headlining tonight's music show).

Len on 07.02.05 @ 07:12 PM CST [link] [ | ]

I might have caught Bush's speech....

if I were as talented as MadKane, and could use it as inspiration to produce such wonderful and topical song parodies. This week's installment: Warrior Dub's Anthem (or if you prefer, the audio version), inspired by The Speech.

Len on 07.02.05 @ 06:46 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Techno-Speak Translation Quiz

Going through my files of FUN STUFF - Here is an old one, but still good:

Translate these GEMs:

1) Avian species of identical plumage congregate.

2) Freedom from incrustations of noxious substances is contiguous with conformity to divine prescription.

3) Pulchritude posses solely cutaneous profundity.

4) A superannuated canine is immune to indoctrination in innovative maneuvers.

5) Ululate not over precipitated lactal secretion.

6) All that coruscates with replendence will not assay auriferous.

7) The existence of visible vapors from ignited carbonaceous materials confirms conflagration.

8) Mendicants are interdicted from elective recipiency.

9) Probity gratifies reflexively.

10) Male cadavers are unyielding of testimony.

11) In habitants of vitreous edifices ill-advisedly catapult petrous projectiles.

12) Ergonomia exclusive of diversion renders John a hebetudinous progeny.

13) He who cachinnates ultimately, cachinnates optimally.

14) Abstention from speculatory undertaking precludes attainment.

15) Missiles of ligneous an do non-metallic mineral consistency have the potential to fracture my osseous structure, but malicious appellations are eternally innocuous.

Hat tip to Clarence Petersen (Chicago Tribune) [from way back when...]

Extra Credit:

A. Person possessed of above average growth indicators precipitately descend more severely.

B. Avian species attracted to the beginning of the diurnal period enjoy the ownership of invertebrate annelids.

Karen on 07.02.05 @ 12:48 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Time to Just Say "NO" to Torture

Today's Quotables:

"....Having served as a doctor in the Army Medical Corps early in my career and as presidential physician to George H.W. Bush for four years, I might be expected to bring a skeptical and partisan perspective to allegations of torture and abuse by U.S. forces. I might even be expected to join those who, on the one hand, deny that U.S. personnel have engaged in systematic use of torture while, on the other, claiming that such abuse is justified. But I cannot do so.

It's precisely because of my devotion to country, respect for our military and commitment to the ethics of the medical profession that I speak out against systematic, government-sanctioned torture and excessive abuse of prisoners during our war on terrorism. I am also deeply disturbed by the reported complicity in these abuses of military medical personnel. This extraordinary shift in policy and values is alien to my concept of modern-day America and of my government and profession...."

Burton J. Lee III in The Stain of Torture. [Former physician to the president to George H.W. Bush and a board member of Physicians for Human Rights.]

Karen on 07.02.05 @ 10:30 AM CST [link] [ | ]

For any of you space geeks out there....

NASA's "Deep Impact" space mission is due to achieve its goal (collision of an unmanned spacecraft with a comet, while another unmanned spacecraft "observes" and records the event) very shortly. If you're interested in watching live, you'll be able to do so thanks to the wonderful World Wide Web: Where to watch comet impact online. Follow the link for a list of online observation posts from sources such as NASA itself, space.com, and Vanderbilt University's Dyer Observatory.

Len on 07.02.05 @ 08:18 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Gem o'the Day:

Over on the SKEPTIC mailing list, a thread about People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) and the logical inconsistency in their "thinking" led to this exchange:

[Name redacted] wrote:
PETA has called on one of the largest aquariums in the United States to stop serving seafood to its visitors, likening the practice to grilling up "poodle burgers at a dog show."


I sometime attend botany conferences and community events at Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden, in Claremont, Calif. They generally serve catered lunches or snacks. These meals have included any number of actual PLANTS. For example, sandwiches made with bread (the crushed and baked bodies of plant embryos) are common fare. Chopped or shredded remains of the bodies of lettuce, potato, tomato, bell pepper, cucumber, onion, and many other plants also are served. Sometimes even eggplant (despite its [deliberately?] deceptive name, it is not actually an egg). Perhaps most alarming, baby alfalfa plants are often served and eaten while still actually alive. And sandwiches are only the beginning. I once was served pasta there (crushed / cooked plant embryos again) with diced boiled tomato plant ovaries and exudate of crushed olive ovaries with chopped bits of garlic, basil, and onion carcasses. The time has come to protest this outragous seletion of menus at a botanic garden. We attend the garden to admire plants, not to kill them. Effective immediately, all sandwiches served at the botanic garden should consist of meat slices, served between salami or roast beef slabs replacing sliced bread; with butter but no mayo, mustard or relish. Atkins-friendly!
Actually, were I to become a vegetarian, I would do so not because of my love for animals, but because of my hatred for plants.


Len on 07.02.05 @ 08:12 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Thought for the Day:

I don't know if these memos represent an impeachable offense -- although I must say I don't want to bring up the Clinton comparison again. But this strikes me as a lot worse than anything Richard Nixon ever contemplated. He used the government for petty political vindictiveness. Heck, I'd settle for that again over what we're looking at now.
--Molly Ivins [on the Downing Street Memos]

Len on 07.02.05 @ 07:29 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Our Stubborn Gee Dub Yah...

Jonathan Chait (LA Times) has this interesting assessment of Why Bush Won't Send More Troops:

“….In the prelude to the Iraq war, both Rumsfeld and Vice President Dick Cheney had reasons to low-ball the needed troops. Rumsfeld was fascinated with transforming the military into a smaller, high-tech force. Cheney believed Iraqis would "greet us as liberators" and therefore needed little armed supervision. Given the cult of personality around Bush, whom conservatives lionized as a fearless Churchillian slayer of terrorists, any deviation was seen as ideological heresy. After Shinseki ventured his opinions on troops, conservative pundit Jed Babbin blasted him as a weak-kneed, politically minded Clintonite who failed to understand that "the very premise of an extended 'occupation' is antithetical to President Bush's policy of liberation." Babbin intended that line as an indictment of Shinseki. In retrospect it's an indictment of Bush.

Bush's continued stubbornness probably derives from a refusal to admit a mistake. If we need more troops now, that implies we needed more troops all along, which means that if the war ends badly, Bush must have made a colossal mistake. It's characteristic of this administration that it would rather reduce the chances of being blamed for a national catastrophe than reduce the chances of the catastrophe happening in the first place.

Karen on 07.02.05 @ 05:34 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Chartitable and Christian-Minded folks Speak Out...

Moderate Christians like the Rev. Jim Wallis (Sojourners), Bishop Spong and others [as Len noted these 95 theses in his piece about Prof. Peter Ludlow and Prof. Leiter] who have rejected the narrow minded, bigoted and hate spewing Extremists doctrines, is this piece: HOUSES OF WORSHIP - From Gospel to Government - The Angry Left finds religion, and the result isn't pretty by Joseph Loconte (WSJ):

”They're the furious faithful--the growing number of religious liberals incensed by the political influence of Christian conservatives. Last week another organization joined their ranks with promises to "reclaim Christianity" and challenge the association of vital religion with conservative politics.

As far as Patrick Mrotek, founder of the Christian Alliance for Progress, is concerned, the gloves are off: "We can no longer stand by," he announced at a Washington press conference, "and watch people speak hatred, division, war and greed in the name of our faith."

With a membership of perhaps 6,000, the Christian Alliance for Progress qualifies as the organizational equivalent of a megachurch--but not much more. Nevertheless, its policy goals are ambitious, ranging from debt forgiveness to universal health care. It proffers an agenda "founded firmly on the teachings of the Gospel." Some students of the Gospel may be surprised at how neatly such an agenda fits the Democratic Party platform: The alliance supports stem-cell research, gay marriage and abortion; it opposes the Bush tax cuts, plans to privatize Social Security and the war in Iraq.
Every few years, it seems, another progressive group arises to contend with the political clout of Christian conservatives. The list includes the Interfaith Alliance, Call to Renewal, Soulforce, Let Justice Roll (run by the National Council of Churches), the Clergy Leadership Network, Faith Voices for the Common Good and the Network of Spiritual Progressives….”

Are these some of the John Q. Public finally getting angry and frustrated at the perverted messages and twisted scriptural references propounded by the Extremist-Religious-Righties? Well, AMEN to that – It’s about time to Speak UP!!!

Karen on 07.02.05 @ 05:23 AM CST [link] [ | ]


Meet Jane, the kid sister Juvenile Tyrannosaurus rex at Rockford museum is a prize catch like Sue -- but smaller by Richard Wronski (Chicago Tribune):

” ROCKFORD, Il. -- Officials with Rockford's Burpee Museum of National History knew they'd hit the geological jackpot four years ago when a group of museum-sponsored amateurs stumbled on the toe of a 66-million-year-old dinosaur while digging in the Montana badlands.

But only now has it become clear how important that serendipitous find was: Experts believe the dinosaur they call Jane is a Tyrannosaurus rex that died at age 11--an exceedingly rare specimen and the most complete skeleton of its kind ever found…”

There is more about this fabulous find and details if you click on the link above. And Fooey on the idiot "Creationist" folks who claim dinosaurs either did not exist, or are purposefully misleading clues left by...? in their Grand Scheme of the World. Here is yet another wonderful piece in the lifecycle of a T-Rex to add to the growing picture and knowledge of dinosaurs.

Karen on 07.02.05 @ 04:38 AM CST [link] [ | ]

When Right may make Might...

A right turn on the High Court? by Jonathan Turley (Shapiro Professor of Public Interest Law at George Washington University and a member of USA TODAY's board of contributors) is a good run down of the importance of a Supreme Court resignation – except that he was expecting it to be about Rehnquist:

”It is a true sign of desperate times when liberals are fretting over of the expected retirement of Chief Justice William Rehnquist. It is not that they have come to love Rehnquist — once called the "Lone Ranger" for his strident conservative dissents on the Warren Court. Yet, liberals have learned that there are actually judges to the right of Rehnquist, a number of whom are on the short list to replace him. It is like Luke Skywalker celebrating the demise of the Emperor only to learn that he was considered the mild-mannered runt of the litter.
Such surprises are not expected from the short-list judges — jurists viewed as the purest among the hard-right faithful. Some of the short-listers hold views rejected by Rehnquist as too extreme.
Moreover, when considered on the basis of age and health, the three other most likely retirements would cause the center of gravity on the court to shift sharply to the right: John Paul Stevens (85), Sandra Day O'Connor (75) and Ruth Bader Ginsburg (72 with a history of cancer).

The replacement of any of these justices could produce the most transformative doctrinal changes in the court's history. Consider just a few areas resting on the bubble:

•Abortion. These three justices represent half of current votes supporting Roe v. Wade. A loss of one of the three could flip a 5-4 decision protecting "partial-birth" abortions. If President Bush replaced just two, he could deliver the holy grail of conservative politics for at least four decades: the overturning of Roe.

•Affirmative action. Change one of the three and you change the result in the 2003 Grutter decision, in which the court upheld the use of affirmative action programs in university admissions.

•Campaign financing and reform. Replace one of the three and you reverse the court's 5-4 ruling in 2003 upholding federal restrictions on campaign financing — wiping away years of hard-fought legislative reforms.

•Church and state. A loss of any of the three would likely shift the balance in religion cases, allowing greater entanglement of church and state.

•Death penalty. The court's recent 5-4 ruling barring the execution of juveniles could change with the loss of either Stevens or Ginsburg.

•Disability. One change could flip a series of 5-4 decisions on disabilities law. These include a decision last year allowing the disabled to sue states for access to courthouses and this year's ruling (with Stevens and Ginsburg in the majority) extending the disability act to foreign cruise liners.

•Discrimination. A loss of any of three could reverse the result in a number of discrimination cases, including recent opinions supporting the broad application of Title IX, the federal law imposing gender equity in school sports.

•Environmental laws. These three justices are part of a slim five-vote majority on various environmental rulings, such as the recent opinion upholding the right of the Environmental Protection Agency to stop states from issuing construction permits below compliance standards.

•Federal sentencing. A loss of either Stevens or Ginsburg could flip the result in the court's recent decision striking down portions of the federal sentencing guidelines — a historic decision giving judges greater discretion in criminal cases. Likewise, such a change could undo the landmark 2000 ruling in Apprendi, in which the court barred judges from increasing sentences without factual findings from a jury.

•Gay rights. A loss of two of the three justices would lose the majority in the 2003 Lawrence decision that struck down anti-sodomy laws as well as some related decisions.

•States' rights and federalism. Rehnquist's "Federalism Revolution" struck down various federal statutes as intrusive of states' rights, such as the Violence Against Women Act. One or two new justices could restart the federalism revolution with a vengeance.

These are just a few of the highlights from an impressive list of close decisions and do not include areas such as criminal procedure, where numerous rulings hang by one vote. After decades of division, the sudden emergence of a stable majority would be revolutionary for the country.

For Bush, there is nothing less than a legacy at stake. With two or three appointments, Bush could have the greatest effect on the Supreme Court (and the country) of any president in history."

Karen on 07.02.05 @ 04:20 AM CST [link] [ | ]

More Sun-Shiny Days Ahead...

Ahh... just what I needed in the middle of an over-baked, glaringly endless Sunny-day Drought is this additional Bit “o” Little Miss Sunshine from James Wolcott, writing about Rich Lowry over at The National Review:

”….Twas barely a few issues ago, and he [Rich Lowry] was trumpeting loudly and unambiguously in a NR cover story on Iraq, "We're Winning."

The situation migrated south since then, and today he has an article on NRO hedging, "It's Winnable." So we were definitely winning in Iraq a couple months ago, and now it's still possible to pull out a win, and presumably a month or two from now it'll be "There's Still an Outside Shot at Winning," and a few months after that it'll be "How We Could Have Won If All of My Previous Articles Had Panned Out."

I particularly enjoyed his opening to today's installment. "There is no doubt that the insurgency has increased its lethality in recent months, and that can’t be spun away. But neither is it cause for existential despair."

If he keeps lowering the bar, he's going to become a limbo master. “

Karen on 07.01.05 @ 04:03 PM CST [link] [ | ]

From the interesting juxtapositions department....

My daily Dr. Science email newsletter tells me that today is the joint birthday of Genevieve Bujold and Pamela Anderson Lee (is she still going by "Lee"? I've fallen off the Pam Anderson watchbill in recent years...).

Len on 07.01.05 @ 01:15 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Fun with sponsored links....

Here's why advertisers should press developers for some "intelligence" in the servers that serve up sponsored links on web pages.

Len on 07.01.05 @ 10:38 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Faf and “The Plan”

Your Guide to The Plan

Q: So what's the plan?
A: The plan is to stick with the plan! If it ain't broke don't fix it.
Q: Why do we need the plan?
A: To stop terrorists like Saddam bin Laden from building another World Trade Center in Iraq - just so they can blow it up again.
Q: That would be horrible! How is the plan stopping them?
A: The plan is the central front in the war against terror! We invaded Iraq to get Iraqis to fight us in Iraq so they wouldn't fight us at home.
Q: The plan has cleverly lured them to where they already were, only in terrorist form!
A: Now you're catchin on!
Q: Hey, I know! We should invade like a small cardboard box. When all the terrorists attack there, we'll jump out of the way, tape up the box, and throw it in the ocean! No more terrorists!
A: Hey! No peeking ahead at the plan!….”

Give the rest a read over at fafblog, and don’t forget to scroll down to the Fafblog Constitutional Theater Presents: Public Religious Displays With Secular Intent! pictures.

Hip-Hip-Hooray for Fafblog!!!

Karen on 07.01.05 @ 09:33 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Hope nobody calls the DEA or police....

Thor rolls a joint and gets stoned....

This interested me because I think I own the Thor figure (well not the actual figure, but one of the millions of duplicates that ToyBiz churned out for the action figure market) that was used to make this photoset.

Credit: Tom at Pretty War

Len on 07.01.05 @ 09:00 AM CST [link] [ | ]

More Colorado Reunion in Winter Park

More McLauchlan Family Reunion with a couple last photos of the Bee-A-You-Ti-Full Colorado Mountains:

Colorado Mountains

mts1 (131k image)

More Mountains

mts2 (102k image)

Cory, Lauren Lindsey at the Waterfall

waterfall3 (155k image)

And for more pictures of the a few of the McLauchlan extended family (daughters did not photograph everyone...baaaad girls) click on the “more” button.

Karen on 07.01.05 @ 08:30 AM CST [more..] [ | ]

More Choice Words of Engrish

Yesterday's Engrish had a This Weird Gem to check out at Engrish.com

I wish I could leave my “behind” as well...or at least ten pounds of it. LOL

Karen on 07.01.05 @ 08:26 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Thought for the Day:

I have a very specific idea of what an "All-Star" is, and in my mind All-Star Games should be reserved for great players, not just players having great first halves. I tried to explain my point of view by using Jack Wilson as an example last year and received an avalanche of nasty e-mails from Pirates fans for my trouble. In short, my point was that one good half-season does not an All-Star make, and Wilson should have to prove himself for longer than that before being branded an "All-Star" for life.

Or, as I wrote then:

If Jack Wilson is "for real," we can certainly wait a year just to make sure, 
and pick him as an All-Star next season. If he's not for real, he doesn't
deserve to be an All-Star this year any more than Paul Quantrill in 2001 or
Scott Cooper in 1993 and 1994 anyway. A mediocre player who has 10 good weeks
is not an All-Star; he's just a mediocre player who happened to put his hot
streak together in the first half of the season.
Despite all the angry e-mails from Pittsburgh, Wilson hit just .279/.313/.407 in the second half of last season and is back to his banjo-hitting ways this year, hitting .231/.266/.351. In other words, he was indeed far from for real, and we certainly could have waited to see him in his first All-Star game. Ah, but I know what you're saying now. Pittsburgh needed someone to represent them in the All-Star game last year, so why not Wilson?

My formative years as a baseball fan were spent watching the post-Kirby Puckett Minnesota Twins fight for fourth place in the AL Central, so I speak from experience about the one-player-per-team rule. There is absolutely nothing exciting about watching Ron Coomer represent your favorite team in the All-Star game, and in fact it serves as more of a reminder that your team stinks than simply not having an All-Star at all would.
--Aaron Gleeman

Len on 07.01.05 @ 06:54 AM CST [link] [ | ]

July 2005

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