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

Attempted regicide in Right Blogistan

Glenn Reynolds goes all soft on the ACLU -- "they've become overly partisan in recent years, but they still do good work" -- and over thirty right-wing blogs de-link him.


Brock on 08.31.05 @ 10:26 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Congrats to Jeremy Hermida of the Florida Marlins....

who hit a grand slam in his first major league at bat. This is a feat that hasn't been accomplished since Bill Duggleby did it in 1898 (when he was pitching for the Phillies; the grand slam was Duggleby's only homer for that season).

The pity: there are so few fans at the Marlins' ballpark that poor Hermida didn't get much of an ovation, and the crowd (such as it was) didn't demand a curtain call from him.

That's a shame; the ESPN announcers were just pointing out that if this game were being played in St. Louis, the crowd would have undoubtedly given him a standing ovation, and probably demanded a curtain call. Just because St. Louis fans are like that.

Len on 08.31.05 @ 09:27 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Yikes...From The Pug-Ugly Vehicle Dept.

I just drove home next to one of these…

World Class UGLY Mercedes Trucks:

This thing looked like a rolling enameled refrigerator with windows and big wheels.

Mercedes (64k image)

It easily was the most hideous monstrosity to grace the roadways - And I’ll bet it’s just so fuel *economish* too!!! LOL

Can't wait for my hybrid mini-van vehicle, but if they build it to look like this Box-On-Wheels, I might PASS until they get back to a reasonable looking and aerodynamic body style.

Karen on 08.31.05 @ 05:19 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Buying an "unrated" DVD? You may not get what you're looking for....

James Berardinelli clues us in to an interesting DVD release scam (no permalinks yet; scroll to the August 31 entry on "Unrated DVDs"):

...studios are using the lack of a rating as a marketing tool, typically with raunchy R-rated movies targeted at teenagers and twenty-somethings. The scam goes something like this: take the R-rated movie and add "new, hot" content with "scenes they wouldn't let you see." (I'm not sure who "they" are… Theater owners? The MPAA? Uncle Sam?) The intention is, of course, to apply to the prurient element in all of us. We're expecting nudity and hot sex. And, if it's "Unrated," that means it has to contain content that the MPAA deemed to steamy for an R rating, right? Uh, not quite. The reality is usually different.

Instead of salicious material, we are usually presented with a few short outtakes that were removed from the theatrical version because they weren't good enough to make the final cut. (The term "good" being subjective.) Sometimes, there's a little sex or nudity, but most of the time the material is not as "naughty" as we are led to believe. Those expecting NC-17 "additions" are likely to be disappointed. (Unless, of course, a reliable source has informed you differently.)

Here's how the DVD ratings process works… If a movie is released on DVD with exactly the same content as its theatrical counterpart, it gets the same rating. But if anything is added - even a quick, inoffensive scene - the DVD version has to go before the MPAA for classification. So if a studio alters a theatrical cut and does not re-submit the film to the MPAA, it must be released as "unrated" (even if the content level has not changed). Therein lies the origin of what has become a marketing bonanza.

The key thing to look for is whether the DVD is labeled as an "Unrated Director's Cut" or an "Unrated Longer Cut/Special Edition." In the former case, there's a good chance that the DVD may be "harder" than the theatrical version, since it will contain material the director was forced to eliminate (either because of length or classification concerns). In the latter case, it means that the studio is trying to sucker you into buying or renting something you might otherwise ignore by running the "Unrated" scam.

Even with Director's Cuts, caveat emptor applies. For example, Oliver Stone recently released a re-edited version of
Alexander. Among the many changes, approximately 1/3 of Rosario Dawson's nude scene has been eliminated. Admittedly, this is a rarity, but if you buy the new version of Alexander hoping to see "new, hot" content with "scenes they wouldn't let you see," you may find that there's less flesh than you remember from theaters.

Len on 08.31.05 @ 12:38 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Fuck. We're doomed.

This is simply astonishing:

Dr. Miller's data reveal some yawning gaps in basic knowledge. American adults in general do not understand what molecules are (other than that they are really small). Fewer than a third can identify DNA as a key to heredity. Only about 10 percent know what radiation is. One adult American in five thinks the Sun revolves around the Earth, an idea science had abandoned by the 17th century.
TWENTY PERCENT of adult Americans do not know that the Earth revolves around the Sun?

Pitiful. Simply pitiful....

Len on 08.31.05 @ 12:31 PM CST [link] [ | ]

MadKane's at it again....

Hope she doesn't mind me stealing one of her pieces; I swear, Mad, it's just to give you greater circulation:

Bush Vacation Haiku
By Madeleine Begun Kane

Bush on vacation.
So can you tell the diff'rence?
DC less toxic.

In addition to the haiku (a poetic form I've never mastered; then again, I've never mastered any poetic form, to speak of), Mad's got a couple limericks about our "Crackpot Pats" (Robertson and Boone), and a poem on Bush's summer reading list. Or, if you prefer, give the audio version a listen

Len on 08.31.05 @ 12:18 PM CST [link] [ | ]

From the university here in Memphis....

here's an interesting, different look at Hurricane Katrina: Microseismic Effects of Hurricane Katrina

Hat tip to Stan Schwarz.

Len on 08.31.05 @ 11:53 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Chicagoans launch hurricane relief for people and pets...

"Volunteers from the American Red Cross of Greater Chicago announced today one of the organization's largest relief efforts ever to help victims of Hurricane Katrina.

The group has deployed 17 people to the southern U.S. and expects to send up to 20 more volunteers during the next several days, said LaForice Nealy, director of field operations.

The group will meet up with nearly 1,000 other volunteers deployed from the 85 Red Cross chapters across the country at staging areas in Texas, Alabama and parts of Florida. From there, coordinators immediately will send volunteers to places most in need.

The volunteers' priorities will be to provide temporary shelter, food, clothing and medication for victims, Nealy said. The relief workers will be stationed in the disaster areas for three weeks before being replaced with other volunteers."

Courtesy of Erika Slife (Chicago Tribune).

And hoping for help for so many folks devastated by this Hurricane Katrina. :-)

Karen on 08.31.05 @ 09:43 AM CST [link] [ | ]

The Artist in Me Loves these Things…

...Along the lines of the post Len did a bit ago about the “Post-it-Note Elvis”:

Here is a KOOL of Vincent Van Gogh’s Starry night:

starrynight1mina (53k image)starrynight2a (51k image)

starrynight3a (43k image)starrynight4a (39k image)

It is made completely of other photos and pictures. Awesome!!!

Courtesy of Digg.com.

Karen on 08.31.05 @ 08:54 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Not on Your Life...

...Would I ever GET a tattoo. But...

A while back Stan (Stan, Cathy & Lucinda’s Page) treated us to some tattoo show pictures and body art photos.

Now here’s a site link for some for GEEK Tattoos.

Check it out. :-D

Karen on 08.31.05 @ 08:25 AM CST [link] [ | ]

For the Necrophiliac in all of us (?!?)…

A few "plastinated" corpses as yet another Reason to visit Chicago Museums:

`Body' to pull 2 all-nighters: Exhibit to stay open for marathon weekend:

”Looking at cadavers in the wee hours of the morning might not seem like everybody's idea of a fun time, but the Museum of Science and Industry believes thousands will pay for that privilege over Labor Day weekend.

The museum announced Monday it will keep the hall housing the "Body Worlds" exhibit open around the clock for the three final days of the exhibit, which has drawn sellout crowds to view a collection of "plastinated" corpses.

Since Feb. 4, more than 700,000 visitors have been through Body Worlds, making it the most successful temporary exhibit at the museum since 850,000 paid to see recovered artifacts from the sunken ocean liner Titanic in 2000."

Karen on 08.31.05 @ 08:16 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Speaking of Comic Series...

From the Annals of improbably research come this BATMAN piece: Who is Fledermausmensch?

”Who is Fledermausmensch? The word "batman" translates into German as "Fledermausmensch." Please help us identify the one, true Fledermausmensch. Here are the few things we know about Fledermausmensch. He or she:

(1) is real, not fictional

(2) is a supreme expert on bats

(3) is either is German or Austrian or has some other strong connection to German bats, language, science, and/or culture

If you have info that can help us identify and honor Fledermausmensch, please send it to us, with your email subject header reading: WHO IS FLEDERMAUSMENSCH?”

And this Follow -Up:
”Fledermausmensch kibitzer
Investigator Wolf Roder complains in reference to the search for the one, true Fledermausmensch:
You wrote that "The word 'batman' translates into German as 'Fledermausmensch.'"

Batman surely is, and always has been, a man (male of the human species). Thus "batman" would translate as "Fledermausmann" (with two n, please). Now that you have batman translated, how about "batty" asuming this means bat-like? Fledermausisch?”

Karen on 08.31.05 @ 08:09 AM CST [link] [ | ]

From the Files of - Oh, No – When Will They Stop Thinking of the Next….

Star Trek Adventure…

Trek prequel script goes to The Beginning.

"Band of Brothers screenwriter Erik Jendresen told Dreamwatch magazine that he's turned in a draft for a proposed new Star Trek prequel. The film, tentatively titled Star Trek: The Beginning, won't use any existing Trek characters and will be a prequel to the original series.

"This would take place just a couple of years after the end of the events in Enterprise, but well before the original series, and it would look at the inciting incident that started everything," revealed Jendresen. "The story is big and epic, and it isn't as antiseptic as the television stories had to be."

Jendresen also revealed that his draft doesn't center on the enterprise.

"We're looking at a very small group of men and women, particularly focusing on one character. There are a couple of ships, including a principal ship, but this is not a traditional captain-and-crew-of-a-starship story in the least."

Very excited about the project, Jendresen thinks that the chances of it getting made are good. "It all depends on what the studio thinks, and Paramount has been through significant changes lately. But the people who are making the decisions are pretty responsible folk with a fine body of work behind them. So we'll see. Right now, I'm optimistic."

Karen on 08.31.05 @ 07:53 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Buy ‘em now before they are all GONE…

Courtesy of the Chicago Tribune is this GEM: Cities not high on `Pot Suckers': Celebrities may like herb-flavored candies, but some towns want nothing to do with them

"The likes of Snoop Dogg, Nelly and Paris Hilton aren't mentioned in many city ordinances, but two new laws banning the sale of marijuana-flavored candies--one in Chicago, the other in the northwest suburbs--take a swipe at the celebrities for endorsing the bitter-tasting products.

Schaumburg last week became the latest to say no to the hemp-flavored candies, which are popular with young people even though they don't contain the main ingredient in marijuana that causes a high.

With names like "Pot Suckers," the candies were sold for about a year at Woodfield Mall's Spencer Gifts amid the lava lamps, gag gifts and "High Street" signs.

Lawmakers say the candies send the wrong message to children, but young people and the candymakers argue that they're nothing but sugar-filled novelty items and contend that such laws will have little impact on actual drug use.

The Pot Suckers brand is produced by ICUP Inc. and was sold for about a year in stores nationwide. Another company, California-based Chronic Candy, sells its version of hemp-flavored lollipops and gumdrops at concerts and on the Internet in druglike quantities such as "Nickel Bag" with the slogan, "Every lick is like taking a hit."
A few of the green lollipops are still available in a handful of Illinois Spencer stores where they haven't been banned and cost $1.99 each with a wrapper that claims "tastes like the real `deal.'"

Those fighting to legalize marijuana, while against banning the sweets, say the candies taste awful.

"Foul, and the word `nasty' is what is usually evoked," when describing hemp-flavored candies, said Allen St. Pierre, director of NORML, or the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws.

Tom Durkin, a Chicago lawyer who represents Chronic Candy, described the taste as grassy and oily and said the product contains hemp oil.

St. Pierre said marijuana candy has been around forever but the celebrity endorsements are what created the buzz in council chambers….”

Hmmm...sounds DELICIOUSO, if I liked POT that is. :-)

Karen on 08.31.05 @ 07:49 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Some days, I think there just might be hope for This Fading Republic....

The Arizona Daily Star in Tuscon is dropping Ann Coulter's column, because even the conservatives are complaining:

The Arizona Daily Star in Tucson has had enough of conservative commentator Ann Coulter.

In a column announcing a wide range of changes in the paper's opinion pages Monday, Editor and Publisher David Stoeffler revealed that the paper was dropping Coulter's syndicated column.

"Many readers find her shrill, bombastic, and mean-spirited. And those are the words used by readers who identified themselves as conservatives," the recently appointed Stoeffler wrote.
With luck, she'll soon find herself out of a job as a "pundit", and might have to look for a job more in keeping with her low moral standards.

Like practicing law.

Len on 08.31.05 @ 07:31 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Thought for the Day:

Indeed, no intelligent design hypothesis has even been ventured as a rival explanation of any biological phenomenon. This might seem surprising to people who think that intelligent design competes directly with the hypothesis of non-intelligent design by natural selection. But saying, as intelligent design proponents do, "You haven't explained everything yet," is not a competing hypothesis. Evolutionary biology certainly hasn't explained everything that perplexes biologists. But intelligent design hasn't yet tried to explain anything.

To formulate a competing hypothesis, you have to get down in the trenches and offer details that have testable implications. So far, intelligent design proponents have conveniently sidestepped that requirement, claiming that they have no specifics in mind about who or what the intelligent designer might be.
--Daniel C. Dennett

Len on 08.31.05 @ 07:00 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Broken window fallacy, Hurricane Katrina edition


J.P. Morgan senior economist Anthony Chan agrees that higher energy prices will curb both regional and national economic growth in the near-term.

"I think a 0.2 percent decline in economic growth due Katrina's impact on oil and the regional economy is a realistic assumption," Chan said. Longer-term, Chan believes hurricanes tend to stimulate overall growth.

Said Chan, "Preliminary estimates indicate 60 percent damage to downtown New Orleans. Plenty of cleanup work and rebuilding will follow in all the areas. That means over the next 12 months, there will be lots of job creation which is good for the economy."

Prof. Doug Woodward, with the Division of Research at the Moore School of Business at the University of South Carolina, has researched the economic impact of hurricanes.

"On a personal level, the loss of life is tragic. But looking at the economic impact, our research shows that hurricanes tend to become god-given work projects," Woodward said.

Disasters are good for the economy, he said. Within six months, he expects to see a construction boom and job creation offset the short-term negatives such as loss of business activity, loss of wealth in the form of housing, infrastructure, agriculture and tourism revenue in the Gulf Coast states.

Why Anthony Chan is wrong.

Brock on 08.31.05 @ 12:41 AM CST [link] [ | ]

No surprises here.

Karen directed me here; she says she got it from Rook's Rant. If she's brave enough to post her scores she can give you the URL.... :-)

Tri-Lamb Material
78 % Nerd, 43% Geek, 56% Dork
For The Record:

A Nerd is someone who is passionate about learning/being smart/academia.

A Geek is someone who is passionate about some particular area or subject, often an obscure or difficult one.

A Dork is someone who has difficulty with common social expectations/interactions.

You scored better than half in Nerd and Dork, earning you the coveted title of: Tri-Lamb Material.

The classic, "80's" nerd, you are what most people think of when they
think "nerd," largely due to 80's movies like Revenge of the Nerds and
TV shows like Head of the Class. You're exceptionally bright and smart,
and partly because of that have never quite fit in with your peers or
social groups. Perhaps you're realized, or will someday, that it is
possible to retain all of the things that you like about being
brilliant and still make peace with the social cliques around you. Or
maybe you won't--it's really not necessary. As the brothers of Lambda
Lambda Lambda discovered, you're fine just the way you are and can take
pride in that. I mean, who wants to be like Ogre, right!?


Thanks Again! -- THE NERD? GEEK? OR DORK? TEST

My test tracked 3 variables How you compared to other people your age and gender:
free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 84% on nerdiness
free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 78% on geekosity
free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 94% on dork points
Link: The Nerd? Geek? or Dork? Test written by donathos on OkCupid Free Online Dating

Len on 08.30.05 @ 06:53 PM CST [link] [ | ]

How Could I Resist...

Another review of those Hot Diggity Dog Items: from this article by Charles Leroux (Chicago Tribune) NOMINATED AS ONE OF CHICAGO'S WONDERS: Chicago Hot Dogs :

”Not much in this world is perfect.

The Chicago Hot Dog is perfect.

Boiled or steamed, not grilled, it lies regally in a lightly steamed poppy-seed bun and is anointed with:
Diced onion

Tomato wedges

Pickle relish the color of Kryptonite

Yellow mustard

A few sport peppers

A dill pickle spear

A shake of celery salt

There's your classic Chicago-style dog, a perfect teaming of tastes and colors and textures.

We don't have to mention, no ketchup! None! Ever! Do we?

Some readers nominated the genre; others, specific local shrines -- Fluky's, Murphy's, Byron's, Gene & Jude's, Superdawg, The Wieners Circle, etc. -- though with 1,800 hot dog stands ensuring that you're never more that about a half mile from heaven, a pilgrimage isn't necessary.

So far this year, there have been 231 mentions of "hot dog" in the pages of the Chicago Tribune. We've reported that Vienna Beef Co. -- dating to two Austro-Hungarian immigrants selling franks at the 1893 World's Fair -- signed a deal with Target to sell Chicago-style dogs in 1,350 Target food courts nationally, a blessing for America.


2. Water Tower

3. The "L"

4. Wrigley Field

5. Millennium Park

6. Sears Tower

7. Chicago Hot Dogs

YUM !!!! :-)

Voting take place on September 9th. (Go to this link if you wish to vote).

Karen on 08.30.05 @ 04:47 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Today Quotable...

"Last week, even as Bush was taking a break from his vacation to denounce “immediate withdrawal of our troops in Iraq or the broader Middle East” as a step that “would only embolden the terrorists,” the Financial Times was reporting details of the Pentagon’s plans “to pull significant numbers of troops out of Iraq in the next twelve months.”

The chilling truth is that no one really knows what to do. No one knows whether the consequences of withdrawal, quick or slow, would be worse or better—for Iraq and for the “war on terror” of which, willy-nilly, it has become a part—than the consequences of “staying the course.”

It is a matter of judgment, and the judgment that will count, more chilling still, is that of George W. Bush.

— Hendrik Hertzberg (New Yorker): WAR AND ANTIWAR

Karen on 08.30.05 @ 03:16 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Keeping Up with the Yang-Chou Jones'

Check out this article: Asleep at the energy switch, by Neal Pierce (Seattle Times), advocating some ideas for how our states and communities can do more for improving 1) energy-efficiency measures, 2) green roofs and 3) local cogeneration of electricity to keep in step with...

"... our new super-competitor — China. Growing pell-mell, it is already one of the world's leading polluters and faces immense environmental challenges.

But the Chinese will start their first offshore wind-power complex next year; they're building the world's largest tidal-energy project; they're implementing auto-fuel standards more stringent than the United States. On top of all that, they've undertaken a massive solar-energy program, according to the Web site worldchanging.com.

By the end of 2010, Beijing expects all Chinese cities to reduce their buildings' energy use by 50 percent, and by 2020, 65 percent.

What a fresh breeze of inventive, common-sense thinking, and relief from official Washington's energy myopia and toadying up to the special interests!

Karen on 08.30.05 @ 03:09 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Time to Ante-UP...

...Ole Fearless Leader and Family:

"BuzzFlash is urging George W. Bush to prove that his "noble war" is not just for poor, middle class and rural Americans to die in. Of ten eligible offspring of the children of George Herbert Walker and Barbara Bush, not one is serving in the armed forces, let alone in Iraq.

BuzzFlash.com is urging Americans to sign a petition that reads: "I demand that George W. Bush's daughters, and his eligible nieces and nephews, serve in Iraq to prove their support of Bush's 'noble war for a noble cause.' If the Bush family does not believe in 'sacrificing' for the war and is not willing to put their lives on the line, then Bush must bring the troops of middle class, rural and poor Americans home now."

"If George W. Bush believes that Americans should 'sacrifice' their children for his 'noble war' in Iraq, why are no Bush children serving in the armed forces or risking their lives in the Middle-East?" asks Mark Karlin, editor and publisher of BuzzFlash.com

The petition asks: "Why do George W. Bush, his siblings, and their children think that the war is 'noble' enough for kids like Casey Sheehan to die in, but not them?

"Sign this petition, demanding that the Bush sibling children serve in George's 'noble war' or he must bring the troops home now. Because if it's not 'noble' enough for the Bush family to risk their lives fighting for, it's just a disastrous graveyard for poor and middle class Americans, dug deep to advance Bush's partisan agenda.

"Bush can be brave with other people's children, because he has nothing personally to risk. Sign the petition now on behalf of the lives of the real Americans."

The petition, along with the names of the Bush offspring who are service eligible, an extended family photo, and an Uncle Sam recruitment poster can be found at this link.


BuzzFlash.com is a pro-democracy news and commentary site, which has experienced up to 5.3 million readers a month. "

Courtesy of US News Wire.

Karen on 08.30.05 @ 02:40 PM CST [link] [ | ]

In Case You Wanted To Know More...

...The World Fact Book is now available:

"The World Factbook, a popular Central Intelligence Agency reference manual, provides a wealth of information on over 260 separate nations and other entities, listed alphabetically, in over 700 pages. There are also 12 terrain maps and three world maps included. The official government release of the 2005 World Factbook is now available from the National Technical Information Service (NTIS).

Each entry includes a map of the nation or entity, full color picture of its flag, and information in the following categories:

-- Geography

-- People

-- Government

-- Economy

-- Communications

-- Transportation

-- Military

-- Transnational issues

In addition, there are six appendices that provide cross- referencing information lists, international environmental agreements and information organizations and groups.

The World Factbook 2005 is available from NTIS, call 1-800-553-6847 or 703-605-6000, for $99 plus $5 handling fee, no additional charge for shipping; quote order number PB2005-928005KTI. Most major credit cards accepted. Fax orders to 703-605-6900. For more information or go to order online.

Access information on more than 600,000 government information products on the NTIS Web site:

The National Technical Information Service is the federal government's central source for the sale of scientific, technical, engineering, and related business information produced by or for the U.S. government and complementary material from international sources. NTIS also offers thousands of multimedia, training, and educational programs produced by federal agencies. Approximately 3 million products are available from NTIS in a variety of formats: electronic download, online access, computer products, multimedia, microfiche and paper."

Courtesy of US News Wire.

Karen on 08.30.05 @ 02:33 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Happy Be- Laboring Day...

"2004 was a banner year for CEOs and a dismal year for workers, according to a new report from the Institute for Policy Studies and United for a Fair Economy, "Executive Excess 2005: Defense Contractors Get More Bucks for the Bang."

The ratio of average CEO pay (now $11.8 million) to worker pay (now $27,460) spiked up from 301-to-1 in 2003 to 431-to-1 in 2004.

If the minimum wage had risen as fast as CEO pay since 1990, the lowest paid workers in the United States would be earning $23.03 an hour today, not $5.15 an hour.

The report found that CEOs are individually profiting from the Iraq War, with huge average raises at the biggest defense contractors...."

Courtesy of US News Wire.

Karen on 08.30.05 @ 02:24 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, Feith, et al.: war criminals

I've several times in this pulpit voiced my opinion that the waging of the war in Iraq constitutes the crime of waging aggressive war, in violation of the precedents set by the International Military Tribunal convened in 1945. Just in case y'all don't want to take my word for it, here's a data point in support of the proposition that I haven't completely flipped my wig: Michael Mandel, an expert in (among other subjects) the law of war and international criminal law at Osgoode Hall Law School, York University, Toronto, is of the same opinion:

This month marks the 60th anniversary of the London Charter of the International Military Tribunal, the basic legal document for the trial of the major Nazi war criminals that commenced in November 1945.

One of the great innovations of that charter was the charge of "Crimes Against Peace," defined as the "planning, preparation, initiation or waging of a war of aggression, or a war in violation of international treaties, agreements or assurances."

In a famous passage from their judgment of the following year, the four judges of the tribunal (American, British, French and Russian) declared the crime of aggressive war to be "the supreme international crime, differing only from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole."

The innovation of the crime of aggressive war was in fact denounced by the Nazi defendants as "ex post facto law," but Justice Robert Jackson, America's prosecutor at Nuremberg, had an answer for this: Illegal wars were nothing more than mass murder, and there was nothing ex post facto about the crime of murder. Here's what Jackson said to the tribunal in his opening statement on Nov. 21, 1945:

Any resort to war — any kind of war — is a resort to means that are inherently criminal. War inevitably is a course of killings, assaults, deprivations of liberty and destruction of property. An honestly defensive war is, of course, legal and saves those lawfully conducting it from criminality. But inherently criminal acts cannot be defended by showing that those who committed them were engaged in a war, when war itself is illegal. The very minimum legal consequence of the treaties making aggressive war illegal is to strip those who incite or wage them of every defense the law ever gave, and to leave the war-makers subject to judgment by the usually accepted principles of the law of crimes.

The crime of aggression is nowhere to be seen in modern international criminal codes, and leading the charge against including it has been the United States itself. It's easy to see why. The war in Iraq, for one example, constitutes the quintessential war of aggression, falling very far short, rhetoric apart, of any justification in self-defense or authorization by the Security Council of the United Nations, the only two accepted legal grounds for war in international law. The U.N. Charter is one of those "international treaties" mentioned in the London Charter of 1945.

And with the best estimates of the cost in Iraqi civilian lives ranging between 25,000 (Iraq body count) and 100,000 (Johns Hopkins School of Public Health, Baltimore), all well within prewar predictions, it seems perverse to keep on insisting that this was a "humanitarian intervention," itself a dubious legal ground for war. In fact, it amounts to rather a lot of counts of murder on Jackson's definition.
So when are we going to do the right thing, impeach Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld and their co-conspirators, and deliver them in handcuffs to The Hague to stand trial for their crimes?

Never, alas, because there's no justice in the world. Fortunately for my sanity, I spent enough time working in the "justice" system to learn that....

Hat tip to Brian Leiter, who referred to a Osgoode Hall news release about Professor Mandel's column; a few seconds with Google unearthed a direct reference to it.

Len on 08.30.05 @ 12:40 PM CST [link] [ | ]

It takes balls.....

Via Talking Points Memo, we read that in Kentucky, a grand jury handed down indictments of a number of government officials in a scandal involving possible disregard of Kentucky civil service provisions against firing employees for political reasons.

The governor's action? He issued blanket, unconditional pre-trial pardons to everyone indicted.

Need I mention that the governor is a Republican?

Nah, I didn't think so.

If this one interests you, Josh Marshall refers us to Bluegrass Report for the details (no direct link, because there are a number of posts about this one there; just start scrolling). What interested me is that the Kentucky attorney general's been in contact with the FBI (since the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet, which is apparently the focus of the grand jury investigation, receives Federal funding). We may have to keep an eye on this one.

But props to Josh for a hell of a good line about Gov. Fletcher's chutzpah:

I think this is what Republicans call decisive leadership.

Len on 08.30.05 @ 12:07 PM CST [link] [ | ]

"Southern Heritage...."

Karen called it to my attention that Randy "South Knox Bubba" Neal is guest blogging at Facing South. Dare we hope that SKB might find his way back to Left Blogistan sometime soon?

The subject of the SKB guest-post I linked to is some racial incidents in the high schools in Blount County, TN, as a result of which authorities implemented a "safety policy" which implicitly, though not explicitly, result in the banning of displays of the Confederate flag, an action which, of course, rubs salt in some old wounds 'round these parts. As SKB points out:

We’ve all heard the arguments for preserving this Symbol of Pride in our Great Southern Heritage. The Confederate Flag is not a symbol of racism and hatred. It’s a symbol freedom and independence, and particularly freedom from the oppressive tyranny of a Federal government too big for its britches. Oh, yeah, and the Civil War was not about slavery. It was about States’ Rights. (Which presumably includes the state’s right to allow its citizens to own slaves.)
In response to that "canonical argument" in favor of homage to the Confederate flag, a commenter adds this:
Jim said...

What was the Civil War about? We needn't guess, as four of the Seceding States set forth Declarations of the Causes of their Secession (similar to the Declaration of Independence). You can find them at:


(note the links to each state's declaration at the top of the page)

Mississippi’s has, as the second sentence:
"Our position is thoroughly identified with the institution of slavery-- the greatest material interest of the world. Its labor supplies the product which constitutes by far the largest and most important portions of commerce of the earth."

That of Texas closes with:
"[I]t is meet that our own views should be distinctly proclaimed.

We hold as undeniable truth that ... the servitude of the African race, as existing in these States, is mutually beneficial to both bond and free, and is abundantly authorized and justified by the experience of mankind, and the revealed will of the Almighty Creator, as recognized by all Christian nations..."

The secessionists made no bones about the fact that they would fight to preserve their right to hold other people in bondage. Let us take them at their word.

Len on 08.30.05 @ 07:19 AM CST [link] [ | ]

For those of you who've always wondered....

Baseball writer (well, he's got a book published, it looks like, which is more than I'll ever accomplish in my wasted life) Al Pepper examines the origins of the term "Mendoza line", in the context of baseball stats (the quick and dirty explanation, for those of you who may be unclear on the concept: the "Mendoza line" is the notional boundary between those batters hitting above .200 and those hitting .200 and below).

Mr. Pepper starts his article with the definition of "Mendoza line" from Dickson's Baseball Dictionary (a most awesome work, btw; I own both the first and second editions, which reminds me that I need to check if Paul Dickson has revised it yet). The "original" meaning of "Mendoza line" was the division between hitters hitting over .215 and those hitting .215 and below; the reason for that being that the career batting average of Mario Mendoza (the player immortalized by the term "Mendoza line", of course) was .215. Since the introduction of the term, however, there's been some blurring of the line, and now the "standard" meaning of "Mendoza line" has settled at a batting average of .200.

I realize I rail against the standard usage in vain, but I think this sucks. As a long time admirer of Bob "Mr. Baseball" Uecker, who was himself a career .200 hitter, I think that, if anything, the .200 average should be immortalized as "the Uecker line". But for some reason (probably the fact that Mendoza had a longer career, by three seasons), it's Mendoza who's been immortalized as the embodiment of the .200 hitter, even if that apotheosis isn't quite accurate. Oh well.... At least that gives me the chance to end with a bit of Mr. Baseball's wit and wisdom:

Anybody with ability can play in the big leagues. To last as long as I did with the skills I had, with the numbers I produced, was a triumph of the human spirit.
--Bob Uecker, lifetime .200 hitter

Len on 08.30.05 @ 06:58 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Now Here's a Thought...

"The Geothermal Energy Association (GEA) is releasing data showing the untapped geothermal power potential in the West. The data, extracted from publicly available reports and studies, show almost 100 undeveloped geothermal power sites. These sites have a total production potential approaching 25,000MW of electrical generating capacity -- enough to meet more than 70 percent of California's electricity needs.

GEA pulled together these estimates for the Western Governors' Association's (WGA) on-going assessment of the ability of geothermal and other clean energy resources to meet the substantial growth projected in the region's electric power demand. The data demonstrate significant geothermal potential from identified but undeveloped hydrothermal sites in eleven western states: Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah and Washington.

These estimates exclude unknown, undiscovered resources. Substantial undiscovered geothermal resources are expected to exist, and they are generally considered to be much larger. USGS Circular 790, for example, estimated that 72,000 to 127,000 megawatts could be supported by undiscovered hydrothermal resources not included in its assessment. Hydrothermal resources, which use steam or hot water to transfer the geothermal resource from the ground to the power station, are one of the four main types of geothermal resources. Hydrothermal resources are used for geothermal electricity production today, while the other three types, geopressured, hot dry rock, and magma, remain in the initial stages of development."

Courtesy of US News Wire.

Karen on 08.30.05 @ 06:53 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Thought for the Day:

The specific metaphor of a living, evolving Constitution arose in the 1920s to explain how a broad view of federal power that came with World War I (and later, the New Deal) was consistent with the American constitutional tradition. The Constitution's words, Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. wrote in 1920, "called into life a being" whose "development … could not have been foreseen completely by the most gifted of its begetters." Hence we must interpret our Constitution "in the light of our whole experience and not merely in that of what was said a hundred years ago."

Holmes was right: The living Constitution is central to the American constitutional tradition, so central that even its loudest critics actually believe in it. Many Americans fail to realize how much of our current law and institutions are inconsistent with the original expectations of the founding generation. A host of federal laws securing the environment, protecting workers and consumers—even central aspects of Social Security—go beyond the original understanding of federal power, not to mention most federal civil rights laws that protect women, racial and religious minorities, and the disabled from private discrimination. Independent federal agencies like the Federal Reserve Board, the Federal Trade Commission, and the Federal Communications Commission would all be unconstitutional under the original understanding of the Constitution. Presidential authority would be vastly curtailed—including all the powers that the Bush administration regularly touts. Indeed, most of the Bush administration's policy goals—from No Child Left Behind to national tort reform—would be beyond federal power.

Conversely, a vast number of civil-liberties guarantees we now expect from our Constitution have no basis in the original understanding. If you reject the living Constitution, you also reject constitutional guarantees of equality for women, not to mention
Brown v. Board of Education and Loving v. Virginia, which struck down laws banning interracial marriage. Liberals and conservatives alike would be discomfited. The original understanding cannot explain why the Constitution would limit race-conscious affirmative action by the federal government, nor does it justify the current scope of executive power.

Even the Supreme Court's two professed originalists, Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas, believe in the living Constitution. Scalia's concurrence in
Raich v. Ashcroft—this term's medicinal-marijuana case—demonstrates that he long ago signed on to the idea of a flexible and broad national power that came with the New Deal. And Thomas argues for First Amendment protections far broader in scope than the framers would have dreamed of. Both Justices joined the majority in Bush v. Gore, which relied on Warren Court precedents securing voting rights under the 14th Amendment. There was just one tiny originalist problem with that logic: The framers and ratifiers of the 14th Amendment didn't think it applied to voting.

Nobody, and I mean nobody, whether Democrat or Republican, really wants to live under the Constitution according to the original understanding once they truly understand what that entails. Calls for a return to the framers' understandings are a political slogan, not a serious theory of constitutional decision-making.
--Jack M. Balkin

Len on 08.30.05 @ 05:50 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Our "Engrish of the Day"....

isn't from Engrish.com, but it should be:

Len on 08.29.05 @ 02:41 PM CST [link] [ | ]

More bAdmin "Biz as usual"...

Punish the Real Whistleblowers - Reward the Inept Leakers and Cowards....

The Chicago Tribune has this article (Army demotes Halliburton contract critic -
Reassignment cites poor job performance
) about the demotion of Bunnatine Greenhouse, who "dared" question the "2003 series of corps decisions involving the Halliburton subsidiary Kellogg Brown & Root, which has garnered more than $10 billion for work in Iraq" and owing to "her strict adherence to procurement requirements."

Such proto-typical Bushie retribution for anyone who stands up for anything good, proper, ethical or legal in this Administration.

Karen on 08.29.05 @ 11:11 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Storytelling comes of Age in the Digital Download World....

"A new way to borrow audiobooks from the library involves no CDs, no car trips, no fines and no risk of being shushed.

Rather, public libraries from New York City to Alameda, Calif., are letting patrons download Tom Clancy techno-thrillers, Arabic tutorials and other titles to which they can listen on their computers or portable music players — all without leaving home.

Librarians say such offerings help libraries stay relevant in the digital age....

There’s still one big hitch, though: The leading library services offer Windows-friendly audiobook files that can’t be played on Apple Computer Inc.’s massively popular iPod player.

Also, many audiobooks can’t be burned to a CD, the format preferred by many car commuters.

Vendors such as OverDrive Inc. and OCLC Online Computer Library Center Inc.’s NetLibrary have licensing deals with publishers and provide digital books using Microsoft Corp.’s Windows Media Audio format, which includes copyright protections designed to help audiobooks stand apart from the often lawless world of song swapp"

Courtesy of The Daily Herald.

Karen on 08.29.05 @ 11:04 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Java Jive...

Another reason to enjoy playing my Manhattan Transfer version of the Ink Spots song, "Java Jive," from the 1940:

"When the Ink Spots sang "I love the java jive and it loves me" in 1940, they could not have known how right they were.

Coffee not only helps clear the mind and perk up the energy, it also provides more healthful antioxidants than any other food or beverage in the American diet, according to a study released Sunday.

Of course, too much coffee can make people jittery and even raise cholesterol levels, so food experts stress moderation.

The findings by Joe A. Vinson, a chemistry professor at the University of Scranton, in Pennsylvania, give a healthy boost to the warming beverage.

"The point is, people are getting the most antioxidants from beverages, as opposed to what you might think," Vinson said in a telephone interview.

Antioxidants, which are thought to help battle cancer and provide other health benefits, are abundant in grains, tomatoes and many other fruits and vegetables.

Vinson said he was researching tea and cocoa and other foods and decided to study coffee, too”

Courtesy of The Kane County Chronicle: Healthy coffee? Java top source of antioxidants By Randolph E. Schimid (Associated Press)

Java Jive
Manhattan Transfer, Ink Spots

I love coffee, I love tea,
I love the Java Jive and it loves me
Coffee and tea and the java and me,
A cup, a cup, a cup, a cup, a cup!

I love java sweet and hot,
Whoops, Mister Moto, I'm a coffee pot
Shoot me the pot, and I'll pour me a shot,
A cup, a cup, a cup, a cup, a cup!

Oh slip me a slug from the wonderful mug
and I'll cut a rug 'til I'm snug in a jug
A slice of onion and a raw one,
Draw one!
Waiter, waiter, percolator!

I love coffee, I love tea,
I love the Java Jive and it loves me
Coffee and tea and the java and me,
A cup, a cup, a cup, a cup, a cup!

Boston beans (soy beans)
I said the little itty-bitty green bean
(cabbage n' greens)
You know that I'm not keen about a bean,
unless it is a chili chili bean! (Talk it, boy!)

I love java sweet and hot,
Whoops, Mister Moto, I'm a coffee pot (yeah)
You shoot me the pot, and I'll pour me a shot,
A cup, a cup, a cup, 'an dat zat bootle!

Blow me a slug from that wonderful mug
And I'll cut a rug that's snug in a jug
Drop a nickel in my pot - Joe
Takin' it slow
Waiter, waiter percolator

I love coffee, I love tea,
I love the Java Jive an' it loves me
Coffee and tea and the java and me
A cup, a cup, a cup, a cup - BOY!

--By Ben Oakland and Milton Drake

Karen on 08.29.05 @ 10:51 AM CST [link] [ | ]

More Justifications...

Michael Froomkin has a GEM of a political cartoon from the creative pen of Miami Herald's cartoonist, Jim Morin, at Discourse.net.

Good Job pointing out the latest Iraq War flawed "rationale."

Karen on 08.29.05 @ 10:29 AM CST [link] [ | ]

More Stealth Trashing of Our Country...

...From the bAdmin - Mr. "Clear Skies" and "Steward of Our Environment." Bah-Humbug!!!

”An ongoing and secret Interior Department attempt to rewrite and override 90 years of laws, rules and court rulings governing the 388 sites in the U.S. National Park System would "hijack" the American's national parks, leaving them wide open for what are now barred uses and making it extremely unlikely that the sites would survive as unspoiled treasures for future generations of Americans, according to the Coalition of National Park Service Retirees (CNPSR), which is a watchdog group of 410 NPS veterans accounting for 12,000 years of collective park management experience.”

Courtesy of US News Wire.

Click on the “more” button to read further.

Karen on 08.29.05 @ 08:05 AM CST [more..] [ | ]

More from the "What Will They Think of Next" Dept:

Foggy windows and lenses are a nuisance, and in the case of automobile windows, can pose a driving hazard. Now, a group of scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) may have found a permanent solution to the problem. The team has developed a unique polymer coating - made of silica nanoparticles - that they say can create surfaces that never fog.

The transparent coating can be applied to eyeglasses, camera lenses, ski goggles ... even bathroom mirrors, they say. The new coating was described today at the 230th national meeting of the American Chemical Society, the world's largest scientific society.

Researchers have been developing anti-fog technology for years, but each approach has its drawbacks. Some stores carry special anti-fog sprays that help reduce fogging on the inside of car windows, but the sprays must be constantly reapplied to remain effective. Glass containing titanium dioxide also shows promise for reduced fogging, but the method only works in the presence of ultraviolet (UV) light, researchers say.

"Our coatings have the potential to provide the first permanent solution to the fogging problem," says study leader Michael Rubner, Ph.D., a materials science researcher at MIT in Cambridge, Mass. "They remain stable over long periods, don't require light to be activated and can be applied to virtually any surface." Coated glass appears clearer and allows more light to pass through than untreated glass while maintaining the same smooth texture, he says.
The same coatings also can be engineered to have superior anti-reflective properties that reduce glare and maximize the amount of light passing through, an effect that shows promise for improving materials used in greenhouses and solar cell panels, the researcher says. So far, the coating is more durable on glass than plastic surfaces, but Rubner and his associates are currently working on processes to optimize the effectiveness of the coating for all surfaces. More testing is needed, they say.

Funding for this study was provided by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) and the National Science Foundation (via the Materials Research Science and Engineering Centers, or MSREC).

The American Chemical Society is a nonprofit organization, chartered by the U.S. Congress, with a multidisciplinary membership of more than 158,000 chemists and chemical engineers. It publishes numerous scientific journals and databases, convenes major research conferences and provides educational, science policy and career programs in chemistry. Its main offices are in Washington, D.C., and Columbus, Ohio.

Courtesy of US News Wire.

Now, when they get around to a "cure" for Foggy-Bottom -- That'll be the day...


Karen on 08.29.05 @ 07:47 AM CST [link] [ | ]

The "good news" in Iraq....

G.B. Trudeau weighs in....

And as an extra bonus, today's strip deals with blogging....

Len on 08.29.05 @ 07:30 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Now that The Daughters™ are back in School…

...It’s time for their Photo essay on “What did I DO on MY Summer Vacation…”

To see the Photos and FUN stuff at - Camp Birch Knoll - Click on the "more" button.


Karen on 08.29.05 @ 07:27 AM CST [more..] [ | ]

The mobile home of the 21st century?

The QuikHouse.

What puzzles me is, are there really people who are going to spend $150,000-178,000 to live in a bunch of shipping containers? If so, that says something about the housing market. I'm not sure I know what, exactly, but it surely says something.

Len on 08.29.05 @ 06:25 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Our thoughts are with....

The unfortunates in Hurricane Katrina's path at this time. It doesn't look like things will be very pleasant in the Crescent City for quite a while to come:

When Hurricane Katrina hits New Orleans on Monday, it could turn one of America's most charming cities into a vast cesspool tainted with toxic chemicals, human waste and even coffins released by floodwaters from the city's legendary cemeteries.
Some of the comparisons being made aren't exactly reassuring:
"We need to recognize we may be about to experience our equivalent of the Asian tsunami, in terms of the damage and the numbers of people that can be killed," said Ivor van Heerden, director of the Louisiana State University Public Health Research Center in Baton Rouge.

Some 25 feet of standing water is expected in many parts of the city -- almost twice the height of the average home -- and computer models suggest that more than 80 percent of buildings would be badly damaged or destroyed, he said.
As if that isn't bad enough, van Heerden went on to leave us with this delightful picture:
"So, imagine you're the poor person who decides not to evacuate: Your house will disintegrate around you. The best you'll be able to do is hang on to a light pole, and while you're hanging on, the fire ants from all the mounds -- of which there is two per yard on average -- will clamber up that same pole. And, eventually, the fire ants will win."
Puts a new perspective on Monday being the worst day of the week, doesn't it?

Len on 08.29.05 @ 06:13 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Thought for the Day:

I was as entertained as anybody this week by Pat Robertson's remake of the Sam Peckinpah classic (this time with the president of Venezuela in the title role) and I certainly enjoyed watching the old devil wriggle on the hook of his own words, but I have to say I was amazed by all the media attention.

I mean, the fact that Pat Robertson babbled something completely insane (and dangerous) to his TV cult followers has a definite dog-bites-man quality to it. When Robertson says something sane, that will be big news. But I wouldn't keep a hole waiting on page one for that story.
--Billmon, "Bring Me the Head of Hugo Chavez"

Len on 08.29.05 @ 05:42 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Thought for the Day:

New Rule: You don't have to teach both sides of a debate, if one side is a load of crap.

Now, President Bush recently suggested that public schools should teach intelligent design, alongside the theory of evolution. Because, after all, evolution is quote, "just a theory." Then the President renewed his vow to drive the terrorists straight over the edge of the earth.

Now, here is what I don't get. President Bush is a brilliant scientist. He's the man who proved you can mix two parts booze with one part cocaine, and still fly a jet fighter. And yet... yet he just can't seem to accept that we descended from apes.

It just seems pathetic to be so insecure about your biological superiority, to a group of feces-flinging, rouge-buttocked monkeys, that you have to make up fairy tales. Like we came from Adam and Eve, and then cover stories for Adam and Eve like, intelligent design. Yeah, leaving the Earth in the hands of two naked teenagers. That's a real intelligent design.

I'm sorry, folks, but it may very well may be that life is just a series of random events. And that there is no... master plan. But enough about Iraq. Let me instead restate my thesis. There aren't necessarily two sides to every issue. If there were, the Republicans would have an opposition party.

And an opposition party would point out that even though there's a debate, in schools, and government, about this, there is no debate among scientists. Evolution... is supported by the entire scientific community. Intelligent design is supported by guys in line to see "The Dukes of Hazzard."

And the reason there is no real debate, is that intelligent design isn't real science. It's the equivalent of saying that the thermos keeps hot things hot and cold things cold, because it's a god. It's so willfully ignorant you might as well worship the U.S. Mail. It came again! Praise, Jesus!

No, stupidity isn't a form of knowing things. Thunder is high pressure air meeting low pressure air. It's not God bowling. Babies come from storks is not a competing school of thought... in medical school. We shouldn't teach both. The media shouldn't equate both. If Thomas Jefferson...

If Thomas Jefferson knew we were blurring the line this much between church and state, he would turn over in his slave. Now as for me, I believe in evolution and intelligent design. I think God designed us in his image, but I also think God is a monkey! God bless you and goodnight!
--Bill Maher

Len on 08.28.05 @ 03:02 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Today's Quotables...

Among Washington's Democrats, the only one with a clue seems to be Russell Feingold, the Wisconsin senator who this month proposed setting a "target date" (as opposed to a deadline) for getting out.

Mr. Feingold also made the crucial observation that "the president has presented us with a false choice": either "stay the course" or "cut and run."

That false choice, in which Mr. Bush pretends that the only alternative to his reckless conduct of the war is Ms. Sheehan's equally apocalyptic retreat, is used to snuff out any legitimate debate.

There are in fact plenty of other choices echoing about, from variations on Mr. Feingold's timetable theme to buying off the Sunni insurgents.

-- The Vietnamization of Bush's Vacation by Frank Rich (NY Times).

Or consider this one from Mr. Babbling Brooks himself: Winning in Iraq:
"Andrew Krepinevich is a careful, scholarly man. A graduate of West Point and a retired lieutenant colonel, his book, "The Army and Vietnam," is a classic on how to fight counterinsurgency warfare.

Over the past year or so he's been asking his friends and former colleagues in the military a few simple questions: Which of the several known strategies for fighting insurgents are you guys employing in Iraq? What metrics are you using to measure your progress?

The answers have been disturbing. There is no clear strategy. There are no clear metrics.

Krepinevich has now published an essay in the new issue of Foreign Affairs, How to Win in Iraq, in which he proposes a strategy.

But the strategy has one virtue. It might work.

Today, public opinion is turning against the war not because people have given up on the goal of advancing freedom, but because they are not sure this war is winnable. Why should we sacrifice more American lives to a lost cause?

If President Bush is going to rebuild support for the war, he's going to have to explain specifically how it can be won, and for that he needs a strategy.

It's not hard to find. It's right there in Andy Krepinevich's essay, and in the annals of history.

-- David Brooks (NY Times).

Karen on 08.28.05 @ 10:16 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Phase 1, Phase 2, Phase 3 and Phase 4 trials...

So, consider this for your next reason to visit Chicago. (*wink*) Why just come for the sights and culture: Your contribution to science: Chicago's a hotbed of clinical trials, and there's probably one going on right now that could use you.

"You don't have to wait until life is over to donate your beleaguered body to science.

Right now researchers need women with regular periods as well as excessive body hair. They need impotent, overweight men.

They need older teens and young adults with cancer. And even if you're the picture of health, they need you to act as the "control" specimen.

In Illinois, a research hotbed, 948 federally and privately supported clinical trials are registered with the National Institutes of Health's Web site, clinicaltrials.gov, hundreds more than any other state. The epicenter, the University of Chicago, has about 250 open trials in cancer alone.

The pay, if any, for participants is often minimal. And people sign on knowing they aren't guaranteed a lifesaving treatment, or any health benefit for that matter...."

Click on the link above to read further and I KNOW this is sure to make a lot of you reconsider your next option for "where to go on a family vacation." LOL

Karen on 08.28.05 @ 09:56 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Since my husband is of Scottish heritage…

…I’m “allowed” to post on this one by Leslie Goldman from the Chicago Tribune (and poke a little FUN at it Too. LOL):Nice Legs There, Fella:

”…Calvin Brown, 38, has been rockin' the kilt since 2002 for various reasons, mainly for comfort.

"As soon I started wearing them, I truly didn't understand why women fought to wear pants," Brown said. (He buys his at sportkilt.com, where they start at about $60.)

Plus, they have gotten him more female attention than a golden retriever puppy. Not only have "numerous, very attractive women come up to me and started talking, just because of the kilt," but he met his ex-fiance while wearing a red and blue crosshatch number.

Steven Villegas, co-founder of Seattle-based utilikilts.com, was in town touting his wares at North Halsted Market Days in early August. Since starting his company in 2000, he has sold 40,000 kilts, a number he believes represents a nationwide hunger for sartorial change.

"Instead of being bossed around by fashion, we're addressing comfort," Villegas said. "It's like wearing a towel but with pockets, and it's legal."

Kilt customers tend to be middle-age men, who are "ready to declare the cojones," Villegas said. "They don't need to follow anybody." (Of course, we're talking about kilts worn for fashion, not cultural heritage.)

In terms of accessorizing a kilt, Brown said, it all depends on what one dons on top and on the bottom. As with jeans, motorcycle boots and a leather jacket make an entirely different statement than a sport coat and lace-ups.

And as for the question everyone wants to know, I didn't even have to say the words. Brown and I locked eyes for a few seconds, and he soon cut to the chase: "There's nothing but air under there."

Now, Leslie, since you're writing for the Tribune, I *assume* you live in or near Chicago. Need I even mention it's nick-name??? The WINDY City??

And sans-undies, any men brave enough to choose this for a sartorial statement will soon find out WHY women fought to be allowed to wear pants. (When you've been standing for 30 minutes on an open EL platform in the dead'o'winter with a -20 degree windchill whipping the skin off your face; then will you see just how much FUN skirts can be while you - FREEZE - pondering WHERE that damn EL Train is down the line.)


Karen on 08.28.05 @ 09:38 AM CST [link] [ | ]

You can Dress Iraq Up...

....But just won't be able to take her anywhere...(without a burka and a male escort - that is.)

Colbert I. King (Washington Post) wrote this piece, Rallying the Troops and Avoiding Reality:

"...Get ready instead for some form of Islamic republic in Iraq that gives special status to clerics and majority ethnic groups, and less deference to women's rights. A new Iraq free of violence and divisions? Oops, never mind.

Which brings us back to the troops who are doing the suffering and dying. Are their sacrifices worth it?
Consider the Iraq now unfolding on the ground

What's the value of Americans giving their lives so that cleric-dominated Shiites and northern Kurds can get their hands on political power and oil revenue?

Why are American women and men sacrificing lives and limbs in a country where women may have to settle for less?

Stay the course. What course? So religious-based militia can divvy up the northern and southern portions of the country? So Islam can be enshrined as a principal source of new Iraqi legislation?

Are any of those things worth dying for? Do any of those likely outcomes represent an American victory? They certainly aren't why Bush said we went over there.

Okay, the Bush folks also promised us weapons of mass destruction, and greetings with rice and rose water, and Iraqi oil money to pay for reconstruction, and a model new democracy in the Middle East, none of which has happened.

But this is different.

President Bush is out selling a vision of victory in Iraq while U.S. officials in Washington and Baghdad are resigned to settling for less. George Bush can't make good on his original promise, and they know it. They also know that more Americans are going to die in Iraq for what may end up as a theocracy-tinged spoils system.

When those carrying the burden of this war realize what they have sacrificed and died for, the worst days of George W. Bush will have just begun.

But, apparently, for people like Christopher Hitchens and Andrew Sullivan those “realizations” are NEVER gonna come, no matter what the realities:

Hitchens pens in A War To Be Proud Of things like:

“… Just say plainly that we shall fight them everywhere they show themselves, and fight them on principle as well as in practice, and get ready to warn people that Nigeria is very probably the next target of the jihadists. The peaceniks love to ask: When and where will it all end? The answer is easy: It will end with the surrender or defeat of one of the contending parties. ….Surrender to such a foe, after only four years of combat, is not even worthy of consideration.

…: It is out of the question--plainly and absolutely out of the question--that we should surrender the keystone state of the Middle East to a rotten, murderous alliance between Baathists and bin Ladenists.”

Cough- Ghaaak - Sputter...How about just turning the country over, via the Iraqi Constitutional processes, to an Islamic Republic of Shi’ites with close ties to Iran?? Hmmm…I didn’t notice this on his list of options???

And here’s as good a delusional puerile fantasy as any from 'ole Andrew Sullivan who writes:

"Iraq is a rare case where we have real leverage for a short period of time."


Sheesh, I’d really like some of the mind altering DRUGS he’s are apparently enjoying with such relish. I feel most direly in need of some of this faux optimism.

But in case anyone hasn’t been paying close enough ATTENTION...we (as in the U.S.) have no leverage what so ever in Iraq over this Constitutional process and are in fact working hand-and-glove with the repressive mullahs to chisel this Islamic Republic based on the Shi'ite interpretation of religion down in Granite.

The realities of this process will tell the tale once it is finished but the notion that what is happening in Iraq is going to be “winning” anything beneficial to long tern US interests in the Middle East…well, there aren’t enough mind altering drugs in the world to make this pig with lipstick look good in bed.

Karen on 08.28.05 @ 07:09 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Some "Traditions" are as old as...

(Oh...you fill in the blank)...

But read this article (pdf. file) from the Smithsonian Magazine about the Nigerian Slave "caste" of people, called "the Bellah," who live as unpaid chattel in Niger:

Born into Bondage.

"Despite denials by government officials, slavery reamins a way of life in the African nation of Niger."

Karen on 08.28.05 @ 06:41 AM CST [link] [ | ]


"...of customer service bordering on the sadistic.

For many years, AOL customers who tried to cancel their accounts only to find a fresh bill each month on their credit cards have gone through their own specialized stages of grief. Denial: They can't do this to me! Anger: I'm going to complain to a supervisor, and heads will roll! Bargaining: OK, my last request disappeared from your computer, so I'll pay for this month, but then it's over, right? Begging: Please cancel my account. Please. Please. Please. Please. Acceptance: I am now and will always be billed by AOL, even though I no longer use AOL.

That's why it was heartening to read this week's reports that AOL will pay New York state $1.25 million in penalties after an investigation revealed that AOL paid tens of thousands of dollars in bonuses to customer service representatives who essentially refused to process cancellation requests.

The probe found that to qualify for this extra pay, as of August 2004, employees had to rebuff 49 percent of customers who called to end their service, whether through offers of price breaks or by simply ignoring the requests.

AOL denies wrongdoing, but the fact is that the Time Warner company has lost 6 million of the 27 million customers it used to have and has been desperate to stem the bleeding. Reports about the New York investigation are only likely to make things worse.

Good. If any company deserves headaches, it's the one whose customer service motto amounted to "suffering builds character."

Courtesy of the San Diego Union Tribune.

Karen on 08.28.05 @ 06:35 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Apparently, If You're a Gold-Star Mom and...

A Dumbya Supporter....You get to have ANOTHER "Mom" meeting with the ole Fearless Leader:

"The Two-Meeting Mom

The White House has frequently pointed out that Bush already met with Cindy Sheehan once.

Blogger Eli Stephen calls attention to Dawn Rowe, an Iraq war widow, who just met with Bush for the second time."

Courtesy of Dan Froomkin (Washington post).

Karen on 08.28.05 @ 06:28 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Notable baseball achievements of this season

According to Lee Sinins's baseball stathead email newsletter, the Kansas City Royals, by losing yesterday to the New York Yankees, were mathematically eliminated from any chance of making the postseason.

Also noteworthy, today is the 70th birthday of Ernie "traded to the Cubs for Lou Brock" Brogio.

Happy birthday, Ernie!

Len on 08.27.05 @ 07:38 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Thought for the Day:

A 7 day waiting period to buy a gun? That's stupid. Nobody can remain mad that long.
--Emo Philips

Len on 08.27.05 @ 07:29 PM CST [link] [ | ]

An Evening Out at Zanies...

Last night we went on a “double date” with another couple to go to Zanies Comedy Club and see a comedian, Ian Bagg. He’s a Canadian transplant to L.A. and does a most different *routine* than the usual stand-up monologue.

What Ian does is create his “off the cuff” comedy by “working the room.” It’s a total audience participation and involvement show (and WARNING for folks who sit in the front rows – he’s gonna be after you – ALL NIGHT. LOL)

But he’s very clever and witty in using audience answers to questions as a running commentary for his humor. He also bestows “nicknames” to his victims based on these conversations, and keeps interconnecting them back into his routine. It was a very different and unusual format that I’ve ever seen at most of these comedy clubs, excepting maybe the Second City after-show improvisation group (but that’s an entire group of comedians and they take suggestions for skits – Ian is a one man show where the whole effort at “Funnie” is on him.)

If you click on the Zanies “link” above you’ll see they have 3 clubs in the Chicago area [Chicago, St. Charles and Vernon Hills] and even one in Nashvegas. But, of course, my luck was that this comedian was in the Vernon Hills location – Hell and Gone from where I live in DHC (which as the Tri-Cities includes St. Charles, Geneva, Batavia). But NOOOoooo – It’s not the St. Charles locale, But Vernon Hills. Oh, Boy, but a comedian would have to be Purty Funnie to be worth a tank’o’gas for driving hither-an-yon these days and at these prices!!! But Ian Bagg was worth it and we all had a very good evening of laughs.


Karen on 08.27.05 @ 07:42 AM CST [link] [ | ]

At one time I'd wanted...

....to be a marine biologist, a la Jacques Cousteau - Except for one *teensie-tiny* Detail: SELACHOPHOBIA.

So here’s another entry in this summer's Selachophobia Tales:

Diver fought shark before it killed him by Rod McGuirk (Associated Press)

“CANBERRA, Australia -- A marine biologist killed in a shark attack had calmly fought off the predator before it returned and pulled him deep into the water, his diving partner said Thursday.

Police have abandoned the search for body of 23-year-old Jarrod Stehbens after the attack Wednesday off Glenelg Beach on Australia's south coast, a region that has seen five fatal shark attacks since 2000.

"Jarrod fought it off initially, then it came back again and grabbed his leg and just took him deeper," Stehbens' diving partner Justin Rowntree said Thursday.

"He seemed quite calm--he was trying to get his leg out of its mouth."

Rowntree and Stehbens, both marine biologists at the University of Adelaide, were diving to collect cuttlefish eggs when the shark attacked close to the popular beach in the city of Adelaide. The men were 16 feet from the surface in water 60 feet deep.

Rowntree said he felt helpless in the few seconds before his colleague was dragged to the depths and out of sight….”

Karen on 08.27.05 @ 07:19 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Back from vacation

I'm back from my vacation to Mattituck, NY, and Manchester, NH. Here are a few vacation observations.

I've been in a lot of airports, and hands down, Boston is the worst. Having to go out on the street and take the bus to get from one terminal to the other sucks. Detroit is by far the best: the seats in the terminal are comfortable, and the bathrooms are excellent, with hand sensors on the sink that are responsive, and water of just the right temperature. The train to get you from one end of the Northwest terminal to the other is fast, and runs frequently.

I will never again book a trip that involves changing airlines in the middle. It's a recipe for major SNAFUs.

And without laying the blame on one side or the other, it appears to me that the Aircraft Mechanics Fraternal Association made a major mistake in choosing to strike Northwest. Northwest seemed to be running without problems on Thursday. I think the AMFA is going to lose this one.

There was an odd incident in the Detroit airport that I observed during my layover, possibly related to the strike. There were three clean-cut men wearing golf shirts with an "AISC" logo sitting nearby at gate 6. A Northwest agent approached them, and asked them to go sit at another gate, since they were "upsetting" one of the agents working at a nearby gate. One of the men said something like "We're not wanted anywhere here."

Who were these men? Scab mechanics? Googling "AISC" doesn't turn up anything useful.

Enough about airlines, on to fun vacation activities.

I saw the New Hampshire Fisher Cats (AA afiliate of the Toronto Blue Jays) beat the Norwich Navigators (AA afiliate of the San Francisco Giants) at the new Fisher Cats Ballpark. (It's nice to see a new ballpark not named after a corporate sponsor.) It's a great little park, and it was a very enjoyable game, even if they did play We Will Rock You way too many times. If you're ever in Manchester during baseball season, you should make it a point to go to a game.

At Neo Tokyo comics and anime store, I met the most unfortunately named child I have ever met in real life. (As opposed to this poor child, whom I only know of online.) The woman working there, apparently the owner of the store, had actually named her child -- and I'm not making this up -- "Anakin."

One can only hope the child doesn't follow in the path of his fictional namesake.

Brock on 08.26.05 @ 08:25 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Intellectual Crack-Pots...

A while back (in April) I was commenting on the “Lawrence Summers” "flap" and musing about Guy Things and Sports Trivia and IF these DNA differences between the sexes *mean something* on a statistical basis. I was posing that IF there really was a reason few women *pursue* math at the advanced levels as men that "Why" is the question...as to "what makes this the case" if it is indeed the case?

I sent a query to Alan Schwarz (Senior Writer at Baseball America) and did get back this reply:

I'm sorry that it has taken me so long to respond. Work has been incredibly crazy this season. Hope you understand.

I think you are correct, though I would phrase it all a little differently. I would say that people who grow up liking baseball, and specifically scorekeeping and box scores, etc., wind up with greater instincts and facility for arithmetic (I would not necessarily say mathematics). Whether they are boys or girls, I don't think makes any difference. It just that more boys have grown up baseball fans than girls, at least until recent years. I think if all of a sudden baseball became the Next Big Thing among girls, they would catch up or pass the boys.

Not exactly a scientific argument, but I think a logical one. Strange, given how I grew up with George Steinbrenner's 1970s Yankees, that I would have any idea what logic means, huh?
Hope that helps. Have a great rest of the 2005 season...


--Alan Schwarz.

But, this sort of reverses the problem (or the question) in that Mr. Schwarz is basically saying people do well in chosen fields of intellectual endeavor when they “Like” it and are predisposed for it in the first place.

My real inquiry, however, was to ask whether that seeming “predisposition” is culturally created or enhanced across the board of the entire spectrum of males in most societies that places so much emphasis on the “Guys and Sports” modeling for social behavior and bonding among males (either participating or watching.)

I got all excited today -- to come across this article The Inequality Taboo.

That is until I realized it was written by Charles Murray.

Here’s a brief cite to one Charles Murray Bio where it is reported his infamous book “The Bell Curve” was completely debunked as:
"…It reveals mathematical errors, logical errors, and the misuse of statistics (i.e. the purported "IQ" test actually has questions on subjects as involved as Trigonometry, thus measuring educational attainment, not innate intelligence).

Stephen Jay Gould, author of the 1981 bestseller "The Mismeasure of Man," added a chapter in the 1996 reprinting of his book, specifically dedicated to critiquing The Bell Curve. Anyone seriously interested in Murray should read this book. To get a flavor of what Gould has to say, take a look at the outline of his critique [as stating it was]:

• Disingenuousness of content
• Disingenuousness of argument
• Disingenuousness of program

Sheesh – Can’t anyone with any intellectual integrity take investigating a few of these issues?? Why is always the crack-pots on the Right who use their thinly veiled (screamingly biased) agendas as the centerpiece and theory behind their “work.”

Oh, well still hoping to find the study that comes closest to answering these (and other) questions out there.


Karen on 08.26.05 @ 11:30 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Just in time for Back-To-School: Engrish Review Week

Okay… a Friday review of Engrish (for Len *teehee*) and a few funnies:

For the “undecided” in you: Go With EVERYTHING.

Has anyone forwarded this one to Sharon Stone yet? Get With The NEW Program.

Just how I LIKE ‘em: When Ya Can Get ‘Em.

And just because it’s YUK: Oakie Doakie. (But this link will move off the front page...so get a look while you can...)


Karen on 08.26.05 @ 08:36 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Today's Quotables...

"...At stake is not just the leadership of the Democratic Party and the nation but our nation's honor, our nobility and our principles. Franklin D. Roosevelt established a national community based on social justice. Harry Truman created international networks that repaired the damage of World War II and defeated communism. John F. Kennedy recaptured the ideal of the republic and the sense of civic duty. To expect to enter this pantheon, the next Democratic leader must now undertake all three tasks.

But this cannot be done while the water is rising in the Big Muddy of the Middle East. No Democrat, especially one now silent, should expect election by default. The public trust must be earned, and speaking clearly, candidly and forcefully now about the mess in Iraq is the place to begin.

The real defeatists today are not those protesting the war. The real defeatists are those in power and their silent supporters in the opposition party who are reduced to repeating "Stay the course" even when the course, whatever it now is, is light years away from the one originally undertaken. The truth is we're way off course. We've stumbled into a hornet's nest. We've weakened ourselves at home and in the world. We are less secure today than before this war began.

Who now has the courage to say this?

-- Gary Hart (former Dem. Senator from Co.) writing an Op-Ed in WaPo: Who Will Say 'No More'.

Karen on 08.26.05 @ 08:18 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Thought for the Day:



Ken Mehlman asked me to come down here today to meet with you good people and clear up a few things you've been wondering about. I told him I'd be glad to eat a little crow for a good cause. You'll forgive me if I read a brief prepared statement, but Ken and my Dad want me to get this just right. (LAUGHTER) Here goes.

"In My youth, I made certain ill-advised statements that I now regret. If I offended anyone, I apologize. I want to clarify that it is easy for a rich man to enter the kingdom of Heaven. (CHEERS, WILD APPLAUSE)

"I'd like to apologize specifically to the money-changers. It is My sincere hope that you will come back into the Temple free of charge as My guests." (WILD APPLAUSE, CHANT OF "U.S.A! U.S.A!")

Finally—and this is Me speaking for Myself now—I want to say to the meek: Once we finally get rid of the death tax, you're not inheriting anything. Not while you're meek, so buck up. (CHEERS) And that goes double for you peacemakers. (LAUGHTER) Good night and Dad bless America. (CHEERS, WILD APPLAUSE)
--Tom Peyer in "The Parable of Jesus and the Rubber Chicken: What if Christ spoke at a Republican Party fund-raiser?"

Len on 08.26.05 @ 08:11 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Penguin Cities on the Ice...

75 Degrees South is Visiting the Penguins. Great pictures.


So, go take a peek and see for yourself!!!!

Karen on 08.26.05 @ 07:54 AM CST [link] [ | ]

The Beginning of the VOIP wars…

….between Google “talk” and Skype and Vonage.

”…A decade after the first commercial Voice over Internet Protocol services launched, Voip's growing popularity is beginning to threaten traditional carriers.

The promise of free, or dramatically discounted, calls via personal computers attracted an estimated 3m people in the US to internet telephone services last year. IDC, an IT and telecoms consultancy, predicts that will rise to 27m by 2009. An estimated two thirds of large US businesses are using Voip for all or some of their telecoms needs.

Google is entering a crowded field, but some early leaders are emerging. Vonage, which charges $24.99 (£13.89) a month for unlimited calls, has signed up 700,000 people in three years. Skype, which has grown through word of mouth, has signed up 2m paying customers before its second birthday.

As an OECD report published yesterday spelled out, the march of internet telephony threatens traditional, fixed-line revenues, particularly for lucrative international calls, where online upstarts can offer the steepest discounts...”

Karen on 08.26.05 @ 06:45 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Polls & Numbers Tell More Than One Tale...

Paul Krugman (NY Times) has a good one about why the bAdmin "Feel Good" economic numbers just don't Feel Good for many Americans:

Summer of our Discontent:

"For the last few months there has been a running debate about the U.S. economy, more or less like this:

American families: "We're not doing very well.

Washington officials: "You're wrong - you're doing great. Here, look at these statistics!"
But when your numbers tell you that people should be feeling good, but they aren't, that means you're looking at the wrong numbers.

American families don't care about G.D.P. They care about whether jobs are available, how much those jobs pay and how that pay compares with the cost of living. And recent G.D.P. growth has failed to produce exceptional gains in employment, while wages for most workers haven't kept up with inflation."

Gee - ya think this has anything to do with any of the other "Less Than Feeling Good Numbers" of the sinking Dumbya bAdmin poll numbers showing 58 disapprove to 40 approve of his handling of anything - Iraq, Gas Prices, Ecomony, Vacations.

Karen on 08.26.05 @ 06:38 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Women's Equality Day

The deadline for submitting the Iraqi Constitution failed to meet it's deadline yet again, and has another extention…But it's important to consider on this, our own U.S.: Women's Equality Day.

”An emotional battle that lasted many decades ended on this day in 1920, as the results of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution were certified.

The amendment prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex with regard to voting in effect, allowing women to vote.

Two days earlier, Tennessee had become the 36th state to ratify the amendment, in spite of last minute efforts by some state lawmakers to negate the legislature's action.

Each year, this day is celebrated as American women exercised their new right for the first time in the 1920 presidential election. In recent elections, up to 3 percent more women have cast their votes than men.

Courtesy of US News Wire.

Karen on 08.26.05 @ 05:58 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Speaking of which....

My previous post mentioning Walt Kelly's birthday linked to Don Markstein's awesome Toonopedia website. I would be remiss in mentioning that today, Don posted his 1000th Toonopedia article, about this classic "toon":

Congratulations, Don. I look forward to at least 1000 more posts about my favorite toons.

Len on 08.25.05 @ 01:13 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Significant days in cartoon history.

Today is the 92nd anniversary of the birth of Walt Kelly, creator of Pogo.

We have met the enemy and he is us.

Len on 08.25.05 @ 12:56 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Time to cut our losses and run.

Larry Johnson at No Quarter makes the powerful case that it's time to just get the hell out of Iraq:

Sometimes in life there are no good options. It is part of our nature to always assume that we can fix a problem. But in life there are many problems or situations where there is no pleasant solution. If you were at the Windows on the World Restaurant in the North Tower of the World Trade Center at 9 am on September 11, 2001 you had no good options. You could choose to jump or to burn to death. Some choice.

A hard, clear-eyed look at the current situation in Iraq reveals that we are confronted with equally bad choices. If we stay we are facilitating the creation of an Islamic state that will be a client of Iran. If we pull out we are likely to leave the various ethnic groups of Iraq to escalate the civil war already underway. In my judgment we have no alternative but to pull our forces out of Iraq. Like it or not, such a move will be viewed as a defeat of the United States and will create some very serious foreign policy and security problems for us for years to come. However, we are unwilling to make the sacrifices required to achieve something approximating victory. And, what would victory look like? At a minimum we should expect a secular society where the average Iraqi can move around the country without fear of being killed or kidnapped. That is not the case nor is it on the horizon.

We may even be past the point of no return where we could impose changes that would put Iraq back on course to be a secular, democratic nation without sparking a major Shiite counteroffensive. Therefore the time has come to minimize further unnecessary loss of life by our troops and re-craft a new foreign and security policy for the Middle East.



We could potentially defeat the Sunni insurgents if we were willing and able to deploy sufficient troops to control the key infiltration routes that run along the Tigris and Euphrates river valleys. But we are neither willing nor able. It would require at least 380,000 troops devoted exclusively to that mission. Part of that mission would entail killing anyone who moved into controlled areas, such as roadways. In adopting those kinds of rules of engagement we would certainly increase the risk of killing innocent civilians. But, we would impose effective control over those routes. That is a prerequisite to gaining control over the insurgency.

We cannot meet the increased manpower requirements in Iraq without a draft. We do not currently have enough troops in the Army and the Marine Corps to supply and sustain that size of force in the field. But, even with a draft, we would be at least 15 months away from having the new batch of trained soldiers ready to deploy. More importantly, there is no political support for a draft. In other words, we’re unwilling to do what is required to even have a shot at winning.

While the insurgency is not likely to acquire sufficient strength to fight and defeat our forces directly in large set piece battles, they do have the wherewithal to destroy infrastructure and challenge our control of lines of communication. The ultimate test of a government’s legitimacy is whether or not it can protect its citizens from threats foreign and domestic. Thus far the Iraqi Government has made scant progress on this front. Today’s attack in central Baghdad, by a uniformed unit of masked insurgents, represents another disturbing milestone in the continued growth of the insurgency. One of these days we should not be surprised when an insurgent force breaches the Green Zone and takes some U.S. diplomats hostage.

An ideal, but unlikely outcome, is that the secularists, who are trying desperately to craft a legitimate government, will persuade a sufficient number of Shia and Sunni leaders to turn their back on a religious-based government. Unfortunately, they don’t control weapons or militia. Force remains the ultimate means for deciding a country’s fate. In this case the guns are in the hands of those who favor an Islamic state over a secular nation.

If the United States tries to intervene now to compel power sharing on behalf of Sunni interests we are likely to trigger a backlash by the Shia majority. Mullahs like Moqtada al Sadr have demonstrated that they can mobilize combat units to kill Americans when their interests are challenged.


Our choice is simple—either we invest in the military resources and personnel required to defeat the Sunni insurgents and allow the Shia and Kurds to consolidate power or we withdraw and let the Shia, Sunni, and Kurds find their own solution. We cannot ask our soldiers and Marines to give their lives and sacrifice their bodies for a new Islamic state. It is true that our withdrawal will create a major vacuum and damage our prestige. But the alternative, i.e., that we stay and try to train up sufficient Iraqi forces and help the fledgling Islamic Government get on its feet, will leave us the favorite target of insurgents and terrorists. And after we have shed the blood of our sons and daughters in trying to create a new government that will be controlled by Islamists, those Islamists will ultimately insist that we leave Iraq and no longer meddle in their affairs.
Bottom line: we've lost in Iraq, because we're not willing to make the sacrifices that it will take to win. Time to leave and cut our losses. But make sure you read the whole thing.

Len on 08.25.05 @ 07:59 AM CST [link] [ | ]

More Dueling Numbers

A quick update on our earlier mention of the ARG vs. Rasmussen polling duel on Bush's approval numbers. To recap (in case you didn't see that one and are too lazy to follow the link), American Research Group was reporting Bush's approval rating at a dismal 36% approve-58% disapprove earlier this week, while Rasmussen was reporting a much more healthy (for Bush) 48% approve-51% disapprove.

Well, Michael Crowley in his last day DH-ing at Talkinig Points Memo points us to reports that a recent Harris Poll is reflecting a Bush approval rating of 40% approve-58% disapprove, while the latest Rasmussen daily tracking poll shows that Bush's numbers dropped to 45% approve-54% disapprove yesterday (today they're saying that Bush's approval picked up a percentage point, however, to 46%-53%). Given, though, that the blip in Bush's Rasmussen numbers are still within Rasmussen's stated margin of error (+/- 3 percentage points), I think Crowley may be reading a bit much into the dip in Bush's Rasmussen numbers.

Len on 08.25.05 @ 07:40 AM CST [link] [ | ]

I need to bookmark this site on my laptop....

so I can refer to it during my Sunday breakfasts at Cafe Francisco: Death By Caffeine

If I want to commit suicide, I learn that I can do so by ingesting:

108.26 cups of Drip Coffee
4485.00 cups of Decaf Brewed Coffee
541.29 cans of A&W Creme Soda
461.69 cans of Coca-Cola Classic
455.00 cans of Coka-Cola Zero
348.83 cans of Diet Coke
382.87 cans of Diet Dr Pepper
218.02 cans of Jolt Cola
285.41 cans of Mountain Dew
266.96 cans of Sugar-Free Mr. Pibb
981.09 bottles of Nestea Diet Lemon Iced Tea
2093.00 bottles of Snapple Diet Sun Tea
523.25 cups of Brewed Tea
333.99 cups of Iced Tea

Nothing like some news you can use to start the workday.

Len on 08.25.05 @ 07:13 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Sports question of the day:

Does anyone out there know how this (Windows Media Player required) became the sports stadium über-anthem?

Len on 08.25.05 @ 07:00 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Time to start rooting for Houston (and possibly Milwaukee)....

Over at The Hardball Times, Dave Studeman clues us into one of the ten things he didn't know last week:

The NL West is now officially the worst division ever.

As of this writing (August 23), no team in the National League West is playing even .500 ball. As we reported earlier, this is the latest point in the season a division has "reached" such a level of ineptitude. Even the Padres' owner thinks 81 wins may be enough to win the division.

Andy Dolphin's website can be a bit difficult to understand, but at the bottom of the page he rates the NL West as the worst division by far (and the AL West as the best). NL West teams are playing .443 ball overall, but only .413 outside of the division. To put that in perspective, only four teams in the majors are playing worse than .413 ball this year.

One more data point: the NL West is 5-7 against the Kansas City Royals.
My reasoning should be obvious on a moment's reflection. If the NL wild card comes from the NL Central, the seeding for the playoffs will most likely have the Cardinals facing the winner of the NL West. Barring some sort of catastrophic implosion, that will basically make the Cards' round in the NL Divisional Series a set of warm-up games to prepare for their matchup with the winner of the NL East champion (Atlanta yet again? *sigh*)-NL wild card matchup in the NL Championship Series.

Go 'stros!

Len on 08.25.05 @ 06:47 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Thought for the Day:

Democrats sometimes criticize President Bush for being obsessed with the war on terror. His real problem is just the opposite: he's not obsessed enough. Bush is making history in August 2005 exactly the same way he did in August 2001: by taking a month off for vacation.

Unfortunately, the enemy is not on holiday. You won't see Osama bin Laden clearing brush outside his cave on the Pakistan border.

FDR worked himself to death during World War II. Woodrow Wilson did the same in World War I. George Bush is in no such danger.

If winning the war against radical totalitarianism were Bush's single-minded obsession, he'd listen to John McCain: stop Washington from spending like drunken sailors, ask every American to give something back, and hire a defense secretary who stands up for his troops instead of blaming them.

It's no surprise that a national tragedy like September 11 would make the President feel a divine calling. It's harder to understand why, when the moment cries out for another FDR, Bush thought God was calling him to be Calvin Coolidge.
--Bruce Reed

Len on 08.25.05 @ 06:37 AM CST [link] [ | ]

More on Fighting for "The Noble Cause"...

Manpower Meltdown: You can't win a war that nobody wants to fight. by Matthew Yglesias (American Prospect):

"...In a recent report to Congress following a fact-finding mission, retired General Barry McCaffrey concluded that despite missteps already made, "We can achieve our objectives of creating a law-based Iraqi state which will be an influencing example on the entire region." This, he said, could be done "in the coming two to five years." Earlier in the report he listed as one major Central Command vulnerability the "progressive deterioration of Army and Marine manpower," citing "in particular, the expected meltdown of the Army National Guard and Army Reserve in the coming 36 months."

Thirty-six months at twelve months per year is three years, and according to McCaffrey, victory will likely require at least two years (and probably more). His ostensibly optimistic report, in other words, concluded that our mission will probably fall victim to its chief vulnerability before our objectives are achieved. Despite his superficial optimism, then, McCaffrey thinks we will lose.

So the problem, it seems, are the chicken hawks. At times, countries lose wars due to manpower problems because they simply lack the requisite population to maintain an appropriately sized military. But America has plenty of people. It even has plenty of people who support the war. It just doesn't have enough who want to fight in it..."

Despite the bAdmin apologists "Optimism", these are the realities and the projections for "success" in Iraq.

And this Congressional report has been the subject of other commentary. Click on the “more” button to read further:

Karen on 08.25.05 @ 05:37 AM CST [more..] [ | ]

Still Trying to Make that Lemon into Lemonade...

Ah - here come the bAdmin apologists highlighting just a few realities of the Iraqi Constitution as propounded by Mr. Babbling Brooks:

"...The Bush administration finally did something right in brokering this constitution," [Peter W.] Galbraith exclaimed, then added: "This is the only possible deal that can bring stability. ... I do believe it might save the country."


…Galbraith's argument is that the constitution reflects the reality of the nation it is meant to serve. There is, he says, no meaningful Iraqi identity. In the north, you've got a pro-Western Kurdish population. In the south, you've got a Shiite majority that wants a "pale version of an Iranian state." And in the center you've got a Sunni population that is nervous about being trapped in a system in which it would be overrun.

So what we get is a vague “HOPE” that somewhere in all of this hideous mess “may” [May?] be a “stability that might save the country.”

But even better are these GEMs:
“Both [Gailbreith and Reuel Marc Gerecht] begin their analysis by taking a hard look at the reality of Iraqi society. Neither tries to imagine what sort of constitution might be pretty to our eyes or might be good in some abstract sense. They try to envision which system comports with reality.

Gerecht is also upbeat about this constitution. It's crazy, he says, to think that you could have an Iraqi constitution in which clerical authorities are not assigned a significant role. Voters supported clerical parties because they are, right now, the natural leaders of society and serve important social functions.

But this doesn't mean we have to start screaming about a 13th-century theocratic state.

… The constitution also exposes the canard that America is some imperial power trying to impose its values on the world. There are many parts of this constitution any American would love. There are other parts that are strange to us.

…The U.S. has orchestrated a document that is organically Iraqi.

It's their country, after all.”

Yep…Uh, News-Flash - It’s always been “their country” and we attacked them precisely to prove "America is some imperial power trying to impose its values on the world.

But If the Iraqi Constitution is going to become (as seems likely) an Islamic Republic, with strong ties to Iran (and not likely to remain Pro-US once we leave), and the Militias are taking over parts of the country and cities already because of the lack of trained security forces (sheesh, these militia ARE the security forces) – And all of this has been the “best result” we can “hope” for, bought with American Blood and Taxpayer Dollars -- Then it's yet another 180 degree swing from the latest rationale of “it’s our God Given American Right and *National Defense Strategy* to Spread Democracy and Freedom.” Some Noble Cause...

And only these apologist think it's GREAT to end up with only a vague hope of a hard negotiated compromise for a passing chance at “stability which might save the country.”

I think the General said it best to Reuel Marc Gerecht:

Freedom's just another word for nothing left to lose
Dear Mr. Gerecht,

Your defense on Meet the Press of the limited democracy Iraq is entering into was outstanding. Like you, I believe that the kind of freedom Americans possessed in 1900 is enough freedom for anyone. Indeed, it is a freedom preferable to that held by any citizen before and after that time. God willing, we'll return to those days once good men like John Roberts take seats on the Supreme Court and undo the damage done by FDR and his philosophical descendents.

In 1900, women may not have had the absolute right to own property, the ability to work in a profession of their choice, sovereignty over their bodies, or the right to vote, but by God, their husbands did. That was good enough for us. I think it's more than good enough for the Iraqis.

106 black men were lynched in the U.S. in 1900, and Jim Crow ruled with an iron fist in the North as well as the South. In Iraq, I expect the same kind of freedom will be given to the Turkmen and Chaldeans. Some might think that's a problem. I prefer to think of it as our gift to them. I hope they're thankful for it.

heterosexually yours,

Gen. JC Christian, patriot

Karen on 08.25.05 @ 04:50 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Thoughtful Answers from Bishop Spong

I get some stuff from various mailing lists and this one is well written. Plus, I’m often struck by how well thought-out and thoughtful is Bishop Spong when he answers questions he gets on his website:

"Ron from the Internet writes:

"I wonder if fiddling around on the periphery on the issues of gay and lesbian rights can ever yield what the Church lacks: a compelling vision which, if received and fulfilled, would improve humanity as a whole.

Christianity has no unique truth and its claims, like those of all various religions, is that it must rest upon a "Thus saith the Lord." My own view, an ever-changing one I admit, is that the Church has no transcendent truth to offer and knows it full well. If nothing you offer has self-evident merit and you can't admit the truth and survive as an organization, then you resort to either intimidating everyone within into an orthodoxy no one sees the sense or benefit in obeying any longer or you wander aimlessly about preaching inoffensive feel-good messages that everyone agrees with anyway without getting out of bed early on a Sunday AM. Both directions lead to irrelevance and that is the crux of the matter.

The Church is irrelevant because truth is irrelevant to the Church and it has nothing to offer that I can't get elsewhere without having to abandon my common sense or individual autonomy. It either demands orthodoxy in matters even school children should know are primitivistic and silly or it demands orthodoxy toward a nameless Care Bear worldview that scarcely needs a Church to propose it. Primitive tribal codes or anomie. Not much to choose between and not much to justify buildings, clergy, tax exemptions, satellite channels, etc. Jesus was either a deity or a lay preacher.

Either there is a Christian God whose moral judgment is somehow clearer than our own and should be accepted, assuming it will provide a better result than a life of our own devising, or the religion is simply one of many religious delusions and a childish self-indulgence that intelligent modern humanity should leave behind. I don't see a middle ground that withstands rational examination. Even ER physicians know there is a time to stop trying to resuscitate a corpse."

"Dear Ron,

You raise fascinating and challenging issues for which I am grateful. You articulate well basic questions that the Church's leadership tends so often to ignore. Let me respond.

Human beings are responsible for the creation of every doctrine of God, every creed and every religious system. Since that it true then we should expect to see our religious ideas be constantly corrupted by the human need to control and to build power. Truth is always perceived subjectively which means that truth is perceived differently in every generation. There may well be objective and eternal truth but no human being possesses it, no human being can perceive it and no human being can articulate it. The assumption that one can is the place where destructive religious arrogance and the sin of idolatry always begin. How one understands reality, the level of knowledge that one possesses, and the time in which one lives are always factors in processing what religious people mistakenly call "Revealed Truth." That is when we make claims such as "our Pope is infallible," or "our Bible is inerrant," or my religion possesses the only pathway to God. Most religious systems never escape this mentality since certainty, even a pretended certainty, seems to bring a much-desired security to its adherents. However, human history reveals that when a religious group claims certainty, it also becomes demonic and tries to kill anyone who disagrees, challenges or threatens their claim to truth. Your criticism of Christianity seems to be a criticism of what the Church has done to and with Christians and others over the centuries. I think that is a valid criticism and one that must be heard.

At the same time, however, we need to recognize that while human beings certainly create their explanations of God, they do not, I am persuaded, create the experience of transcendence, the holy, and the Other that we have come to call God. So while I am willing to challenge any human explanation of God, I do not think that I can challenge either effectively or ultimately the reality of the experience of God.

Religious systems grow out of that experience. I live within the Christian religious system. I walk the Christ path into the mystery and wonder of God. I make no claim that my path is the only path or that my truth is the only truth. I regard God alone as Truth and I know that I do not possess God. I only journey toward God.

When I look at the life of Jesus, I see one who is fully alive, one who is totally and wastefully loving, one who has the courage and the ability to be all that he can be. Because I define my experience of God as that reality in which I find the fullness of life, the totality of love and the Ground of Being, I have no difficulty saying that in the life of Jesus, I believe I confront the presence of God. That is why I am committed to walking the Christ path.

Finally, I take seriously the words that the author of the Fourth Gospel put into the mouth of Jesus. Attempting to describe his purpose, Jesus is made to say, "I have come that they may have life and have it abundantly." If that is a statement of the purpose of Christ then I believe that must also be the purpose of the Church. That is where I find Christianity's compelling vision. The task of the Church is to build a world in which every person has a better chance to live fully, to love wastefully and to be all that that person has the capability of being. So anything that diminishes life for anyone, whether on the basis of race, ethnic origin, gender, sexual orientation or even religion is evil and must be confronted. Anything that enhances life, increases love and calls others into being is good and must be encouraged.

It seems so simple to me. My work for justice for gay and lesbian people, that is the issue that prompted your letter, is not to me tangential to Christianity. It is rather the very heart of what it means to be a Christian. I hope this will help to clarify the issue. Thank you for forcing me to think this through again."

-- John Shelby Spong

If only some *supposed* preachers of the Gospels "thought" before they stick their *frustrated* Feet in their BIG mouths.

Karen on 08.25.05 @ 04:11 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Anybody got a Dime...

...So I can make a call???

”Clark Kent ducked into one to change into "Superman" and millions of Americans used phone booths to stay in touch with friends and loved ones all over the country before cell phones came along.

The coin- operated pay phone was developed by William Gray and first appeared this month in 1889, in Hartford, Connecticut. It pretty much stayed the same for 50 years.

Now, there are just over 2- million pay phones in the U.S. no longer in enclosed booths and, increasingly, they are high-tech devices that can send a fax or surf the Web. Staying in touch is part of the American way of life, with the cell phone on the way to becoming the standard telephone. Some 160-million Americans have cell phones more than half the population.

Courtesy of US News Wire.

Karen on 08.25.05 @ 03:57 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Bloggie addictions? Or Bloggie Frauds?

Michael Froomkin over at Discourse.net has this post reporting on ISP fraud:

”ISP Reports 20% of New Accounts are Fraudsters

In It's a fraud, fraud, fraud, fraud world, my ISP, DreamHost, gives a shocking statistic:

Nowadays, about 20% of our daily sign ups are with stolen credit cards (or stolen paypal accounts), and are for the express purpose of spamming, conning, storing 'warez', or cracking (our system or somebody else's).

DreamHost is responding by using spamassassin-like techniques to weed out the bad guys; it claims under 1% false positives, and false negatives, and says another 2% fall into a gray area that get flagged for -- error-prone -- manual review.

Karen on 08.25.05 @ 03:54 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Dictionary of Americanisms

”On August 26, 1848, an inconspicuous scholar named John Russell Bartlett published his Dictionary of Americanisms. As Bartlett recalled in his autobiography, he became fascinated with books ‘in which the vulgar language of the United States abounded.’ (vulgar then meaning “of the people”).”

It’s amazing what words we now take as “everyday,” ho-hum colloquialisms, which were once novel and new coinage:
“Part of the progress of American thought has been the growing feeling that slang is bodacious and fantabulous. More and more of us have come to view slang as the bee’s knees, the cat’s whiskers, and the cat’s pajamas. Slang is hot and slang is cool. Slang is wicked and slang is nifty. Slang is far out, groovy, and outa sight. Slang is fresh, fly, phat. Slang is ace, awesome, bad, copacetic, ducky, sweet, smooth, the max, the most, and totally tubular.

According to H.L. Mencken, the word slang developed in the eighteenth century (it was first recorded in 1756) either from an erroneous past tense of sling (sling-slang-slung) or from language itself, as in (thieve)s’lang(uage) and (beggar)s'lang(uage).

To read just a few of these American GEMs, click on the "more" Button.

Karen on 08.25.05 @ 03:48 AM CST [more..] [ | ]

Duke Kahanamoku...

”Today marks the birthday of one of Hawaii's most famous Duke Kahanamoku. A powerful swimmer, he won five medals at four different Olympics, retiring from competition at the age of 42.

He's credited with inventing the flutter kick, but is best remembered for his efforts to popularize surfing earning him the unofficial title, "father of international surfing."

Preferring old Hawaiian style boards, he often used a surfboard 16 feet long and weighing 114 pounds. He once rode a wave off Waikik Beach for nearly two miles.

When Duke Kahanamoku began his Olympic swimming, Hawaii was home to about 200-thousand people. Today, about 1.3-million call the island chain home.”

Courtesy of US News Wire.

Karen on 08.24.05 @ 03:08 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Quote of the Day...

"Two years ago, Ledeen sneered about Hagel's "wimpery" about Iraq (a sneer I'd wager Ledeen wouldn't dare be man enough to repeat to Hagel's face), but it's Hagel who's been vindicated. The fact is that Ledeen and his neocons got the war they wanted, it was waged according to their blueprints, and it's their fuck-up, their moral responsibility, their historical bloodstain, their arrogant, ignorant, blundering, inexcusable mess. It says something about Ledeen's depraved indifference toward the consequences of his own lobbying efforts that he still thinks at this late date that he can get away with being droll."

-- James Wolcott in The Squawk of a Chickenhawk

Karen on 08.24.05 @ 12:26 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Always Wondered this Meself...

”It's Always Seemed to Me a Little Odd

It's always seemed to me a little odd
That in his time on earth as Jesus, God
Would fail to make a parable or mention
That being gay defies nature's convention!

Or why in all the truths He did convey
No word against abortion did He say?
Why didn't He explain where life begins
Instead of pard'ning evil-doers' sins?

Or how could He ignore the bankers' need
To charge percents of interest that exceed
The fed's prime rate by multiples of eight?
How else can rich folks' wealth accumulate?

Instead He advised all to be so meek
That, if attacked, we turn the other cheek
Did He not know the interests of our nation
Might demand covert assassination?”

-- buddy don at wandering hillbilly

Karen on 08.24.05 @ 12:10 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Vixen? or Man? You decide...

Crooks & Liars posts this one on the The Vixen of Vipertude who recently said about the War on Terror and 9/11:

"...it's far preferable to fight them in the streets of Baghdad than in the streets of New York (where the residents would immediately surrender)." -- Ann Coulter

Click on the link to hear a clip of Keith Olbermann taking her to task with this reply: "from the woman who ran away in terror from a PIE."

But the real FUN is about Coulter’s Adam's Apple and comments (54 and counting) like this:
”That's a great adam's apple wiew of Mann Coulter.

It's going to be hoot when the news breaks that "it" and Hannity have been pinned to each other for months.”

Or this:
“Oh look at this psycho. Yeah, I banged her. They arrested me for beastiality." Triumph the Insult Comic Dog on Ann Coulter.”

Or this:
"Someone need's to ask Bill Maher if she really is a woman."

So is "IT" a Vixen or a Man???

Karen on 08.24.05 @ 11:51 AM CST [link] [ | ]

And in a new twist in the Tennessee '06 Senatorial Election....

The Memphis Flyer has come out and endorsed Harold Ford, Jr.....

for the Republican nomination for that seat. Quoth the Flyer:

Two crushing national election defeats have proven the eternal wisdom of Harry Truman’s observation that “When voters are given a choice between voting for a Republican or a Democrat who acts like a Republican, they’ll vote for the Republican every time.”

Now the public is restless. The negativity extends directly to every member of Congress, Republican and Democrat, who lacked either the intestinal fortitude or the common sense to stand up to this administration’s mad rush toward war.

Here in Tennessee, Democratic candidate for senator Harold Ford Jr. not only supported the Iraq War Powers Act, he was one of the co-sponsors! To his credit, Ford has stuck to his guns. (“I support this war in Iraq,” he reiterated last week. “I supported it from the beginning for one reason: Saddam Hussein was a bad guy.”) And since that 2002 vote, Ford has continued to ignore Truman’s dictum. He has been the very model of a “Democrat who acts like a Republican” by supporting the Terry Schiavo bill, by failing to show up to vote against this year’s heinous budget, and by voting for the administration’s corporate-friendly bankruptcy and energy bills.

Cynics suggest that Ford is simply trying to strike the kind of “moderate” pose that enhances his chances in Republican East Tennessee. The facts suggest otherwise. Indeed, the vehemence with which Congressman Ford defended the administration last Friday (“I love my president. I love him personally,” the congressman avowed) inclines us to suggest that Ford take President Truman’s advice to its logical conclusion:

Congressman Ford, we suggest you immediately declare your candidacy for the Republican nomination for the Senate. Your words, your political contributors, and your votes make it clear that’s where you belong. As the Republican nominee, you would become the favorite to be Tennessee’s next senator. And you could go before the voters as what you are: a centrist who believes in the war in Iraq and who favors the budgetary, economic, and environmental policies of the Bush administration.

Best of all, your move to the Republican Party would clear the air in state politics. In 2006, the voters of Tennessee might be given a real choice at the polls: between a Republican candidate who stands on his record and for the status quo and a real Democratic candidate who might have the political courage to articulate a viable alternative to the mess in which we presently find ourselves at home and abroad.

Let’s make Harry Truman proud and give Tennessee voters a real choice.
Credit: Left Wing Cracker

Len on 08.24.05 @ 11:42 AM CST [link] [ | ]

The Dog Days of Summer…

….Are coming to a close. But I forgot to post about this one from last week:

Chihuahua fans will have to hold their horses by Kayce T. Ataiyero (Chicago Tribune):

”A week after 72 dogs were seized from a Wheeling home, a Northbrook shelter is struggling to accommodate the burgeoning brood--now 87 and counting--as well as thousands of calls from people wanting to adopt the dogs.

Seventy-one Chihuahuas and a papillon were rescued by police last week after authorities found what they said was an illegal puppy mill operating in a townhouse. They were taken to Heartland Animal Shelter, where resources are being stretched thin to care for the dogs.

The phone calls--including one from India--have averaged more than three a second at times and have virtually shut down the shelter's antiquated phone system, workers said. There was a running list of interested "pet parents" until it topped 1,000 names.

Well, we might get our own chance to adopt a Chihuahua puppie because my daughter’s boyfriend (Teen Geek) has an expectant Pooch – and they already own three Chihuahuas. (But, pssssst…don’t tell my hubbie…LOL)

Karen on 08.24.05 @ 11:07 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Two Foxes in the Oil Hen House

Fareed Zakaria has written a piece focusing on the current oil crisis with a rant 'n' rave against SUV's (in Newsweek) but how can there be any political will or public will to effect meaningful changes absent the encouragement of those in charge of our energy policy? We have what can only be labled "Two Foxes in the Oil hen House" in a Dumbya/Darth administration.

The Dumbya/Darth Big Oil company connections, the Halliburton contracts, the pipeline in Afghanistan and the personal relationship with the Saudi Royal family are no speculation. Further, it the reason there is no hope of any meaningful policies from a Dumbya/Darth admin to reduce our National dependence on foreign oil or offer meaningful choices to consumers that don't include remaining hostage to these issues for the foreseeable future.

These rising oil prices, the Iraq war, the Afghanistan pipeline, Halliburton's contracts in rebuilding oil pipelines in Iraq -- they all tie in to this point:

Whether anyone can really believe that "Oil Man" Dumbya and "Oil Man/Halliburton Man" Darth have done anything since 9/11 to significantly reduce (not protect, coddle, rebuild, re-engineer, or kowtowing to Saudi Arabia and OPEC) our dependence, as a nation, on foreign imported oil.

Where, since it was clearly recognized at the time of 9/11 that much of our response to the OPEC producing nations and Saudi Arabia (where 15 of the highjackers were from) had to be tempered (hampered?) by the touchy relationships and this dependence on foreign oil, has the Dumbya/Darth administration made any moves to fundamentally change that picture?

It's been four years, yet I'm still not offered a suitable, cost effective vehicle that doesn't guzzle gasoline at ever increasing prices?? I already own a small mini-van sized vehicle. It runs on a 6-cylinder car engine and I can at least load my family safely, bucked into seats. It gets about as good a gas mileage as most vehicle; fuel efficient hybrids excluded.

But this IS my point: Where IS the fuel efficient hybrid Mini-Van??? A vehicle that all five of us can FIT into? I’ve been in a Prius™ - I’m not even sure we could shoe-horn my 6’6” hubby into a Prius™, let alone fit five of us. There simply hasn't been any meaningful choice to me as a consumer/driver except don't buy gas and don't drive far. Great Conservation strategy- NOT.

Where are the Dumbya/Darth incentives for these changes? Alternative fuels? Mileage efficient cars? Effective hybrid vehicles? All the efforts of this administration reveals a commitment to protecting, coddling, rebuilding, re-engineering and continuing the fatal tango with Saudi Arabia and OPEC; not fundamentally changing the picture.

And; Here's the accountability part, who benefits long term from this failure to invest in changing this picture? And who can believe Dumbya/Darth, both with ties to big oil companies and personal ties to Saudi Royals, have a whiff of an inclination to go against these personal interests to effect any meaningful change. At every push, shove and corner these men refuse to pursue any goals but those that enrich their friends and cohorts in this oil dependence business.

It would be one thing to acknowledge the need to maintain some consistent supplies of oil for our markets during a transition phase to making changes…but I can't point to one, even one area where the Dumbya/Darth administration has ever made even a hint at working on areas to transition out of this dependency.

Can you point to one? If they haven't done it in four years, if they haven't done it since 9/11, if they haven't done it since oil prices are going through the roof (and are predicted to increase seriously in the next 5-10 years depending on which analyst is believed) what makes anyone think they'd do it over the next three years? And who'd believe they'd do it given the money to be made for them and their cohorts and business associates; these Two Foxes in the Oil Hen House.

Karen on 08.24.05 @ 09:41 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Stunning indeed.....

At Brian Leiter's Law School Reports (his specialized law and legal education "blawg"), he posted an interesting article discussing a proposition by law professors Andrew Morriss of Case-Western Reserve and William Henderson of Indiana--Bloomington that non-elite law schools interested in improving the academic caliber (as measured by LSAT scores) of the students in their incoming classes, they should consider dropping their tuition prices drastically. Given the high cost of securing a top flight legal education, they posit that many students would have a degree of price elasticity of demand for legal education. Professor Leiter left comments open on that post, and Professor Henderson weighed in with a comment that contained a "stunning statistic" (Henderson's own words).

Before the statistic, an observation. Many legal laypersons, on hearing that I left the legal profession, come to the conclusion that I'm certifiably batshit crazy (that may be a correct observation, but if you're basing that on the fact that I left the legal profession, you may have come to the correct conclusion for the wrong reasons), thinking that I've foregone millions of dollars in legal income.

The truth of the matter is that the stereotype of the rich corporate lawyer is mistaken. That's the elite of the profession, which very few lawyers achieve. Many more lawyers are slaving away in fairly low paid (by "professional" standards) positions as solo practicioners or partners in very small firms. With that in mind, Professor Henderson's observation:

Here is a stunning statistic: in 1975, the median Chicago solo practitioner earned approximately $99,000 (in 1995 dollars) per year; by 1995, that number plummeted to $55,000, and 32 percent were working second jobs compared to 2 percent in 1975. See Heinz, et al., Urban Lawyers (2005). This economic reality is why, in our study, students with marginally higher LSAT scores are favoring lower-priced law schools.
The really scary thing about that statistic is, of course, that "median" is by definition the halfway point, and as many solo practicioners in Chicago are earning under $55,000 as are earning over that figure.

[The "Heinz" cited by Prof. Henderson, incidentally, is John P. "Smiling Jack" Heinz ("Smiling Jack" being the nickname our class tagged him with) who taught me everything I've since forgotten about the Illinois criminal code, and who was pursuing his sociological studies of the Chicago Bar back when I was a student of his.]

Len on 08.24.05 @ 08:24 AM CST [link] [ | ]

The turning point identified....

Bryan at Why Now?, inspired by the Larry Johnson blogpost that I referenced yesterday, digs into the data and makes a damn good case that late March/April, 2004 is the point at which Iraq turned into a quagmire:

In late March through early April in 2004 a series of events plunged the US into a quagmire.

Rumsfeld made the decision to replace major units, rather than individuals to accomplished troop rotations. This meant that most of the troops involved in these events were "green" from privates to flag officers. There were major losses among the new units because they lacked the equipment or experience to protect themselves.

This was the period when the death and mutilation of the four mercenaries occurred in Fallujah and the US said: 'We will respond' to contractor killings.

This is when Paul Bremer decided to go after Muqtada al-Sadr by having the Iraqi government issue an arrest warrant for him, by closing down his newspaper, and by having the Spanish pick up one of his deputies.


Casey Sheehan died because of Paul Bremer's annoyance with Muqtada al-Sadr and Donald Rumsfeld's rotation concept. Nothing has been accomplished in the effort to reconstruct Iraq since April 2004. The infrastructure of Iraq was in better shape on the day the fall of Saddam's statue was stage-managed for a photo op [April, 9, 2003], than anytime since.

Len on 08.24.05 @ 07:24 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Vitriolic Double Standards...

Here’s some good background on Ole Bible Thumper Pat Robertson from The Cunning Realist in " Convenient Christian":

”…But Robertson's comments are particularly shameful and hypocritical in light of an episode in his recent past.

Until being forced to abdicate in 2003, Charles Taylor was Liberia's Saddam Hussein. Having seized power as a warlord and then winning a farcical election, Taylor was infamous for his brutality and corruption. He essentially ran Liberia as his own personal cash register, and eventually was indicted for war crimes and crimes against humanity by a UN-backed tribunal. In the summer of 2003, with hundreds of thousands of Liberians dead in a civil war and its embassy in the country under siege, the U.S. finally intervened and demanded that Taylor step down.

Pat Robertson wasn't happy about that. From a WaPo article in 2003:

Charles Taylor, the Liberian president who has been indicted by an international court for crimes against humanity, has few remaining supporters in the United States. But one prominent American who has stuck with the West African leader is religious broadcaster and Christian Coalition founder Pat Robertson.

In recent broadcasts of his cable TV show "The 700 Club," watched by an estimated 1 million households, Robertson has defended Taylor as a fellow Baptist and Liberia's "freely elected" leader. The "horrible bloodbath" taking place in Liberia, he has repeatedly said, is the fault of the State Department.

What Robertson, 73, has not discussed in these broadcasts is his financial interest in Liberia. In an interview yesterday, he said he has "written off in my own mind" an $8 million investment in a gold mining venture that he made four years ago under an agreement with Taylor's government.

Yet, he added: "Hope springs eternal. Once the dust has cleared on this thing, chances are there will be some investors from someplace who want to invest. If I could find some people to sell it to, I'd be more than delighted."

A few more quotes as reported by CBS News at the same time:

"How dare the president of the United States say to the duly elected president of another country, 'You've got to step down,'" Robertson said Monday on "The 700 Club," broadcast from his Christian Broadcasting Network.

"It's one thing to say, we will give you money if you step down and we will give you troops if you step down, but just to order him to step down? He doesn't work for us."

How about that last gem in light of his comments about assassinating Chavez?

[Emphasis is by Cunning Realist.]

And Media Matters for America is urging ABC Family to stop showing Pat Robertson's The 700 Club. ABC Family shows The 700 Club three times a day.
"Robertson, 700 Club host and founder of the Christian Coalition of America, has a history of vitriolic and false statements, as Media Matters has pointed out.

In addition to urging the assassination of a foreign leader, Robertson has blamed gays for divorce, abortion, and September 11, said that a gay-oriented event would bring about "terrorist bombs ... earthquakes, tornadoes, and possibly a meteor," and stated that liberal judges are a bigger threat to society than Al Qaeda.

"Robertson's vitriol is not appropriate for children, or for anyone else, for that matter. His calls for the killing of a foreign leader certainly do not belong on a television channel that purports to offer family-friendly programming," said Media Matters for America President and CEO David Brock."

Courtesy of US News Wire.

Karen on 08.24.05 @ 06:24 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Thought for the Day:

Pat Robertson considers himself a man of God, a Christian, a preacher of the Gospel. To all of these aspects of his self-delusion, the only appropriate response is: Huh? His latest suggestion, as this self-proclaimed man of God, is that Hugo Chavez, the president of Venezuela, should be assassinated. On his "700 Club" TV show, Robertson said Chavez could turn Venezuela into a safe haven for Communist and Muslim extremists. "You know, I don't know about this doctrine of assassination, but if he thinks we're trying to assassinate him, I think that we really ought to go ahead and do it," said Robertson, who founded the Christian Coalition. "It's a whole lot cheaper than starting a war ... and I don't think any oil shipments will stop." True men of God, of course, do not entertain such notions. They certainly don’t preach them. Men of blasphemy do.

Did Robertson lose his Bible? Or has he simply rewritten it in his own language? What happened to "Thou Shalt Not Kill?" This is not the first time Robertson has expressed a fondness for assassination. In October 2003 he suggested that nuclear weapons be dropped on the State Department.

Have any authorities checked his basement?

Here’s what I’m curious about. How does someone who has wrapped himself in the cloak of Christianity for decades come up with such ideas and express them with such ease? Does he pray first? Does he get on his knees, close his eyes and say, "God, I really want to take a few people out here. I know we’re all supposed to be your children, but there are some bad ones in the bunch and I'm figuring they probably got through by mistake. So how about culling the herd?" And then does he actually imagine God answering him and saying, "Go forth, my child with whatever weapons you can find. If you can’t scrounge up any yourself, spread the word. Preach to the masses. Someone will pick up the sword, pull the trigger or drop the bomb."
--Patti Davis

Len on 08.24.05 @ 06:18 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Because you were just yearning for this list...

Spin magazine has compiled a listing of the 25 most incredible rock star body parts:

Spin charts the 25 "most incredible" rock star body parts in its September issue, now on newsstands. Madonna's navel tops the list.

"It's what first marked her as a mainstream provocateur," senior Spin writer Marc Spitz writes.

At No. 2 is the liver of Rolling Stones' Keith Richards, which is so durable, Spitz writes, that "when Richards finally passes, they'll line the exterior of the space shuttle with his liver tissue."
I don't know about you, but I'd put Keith Richards's liver first on my list. If a geneticist can ever unlock the secret of Richards's mutation that gives his liver such incredible powers of neutralizing just about every poison that Keith's ingested in a long and storied career of polysubstance abuse, s/he will not only have made the most significant breakthrough in preventive toxicology in the history of medicine, but s/he will be a shoo-in for the Nobel Prize in Physiology and Medicine. The Nobel equivalent of a first ballot Hall of Famer.

A quick glance at Spin's website shows that this article hasn't been posted yet. Might be worth keeping an eye on the website to see if they post it.

Len on 08.23.05 @ 08:32 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Gem o'the Day, Extended Vacations Bonus Edition:

From Billmon:

Bush heads to Idaho for Iraq talk, vacation
BOISE, Idaho -- Officials are concluding preparations for President Bush's arrival today at Gowen Field for his first trip to Idaho, where he'll vacation in rural Valley County and deliver a speech on U.S. wars . . . From Boise, he'll fly north to Donnelly, where he's due to spend two nights at Tamarack Resort, a ski and golf resort that opened in December 2004. (emphasis added)
Who else but President AWOL would take a vacation from his vacation?
[emphasis added by Billmon, not me --LRC]

Damn, who would ever have thought that ducking Cindy Sheehan was such hard work.

Fucking coward.

Len on 08.23.05 @ 08:07 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Also from Steve Gilliard.....

the problem with the Yellow Elephants:

The problem with young Republicans is that they reduce matters of life and death into policy debates.

When challenged on their enlistment status, many Young Republicans cite the service of others, or how they're fighting liberals and for lower taxes.

It is not the same.

It isn't even close to the same.

Walking point in Ramadi is not the same as writing a policy paper at the Heritage Foundation.

What you need to be told, repeatedly is that it is disrespectful in the extreme to compare such work to serving in combat. It trivializes and demeans those who risk their lives daily in Iraq.

Claiming you support the military while demeaning their service with your facile comparisons indicate the opposite.

Thomas Paine supported the Revolution with a rifle as an infantryman.

He didn't support it from Starbucks over a nasty blog post.

If a cause isn't worth serving, what is it worth? Cheap words?

You demand sacrifice from everyone but yourself. So why should we take you seriously. I can play Risk as well. I just don't ask people to die for me in the process.


Oh, you can spout your twaddle all you want, to whomever you want, you have that right.

But don't pretend you support the military. You don't. You just support the war. The military is besides the point to you. Not to their families, but to you. So save the lectures on patriotism and who wants us to lose the war. You do. You aren't serving. Neither in the military or the interest of this country. Just in your sad, febrile fantasy world of dead brown people and Marines slaying dragons.

Len on 08.23.05 @ 07:54 PM CST [link] [ | ]

'Sen. Ford. I don't think so.'

From New York, Steve Gilliard takes notice of Harold Ford, Jr.'s Senatorial bid:

African-Americans overwhelming oppose this war. Ford does himself no favors with his stand.
" I love my President". Does he shine his shoes as well. Does Bush pat him on the head?

Ford may be high yella, but he ain't white.

Which is the ONLY way he becomes Senator from Tennessee and then President.

And his uncle is a crook as well? Shit.

I have a better chance of taking Bill "Dobson's Bitch" Frist's job.

Len on 08.23.05 @ 07:32 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Gem o'the Day:

"If America is truly on a war footing," Thom Shanker asks in the New York Times, "why is so little sacrifice asked of the nation at large?" Military recruiters are coming up short of volunteers, yet neither party is pushing for a draft. No one is proposing a tax increase to cover the $60 billion annual cost of the Iraq and Afghan wars. There are no World War II-style war bond drives, no victory gardens, not even gas rationing. Back here in the fatherland, only "support our troops" car ribbons indicate that we're at war--and they aren't even bumper stickers, they're magnetic. Apparently Americans aren't even willing to sacrifice the finish on their automobiles to promote the cause.
--Ted Rall

Len on 08.23.05 @ 11:53 AM CST [link] [ | ]

YIKES...Stalking Cat???

Courtesy of an article in the Chicao Tribune and photos:

A google search came up with his webpage for Dennis Avner, after he's undergone multiple surgeries to become "Stalking Cat."

Someone I'd not like to run into in a dark alley - nor any where I can think of. TOO Scary!!!

Karen on 08.23.05 @ 09:45 AM CST [link] [ | ]


Appropos of Len’s post on WWJA (Who Would Jesus Assassinate?)

Is this one from David Corn about:

What Would Jesus Pay?

[O]ne religious-right-watcher sent me the following email:

In a further sign that the CHRISTIAN COALITION is effectively DEAD, and no longer a political force, PITNEY BOWES has filed a lawsuit for $13,643 of unpaid postage for its offices. The lawsuit claims $13,643 of OFFICE POSTAGE from the Christian Coalition's main office operations which the Christian Coalition has been unable to pay. Furthermore, the $13,643 account is long OVERDUE.

The most important expense for a POLITICAL organization is POSTAGE, because direct mail fund-raising and other mail operations are the lifeblood of a political organization.

Therefore, a political organization that cannot pay its postage -- especially a relatively minor amount of $13,643 -- is an organization that is essentially DEAD. It is like a restaurant that cannot afford to order food for the kitchen or a business that cannot pay its electric bill. The relatively small amount of the unpaid bill shows that the Christian Coalition is in serious trouble.

Meanwhile, the Christian Coalition had not filed its 2004 tax return (Form 990, which is a public document) as of August 12, 2005. The Form 990 tax return was due on May 15, 2005.

- - -

Maybe Jesus wouldn't pay his bills, either.
[emphasis mine.]

Karen on 08.23.05 @ 09:15 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Back to School edition....

Just in time for “Back to School” - I found a site reference for making “The Best Paper Airplane” - EVER!!


So click on this link and give this one a try.

Just be sure not to get caught by your boss or Mrs. Fowlkes, your homeroom teacher. Hahahahaha!

Karen on 08.23.05 @ 08:59 AM CST [link] [ | ]


A few ditties from a book I found by Robert J. Thornton (Professor of economics at Lehigh University, Pa.) called L.I.A.R. --The Lexicon of Intentionally Ambiguous Recommendations or (Positive sounding references for people who can’t manage their own sock drawers.) - published by Barnes & Noble, 2003.

Mr. Thornton writes:

"Back in 1987, I wrote an article entitled, “I can’t Recommend The Candidate Too Highly.” The article contained a handful of humorous double-meaning phrases for letters of recommendation….

To my great surprise, the news media took a considerable interest in the “method” that I had devised for writing letters of recommendation that could be interpreted either positively or negatively. Theoretically, a write of such a letter could convey honest information about a person being “recommended” without a fear of a lawsuit – although my hope than and now is that no one would take my method too seriously."

Mr. Thornton has “punctuation rules” to cover a variety of situations to create just the right amount of ambiguity in whether the candidate is being praised or dissed. For example, he invents a mark called “the quomma”: A “questionable comma” that … “looks like a comma but could also be mistake for a, say, a small coffee stain, a defect in the paper or maybe even a dead gnat or fruit fly.” The purpose being “the reader thinks it might be a comma, but can’t be sure if it really is a comma or something else entirely.”

The effect would turn take this sentence:

“He won’t do anything which will lower your high regard for him.”

Changed by a real comma:

“He won’t do anything, which will lower your high regard for him.”

But which would be rendered ambiguous by the use of Mr. Thornton’s “quomma” and could then be interpreted positively or negatively.

So this invaluable reference guide has some 350 ambiguous sentences and phrases covering 15 assorted subjects; like Incompetence, Dishonesty, Absenteeism, Character Defects, Unemployability, Loose Morals and Stupidity.

So here are a few GEMs:

To describe a candidate who is not very industrious: “In my opinion, you will be very fortunate to get this person to work for you.”

To describe a person certain to foul up any project: “I am sure that whatever task he undertakes – no matter how small – he will be fired with enthusiasm.”

To describe a person who remains troubled: “He has a somewhat troubled past, But I’d say that now he’s turned his life around 360 degrees.” (In other words…he’s right back where he started.)

To describe a record for a criminal past: “He’s a man of many convictions.” Or it’s variant: “She has a long and notable record.” (In fact she/ he’s got a criminal record a mile long and the police know she / he very well.)

To describe a character defect: You’ll be very impressed with his performance at work.” (He’s really quite a convincing actor.)

To describe a person beyond description: “I can’t begin to tell you what a fine person she is.” (I can’t even think about beginning to tell you.)

To describe an alcohol or substance problem: “He once had an alcohol problem, but I understand that he doesn’t drink anymore.” (He doesn’t drink any less either.)

To describe a disagreeable employee: “Her input was always critical.” (She never had a good word to say.) or “There’s no questioning his abilities.” (He gets angry if you do.)

To describe a dishonest person: “He won’t give you lame excuses for his shortcomings.” (They’ll all be whoppers.) or “You simply won’t believe her credentials.” (She faked most of her resume.)

This book is Too Funnie and may come in handy one of these days.


Karen on 08.23.05 @ 08:53 AM CST [link] [ | ]

So much for resolve....

I was going to make today a Cindy Sheehan-free zone for 24 hours, but then I saw the Rasmussen polling results I mentioned below (which interested me), and then Larry Johnson had to go and post this. However, the Johnson post takes the interesting tack of addressing the Sheehan situation by removing Cindy and her son from the equation, and for that reason is worth a read:

Perhaps the conversation ought to start about the other seven men who died on April 4, 2004 in Sadr City.
From the Army’s 2nd Battalion, 5th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Cavalry Division, Fort Hood, Texas were:

Sgt. Yihjyh L. Chen, 31, of Saipan, Marianas Protectorate.

Spc. Robert R. Arsiaga, 25, of San Antonio, Texas.

Spc. Stephen D. Hiller, 25, of Opelika, Ala.

Spc. Ahmed A. Cason, 24, of McCalla, Ala.

Spc. Israel Garza, 25, of Lubbock, Texas.

From the Army's 2nd Battalion, 37th Armor Regiment, 1st Brigade, 1st Armored Division, Ray Barracks, Friedberg, Germany was Sgt. Michael W. Mitchell, 25, of Porterville, Calif.

And, from Casey's unit, the 1st Battalion, 82nd Field Artillery Regiment, 1st Cavalry Division, Fort Hood, Texas was Cpl. Forest J. Jostes, 22, of Albion, Ill.

Maybe George Bush could clarify why these men died. According to several press reports, they were attacked and killed by forces loyal to Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr. And where is al-Sadr today? He's a player in the Shiite community in Iraq which is on the verge of installing Islam as the basis of government in Iraq. In effect, Casey and his comrades were killed by people whose leaders are on the verge of taking control in Iraq. It would be one thing if George Bush could tell Casey's mom and the moms of the other boys who died that their sons gave their lives to create a secular Iraq. But we now know that is not true. They gave their lives in a cause that is allowing some Islamic extremists loyal to Iran to play a major role in the "new" Iraq.
[emphasis added --LRC]
Another reason to read Mr. Johnson's post: Johnson reveals that one of the soldiers wounded in the attack that cost the lives of Casey Sheehan and his comrades was a distant relative of George W. Bush.

You'd think that being a relative of Bush's would get you some consideration when it came time to re-integrate you into civilian life, particularly if you've been wounded in Bush's Folly. Alas, not the case:
Brian survived. He received a purple heart from George Bush himself during his Easter 2004 visit with wounded troops at Fort Hood. But Brian has not fully recovered. Brian's mom ratted on him, telling me about Brian's current state. Then, only after I badgered him did Brian himself admit his difficulties to me. Brian is trying to handle things quietly and bravely, just as he did that day in Sadr City. Yet, he still faces more reconstructive surgery. What is really tragic is that he battles the demon of survivor's guilt. His mom tells me that, on bad days, he wonders why he was allowed to live and his buddies died. The good news is he still loves his country and is getting on with his life. What really sucks is that he is fighting the VA Bureaucracy to get his benefits. They still have not assigned him a disability status. He described his separation from the Army as a boot in the ass and good luck.

Brian and the other wounded vets deserve more than best wishes and good cheer. They have shed their blood in service to their country and deserve our full commitment.

The ultimate irony of this story is that Brian is a distant relative of George W. Bush (his mother tells me she learned of it while doing genealogical research).
One has to wonder, would wounded vets get the shaft like this if it was Jenna or Barbara Bush, rather than a mere "distant relative", who had come home a shattered wreck?

Food for thought.

Len on 08.23.05 @ 07:17 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Via Talking Points Memo, a couple interesting things to note....

Len on 08.23.05 @ 06:56 AM CST [link] [ | ]


Or, Who Would Jesus Assassinate?

On Air America (The Rachel Maddow Show and Morning Sedition) this morning they've been playing a clip of Pat Robertson suggesting that the United States launch a covert operation to assassinate Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez.

Been a while since I've read the gospels, so maybe I'm just forgetting, but.... Where in the Sermon on the Mount does Jesus say "Blessed are they who terminate with extreme prejudice heads of state who displease them"?

If Pat's going to heaven, I'm glad I'm headed to hell. Or as Mark Twain put it, "There you have it. Choose heaven for climate, and hell for society."

UPDATE: MediaMatters has the video clip.

Len on 08.23.05 @ 05:19 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Thought for the Day:

When things go particularly badly in Iraq—anarchy, insurgency, and now the delays in crafting a constitution—President George W. Bush and his top aides point reassuringly to the turbulence surrounding our own Founding Fathers' exertions to forge a republic.


In other words, so this argument goes, the United States of America took 11 years to go from the Declaration of Independence to the Constitution; therefore, don't be surprised that Iraq is still writhing a mere two years after the fall of Saddam—or that the delegates to
its constitutional convention are experiencing difficulties.

There's something to this, of course, but why does Bush keep bringing it up? Far from easing our concerns about Iraq (
ah, well, this is just how things go in the transition to democracy), comparing its plight with that of late 18th-century America—and likening the roundtable in Baghdad's Green Zone to the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia—should only intensify the hackles and horrors.

The real inference to be drawn is that the American colonies were as well-fit for a democratic union as any society in human history—and they took more than a decade to get their act together. Today's Iraq enjoys almost none of their advantages, so how long will it take to move down the same path—and how long will we have to stay there to help?
--Fred Kaplan

Len on 08.23.05 @ 05:14 AM CST [link] [ | ]

More viral video....

Got a pointer to this from a mail list I'm on. Basically, an interesting musing on cause and effect in a short film: Spin (Let it load, then click the dot just above "play".)

Len on 08.22.05 @ 09:15 PM CST [link] [ | ]

A Hawk Historian Speaks Up...

Here’s an interesting piece from a Hawk: Eliot A. Cohen (Special to The Washington Post) A hawk's son goes to war.

War forces us, or should force us, to ask hard questions of ourselves. As a military historian, a commentator on current events and the father of a young Army officer, these are mine.

.... I say that what I took to be the basic rationale for the war still strikes me as sound. Iraq was a policy problem that we could evade in words but not escape in reality. But what I did not know then that I do know now is just how incompetent we would be at carrying out that task. And that's what prevents me from answering this question with an unhesitating yes.

…. [B]y resting much of its case for war on Iraq's actual possession of weapons of mass destruction. The true arguments for war reached deeper than that. … Decades of American policy had hoped to achieve stability in the Middle East by relying on accommodating thugs and kleptocrats to maintain order. That policy, too, had failed: It was the well-educated children of our client regimes who leveled the Twin Towers.

The administration is right in thinking that Saddam's overthrow could change the pattern of Middle Eastern politics in ways that, by favoring the cause of decent government and basic freedoms, would favor our interests as well. Iraq will not become a progressive social democracy for generations, if ever. But it can become a state that has reasonably open and free politics, and that could inspire other changes in the Arab Middle East. The administration believed the invasion would jolt and transform a region bewitched by the malignant dreams that my colleague Fouad Ajami has described so well: the dark fantasies of Baathists, ultra-nationalists and religious fanatics. Indeed, cracks have begun to show in Libya, Lebanon, Egypt, even in Syria and Saudi Arabia.

But a pundit should not recommend a policy without adequate regard for the ability of those in charge to execute it, and here I stumbled. I could not imagine, for example, that the civilian and military high command would treat "Phase IV" — the post-combat period that has killed far more Americans than the "real" war — as of secondary importance to the planning of Gen. Tommy Franks' blitzkrieg. I never dreamed that Ambassador Paul Bremer and Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, the two top civilian and military leaders early in the occupation of Iraq — brave, honorable and committed though they were — would be so unsuited for their tasks. I did not expect that we would begin the occupation with cockamamie schemes of creating an immobile Iraqi army to defend the country's borders rather than maintain internal order, or that the under-planned, under-prepared and in some respects mis-manned Coalition Provisional Authority would seek to rebuild Iraq with big construction contracts awarded under federal acquisition regulations, rather than with small grants aimed at getting angry, bewildered young Iraqi men off the streets and into jobs.

I did not know, but I might have guessed.

That's particularly true here because counterinsurgency is inherently a long, long business. Most insurgencies do, however, fail. Moreover, most insurgencies consist of a collection of guerrilla microclimates in which local conditions — charismatic leaders (or their absence), ethnographic peculiarities, concrete grievances — determine the amount and effectiveness of the violence.
This is an unusually invertebrate insurgency, without a central organization or ideology, a coherent set of objectives or a common positive purpose. The FLN in Algeria or the Viet Cong were far more cohesive and directed. This makes the insurgency harder to figure out, but also less likely to succeed. And with all its errors, the United States remains an extraordinarily wealthy and formidable foe. That fact may invite hubris, but it also provides solace.

None of this predetermines the outcome, of course, or foretells the consequences of a muddled success or a blurred failure in Iraq. Historians have the comfort of knowing how past wars played out in the end. Unfortunately, that philosophical detachment is cold consolation in the here and now, as young men and women go off to war.

Your son is an infantry officer, shipping out soon for Iraq. How do you feel about that?

Pride, of course, and fear. And an occasional flare of anger at empty pieties and lame excuses, at flip answers and a lack of urgency, at a failure to hold those at the top to the standards of accountability that the military system rightly imposes on subalterns.

It is a flicker of rage that two years into an insurgency, we still expose our troops in Humvees to the blasts of roadside bombs — knowing that these armored vehicles simply aren't designed for warfare along guerrilla-infested highways, while, at the same time, knowing that plenty of countries manufacture armored cars that are. It is disbelief at a system that ships soldiers off to war for a year or 15 months, giving them two weeks of leave at the end, while our British comrades, wiser in pacing themselves, ship troops out for half that time, and give them an extra month on top of their regular leave after an operational deployment. All this because after 9/11, when so many Americans asked for nothing but an opportunity to serve, we did not expand our Army and Marine Corps when we could, even though we knew we would need more troops.

….Disdain for the general who thinks Job One is simply whacking the bad guys and cannot admit that American soldiers have tortured prisoners or, in panic, killed innocent civilians. Contempt for the ghoulish glee of some who think they were right in opposing the war, and for the blithe disregard of the bungles by some who think they were right in favoring it.

A desire to slap the highly educated fool who, having no soldier friends or family, once explained to me that mistakes happen in all wars, that the casualties are not really all that high and I really shouldn't get exercised about them.

If we fail in Iraq — and I don't think we will — it won't be because the American people lack heart, but because leaders and institutions have failed. Rather than fretting about support at home, let them show themselves dedicated to waging and winning a strange kind of war and describing it as it is, candidly and in detail. Then the American people will give them all the support they need.

The scholar in me is not surprised when our leaders blunder, although the pundit in me is dismayed when they do. What the father in me expects from our leaders is, simply, the truth: an end to happy talk and denials of error, and a seriousness equal to that of the men and women our country sends into the fight.

(Eliot A. Cohen is Robert E. Osgood Professor of Strategic Studies at the Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies, Johns Hopkins University)

Karen on 08.22.05 @ 01:06 PM CST [link] [ | ]

On Cindy Sheehan being "unhinged": a few points....

Brian Leiter publishes a response to his takedown of James Taranto by a Chicago lawyer. In pertinent part:

It's beginning to appear that the closest thing to a substantive case against Cindy Sheehan consists of the following:

1) inconsistencies between her reports (a year apart) of her meeting with that grinning little Texas troll; and

2) her espousal of a series of left of center talking points.

As you've pointed out, the talking points are never, or hardly ever addressed on their merits; it's just assumed she must be loopy, or dishonest, or under undue influence to be expressing these opinions. It should be added, I think, that it is the height of effrontery for Bill O'Reilly, or James Taranto, who never utter anything but predigested right wing bromides, to be
attacking her for following an ideological dance card. I have no idea how well-considered her thoughts on, say, Israel are (urging Israel "to get out of Palestine" certainly cries out for a clarification of terms); but it really is neither here nor there.

I guess that everything else is just undiluted slime. Quite sickening.
Meanwhile, in comments we've received this challenge:
You never post on this site any of the "unhinged" things Cindy Sheehan has actually says, like:

"The biggest terrorist in the world is George W. Bush!"

"We are waging a nuclear war in Iraq right now. That country is contaminated. It will be contaminated for practically eternity now."

"The United States is a morally repugnant system."

"My son died to expand American imperialism in the Middle East."
Well, speaking only for myself, I'd have to say I hardly find any of these statements "unhinged", and that's why I don't bother posting them or dealing with them here. At worst, they might be overstated, and in at least one case misinformed, but hardly unhinged. Taking each statement in turn:

"The biggest terrorist in the world is George W. Bush!"
I prefer the term "war criminal" to "terrorist", but I don't disagree with the moral implications of this statement: George W. Bush (and his puppetmasters) are very evil people. I've stated here a number of times that it's my opinion that in attacking Iraq under the cover of lies and deception presented to the United States Congress, the U.S. public, and the United Nations, when Iraq posed little or no danger to the United States, constitutes crimes against humanity (specifically, waging aggressive war). As such, Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Wolofwitz, Feith, and a number of other bAdministration officials should be turned out of office, turned over to the custody of an international tribunal of competent jurisdiction, tried, and if convicted (as I believe they would be), punished appropriately. To the extent that U.S. military power has been turned against undeserving Iraqi and Afghan citizens, the term "terrorism" isn't necessarily too strong a term to use in this context. A bit inaccurate, but it gets the general point across.

"We are waging a nuclear war in Iraq right now. That country is contaminated. It will be contaminated for practically eternity now."
The term "nuclear war", of course, implies the use of thermonuclear weapons, and I've not seen evidence supporting the proposition that thermonuclear weapons have been used in Iraq or Afghanistan. [However, given the rumors filtering out that the Pentagon is actually drafting contingency plans for nuclear (as well as conventional) first strikes against Iran in the event of "another 9/11-type terrorist attack" regardless of whether Teheran was involved in the attack or not, doesn't exactly fill me with confidence that we wouldn't contemplate such an action.] However, this sounds like it might be a misunderstanding of legitimate concerns concerning the use of depleted uranium munitions in Iraq. I'd like to see more context on this one.

"The United States is a morally repugnant system."
The U.S. isn't itself have a morally repugnant system, but much of what I see the Bush bAdministration doing with the system I do find morally repugnant: cutting taxes for the very rich,, pushing the burden of taxation onto the states, trying to kill social security, committing crimes against humanity by waging aggressive war.... The list goes on.

"My son died to expand American imperialism in the Middle East."
Well, Casey Sheehan died in an occupation that stemmed from the Bush bAdministration deposing a head of state and his government (one which the same government officials had supported when it served their purposes) in order to install a government and a head of state more to its liking. If that isn't imperialism, I don't know what is. And for now, that's leaving open the question of to what extent we invaded Iraq to take their oil (not likely, but to keep access to it, more likely), or to acquire permanent military bases in Iraq (more likely).

Yep, looks to me like the only symptom of her "derangement" is that she indulges in a bit of understandable hyperbole that doesn't conform to the Approved Right Wing Talking Points. As Prof. Leiter's correspondent points out: ...the talking points are never, or hardly ever addressed on their merits; it's just assumed she must be loopy, or dishonest, or under undue influence to be expressing these opinions.

As Prof. Leiter (and Old Man Mickey before him) points out, that's the fallacy of ad hominem.

Len on 08.22.05 @ 12:58 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Why Bush's falling approval numbers don't make me happier....

They do make me happy. I feel a certain satisfaction in having been ahead of the power curve on this one (I've disapproved of Dumbya from the first I saw/heard him, and it's satisfying to see a majority of the population finally coming to its senses). But as Michael Crowley, DH-ing over at Talking Points Memo, reminds us:

Divided they fall? After the 2004 primaries, fractious Democrats were impressively united in the great offensive to unseat George W. Bush. The party remained fairly monolithic earlier this year, thanks mainly to its widespread loathing for Bush's Social Security plan. But lately solidarity has again given way to a familiar brand of infighting. Two big articles today in the Times and the Post chronicle surging tensions between the party's liberal base and its Washington establishment -- over Iraq on the one hand and the Roberts nomination on the other. Call for withdrawal from Iraq, or support the war while criticizing Bush? Go nuclear on John Roberts, or skip an uphill fight and focus on other issues? The debate rages -- and the wheels spin.

Even some key Democrats fall on different sides of different issues. Wisconsin Senator Russ Feingold -- who is thinking about a run for president in 2008 -- is featured prominently as a voice of the base in the Post's story on Iraq. But in the Times, Feingold is lukewarm about pummeling Roberts for political gain.

So if you're wondering why Democrats aren't getting more positive traction out of Bush's dismal approval ratings, one reason is that they simply can't agree on what to do. You better believe that makes Karl Rove a happy man.
*sigh* It might help if we really had two separate parties, rather than two very slightly different wings of what is one party....

Len on 08.22.05 @ 11:37 AM CST [link] [ | ]

More Unintelligent Design....

Scientific Debate Purpose (?) as the Proponents of I.D. insist -- or a Religious Purpose???

”…That was certainly how many people read the Wedge Document, a five-page outline of a five-year plan for the [Discovery] science center that originated as a fund-raising pitch but was soon posted on the Internet by critics.

"Design theory promises to reverse the stifling dominance of the materialist worldview, and to replace it with a science consonant with Christian and theistic convictions," the document says. Among its promises are seminars "to encourage and equip believers with new scientific evidence that support the faith, as well as to 'popularize' our ideas in the broader culture….”

Courtesy of The NY Times.

Karen on 08.22.05 @ 10:47 AM CST [link] [ | ]

More from "Collapse"

This is yet one more *interesting* tid-bit from “Collapse” by Jared Diamond, but mostly for Len, who I know is a fancier of Sherlock Holmes trivia.

“In their range of hunting strategies, the Inuit were the most flexible and sophicticaed hunters in Arctic history. Besides killing caribou, walruses, and land birds…The Inuit [used] their fast kayaks to to harpoon seals and run down sea birds on the ocean, and in using umiaqs (boats) and harpoons to kill whales in open waters.

Not even an Inuit can stab to death at one blow a healthy whale, so the whale hunt began with a hunter harpooning the whale from an umiaq rowed by other men.

That is not an easy task, as all you devotees of Sherlock Holmes stories may remember from “The Adventures of Black Peter,” in which an evil retired ship’s captain is found dead in his house, with a harpoon which had been decorating his wall thrust clean through him. After spending a morning at a butcher’s shop, vainly attempting to himself to drive a harpoon through a pig’s carcass, Sherlock Holmes deduces correctly that the murderer must have been a professional harpooner, because, an untrained man no matter how strong cannot drive a harpoon in deeply.

Two things made it possible for the Inuit: the harpoon’s spear-thrower grip that extended the throwing arc and hence increased the hunter’s throwing force and impact; and, as in the case of Black Peter’s murderer, long practice. For the Inuit, though, that practice began already in childhood, resulting in Inuit men developing a condition called hyperextension of the throwing arm: in effect, an additional built in spear thrower.”


I will be posting some other book trivia stuff - but as I have to type all this up (and you'all know I am NOT a typist. LOL) it will take some time. And this is the last push of activities before getting my kids back-to-school on Wednesday. (Yippee)

Karen on 08.22.05 @ 10:35 AM CST [link] [ | ]

When all else fails, rename the problem....

and the Ironic Times gives us the results of a survey designed to find a new name for the Mess in Mesopotamia, now that both "War on Terror" and "Struggle Against Violent Extremism" seem to have tanked:

Len on 08.22.05 @ 07:54 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Just when you think you've heard everything

Slate's "Keeping Tabs" column reports this:

Britney Spears stocks up on bottled water. In Touch reports that Spears "will deliver her baby in a special pool filled with 1,000 one-liter bottles of specially blessed Kabbalah water—costing a whopping $3,800!"
Must be nice to be rich enough to be able to afford to indulge your eccentricities.

Len on 08.22.05 @ 06:13 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Thought for the Day:

In one test the interviewer gave each candidate a blank sheet of paper and asked him to study it and describe what he saw in it. There was no one right response in this sort of test, because it was designed to force the candidate to free-associate in order to see where his mind wandered. The test-wise pilot knew that the main thing was to stay on dry land and not go swimming. As they described with some relish later on in the BOQ, quite a few studied the sheet of paper and then looked the interviewer in the eye and said, "All I see is a blank sheet of paper." This was not a "correct" answer, since the shrinks probably made a note of "inhibited imaginative capacity" or some goddamned thing, but neither did it get you in trouble. One man said, "I see a field of snow." Well, you might get away with that, as long as you didn't go any farther...as long as you did not thereupon start ruminating about freezing to death or getting lost in the snow and running into bears or something of that sort. But Conrad...well, the man is sitting across the table from Conrad and gives him the sheet of paper and asks him to study it and tell him what he sees. Conrad stares at the piece of paper and then looks up at the man and says in a wary tone, as if he fears a trick: "But it's upside down."

This so startles the man, he actually leans across the table and looks at this absolutely blank sheet of paper to see if it's true--and only after he is draped across the table does he realize that he has been had. He looks at Conrad and smiles a smile of about 33 degrees Fahrenheit.

This was
not the way to produce the Halo Effect.
--Tom Wolfe,
The Right Stuff [on Pete Conrad's reaction to psychological screening tests for Project Mercury astronauts]

Len on 08.22.05 @ 05:54 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Cindy Sheehan "unhinged", part [whatever]

Checking Daryl Cagel's editorial cartoon archive, I see that there have been a number of additions to the archive on the Sheehan matter. So far the score: 29 cartoons pro-Sheehan, only two against. As I said before, if the cartoonists are reflecting public opinion, Bush (and the right wing slimemeisters who are rising to his defense) are losing this one badly. Of all the new cartoons, this one was a real gem:

A frequent commenter here is fond of citing James Taranto of the Wall Street Journal op-ed page. In a long post, Brian Leiter takes Taranto apart:
Notice how this shill for war slips in the key lie right at the start: she "suffered a grievous loss for a noble cause." But this is exactly what Ms. Sheehan denies: there is nothing noble about lying the nation into war, dropping bombs on a decimated country half of whose population are children, killing and maiming tens of thousands (perhaps hundreds of thousands) of innocents, and sowing death, destruction, and chaos. And in disputing that it is a "noble cause," Ms. Sheehan is correct. It is not, then, simply "churlish" to attack her under these circumstances: it betrays venal stupidity and the "moral vacancy" of which Mr. Doctorow spoke. [for those interested, the Doctorow essay to which Prof. Leiter refers can be found here.]


What could be the relevance of the fact that she and her husband have separated? For those keeping track, this appears to be an actual
ad hominem argument. [as is the whole "Sheehan is deranged" line of argument. --LRC] And although we have no evidence--as in none--about the ex-husband's view of the matter [and even if we do, what is the relevance of that? Sheehan's position has to be eveluated on its merits, not on the fact that it is contrary to her estranged husband's opinion, or to that of other members of her family --LRC], Mr. Taranto, being a skilled slime artist, slides, in the same sentence, from the fact of the separation to the fact that others in her extended family do disagree with Ms. Sheehan.


So Ms. Sheehan has the misfortune to be related to a Bush loyalist: so what?
How does that have any bearing on the content of her message? (Hint: it doesn't.) But the pathetic Ms. Quartarolo is not just a Bush loyalist; she's also schooled at the Rovian art of the smear: hence the allegation, out of whole cloth, that Ms. Sheehan "appears to be promoting her own personal agenda and notoriety."

Her own personal agenda?

Her agenda (ending the Iraq War and holding the war criminals accountable) is not personal to her (it is shared by hundreds of millions of people around the globe), indeed, it has nothing to do with her: her son is dead, he will not be helped by ending the Iraq War. If there is any
personal component to her agenda, it is a purely fantastical one, namely, a distraught parent exacting "just revenge" upon at least some of those responsible for her misery.


That really is the crux of the matter: many grieving parents are consoling themselves with the idea that their children were killed for a reason. As Nietzsche observed, in one of the truly profound books of recent centuries (
On the Genealogy of Morality), it is not suffering per se that is unbearable, it is suffering without any meaning that is intolerable. One reason, I surmise, that Ms. Sheehan provokes the wrath of other grieving parents of the victims of George W. Bush's criminal war is that many of them are trying to come to terms with their grief by believing it has a meaning. Part of Ms. Sheehan's extraordinary courage--apart from her fortitude in carrying on against the right-wing slime-and-smear machine--is that she has gone public with the terrible truth (is there a truth more terrible?) that her child's death had no meaning at all, that it was nothing more than the grotesquely stupid and pointless outcome of horrors concocted by the craven moral lepers who rule this nation. To stand face-to-face with that abyss of human depravity and carry on as Ms. Sheehan does is one reason she has earned the admiration of many.
More concise and to the point is a post by fellow Rocky Top Brigade member buddy don, the wandering hillbilly:
pinions of buddy don: a king not a pawn
i aint gut time, to meet with no mother
of a brave son killed in iraq,
i aint gut time, i caint be botherd
and i caint take anything back

aint no way to explain why he died
the reasons keep slippin away
i really didnt lie, whenever i lied
cause i believed what i had to say

im gonna ride my bike
or clear a little brush
im gonna ride my bike
so tell cindy to hush
im gonna ride my bike
cause ive gotta move on
im gonna ride my bike
im a king not a pawn
While in today's New York Times, Frank Rich gives an insightful analysis into the motives and workings of the right wing smear brigades:
When these setbacks happen in Iraq itself, the administration punts. But when they happen at home, there's a game plan. Once Ms. Sheehan could no longer be ignored, the Swift Boating began. Character assassination is the Karl Rove tactic of choice, eagerly mimicked by his media surrogates, whenever the White House is confronted by a critic who challenges it on matters of war. The Swift Boating is especially vicious if the critic has more battle scars than a president who connived to serve stateside and a vice president who had "other priorities" during Vietnam.

The most prominent smear victims have been Bush political opponents with heroic Vietnam résumés: John McCain, Max Cleland, John Kerry. But the list of past targets stretches from the former counterterrorism czar Richard Clarke to Specialist Thomas Wilson, the grunt who publicly challenged Donald Rumsfeld about inadequately armored vehicles last December. The assault on the whistle-blower Joseph Wilson - the diplomat described by the first President Bush as "courageous" and "a true American hero" for confronting Saddam to save American hostages in 1991 - was so toxic it may yet send its perpetrators to jail.

True to form, the attack on Cindy Sheehan surfaced early on Fox News, where she was immediately labeled a "crackpot" by Fred Barnes. The right-wing blogosphere quickly spread tales of her divorce, her angry Republican in-laws, her supposed political flip-flops, her incendiary sloganeering and her association with known ticket-stub-carrying attendees of "Fahrenheit 9/11." Rush Limbaugh went so far as to declare that Ms. Sheehan's "story is nothing more than forged documents - there's nothing about it that's real."

But this time the Swift Boating failed, utterly, and that failure is yet another revealing historical marker in this summer's collapse of political support for the Iraq war.

When the Bush mob attacks critics like Ms. Sheehan, its highest priority is to change the subject. If we talk about Richard Clarke's character, then we stop talking about the administration's pre-9/11 inattentiveness to terrorism. If Thomas Wilson is trashed as an insubordinate plant of the "liberal media," we forget the Pentagon's abysmal failure to give our troops adequate armor (a failure that persists today, eight months after he spoke up). If we focus on Joseph Wilson's wife, we lose the big picture of how the administration twisted intelligence to gin up the threat of Saddam's nonexistent W.M.D.'s.

The hope this time was that we'd change the subject to Cindy Sheehan's "wacko" rhetoric and the opportunistic left-wing groups that have attached themselves to her like barnacles. That way we would forget about her dead son. But if much of the 24/7 media has taken the bait, much of the public has not.

The backdrops against which Ms. Sheehan stands - both that of Mr. Bush's what-me-worry vacation and that of Iraq itself - are perfectly synergistic with her message of unequal sacrifice and fruitless carnage. Her point would endure even if the messenger were shot by a gun-waving Crawford hothead or she never returned to Texas from her ailing mother's bedside or the president folded the media circus by actually meeting with her.

The public knows that what matters this time is Casey Sheehan's story, not the mother who symbolizes it. Cindy Sheehan's bashers, you'll notice, almost never tell her son's story. They are afraid to go there because this young man's life and death encapsulate not just the noble intentions of those who went to fight this war but also the hubris, incompetence and recklessness of those who gave the marching orders.
Hubris, incompetence and recklessness so great that, as Juan Cole reminds us, now the only clear winner of the Iraq war is Iran ("premium content"; ad view or subscription required):
The Iranians hold a powerful hand in the Iraqi poker game. They have geopolitical advantages, are flush with petroleum profits because of the high price of oil, and have much to offer their new Shiite Iraqi partners. Their long alliance with Iraqi president Jalal Talabani gives them Kurdish support as well. Bush's invasion removed the most powerful and dangerous regional enemy of Iran, Saddam Hussein, from power. In its aftermath, the religious Shiites came to power at the ballot box in Iraq, bestowing on Tehran firm allies in Baghdad for the first time since the 1950s. And in a historic irony, Iran's most dangerous enemy of all, the United States, invaded Iran's neighbor with an eye to eventually toppling the Tehran regime -- but succeeded only in defeating itself.

The ongoing chaos in Iraq has made it impossible for Bush administration hawks to carry out their long-held dream of overthrowing the Iranian regime, or even of forcing it to end its nuclear ambitions. (The Iranian nuclear research program will almost certainly continue, since the Iranians are bright enough to see what happened to the one member of the "axis of evil" that did not have an active nuclear weapons program.) The United States lacks the troops, but perhaps even more critically, it is now dependent on Iran to help it deal with a vicious guerrilla war that it cannot win. In the Middle East, the twists and turns of history tend to make strange bedfellows -- something the neocons, whose breathtaking ignorance of the region helped bring us to this place, are now learning to their dismay.

More than two years after the fall of Saddam Hussein, it is difficult to see what real benefits have accrued to the United States from the Iraq war, though a handful of corporations have benefited marginally. In contrast, Iran is the big winner. The Shiites of Iraq increasingly realize they need Iranian backing to defeat the Sunni guerrillas and put the Iraqi economy right, a task the Americans have proved unable to accomplish. And Iran will still be Iraq's neighbor long after the fickle American political class has switched its focus to some other global hot spot.

Len on 08.21.05 @ 08:57 PM CST [link] [ | ]

And the latest fashion in the middle east:

Islamic swimsuits:

This isn't a joke; see Islamic-Style Swimsuits Give Women Freedom to Dive In in the LA Times (registration required, or use BugMeNot).

Len on 08.21.05 @ 07:38 PM CST [link] [ | ]

The Sultan of Swat Stats...

Not sure if Len, or any of our DBV baseball fans readers, have ever heard of this guy…but he’s called “The Sultan of Swat Stats.”

If you have a home run question for David Vincent, a.k.a.
“The Sultan of Swat Stats”? Go to this link and submit your query.

There is also a good article (but won’t be available on-line until Aug 29) at this link from the Parade Magazine Edition dated August 21, 2005.

But apparently, he’s the "Go-To Guy" for this kind of stuff.


Karen on 08.21.05 @ 03:37 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Anything Still Hopeful as an Outcome???

This may be the beginning of the end of any Democratic Promises or Hopes for how Iraq is going to function as a society and country.

As I re-posted last week in Teetering?...or Tottering? Which Way Will This Break? and And More Good News…, this rose-colored bAdmin scenario of a stable, democratic, pro-US Iraq is not yet by any means certain or probable (and maybe never was.)

And while some people may think it’s unsupportive to report these observations – as if by stating the obvious realities, that’s tantamount to making these bad things happen, or rooting against the administration policies and goals. But I think it Unpatriotic NOT to examine (and critically) what is going on and the outcome of policy decisions which have resulted in thousands of lives lost and may not meet any of the promised end game strategies.

As reported in the Washington Post: Militias wrest control across Iraq’s north, south: Newly empowered Shiite, Kurdish forces hold mixed allegiances:

"Shiite and Kurdish militias, often operating as part of Iraqi government security forces, have carried out a wave of abductions, assassinations and other acts of intimidation, consolidating their control over territory across northern and southern Iraq and deepening the country's divide along ethnic and sectarian lines, according to political leaders, families of the victims, human rights activists and Iraqi officials.

While Iraqi representatives wrangle over the drafting of a constitution in Baghdad, forces represented by the militias and the Shiite and Kurdish parties that control them are creating their own institutions of authority, unaccountable to elected governments, the activists and officials said. In Basra in the south, dominated by the Shiites, and Mosul in the north, ruled by the Kurds, as well as cities and villages around them, many residents say they are powerless before the growing sway of the militias, which instill a climate of fear that many see as redolent of the era of former president Saddam Hussein.

Militias gain power, but authority unclear

The parties and their armed wings are sometimes operating independently, and other times as part of Iraqi army and police units trained and equipped by the United States and Britain and controlled by the central government. Their growing authority has enabled them to seize territory, confront their perceived enemies and provide patronage to their followers. Their rise has come because of a power vacuum in Baghdad and their own success in the January elections.

Since the formation of a government this spring, Basra, Iraq's second-largest city, has witnessed dozens of assassinations, claiming members of the former ruling Baath Party, Sunni political leaders and officials of competing Shiite parties. Many have been carried out by uniformed men in police vehicles, according to political leaders and families of the victims, with some of the bullet-riddled bodies dumped at night in a trash-strewn parcel known as The Lot. The province's governor said in an interview that Shiite militias have penetrated the police force; an Iraqi official estimated that as many as 90 percent of officers were loyal to religious parties.

‘There is no law, there is no order’

The Badr Organization, one of the most powerful militias in southern Iraq and blamed for many of the assassinations, denied any role in the killings. The head of the group in Basra, Ghanim Mayahi, said his organization was only providing "support and assistance" to the police through lightly armed militiamen. "There is no law, there is no order, and the police are scared of the tribes. Badr is not afraid, and it can face those threats."

In both northern and southern Iraq, the parties and their militias have defended their tactics as a way of ensuring security in an increasingly lawless atmosphere. In part, they have said, their power reflects their success in January's national and local elections, in which the Kurdistan Democratic Party and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, along with the Shiite-led Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq and other Islamic parties, won overwhelmingly in their respective regions.

But critics have charged that they are wresting control over security forces to claim de facto territory and authority, effectively partitioning Iraq even as representatives in Baghdad struggle to negotiate a permanent constitution. "We have a feeling that our Islamic brothers want power, regardless of the law and regardless of the state," said Rahi Muhajir, who leads the Communist Party in Nasiriyah, 130 miles north of Basra. "They want authority and they want to stay permanently..."

Karen on 08.21.05 @ 01:09 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Because an August Sunday needs some ice cream related stories....

Here's a couple.

Len on 08.21.05 @ 10:40 AM CST [link] [ | ]

I don't envy Scott Rolen right now....

not since it was announced late last week that Rolen has a difficult decision to make soon. It appears that Rolen suffered a torn labrum in his collision with Hee-Seop Choi back in May, and a recent consultation with Cincinnati Reds team physician Dr. Tim Kremchek has revealed that apparently an earlier arthroscopic surgery which Rolen had earlier in the season didn't completely fix the problem. So it's the case that Rolen must have surgery, and the only question is timing. Surgery will probably sideline Rolen for about 6 months, which means if he has it soon, he should be at or near 100% by the time spring training 2006 starts, with bright prospects for a full 2006 season.

However, as Will Carroll points out in his last "Under the Knife" column at Baseball Prospectus (premium content; subscription required to view):

He's got a torn labrum and the scope done in the spring didn't fix it. He'll need an open repair along the lines of the one that kept Mark Ellis out all of 2004. He'll be able to return in about six months, meaning that the timing of the surgery has to take not only the postseason into account, but next season as well. Trading time in the following season for a ring now--flags fly forever--can work, as it did with Curt Schilling. It can also go wrong, not providing any return. Rolen's decision is a hard one. He wants to help his team, especially given their excellent chance of heading back to the World Series.
On the other hand, as Matthew Leach's MLB.com article points out, Rolen himself is very aware that he's nowhere near 100% right now, and is probably contemplating whether his continued presence would hurt the ballclub in the near term:
"It was put to me, from Dr. Kremchek, that, 'you need to have surgery,' " Rolen told reporters on Thursday afternoon. " 'When all the smoke clears,' he says, 'you don't have any options. You have to have surgery.'

"The timing is the issue. That's the decision that I have to make. And he was not optimistic about me being able to rehab and come back and do anything -- compete, play. He's not optimistic."


"This team is on its way to the playoffs," Rolen said. "A lot of people can argue whatever they want, but at one point, I believe we were the best team in baseball. We have a lot of guys injured, but we're still in great position. We're still headed, hopefully, to the playoffs. If we can do this, if we can hang on, I have a chance of being part of something pretty special -- or I walk around in a sling.

"So that's a big decision. One of the questions is: What's my best chance to win a ring as a St. Louis Cardinal? It might be not to play. That's not easy. That's not an easy decision, to say I can't help this team -- I can hurt this team, but I can't help this team, so my best shot of helping this team win a World Series is to not play. That's not an easy decision to make."
Tough choice. I'm not sure I'd want to be in his shoes. Not even for his salary.

Well, ok, maybe for his salary.

UPDATE: Rolen's season is over; he's elected to have surgery, probably within the next week.

Len on 08.21.05 @ 09:52 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Viral Video....

Running part of a film in reverse isn't a sophisticated special effects technique, and it's been around for a while (the example that immediately springs to my mind, which some of you may be familiar with, is the "Swedish Bookstore" scene in Top Secret!, with Val Kilmer as Nick Rivers, Lucy Gutteridge as Hillary Flammond, and Peter Cushing as Sven Jorgensen).

Still, the use of the technique in this short video is very impressive: Balancing Point. Give it a looksee....

Len on 08.21.05 @ 09:19 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Thought for the Day:

Nick Rivers: Hillary. That's an unusual name.
Hillary Flammond: It's a German name. It means 'she whose bosoms defy gravity'.
Nick Rivers: I'm pleased to meet you. My name's Nick.
Hillary Flammond: Nick? What does that mean?
Nick Rivers: Oh, nothing. My dad thought of it while he was shaving.

--Top Secret!

Len on 08.21.05 @ 08:49 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Bookish Pursuits: Updates...

Well, a few days ago I posted about the Presidential reading material and what was *missing* from Dumbya's summer book list.

But Bill Maher on his Real Time show (just started his new season on Fridays on HBO) tell us what our Fearless Leader is REALLY reading during yet another 5 week vacation down on his All Hat and No Cattle Texas Ranch:

Men Who Leak – And The Women Who Love Them (with a picture of Karl Rove)

Tuesday’s with Cheney

The Joy of Cooking Intelligence

Men Are From Mars…Let’s Invade Venus

Hooked on Phonics

Very Funnie!!! LOL - Bill Maher sometimes gets it just about right.

We are going to see his live One-Man-Show next month at the Hemmen's Center in Elgin, Il. Ought to be a Howl.

Karen on 08.21.05 @ 07:12 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Thought for the Day:

It was said that I threw, basically, five pitches--fastball, slider, curve, change-up, and knockdown. I don't believe that assessment did me justice, though. I actually used about nine pitches--two different fastballs, two sliders, a curve, a change-up, knockdown, brushback, and hit-batsman.
--Bob Gibson

Len on 08.20.05 @ 07:01 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Those Summer "Black Cows"...

"One of the delights of summer originated on this day 112 years ago. Frank Wisner, who owned the Cripple Creek Brewing Company in Colorado, put a scoop of vanilla ice cream into a glass of his Myers Avenue Red Root Beer.

His inspiration was seeing the nearby, snow-capped Cow Mountains in the moonlight.

He named his concoction the "Black Cow Mountain ice cream root beer float." Local youngsters loved it immediately and shortened the unwieldy name to the simple "black cow," which has stuck for more than a century.

The Cripple Creek Brewing Company is still in business, located in Illinois, and it still produces the Myers Avenue Red Root Beer.

Today, root beer, with or without ice cream, is part of the nearly 50 gallons of carbonated beverages each of us consumes every year."

Courtesy of US News Wire.

Karen on 08.20.05 @ 07:32 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Unintelligent Minds Want To Know…

Or so Our Fearless Leader and Frisky Bill Frist declare about teaching I.D.; a religious theory masquerading as a science:

“Echoing similar comments from President Bush, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist said "intelligent design" should be taught in public schools alongside evolution.

Frist, a Republican from Tennessee, spoke to a Rotary Club meeting Friday and told reporters afterward that students need to be exposed to different ideas, including intelligent design.

"I think today a pluralistic society should have access to a broad range of fact, of science, including faith," Frist said.

Courtesy of MSNBC.

Update: This Op-Ed from the NY Times: Intelligent Design and the Smithsonian:
”The Smithsonian Institution can't seem to disentangle itself from the clutches of the anti-evolution crowd. Earlier this year, the Smithsonian's natural history museum discovered to its dismay that it had agreed to be the host and co-sponsor of a movie intended to undercut the theory of evolution and make the case for "intelligent design," the idea that an intelligent agent had a hand in designing the universe. Only after intelligent-design proponents started chortling on the Internet about their stunning coup in co-opting the Smithsonian did museum officials reverse course and withdraw their sponsorship, while allowing the film to be shown.

Now comes word that a little-known government office has accused the Smithsonian of retaliating against a scientist who slipped an article promoting intelligent design into an obscure journal that has only very loose connections to the Smithsonian.

The article contended that evolution theory could not account for the great proliferation of life forms during the so-called Cambrian explosion some 530 million years ago, and that an intelligent agent was the best explanation. It set off an uproar among evolutionary biologists and was later disowned by the professional society that published it.

But those who see no place for intelligent design in the realm of science - and that includes us - will ruefully give him credit for maneuvering a brief for intelligent design into a peer-reviewed scientific journal, although how rigorous that review was remains a point of contention.”

Karen on 08.20.05 @ 07:26 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Now, For The True Couch Potato..

...Or the truly lazeee...

"Dan Conroy of Cary and brother David Conroy of Barrington are each married with children and they enjoy renting movies.

But they didn’t enjoy piling the kids into the car, getting them out of the car, going into the rental store, selecting the films, piling the kids back in the car and finally going home.

“That just took too long,” said Dan Conroy. “That’s when we came up with the idea of movies delivered to your door.”

About two years ago, they started DVD Revolution, an online DVD rental service at www.dvdrev.com that delivered the films within an hour along with a theater-sized box of popcorn to your door.

Initially, the business served McHenry County residents. Now, it has expanded to some Northwest suburbs, including Palatine and Hoffman Estates with plans to license territories soon in Geneva, North Aurora, Elgin, Batavia and Rockford.

DVD Revolution, which has about 3,000 registered members, has been growing along with the DVD rental industry nationwide.

Courtesy of Daily Herald.

Hmmm.... Have to bookmark that URL. *wink* LOL

Karen on 08.20.05 @ 07:12 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Xerox...Copy, Copy, Copy...

"On this day 20 years ago, the Smithsonian's Museum of American History in Washington, D.C., received a donation of a gray, rectangular box-like device.

In 1960 the device had revolutionized the way offices in the U.S. and around the world operated. It was the original Xerox 914 copying machine.

The principle of xerography, producing images on paper using electricity, was invented in 1938 by lawyer-scientist Chester Carlson. Today, every office and many homes have copying machines, and several generations have escaped the woes of having to use carbon paper.

Across the nation, there are over 58-hundred commercial copy centers, that generate nearly 6.5-billion dollars of business each year."

Courtesy of US News Wire

Karen on 08.20.05 @ 07:07 AM CST [link] [ | ]


Well, this is gonna be one of them alternate Fridays... not the TGIF type of relief Friday - But more of the "OH MY GOD...It's FRIDAY" Friday...

I just got home after my husband called me for a rescue mission to pick him up at a Metra-train Station stop [one stop up the line] headed into Downtown Chicago. The train was halted because some IDIOT apparently decided to commit suicide by throwing themselves under an oncoming Metra-train full of morning commuters on this Fine Friday in August.

What a horrible thing to DO. My opinion (harsh and unsympathetic as this might be) is if you wish go kill yourself...Fine - Jump off a Cliff. Ram your vehicle into a pylon. Drive it and yourself off a cliff. Or if trains is your thing...how about a empty freight train at midnight?

But don't involve other people and take them with you.

Or consider this woman Driver did not intend to kill:

"... Jeanette Sliwinski, 23, made her first court appearance since she was charged with first-degree murder and aggravated battery in the July 14 automobile collision that killed Michael Dahlquist, 39, John Glick, 35, and Douglas Meis, 29.
Prosecutors have alleged that Sliwinski intentionally drove her Mustang at a high rate of speed into the Honda in which the three men were waiting at a red light at Niles Center Road and Dempster Street. They said she crashed into the car in an attempt to take her own life. The men lived in Chicago and worked for Shure Inc. in Niles...."

Her lawyer contends she did not "intend" to kill, only to take her own life -- But the story goes she ran off after some argument with her mother. Drove 80+ miles per hour; down a busy congested city street, and crashed her car into the vehicle carrying her victims.

Of course she lived. They all died.

She's been charged with murder - But this where you get into the legal hairsplitting of "intent" nuances to kill people and whether she ought to be held accountable for murder or something less. But If I were one of those family members, I'd want to help her along to her original goal or perhaps kill her myself. If she'd really wanted to just harm herself...there are telephone poles, embankments, brick walls she could have driven into. Not another car full of people going about their lives.

And I don't yet know all the details of this incident that happened between Villa Park and Lombard with a suicide via the commuter Metra-train, as it just occurred a few hours ago. But what a horrible thing to do to other people and their lives.

Karen on 08.19.05 @ 09:46 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Old Man Al (at 3 Old Men) and I both think....

that having a prehensile tail would be A Very Good Thing.

I've been thinking that for a while, actually. I'm glad to know I'm not the only person who's had that thought cross his mind.

Len on 08.19.05 @ 08:31 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Significant days in St. Louis baseball history...

[NOTE: This is another rerun from last year. Edited only to move up the anniversary date, correct minor errors, and add a few more fun facts and a couple pictures.]

Good God! How could I forget this one?

Today is the 54th anniversary of what was perhaps the most outrageous promotional stunt in major league history. On August 19, 1951 Bill Veeck, owner of the St. Louis Browns, signed Eddie Gaedel to a contract to play for the Browns. Let's let Veeck tell part of the tale:
In 1951, in a moment of madness, I became owner and operator of a collection of old rags and tags known to baseball historians as the St. Louis Browns.

The Browns, according to reputable anthropologists, rank in the annals of baseball a step or two ahead of Cro-Magnon man. One thing should be made clear. A typical Brownie was more than four feet tall. Except, of course, for Eddie Gaedel, who was 3'7" and weighed 65 lbs. Eddie gave the Browns their only distinction. He was, by golly, the best darn midget who ever played big league ball. He was also the only one.
Veeck built up the stunt, letting it be known that he would be celebrating Browns' manager Zack Taylor's birthday by giving him a present between games of the scheduled doubleheader. Gaedel was put inside a cake, and of course did the traditional "out of the cake routine", wearing a tiny Browns uniform with the number 1/8, as Veeck told the crowd that he was giving Taylor "his very own little Brownie". [Some of you may, like me, still be old enough to remember the "Brownie" line of cameras manufactured by Eastman Kodak at that time...] The representatives of the Griesedieck Brewing Company, brewers of Falstaff beer (and sponsors of the Browns' radio broadcasts), were, according to Veeck's memoir, Veeck as in Wreck, less than pleased.

Until the bottom half of the first inning of the second game. Frank Saucier, playing in his only major league season as a Browns outfielder, had been named in the line-up card as the Browns' leadoff batter, and he played the first half inning of the game in the outfield. Alas, before he could even step up to the plate the announcer in Sportsman's Park told the fans: "Now pinch-hitting for Saucier, number 1/8, Eddie Gaedel!" And with those words, the 3'7" Gaedel became the first (and only) midget to play major league ball. Needless to say, the opposing team's (Detroit Tigers) manager, Red Rolfe, objected, but Zack Taylor was prepared, and had Gaedel's signed contract in hand. After showing the umpire the contract, the ump ruled that Gaedel was, indeed, a legally signed player, and he was told to take his position in the batter's box. Gaedel walked on four straight pitches (Detroit pitcher Bob Cain was a good sport about the situation, though he could barely stop laughing while pitching to Gaedel), and was then lifted for pinch-runner Jim Delsing.

The Baseball Sachems were not amused however. Veeck, again:
Dan Daniel, a well known high priest from New York, wondered what "Ban Johnson and John J. McGraw are saying about it up in Baseball's Valhalla," a good example of Dan's lean and graceful style. Non-baseball fans should understand that baseball men do not go to heaven or hell when they die; they go to Valhalla where they sit around a hot stove and talk over the good old days with Odin, Thor and the rest of that crowd. (I am assuming that the baseball people haven't driven the old Norse gods out to the suburbs. You know what guys like Johnson and McGraw do to real-estate values.)
Two days later, Major League Baseball invalidated Gaedel's contract, barring him from future appearances as a player, and amended its player personnel rules to prevent Veeck from pulling such a stunt again. But Veeck got the last laugh:
It's fine to be appreciated for a day; I recommend it highly for the soul. It's better for the box office, however, to be attacked for a full week.
Veeck also got the last word in:
My epitaph is inescapable. It will read: "He sent a midget up to bat."
RIP, Bill Veeck. Alas, we'll never see another one like you again.

Actually, the scion of the Veeck family, Mike Veeck (Bill's son) is continuing the family business as a minor league owner and executive, associated with several minor league teams including the independent St. Paul Saints of the Northern League and the Hudson Valley Renegades of the New York-Penn League (one of the Class A affiliates of the Tampa Bay Devil Rays). In case you think that Mike isn't a chip off the old Veeck block, keep in mind that one of his partners in crime in his baseball ventures is none other than actor-comedian Bill Murray, who is actually listed on the St. Paul Saints website as "Owner/Team Psychologist", and who I've heard (through the Billy Ball email newsletter) is carried on the Hudson Valley Renegades table of organization as "Vice President of Fun".

One can only fervently hope that Mike will come to run a major league ballclub. Soon.

TRIVIA FACTOID OF THE DAY: The uniform worn by Eddie Gaedel in his sole appearance in a major league baseball game was, in fact, the uniform of Browns bat-boy Bill DeWitt, Jr.. Young DeWitt was the son of Bill DeWitt, Sr., who was part of the Browns ownership group prior to Veeck's acquisition of the club, and he continues his participation in Major League Baseball as Chairman of the Board and General Partner of the St. Louis National Baseball Club, Inc. (d/b/a the St. Louis Cardinals).

Len on 08.19.05 @ 06:16 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Sad but significant days in entertainment history

[NOTE: Since today is a significant date in cultural/entertainment history, I'm deciding to re-run this post from a year ago. Edited to correct a minor factual error, to update the anniversary, and to add the picture.]

Today is the 28th anniversary of the death of comedian Julius Henry "Groucho" Marx. His death, at the time it happened, was not noted as fully as his genius deserved. Unfortunately Groucho, who was a master of comic timing during his life, wasn't as good at timing his passing. The unfortunate passing of another cultural icon merely three days before tended to drive Groucho's death out of the news.

I first got into the comedy of the Marx Brothers in college, which is (I suspect) where a lot of us developed our taste for their humor. As a general rule, my taste in films tends strongly towards comedy, and I don't think I've seen any films funnier than the Marx Brothers classics (there is no doubt that I have never laughed harder than I laughed the first time I've seen these, and I'll still chuckle when I see them today, even though I've seen them countless times): The Cocoanuts, Animal Crackers, Monkey Business, Horse Feathers, Duck Soup, A Night at the Opera, and A Day at the Races. The Marx Brothers films after those weren't quite as good, though as a former lawyer I have always had a special fondness for At The Circus, in which Groucho played the attorney J. Cheever Loophole. At The Circus also features one of the two songs most associated with Groucho, the comic "Lydia the Tattooed Lady":
Oh Lydia, oh Lydia, say, have you met Lydia?
Lydia The Tattooed Lady.
She has eyes that folks adore so,
and a torso even more so.
Lydia, oh Lydia, that encyclo-pidia.
Oh Lydia The Queen of Tattoo.
On her back is The Battle of Waterloo.
Beside it, The Wreck of the Hesperus too.
And proudly above waves the red, white, and blue.
You can learn a lot from Lydia!


When her robe is unfurled she will show you the world,
if you step up and tell her where.
For a dime you can see Kankakee or Paree,
or Washington crossing The Delaware.


Oh Lydia, oh Lydia, say, have you met Lydia?
Lydia The Tattooed Lady.
When her muscles start relaxin',
up the hill comes Andrew Jackson.
Lydia, oh Lydia, that encyclo-pidia.
Oh Lydia The Queen of them all.
For two bits she will do a mazurka in jazz,
with a view of Niagara that nobody has.
And on a clear day you can see Alcatraz.
You can learn a lot from Lydia!


Come along and see Buffalo Bill with his lasso.
Just a little classic by Mendel Picasso.
Here is Captain Spaulding exploring the Amazon.
Here's Godiva, but with her pajamas on.


Here is Grover Whelan unveilin' The Trilon.
Over on the west coast we have Treasure Isle-on.
Here's Nijinsky a-doin' the rhumba.
Here's her social security numba.


Lydia, oh Lydia, that encyclo-pidia.
Oh Lydia The Champ of them all.
She once swept an Admiral clear off his feet.
The ships on her hips made his heart skip a beat.
And now the old boy's in command of the fleet,
for he went and married Lydia!

I said Lydia...
(He said Lydia...)
They said Lydia...
We said Lydia, la, la!
The other song associated with Groucho is, of course, his theme song (from Animal Crackers), "Hooray for Captain Spaulding". Unlike "Lydia", "Captain Spaulding" is known less for the lyrics than the music, which was the theme for Groucho's "You Bet Your Life" as well as for his personal appearences for the rest of his life.

And then there was "You Bet Your Life". At first a radio quiz show, Groucho moved to television in 1950 and ruled NBC's Thursday night lineup until 1961, when the quiz show scandals pretty much killed the genre for a couple decades. As a quiz show, "You Bet Your Life" wasn't much, and it didn't give away much money compared to the other quiz shows on the air at that time. The quiz was irrelevant to the whole point of the show, which was to get Groucho to interact with the contestants for about 10 minutes or so, trusting to Groucho's laserlike wit to come up with hilarious ad-libs. Unfortunately, I've only been able to see the show in re-runs, so I don't know if I'm getting a filtered version, but generally, Groucho rarely disappointed. However the most famous of Groucho's interactions, with Mrs. Story:
Groucho: So, Mrs. Story, it says here you have 19 children?
Mrs. Story: Yes, that's right.
Groucho: Why do you have so many children? That's a big responsibility and a big burden.
Mrs. Story: Well, Groucho, I love my husband.
Groucho: Lady, I love my cigar but I take it out of my mouth once in a while.
was quashed by the radio censors, so only the studio audience got to hear it, and to the best of my knowledge it was never preserved on tape for later generations to enjoy. But some wonderful bon mots did manage to get on the air.
Groucho: Where are you from?
Girl: I'm from Ralph's Grocery Store.
Groucho: You were born in a supermarket, eh? I thought supermarkets didn't make deliveries anymore. . . Oh? You're the cashier? Now it begins to register!
And there are few other television shows which have had such a significant effect on American popular literature and film. How? One of the contestants on "You Bet Your Life" was an aspiring writer who won about $10,000 on the show. Groucho asked him what he intended to do with his winnings, to which he replied that he was going to take some time off to "work on a novel".

The contestant was William Peter Blatty. The novel was The Exorcist. The rest, as they say, is history.

I got to see "You Bet Your Life" on Pat Robertson's Christian Broadcasting Network in the mid '80's, and on Rev. Larry Rice's family-friendly independent TV station in St. Louis in the late '80s and early '90s. I always thought that it was ironic that it would have been folks like Robertson and Rice who, when Groucho's show was in its first run on the air, would have strongly protested his "filth" and "obscenity"; but thirty-plus years later they were choosing Groucho to run on their "family programming" stations.

Ah, how things change.

In honor of Groucho, a few more choice observations:
I'd never want to belong to a club that would have me for a member.

I find television very educating. Every time somebody turns on the set I go into the other room and read a book.

Outside of a dog, a book is a man's best friend. Inside of a dog, it's too dark to read.

I never forget a face. However, in your case I'll be glad to make an exception.

Now there's a man with an open mind - you can feel the breeze from here!

I've had a perfectly wonderful evening. But this wasn't it.

Those are my principles. If you don't like them I have others.

I have nothing but confidence in you, and very little of that.

It doesn't matter what you say,
It makes no difference anyway,
Whatever it is... I'm against it!
No matter what it is or who commenced it,
I'm against it!
--Groucho Marx

Len on 08.19.05 @ 05:37 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Thought for the Day:

Money frees you from doing things you dislike. Since I dislike doing nearly everything, money is handy.
--Groucho Marx

Len on 08.19.05 @ 05:14 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Been tagged for a blogmeme.

Thanks to Dr. Abby. I don't mind doing this, but I'm not going to tag anyone this time around; everyone I'd want to tag with this is too busy right now (if anyone reading "wants" to be tagged, just run with the meme and then drop me an email and I'll add a list of people who volunteered to be tagged with this one).

Where I was ten years ago

That would be August of 1995. I was living in St. Peters, MO (a far northwestern suburb of St. Louis, in St. Charles County, MO), working on my master's and managing the advanced MIS lab for my department (a task which involved some basic Novell NetWare administration).

Where I was five years ago

Living in St. Charles, MO. Living in an apartment complex with a pool, which allowed me to work on a tan of sorts while spending more time poolside than I've ever gotten to spend before or since.

Where I was one year ago

In Memphis. Renewing my lease, which expired this month. Not doing much of anything.

Where I was yesterday

In bed. At work. At home. In bed.

Where I am today

Same places I was yesterday.

Where I will be tomorrow

Same places I was yesterday and today. I lead a very boring life (these answers might have been a little more interesting, but for the unfortunate fact that I was tagged with this blogmeme in the middle of the week. Rarely (very rarely), I do venture outside my apartment on the weekends).

Five snacks I enjoy

  1. Cheese
  2. Peanuts (preferably salted in shell)
  3. Coffee ice cream
  4. Ritz™ Crackers
  5. Chips (tortilla, potato, Fritos™) with appropriate dip.

Five singers (or bands) for whom I know the lyrics to most of their songs

None, anymore. I don't listen to much vocal music, and of that vocal music I do listen to I don't listen so obssessively that I'd absorb the lyrics. Starting around the opening of Spring Training every year I get an urge to learn the lyrics to John Fogarty's "Centerfield", but I never seem to get around to it. Once upon a time (back in late high school and early college) I knew all the lyrics to just about everything Tom Lehrer wrote, but those have long since absconded from my memory.

Five things I would do with $100,000,000
  1. Pay off my debts
  2. Buy new cars for self, family, closest friends (or cash gifts to latter in lieu thereof)
  3. QUIT MY JOB!!!!! and not work (for pay). Ever. Again.
  4. Buy a home somewhere (other than Memphis) and move. Where depends on my mood. When I'm optimistic, I want to buy a place in St. Louis and move there. When I'm not optimistic (most of the time), I think of moving somewhere outside of the United States
  5. Travel
The problem with this item is that there are lots of things I can think of to do with $100 mil, and most of them I can mention here without either embarrassing or incriminating myself.

Five locations I would like to run away to
  1. London (several other venues in Old Blighty are equally acceptable)
  2. Germany
  3. Australia
  4. The Philippines (I was stationed there when I was in the Navy, and I hope I can return for a long visit before I die)
  5. My own oceangoing yacht (just call me Commodore L. Ron Cleavelin, but without the goofy religion)

Five bad habits I have
  1. Procrastination
  2. Natural slovenliness
3-5? I'm sure I have other bad habits, but none of them bother me enough so that I am sufficiently aware of them to list. Not that 1 and 2 bother me, more that I'm just aware enough of them to think of them.

Five things I like doing
  1. Reading
  2. Learning
  3. Watching baseball (preferably the St. Louis Cardinals, then the Memphis Redbirds, then just about any other games that might be available)
  4. Reading
  5. Taking a nap
  6. Did I mention reading?

Five TV shows I like

I don't watch much TV at all, so this is quite difficult....
  1. Baseball games (as far as I'm concerned, that's a "TV show" for my purposes)
  2. Mystery Science Theater 3000
  3. Iron Chef
  4. Most Extreme Elimination Challenge
  5. Star Trek: The Original Series

Five famous people I’d like to meet

The Three Stooges, excepting Joe Besser (there are actually six Three Stooges, but Besser's my least favorite (even though he is a St. Louis native), so I have no problem excluding him).

My biggest joys
  1. My closest friends
  2. Reading
  3. Learning
When the Cardinals win the World Series, that will leap to the top of the list.

My favorite toys
  1. My computers
  2. My Palm Tungsten C
  3. My digital camera
  4. My "Mighty Thor" action figure
  5. My "Nick Fury, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D" action figure
  6. My "Elvis Presley, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D." action figure (unfortunately, if you follow the link, the pictures have long since disappeared from the website they were hosted on, alas; I may have to take some pictures sometime)
  7. My "Dr. Evil" action figure (including Mr. Bigglesworth, of course)

Len on 08.18.05 @ 09:24 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Does he get time off...

...for good behavior???

Courtesy of The Daily Herald - AP story: AOL e-mail address thief gets 15-months:

"A 25-year-old former America Online employee who admitted he became a cyberspace “outlaw” when he sold all 92 million screen names and e-mail addresses to spammers was sentenced Wednesday to a year and three months in prison.

“I know I’ve done something very wrong,” the soft-spoken and teary eyed Jason Smathers told U.S. District Judge Alvin Hellerstein as he apologized for a theft that resulted in spammers sending out up to 7 billion unsolicited e-mails.

Smathers’ lawyer, Jeffrey Hoffman, called the theft a “dumb, stupid, insane act” that his client feels terrible about.
Earlier this year, he had pleaded guilty to conspiracy charges in a plea deal.

Smathers admitted accepting $28,000 from someone who wanted to pitch an offshore gambling site to AOL customers, knowing that the list of screen names might make its way to others who would send e-mail solicitations.

Prosecutors said Smathers had engaged in the interstate transportation of stolen property and had violated a new federal CAN-SPAM law, short for Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography and Marketing Act, which is meant to diminish unsolicited e-mail messages about everything from herbal penile enlargement pills to mortgages.

In December, the judge said he had dropped his own AOL membership because he received too much spam..."

Karen on 08.18.05 @ 02:17 PM CST [link] [ | ]

More Powerful Than a Steaming Locomotive...

faf and Giblets, my dear Buds, are at it again and once more have the BEST answers to questions you didn't even know to ask...

The Power of Imagination:

Giblets will never understand these Iraqis. You invade them, flatten their cities, lock up and torture their relatives and what thanks do you get? Either a lot of explosives or the lamest candy-and-flowers display Giblets has ever seen. Weak, Iraqis. Very weak.

Well Giblets can end it all, and pretty damn fast. He has all he needs to end the war right now: an extra hundred thousand troops or so he intends to send to win the war.

Where did he get them, you ask? Simple - for Giblets, at least. He got them with the power of imagination...."

Go finish reading this GEM, and a few others at fafblog.

Hip-Hip-Hooray for faf, Giblets and The Medium Lobster. LOL Problems solved; Questions answered!!

Karen on 08.18.05 @ 01:50 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Been There...Almost Had This Happen...

Well, hat tip to Daliwood for this one from the Chicago Tribune:

And the customer service award does NOT go to ...
-- When LaChania Govan's Comcast service wasn't working, she called for help. And called. And called. It was a frustrating process, and then she got the bill.

" Until recently, LaChania Govan's complaints about Comcast's service seemed relatively tame. The 25-year-old Elgin mother of two said she was put on hold, disconnected, even transferred to the Spanish language line.

But after persistent problems with her digital recording system forced her to make dozens of calls to the cable company in July, her August bill came with a change really worth complaining about: In place of her name were the words "Bitch Dog."

"I could not believe it," said Govan, who works in customer service for a credit card company.

She said she immediately called Comcast to cancel her service and was sent to an operator.

"She asked me for my name. I said, `You really don't want me to go there,'" Govan said...."

Karen on 08.18.05 @ 01:04 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Collapsible Subjects...

Aside from expressing my Amazement that our Dear ole Fearless Leader Reads Anything!! (LOL) Is this one from the Chicago Tribune We know what Bush is reading . . .:

"When he isn't biking up hills or slashing overgrown brush, President Bush has 1,500 pages of reading material to fill his down time this month.

The White House said Bush took three heavy books with him on his five-week vacation at his ranch.

On the president's nightstand are: "The Great Influenza: The Epic Story of the Deadliest Plague in History," "Salt: A World History" and "Alexander II: The Last Great Tsar."

Sheesh -- and Nobody thought to give him a copy of "Collapse" by Jared Diamond?

At a mere 560 pages, Wherein he could learn, among other things-- How other Chieftains and Kings failed to act in the face of real big threats to their societies" and "who were motivated to increase their own prestige, even in cases where that might conflict with the good of the current society as a whole and of the next generation" on issues of:
· Environmental damage;
· Climate changes;
· Rapid population growth;
· Unstable trading partners;
· Pressure from enemies;
· Responses and Cultural values surrounding “changed conditions” signals.

But maybe his Bookbag was too heavy for one of those Secret Service Porters to carry for him with an extra load like "Collapse."


Karen on 08.18.05 @ 12:05 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Powerful Forces...

This is an interesting juxtaposition: Tale of two moms offers single response to the worst of times, from our own Burt Constable (Daily Herald) on a recent Illinois wrongful death settlement case:

"...Two men dead too soon, two institutions with two contrasting approaches to the controversy, and two angry and grieving moms with evidence, sympathetic supporters and fervent critics, but no peace.

The death of Wheeler, a pretty good football player who died of an asthma attack while Northwestern officials made a litany of awful decisions during and after his death, can’t compare to the death of Sheehan, an Army mechanic who was killed in April 2004 in Baghdad by rocket-propelled grenades and small-arms fire.

Both men partook willingly in the activities, were compensated in some way for their participation, and leave loved ones with an all-encompassing grief. But dying for your college football team and dying for your country are not equal.

With government-provided life insurance and a new law raising combat death benefits from $12,420 to $100,000, Sheehan’s death carries a monetary value of $500,000.

Northwestern, attorneys and a judge agreed the life of Wheeler is worth $16 million to his divorced parents and four half- and full siblings.

That could be considered a large settlement for the life of a man with no wife or kids to support. But British tabloids report that Russell Crowe is willing to pay $11 million to compensate a New York hotel concierge who says the actor threw a phone and vase at him.

In a nation where all men are created equal, assigning a dollar value to their lives and untimely demises is delicate.

According to our news stories, the price of debilitating injuries and lasting pain for a police officer critically injured on duty is worth $10 million, minus legal and medical bills. The lifelong care of a baby left severely disabled by a drugstore mistake has a value of $21 million. Another baby injured forever due to mistakes at delivery deserves less than $12 million. The lives of a mother and daughter killed in a plane crash are worth $15 million. Parents of a teen who died of a drug overdose are awarded $200,000 from an insurance policy covering her dealer. And Wednesday’s Washington Post told of a family torn apart fighting over the money paid to relatives of Sept. 11 victims.

In 98 percent of these cases, the participants agree to a settlement before the case goes to a jury, says Tom Demetrio, a prominent attorney in wrongful death and negligence suits, and the lawyer for Wheeler’s father, George Wheeler.

Putting a price tag on a life, a missing limb or a baby’s future is the lawyers’ job.
She could literally take her battle to a public arena.

“I’m not making light of it ...,” Demetrio says, “but she can do what that lady in Texas is doing across from the president’s ranch.”

A mourning mother can be a powerful force."

Karen on 08.18.05 @ 11:47 AM CST [link] [ | ]

More primo Michelle Malkin snark....

Keyboard Kommando Komix Presents: The Mother of all Traitors

Len on 08.18.05 @ 11:38 AM CST [link] [ | ]

I see that Rush has been taking the Oxycontin again....

Or more likely, never stopped. From MediaMatters.org: Limbaugh baselessly compared Cindy Sheehan to Bill Burkett: "Her story is nothing more than forged documents"

They have a clip up, and in it Rush says:

I mean, Cindy Sheehan is just Bill Burkett. Her story is nothing more than forged documents. There's nothing about it that's real, including the mainstream media's glomming onto it. It's not real. It's nothing more than an attempt. It's the latest effort made by the coordinated left.
It really makes you wonder; how Limbaugh can so bold-facedly lie like that.... Though there's an even more scary possibility that he really believes it, which is evidence that the drugs have eaten big holes in what little brains the man had.

I ask, again: WTF isn't Rush rotting away in prison where he belongs?

Credit: Lean Left

UPDATE: And via Resonance, we get a reference to a post at TPM Cafe as evidence of more filth spewing from the drug damaged "brain" of Rush "Pfizer Southeast" Limbaugh:
Frankly, I'm also fed up -- not fed up. I retract that. I'm weary, ladies and gentlemen, of even having to express sympathy. "Oh, she lost her son!" Yes, yes, yes, but (sigh) we all lose things.
"We all lose things."

Anyone want to step up and defend that spin?

Len on 08.18.05 @ 09:27 AM CST [link] [ | ]

The "interesting times" may be starting soon...

if Seymore Hersh is even half right in his prognostications (QuickTime required) on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, it's going to be a wild ride for the next few years. His main revelations: intelligence in Iraq indicates that the insurgency may be planning "a Tet offensive", complete with "a battle for Baghdad", and oil shocks may be on the horizon, since recently ascended Saudi King Abdullah has never approved of U.S. policy towards the intifada, and may be set to cut oil shipments to the U.S. for that reason, while Venezuela (whose president, Hugo Chavez, isn't exactly a huge fan of the U.S. and President Bush (who has been reported as having attempted several covert ops to get Chavez turned out of office and replace him with a more U.S. friendly president)) and Iran (still, last we looked, considered a member of "the axis of evil") are apparently engaged in talks....

It'll be interesting to see how much comes to pass.

Len on 08.18.05 @ 09:10 AM CST [link] [ | ]

And over at 3 Old Men....

Mickey gives us a well needed lesson in logic:

It’s tempting to rant and let go of the usual restraints of logical thought - to paint one’s opponent as an all bad character. In psychological circles, this is called "splitting," looking at only those qualities of another person that fit how you feel about them or what they say. The ad hominem fallacy is a version of this, discounting someone while ignoring what they are saying. Joseph Wilson and his wife are recent victims, but now we see the same strategy directed towards Cindy Sheehan. The discrediting of Cindy Sheehan has reached a fever pitch. Here is what Cindy says:
"Am I emotional? Yes, my first born was murdered. Am I angry? Yes, he was killed for lies and for a PNAC Neo-Con agenda to benefit Israel. My son joined the army to protect America, not Israel. Am I stupid? No, I know full well that my son, my family, this nation and this world were betrayed by George Bush who was influenced by the neo-con PNAC agendas after 9/11. We were told that we were attacked on 9/11 because the terrorists hate our freedoms and democracy … not for the real reason, because the Arab Muslims who attacked us hate our middle-eastern foreign policy. That hasn’t changed since America invaded and occupied Iraq … in fact it has gotten worse."
Emotionally stated. Angry. Maybe making a few allegations that would be hard to prove in a court of law. But what Cindy Sheehan is saying is fundamentally correct. If you haven’t heard of the P.N.A.C. [the Project for the New American Century] or read much about them, Cindy might seem to be a bit out of line. But if you look into it just by reviewing a few internet sites [including their own], what you’ll find is that the P.N.A.C. and their related group A.E.I. were dead set on unilateral American Imperialism, and invading Iraq was way up front on the agenda before Bush was even elected. When you look at who is involved in these two groups, you’ll find most of Bush’s Cabinet, a big part of the Defense Department, the Vice President, and our new U.N. representative, John Bolton.

When Cindy says that the Bush Administration lied to get us into this war, used 911 for their own agenda, she is fundamentally correct. One has to only look at Colin Powell’s U.N. speech, Bush’s 2003 State of the Union message, almost anything Dick Cheney or Condi Rice said in the lead-up to the war, Judith Miller’s checkered reporting history, the W.H.I.G.s, the Downing street memos, the Rove/Libby leaks, the absence of the fabled Nuclear/Chemical/Biological weapons. Even if you support the Bush Administration’s policy, it’s almost impossible to avoid her conclusion that they lied in a systematic way, if you let yourself be informed. The evidence is overwhelming.

So, no matter what Cindy Sheehan is as a person, what she’s saying is essentially the truth, "The Emperor has no clothes!"
But it's easier for the wingnuts to say that Cindy is deranged, or claim that the Schroeders represent only the 3 out of 10 military families that don't support Bush and the war who are being used by the anti-war left, rather than deal with the facts: Bush and his puppetmasters lied to get us into the war, they committed too few troops to control Iraq once it was conquered, as a result of their incompetence, the U.S. Army is weakened and much less able to carry out its commitments to defend this nation from other threats that might present themselves, Iraq, far from becoming a model of democracy in the middle east, has become a giant terrorist training camp and will soon be an Islamic republic allied with the mullahs in Iran.....

Sometimes I wonder where these guys get their drugs; I'd like to take a long vacation from reality like that every once in a while.

Len on 08.18.05 @ 08:35 AM CST [link] [ | ]

As I asked, where's the wingnut outrage over the desecration?

Paul Begala has some interesting points about Larry Northern:

For me, one of the most incendiary moments of the entire Bush war in Iraq occurred when a right-wing thug ran his pickup truck over hundreds of crosses bearing the names of heroic Americans killed in Iraq. He also took out scores of American flags in the process. Police say the perp is Larry Chad Northern, a Waco real estate agent and gun nut. Mr. Northern is, of course, entitled to the presumption of innocence, despite the fact that the local sheriff's office says Ol' Larry was spotted at 9:30 Monday night changing a tire on his pickup truck. Citing sheriff's office reports, the Waco Tribune-Herald, reported that, "Small white crosses were found stuck in the truck's undercarriage."

Nice, Larry. Real Nice.

I don't think they taught Larry Chad to desecrate crosses at the Columbus Avenue Baptist Church. And I doubt his Army buddies from Vietnam are proud to see him running over American flags and disrespecting a memorial for the war dead.

So what could drive a true-blue - or should I say Bush red? - American patriot to commit such a heinous act

Such is the hatred of the far right at the dawn of the 21st Century. And my how the optical worm has turned. Today it is the left invoking faith, flag and family, while the right destroys crosses. Today it is the left that honors the war dead, raises up a Gold Star Mother and publicly prays for our troops, while the right viciously attacks a woman who gave her country everything. Today it is the left that patiently and peacefully respects the Office of the Presidency, while the right diminishes the office by claiming it's more important for the President to go bike-riding with a sports hero than comfort the mother of a war hero.

For the last two presidential elections it has been the Democratic Party whose nominee was a Vietnam War veteran, while the Republicans have sputtered out spurious defenses of their candidate's deceitful draft-dodging.

On Thursday, Dick Cheney, who said he had "other priorities" in the Vietnam era, and so helped himself to five draft deferments, will address the 73rd Convention of the Military Order of the Purple Heart. I do not think he will express remorse for the callousness with which he explained his cowardice. Nor do I expect him to apologize for the shocking, mocking Republicans who, at their New York Convention a year ago, sported Band-Aids with tiny purple hearts to mock the blood shed by John Kerry and so many other heroes in that misbegotten war.

No, Mr. Cheney, surrounded by body guards who would gladly give their life for him, will no doubt wrap himself in the flag. A flag Larry Chad Northern wrapped around his axle on Prairie Chapel Road.

Len on 08.18.05 @ 08:16 AM CST [link] [ | ]

And just because you wanted to link MLB to The Simpsons

You can go look up which Simpsons character is the closes analogue to your favorite major league baseball team: The Definitive MLB-Simpsons Analogy List.

I was interested in this analogy, obviously:

St. Louis Cardinals - Jebediah Springfield - One of the elder statesmen of the group. Great historic importance. Possessors of a silver tongue (prosthetic silver tongue, Jack Buck) and a saccharine, over-commercialized reputation for family-friendliness. Bit of a problem with suppressed history (actually a pirate named Hans Sprungfeld, rampant racism in the '50s).
And just to goose Karen, the Simpsons analogue to her beloved Cubs:
Chicago Cubs - Moe Syzslak - Unloved but by a select few patrons, whom they have a tendency to betray from time to time. Even their closest friends acknowledge their loser status, and outsiders love to laugh at their failures. Constantly subject to self-doubt, and always coming up with new schemes to shoot themselves in the foot. Owners of a revolving-door establishment that never sees more than one or two likable characters at a time.
The complete list is well worth checking out.

Len on 08.18.05 @ 07:38 AM CST [link] [ | ]

It had to happen sooner or later, it figures.

If you feel so inclined, you can chase the appropriate pointers and go witness the exchange of vows of two people getting married by means of their blogs.

According to Kathleen:

The state of Texas has a little known law governing "informal marriage". For a marriage to be legal, we must publicly declare that we consider each other as spouses and this fact be known to other residents of the state of Texas. We got our certificate this afternoon and have now fulfilled the requirements as there's bound to be a Texas resident or two amongst our joint readership. Feel free to witness our marriage here.
I've never been licensed to practice in Texas, so I'm not competent to express an opinion on the legality of their marriage, but considering that this is Texas.... well, anything is possible.

Len on 08.18.05 @ 07:20 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Thought for the Day:

A few pointers for Wal-Mart as it embarks upon its new upscale course:

Make an intense study of Restoration Hardware's inventory management. Rather than pile up cheap goods to the ceilings, Restoration tastefully sprinkles expensive tchotchkes around even-more-expensive leather chairs. Charging $20 for a basic wall hook isn't just chutzpah; it's a form of retail genius.

Dispatch teams of anthropologists to Southampton, N.Y., in August to watch folks strolling up and down Main Street. Convene focus groups to plumb the psychology of customers, who, already possessing 200 pairs of shoes, are willing to spend their ancestors' hard-earned cash on four more pairs at Saks. (To get people to show for the groups, forgo the usual $50 plus punch and cookies. Offer Botox and vitamin-spiked water instead.)

Send the grocery crew to shadow shoppers at the farmer's market in Berkeley, Calif. So Wal-Mart can deliver a 4-gallon jar of tomato sauce for 99 cents. Big whoop! Watch and learn at farm stands that charge $5 per pound for heirloom tomatoes that are personally tended by an ABD in linguistics and fertilized with the manure from free-ranging cows.

Establish greeter re-education camps. The handshake, the smile, and the friendly welcome may go over big in rural North Carolina, but upscale customers like to be ignored, mistreated, and discouraged. For a hefty fee, trainers from Barneys and Bergdorf-Goodman will teach Wal-Mart greeters to instantly recognize A-listers and to identify the telltale signs of big spenders (seventysomething men accompanied by twentysomething blondes) and of tourists who will look but not buy (Gap bags).

It will take a lot of expense and effort to convert Wal-Mart into a sort of hybrid of Whole Foods, Neiman-Marcus, and Williams-Sonoma. But if Wal-Mart is serious about growth, and about becoming the retailer of choice for all Americans, it has no choice.
--Daniel Gross

Len on 08.18.05 @ 07:06 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Remember the days when consistency in one's views was considered a virtue?

In an absolutely brilliant homage to The Daily Show with Jon Stewart and its famous "Bush vs. Bush" debate (Windows Media Player required), over at The Talent Show they present a debate between Michelle Malkin and Michelle Malkin:

In order to help the debate over Cindy Sheehan to move forward, I've agreed to moderate a debate between right-wing hack Michelle Malkin and conservative apologist Michelle Malkin. (most links via John Cole)

Michelle, we'll start with you. What do you think of the protest by Cindy Sheehan outside of the President's Crawford ranch? She says that she wants to know the "noble cause" for which her son died:
I can't imagine that Casey Sheehan would approve of such behavior, conduct, and rhetoric.
Uh-oh. Michelle, you're shaking your head over there and flipping back to your notes from last year's Presidential debates. Would you like to respond to what Michelle said?
John Kerry stooped to the lowest of the low with the shameless, invasive line that will be played over and over again on the news in the next 24 hours. . .Um, has John Kerry talked to Dick Cheney's daughter? Has John Edwards? Has Mary Beth Cahill, who called Mary Cheney "fair game" on Fox News Channel after tonight's debate? If they haven't talked to her, they should shut up.
Ouch. Tough words from Ms. Malkin.
Go read the whole thing; most excellent.

Len on 08.17.05 @ 08:13 PM CST [link] [ | ]

I understand he also ran over a flag; will the wingnuts take notice of his desecration?

Larry Northern, in the custody of the McLennan County, Texas, Sheriff's Department

When I heard about the lunatic in the pickup who mowed down the memorial crosses at Camp Casey, I have to admit, my first thought was: It's Texas, what the hell do you expect? We should just be happy he didn't tie one of the protesters to his bumper and drag him/her down the highway until body parts started to fall off.

Mug shot courtesy of The Smoking Gun.

Len on 08.17.05 @ 07:55 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Pierce Brosnan can wear a tuxedo in any movie he wants, now

Because, you see, Mr. Brosnan will no longer get to deliver one of cinema's most memorable lines: "My name is Bond. James Bond."

Brosnan just got the word: he'll no longer be playing the role of the suave super-spy in what is probably filmdom's most enduring franchise.

The header is a reference to a little piece of film trivia you may or may not be familiar with: contractually, the actor who plays Bond in the films is obligated not to wear a tuxedo in any non-Bond movie.

Len on 08.17.05 @ 07:43 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Sometimes, it's the little things you do that bring you your 15 minutes of fame

Back in 1942, a merchant seaman named James Dougherty married a 16 year old girl before he shipped off to sea. By that simple (perhaps impulsive?) act, he cemented his position as a footnote figure in American popular cultural history.

You see, that girl's name was Norma Jean Baker. By marrying her, Dougherty, for better or for worse, insured that he'd be remembered forever as Marilyn Monroe's first husband, for "Marilyn Monroe" is the name under which she achieved a degree of immortality.

Dougherty died last Monday, of complications of leukemia, at the age of 84.

Every so often I'll post an item about "interesting juxtapositions"; surprising (to me, at least) little historical coincidences, like two wildly different noteworthy individuals sharing the same birthday. I find an interesting "juxtaposition" here in the way that Dougherty's and Monroe's lives entwined for a few years. For Dougherty has a claim to a minor bit of fame as a footnote person in U.S. law enforcement history. Dougherty, after leaving the merchant marine, entered into a 25 year career in the Los Angeles Police Department. He became a detective, and helped train the department's first Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) unit.

Requesciat in Pace, Detective Dougherty.

Len on 08.17.05 @ 07:37 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Teetering?...or Tottering? Which Way Will This Break?

"It looks increasingly as if President Bush may have been off by 74 years in his assessment of Iraq. By deposing the dictatorship of Saddam Hussein, Bush assumed he would bring Iraq to its 1787 moment -- the crafting of a democratic constitution, the birth of a unified republic. Instead, he seems to have brought Iraq to the brink of its own 1861 -- the moment of national dissolution.

No, I don't mean that Iraq is on the verge of all-out civil war, though that's a possibility that can't be dismissed. But the nation does appear on the verge of a catastrophic failure to cohere. The more the National Assembly deliberates on the fundamentals of a new order, the larger the differences that divide the nation's three sub-groups appear to be.

It's not the small stuff that they're sweating in Baghdad. They can't agree on whether the new Iraq should be a federation, with a largely autonomous Shiite south and Kurdish north, or a more unified state, which the Sunnis prefer. They can't agree on just how Islamic the new republic should be, and whether the leading Shiite clergy should be above the dictates of mere national law. They can't agree on whether religious or state courts should hold sway in Shiite-dominated regions, or even the nation as a whole; they can't agree on the rights of women. They can't agree on the division of oil revenue among the three groups. They can't agree on whether there should be a Kurdish right to secede enshrined in the constitution.

In short, they can't agree on the fundamentals of what their new nation should be. And the more they deliberate, the less they agree on.

These are not unanticipated disagreements. Before the war began, many critics of Bush's rush to war, including some in the State Department and the CIA, argued that while overthrowing Hussein would be relatively easy, building a post-Hussein Iraq would be devilishly difficult. Bush's defenders argued that Iraq was a largely secular land in which many Shiites, Sunnis and Kurds lived together amicably and frequently intermarried. They weren't entirely wrong, but one could have made the same argument about Tito's Yugoslavia before it dissolved into genocidal violence. They missed the deep resentments and the growing fundamentalism that Hussein's thugocracy smothered, and that exploded once he was removed.

What neither Bush's critics nor defenders could foresee was his administration's mind-boggling indifference to establishing security in post-Hussein Iraq. In the absence of a credible central authority, the fragmentation of Iraq is already an established fact. Once-secular Basra, the largest city in the Shiite south, is now controlled by clergy sympathetic to Iran, with posters of the Ayatollah Khomeini adorning the town. Recently the mayor of Baghdad was forcibly removed from office, not by official forces but by a Shiite militia. Iraqi governmental officials protect themselves from terrorists with guards from their own tribes. And if the efforts to build a national republic founder, it's a safe bet that the Iraqi army, in which America has invested so heavily, will devolve into very well-armed factional militias. Should that happen, as Henry Kissinger recently observed on this page, "the process of building security forces may become the prelude to a civil war."

And what exactly is the role of U.S. forces, whether or not there's a civil war, in an Iraq that has split into a Shiite Islamic south, a Kurdish north and a violent and chaotic largely Sunni center? What is our mission? Which side are we on?

Indeed, the Bush presidency is perilously close to one of the greatest, and surely the strangest, foreign and military policy failures in American history. We lost in Vietnam, to be sure, but Vietnam would have gone to the Communists whether or not we intervened. The dissolution of Iraq, however, should it proceed further, is the direct consequence of Bush's decision to intervene unilaterally and of the particular kind of occupation that he mandated. And that dissolution, we should recall, goes well beyond the political. Unemployment in Iraq exceeds 50 percent. Electrical power is on, in midsummer Baghdad, for four hours a day.

At great expense in resources and human life, we have substituted one living hell for another in Iraq. Things may yet turn out better than I fear they will. But right now there's a sickeningly good prospect that we will have set in motion a predictable chain of events culminating in the creation of both a sphere of terrorist activity and a sub-state allied with the mullahs of Iran.

Last week U.S. forces in Iraq discovered what looked to be a cache of chemical weapons, but determined that the arsenal had been assembled by the insurgent thugs who emerged after Hussein's fall. We have created the very dangers we intervened to prevent. Some policy. Some president."

-- Harold Meyerson (Washington Post) Iraq on the Brink

Karen on 08.17.05 @ 05:40 PM CST [link] [ | ]

In the Heat of the Day (Texas Style)

"....Now, let's look at what Bush is doing wrong. In speaking about Iraq to the nation, the president often seems tone deaf. Taking a nearly five-week vacation when U.S. troops are experiencing a living hell is a mistake. It reinforces what's cruelest about this war, which is that the soldiers in Iraq are doing all the suffering. Meanwhile, people back home go about their business. The president doesn't ask the country to sacrifice with taxes to pay for the war, or with an energy policy that would reduce our vulnerability to Mideast turmoil.

I have no doubt that Bush grieves for every fallen soldier. But he undercuts his leadership role with his seeming insensitivity to Cindy Sheehan. Whatever her personal quirks, this grieving mother has become a symbol for the families who are paying the real cost of the war. Once she began her vigil in Crawford, a presidential listening mission would have seemed like a no-brainer -- except at this White House, which appears to regard any concession to a critic as a mistake. Bush reinforced this appearance of insensitivity in a comment Saturday that was quoted by Cox News Service. He said that while he wants to be "thoughtful and sensitive" to people who want to talk to him, "I think it's also important for me to go on with my life."

A clear sign of Bush's failure to communicate effectively about Iraq comes from the pollsters. Newsweek and Associated Press polls taken in early August measured his job approval rating at 42 percent, the lowest level ever. Approval of his handling of Iraq was even lower -- 34 percent in Newsweek's sampling, 38 percent in the AP's. Anyone who doesn't think Vietnam when he sees those numbers doesn't have a good memory.

The measure of leadership isn't dealing with success but dealing with difficulty. Bush is now in that bitter cockpit. Somehow the president must find a way to level with the country and build support for a sustainable policy that puts more of the burden on Iraqis. A good start for Bush would be to come back to Washington early from Texas and start thinking how the nation as a whole can share in the sacrifices required by this long, hard slog."

-- David Ignatius (Washington Post) 'Hard Slog' for Bush

Karen on 08.17.05 @ 05:23 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Good news, bad news....

The good news: Bush's approval, already in the toilet and swirling clockwise, seems to be headed down to the septic tank. Survey USA has released the results of its poll of Bush's approval ratings in each of the 50 states, and the results make it clear that most of the country is seriously dissatisfied with Dear Leader. In only 9 states--Idaho, Wyoming, Utah, Nebraska, Texas, Alabama, North Dakota, Montana, and Oklahoma--is Bush's approval rating at or above 50%. In one state--Mississippi--a plurality (but not a majority) of voters approve of Bush, and in two more states as many respondents approve of Bush as disapprove--Louisiana at 48%-48%, and North Carolina at 47%-47%. In the remaining 38 states more respondents registered disapproval for Bush. Overall, weighting the results for state population, Bush loses the approval poll, 41%-55%, and taking a mere unweighted average Bush still loses, 43%-53%.

As noted by Kos:

Bush is at or above 50 percent in only nine states. He's at 40 or below in 19 states.

The man will be a lead weight on the GOP ticket in 2006.
The dark cloud to that silver lining is that the "opposition" party in the 2006 elections is the Democratic Party. And if the performance of the Democratic Party since 2000 is any indication, the party is, even as we speak, trying to solve the problem of how to remove that lead weight from the GOP ticket and lose yet another election.

I'm not optimistic.

Len on 08.17.05 @ 12:54 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Earth to wingnuts: it isn't just Cindy....

From the AP: Parents of fallen Marine make plea to Bush

The day after burying their son, parents of a fallen Marine urged President Bush to either send more reinforcements to Iraq or withdraw U.S. troops altogether.

"We feel you either have to fight this war right or get out," Rosemary Palmer, mother of Lance Cpl. Edward Schroeder II, said Tuesday.

Schroeder, 23, died two weeks ago in a roadside explosion, one of 16 Ohio-based Marines killed recently in Iraq.

The soldier's father said his son and other Marines were being misused as a stabilizing force in Iraq.

"Our comments are not just those of grieving parents," Paul Schroeder said in front of the couple's home. "They are based on anger, Mr. President, not grief. Anger is an honest emotion when someone's family has been violated."

Palmer accused the president of refusing to make changes in a war gone bad. "Whether he leads them out by putting more troops on the ground or pulling them out - he can't just let it continue," she said.

White House spokesman Allen Abney declined comment other than to refer to remarks Bush made last week.
Of course, Bush's problem vis a vis this plea is pretty simple. He can't put more troops on the ground in Iraq without a draft. The Army is broken; while re-enlistments are keeping up with goals for now, just about every active duty soldier has done two tours in Iraq. Requiring soldiers to do a third tour there is going to seriously affect re-enlistments. Further, the Army is under quota for new enlistments for this fiscal year, because some young people are exercising a healthy degree of self-protective instincts, and because a lot of parents are either (for underage recruits) refusing permission for their children to serve or placing pressure on their children not to enlist.

On the other hand, Bush can't call for a draft. That would be political suicide. Why, it would be asking the citizens of this country to sacrifice, and the one thing that Bush steadfastly refuses to do is ask anyone, other than members of the armed services and their families, to sacrifice anything for him to play out his childish fantasies of being the all-conquering "war president". (And the fact that Bush actually finds the nerve to threaten Iran with military action when it's a good question whether the U.S. Army would be up to an invasion of Rhode Island at this time (thanks to his and Rumsfeld's colossal incompetence), makes one seriously wonder if Bush is drinking again.)

It's a pretty good bet that right now, Bush is painfully aware of what the phrase, "between a rock and a hard place" means.

Len on 08.17.05 @ 12:12 PM CST [link] [ | ]

On XM Radio right now....

the hired voice for "The Esquire Minute" is strongly advising listerers to go visit Chicago and check out Millennium Park.

For what it's worth, I wholeheartedly agree.

Len on 08.17.05 @ 11:34 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Poetic justice....

Over at Democratic Veteran, Jo Fish points us to a story about Wal-Mart's lagging profits on account of unexpectedly high fuel and utility costs (utility bills being, of course, often directly related to fuel costs). He then observes that Wal-Mart really has nobody to blame but themselves:

Awww, Wal-Mart has lower profits. Because of gas prices, they claim. And it could be true, certainly there is an intuitive leap to be made between the price of fuel for families who can't readily afford say, the drive to work and the the trip to Wal-Mart if they aren't both in the same direction.
"Wal-Mart Stores did miss their plan as our customer continues to be impacted by higher gas prices and it is difficult to improve our expense leverage in the current environment," Lee Scott, the company's chief executive, said in a statement.
Tom Schoewe, Wal-Mart's chief financial officer, said the company's utility expenses rose by $100 million, and its fuel costs were up $30 million, in the quarter.
With its customers having grown accustomed to such consistently low prices, Wal-Mart could have a particularly hard time passing on the higher energy costs at the checkout lines.

"Wal Mart made a living jamming costs down on everyone else," Mr. Naroff said. "Now," he added, "how much can they absorb on their own?"
It's almost funny to think of this in these terms: Wal-Mart has made the political mistake of donating to and supporting politicians against their own-self interest. A gen-u-wine Red State mistake.

Why? Because once upon a time Darth Cheney pooh-poohed the need for better fuel economy and told everyone to run out and buy an SUV, reinforcing years and years of governmental insistence that standards on paper were the same as standards in practice. Now that's coming back to bite them in the ass, as most Red State political decisions do, hey aren't the Red State republicans the ones who hate that "if it feels good, do it" shit?

Hoist meet Petard.
Heheheheheheh. Couldn't happen to a more deserving company.

Len on 08.17.05 @ 10:05 AM CST [link] [ | ]

'The Right Wing Bully Boys vs. Mom'

Larry Johnson, former CIA analyst and State Department counter-terror expert, has an excellent musing on the wingnut reaction to the Sheehan situation:

The clueless right wing is up in arms over the momentum of the Cindy Sheehan anti-war movement. There appears no depth they will not plumb, nor mudpit they will not enter in their effort to smear a mother who gave her son in service to our country. I cannot award a Chutzpah prize because there are too many deserving schmucks. Take wheelchair bound Charles Krauthammer's recent vicious attack:

She says she wants to ask the president why her son died. She already knows her own answer, and her answer is -- and she's said this openly -- to enrich the president's friends, meaning oil companies and contractors. There are a lot of honorable reasons and thoughtful reasons to oppose the war in Iraq. That's not one of them. And to advance the idea, as she has also, to the press of the entire world that we are in Iraq as a matter of imperialism is to demoralize our troops, encourage our enemies, and to encourage those who say that we are there as conquerors and not as liberators, which can only endanger our troops, which I think is a disgrace.

Well, well. What does Charles say about President Bush's multiple misrepresentations of why he took our nation to war? Nothing! In fact, according to Krauthammer's reasoning, to even challenge the President over what we now know to be as patently false reasons for going to war, you are disloyal and demoralizing the troops. The same specious reasoning has been echoed by rightwing apologists like Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Michelle Malkin and Ann Coulter.

These apologists for Bush's war ignore the lapses in leadership by George Bush and his Department of Defense that truly demoralizes the troops; things such as inadequate force strength on the ground in Iraq to control the battlefield; insufficient supplies of body armor; lack of fully armored vehicles for conducting patrols; and lack of a plan for victory in Iraq. George Bush, with the acquiescence of a pliable Congress, has sent our men and women to war in Iraq that he chose to start. Whether Cindy Sheehan's explanation for why Bush took us to war is correct is irrelevant. What we know for certain is that George Bush lied to the American people and continues to lie about the reasons we are at war.


Bush's misguided invasion of Iraq not only resulted in the death of Casey Sheehan and more than 1800 other U.S. military men and women, it diverted scarce military resources from the hunt for the Al Qaeda. If Cindy Sheehan does get a chance to sit down with the President I hope she asks him why the masterminds of 9-11--Osama Bin Laden and Ayman Zwahiri--are still on the loose and issuing videotaped threats to attack our country again.

If her son had died during an operation to kill Bin Laden than Cindy would at least have the peace of mind to know that her son died trying to make America safer. Instead, her son died in Iraq in an operation whose rationale still remains unclear. But we now know for certain that at least one of the President's claims, i.e., that we are "fighting them over there so we don't have to fight them here", is no longer true. Instead of a safer America the President has made America at greater risk of a terrorist attack by the Islamic extremists who struck our shores almost four years ago. Since 9-11 the number of international terrorist attacks have soared to unprecedented levels. Last year, for example, there were almost 700 separate terrorist attacks in which someone was killed or wounded. This marks the highest level of terrorist activity since data was first recorded in 1968.

So, as of today, Cindy Sheehan's son is dead along with the sons and daughter of almost 1900 other families. The insurgency in Iraq is growing in strength and level of international terrorism is growing. That Cindy Sheehan is angry should not surprise us. That all Americans are not up in arms over the recklessness of George Bush should.

[boldfaced passage in original --LRC]

Len on 08.17.05 @ 09:11 AM CST [link] [ | ]

And more Good News...

I'm on a PC - reformat "Break Time" (waiting for some programming and driver information CD's from our new office to be unpacked) and doing a bit of blog reading. So- here's this one from Maureen Dowd, who has encapulated the growing sense of unease Americans see over how it's going (NOT) in Iraq in Biking to Nowhere:

"...they had better tell the Boy in the Bubble, who continues to dwell in delusion, hailing the fights and delays on the Iraqi constitution as "a tribute to democracy."

The president's pedaling as fast as he can, but he's going nowhere."

As she writes about this Washington Post Article concerning Revised Administration Expectations:
"The Bush administration is significantly lowering expectations of what can be achieved in Iraq, recognizing that the United States will have to settle for far less progress than originally envisioned during the transition due to end in four months, according to U.S. officials in Washington and Baghdad.

The United States no longer expects to see a model new democracy, a self-supporting oil industry or a society in which the majority of people are free from serious security or economic challenges, U.S. officials say.

"What we expected to achieve was never realistic given the timetable or what unfolded on the ground," said a senior official involved in policy since the 2003 invasion. "We are in a process of absorbing the factors of the situation we're in and shedding the unreality that dominated at the beginning."
But the realities of daily life are a constant reminder of how the initial U.S. ambitions have not been fulfilled in ways that Americans and Iraqis once anticipated. Many of Baghdad's 6 million people go without electricity for days in 120-degree heat. Parents fearful of kidnapping are keeping children indoors.

Barbers post signs saying they do not shave men, after months of barbers being killed by religious extremists. Ethnic or religious-based militias police the northern and southern portions of Iraq. Analysts estimate that in the whole of Iraq, unemployment is 50 percent to 65 percent.
But the realities of daily life are a constant reminder of how the initial U.S. ambitions have not been fulfilled in ways that Americans and Iraqis once anticipated. Many of Baghdad's 6 million people go without electricity for days in 120-degree heat. Parents fearful of kidnapping are keeping children indoors.

Barbers post signs saying they do not shave men, after months of barbers being killed by religious extremists. Ethnic or religious-based militias police the northern and southern portions of Iraq. Analysts estimate that in the whole of Iraq, unemployment is 50 percent to 65 percent...."

I wrote this comment last fall and it's worth repeating again:
I have a comment on Grahams’ multiple examples of attempts made to warn George Bush that his plan for Iraq would become a huge, destabilizing mess, bad for the entire Middle eastern region and impossible for even for “friendly” Muslim countries to support.

It’s like hoping that if you blow up an entire city, as the bricks and plaster rain down from the sky, some of the pieces will fall and regroup themselves into a perfectly constructed, immaculate rendition of the ideal American House of Democracy just ready and waiting for its new occupant. While, in the realm of an “everything is possible” theoretical version of the world…don’t they always say if enough monkey’s were given typewriters one of them could eventually compose a Shakespeare sonnet?…it’s just more likely that when you create the mass destruction and chaos throughout an entire country and its society you’ll end up with a large, uncertain mess that’s about as likely to reform itself into this American ideal (as seen through the rose-colored prism of G.W. Bush’s now famous “spreading liberty” worldview) as monkey’s writing Shakespeare.

What was, and is, far more realistic to assume is that even with the “freedom to choose” and “elections” for its now liberated-to-become-their-own-renegade-warlords and guerilla militia leaders, the populace in these countries will not end up a model of American democracy, but a model Theocracy of narrow extremist religious views. It is far more likely that there will be a continuation of warring factions fighting for the slim reins of power and control over rival religious points of view.

Those that don’t win in these elections will just go out and take their own chunk of the liberated pie by force or coercion. In the lawlessness and chaos, and with long rooted histories in localized tribal rule rather than acquiescence to and outright aversion for strong central government, it is the most foreseeable scenario that these groups will continue to just ignore our “democratizing” efforts or create more insurgency to fight them.

The vacuum of control has allowed in real Al Qaeda elements to enter (or re-enter) and organize and flourish as well. It’s already happening, as predicted, in both Afghanistan and in Iraq today.

Even on my soccer mom's budget of time, research ability I've come to see that there aren't many places where democracy flourishes at the end of the muzzle of a foreign invader's gun unless it translates into the that "security" and "promised peace."

And an Iraqi Islamic Republic with "laws to be compliant with Islam" and failing to secure women's rights is hardly a "model" for Democratic Reformation of the Middle East and spreadin that "Freedom" and "Liberties" promised by our Fearless Leader.

Karen on 08.17.05 @ 08:38 AM CST [link] [ | ]

I can't bring myself to steal the pic....

so just go to Why Now? and see Bryan's Dear George letter.


Len on 08.17.05 @ 08:31 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Thought for the Day:

One fun game that Supreme Court reporters like to play when they're out on maternity leave is called "Who Smoked Pot," in which one speculates about which, if any, of the current Supreme Court justices at some point in the very distant past availed themselves of the opportunity to take a little toke out behind the barn. Some of the justices are easy: William Rehnquist would have lectured his roommates for getting high, and Antonin Scalia would have gone one step further and narked on them. David Souter can never have known anyone capable of procuring anything stronger than ginger ale for him. Which is why my money would be on Stephen Breyer—but only if he mistook a joint for a celery boat or something.

I am enormously confident, however, that John Roberts has never smoked pot. And I know this because I knew guys like him in college and at law school; we all knew guys like him. These were the guys who were certain, by age 19, that they couldn't smoke pot, or date trampy girls, or throw up off the top of the school clock tower because it would impair their confirmation chances. They would have done all these things, but for the possibility of being carved out of the history books for it.
--Dahlia Lithwick

Len on 08.17.05 @ 05:52 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Gem o'the Day, Cindy Sheehan edition:

Catching up with Billmon, who scribed this weekend:

In fact, if Cindy really is a front woman for the Vast Left-Wing Conspiracy, as the wing nuts now claim, then you'd almost have to conclude that Bush was in on the planning, too. Hauling the entire White House press corps down to Bumfuck, Texas, so they can spend the better part of August playing cowchip bingo, was a move that seems, in hindsight, almost custom-designed to generate massive media coverage of Cindy's protest. In Washington, she'd be just another face in Lafayette Square (the designated "free speech zone" in front of the White House.) In Crawford, she's the only thing making news within a 500-mile radius. That seems like an awfully high political price to pay to move Bush and his imperial retinue from one volcanic pit of heat and humidity to another for five weeks.

There's more going on here, though, than just the usual seasonal news drought and a bunch of bored-out-their-skulls reporters marooned in the Texas outback. Cindy Sheehan has touched a raw nerve (both with the media and with the GOP propaganda machine) less because of who she is than because of who she
isn't -- Jane Fonda.

The wing nuts have been salivating for weeks over the news that Jane plans to hit the anti-war trail again -- this time in a vegetable-oil powered bus. (You really think I could make something like that up?) For pro-war conservatives, this is roughly the same as hearing that the Democrats have decided to put Zippy the Pinhead and Timothy Leary's corpse on the ticket in 2008. From the right's point of view, you couldn't invent a better caricature of a New Age Hollywood zillionaire to be the public face of the anti-war movement. Which is why my own personal reaction to Fonda's plan was: "Why the hell can't she be on
their side for a change?"

But, instead of feasting on Hanoi Jane, the wing nuts are driving themselves nuts trying to figure out how to take down Vacaville Cindy: a woman who looks and sounds like she spends her free time organizing church socials and helping her husband clean out the garage -- that is, when she isn't busy searing George W. Bush's butt with a white hot poker for dragging the country into an unnecessary and failed war in Iraq, and getting her son killed in the process.

Don't forget Dick Cheney, Cindy. But you may want to stoke the coals first: It's an awfully big butt.

Some see Sheehan's turn in the spotlight as a demonstration of the weakness and impotence of the anti-war movement. Take, for example, this politically confused columnist for the
Seattle Post Intelligencer, who says he's against the war and against Cindy:
If the anemic antiwar movement needs a mourning mom to lead the charge against this unjust war, then the movement is in dire straits.
Now calling the anti-war movement "anemic" is obviously wrong, since it implies that it actually has a pulse. The truth is that there is nothing that can be plausibly defined as an anti-war "movement" in this country -- just a couple of web sites, some bloggers, a few Democratic congressmen, and an angry Air Force colonel with can of spray paint.

That, plus about 50-60% of the American people, give or take -- at least according to the most recent polls.

There's probably a connection, in other words, between the precipitous decline in popular support for the war and the absence of a highly visible anti-war protest movement that counts people like Jane Fonda among its mascots. As Harold Myerson put it a couple of months ago:
However perverse this may sound, the absence of an antiwar movement is proving to be a huge political problem for the Bush administration . . . The administration has no one to demonize. With nobody blocking the troop trains, military recruitment is collapsing of its own accord. With nobody in the streets, the occupation is being judged on its own merits.
Without hordes of angry yippies to distract it, the silent majority -- or at least, the non-GOP majority -- has managed to conclude, correctly, that the war cannot be won. Even worse, it seems to have picked up on the fact that the Cheney administration is no longer even
trying to win it, but is simply looking frantically for a face-saving way to get out of the swamp. (Or, in Journalish: "lowering its expectations.")

Len on 08.16.05 @ 02:16 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Gem o'the Day:

NEW RULE: God is a waffler. Pat Robertson said God told him that Iraq would be a bloody disaster. But the same God told George Bush it wouldn't, which so surprised Robertson, he almost dropped the pennies he was stealing off a dead woman's eyes. But why is God talking out of two sides of his mouth? Flip-flop. God told us to beat our swords into plowshares. God: Wrong on defense, wrong for America.
--Bill Maher

Len on 08.16.05 @ 01:12 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Why MIT is ultimately The Font of All True Innovation

Where else would you find demented geniuses who would come up with......

The Catsup Crapper!!!

Probably work safe, unless your employer is unusually language sensitive (i.e., objects to the term "Catsup Crapper"; I don't recall the audio of this one having any blue language) or sensitive to the sight of toilet paper (a roll does appear and is used to wipe up some stray catsup).

Len on 08.16.05 @ 12:23 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Re: Baseball, an interesting point was made yesterday

by Bill Chuck in his daily Billy-Ball newsletter:

Pedro Martinez was five outs from the first no-hitter in New York Mets history. Four pitches later, he was the losing pitcher. Petey didn't allow a hit yesterday
[i.e., Sunday afternoon --LRC] until Antonio Perez tripled with one out in the 8th over Gerald Williams head in center field and then Jayson Werth followed with a two-run homer, and the Los Angeles Dodgers had a 2-1 victory. Martinez (12-5) struck out five, walked one and retired 20 consecutive batters before Perez drove his 86th pitch off the left-center fence on a 1-1 count.
I remember some mention of this on SportsCenter and Baseball Tonight while I was waiting for the Cards-Cubs game, which was ESPN's Sunday game of the week, but I didn't actually think about it for a while.

Yesterday, while performing some life maintenance duties (i.e., washing the dishes, if you really must know), I started thinking about Pedro and how life shafted him, when it dawned on me that Pedro's spectacular implosion may have been foreordained. I've not seen any news article or blog post about Pedro's near-brush with a no-hitter, so I'm not aware of what Pedro's pitch count was when his world came crashing down around him Sunday afternoon. However, I did remember this post by Brian Gunn in the late, great Redbird Nation Cardsblog, during the 2003 American League Championship Series, when Pedro (or more accurately, Grady Little, then Boston Red Sox manager) blew the Red Sox's opportunity to break "The Curse of Babe Ruth" a year earlier than they did:
Of course, we'll hear more about the Curse, and Aaron F. Boone, but we'll probably hear more about the bungled management of Grady Little. In the 7th Pedro gave up his second bomb to Giambi, then singles to Enrique Wilson and Karim Garcia before wriggling out of it. In the 8th he got rapped for a double by Jeter, then surrendered a solid single to Bernie Williams, and fans across the country prepared for another jingoistic commercial for Joe Millionaire 2, followed by shots of Alan Embree taking warm-up tosses on the mound. Pedro was already at 114 pitches, and he's not the same guy as his pitch count climbs. Consider: on the season Pedro had a .207/.257/.308 opposition AVG/OBP/SLG through pitch 105. After that he was at .363/.417/.424. The man gets tired in a hurry. And when Hideki Matsui can turn on your 0-2 fastball and rip it down the line, that little egg-timer in your brain should politely ding your pitcher out of the game, but still Little stuck with his man. The game was lost right there, in my opinion.
The point being, Pedro just isn't the same pitcher after pitch 105 than he is before that. And, while I have no evidence about this (if anyone out there finds any, please let me know), I've got the feeling that Willie Randolph let sentiment overrule what shold have been his better judgement, and let Pedro stay in the game in the hopes he'd achieve the no-no, even though his pitch count got over the magic number at which point a disaster like this was waiting to happen. And did.

Ah, but hindsight is 20/20, eh?

Len on 08.16.05 @ 10:53 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Public Service Post of the Day:

Heidi at Letters of Marque gives us reason to remember this handy tip for wilderness survival: if you're out and about in the great outdoors, and your hair starts standing on end ("standing up, each strand separated. Almost as if it had been rubbed with a balloon"), get your ass (and the rest of your body) DOWN. As low as you can get. Immediately, if not sooner. Because your hair standing up on end like that is Nature's warning that Zeus (or Thor, if you prefer the Norse version) is displeased with you for some reason, and you're in danger of getting fried by a stray bolt of lightning.

Len on 08.16.05 @ 08:51 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Speaking of Brian Leiter....

he once again highlights why legal "scholarship" is a joke:

In the annals of ill-conceived solicitations from law reviews, the one I received today (a mass mailing to law professors nationwide) from the Fordham Law Review is likely to be added to the list of "what not to do":
As you may have heard, a group of law reviews, including Columbia, Cornell, Duke, Georgetown, Harvard, Michigan, Stanford, Pennsylvania, Texas, Virginia, and Yale, recently announced their intention to limit the length of articles. For example, Harvard Law Review will not publish articles longer than 70-75 law review pages "except in extraordinary circumstances."

The Fordham Law Review...disagrees with this policy. We believe that quality is more important than quantity. Therefore, we will continue to focus only on merit in choosing what articles to accept.
Yes, indeed, that's
exactly what the top law reviews were saying: "We don't care about quality or merit, we care only about number of pages." But, thankfully for the verbose and undisciplined, there remains a journal courageous enough to publish unreadable, reinvent-the-wheel tomes posing as articles: the Fordham Law Review! What would we do without it?
Now that I'm out of the legal profession, I'm even more astonished that the student-edited law reviews are still in business (I was astonished at it from my first day in law school, when I learned of the practice). In no other "learned" profession would it be thought that mere students without practice experience would be qualified to select and edit articles for publication in the major professional journals. Especially when such authority is exercised over articles by scholars who are currently much more accomplished and distinguished in their fields then the student-editors in question will be for many, many years to come.

Why is it still the case in the law?

Len on 08.16.05 @ 08:24 AM CST [link] [ | ]

So, is Cindy Sheehan unhinged?

Quickly reviewing Darryl Cagel's archive of editorial cartoons on the subject, if editorial cartoonists are reflecting the public opinion, Bush is losing this one, badly.

Serves the sniveling Coward in Chief right. Couldn't happen to a more deserving prick.

UPDATE: Brian Leiter picked up on the Cagel archive before I did. And Leiter also reminds us of an excellent essay by E.L. Doctorow from last fall on "The Unfeeling President":
I fault this president for not knowing what death is. He does not suffer the death of our 21-year-olds who wanted to be what they could be. On the eve of D-Day in 1944 General Eisenhower prayed to God for the lives of the young soldiers he knew were going to die. He knew what death was. Even in a justifiable war, a war not of choice but of necessity, a war of survival, the cost was almost more than Eisenhower could bear.

But this president does not know what death is. He hasn't the mind for it. You see him joking with the press, peering under the table for the weapons of mass destruction he can't seem to find, you see him at rallies strutting up to the stage in shirt sleeves to the roar of the carefully screened crowd, smiling and waving, triumphal, a he-man.

He does not mourn. He doesn't understand why he should mourn. He is satisfied during the course of a speech written for him to look solemn for a moment and speak of the brave young Americans who made the ultimate sacrifice for their country.

But you study him, you look into his eyes and know he dissembles an emotion which he does not feel in the depths of his being because he has no capacity for it. He does not feel a personal responsibility for the 1,000 dead young men and women who wanted to be what they could be.

They come to his desk not as youngsters with mothers and fathers or wives and children who will suffer to the end of their days a terribly torn fabric of familial relationships and the inconsolable remembrance of aborted life . . . they come to his desk as a political liability, which is why the press is not permitted to photograph the arrival of their coffins from Iraq.

How then can he mourn? To mourn is to express regret and he regrets nothing. He does not regret that his reason for going to war was, as he knew, unsubstantiated by the facts. He does not regret that his bungled plan for the war's aftermath has made of his mission-accomplished a disaster. He does not regret that, rather than controlling terrorism, his war in Iraq has licensed it. So he never mourns for the dead and crippled youngsters who have fought this war of his choice.

He wanted to go to war and he did. He had not the mind to perceive the costs of war, or to listen to those who knew those costs. He did not understand that you do not go to war when it is one of the options but when it is the only option; you go not because you want to but because you have to.
To my mind, this is one of the reasons why Bush's lack of military service has galled me. Granted, not all Presidents with military service have had the opportunity to grapple with death like Eisenhower did (e.g., Jimmy Carter). But someone with real military service internalizes the values of the service. He or she rubs shoulders with man and women who have sacrificed... who have received wounds (I knew quite a few Purple Heart winners during my service, and I was a mere desk jockey), and who have known comrades who gave up everything, and sacrificed their lives. That's not something that Bush internalized, because he regarded his Air National Guard "service" as a summer camp that he could enjoy as long as he could, and then walk out of when it pleased him (read: when faced with the specter of actually having to take a drug test as part of his flight physical (premium content; ad view or subscription required)), in favor of lounging around the apartment pool with pretty secretaries and pretending to work on a political campaign for his dad's buddy.

Len on 08.16.05 @ 07:35 AM CST [link] [ | ]

PC Wipe-Out

Today is finally the day to wipe my PC and reinstall XP and remove the Win 98 partition. Everything has been backed up and saved (to the extent that I NEED it) -- and I now get to embark on my favorite tasks for a Techno-dweeb!! LOL

Hopefully Len will be around (for some questions I *might* have)...and also take up the slack of postings I will be unable to work on until this is sorted. :-)

Lator Gators...wish me luck.

Karen on 08.16.05 @ 05:59 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Walken: I'm not running....

According to Christopher Walken's publicist, he's not running for President in 2008, despite what a website would lead you to believe. Walken's publicist was further quoted:

(It) sounds like someone got a little too excited over his role as secretary of the Treasury in 'The Wedding Crashers' and now they want to make him president.
Well, let's cut the owners of the Walken 2008 website a little slack; I can understand his/her enthusiasm for the political prospects of a significant supporting actor in what (if the Tomatometer is to be believed) is one of the few decent movies of this summer season.

Len on 08.16.05 @ 05:53 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Thought for the Day:

On Tuesday, the New York Times explained why Westchester County district attorney Jeanine Pirro agreed to run for the Senate against Hillary Clinton: "Even in defeat, Ms. Pirro has told friends, her resulting fame could pave the way for another statewide office, or, perhaps, give her a greater role on television, where she has been a legal analyst for Fox News."

Although by no means impartial, The Has-Been considers it a breakthrough when a Senate race is now just a stepping stone to Fox News. In the past, prime seats at Fox and elsewhere were reserved for true has-beens looking for something to do after leaving Congress. Newt Gingrich, John Kasich, Martin Frost, and Susan Molinari are among the former members who have gone on to be part of the Fox family.

Skipping Congress to go straight into punditry has its advantages. Governing can be boring work. Fox pays better and earns higher ratings than C-SPAN, especially in the 18-44 demographic prized by advertisers. Besides, what can freshmen possibly get done, anyway?
--Bruce Reed

Len on 08.16.05 @ 05:36 AM CST [link] [ | ]

'Counter-Clinton Library' initiative folds

[Speaking of which, Little Rock isn't that far away, so I should make a field trip to the Clinton Library sometime. Right after I make a run up to Metropolis, IL to see The Superman Museum (it appears that the "official" (I think) website is either in development or undergoing renovations).]

Apparently, the guy who wanted to build a "counter-Clinton library" in Little Rock needed to learn a few things about how the real world works.

A group that had hoped to build two museums to rebut the displays at the Clinton Presidential Library is folding.

"I'm giving up," said Houston businessman Richard Erickson, who established nonprofit Counterlibe Inc. last year to fund construction of a Counter Clinton Library in Little Rock and another in Washington.

Erickson said in an e-mail to The Associated Press that he had been naive about fundraising procedures. He said the project's Web site also would be shut down soon.

In a separate e-mail Wednesday, Erickson informed one of his key supporters, former U.S. Rep. Bob Barr, R-Ga., that he couldn't raise enough money to continue.

"Nearly every dime raised has gone to professional fundraisers and lawyers," he said.
[emphasis supplied --LRC]
Duh! If you spend all your money on professional leeches like lawyers (especially lawyers!) and fundraisers, instead of building a fucking library with it, you can expect to be a screaming success. Like Mr. Erickson.

[Y'know, he's described in the article as "a businessman", but you might be forgiven for wondering if he's a very successful one. If he was successful, you'd think he'd have doped that one out on his own.]

Let that be a lesson to you. Avoid lawyers unless they're absolutely necessary.

Len on 08.15.05 @ 08:37 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Signs of our times

When I was a teenager, I used to think up cool names for rock groups. Now I think up cool names for blogs.

A Free Thinker is Satan's Slave

"Satan's Slaves" would be good name for a blog. I'm sure at some point it was the name of a rock group.

Amanda Marcotte.)

Brock on 08.15.05 @ 08:31 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Meanwhile, in Crawford....

Len on 08.15.05 @ 08:12 PM CST [link] [ | ]


I'd like to join Belle Waring in expressing my utter contempt for Republicans who drink puppy blood.

But I just checked one of the Memphis area's biggest conservative Republican (uhh... libertarian? uhhh...) websites, Half-Bakered -- a blog that posts multiple times every day -- and it does not have a single word on Republicans drinking puppy blood.

Not. One. Word.

I report, you conclude.

Brock on 08.15.05 @ 07:20 PM CST [link] [ | ]

If I were Karl Rove, I wouldn't be sleeping well lately....

Via the L.A. Times (registration required or use BugMeNot), we get an interesting profile of Patrick Fitzgerald, U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois, and special prosecutor in the Plame leak investigation: Standing on the Shoulders of Perjury Law

When Al Qaeda operative Wadih El-Hage blamed false testimony he had given to a federal grand jury on confusion and jet lag, then-assistant U.S. Atty. Patrick J. Fitzgerald was not impressed. "I submit to you," Fitzgerald told jurors at El-Hage's 2001 trial in New York, "you heard 10 of the most pathetic excuses of perjury ever known."

El-Hage, once Osama bin Laden's personal secretary, is serving life in prison without the possibility of parole — convicted of perjury, among other things.

Things tend to work out that way when Patrick J. Fitzgerald is prosecuting a case.

Fitzgerald, 44, has a history of invoking perjury laws and related statutes to buttress his investigations.

So it may not be surprising that he is considering perjury charges in his current assignment — as a special prosecutor investigating whether anyone in the Bush administration illegally leaked the name of CIA operative Valerie Plame to journalists.


Fitzgerald's 20-month-long investigation initially focused on whether administration officials had broken a federal law that made it a felony to knowingly disclose the identity of covert agents. But more recently, the inquiry is believed to have shifted to the question of whether officials — including White House Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove — who discussed Plame with journalists may have misled Fitzgerald and his investigators.
If Bush's Brain had the nerve to lie to the grand jury, he may live to rue the day. Especially since the thought that Rove lied just might make him more motivated to bring the GOP kingpin down.
Fitzgerald's tendency to invoke the laws against lying comes from two things, colleagues say: the particular way he uses grand jury testimony when he conducts an investigation, and his deep-seated aversion to being lied to.

Many prosecutors go before a grand jury only after they have a case pretty well wrapped up. But Fitzgerald's approach is to use the grand jury as a tool for compelling witnesses to disclose information. And if he thinks a witness has fiddled with the truth, associates say, he becomes indignant.

"He is an aggressive prosecutor," said Joshua Dratel, a New York lawyer who represented El-Hage. "If he feels someone is lying to him, he takes it personally."
And the good news is that everything I've heard indicates that Fitzgerald isn't a typical partisan Rethugnican, and he's not particularly ambitious. So he's not likely to cut "The Architect" a deal merely because he's an important man in the Party, nor is he likely to be pressured into ignoring Rove's crimes for fear of ruining his future career prospects.

This is one to keep an eye on.

Len on 08.15.05 @ 06:57 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Soldiers are not fungible....

At Why Not?, Bryan does a bit of fact checking and points us to MilitaryCity.com's "Honor the Fallen" page on Casey Sheehan, which contains some details about the action in which he was killed. Bryan then notes:

What struck me was that he was an artilleryman, not in the infantry. They had already run out of infantry and were cross-training other specialties to fill slots. He died doing a job he hadn't really been trained to do. He wasn't eligible for the Combat Infantryman Badge, but that was the job he was given.

This is the result of Rumsfeld's belief that people are "fungible", that all you have to do is put whoever is available into whatever job that needs to be done, and things will be fine. Rumsfeld doesn't believe that military jobs require specialized training because they are all just "cannon fodder" and "trigger pullers".
The Army is not the Marines, and not every soldier is a rifleman. One wonders if that operation might have been more successful with qualified infantry performing it instead of having to make do with whatever troops were available to volunteer.

Len on 08.15.05 @ 06:42 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Today's Public Service Post

Check your vision with this Eye Chart, courtesy of your pals at MensHealth.com.


Len on 08.15.05 @ 06:31 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Thought for the Day:

I kept scouting the book for hints of something I'd heard about, the wacky science fiction mythology that lies at the inner sanctum of Scientology, though I knew it wouldn't appear per se in "Dianetics." That's reserved only for those who have undergone the church's intensive training and indoctrination. Scientologists say they withhold this information because learning it can drive the unprepared person insane and give you pneumonia, but it's all over the Web, and it strikes me as far less likely to cause suffering than Hubbard's prose.

Critics say the church hushes up this story -- it involves an evil demiurge who, 75 million years ago, blew up 178 billion souls with hydrogen bombs planted in Earth's volcanoes, trapped them on "electrical strips," brainwashed them and packaged them into clusters that now cling to every human being and mess with our bodies and heads -- for two reasons. One is that the church needs a sufficiently dramatic payoff after stringing members along through years of courses and trainings, all costing upward of a quarter of a million dollars. The other reason is fear that revealing this fantasia of kooky stories might turn off potential converts -- but, hey, that never hurt the Old Testament.
--Laura Miller [salon.com, on L. Ron Hubbard's
Dianetics: The Modern Science of Mental Health]

Len on 08.15.05 @ 07:50 AM CST [link] [ | ]

More Techno-Kool Ideas...

...From the “What Will They Think of Next” Department is this:

”…Motorola Inc.’s Chief Executive Officer Ed Zander stood before 400 analysts in late July to show off a poster on which the ink glowed and blinked in the dark.

Soon you’ll be able to hold a mobile phone up to such a poster and see its display screen automatically directed to the Web site of a product featured on that poster.

For the last five years, the Schaumburg-based communications company has been working with partners to develop Printed Electronics Technology, or smart ink, and the manufacturing process to use the ink to create circuits.

The chemically-enhanced ink prints on paper or plastic to create circuits, such as transistors. It’s intended to be a lower-cost, flexible replacement to chips in radio-frequency identification, or RFID, tags that help manufacturers track inventory.

Motorola, Lucent Technologies and other companies researching similar technology also intend to create consumer uses for smart ink.

In the future, such ink could help create smart kitchens, where food products with printed electronics in the packaging could help you keep track of your pantry. Also when an empty box is thrown away, the technology could send a message to your handset, helping you update a shopping list.

Or a mobile phone could be waved over an ad printed with smart ink in a newspaper or magazine and it would send an e-mail to order the item advertised….”

Courtesy of The Daily Herald.

Karen on 08.15.05 @ 07:43 AM CST [link] [ | ]

And Now For Some Real Trolls...

Digby at Hullabaloo writes about this bats-in-the-belfy commentator’s remarks over at The Poor Man Café:

Commentator: ”I know this isn’t going to popular on this website, but may I just point something out?

A soldier’s #1 job is to stay alive. If you die, you can’t accomplish the mission, and you weaken your team and put your buddies in danger.

Obviously Sheehan’s son, I forget his name at the moment, didn’t die on purpose, and he may well have have had no control over the circumstances that let to his death.


In war, there are no excuses. You find a way to stay alive, whatever it takes — if you’re a good soldier. Sheehan’s son didn’t do that. He paid the price. but he als failed the mission and let down his buddies.

As a soldier, he was a failure. He was brave (maybe), but he was also incompetent.

So, really, how much exactly are we supposed to grieve over this guy? Isn’t a certain amount of disapproval in order for the guy — and by extension his mom, for making such a fuss over a person who was, in the last analysis, by definition a loser?

So shouldn’t Mrs. Sheenhan be showing a little more shame about the situation and maybe not wanting to get her son and his shortcoming splashed all over the media?

Something to consider, anyway."

Digby writes: "I've been thinking for a while that we might be seeing the beginning of a new trend in American politics --- the anti-military right. Rush is calling marines "pukes," veterans are being called cowards and fakers, disabled vets are mocked for not having the right wounds or getting them in the right way, GOP hags are wearing cute little "purple heart" bandaids on their cheeks. People are selling busts of the president using his lack of combat experience as a selling point saying outright that physical courage is no longer particularly worthy of conservative approbation. Being a veteran buys you no credibility and no respect in today's Real Murika.

This is how they transform Chickenhawkery into a badge of courage."

Hat Tip to Michael Froomkin at Discourse.net

Sheesh, the next thing but these Bat-shit wingnuts will be saying as “how Casey Sheehan was a traitor to his country, let ole GW and his military down – Why we ought to just Shoot him for Treason!!!”

Never seen such ugly, despicable stuff from bunches of folks who claim to be Patriots and support our troops. YIKES!!

Karen on 08.15.05 @ 07:24 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Moral Equivocating...

Lies, Damn Lies and the Liars who tell them…

Posted a comment to a short bit and link from Eric over at Is That Legal:

”And It Never Should Have Aired in the First Place.

Good for NARAL. It was an idiotic ad.

So I commented:
Ah...but that just goes to show the Dif between the "Liberals" and the "Conservatives." If Liberals do something "idiotic" or say things "wrong"...They Apologize and Stop repeating the idiocy. Like Dick Durbin - over his remarks comparing Abu Ghraib to Nazi concentration camps.
Conservatives (as far as I have seen) almost NEVER apologize. Equivocate maybe... but apologize - Ha ha ha - unlikely.

Need I say Bill Frist - over Teri Schiavo; Karl Rove - over Plame; Ann Coulter- over anything; Bill "Loofah" O'Reilly - over any lies he tells constantly on air [And added here - David Corn’s calling O’Reilly out for outrageous remarks like saying he was a “sewer-dweller” and yet being refused an invite on-air on “The Factor” to discuss this]; Gary Skoien (former GOP Chair in Cook County, Il - over the "bounty" offered on Richard Daley; G.W. Bush - over Anything (can't think of a single mistake of any consequence to hear him tell it).

And those Swift Boat Weenie Liars for Bush kept those despicable ads running For-ev-Ahhhhh!! Even after it was demonstrated how outrageous were their attacks on Candidate Kerry.

They have no sense of shame nor fair play - just attack, attack with lies, repeat attacks. Disgusting.

Then found this reference to an article: Democrats Conflicted on Playing Rough: Lack of Support for Roberts Ad Raises Question of Tactics by Dana Milbank (Washington Post):
“…The NARAL case was the latest incident to provoke Democratic recriminations. In June, Democrats demanded that Bush aide Karl Rove apologize for saying that liberals wanted "therapy and understanding for our attackers." Rove refused to apologize, and Republicans leapt to his defense. Just before the Rove episode, Republicans demanded an apology from Richard J. Durbin (Ill.), the number two Democrat in the Senate, who likened U.S. treatment of prisoners in Guantanamo Bay to techniques used by Nazis. Democrats joined in criticizing Durbin, who eventually delivered a tearful apology on the Senate floor.

Republicans, attacking the NARAL ad, trumpeted the finding of the nonpartisan FactCheck.org that the abortion group's ad was "false" and "misleading." But that same organization had labeled the Swift boat ads "dubious" and found "a serious discrepancy in the account of Kerry's accusers," which was at odds with military records.

But Mueller said he never considered pulling the Swift boat ads when Democrats reacted with fury and independent arbiters declared the ads to be misleading. "There was never any question in our minds," he said.”

And a most interesting follow up by Kevin Drum: Ad Wars:
”…Second, though, it's worth keeping in mind that Republicans play under different ground rules than Democrats, and there's just not much that Democrats can do about that in the short term. Nearly 40% of Americans call themselves conservatives, and that means that Republicans need to attract only a small number of center-right voters to win elections. They can run nasty campaigns designed to increase turnout among their base without worrying very much that they're losing so many moderate voters that it will turn the election….”

Which basically says cause they feel immune from alienating their base the GOP Lying Liars and their supporters can act any ole way they damn please…outright lies and falsehoods be damned. Yep, a real Moral Values Party is that GOP. HA! HA! HA!

Karen on 08.14.05 @ 03:32 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Hell, he couldn't do any worse than the incumbent.....

and he'd be more entertaining than Hillary if elected (but not more entertaining than Hillary running, since the sight and sound of the right wingnuts blowing their collective gaskets at the very thought of Hillary as President will be entertainment you just can't buy): Christopher Walken 2008

Credit to Serrabee for the pointer.

Len on 08.14.05 @ 03:28 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Sugarcoating the Reagan legacy.....

Polar Donkey, putting paid to the interpretation that Reagan was "hard as nails" in the face of terror attacks like the Beirut Marine Barracks bombing:

One statement which particularly caught my eye was the one about "Reagan..being hard as nails." Please. When I was kid, I lived in Jacksonville, NC, home of Camp Lejune Marine Corps base. I was having my tenth birthday on Oct 23, 1983. That morning news came out that 248 marines were killed when their barracks in Beirut was blown up. A couple of kids couldn't come to my birthday party because their dads were in Beirut. (One of the kids' dad was killed.) Was Reagan hard as nails about staying in Beirut. Hell no. the first thing he did was invade Grenada 5 days later to look like war president. (Three aircraft carriers and a few thousand men to knock over a fruit stand.) Then he packed up all those marines in Beirut and left. After they all got out, the USS New Jersey shelled the hills above the city. Then we contracted the Saudi's to put a hit on a radical leader in Beirut. The Saudi's got the guy but it took a car bomb in front of a mosque, killing bunches of innocent people and wounds dozens more, to do it. So not only did Reagan look weak, he ham handly lashed out killing innocent people.

Len on 08.14.05 @ 02:50 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Best Blog Post Header In A Long, Long Time....

From Jo Fish, the Democratic Veteran:

Why Cindy will endure, and Preznit Equine Fluffer will be remembered as the Worst Preznit in History
I suppose that I should provide a means by which those of you who don't get it right away can see why it's such a great header (or, for those of you misguided souls who actually respect the Shrubbery, so you can get the insult).

Len on 08.14.05 @ 12:49 PM CST [link] [ | ]

MadKane's latest is up....

about the Cindy Sheehan situation, and she nails exactly why the Coward-in-Chief is running scared:

Will Cindy Sheehan's Crawford encampment prove to be a tipping point? Will her Texas standoff with George Bush inspire an antiwar activism growth spurt? The answer to both questions is a definite maybe. But whatever happens, we owe Cindy Sheehan a debt of gratitude, and I owe her this Ode:

Ode To Cindy Sheehan
By Madeleine Begun Kane

The mother of a soldier dead
Has Dubya running scared.
Her very name fills Bush with dread.
Face Sheehan? Dub don't dare.
Give the whole thing a read; also, Mad collects a number of links on the situation. As always, there's an audio version, too.

Len on 08.14.05 @ 12:24 PM CST [link] [ | ]

'... deja vu all over again.' --Yogi Berra

Scary. Seriously scary. Josh Marshall, at Talking Points Memo:

First time as farce, second time as farce too?

With President Bush again stating that force is still on the table against Iran, albeit only as the last resort, German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder has kicked off his uphill reelection drive with an attack on President Bush's Middle Eastern belligerence.

All of this, of course, provides an uncanny replay of the build up to the US invasion of Iraq with the German Chancellor leveraging reelection on the axis of President Bush's warmongering.
Well, we all know what happened the last time George W. "How do you know he's lying? His lips are moving" Bush said that force was a "last resort" in dealing with a middle eastern country.

The real scary thing is that when he did it the first time, he had an army that was at full strength and reasonably capable. Thanks to his own fuck-ups, he doesn't have that anymore.

There are days I smell a draft on the morning breeze. With luck, Dumbya has learned his lesson--that he is not, and never will be, the conquering "war president" that he wanted to be.

But we all know how well George W. "Gentleman's C" Bush seemed to learn his lessons.

UPDATE: According to the UK's Independent, an analysis of information available to the International Atomic Energy Agency shows that alleged evidence that Iran was ramping up a nuclear weapons program does not, in fact support that conclusion.
The UN nuclear watchdog is preparing to publish evidence that Iran is not engaged in a nuclear weapons programme, undermining a warning of possible military action from President George Bush.

The US President told Israeli television that "all options are on the table" if Iran fails to comply with international calls to halt its nuclear programme. Both the US and Israel - the Middle East's only nuclear-armed power - were "united in our objective to make sure Iran does not have a weapon", he said.

However, Iran is about to receive a major boost from the results of a scientific analysis that will prove that the country's authorities were telling the truth when they said they were not developing a nuclear weapon. The discovery of traces of weapons-grade uranium in Iran by UN inspectors in August 2003 set off alarm bells in Western capitals where it was feared that Iran was developing a nuclear weapon under cover of a civil programme. The inspectors took the samples from Iran's uranium enrichment plant at Natanz, which had been concealed from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) for 18 years.

But Iran maintained that its nuclear programme is for peaceful purposes, and that the traces must have been contamination from the Pakistani-based black market network of scientist AQ Khan. He is the father of Pakistan's nuclear bomb.

The analysis of components from Pakistan, obtained last May by the IAEA, is now almost complete and is set to conclude that the traces of weapons-grade uranium match those found in Iran. "The investigation is likely to show that they came from Pakistan," a Vienna-based diplomat told The Independent on Sunday.
But then again, just look at the ramp-up to the Iraq war. As we all know, the would-be "war president" never let facts get in the way of a "good" war.

Len on 08.14.05 @ 12:06 PM CST [link] [ | ]


Bryan at Why Now? makes some excellent observations in his "Weekend Rant". On the Cindy Sheehan situation:

There is almost no reason in a civilized society to attack the parent of a member of the military who died in service to their country. I don't care if you supported or opposed the action by the political leaders that put the member of the military at risk. Your politics don't excuse the total lack of social conscience involved in such an attack. If you can't understand and respect the pain and grief of a mother who has lost a child, you are without any redeeming social value.


I want someone who claims that soldiers can die in vain to find a Virginian who had an ancestor die in Pickett's Charge and who thinks that the ancestor's death wasn't honorable and worthy, that it was in vain.
On the NARAL ad flap
The NARAL ad incident is indicative of a major misunderstanding among people who should know better.

NARAL is a single issue organization and would be unfaithful to their membership if they failed to give their support to politicians who support their views without regard to party. They would also fail if they didn't vigorously attack those who oppose their views.


Lost in this episode is the right to privacy. Reproductive choice is not the only issue that is tied to the right to privacy, and the easiest way to limit reproductive choice is by limiting the right to privacy. You can't give ground on
Roe v. Wade without weakening the right to privacy.

Folks, there is no compromise to be found on the other side of the political spectrum, so stop wasting credibility looking for it. You don't give up basic rights to please the views of others. It's time people understood that the other side wants people to give up the Bill of Rights. They want to limit speech, bring religion into the government, and put the government in your doctor's office and your bedroom. This isn't about accommodating their values; it's about giving away your rights.

If you have a problem with choice, you need to understand that you don't support the right to privacy.
And on the Mess in Mesopotamia:
Just because you didn't read the signs properly and supported the invasion of Iraq is no reason to continue to support it now that you have ample proof that you were lied to and the Busheviks "fixed" the intelligence to justify their actions.

There is no reason to stay in Iraq. It isn't going to get any better.

The Shi'ia are going to align with Iran, as should have been obvious. They were screwed over by the US after Gulf War I, so they don't feel they owe us anything.

Most of the damage and deaths were in the Sunni areas, so they certainly hate the US more than any of the other groups.

The Kurds have been screwed over by every Republican administration from Nixon forward, so they don't acknowledge any obligation to us.

The Iraqi women are about to be set back about a millennium with the imposition of Sharia law, so there is no support there.

Turkey and Syria are looking at the emergence of a Kurdish state, so we can forget any help from them, even if we weren't constantly trying to pick a fight with Syria.

The biggest hoot I've heard are the people who claim they couldn't believe that the Bush administration would be this incompetent. Excuse me, but where, exactly, in Bush's
Curriculum Vitae do you find any indication of competence in any field other than slimy political campaigns?
Don't blame me: I never voted for Bush--and never will regret it.

Len on 08.14.05 @ 11:49 AM CST [link] [ | ]


Last night we took our daughters out to a movie and dinner to celebrate our Anniversary. (We always include them as our celebration as part of the reason for their existence. *wink*)

We went to a place in Elburn called “Fisherman’s Inn.” It is a very nice, white table cloth, restaurant in a huge old Barn. The history provided says:

”The original barn was built in 1886. Up to 80 cows were milked daily. Because artesian springs dotted the land, ponds were developed much later and stocked with rainbow trout for sport fishing.

From these humble beginnings - in 1972 Fisherman’s Inn developed into the fine dining establishment. Fire destroyed the original barn in 1985 and the newer structure rest on the same foundation.

Fresh rainbow trout is still the specialty of the Inn, netted daily from the spring fed raceways…”

The barn and dining room is situated to overlook these lovely ponds with walking paths and fountains and many egrets, swans and ducks. There is also a small Lighthouse and a water-wheel. Guests walk down the paths and stroll before or after dinner.

For our meal, in addition to calamari, escargot and shrimp cocktails; we had to try the Rainbow Trout. The girls tried the baby back ribs, scallops, stuffed shrimp and prime rib too. Yum!!

It was wonderful and a very perfect Anniversary Outing for the McLauchlan Family.

Karen on 08.14.05 @ 10:57 AM CST [link] [ | ]

A Legacy Yet to be Written...

MEASURING THE PRESIDENT Legacy;What will history say about Bush? by Charles W. Murdock (Professor at Loyola University School of Law):

"A colleague recently reminded me that, after the 2004 election, I had remarked that President Bush will go down in history either as one of our greatest presidents or one of the worst. He asked whether I still held that somewhat paradoxical view. My response was that events could tip the story either way, but they now seem to be working against the president.

The Bush presidency has been marked by bold steps. Just as bold financial leveraging results in great fortunes and great bankruptcies, bold political steps can lead to greatness or disaster. Some of the bold Bush initiatives include huge tax cuts, the war in Iraq, free trade, deregulation and business-friendly administrative bodies, and reforming Social Security. Finally, Bush holds himself out as a man of the people, straight shooting, trustworthy. These are characteristics that historians will value.

How could the Bush initiatives point to greatness? Suppose the war in Iraq leads to a model democratic government, advancing the rights of women and eliminating the friction among the Kurds, Sunnis and Shiites.

This, in turn, could lead to the spread of democracy throughout the Arab world and the decline of extremism. By taking the war on terror to the Middle East, we may have protected our homeland and our citizens from the threat of terror at home and abroad.

Suppose the tax cuts lead to a revitalized economy, creating millions of well-paying jobs. By cutting back on environmental and other regulation, business may stay efficient and competitive in the global economy. Suppose outsourcing keeps prices down so we can continue to buy as much as we want.

Suppose Bush does manage to get private accounts enacted as part of Social Security, and the Dow does go to 20,000. Finally, by bringing honesty and integrity to government, Bush could end the public cynicism about government and possibly heal the divisions between the red and the blue states.

This scenario sounds good. Will it come to pass? What is the darker side? And how could the next few years be a disaster?

Let's look first to the war in Iraq. There is growing agreement that we went to war on a false premise that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction and that we went with too few troops. What if the former undermines our credibility in getting other governments to support us in pressuring Iran and North Korea, which either have nuclear weapons or are moving toward that objective, to come to the negotiating table?

Failing to send enough troops, coupled with disbanding the Iraqi army and failing to secure the huge stockpile of conventional weapons Hussein had stashed around the country, has led to a well-armed insurgency that has turned part of Iraq into chaos. But what if the disbursement of these weapons leads to a civil war, which tears apart Iraq, or leads to insurrections in other countries?

What if the Iraq invasion has radicalized tens of thousands more Muslims, not just in the Middle East, but in Europe and the United States, leading to terrorists attacks and suicide bombings in this country as well as England? What if there is an attempt to blow up a chlorine rail tanker just blocks from the White House, which could kill 100,000 residents, including the president, Congress and heads of all the governmental agencies?

What if our budget deficit continues its rise, reaching $600 billion with the ratcheting up of the Iraq war and plans to deal militarily with Iran and Iraq, and our trade deficit reaches $800 billion per year? Could this combination lead to a loss of confidence in the dollar and the resistance of foreigners, particularly the Chinese, to continue to buy our treasury securities? Might this, in turn, lead to interest rates not seen since President Jimmy Carter's administration, widespread mortgage foreclosures for those who borrowed on variable rates, an abrupt downturn in the construction industry, a precipitous drop in the stock market, and a deep recession and unemployment unprecedented in 60 years?

What if the combination of misstatements about the Iraq war and the economy, coupled with the conviction of Karl Rove for obstruction of justice, led to a crisis of confidence in government and calls for the impeachment of President Bush?

It is unlikely that either scenario will fully play out. But the darker scenario is no longer pure fantasy. Some "what ifs" are coming to pass. The bombings in England demonstrate that challenging the insurgents in Iraq to "bring it on" did not protect British subway riders. It also demonstrated that terrorists are not just poor, uneducated Muslims originating in the Middle East.

Democrats have been criticized for not proposing a solution for Iraq. But there is no good solution now that we have gone to war and botched it.

Not securing Hussein's stockpiles of weapons was beyond incompetent. Waiting a year or more to begin seriously training an Iraqi security force and rejecting assistance from other countries has kept our soldiers in harm's way. Leaving Iraq now could have disastrous consequences, but so could staying. No country likes to be occupied. During the Civil War, Union soldiers once asked a poor Confederate soldier why he risked his life to defend slavery. He replied: "Because you're here."

Much has been written lately about the porosity of our borders, the focus of Homeland Security on air transportation to the exclusion of rail and mass transit, and the refusal of the Bush administration to deal with security at chemical and nuclear facilities and to reroute trainloads of hazardous chemicals around densely populated areas.

Corporate profits seem more important than security.

On the economic front, the tax cuts have not resulted in millions of well-paying jobs. Outsourcing no longer affects just hourly workers. High-tech jobs are going to India, where technicians make one-fourth the compensation of their American counterparts. Our trade gap may be our most serious problem because of its many ramifications. President Bill Clinton started the free-trade kick, but under him our deficit was around $100 billion. Under Bush, it moved up to $617 billion last year and is projected to be $780 billion this year.

Ours is a $10 trillion economy, but we are the largest debtor nation in the world with a negative net international investment approaching $4 trillion.

It took a Chinese bid of $18.5 billion for an American oil company to finally focus attention on the consequences of other countries, particularly China, owning trillions of our dollars. We don't like the idea of others owning our productive assets. But we are now joined at the hip with China in a dangerous economic and political situation.

What effect will this have on our economy, on our willingness to defend Taiwan, or on other geopolitical issues in the Far East?

So, how will all this ultimately play out? Will it be Bush the hero or Bush the villain? The jury is still out, but there is some disturbing evidence emerging.

Karen on 08.14.05 @ 10:31 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Finale to "Collapse"

In case you’re thinking all these interesting science techniques detailed in “Collapse” by Jared Diamond is a lot peculiar trivia and mere tid-bits of quasi-useless information:

Scientific American points this out in their monthly SA Perspectives Letter (Sept. 2005): Science at the Crossroads:

”…Geographer Jared Diamond’s recent book “Collapse” documents past civilizations that could not recognize or bring themselves to change unsustainable ways. Largely because of our science, our civilization has the chance to not only to avoid their fate but to enter an age of unprecedented prosperity. Science is not and should not be the sole factor in decision making; others; such as moral values; are also crucial. But we need to go into these decisions with out eyes open to what is going on in the world.

Here are some final thoughts from “Collapse”:

The main factors Jared Diamond identifies and illustrates with the various examples of societal collapses are:

· Environmental damage;
· Climate changes;
· Rapid population growth;
· Unstable trading partners;
· Pressure from enemies;
· Responses and Cultural values surrounding “changed conditions” signals.

Diamond writes:
”…[We] must already be struck by some parallels between Maya and the past societies...as on Easter, Mangareva, and among the Anasazi, environmental damage and population problems led to increasing warfare and civil strife….[P]eak population numbers were followed swiftly by political and social collapse….Like Easter Island chiefs erecting ever larger statures, and like Anasazi elite treating themselves to necklaces of 2,000 tourqouise beads, Maya Kings [seeking] to outdo each other with more and more impressive temples – reminiscent in turn of the extravagant conspicuous consumption by modern CEOs… [is the] passivity of Easter Chiefs and Maya kings in the face of real big threats to their societies…

[Likewise] Key decisions of Viking society were made by the chiefs, who were motivated to increase their own prestige, even in cases where that might conflict with the good of the current society as a whole and of the next generation.

This book is a very well done examination of past Societal failures. It is most important to understand the circumstances and issues that can be avoided with proper foresight and planning. It’s our Societal “ball to run with.” Given what we have learned and what we know, it would be unconscionable not to insist our leaders and governments make the changes necessary for the preservation of ALL.

Karen on 08.14.05 @ 10:16 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Lingering Bad Impressions...

Deconstructing the war talk as stubborn Bush stays course
; by Dennis Jett (Dean of the University of Florida International Center and a former U.S. ambassador to Peru and Mozambique):

”Nearly half the American people have figured out something that President Bush cannot admit: The war in Iraq is hurting, not helping, the war on terrorism.

According to a recent Pew Research Center survey, 47 percent of Americans have come to that realization. Only 39 percent of those surveyed believe it is helping, and their numbers are steadily falling.

A better understanding of the impact of the war can be found in the comics than in some parts of Washington. In a recent "Doonesbury," journalist Roland Hedley asks a hooded jihadist whether he would concede that by fighting in Iraq, Americans would not have to fight the terrorists on our own streets. The terrorist responds "the war in Iraq is such a godsend for us. It's the greatest recruiting tool in the history of terrorism."

The far-right perennial presidential candidate Pat Buchanan agrees with "Doonesbury," not with the president. He wrote recently that "Bush's cure for terrorism is a cause of the epidemic."

There are plenty of studies to support "Doonesbury's" and Buchanan's conclusion. American intelligence officials and two recent studies from think tanks have concluded the same thing. They all carefully evaluated hundreds of the foreigners who have gone to Iraq to take part in the fight against the Americans. Before the war in Iraq, few of these individuals were involved in terrorism, but the war provided the motivation and the opportunity for them to engage in the struggle.

The author of one of the studies was quoted as saying: "I am not sure the American public is really aware of the enormous influence of the war in Iraq, not just on Islamists but the entire Arab world." Perhaps the American public is more aware than America's leaders. The administration is at least consistent in its tone-deafness to the reaction to its policies. It refuses to consider closing the detention center at Guantanamo even though it has become another symbol and rallying cry for anti-American sentiment in the Muslim world.

Yet another example is the administration's reaction to several Republican senators who want to attach amendments to the Pentagon's budget. The legislation would bar the military from hiding prisoners from the Red Cross and prohibit cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment of prisoners or the use of unauthorized interrogation techniques.

Vice President Dick Cheney is heading up a vigorous effort to block the change. The White House even warned that it would veto the budget bill if the amendments were added. Savor that for a moment. Bush is the first president in 175 years to have gone a full term without casting a veto. What kind of impression would it have abroad if his first use of the veto was to strike down a bill simply because it contained a provision prohibiting torture and violations of our treaty obligations?

But the administration remains as oblivious to the effects of the war on our image as it is to its effect on our safety. The war clearly has not reduced the threat of terrorism. According to some projections, its cost is going to exceed that of the Korean War and the Vietnam War. More than 1,800 Americans are dead and more than 11,000 wounded. Another study estimates that 25,000 Iraqis have died and more than 40,000 more have been wounded.

And for what? To create a government dominated by religious fundamentalists, racked by corruption and sectarian divisions. If a constitution is drafted as scheduled by Monday, it will likely provide Iraqi women fewer rights and legal protections than they had under Saddam Hussein (though the dictator himself and his sons never bothered to respect them).

Yet Bush keeps trying to sell his version of reality. On June 28, for instance, he said, "Today Iraq has more than 160,000 security forces trained and equipped for a variety of missions." He must have been referring to the coalition forces and not the Iraqi army and police. In late July in a report to Congress as part of the confirmation hearings for Gen. Peter Pace to be the next chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the Pentagon admitted that none of Iraq's police battalions and only a small fraction of its army can conduct counterinsurgency operations without significant American help.

The president must stick with his argument that fighting in Iraq is helping the war on terrorism for a simple reason: He has run out of rationales for his invasion. The weapons of mass destruction did not exist, and UN inspections and sanctions had contained Hussein's ambitions to acquire them. There were no significant ties between Iraq and Al Qaeda under Hussein, but there sure are now.

So even though there were also no links between Iraq and Sept. 11, the president has to keep invoking memories of that day. His only hope is to scare the American people into continuing to believe he has chosen the best course, even though all the evidence is to the contrary.”

Karen on 08.14.05 @ 10:09 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Presidential Control Freaks...

Bush using own rules with Roberts: Through an executive order, the White House is controlling which documents about the Supreme Court nominee will be made public; by Michael Tackett (Chicago Tribune Washington Bureau chief):

”….So take a look instead at an action for which the president is solely responsible, namely Executive Order 13223 that Bush signed Nov. 1, 2001.

The order empowered the president to control the release of a former president's records even if the former president wanted the records to be open to the public.

The effect of the order was to render nearly meaningless the Presidential Records Act of 1978, a post-Watergate era law that was designed to give the public access to many presidential papers 12 years after that president had left office.
But the issue goes beyond the ritual partisan carping.

Consider just one voice. Thomas Blanton, executive director of the National Security Archive, a research organization that specializes in obtaining government records, said that Bush's executive order "turned the law on its head. The law said that the national archivist makes the decision on release after consulting the former president. The executive order took that authority away from the archivist, gave the former president no deadline for objection and replaced the archivist with the White House counsel's office."

And now that order is having a direct impact, not on a historian's inquiry, but rather on one of the most important decisions that Bush has made.

"The order put the White House in the position of being able to manipulate the release of those documents," Blanton said. "And you get the selective release of the documents. It's remarkable that the Congress and the judiciary are sitting there while an executive order trumps a law. The control-freak aspect of this should be scary to all citizens."

Karen on 08.14.05 @ 10:04 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Thought for the Day:

I'm happy to tell you there is very little in this world that I believe in. Listening to the comedians who comment on political, social, and cultural issues, I notice most of their material reflects an underlying belief that somehow things were better once and that with just a little effort we could set them right again. They're looking for solutions, and rooting for particular results, and I think that necessarily limits the tone and substance of what they say. They're talented and funny people, but they're nothing more than cheerleaders attached to a specific, wished-for outcome.

I don't feel so confined. I frankly don't give a fuck how it all turns out in this country - or anywhere else, for that matter. I think the human game was up a long time ago (when the high priests and traders took over), and now we're just playing out the string. And that is, of course, precisely what I find so amusing: the slow circling of the drain by a once promising species, and the sappy, ever-more-desperate belief in this country that there is actually some sort of "American Dream," which has merely been misplaced.

The decay and disintegration of this culture is astonishingly amusing if you are emotionally detached from it. I have always viewed it from a safe distance, knowing I don't belong; it doesn't include me, and it never has. No matter how you care to define it, I do not indentify with the local group. Planet, species, race, nation, state, religion, party, union, club, association, neighborhood, improvement committee;I have no interest in any of it. I love and treasure individuals as I meet them, I loathe and despise the groups they identify with and belong to.

So, if you read something in this book that sounds like advocacy of a particular political point of view, please reject the notion. My interest in "issues" is merely to point out how badly we're doing, not to suggest a way we might do better. Don't confuse me with those who cling to hope. I enjoy describing how things are, I have no interest in how they "ought to be." And I certainly have no interest in fixing them. I sincerely believe that if you think there's a solution, you're part of the problem. My motto: Fuck Hope!
--George Carlin [from

Len on 08.14.05 @ 09:00 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Looks like I have to start going to Starbucks more....

since we learn that, according to Doug Ireland, a religious right group (headed by Beverly LaHaye, wife of fundamentalist preacher and hack writer Tim LaHaye (co-author of the Left Behind series)) has targeted Starbucks for a boycott, on the grounds that they are "promoting homosexual values" and "funding homosexual activism".

Starbuck's sin? They've been using a series of paper cups lately which contain "The Way I See It", which is a series of quotes by noteworthy figures in arts and letters. One of them is a quote by openly gay American novelist Armistead Maupin:

My only regret about being gay is that I repressed it so long. I surrendered my youth to the people I feared when I could have been out there loving someone. Don't make that mistake yourself. Life's too damn short.
Yep. That seditious quote--and giving some money to San Diego's Gay Pride celebrations.

So, even though they don't have wi-fi access (not at any of the stores in Memphis, that I know of) and I prefer Cafe Francisco's coffee and ambience, I'll have to show Starbucks some love (and spend some money there), and urge you to do the same.

Len on 08.13.05 @ 03:18 PM CST [link] [ | ]

The Compound W. Ranch...

"I wrote another post about Cindy outside the Compound W Ranch.

Hey, I like that: the Compound W Ranch! Just remember, I coined that phrase! skippy can't get all the glory.

LOL!!!!!! I just told The GirlFriend™ about my name for Bush's ranch, and she pipes up with "of course, and Bush is the big ol' wart!"

If you will excuse me, I have to go to the bathroom now before I wet myself.

-- Posted by Rook at Rook’s Rant

Karen on 08.13.05 @ 02:16 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Thought for the Day:

Maybe I'd like this flick if only I didn't have so many dad gum teeth. Strip-mining, racing, moonshine - all the reasons why audiences don't go to the movies anymore in one thin plot!
--Mark Ramsey [moviejuice.com, on the film
The Dukes of Hazzard]

Len on 08.13.05 @ 01:54 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Presidential Handbook™

For those of you disparaging Mrs. Sheehan’s request to meet (yet again) with the President; I’d refer you to the Presidential Handbook™ [Citizenship Rule: 81(a) – 3.036 at page 4,766.] which clearly points out – “When the President uses an entire Year to meets with every valid Citizen of the U.S. [approx July 2005 figure = 295,734,134 citizens], Each Citizen will get NO More than their allotted Time." (Approximately 1.0670708 Seconds per Citizen.)

Everyone knows that Dumbya, having met with 16 families of deceased service men for approximately 10 minutes one day in 2004 at a rate of 18.75 seconds per person, is WAY beyond the national quotient of Presidential time allotted to any ONE Citizen. And, furthermore, having yet another 5 week Presidential vacation this year (cause he be “working HARD…it’s HARD work, ya know”) – only cuts down that 1.0670708 figure per citizen even further for 2005!!

So, take heart, Our Fearless Leader is only following Strict National Protocol and is unwilling to allow Mrs. Sheehan to unfairly be a Presidential TIME HOG by requesting YET another meeting in 2005. Mrs. Sheehan has used up ALL her Presidential Face-2-Face time per year until approximately the year 2021. (Whereupon I am sure GW will pencil her in for yet another allotted 1.0670708 seconds per Citizen.)

However: I'll gladly give her my 1.0670708 seconds for the next 562 years so she can have 10 minutes to speak to Dumbya. [I've seen the *humorous* video of his "mock" Commander-in-Chief search for WMD's under the podium and banquet tables as he sipped Champagne and enjoyed the swell food and Chi-CHi company of his elitist buddies -- Even as he's sent younger men to DIE for these weapons. So, I certainly know I wouldn't EVER want to speak to him myself!!]

Anybody else out there want to donate their allotted Seconds to Mrs. Sheehan? So she can qualify for a meeting with GW this year? I am sure she can think of things to say during that extra time.

Karen on 08.13.05 @ 08:49 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Vlad-the-Impaler Pirouettes…

If you are Dying to ”Sink your teeth into an intriguing drama of love, bloodlust, loss and redemption...of power and passion...of good and evil...and the search for immortality. "Long live Dracula. May he never rest in peace."

Here could be a new seasonal tradition in theater performances???

”The International Ballet Theatre (IBT), under the direction of Kirov Ballet dancer, master teacher, and world-renowned choreographer, Vera Altunina, will present the colorful and passionate story of Dracula, at Meydenbauer Theater October 28-30, 2005.

As the Nutcracker is to Christmas, IBT's Dracula is bound to become a Halloween tradition, having enthralled audiences with its premier production in 2004. Back by popular demand, this year's production promises to deliver even more heart-stopping performances as IBT's 2005 season opener.

Bram Stoker's, gothic masterpiece, Dracula (1896) became a cultural phenomenon of the 20th Century, canvassing film, music, dance and virtually all mediums of pop culture. IBT's adaptation of this classic tale seduces the audience with a range of emotion, exploring the depths of good and evil through elegance, beauty, and heart-pounding energy.

Altunina masterfully combines an array of dance forms, vivid costumes, and drama with "magic" and humor, to transform this dark story into a captivating performance that adults and children will enjoy.

IBT's production of Dracula is filled with diverse artistic offerings from classical ballet to theater jazz and modern dance choreographed by master teachers Jerry Tassin and Eva Stone. Eastern European folk rhythms, magicians, acrobats, warlocks doing an Irish jig, and witches tap-dancing on coffins create an energetic production unique to the Puget Sound region.

Dracula is entertaining for audiences of all ages, including children. Saturday and Sunday matinees will feature a costume contest with prizes for children who wear their Halloween costumes to the performance.

Courtesy of US News Wire.

Click on the link above for more information about getting tickets for this performance of Dracula.

Karen on 08.13.05 @ 08:27 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Inter-Island Trading Networks...

More from "Collapse" by Jared Diamond: Here is yet another technique about the pain-staking effort and science used to determine the characteristics and conditions of these past Societies and observations about what probably led to their demise. I will have a finale wrap up and concluding observations from “Collapse” tomorrow.

To read this bit about volcanic analysis and the significance of the inter-island trading in Southeast Polynesia on Mangareva, Pitcairn and Henderson Islands, click on the “more” button.

Karen on 08.13.05 @ 08:21 AM CST [more..] [ | ]

More Talibanization of Women's Rights...

Not only in Iraq is the Talibanization of Women's Rights becoming more prevalent, but in Pakistan as well:

"The World Sindhi Institute (WSI) and fellow supporters will gather together on August 14th, the 58th anniversary of the creation of Pakistan, to call attention to:

-- Talibanization

The Hasba bill recently passed by the provincial government in the North West Frontier Province will create a special body to enforce Islamic law in the region.

-- Women

Victims of rape and abuse like Mukhtar Mai and Dr. Shazia Khalid represent thousands like them who suffer daily due to abusive laws, entrenched patriarchal traditions and impunity for the perpetrators.

-- Militarization

The armed forces run most of Pakistan's politics, economy and public institutions with no trace of public accountability. Military abuses against ordinary citizens are rewarded with total impunity.

-- Discrimination

Against minorities in development, education, and water rights. The Gwadar development scheme in Balochistan displaces Baloch. Dams and diversion of the Indus river water deprive Sindhis of their life's blood and the ensuing drought threatens their survival.

Quasi military rule in Pakistan has made a mockery of democracy and the principles of federation. Suppression of Pashtun, Baloch and Sindhi nations aspirations to control their own political destiny and their own natural resources has resulted in a distorted, corrupt and oppressive political climate , within which a military-mullah nexus is reigning supreme, while plundering the country and silencing all opposition through forced exile, incarceration and torture.

Women's rights and children's rights are trampled upon with impunity. Joblessness has reached unprecedented heights while retired military personnel are employed in every sector of the country's civilian bureaucracy, public sector industry and have become owners of prime real estate and agricultural holdings in every city and province of the country...."

Courtesy of US News Wire.

Karen on 08.13.05 @ 08:16 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Women's Rights - Back to Basics 101...

Ahh - Maureen Dowd (NY Times), I am so glad you’re back and in excellent wit and form!! Your pen has never been sharper. Refomer Without Results:

”…Americans like it when the president talks up women's rights in Iraq and Afghanistan, so he does it often. It helped him sell the invasions of those two countries. But W. should stop listening to "My Sharona" on his iPod and start listening to their Sharia.

The fundamentalist Taliban is recrudescing in Afghanistan, young girls in Iraq are afraid to leave their homes because there are so many kidnappings and rapes, and women's groups in Iraq are terrified that the new constitution will cut women's rights to a Saudiesque level.

Some Shiite politicians are pushing to supplant the civil courts that have long governed marriage, divorce, child custody and inheritance with religious courts that are based on Sharia, or Islamic law.…

… Clerics running religious courts based on the Koran could legitimize polygamy, honor killings, stonings and public beheadings of women charged with adultery, and divorce by "talaq" - where all a husband has to do is declare, "I divorce thee," three times.

Saddam repressed Islamic politics, so under him, Iraq was one of the most secular countries in the Middle East. It has become far more fundamentalist since the U.S. took over.

The back-to-burka trend has been widely reported throughout Shiite-dominated southern Iraq, and young women activists told The Los Angeles Times that their mothers had more freedom in the 60's.

Najla Ubeidi, a lawyer in the Iraqi Women's League, agreed: "During the 1960's, there was a real belief in improving women's conditions. We could wear what we liked, go out when we liked, return home when we liked, and people would judge us by the way we behaved."

If W. liked exercising his mind as much as his body, he could see that his mission to modernize Muslim countries is backfiring on women. The most painless way for Muslim men to prove that they have not abandoned Arab culture and adopted Western ways is to tighten the burka.

To us, the "liberated" but repressive Iraq is a paradox. To the women, it's a prison.”

Karen on 08.13.05 @ 08:07 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Engrish Doubles as the Fashion Police...

Alright...Len upbraided me for falling down on my Engrish this week. LOL

But now this one is a bit confusing -- because everyone thinks of "Engrish" as mostly about the funnie translations that don't quite filter through the prism of being intelligible.

Yet here's one recent entry that I am not so sure isn't half the "Engrish" and half the "Funky Outfit Combo" as well.

Whoa!!! --And the plaid pockets are quite the "Fashion Statement!!" [Except on my rear end that would be about ALL you'd see. A GIANT plaid bottom!!]

Somebody RUN (don't walk) to alert The Fashion Police -- They are just up the block from The Thought Police.

So, I'll take a pass on wanting to own the Engrish Tee-Shirt and the High-Fashion Wear Jean Skirt (?) too.


Karen on 08.12.05 @ 05:39 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Here's what "supporting the troops" means to upper class America.....

From Atrios:

Staff Sgt. Jason Rivera, 26, a Marine recruiter in Pittsburgh, went to the home of a high school student who had expressed interest in joining the Marine Reserve to talk to his parents.

It was a large home in a well-to-do suburb north of the city. Two American flags adorned the yard. The prospect's mom greeted him wearing an American flag T-shirt.

"I want you to know we support you," she gushed.

Rivera soon reached the limits of her support.

"Military service isn't for our son. It isn't for our kind of people," she told him.
[emphasis supplied --LRC]

Len on 08.12.05 @ 12:51 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Damn.... a sensible conservative. Who'da thunk it?

This is the best commentary I've read on the Cindy Sheehan matter in a long time: Decency Is Not In Them

If one needed any further proof that this incarnation of "Republicans" and alleged conservatives includes a faction that has gone completely and tragically over the edge, the smear campaign against Cindy Sheehan is it. For those who might not be familiar with the details of this and are looking for an accurate, factual account, a good summary appears here.

The essence of the right-wing smear machine's "outing" of Cindy Sheehan is her supposed flip-flop from supporting President Bush in 2004 to disapproving of him in 2005. As details of this have become clearer, it's obvious the flip-flop is nothing more than a canard. But setting aside the Sheehan story for a moment, have any of the shameless smearsters seen the public opinion polls recently? Here's some breaking news for them:
a whole lot of Americans who supported Bush a year ago---including an increasingly large part of his "base"---have turned against him. And that includes many millions of people who haven't lost a parent, child, or sibling in Iraq.

There are so many side issues of shamelessness and crass opportunism in this story it makes my head spin. Think about the gall of a political and media machine "accusing" a private citizen of changing her mind (imagine that!) about an elected and supposedly accountable public official. When did a private citizen supposedly changing her opinion about something rise to the same level as a flip-flop about firing anyone involved in the leaking a CIA agent's name? At what point did the ability to change one's mind about a politician become something to be ridiculed and accused of instead of cherished as a basic right? And it's not as if in the past year we haven't learned anything about the pre-war manipulation of intelligence, as well as the incompetent planning, that resulted in the death of Cindy Sheehan's son and thousands of others like him.

Something else about this story that infuriates me is the vision of feckless, smarmy smearsters and cowards hiding behind keyboards in cities like Washington and New York (and yes, Miami), punching out electronic missives in a pathetic and desperate attempt to impugn the integrity of a woman sitting in the dust and August heat of Texas---a woman who, along with her dead son, embodies everything that's right about this country. The growing division between the professional class of spinning punditry and the vast expanse of Middle America that actually does the working, the fighting and the dying so the pundits can spend their time chattering has never been more clear than with this story.

If I had lost a parent, child or sibling in Iraq, I'd be right next to Cindy Sheehan sitting in that dust and heat. And I wouldn't budge until the president---ensconced within that reassuring bubble of faith, brush-clearing and mountain bike-riding---found a few moments to come listen to me. I hope as many people as possible join her protest and offer her food, water, and whatever legal or media assistance she may need.
And as if that wasn't great enough, the comments to this post are most heartening as well:
For all their talk of disliking lawyers, the republicans seems to operate like them. Whatever issue arises in politics, the tactics are the same as in litigation: deny even the undeniable, brazenly create alternative versions of history, and attack the character and motives of any witness against you.

The reaction to Sheehan is just the latest in a string of such episodes. Remember during Schiavo when Governer Bush demanded an investigation into whether Michael Schiavo had caused his wife's brain injury, hinting at dark deeds without any evidence to back up his suspicions? It's all part of the same playbook.


I am a the brother of someone serving in Iraq. Thank the stars that she is currently alright. My greatest fear everyday is that she won't come home. So even though my sister is still alive I can empathize with Cindy Sheehan.

I am appalled at the smear campaign against. How dare anyone one of those talking heads comment on something they know nothing about?! Has Bill O'Reily or Rush Limbaugh lost a son in the Iraq war? Hell, neither one of them did service yet they felt they could criticize Kerry record during the campaign. All of them need a good dose of STFU!!

Furthermore, I am ashamed that the President would made a reference to Cindy is a speech yesterday(or day before), but he won't meet with her to talk with her directly. He sends out some White House aides. That is a coward right there.

Oh, BTW, WTF does the President need 5 weeks vacation for? The rest of us working class people get along with 2, maybe 3 weeks. My sister fighting in Iraq may not even get her 2 weeks leave that she is due. If she, a sargeant in the Army, doesn't get to get a vacation during a time of war, then neither should the Commander-In-Chief.


I see the people you describe as essentially a parasitic class of people. I can't think of anything they have ever done that is genuinely useful to humanity. It is incredible to me that NOT A SINGLE ONE OF THEM has any doubts about their position. They must believe their own propaganda.


As a 'lefty' and a veteran, I thank you for this post.

I believe that there are some things that the spinmeisters should leave alone and one of them is a mother grieving for her son. Why would the people paying the price for Bush's Folly want to have the president or his attack dogs to be rude to a mom who lost her son?

As a lefty, I have no desire to emulate the idiots from Phelps' "Church" who now come to celebrate at the funerals of those fallen in Iraq. In fact many of us 'lefties' when to protest these people ourselves.

Common sense would have the president invite the woman onto the ranch, and have her private meeting. Then she and the president would each say what they have to say afterwards.

Who knows, maybe we would actually find out what the 'Noble Cause' actually is.

I watched George W. Bush mention Cindy Sheehan in his press conference and it is obvious with his 'smirk-whimper-laugh' delivery that he and his advisors don't seem to comprehend just how foolish, narrow-minded and crass they make themselves look.

Dissing the troops' moms and hiding out from them is 'not gonna cut it'.


Some days, I think there just might be hope....

Len on 08.12.05 @ 11:50 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Great Days in Computing History

My sources inform me that today is the 24th anniversary of the introduction of the IBM Personal Computer and the PC-DOS 1.0 "operating system".

Surely you need an excuse for a party tonight? Go for it!

Len on 08.12.05 @ 09:01 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Gem o'the Day:

As Karen's noted here (and for that matter, I've probably noted once or twice myself), I'm a fan of Chicago Sun-Times film critic Roger Ebert. I'm especially fond of Ebert's reviews of bad movies, and this week's review of the apparently excremental (zero stars) Deuce Bigalow: European Gigolo wasn't a disappointment:

The movie created a spot of controversy last February. According to a story by Larry Carroll of MTV News, Rob Schneider took offense when Patrick Goldstein of the Los Angeles Times listed this year's Best Picture Nominees and wrote that they were "ignored, unloved and turned down flat by most of the same studios that ... bankroll hundreds of sequels, including a follow-up to 'Deuce Bigalow: Male Gigolo,' a film that was sadly overlooked at Oscar time because apparently nobody had the foresight to invent a category for Best Running Penis Joke Delivered by a Third-Rate Comic."

Schneider retaliated by attacking Goldstein in full-page ads in Daily Variety and the Hollywood Reporter. In an open letter to Goldstein, Schneider wrote: "Well, Mr. Goldstein, I decided to do some research to find out what awards you have won. I went online and found that you have won nothing. Absolutely nothing. No journalistic awards of any kind ... Maybe you didn't win a Pulitzer Prize because they haven't invented a category for Best Third-Rate, Unfunny Pompous Reporter Who's Never Been Acknowledged by His Peers."

Reading this, I was about to observe that Schneider can dish it out but he can't take it. Then I found he's not so good at dishing it out, either. I went online and found that Patrick Goldstein has won a National Headliner Award, a Los Angeles Press Club Award, a RockCritics.com award, and the Publicists' Guild award for lifetime achievement.

But Schneider is correct, and Patrick Goldstein has not yet won a Pulitzer Prize. Therefore, Goldstein is not qualified to complain that Columbia financed "Deuce Bigalow: European Gigolo" while passing on the opportunity to participate in "Million Dollar Baby," "Ray," "The Aviator," "Sideways" and "Finding Neverland." As chance would have it, I have won the Pulitzer Prize, and so I am qualified. Speaking in my official capacity as a Pulitzer Prize winner, Mr. Schneider, your movie sucks.

Len on 08.12.05 @ 08:35 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Keeping first things first.....

If you're brewing the best beer in the world, and it's so popular that you've run out of it, what would you do? If you're a typical American entrepreneur, you revamp your brewhouse and make more.

But the brewers of the best beer in the world aren't American entrepreneurs, they're Belgian Trappist monks. So they don't. They just shut down shop for the time being.

"Our shop is closed because all our beer has been sold out," said a message on the abbey's answering machine, which it calls the "beer phone".

The abbey has no intention of boosting its capacity to satisfy market demand.

"We are not brewers, we are monks," the father abbot said on the abbey's website. "We brew beer to be able to afford being monks."

Monk Mark Bode told
De Morgen newspaper: "Outsiders don't understand why we are not raising production but for us life in the abbey comes first, not the brewery."
Actually, I understand perfectly. The monks don't live to brew. They brew to live (as monks).

That's my attitude towards work, myself.

Thanks to Bryan at Why Now? for the pointer.

Len on 08.12.05 @ 07:11 AM CST [link] [ | ]


Continuing with another part from “Collapse” by Jared Diamond about Paleoarchaeology and the incredibly weird and amazing science used to determine the characteristics and conditions of these past places and observations about what probably led to their demise.

Here are another of the fascinating information gathering and dating techniques: Dendrochronology. Click on the “more” button to read further.

Karen on 08.12.05 @ 06:12 AM CST [more..] [ | ]

The Good Old Days??? (Southern Style)

Oh, for those who lament those “good ole days” [Bleh!!! There is no such thing!!]

Here’s a retro-issue -- But in current times:

”A lawsuit filed today alleges that Tyson Foods Inc. is responsible for maintaining a segregated bathroom and break room, reminiscent of the Jim Crow era, in its Ashland, Ala. chicken processing plant. Twelve African-American employees filed a complaint in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Alabama, alleging that a "Whites Only" sign and a padlock denied them access to a bathroom in the Ashland plant. The complaint states that numerous white employees had keys to the bathroom that were not provided to African-American workers.

The African-American employees' complaint also alleges that, after they complained about the segregated bathroom, the plant manager told them that the bathroom had been locked because they were "dirty" and announced the closing of the break room. According to the complaint, the same white employees who had keys to the "Whites Only" bathroom formed their own, private break room, using Tyson materials to construct the furniture. Initially, a locked door segregated the private break room. To the present day, locked cabinets and a locked refrigerator maintain a private break room.

"When I was young, my mother used to tell me stories about segregated bathrooms," said Henry Adams, a plaintiff in this case. "I never thought that her reality of seventy-one years ago would become my reality today…."

Courtesy of US News Wire.

Karen on 08.12.05 @ 06:05 AM CST [
link] [ | ]

Happy Birthday...

...Social Security!!!

" Tens of thousands of people across the country are sending out electronic birthday cards today to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the creation of Social Security. Thousands more plan to attend birthday parties - organized by Americans United to Protect Social Security -- this weekend to celebrate the federal government's most successful program. The goal of this outpouring is to stop the president's plan to privatize the system.

The birthday cards, distributed via email by the Campaign for America's Future, feature a photo of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt signing legislation creating Social Security on August 14, 1935. The e-card humorously turns the photo into a party, complete with funny hats and noisemakers that appear on Roosevelt and others in the picture. Along with the humor, the e-cards highlight Social Security's accomplishments and invite Social Security's supporters to hundreds of local birthday parties being organized this week and next to protest the Bush privatization plan...."

Courtesy of US News Wire.

Have you sent your E-cards yet?? Well -- Get to IT!!! LOL And have piece 'o' cake on me to Celebrate Social Security's Birthday Today!!!

To see the E-card -- visit this link.

Karen on 08.12.05 @ 05:34 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Thought for the Day:

[T]hese feats are only stirring because of who she's working for. They are the sorts of things—conducting diplomacy, entering negotiations, dealing with international organizations—that secretaries of state in most administrations do routinely. They (and, by extension, Rice herself) are seen as remarkable only because this administration, in its first term of office, so rarely engaged in such activity and so often and openly disparaged it.

It's as if an architectural firm simply stopped work for four years and then hired a new superviser who started signing some contracts again, erected a few nice houses, designed a couple of intriguing office buildings—and, as a result, was hailed as the next Frank Lloyd Wright.
--Fred Kaplan [on Condi Rice's first six months at State]

Len on 08.12.05 @ 05:29 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Speaking of "Increasingly Bubbly Housing Sector"...

...Paul Krugman (NY Times) has this piece: Safe as Houses:

"...Does anything else in the U.S. economy rival housing as a source of job creation? Well, there's also the military buildup. The Economic Policy Institute estimates that increased military spending over the past four years has created 1.3 million private-sector jobs.

And, yes, there are the Bush tax cuts, which the administration insists are the source of everything good in the economy. And it's true that some portion of the tax cuts, which amounted to $225 billion this year, must have been spent in ways that created jobs. Given reasonable estimates of the effect of tax cuts on spending, however, they were probably a smaller force for job creation than the military buildup, and dwarfed by the housing boom.

So it's an economy driven by real estate. What's wrong with that?

I've written before about the reasons to believe that current house prices in much of the country represent a bubble. When that bubble begins to deflate, so will housing-related employment.

Beyond that, there's the disturbing point that we're paying for the housing boom (and the military buildup and tax cuts) with money borrowed from foreigners.

Now, any economics textbook will tell you that it's fine to borrow from abroad if the money is used to expand the economy's productive capacity. When 19th-century America borrowed from Europe to build railroads, it was also enhancing its ability to repay its debts later. But we aren't borrowing to build productive capacity. As a share of G.D.P., investment other than housing construction is below its average between 1980 and 2000, and way below its level at the end of the 1990's.

In other words, a fuller answer to my former neighbor would be that these days, Americans make a living selling each other houses, paid for with money borrowed from the Chinese. Somehow, that doesn't seem like a sustainable lifestyle.

How solid, then, is America's economic recovery? The British have a phrase that applies: "safe as houses." Our economy is as safe as houses. Unfortunately, given current prices and our dependence on foreign lenders, houses aren't safe at all.

Karen on 08.12.05 @ 05:21 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Those Evil Un-Dead Ideas....

”…Average Americans may not sit around fretting about America's outsized budget and trade deficits, and its unprecedented foreign indebtedness. But many of them - as buyers, borrowers and employees - are concerned about the increasingly bubbly housing sector.

The economy's shortcomings are nowhere more obvious than in the job market. Nearly four years into an economic expansion, job growth is still substantially slower than in previous recoveries. Wages for 80 percent of the work force are barely keeping pace with inflation, and aid for the workers hurt by global trade is paltry. Because Mr. Bush fails to acknowledge the lackluster job and wage growth, he fails to respond appropriately. The administration's insistence that the economy is getting better all the time - a stance that is based on statistical aggregates that are often divorced from individuals' actual experience - only intensifies the anxiety that people feel.

After the meeting in Crawford, participants said health care costs had been a major topic of discussion, though they wouldn't say what, if any, policies the president might pursue. Instead, they crowed about the administration's postvacation plans: to redouble efforts to privatize Social Security and to embark on "tax reform," which is premised, in part, on permanent tax cuts for the wealthy and would therefore mean bigger deficits, drastic cuts in government services or higher taxes for everyone else….

-- NY Times Op-Ed

As I wrote about months ago: One commentator noted at another site:
"Since George Bush is Brain-Dead already, his ideas are “Un-dead” and can never really be destroyed. They just keep coming back like evil un-dead zombies or vampires."

And so it seems with these Evil Un-Dead Ideas to create a partial Privatization of Social Security via the implementation of “Personal Accounts.”

No matter how the numbers don’t add up. No matter how these are NOT “private nest eggs in your name – out of reach of the government.” No matter how this would, of necessity cut back on the current benefits paid out to retirees and soon-to-be retirees. – The GOP, and Home-Boy, Denny, just keep trotting out these damnable lies and distortions trying to push an agenda 58% (or more) of Americans are opposed to.

Yep, they’re working hard – but hardly for us!!! Be very anxious and very afraid.

Karen on 08.12.05 @ 05:12 AM CST [link] [ | ]

My All-Busch Stadium Team...

Over at The Official St. Louis Cardinals Website, they're sponsoring a fan vote (and sweepstakes) to choose an "All-Busch Stadium Team", in honor of the final season at Busch Stadium II. That prompts me to go look at the selections and name my own selections for my personal All-Busch Stadium Team. These aren't necessarily the best players at each position, but the ones who resonate most with me, for whatever reason.

First Base:
Orlando Cepeda
Jack Clark
Keith Hernandez
Mark McGwire
Albert Pujols

This is a tough one, because all of these players are great players (and spare me the McGwire steroids lecture; I'm still a fan of his even if he did use steroids, which I'm not convinced he did). My choice is Albert Pujols though, who's only been in the majors for 5 seasons (counting this season), and has already notched up so many accomplishments that it is clear that if he continues to play at or near this level for a while he's a "no-brainer" first ballot, first year of eligibility Hall of Famer. Honorable mentions to Mark McGwire (for the wonderful way he fell in love with St. Louis, and St. Louis with him), and Orlando Cepeda (who was in many ways the symbol of the 1967 and '68 "El Birdos" who were so much fun to watch).

Second Base:
Tom Herr
Julian Javier
Ted Sizemore
Fernando Vina

This is a tough choice, too, but for a different reason; these names, for the most part, don't have the "star quality" that the first base nominees do. For my choice, I'd go with Julian Javier, part of the famous Dal Maxvill-Julian Javier double play combination during the sixties, including the championship years of 1964, '67 and '68. Honorable mention to Tommy Herr, who played excellent second sack for the Cardinal teams of the '80s, including the championship teams of 1982, '85 and '87.

Third Base:
Terry Pendleton
Ken Reitz
Scott Rolen
Mike Shannon
Joe Torre

Another tough choice because of the embarrassment of riches here. My choice is a sentimental favorite of mine, Mike "Moonman" Shannon. He wasn't an All-Star, much less a Hall of Famer, but he was a member of the great teams of the '60's, and his long association with the Cardinals in the broadcast booth (and the fact that he went to grade school with my mother, albeit a few years behind her) make me favorably disposed towards him. Honorable (very honorable) mention to Scott Rolen, for all he's done for us lately. I'd consider an honorable mention to Joe Torre (who probably deserves it) if he weren't the manager of The Hated Yankees right now.

Dal Maxvill
Edgar Renteria
Ozzie Smith
Garry Templeton

This one's easy. Ozzie Smith. Not only is he a quite viable candidate for the title of "greatest defensive shortstop in MLB history", but he was a lynchpin of the great Cards teams of the '80s, including, of course, the '82, '85, and '87 Championship teams. Honorable mention to Dal Maxvill, the All-Star shortstop of the great '60s teams (and a fellow alumnus of Washington University in St. Louis).

Mike Matheny
Tim McCarver
Tom Pagnozzi
Darrell Porter
Ted Simmons

Very tough choice. In the end, Tim McCarver just barely squeaks in for his association with both the great Cardinals teams of my youth and his Memphis roots, though his candidacy was nearly torpedoed by the execrable job he does (along with partner-in-crime Joe Buck) doing the color commentary for the Fox Saturday Baseball broadcasts. Honorable mention to Mike Matheny for his work with the latest iteration of Cardinal greatness, including his participation on the 2004 NL Championship team.

Left Field:
Lou Brock
Vince Coleman
Bernard Gilkey
Lonnie Smith

My favorite here is Lou Brock, and not just because I've met him (summer of 1982, at the Commissioned Officer's Mess (Open), Naval Training Center, Great Lakes, Illinois). Deserving Hall of Famer, part of the great Cards teams of my youth, and (based on my personal contact) a very nice guy.

Center Field:
Jim Edmonds
Curt Flood
Ray Lankford
Willie McGee

Another tough choice. On sentimental reasons, I'm going with perennial fan favorite (not to mention one of mine) Willie McGee. But honorable mentions go to Curt Flood (ultimately the one who vanquished The Reserve Clause, though it took some time to do it) and Jim Edmonds, for his contributions to recent Cards teams.

Right Field:
George Hendrick
Brian Jordan
Roger Maris
Andy Van Slyke

Easy choice for me. Roger Maris. A great (though not Hall of Fame caliber) player who was an important part of the 1967 and '68 Championship teams. And the fact that my dad got a cap autographed by Maris certainly didn't hurt.

Starting Pitcher:
Joaquin Andujar
Bob Forsch
Bob Gibson
Matt Morris
John Tudor

Another easy choice. If Bob Gibson isn't the greatest pitcher in Cardinals history, he's certainly a top contender for that title. And that 1.12 ERA in 1968 is the all time best for the modern era. Another fun fact about that season, as related by the sponsor of Gibson's Baseball Reference stat card: The most dazzling stat? He completed 28 of 34 starts. He was pinch hit for in the 6 he didn't finish, which means his manager never had to come to the mound to take the ball from him ALL YEAR!! Honorable mention to John Tudor (whose 21-8 record was an important factor in the Cards' winning the NL Pennant in 1985) and Joaquin Andujar, the source of one of the great baseball quotes in my collection: There is one word in America that says it all, and that one word is "youneverknow."

Relief Pitcher:
Al Hrabosky
Jason Isringhausen
Bruce Sutter
Lee Smith
Todd Worrell

Another tough choice. Just about all of these players have a claim on my heart. In the end, I go with Bruce Sutter, who was an integral part of the Cardinals' last World Series Championship. Honorable mentions to Al "The Mad Hungarian" Hrabosky (whose great ambition in life was to recieve a standing boo in a road game), and Jason Isringhausen, who not only is an important part of the current bullpen, but who grew up (in Brighton, IL) not three blocks from where a woman I used to date lived.

Utility Player:
Rex Hudler
John Mabry
Jose Oquendo
Todd Zeile

Another no-brainer for me. The greatest utility player in Cardinals history is undoubtedly Jose "The Secret Weapon" Oquendo. There aren't too many players in MLB history who have played every position on the field. Including pitcher. And the fact that, in 1988 he became the first position player in quite a while to actually earn a pitching decision (a loss, alas, in an extra-innings marathon in which Whitey Herzog used all his bullpen arms). In 2004, ESPN showed a special, "Utilityman!", about the quest of two St. Louis brothers to get Jose Oquendo enshrined in the Hall of Fame. A special feature: a video clip of the time that Oquendo, pitching, struck out Deon Sanders looking. Priceless (especially the look on "Neon Deon's" face; "WTF? How did he do that?"). Honorable mention in this category: Rex "The Wonder Dog" Hudler. Not a great player, but he made up for it in sheer drive, determination and entertainment value. As Hudler's manager during his time with the Cards, Joe Torre, once put it: The thing about Hudler as a player is that he always makes things happen. The problem being is that they're not always the things that, as a manager, you want to happen.

Red Schoendienst
Whitey Herzog
Tony La Russa
Joe Torre

Meaning no offense to LaRussa, who is a certain Hall of Fame selection as a manager, my vote here goes to Whitey Herzog, who personified the Cardinals of the 1980's, and who led the franchise to a World Championship in 1982, and the NL Pennant in '85 and '87. Honorable mention to Red Schoendienst, who has been with the Cardinals organization in one form or another in most of a baseball career that started back when Christ was in Single A ball.

Len on 08.11.05 @ 08:45 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Gem o'the Day:

I heard a debate about this on NPR yesterday. After the Americans bandied back and forth, the host turned to a British professor who has spent 50 years studying evolution and scientific theory. His response?

"We have wackjobs in our country, too, we just don't let him get into political power."

Of course it sounded classier with a British accent.
--Mike Reed, Man About Murfreesboro

Len on 08.11.05 @ 12:20 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Exits and Strategies...

“…When asked on Tuesday about a possible exit strategy for American troops, Mr. Rumsfeld told reporters it depended on many "variables," including:
"What are the Iranians doing? Are they going to be helpful or unhelpful? And if they're increasingly unhelpful, then obviously the conditions on the ground are less advantageous. Same thing with the Syrians."

Got that?

When Lyndon Johnson sent American troops into the flaming disaster of Vietnam he had no real strategy, no plan for winning the war. The idea, more or less, was that our boys, tougher and much better equipped, would beat their boys. Case closed. Fifty-eight thousand American troops succumbed to this schoolyard fantasy.

George W. Bush has no strategy, no real plan, for winning the war in Iraq. So we're stuck in a murderous quagmire without even the suggestion of an end in sight.

The administration has never been straight with the public about the war, and there's no reason to believe it will start being honest now….”

-- Bob Herbert (NY Times): No End In Sight in Iraq.

And for those of you still *wondering* about the WMD's as the basic underlying Premise for going to Iraq in the First instance (i.e. the "Iraq sought to buy Yellow-Cake Uranium" and b Admin claim that it constituted an "Immediate Threat to National Security" and and the subsequent Joe Wilson/Valerie Plame/Robert Novak/Lewis Libby/Judith Miller/Matt Cooper/Karl Rove/et. al. issue) - Fact Check has a very good time line of events and background information at This Link.

Karen on 08.11.05 @ 11:36 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Today's WTF? Moment:

Bob Woodward: Cheney likely to run for President in 2008

Renowned journalist Bob Woodward predicts Dick Cheney will be the Republican Party's presidential nominee in 2008 and that the vice president could face Democratic Sen. Hillary Clinton in a dramatic partisan showdown.

Speaking in the Paepcke Auditorium as part of the Aspen Institute's McCloskey Speaker Series, Woodward on Tuesday listed a number of reasons it is "highly likely" President Bush might implore Cheney to seek the Oval Office.

"He would be 67 if he ran and was elected. Reagan was 69. Republicans always like the old warhorse. ... Nixon was 68," said Woodward, best known for exposing the Watergate scandal that led to Richard Nixon's resignation in 1974. "Both parties like to nominate vice presidents. ... Cheney would do it, and I think it's highly likely, so stay tuned."
And, of course, the obvious wisecrack is that if Cheney is elected in 2008, he wouldn't be changing jobs, just job titles....

Len on 08.11.05 @ 11:23 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Having recently...

mentioned MadKane's latest limericks, it behooves me to note that one of them, "Dubya's Down Time", was published today on the BushWatch website.

Great job, Mad!

Len on 08.11.05 @ 10:30 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Judeo-Christians only when it suits their purposes?

Max Sawicky asks the fascinating question, Why are any meshuganahs surprized when, after upholding the chauvinist ideal of a "Judeo-Christian" cultural monopoly in the U.S., they find themselves excluded by their erstwhile co-religionists?

Why, does it seem, that some of us don't get it? The Christian rightists who want greater visibility for "Judeo-Christian values" are not, in spite of their whining to the contrary, interested in just getting their fair share of exposure. They intend to dominate. At best, if they don't push for a blatant theocracy (see Dominionism, aka "Christian Reconstructionism, if you think I'm being more than usually paranoid), they want it understood, preferably in the laws of our land, that Christianity (not just a bland "Judeo-Christianity"; their courtship of Jews, and in some recent cases Muslims, is merely an attempted marriage of convenience, to be dissolved once they are close enough to achieving their goals that the marriage doesn't matter any more) has a privileged, "top-dog" status. Michelle Goldberg, in a well reasoned review of Noah Feldman's Divided by God over at Salon (ad view or subscription required) made this perceptive observation:

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.
And further, noting the recent controversy over overt evangelical oppression of non-evangelicals (not just the irreligious, but of Jews and non-evangelical Christians as well) at the U.S. Air Force Academy:
Consider what happened this spring during the scandal over religious harassment at the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colo. According to numerous reports, a climate of evangelical intimidation and bigotry saturated the academy. Students who refused to attend chapel during basic cadet training were marched back to their dormitories in what was called a "heathen flight." Some faculty members introduced themselves to their classes as born-again Christians and encouraged their charges to find Jesus. There were numerous reports of upperclassmen using their authority over undergraduates to proselytize and insulting those who wouldn't convert; one Jewish cadet was slurred as a Christ killer.

Secularists were alarmed and demanded that something be done. Note, though, that they did not object to the presence of state-funded evangelical chaplains, only to the pervasive discrimination against nonevangelicals. This did not stop the religious right from declaring born-again Christians the victims. When Democratic Rep. David Obey proposed an amendment to a defense appropriations bill calling for an investigation into religious bias at the academy, Republican Rep. John Hostettler stood up on the House floor and said, "The long war on Christianity in America continues today on the floor of the House of Representatives," later adding, "Democrats can't help denigrating and demonizing Christians."

A week later, Dobson hosted Hostettler on his radio show. Dobson began the segment by announcing, "Liberal forces in this country want to squelch the freedoms of evangelical Christians throughout the culture, but now it's popped up at the Air Force Academy." He praised Hostettler for having "the courage to stand up and be counted."

These fights are not about the right of values evangelicals to be heard. They are about their right to rule. As a secularist myself, I wish to God that Feldman were correct about the possibility of finding common ground and ending America's divisions, but I don't have much faith.
Be afraid. Be very afraid.

I've noted from time to time, that a distinguishing characteristic of many evangelicals of my acquaintance is their tendency to prey too much. The more I write that, the less of my tongue is in my cheek as I do.

Len on 08.11.05 @ 10:12 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Karen is falling down on the job.

Engrish isn't one of my daily reads, in part because it's easy to catch up with a week or two's worth of postings there in a short visit, and in part because Karen (who does tend to visit there every day) generally alerts me to the really good ones there. But she fell down on the job yesterday:

Bad Karen! No biscuit for you!


Len on 08.11.05 @ 09:29 AM CST [link] [ | ]

The Jerry Springer Show takes up philosophy....

[According to the email that forwarded this to me, it's making the rounds with no attribution. However, a quick Google search shows that it's subtly but virally spread out around the Web for quite some time; there's an entry for it in the Web archives of the USENET newsgroup rec.humor.funny, which (if I'm reading the URL correctly) dates back to August of 1999). Some versions title this "I've Got A Philosophical Secret", while my favorite adds a tagline: "The lowest rated Jerry Springer show, ever."]


Crowd: Jer-ry! Jer-ry! Jer-ry!

Jerry: Today's guests are here because they can't agree on fundamental philosophical principles. I'd like to welcome Todd to the show.

[Todd enters from backstage.]

Jerry: Hello, Todd.

Todd: Hi, Jerry.

Jerry: [reading from card] So, Todd, you're here to tell your girlfriend something. What is it?

Todd: Well, Jerry, my girlfriend Ursula and I have been going out for three years now. We did everything together. We were really inseparable. But then she discovered post-Marxist political and literary theory, and it's been nothing but fighting ever since.

Jerry: Why is that?

Todd: You see, Jerry, I'm a traditional Cartesian rationalist. I believe that the individual self, the "I" or ego is the foundation of all metaphysics. She, on the other hand, believes that the contemporary self is a socially constructed, multi-faceted subjectivity reflecting the political and economic realities of late capitalist consumerist discourse.

Crowd: Ooooohhhh!

Todd: I know! I know! Is that infantile, or what?

Jerry: So what do you want to tell her today?

Todd: I want to tell her that unless she ditches the post-modernism, we're through. I just can't go on having a relationship with a woman who doesn't believe I exist.

Jerry: Well, you're going to get your chance. Here's Ursula!

[Ursula storms onstage and charges up to Todd.]

Ursula: Patriarchal colonizer!

[She slaps him viciously. Todd leaps up, but the security guys pull them apart before things can go any further.]

Ursula: Don't listen to him! Logic is a male hysteria! Rationality equals oppression and the silencing of marginalized voices!

Todd: The classical methodology of rational dialectic is our only road to truth! Don't try to deny it!

Ursula: You and your dialectic! That's how it's been through our whole relationship, Jerry. Mindless repetition of the post-Enlightenment meta-narrative. "You have to start with radical doubt, Ursula." "Post-structuralism is just classical sceptical thought re-cast in the language of semiotics, Ursula."

Crowd: Booo! Booo!

Jerry: Well, Ursula, come on. Don't you agree that the roots of contemporary neo-Leftism simply have to be sought in Enlightenment political philosophy?

Ursula: History is the discourse of powerful centrally located voices marginalizing and de-scribing the sub-altern!

Todd: See what I have to put up with? Do you know what it's like living with someone who sees sex as a metaphoric demonstration of the anti-feminist violence implicit in the discourse of the dominant power structure? It's terrible. She just lies there and thinks of Andrea Dworkin. That's why we never do it any more.

Crowd: Wooooo!

Ursula: You liar! Why don't you tell them how you haven't been able to get it up for the past three months because you couldn't decide if your penis truly had essential Being, or was simply a manifestation of Mind?

Todd: Wait a minute! Wait a minute!

Ursula: It's true!

Jerry: Well, I don't think we're going to solve this one right away. Our next guests are Louis and Tina. And Tina has a little confession to make!

[Louis and Tina come onstage. Todd and Ursula continue bickering in the background.]

Jerry: Tina, you are... [reads cards] ... an existentialist, is that right?

Tina: That's right, Jerry. And Louis is, too.

Jerry: And what did you want to tell Louis today?

Tina: Jerry, today I want to tell him...

Jerry: Talk to Louis. Talk to him.

[Crowd hushes.]

Tina: Louis... I've loved you for a long time...

Louis: I love you, too, Tina.

Tina: Louis, you know I agree with you that existence precedes essence, but...well, I just want to tell you I've been reading Nietzsche lately, and I don't think I can agree with your egalitarian politics.

Crowd: Wooooo! Woooooo!

Louis: [shocked and disbelieving] Tina, this is crazy. You know that Sartre clarified all this way back in the 40's.

Tina: But he didn't take into account Nietzsche's radical critique of democratic morality, Louis. I'm sorry. I can't ignore the contradiction any longer!

Louis: You got these ideas from Victor, didn't you? Didn't you?

Tina: Don't you bring up Victor! I only turned to him when I saw you were seeing that dominatrix! I needed a real man! An über-man!

Louis: [sobbing] I couldn't help it. It was my burden of freedom. It was too much!

Jerry: We've got someone here who might have something to add. Bring out...Victor!

[Victor enters. He walks up to Louis and sticks a finger in his face.]

Victor: Louis, you're a classic post-Christian intellectual. Weak to the core!

Louis: [through tears] You can kiss my Marxist ass, Reactionary Boy!

Victor: Herd animal!

Louis: Lackey!

[Louis throws a chair at Victor; they lock horns and wrestle. The crowd goes wild. After a long struggle, the security guys pry them apart.]

Jerry: Okay, okay. It's time for questions from the audience. Go ahead, sir.

Audience member: Okay, this is for Tina. Tina, I just wanna know how you can call yourself an existentialist, and still agree with Nietzsche's doctrine of the übermensch. Doesn't that imply a belief in intrinsic essences that is in direct contradiction with with the fundamental principles of existentialism?

Tina: No! No! It doesn't. We can be equal in potential, without being equal in eventual personal quality. It's a question of Becoming, not Being.

Audience member: That's just disguised essentialism! You're no existentialist!

Tina: I am so!

Audience member: You're no existentialist!

Tina: I am so an existentialist, bitch!

[Ursula stands and interjects.]

Ursula: What does it [bleep] matter? Existentialism is just a cover for late capitalist anti-feminism! Look at how Sartre treated Simone de Beauvoir!

[Women in the crowd cheer and stomp.]

Tina: [Bleep] you! Fat-ass Foucaultian ho!

Ursula: You only wish you were smart enough to understand Foucault, bitch!

Tina: You the bitch!

Ursula: No, you the bitch!

Tina: Whatever! Whatever!

Jerry: We'll be right back with a final thought! Stay with us!

[Commercial break for debt-consolidation loans, ITT Technical Institute, and Psychic Alliance Hotline.]

Jerry: Hi! Welcome back. I just want to thank all our guests for being here,and say that I hope you're able to work through your differences and find happiness, if indeed happiness can be extracted from the dismal miasma of warring primal hormonal impulses we call human relationships.

[turns to the camera]

Well, we all think philosophy is just fun and games. Semiotics, deconstruction, Lacanian post-Freudian psychoanalysis, it all seems like good, clean fun. But when the heart gets involved, all our painfully acquired metaphysical insights go right out the window, and we're reduced to battling it out like rutting chimpanzees. It's not pretty. If you're in a relationship, and differences over the fundamental principles of your respective subjectivities are making things difficult, maybe it's time to move on. Find someone new, someone who will accept you and the way your laughably limited human intelligence chooses to codify and rationalize the chaos of existence. After all, in the absence of a clear, unquestionable revelation from God, that's all we're all doing anyway. So remember: take care of yourselves -- and each other.

Announcer: Be sure to tune in next time, when KKK strippers battle it out with transvestite omnisexual porn stars! Tomorrow on Springer.

Len on 08.11.05 @ 08:13 AM CST [link] [ | ]

More Calendar Days...

In yet another part from “Collapse” by Jared Diamond about Paleoarchaeology and the incredible science about ancient societies, here are another of the fascinating information gathering and Calendar dating techniques.

Click on the "more" button to read about the Maya Long Count Calendar.

Karen on 08.11.05 @ 07:41 AM CST [more..] [ | ]

More Laughs from DHC...

Here at DHC we know the value of our politicos and our Denny is no exception. He is also such a comedian [as most folks outside the 14th Congressional Dist. don't realize]; an absolute “card”… a real cut-up. I imagine he had ‘em rolling in the isles at Caterpillar with these comments:

"Mr. President, it is a privilege to have you here in the state that two other great Presidents -- Lincoln and Reagan -- called home. You should fit right in.
The President understood the importance of this bill, and he also understood the importance of keeping within a budget. Not everyone agreed with his stance. But as we've seen time and again, this President does not waver or lose his focus. He understands the most important challenges are often the most difficult.

And because of that commitment, today he will sign legislation that not only meets our nation's transportation needs but is also fiscally responsible. That is leadership, and that is what we have come to expect from this President.”

Courtesy of US News Wire.

Hahahahahahahahahahahahahhahaha! And Only 23 Billion over budget!!

Very Funnie, I’ve got a stitch in my side already! LOL

Karen on 08.11.05 @ 07:26 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Unintelligent Design

Over at Lean Left, tgirsch unearths some data about the major proponents of Intelligent Design that pretty well says it all:

Over in this Sisyphean debate about Intelligent Design, commenter dopderbeck pointed me to the Discovery Institute’s website. You may recognize the DI as the primary proponents of ID.

But have a look at the list of DI fellows. There are 38 fellows listed, and they have biographical information on 32 of them. The list is
dominated by politicos, PR people, and lawyers. Suprisingly, even to a cynic like me, there’s not a single biologist on the list.

When you want to learn more about the tax code, would you talk to accountants and lawyers, or to auto mechanics and psychologists? If you have any sense at all, you’d favor the accountants and lawyers.

So what if you want to learn about the history of life on this planet? Do you talk to biologists, anthropologists, and archaeologists? Or do you talk to lawyers, economists, politicos and PR wonks?

The main organization pushing ID would have you do the latter.

Len on 08.11.05 @ 06:55 AM CST [link] [ | ]

But will it play in Peoria?

From Query Letters We Love:

Subject : Bare Breasted Dances in India.

Dear [Empress],

With due deference to your exalted creative calibre, I have the pleasure and privilege to write to you regarding the above-mentioned subject. I am an incorrigible dreamer and I’ve dreamt a controversial provocative concepts that have strong hooks and that appeal to TV audiences worldwide. You are aware that bare breasts are a no-no in India, where even a scantily clad woman at Mumbai’s Juhu Beach can create chaos !

This project encompasses Bare Breasted Tribal Dances by the Onges, the Abujmarias, the Bondas, the Dangis, the Uralis, the Nagas and the civilized dances performed in Indian metropolis by the delighted privileged performers with scantily clads semi-nudes and sometimes bare breasted apparels. All are mingled up with the eternal feelings of joy and ecstasy. We could easily find our cultural root in the primitive era. One could subscribe it in any form but the realm of the heritage we owe should be acknowledged.
Is there a market for such a narrow sub-genre flick?

Len on 08.11.05 @ 06:42 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Thought for the Day:

In closing, let me just remind you that the American economy is still the envy of the world. And you can bet your SUVs that I will do whatever it takes to keep it envious -- and to keep you, the American people, in a state of permanent, detached unreality. Because only then will our multinational corporations be able to completely unleash the spirit of mindless greed, so that even more of our billionaires can realize the New American Dream.

Thanks for listening.

--Billmon [his take on a Presidential radio address]

Len on 08.11.05 @ 05:38 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Another reason to like Paul Hackett....

He takes on Rush "Pfizer Southeast" Limbaugh, in no uncertain terms:

That's typical for that fatass drug addict to come up with something like that. There's a guy ... I didn't hear this, but actually when I was on drill this weekend, I've got to tell you, he lost a lot of Republican supporters with his comments. Because they were coming up to me, telling me, "I can't believe he said that! Besides that, he called you a soldier. He doesn't know the difference between a soldier and a marine!"

So generally, the consensus is Rush doesn't know squat about patriotism. He's typical of the new Republican. He's got a lot of lip and he doesn't walk the walk. The fact of the matter is, I went to Iraq to serve my country. I left my nice house, my nice wife by my choice because I thought it was the right thing to do. And man, if I was good enough to be able to see into the future that Rob Portman was going to step down from Congress, I mean I should actually be running for something a lot more than Congress. I went to Iraq because I wanted to serve my country and be with my Marines.

I think it probably says more about Rush Limbaugh than it does anybody else that he comes up with those thought processes. And I think it's indicative of today's Republican party, which is patriotic lite translated to anybody who serves their country who truly who truly serves their country and demonstrates it by their actions as opposed to their flapping gums.

They want to attack us. But the fact of the matter is they can attack me, but I punch back just as hard as I get. Ask Rush how come he wasn't taking phone calls for the two days when he was on the attack with me. Ask him why his phone lines were clogged up. That's because he was getting thousands of calls from veterans from this war and other wars who were clogging up his phone lines, giving him an earful.
Speaking of Rush, WTF isn't he rotting away in prison, like he thinks addicts (like him) should?

Len on 08.10.05 @ 07:42 PM CST [link] [ | ]

And how long will the Judge Roy Moores stand for this?

Of course, Judge Moore and those of his ilk want the Ten Commandments blazoned everywhere, but faced with this logical consequence of their imposition of their precepts on the rest of us, they'll figure out some way to claim that only the Ten Commandments should be granted such prominence:

Sect sues, asks equal space for 'Aphorisms'
By Pamela Manson
The Salt Lake Tribune

Followers of the Summum faith say Moses made two trips down from the mountain. On one journey, the prophet returned with the Ten Commandments, "lower laws" that were easily understood and widely distributed.

The higher law obtained from the other trip, though, was passed down only to a select few who were able to appreciate it, according to the Salt Lake City-based religion.

But now, Summum is fighting a legal battle to share that higher law - the Seven Aphorisms, or principles that underlie creation and nature - with everyone in a public forum. The church has filed suit against Pleasant Grove over its refusal to allow it to erect its own monument in a city park that has held a Ten Commandments monolith since 1971.

In the lawsuit, Summum alleges the denial of its request to put up the Seven Aphorisms in the park at 100 North and 100 East counters previous rulings.

In two of them, handed down in 1997 and 2002, the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver agreed that Salt Lake County and Ogden City had created a forum for free expression by allowing the erection of a Ten Commandments monument on government property.

The same standard applies to Pleasant Grove, Summum contends in its suit, filed Friday in U.S. District Court.

"The rights of plaintiff Summum are violated when the defendants give preference and endorsement to one particular set of religious beliefs by allowing the Ten Commandments monument to remain in a public park or in a forum within the public park supported by taxpayers and disallow a similar display of the religious tenets of Summum," the suit says.
Nope. Allowing "equal time" for other religions to post their "aphorisms" in public would constitute a "persecution" of Christianity, according to these worthies.

Len on 08.10.05 @ 07:26 PM CST [link] [ | ]

I'm late again.

Monday marked the beginning of Elvis Week in Memphis. Or as I like to refer to it, "Death Week". "Death Week" because, after all, we're not commemorating Elvis's birth (that's in January, if you're neither a Memphian or a big Elvis fan), we're commemorating Elvis's death. And Death Week is basically the week leading up to the anniversary of Elvis's death (August 16). It's an official "event" sponsored by Elvis Presley Enterprises (see the page at The Official Elvis Presley Website: Elvis Week for further information), and the Main Event is the annual Candlelight Vigil at Graceland. Monday, August 15, 2005 at 9:00 PM Central Daylight Time, at Graceland, Memphis, Tennessee. Be there or be square. If you insist on being square, there will be a Live VigilCast "broadcast" over the Internets via the "good" graces of America Online (or "AOHell" as I refer to them, and not just because they inflict the VigilCast on us).

The real main event of Death Week, though.... The event at which all of the cool folks in Memphis will be found, is the Annual Dead Elvis Ball (featuring The Rhythm Hounds), at The P & H Cafe (AKA, "The Beer Joint of Your Dreams"), 1532 Madison Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee 38104. The P & H website doesn't give a time, but I think it's 9:00 PM that the festivities officially begin. However, if you're planning to go, arrive beaucoup early; it does tend to get crowded quickly.

I haven't yet decided if I'll make an appearance yet. Shameless offers of bribes or sexual favors (from females, only) to insure my appearance are enthusiastically solicited (and, if past experience is any indication, will be withheld with equal or greater enthusiasm).

UPDATE: Maybe this new and improved ploy will work.... I enthusiastically solicit shameless offers of bribes or sexual favors (from females only, please) to either insure my appearance OR secure my promise that I will not appear. In the event that offers are made both to insure my appearance and to secure my promise not to appear, I will choose either the largest monetary bribe or the sexual favor from the best looking woman (decision of the judge--i.e., me--is final).

Somehow, I still think such favors and bribes will be withheld with equal or greater enthusiasm. But what the hell; nothing ventured, nothing gained.

Len on 08.10.05 @ 01:17 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Time to rethink my position?

Jeff, a frequent commenter at The Flypaper Theory, has a great comment to one of The Pesky Fly's posts about Roz Kurita's quest to earn the Democratic nomination to run for Bill "Cat-Killer" Frist's Senate seat here in Tennessee. And what Jeff has to say makes me wonder if I should hold my nose and vote for Harold Ford, Jr., anyway:

Look, if Kurita beats Junior, what will he do? He's got no job skills, he's never had a J-O-B. He has to win or it's join the ranks of the permanently unemployed. Maybe he can get a place in the Army. I hear you can train for just about any skill. He could be a tow-missile gunner, or something useful like that.

That's why I'm voting for Ford. So he doesn't come home and run for mayor.
Mayor Harold Ford, Jr. I wonder if that'd drive Mr. Mike crazy? ;-)

[Nope. Ain't gonna do it. I may live to regret it, but I can't overcome the waves of nausea that come over me when I think the concept "Len Cleavelin voting for Harold Ford, Jr." By Gawd, I swore a solemn vow I'd never vote for Ford for any office, and by Gawd, that is a vow that I shall keep til the last breath leaves my body.]

Len on 08.10.05 @ 12:49 PM CST [link] [ | ]

MadKane is back!

Alas, she was silent for a bit because of an accident to a family member. But now, she's got three new limericks up on "Revoltin' John Bolton" (™ and ©, MadKane), Bob Novak's on-air implosion, and Lame Duck Dubya. As always, an audio version is available for your listening pleasure.

[Of course, our best wishes to Mad's mom-in-law; glad to hear she's now out of danger, and we send our best wishes for a speedy recovery.]

Len on 08.10.05 @ 11:56 AM CST [link] [ | ]

More from "Collapse"

Continuing with these posts of tid-bits from “Collapse” by Jared Diamond about Paleoarchaeology and the incredibly weird and amazing science used to determine the characteristics and conditions of these past places and observations about what probably led to their demise.

If you wish to read more of these analysis techniques which and science which are as fascinating and sad as they are startling; click on the "more" button.

Karen on 08.10.05 @ 10:28 AM CST [more..] [ | ]

As Long as Mommie's on the JOB...

Well, in spite of Dr. Abby's *ban* on “War of the Worlds”; the kids wanted to see it as a Summer Thriller. I didn’t much care for it - special effects being about the only highlight of the entire movie. But what I really (really) didn’t like was that the Whole Plot (such minimalist story line as it was) revolved around “Getting Home to Mommie.”

The notion that the ultimate salvation for this couple of kids is a heroic effort by their shiftless biological-Daddy to get them home to their Mommie - because Of Course we all know MOM’s FIX EVERYTHING!!

And sure enough, the finale to this saga is nothing so much as the destruction of the Aliens by the germ infested Earthly atmosphere and that mankind is not entirely wiped off the planet – but the touching (heartwarming really, Bleh!!) scene of the reunion with Mommie. Everyone is Safe! We can all go home now, Mommie is on the JOB!! Double Bleh!!

Now this article, by Shia Kapos (Chicago Tribune), Moms' skills in demand They're the best time managers around, employers find, Tell us WHY.

Consider this:

”…It's the working mother's juggling act. And a growing number of companies say it's just the skill they're looking for in new hires. Area companies, including Abbott Laboratories, Northern Trust, Allstate Insurance and Kraft Foods, are creating environments to help attract moms, employment experts say. Not surprisingly, they are among the companies regularly honored annually by Working Mother magazine for their family-friendly policies.

Along with being hard-working and disciplined, "moms usually don't stay out late drinking or spend time listening to their iPods or take cigarette breaks," says Tom Gimbel, CEO of The LaSalle Network, a Chicago staffing firm that readily offers its clients mothers as highly qualified candidates because of their reliability.

"The old-school thinking was `hire a mom and they'll miss days when their kids are sick,' " he says. "But that's not the case. Moms are stable and mature and healthier because they have to take care of themselves and their families."…

Or this “Quote of the Day” from the same article:

"They also have unbelievable patience," Grzelakowski says. "Just putting a toddler to bed is a nightly training program."

And finally this set of characteristics for Good Leadership:

What kind of leader are you?

The following checklists describe two leadership styles. Leaders who are moms tend to have more mature traits. Look at both lists and determine which traits apply to you.


· Makes fast, impulsive decisions
· Takes a position and digs in
· Thinks short-term
· Becomes impatient when things don't go according to plan
· Resolves conflict unilaterally
· Looks for easy solutions
· Works poorly with people outside her inner circle
· Unwilling to compromise


· Reflects before deciding
· Willing to rethink positions
· Thinks long-term AND short-term
· Adapts when events go off course
· Resolves conflict with wisdom after listening to all sides
· Tests alternative solutions
· Creates good relationships with a diverse group of people
· Knows when to compromise and when not to

-- Source: "Mother Leads Best: 50 Women Who Are Changing the Way Organizations Define Leadership" by Moe Grzelakowski

So it’s really all about “Mommies” and how we are the better leaders and managers.

And on that Leadership Issue: Maybe we should DUMP our Fearless (but Immature) Leader in favor of his More Mature and reliable WIFE. Besides, polls consistently show Laura rates better than Dumbya on many issues and qualities like “like-ability” and more importantly “honesty.”

Karen on 08.10.05 @ 09:00 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Heaven’s Teeny Tiny Door…

“…The right insists that life begins at conception and that therefore abortion and embryonic stem-cell research constitute murder.

Yet, if this were truly the basis of its belief, fetuses should be baptized as soon as it's clear a woman is pregnant and miscarriages should be the cause for a funeral and a religious burial.

No moderate would say that destruction of a human embryo is of no moral consequence - it constitutes a potential human life - yet there's ground for suspicion that some religious conservatives are as much about punishing illicit sexual activity as they are about saving "life."

The religious right has every right to be politically assertive. So does the secular left. What's needed is for moderates to get militant and contest these extremes.”

---Mort Kondracke (Roll Call)

Courtesy of Real Clear Politics.

But I do prefer Jon Rowe's reference to [he cites in this post: Why does God kill so many babies before they are born?] a good article on this point of reasoning:
Is Heaven Populated Chiefly by the Souls of Embryos?

Karen on 08.10.05 @ 08:08 AM CST [link] [ | ]

More ways to Improve your Golf Game...

And Len was just musing (ranting) about Making Golf More Interesting: So, here ya go…In our own local news and environs:

Bikini golfer: We didn’t know homes were around course by Chuck Goudie (Daily Herald):

“I am an employee of Blackjacks Gentleman’s Club,” she wrote. “And I did attend the golf outing.”

Of course, the golf outing to which she referred was the golf outing. The one held a week ago today at Country Lakes Golf Club near Diehl Road and Route 59 in Naperville.

For those who may have been on the space shuttle the past week, the outing was sponsored by Blackjacks strip club near South Elgin. The entry fee was $375. That covered golf, food and some drinks.

The “caddies” were extra. They were auctioned off in the morning, before a 1 p.m. shotgun start. The caddies were actually strippers or “exotic dancers” as they prefer to be called. By either name, in their regular employment, they are paid to remove their clothing.

The golfers paid as much as $5,000 for just one stripper to accompany their foursomes during the 18-hole match.

Even before the first shot was hit, while golfers were driving carts to their starting tee boxes, some of the stripper/caddies had removed their tops in full view of residents, pedestrians and motorists and an WLS-TV, Channel 7 news crew that was taping in an undercover van.

But even as tops and bottoms were being shed, grinding lap dances were taking place in open golf carts and sex acts appeared to be under way in specially rigged tents, one of the women says the controversy was just a mistake.

“We were not aware that the course was surrounded by homes and such until we actually got on the course,” she claimed, asking that I not identify her for fear that she would lose her job.

Too bad our Fearless Leader chose this week to visit DHC (Dennis Hastert Corner - for those of you who haven't been paying attention. LOL). He could have had the golf round of his life in Naperville... a mere short drive from where he's signing that Pork Fest Transportation Bill.

Karen on 08.10.05 @ 08:01 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Of Records and Recordkeeping…

”For all the reverence that baseball's record book receives - few volumes are treated so sacredly - the sport has, historically, never been inclined to penalize the convicted or admitted cheats within it.

Consider Gaylord Perry, who from 1962 to 1983 unabashedly threw pitches slathered with Vaseline while winning 314 games and earning entry into the Hall of Fame. Or Norm Cash, a slugger for the Detroit Tigers, who in 1961 admittedly corked his bat and hit an impressive .361 with 41 home runs and 132 runs batted in; in his next 13 seasons in the major leagues, he never finished with a batting average above .283.

Their numbers live forever in encyclopedias and on various lists, as if they had been accomplished squarely within the rules.

But with the recent 10-day suspension of the Baltimore Orioles' Rafael Palmeiro, who tested positive for using steroids, the debate was joined once again over how, or even whether, to enter steroid-tainted achievements in the record books.

One might expect that the disclosure would outrage the records committee of the Society for American Baseball Research, a worldwide organization of nearly 7,000 intent on maintaining the integrity of baseball's historical record. The group held its annual meeting here.

The members of this committee are known for two things: caring deeply about home runs, batting averages and other statistical details; and, just as starkly, never agreeing on anything. After all, these are the people who argue for days about a double here and a putout there, and whether Ferdie Schupp of the New York Giants actually posted the National League's lowest earned run average back in 1916 - a jaw-dropping 0.90.

The group of about 50 experts, mostly middle-aged men wearing the jerseys or caps of their favorite team, almost immediately reached a consensus on the steroids quandary. Perhaps more reflexively than most baseball fans who were stung by Palmeiro's suspension, most of these seasoned numbers buffs remained resignedly pragmatic when determining how steroids should be dealt with in the record book.

Courtesy of AOL News.

So what do the sports statistic’s purists think of this? What should be done in light of these new revelations of *cheating* with illegal steroid usage?

Karen on 08.10.05 @ 07:47 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Thought for the Day:

Next Monday marks the 60th anniversary of America's victory in World War II. After the attack on Pearl Harbor in December 1941, America and its allies needed just three years and nine months to win the bloodiest war and defeat the gravest threat to freedom in human history.

What of our time? Nearly four years have passed since the Sept. 11 attacks – and we've not only yet to win the war on terror; we can't even decide what to call it.

What happened? In the immediate aftermath of Sept. 11, every American felt the same surge of patriotic anger their grandparents had felt 60 years earlier on Dec. 7. We were ready for four years of Liberty Bonds and Victory Gardens. Instead, over the past four years, our biggest collective sacrifice has been watching reality shows on television.

Sixty years ago, FDR summoned all Americans to do their part for the war effort. This year, the Bush White House summoned a Duke expert on wartime public opinion. The administration concluded that the way to maintain public support for a war is to keep telling the people we're winning. So much for that theory.

FDR and Harry Truman had a better way to maintain popular support for a war: actually winning it. That's a novel concept for Americans under the age of 50, who've been conditioned to believe that wars are won in an instant (like Grenada and the Gulf War), or drag on until the American people lose interest (like Vietnam and Iraq).
--Bruce Reed

Len on 08.10.05 @ 07:45 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Mantis 1, Hummingbird 0

At Bird Watcher's Digest, they answer the perennial question, "Who would win in a fight between a praying mantis and a hummingbird?" I won't keep you in suspense: the praying mantis.

Mantis vs. Hummingbird

Mantis vs. Hummingbird 2

(I should give credit to some other blog, but I forgot where I got the link. I thought it was PZ Myers, but I can't find a link on his page.)

Brock on 08.09.05 @ 07:09 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Dennis Hastert Corner Plays Host...

Yikes!!! Too close for comfort is this upcoming (Wednesday, August 10th) Close encounters of the presidential kind — Visits to Fox Valley, Kane County few and far between.

”…Local presidential visits are rare and usually memorable. From Ronald Reagan's 1982 helicopter visit to Geneva to Mary Todd Lincoln's stay in a Batavia insane asylum, White House residents have left their mark locally.


Some notable president and first lady visits:

1875: Mary Todd Lincoln committed to Belvue Place in Batavia
1903: Teddy Roosevelt in Aurora
1905: Teddy Roosevelt in Geneva
1959: Then Sen. John F. Kennedy in Aurora and Geneva
1982: Ronald Reagan in Geneva
1997: George and Barbara Bush in Elgin

What's happening?

President Bush will be at the Caterpillar Inc. plant on Route 31 in unincorporated Montgomery at 10 a.m. Wednesday morning to sign the recently approved transportation bill.”

Oh great...Our Fearless Leader to sign that PORKING OINKER of a Bill in Denny's Own Back Yard. I bet he's Most Pleased.

Souu-eeee!! Souu-eeeee!!

Karen on 08.09.05 @ 04:55 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Gem o'the Day:

From additions to Brian Weatherson's Silly Talk about Philosophy thread since I mentioned it yesterday, I like this one from one "Robert H.", talking about his Oxford tenure:

Sir [Lordship]: And what have you been studying whilst here at Oxford?

Moi: Philosophy and Mathematics.

SL: Mmm, right, I've never really understood what that is ... so just what is philosophy, actually?

M: Hmm, how shall I answer you with a single short sentence? ... Philosophy is ... the systematic justification of everything you already knew.

SL: [Face registers happy surprise:] Ho! I like that!"
Though "the systematic justification of everything you already knew" sounds a bit like F.H. Bradley's classic "definition" of metaphysics as "The finding of bad reasons for what we believe on instinct." I wonder if Robert was engaging in a deliberate homage to Bradley, or if this is just another data point in support of the proposition that there is no such thing (anymore) as a truly original idea.

Len on 08.09.05 @ 09:02 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Wisdom from Dr. Dad....

Dr. Abby's Dr. Dad, that is; my dad's a great guy, but he didn't have the inclination to take his education that far... Anyway, for those of you who've joined the show already in progress, Dr. Dad has decided (anong with a couple of his buddies) to take up blogging in his retirement. Dr. Dad's been up the mountain and back a couple times, and he and his co-bloggers have got a lot of thought provoking things to say. Consider adding them to your daily rounds.

Now.... having gotten the introduction out of the way.... Dr. Dad has a couple interesting posts up today (actually yesterday, but I tend to do my blogreading in the morning while I'm waiting for the caffeine to kick in). For those of you following l'affaire Plame, Dr. Dad presents a brief recap. And as part of his series on building a pole barn (a fascinating series in itself; I strongly recommend it regardless of your race, creed or political affiliation (or lack of any)), he gives us a few musings on realizing it's time to hit the road to retirement:

Retiring wasn’t a simple thing. I remember back in the Air Force days, all the career guys talked about it all the time, even the young ones [they were in their 30’s, but knew the date of their future retirement already]. I never thought about it much myself.

A few years back, I’d watched Al go through it. His business, photography, was changing with the coming of digital cameras and "in-house" advertising; the property values in our in-town neighborhoods were soaring [as were the property taxes]; and pretty soon, he was talking about redoing a house in the country. But what I remember from back then was that he seemed uncharacteristically worked up about things like property taxes and modern urban life. Another professional colleague announced his retirement. I thought he must have cancer or something, but he was fine. Still is. He also went through a sort of cynical period for the year or so before he retired - things in our professional organization that were just the way things had always been became "ridiculous." They were, but it was nothing new.

I suppose my buying a cabin and building a barn/workshop sounds like someone deciding to retire, but I didn’t know it at the time. Then, one day, I realized for the first time in my career, that I didn’t want to be at work. And I was getting cynical and irritable, something that’s just not like me. Then I understood what I’d seen in my friends. It meant that I was done. It wasn’t so much a decision - more like waking up in a new place. Once it was clear why I was so disgruntled, it went away [the irritable feeling]. Funny how that works.


So, my suggestion is to notice that negativity when it starts, and recognize that it might mean you’re needing to retire, or maybe that you’re ready to change what you’re doing. Something else. Knowing sort of where you’re going and what you’re might be doing when you get there
before you retire is a really good idea. "I’m just going to take it easy…" "Maybe I’ll take up golf…" "Maybe we’ll travel some…" might sound really good, but it’s just not enough.

Build a Pole Barn. That’s my advice…
Good advice. Unfortunately, a couple of marital mistakes and general financial incompetence prevent me from ever looking foward to a retirement like Dr. Dad's, but I recognize the symptoms of needing to change what one is doing. I went through some of them right before making the decision (the best one I've ever, made), to get out of the legal profession and find someting better to do with my life.

So, the moral of the story (as I see it): don't ignore what your emotions are telling you. You'll be much happier for it if you take notice of them, and change when it's clear you need to.

Len on 08.09.05 @ 08:38 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Today's Quotable's...

"…Al Qaeda found fertile fundraising ground in the kingdom," noted the 9/11 commission report in one of its many careful understatements. The fact is, without Saudi Arabia, there would be no Al Qaeda today.

Our president loves to use the word "evil" in his speeches, yet throughout his life he and his family have had deep personal, political and financial ties with a country that represents everything the American Revolution stood against: tyranny, religious intolerance, corrupt royalty and popular ignorance. This is a country where women aren't allowed to drive and those who show "too much skin" can be beaten in the street by officially sanctioned mobs of fanatics. A medieval land where newspapers routinely publish the most outlandish anti-Semitic rants. A place where executions are held in public, torture is the norm in prison and the most extreme and expansionist version of Islam is the state religion.

It's hard to see how Saddam Hussein's brutal and secular Iraq was worse than the brutal theocracy run by the House of Saud. Yet one nation we raze and the other we fete. Is it any wonder that much of the world sees the United States as the planet's biggest hypocrite?

As insider books by former White House terrorism advisor Richard Clarke, journalist Bob Woodward and others have recounted, punishing Saudi Arabia in any way for its long ideological and financial support of terrorism was not even on the table in the days after 9/11. Instead, within hours of the planes hitting the towers, the powerful neoconservatives in the White House rushed to use the tragedy as an excuse for a long-dreamed invasion of Iraq.

As the drumbeat of devastating terrorist attacks in Baghdad, London and elsewhere continue, Bush prattles on — five times in a speech last Wednesday — about his pyrrhic victories in the "war on terror." This is a sorry rhetorical device that disguises the fact that the forces of Islamic fanaticism in Saudi Arabia and elsewhere in the world are stronger than ever.”

-- Robert Scheer (LA Times) Mortgaged To The House of Saud.

Karen on 08.09.05 @ 08:09 AM CST [link] [ | ]

From Karen's e-mail....

...I got a note back from the producer, Rick Sebak, about the "A Hot Dog Program" post and his upcoming Halloween Special:


Excellent. Framed and everything! Please hang it in health and happiness!

Thanks for all your enthusiasm.

My new program called A CEMETERY SPECIAL will air on most PBS stations on Wednesday night, October 26 at 8 pm. Watch for it.


Rick Sebak
WQED Multimedia

Stay Connected -- WQED Multimedia

Sounds mighty interesting..."A Cemetary Special." Have to look for that one in the Fall. :-)

Karen on 08.09.05 @ 07:17 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Sumo Chickens

Couldn’t resist this link to a new Pepsi commercial for some WWF like Chickens at this webpage. It has a freeze-frame set of photos -- But, Just click on the Quicktime "Pepsi Sumo" movie player and give it a preview.

Very cute and funnie.


Karen on 08.09.05 @ 07:07 AM CST [link] [ | ]

For the Pyromanics in all of us...

....some Pyrotechnics:

"Just about everyone loves fireworks and for fans, there's only one place to be for the next few days the Northern Iowa Fairgrounds at Mason City, Iowa.

That's where the Pyrotechnic Guild International is holding its annual convention. Tens of thousands of people will be on hand to see contestants shoot off the world's best fireworks as they compete for the title of grand master.

While a lot of fun, the purpose of the gathering is to promote the design and safe display of the finest quality pyrotechnics. The Guild's emblem is the "Green Man," going back to the 17th century, when the person shooting off fireworks covered himself in a coating of fresh leaves for protection.

Each year, the U.S. imports some 173-million dollars worth of fireworks, most of them from China.

Courtesy of US News Wire

Karen on 08.09.05 @ 07:02 AM CST [link] [ | ]

"I say...I say...That's a Joke Son..."

....and for anyone who doesn't recognize that famous tag line -- It's Foghorn Leghorn.foghorn2 (17k image)

But Speaking of "Senses of Humor" -- There is yet Another Quiz over at at OKCupid on rating just what KIND of sense of humor you have. To see my results and get the link to take this "3 Variable Funny Test" - click on the "more" Button.

Karen on 08.09.05 @ 06:36 AM CST [more..] [ | ]

We get more comments....

And it's heartening to know that despite the divides between us in some matters, where The Important Things In Life Are Concerned there are still areas where we can come together:

In more important matters, the Cards are looking awfully tough this year. Like Goose, I'm Cubs fan, but since I resigned my hopes to a wild card spot early in the season I'm able to cheer for the Cards now... at least until October.
Ok, so maybe I want to take the opportunity to do some random baseblogging; it's my blog and I can do that if I want to.

Actually, vis a vis the Great Cardinals-Cubs Rivalry™ is concerned, I'm not quite a typical Cards fan. I spent three years in Chicago, as I mention from time to time, and in that three years one of my fondest memories is that of cutting classes to attend ballgames at Wrigley Field, which I tried to do as often as I could. For that reason, I don't have the immense animus against the Cubs that a lot of Cardinals fans have (that, however, doesn't prevent me from giving Karen ooodles of undeserved crap for being a Cubs fan, just because I can). I can bring myself to pull for the Cubs (as long as they're not playing against the Cardinals), and I can think of worse things happening than the Cubs actually making (or, perish the thought, winning) the World Series. (Actually, I didn't really mind the Red Sox winning the Series last year, for that matter, other than the fact that there were 16 other teams in the National League I would have rather seen them beat. And actually, even having the Sawx beat the Cardinals wasn't that bad an outcome; however I did want a bit closer and more exciting contest (particularly after such an exciting NLCS; beating a fully rested Roger Clemens in Game 7 of the NLCS portended more, one would think, than a 4-straight-game rout...).

But to address Haws's comment.... The Cardinals at this point in the season are looking surprisingly good, considering that we're not getting the breaks on injuries that we got last year. Last year, IIRC, we had practically nobody on the disabled list, and very few of the star players missing games unless Tony LaRussa elected to rest one of them. This year..... Well, one Cards blogger put it this way:
As i finished my last post I saw this news on MLB.com

Here is the new possible line up:

SS: Nunez
CF: Taguchi
LF: J-Rod
1B: Mabry
RF: Gall
3B: Seabol
2B: Luna
C: Mahoney
P: Marquis

Anybody else wish that this was a Memphis Redbirds line-up. Tony might have to consider batting Marquis 8th (or seventh, or sixth, or first.)
My initial reaction was... "Wish this was a Memphis Redbirds lineup? For a couple seconds I thought it was the Memphis Redbirds lineup." Well, if you want to include last season as well, I remember seeing 6 of these 9 players ("J-Rod", Mabry, Gall, Seabol, Luna and Mahoney) play here, but with the exception of Mabry the rest have all done significant time in AutoZone Park this season. Right now we have Molina, Rolen, and Walker on the disabled list, with only Molina being likely to return soon (i.e., before September 1). And when Molina gets back, I am afraid that he won't be ripping the cover off the ball the way he was when he hit the DL. Not for a while at least....

But in spite of that, the replacements from AutoZone have been doing a pretty damn creditable job. And that's a bit surprising because the word about the Cards farm system as long as I can remember is that it was pretty much a generator of loud sucking sounds (save maybe for the random pitching prospect like "WonderBrad" Thompson), owing to Walt Jocketty's SOP of using promising prospects as trade bait for the veteran retread assignments he seems to like so much (can anyone say "Daric Bolton, Danny Haren and Kiko Calero for Mark Mulder"?). But so far, the Memphis Redbirds who've gotten the callup have managed to do the job for us. And I'm grateful for that. I'm hoping that we can just avoid a total collapse (may not be likely, but then again the first season that I really remember was the infamous 1964 Phillies total collapse that let the Cardinals win the NL pennant on the last day of the season, IIRC, so I can be forgiven for being a bit paranoid), and maybe be at full strength for the postseason.

Len on 08.09.05 @ 06:31 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Speaking of Archaeologists and Middens...

Apropos of Len's prior post -- I’ve been working my way through “Collapse” by Jared Diamond this summer. But it’s been a slow read, not because I’ve been too busy, nor because it’s too difficult to read. More because each chapter is a story of a society (or group of tribes / cities /states) that failed. It’s rather sad and so it’s hard to just buzz through it and each segment deserves some thought and consideration before just skipping to the next.

What is captivating, in part though, is the incredibly weird and amazing science used to determine the characteristics and conditions of these past places and observations about what probably led to their demise. And some of the techniques are as fascinating as they are startling. Take this one about "Middens" and analyzing the Ancient Native American Anasazi (Chaco Culture National Historical Park and Mesa Verde Park in New Mexico):

”The other major environmental problem besides water management involved deforestation as revealed by the method of packrat midden analysis. For those of you who (like me…) have never seen packrats, don’t know what middens are, and can’t possibley imagine their relevance to Anasazi prehistory, here is a quick crash course in midden analysis:

In 1849, hungry gold miners crossing the Nevada desert noticed some glistening balls of a candy like substance on a cliff; licked or ate the balls and discovered them to be sweet tasting, but then they developed nausea.

Eventually it was realized that the balls were hardened deposits made my small rodents, called packrats, that protect themselves by building nests of sticks, plant fragments, and animal dung gathered in the vicinity, plus food remains, discarded bones,, and their own feces. Not being toilet trained, the rats urinate in their nests, and sugar, and other substances crystallize from their urine as it dries out, cementing the midden into a brick like consistency. In effect the hungry miners were eating dried rat urine laced with rat feces and rat garbage.

Crystallized urine prevents the material in the midden from decaying. By identifying the remains of dozens of urine encrusted plant species in amidden, a paleobotanist can reconstruct a snapshot of the vegetation growing near the midden at the time the rats were accumulating it, while zoologists can reconstruct something of the fauna from insects and vertebrate remains. In effect, a packrat midden is a paleontologist’s dream: a time capsule preserving a sample of the local vegetation, gathered within a few dozen yards of the spot within a period of a few decades, at a date fixed by radio carbon dating.

in 1975, paleontologist Julio Betancourt happened to visit Chaco Canyon …and submitted samples of those middens for radio carbon daing. When the dates came back from the radiocarbon lab, Julio and Tom were astonished to learn that many of the middens were over a thousand years old.

That serendipitous observation triggered an explosion of packrat midden studies. Today we know that middens decay extremely slowly in the Southwest’s dry climate. If protected from the elements under an overhang or inside a cave, midden can last 40,000 years, far longer than anyone would have dared to guess.

There are many other facinating techniques detailed in "Collapse"...but I'll post them individually. [Both to break this up... and because I have to type up each one...and we ALL know what a GREAT Typist Karen is NOT!!! LOL]

Karen on 08.09.05 @ 06:17 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Selachophobe's salvation....

It looks like soon Karen can go to Florida. And swim in the ocean. Even though she's got an irrational fear of sharks (selachophobia, a running gag here ever since Karen joined up as a co-blogger).

According to William Saletan at Slate, scientists are developing a personal shark repellant:

Chemists are testing a shark repellent that produces the scent of rotting sharks when released in water. It might eventually be put in swimsuits or suntan lotion. It was conceived to protect sharks by steering them away from dangerous areas, but humans are hijacking it to protect themselves.
Scent of rotting sharks? Hmmmmm.....

I'm disposed to use sorta lower tech methods of shark avoidance, myself. Like maybe staying out of the freaking water in places where sharks are known to lurk.....

Len on 08.09.05 @ 05:31 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Thought for the Day:

It's rare that an archaeologist can walk into a newly-discovered ancient building and start nosing around. Very rare. OK, it never happens. You see, debris starts accumulating in a building long before it's done being built. It was only through the constant efforts of the custodial staff that the priests of Indy's temple weren't kicking their way through mounds of dirt, dried leaves, and soda cans on their way to human sacrifices a thousand years ago. When the janitors quit things went to pot quickly--today the typical Mesoamerican temple lies buried under the accumulated junk of centuries. Nobody will be running down those halls until somebody, preferably a volunteer or student working for free who still thinks archaeology is romantic, has shoveled out all that dirt. With a soup spoon. And sifted it for busted crockery and chicken bones.

That dirt isn't just in your clothes, hair, shoes, and fingernails; it's also in any machines the ancients hoped would kill you. Here's this week's home experiment: Bury your car at the beach. Leave it there a month, then dig it up and try to start it. Didn't work, did it? Neither would the ancients' machines.

If there were any. That's the thing, you see. The main reason archaeologists have nothing to fear from booby traps isn't that the machines have been buried a couple millennia. It's that the ancients just didn't have cool machines like automatic door closers or trip-wired blowguns or enormous ball returns. Archaeologists know this both because they have never found the ball returns but also because the ancients didn't brag about them. If Pharaoh Amunhotep XXIII had something like that, or thought of it, or had somebody on the Cool Weapons staff who thought of it, there would be stellae (upright inscribed stones) trumpeting his total coolness and showing giant bowling balls knocking down Midianites like squishy duckpins.
--Straight Dope Science Advisory Board guest contributor "dropzone" [on the question, "Do archeologists find booby trapped temples, etc., a la the Indiana Jones movies?"]

Len on 08.09.05 @ 05:13 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Being Presidential

An interesting observation from Bryan at Why Now?:

It would appear that the normally docile New York Post thinks that the Shrubbery should visit Brook Park, Ohio, the home of the Marine Reserve unit that has taken so many casualties lately in Iraq, and doesn't understand why he is going to West Texas to cut brush rather than visiting the families of the Marines.


The June 1998 issue of the Air Force Association has a lengthy article on the Khobar Tower bombing. On the 25th of June, 1996 a truck bomb with the explosive power of 10 tons of TNT went off near a building housing US military personnel causing 19 deaths.

Although the local commander was cleared of any negligence, the Secretary of Defense, William Cohen, felt that someone had to be held accountable and blocked the pending promotion of the officer. The Wing Commander resigned, as did the Air Force Chief of Staff. They were responsible because they were in command and it happened on their watch, not because they had done anything wrong.

Twelve local airmen died. They were members of the 58th Fighter Squadron of the 33rd Fighter Wing of Eglin Air Force Base.

Most of America isn't aware of it, but at the memorial service for those who died was their Commander in Chief, William Jefferson Clinton. If you aren't from this area you aren't aware of this because he didn't bring any reporters with him and didn't answer questions from the local press. He was paying his respects to the friends and families of those who had died.

It was 1996 and he was running for re-election, but he didn't use a memorial as a photo opportunity.
I know who I think has been the better President. Blowjobs in the Oval Office notwithstanding.

Len on 08.08.05 @ 01:04 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Not a surprise to me....

From Financial Times, via Common Dreams: World Turns Back on "Brand America"

The US is increasingly viewed as a "culture-free zone" inhabited by arrogant and unfriendly people, according to study of 25 countries' brand reputations.

The findings, published online today, will add to concerns that anti-Americanism is hurting companies whose products are considered to be distinctly "American".

The Anholt-GMI Nation Brands Index found that although US foreign policy remained a key driver of hostility, dissatisfaction with the world's sole superpower might run deeper.

"The US is still recognized as a leading place to do business, the home of desirable brands and popular culture," said Simon Anholt, author of the survey. "But its governance, its cultural heritage and its people are no longer widely respected or admired by the world."


The US ranked 11th in the Brands Index, which asks people around the world to rate 25 countries according to their cultural, political and investment potential and other criteria. Australia received the highest overall score, with respondents expressing "an almost universal admiration of its people, landscapes and living and working environment", according to the report.

Although the US received high marks for its popular culture, it ranked last in cultural heritage, a measure of a country's "wisdom, intelligence, and integrity", according to Mr Anholt.

That the world takes a dim view of the US people will surprise most Americans themselves: the study's American respondents consistently placed the US at the top of all six categories polled.
Of course Americans consistently place the US at the top of all the categories; we've been indoctrinated in that dogmatic civic religion since birth, and there are very few of us with the ability to transcend that indoctrination.

Len on 08.08.05 @ 12:15 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Reactions to the revelation, "I'm a philosopher...."

Over at Thoughts, Arguments and Rants, Brian Weatherson has a most amusing thread on laypersons' reactions to learning that one is a professional philosopher (or graduate student in philosophy).

Profuse apologies to co-blogger Brock Sides, who has a contribution to that thread (follow the link, then search in your browser for Brock's name), but given my previous profession, this is, hands down, my favorite story in the thread:

Five or so years ago I was on a panel of prospective jurors being questioned by an attorney for the defendant:

Attorney: What is your profession?

Me: I am a philosopher

Attorney: Philosophy? Is that a "helping profession"

Me: Its more like a helpless profession

Judge (laughing): This is no place for jokes..your out.
However, this one comes in almost tied:
This is a story from Chris Lubbers at the University of Florida:

Prosecuting attorney during voir dire: It says here that you are a graduate student in philosophy, Mr. Lubbers. What does a graduate student in philosophy do?

Chris Lubbers: We analyze the strengths and weaknesses of arguments.

He was immediately rejected as a juror.
Unfortunately, the person telling this story doesn't tell us whether it was the prosecutor or defense counsel who exercised the motion to strike Chris as a juror.


Along the same lines of thought, one of my two nominees for "Most Realistic Scene Ever Filmed In A Major Motion Picture" is the "first date" scene from Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story. In that scene Bruce Lee (who was, in fact, a philosophy major at the University of Washington before making it big as a martial arts teacher and actor) is on his first date with his soon-to-be wife, Linda. They are sitting at a restaurant bar engaging in small talk:
Linda Emery: A philosophy major? Now, what can you do with a philosophy major?
Bruce Lee: You can think deep thoughts about being unemployed.
While I know that there are many scenes in Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story which did not actually happen, I know in my heart of hearts that Linda and Bruce had that exchange. I know it because, in the few dates I had in college, I had that very same exchange with my date. In each and every one of those dates.

Since I know that a few of you are going to wonder, my other nominee for "Most Realistic Scene Ever Filmed In A Major Motion Picture" is a scene from A Few Good Men. In that scene, LTJG Dan Kaffee (Tom "I'm nuts" Cruise, wearing PT gear) is conducting fielding practice with his softball team while LT Dave Spradling (a Navy prosecutor, in uniform, played by Matt Craven) is standing near Kaffee; the two are negotiating a plea agreement as Kaffee hits ground balls at his infielders. You may remember the scene for containing this scintillating bit of dialogue:
Kaffee: It was oregano, Dave, it was a dime bag of oregano.
Lieutenant Dave Spradling: Yeah, well, your client thought it was marijuana.
Kaffee: My client's a moron, that's not against the law.
I know that this scene is Absolutely Realistic, because in my Navy career I've actually been one of the participants in this scene. The Dave Spradling character, though, because I'm a lousy softball player.

Len on 08.08.05 @ 12:04 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Gem o'the Day:

DCMediaGirl--a gal on the go, a gal in the know--posts about Robert Novak's senior moment. She wonders, as do we all, why his slimeball behavior was tolerated for so long. It wasn't as if his on-air cussword was out of character.

"The real issue, of course, is that Novak has a long history of bullying and abusing lower-level employees, whom he terrorizes with his angry outbursts over such vital areas of newsgathering as how to pop his popcorn just so, or like when he reduced a former colleague of mine to tears when he asked here how many Jews her family had transported to the death camps (this woman was of German ancestry)."

This to me is the psychological puzzler regarding Novak's personality and career--or rather, the coddling of that career by his colleagues. Amy Sullivan did an outstanding job describing in forensic detail the size and scope of Novak's bulletproof protective bubble for The Washington Monthly--how none of the laws that apply to others ever seem applied to him--but she didn't get to the "why" of it, and I can't either.

Here's what puzzles me. You often have some awful TV pundit/personality being excused or defended by associates because off-camera he/she is affable, thoughtful, and menschy--nothing like the on-camera dragon persona. This is often said about Pat Buchanan, for example, and maybe it's true, who knows, who cares. I've read something of the same in the press about Novak, that he can be quite generous to younger journalists, but I've also heard stories for years about what a sadist he is, not a whips-chains sadist but a vicious verbal bully. And the stories I heard go back aways--it wasn't that TV exposure turned him into a nasty ego monster, he was that way from the outset, according to what I heard.

So he doesn't seem to be one of those guys who was one thing on the air and another thing off. He wasn't one of those guys who once-you-got-to-know-him you liked despite yourself. People I knew who had experiences with him said he was a person who, once you got to know him, you wish you hadn't.
--James Wolcott

Hat tip to Karen, who cited the link to Wolcott as a source for her post.

Len on 08.08.05 @ 10:08 AM CST [link] [ | ]

"Once in a while, you get a miracle."

Personally, I don't believe in miracles (because I don't believe in God, and even if I did believe in Her I know she'd have better things to do than intervene in sports events, even ones as Earth Shakingly Important as an Atlanta Braves-St. Louis Cardinals matchup), but as a figure of speech I can understand it. Via Billy Ball, his own self we get this comment on David Eckstein's walk off home run which won both the game and the series for the Cardinals yesterday afternoon:

You can’t say enough wonderful things about the Cardinals - they simply do it all. I mean you expect that Albert Pujols will hit his 31st homer, but you have to admit some degree of surprise when the diminutive shortstop for the Cardinals, David Eckstein, hits a walk-off grand slam homer over the left-field wall that enabled the Cardinals to defeat the Atlanta Braves and take two of three in a series matching NL division leaders and the teams with the two best records in the league. Chris Carpenter, didn’t pick up the win, but he still pitched brilliantly allowing two runs and four hits in eight innings with 10 strikeouts and two walks.

But the story was Eckstein, the little shortstop who nobody wanted, who won two games for the Cards with squeeze bunts in July and hit the second walk-off grand slam of his career. The winning grand slam was the Cardinals' first since Tommy Herr beat the New York Mets on April 18, 1987, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. Eckstein previously won a game in that fashion in 2002 with the Angels. Only two other players have hit game-ending grand slams in both the American and National leagues. Ralph Kiner did it for the 1951 Pirates and 1955 Indians; Bobby Bonds did it for the 1973 Giants and 1979 Indians.

Four of Eckstein's 22 career homers have been grand slams. His career average of one home run every 11 at-bats with the bases loaded is better than the career bases-loaded home run rates for 16 of the 21 active (or disabled) players with at least 300 homers.

As Cardinals manager Tony La Russa so aptly pointed out, "Once in a while, you get a miracle."
However, in retrospect, the walk off salami isn't quite as surprising.

Way to go, Eck!

Len on 08.08.05 @ 09:56 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Some folks just don't get it.

We get comments, occasionally.

We got this one on a recent post on the special election in Ohio's Second Congressional District. By way of jogging your memory, that's the one where a Marine Corps Reserve Major/Operation Iraqi Freedom veteran, running as a Democrat, lost a special election to a congressional seat by a mere 4 percentage points, in a district which, in past elections, generally elects the Republican candidate by a margin of something like 40 or more percentage points.

Quoth our commentor:

"Paul Hackett didn't apologize for being a Democrat..." [Note: That statement is a quote from my original post. --LRC]

He ran campaign ads claiming to support President Bush and the war in Iraq*
[the asterisk refers to a footnoted link to the ad in question --LRC] and others attacking the Republican encumbant [sic] as a tax hiker. In other words, pretending to be a Republican. In none of his ads did he even identify himself as a Democrat, and even though his opponent was weakened by scandals, he still lost. Is this what the Democrats are left with, celebrating narrow losses?
Well.... addressing the main issue here....

He ran campaign ads claiming to support President Bush and the war in Iraq... In other words, pretending to be a Republican.

Unfortunately (from my perspective, since I'd rather see a Real Two Party System vice the One Functional Party In Two Separate Wings [a pro-abortion wing, and an anti-abortion wing] System that the GOP and DLC (aka, "Repugnican Lite") prefer), as Lieutenant General Odom's analysis makes clear, there was only one Democratic candidate who, during the primary season, ran as a distinctly anti-war candidate (Howard Dean), and the party trashed him for that, even though it made the standard bearer's campaign position extremely untenable (Sen. Kerry: "The war was a bad idea, but I can still win it!"). Not to mention, the candidate in question is himself a veteran of that war; I don't expect him to run against the conventional wisdom that we can't cut and run, on the "Pottery Barn theory" ("we broke it, we own it").

However, do you remember why the Republican National Committee dumped money into the race, and said that they would "bury" Hackett? Remember that he was quoted as saying this:
I've said that I don't like the son of a bitch that lives in the White House, but I'd put my life on the line for him.
And when outraged Republicans demanded an apology, here's the response they got from Hackett:
I said it. I meant it. I stand by it.
As Joe Conason pointed out in his Salon column last week, "Somehow it didn't seem to hurt him much."

But more to this point: calling the President "a son of a bitch" sure doesn't sound like running as a Republican to me (I here make a solemn vow that I will contribute money to, and vote for, any Republican candidate I can who has the balls to call President Bush "a son of a bitch" publicly; I'm sure that there are many who say it privately, but that doesn't count). I call President Dumbya a son of a bitch (and much worse) all the time. But I don't pretend to be a Republican (I don't pretend to be a Democrat, either, but that's not important in this context).

Is this what the Democrats are left with, celebrating narrow losses?

Well, call me stupid but.... If I were entered in some individual sport (e.g., the 100 yard dash) against a competitor who was given odds to beat me handily, I'd sure as hell celebrate a narrow loss, because given the odds against me, a narrow loss (vice the huge margin of failure predicted) is much better than I'd ever dreamed possible. But then again, I'm secure in my masculinity, so I've never fallen for that "Winning isn't everything, it's the only thing" and "Second place is only the first loser" mentality that is the bane of sports in the United States lately.

In other words, what part of "a moral victory" don't you understand?

And, what should be more worrying to Republicans, according to most analysts of the Ohio Second District race that I've read, if this election had been in any other district but OH-2, Hackett would be on his way to Congress. In what is supposedly a solid "red state".

I'll requote Steve Gilliard's excellent analysis:
Understand this: yesterday, thousands of Bush-supporting, longtime Republicans went into the booth and voted for a Democrat who attacked the President. A pro-choice moderate against the head of the local pro-life outfit.

These are people who haven't voted Democratic since 1980.
[emphasis added --LRC]
and then, to rub it in, I'll add some observations by Slate's "Has Been", longtime Democratic (specifically, DLC wing) functionary Bruce Reed:
Extra Special: Even Newt Gingrich agrees that Paul Hackett's strong showing in Ohio's 2nd District special election is a shot across the bow to the Republican Congressional leadership and the White House. Republicans defied the odds by gaining seats in the 2002 midterm election, but in 2006, they may discover that in the absence of national progress, you can't keep making political progress forever.

Ironically, the best news for Democrats in the race is the excuse Republicans give for its photo finish: that it was just about Ohio. Republicans were quick to blame low GOP turnout on the unpopularity of the state's Republican governor, Bob Taft. So much the better: The Ohio's governor race is the most important contest in America in 2006.

Over the past decade, one of Democrats' biggest trouble spots has been the inability to win statewide in Ohio. Republican senators have replaced the old Democratic lions, John Glenn and Howard Metzenbaum. The governorship has been in Republican hands for the last 15 years.

As 2004 demonstrated, Ohio is the pivotal swing state in presidential elections. Clinton carried it narrowly in 1992 and 1996; Bush did the same in 2000 and 2004. Ohio has always been important—birthplace to more presidents than any state except Virginia. But for Democrats, who have lost every southern state twice in a row, Ohio's 20 electoral votes are now especially crucial.
Interestingly enough, the commenter in question has chosen "the Kool-Aid man" as his Haloscan gravitar.

How appropriate.

Len on 08.08.05 @ 09:29 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Too Techie-Cute...i-Dogs and Zizzle

“A Bannockburn start-up is out to make a name for itself this fall with a new musicmaking gadget aimed at the iPod set.


Zizzle, started in January by Roger Shiffman, a co-founder of the original Tiger Electronics, is launching iZ (pronounced "is"), a combination high-tech musicmaking toy and external speaker for the iPod. The $39.99 character has a Sputnik space-age look, with three poseable white legs, a shiny green body and orange-and-white belly button that doubles as a control.

"It's iconic. It's cute. People will like it," said Shiffman, who founded Zizzle with partner Jeff Hsieh, chief executive of Toy Biz Worldwide Ltd. in Hong Kong. IZ is designed to capture a segment that many toymakers have been missing: 'tweens on up….”

Courtesy of The Chicago Tribune.

Karen on 08.08.05 @ 08:21 AM CST [link] [ | ]


A *whine* Len is sure to get laugh out of is posted over a Cake Eater Chronicles:We interrupt this program -- but only because I KNOW how much he LOVES Microsoft and their products. Gaaawk!!!


Karen on 08.08.05 @ 06:56 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Those "Marvelous" Double Standards of Ethics...

“Robert Novak was in high dudgeon. He and his colleagues on CNN's “The Capital Gang” were squabbling over whether CBS should have run a story on President George W. Bush's National Guard service, a story which relied on documents whose authenticity had come into question. Novak—the show's resident curmudgeon, outfitted with a three-piece suit and permanently arched eyebrow—delivered his verdict. “I'd like CBS, at this point, to say where they got those documents from,” he growled. “I think they should say where they got these documents because I thought it was a very poor job of reporting by CBS.”

Resident liberal Al Hunt jumped in to clarify. “Robert Novak,” he asked, “you're saying CBS should reveal its source?” When Novak replied that he was, Hunt pressed him further. “You think reporters ought to reveal sources?” In a flash, Novak realized he had made a mistake; he began to backtrack. “No, no, wait a minute,” he said. “I'm just saying in that case.” So in some cases, Hunt continued, reporters should reveal their sources—but not in all cases? “That's right,” said Novak.

What Novak's fellow panelists on “The Capital Gang” knew that day, but most of the show's viewers probably didn't, was that much of Washington has spent the better part of a year waiting for Novak to reveal a source of his own….

Any one of these recent sins—plugging the books of the publisher that is providing income to one's family without disclosing the connection, repeatedly parroting an incendiary political charge that has proven to be false, or outing a CIA agent—might have been enough to put another journalist or columnist into scalding hot water. But Novak's actions have raised few eyebrows, and he brushes off the occasional complaints like crumbs from his vest.”

Bob in Paradise: How Novak created his own ethics-free zone. By Amy Sullivan; Courtesy of James Wolcott.

Karen on 08.08.05 @ 06:48 AM CST [link] [ | ]

From our pals at Landover Baptist Church....

[Where the worthwhile worship. "Unsaved are not welcome (as Jesus commanded)."™] here's your Handy Reference Guide to Cults. And, to occupy your child in that last week or so before school begins, here's a guide to Summer Reading for True Christian™ Kids.

Len on 08.08.05 @ 06:46 AM CST [link] [ | ]

More Selachophobia Wet-Dreams…???

”…Hey, remember when I was talking about Shark Week and how I missed it? Well, I caught a shark while I was fishing. Not a Great White or anything, but a shark. That was fun. Then we ate him. Or her. Not sure. I did not notice a shark cock or a shark vagina. Both of those things would make great names for bands.

Shark Vagina. It would also be fun to order that at a Red Lobster. You should do that next time you are at the Red Lobster. Right after the server tells you the specials, say excitedly, "Ooh, the Shark Vagina sounds great. I'll have that." Then when he tells you that wasn't a special and that they don't serve Shark Vagina, say, "Fine. Just bring me the Whale Balls, I don't care. I'm starving!"…

Posted by Mike at "Blogging like I've never blogged before."

Karen on 08.08.05 @ 06:42 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Hot Diggity Dog

A while back in March I did a post about The Hog Dog Program: An All American Culinary Cruise Through Hot Dog History and our “Hot Dog Extravanganza Days” at my house.

The producer, Rick Sebak (WQED) loved that idea of our "McLauchlan Hot Dog Extravaganza Days". He sent me a signed poster from the program. So here it is:

poster1 (64k image)

And Signed!!

signed (78k image)

Ranging around the border are the names of the Hot Dog Eateries featured.
Four of them as being the Best Dogs from Chicago:

superdawg (35k image)

portillo (32k image)

vienna (30k image)

demon (33k image)

So, if you’ve never caught a viewing of “The Hot Dog Program”…Be Warned, you need to have plenty of dogs, buns condiments and toppings At-the-ready to satisfy the Hot Dog cravings brought on by this delectable documentary.

Karen on 08.08.05 @ 06:39 AM CST [link] [ | ]

There can only be one "Meth Capital of the World"....

and given that it's not exactly the kind of distinction that your local chamber of commerce or economic development guru would tout to businesses making a decision on where to (re)locate, one would be forgiven for wondering where exactly is it? And, for that matter, why do so many local papers want to locate "The Meth Capital of the World" within their readership areas?

Len on 08.08.05 @ 06:36 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Thought for the Day:

It probably cost way too much to make, and please please don't let it become a [shudder] "franchise," but The Dukes of Hazzard (Warner Bros.) is a decent-enough rambunctious Southern-drive-in sort of time-waster, missing only the bare boobs that would make it the perfect socially irresponsible sexist entertainment for rednecks and uptight liberal elites who'd like to live the country-boy dream for a few hours. (Howdy, y'all!)
--David Edelstein

Len on 08.08.05 @ 06:30 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Gem o'the Day:

1. Instapundit - Calling Glenn Reynolds intellectually lazy would be to praise him. He doesn't write, he grunts. Has gained prominence by posting a lot and never making his audience think; has done those things by never thinking too much himself. Never met a Democrat he couldn't casually accuse of treason.
--Mithras at Fables of the reconstruction

In keeping with my principles, no link to Reynolds. If you really want to read his dreck you already know where to find him.

Len on 08.07.05 @ 09:26 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Debunking the conventional wisdom....

Retired LTG William E. Odom, U.S. Army, former head of the National Security Agency during the Reagan Administration (sterling liberal credentials, I'm sure), asks the question that nobody else seems to be willing to address: What's wrong with cutting and running?

If I were a journalist, I would list all the arguments that you hear against pulling U.S. troops out of Iraq, the horrible things that people say would happen, and then ask: Aren’t they happening already? Would a pullout really make things worse? Maybe it would make things better.

Here are some of the arguments against pulling out:

1) We would leave behind a civil war.
2) We would lose credibility on the world stage.
3) It would embolden the insurgency and cripple the move toward democracy.
4) Iraq would become a haven for terrorists.
5) Iranian influence in Iraq would increase.
6) Unrest might spread in the region and/or draw in Iraq's neighbors.
7) Shiite-Sunni clashes would worsen.
8) We haven’t fully trained the Iraqi military and police forces yet.
9) Talk of deadlines would undercut the morale of our troops.

1) On civil war. Iraqis are already fighting Iraqis. Insurgents have killed far more Iraqis than Americans. That’s civil war. We created the civil war when we invaded; we can’t prevent a civil war by staying.


2) On credibility. If we were Russia or some other insecure nation, we might have to worry about credibility. A hyperpower need not worry about credibility. That’s one of the great advantages of being a hyperpower: When we have made a big strategic mistake, we can reverse it. And it may even enhance our credibility. Staying there damages our credibility more than leaving.

Ask the president if he really worries about US credibility. Or, what will happen to our credibility if the course he is pursuing proves to be a major strategic disaster? Would it not be better for our long-term credibility to withdraw earlier than later in this event?

3) On the insurgency and democracy. There is no question the insurgents and other anti-American parties will take over the government once we leave. But that will happen no matter how long we stay. Any government capable of holding power in Iraq will be anti-American, because the Iraqi people are increasingly becoming anti-American.

Also, the U.S. will not leave behind a liberal, constitutional democracy in Iraq no matter how long it stays. Holding elections is easy. It is impossible to make it a constitutional democracy in a hurry.


4) On terrorists. Iraq is already a training ground for terrorists. In fact, the CIA has pointed out to the administration and congress that Iraq is spawning so many terrorists that they are returning home to many other countries to further practice their skills there. The quicker a new dictator wins the political power in Iraq and imposes order, the sooner the country will stop producing well-experienced terrorists.

Why not ask: "Mr. President, since you and the vice president insisted that Saddam's Iraq supported al Qaeda -- which we now know it did not -- isn't your policy in Iraq today strengthening al Qaeda's position in that country?"


5) On Iranian influence. Iranian leaders see US policy in Iraq as being so much in Teheran's interests that they have been advising Iraqi Shiite leaders to do exactly what the Americans ask them to do. Elections will allow the Shiites to take power legally. Once in charge, they can settle scores with the Baathists and Sunnis. If US policy in Iraq begins to undercut Iran's interests, then Teheran can use its growing influence among Iraqi Shiites to stir up trouble, possibly committing Shiite militias to an insurgency against US forces there. The US invasion has vastly increased Iran's influence in Iraq, not sealed it out.


6) On Iraq’s neighbors. The civil war we leave behind may well draw in Syria, Turkey and Iran. But already today each of those states is deeply involved in support for or opposition to factions in the ongoing Iraqi civil war. The very act of invading Iraq almost insured that violence would involve the larger region. And so it has and will continue, with, or without, US forces in Iraq.

7) On Shiite-Sunni conflict. The US presence is not preventing Shiite-Sunni conflict; it merely delays it. Iran is preventing it today, and it will probably encourage it once the Shiites dominate the new government, an outcome US policy virtually ensures.

8) On training the Iraq military and police. The insurgents are fighting very effectively without US or European military advisors to train them. Why don't the soldiers and police in the present Iraqi regime's service do their duty as well? Because they are uncertain about committing their lives to this regime. They are being asked to take a political stand, just as the insurgents are. Political consolidation, not military-technical consolidation, is the issue.

The issue is not military training; it is institutional loyalty.


9) On not supporting our troops by debating an early pullout. Many US officers in Iraq, especially at company and field grade levels, know that while they are winning every tactical battle, they are losing strategically. And according to the New York Times last week, they are beginning to voice complaints about Americans at home bearing none of the pains of the war. One can only guess about the enlisted ranks, but those or a second tour – probably the majority today – are probably anxious for an early pullout. It is also noteworthy that US generals in Iraq are not bubbling over with optimistic reports they way they were during the first few years of the war in Vietnam. Their careful statements and caution probably reflect serious doubts that they do not, and should not, express publicly. The more important question is whether or not the repressive and vindictive behavior by the secretary of defense and his deputy against the senior military -- especially the Army leadership, which is the critical component in the war -- has made it impossible for field commanders to make the political leaders see the facts.

Most surprising to me is that no American political leader today has tried to unmask the absurdity of the administration's case that to question the strategic wisdom of the war is unpatriotic and a failure to support our troops. Most officers and probably most troops don't see it that way. They are angry at the deficiencies in materiel support they get from the Department of Defense, and especially about the irresponsibly long deployments they must now endure because Mr. Rumsfeld and his staff have refused to enlarge the ground forces to provide shorter tours. In the meantime, they know that the defense budget shovels money out the door to maritime forces, SDI, etc., while refusing to increase dramatically the size of the Army.

As I wrote several years ago, "the Pentagon's post-Cold War force structure is so maritime heavy and land force weak that it is firmly in charge of the porpoises and whales while leaving the land to tyrants." The Army, some of the Air Force, the National Guard, and the reserves are now the victims of this gross mismatch between military missions and force structure. Neither the Bush nor the Clinton administration has properly "supported the troops." The media could ask the president why he fails to support our troops by not firing his secretary of defense.

■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■

So why is almost nobody advocating a pullout? I can only speculate. We face a strange situation today where few if any voices among Democrats in Congress will mention early withdrawal from Iraq, and even the one or two who do will not make a comprehensive case for withdrawal now. Why are the Democrats failing the public on this issue today? The biggest reason is because they weren’t willing to raise that issue during the campaign. Howard Dean alone took a clear and consistent stand on Iraq, and the rest of the Democratic party trashed him for it. Most of those in Congress voted for the war and let that vote shackle them later on. Now they are scared to death that the White House will smear them with lack of patriotism if they suggest pulling out.
The more one thinks about it, the better early withdrawal from Iraq looks.

Len on 08.07.05 @ 08:44 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Go have your say....

What are the World's Ugliest Animals? Go have a crack at rating them yourself (selachophobe safe; no shark pics, at least not when I looked).

Len on 08.07.05 @ 08:12 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Why don't we get ads like this on U.S. TV?

The Big Ad.

Bloody brilliant.

Credit: Pete Vonder Haar.

Len on 08.07.05 @ 05:51 PM CST [link] [ | ]

What the hell has gotten into David Eckstein?

He's not supposed to hit a walk off grand slam to help the Cardinals come from behind to win it in the bottom of the 9th. That's Pujols's or Edmonds's job.

But we'll take it. Any way we can get it.

[NOTE: This would have been posted in a timely manner (like, within seconds after Eck's blast). But for some reason my DNS server decided to take a few hours off, and as a result I couldn't post until now. Dammit.]

Len on 08.07.05 @ 05:45 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Thought for the Day:

Len on 08.07.05 @ 02:48 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Considerations of A Lifetime…

Robert F. Bauer (practices political law at Perkins Coie, Washinton D.C.) has written this thoughtful and thought provoking Op-Ed piece for the Washington Post: A Court Too Supreme For Our Good:

We think of appointments to the court as lifelong, but Article III of the Constitution says nothing about "lifetime appointments." It provides that justices (and judges on the lower federal courts) "shall hold their Offices during good Behaviour"; its purpose is to isolate justices from political pressures.

Many early justices served reasonably brief tenures. The first chief justice of the United States, John Jay, served five years. By comparison, the fourth chief justice, John Marshall, remained on the court for 34 years. Marshall is generally considered the greatest chief justice. But his decision to stay on, unlike George Washington's choice to step down after eight years as president, set the court and the presidency on divergent paths, to the discredit of the court. We are paying for Marshall's precedent today, just as we are the beneficiaries of Washington's foresight.

Supreme Court justices are serving ever longer. Justices who left the court from 1971 to 2000 served an average of 25.5 years. The current chief justice has served for 33 years. Eighty-four-year-old John Paul Stevens has served for 29. Sandra Day O'Connor retired after 24. John Roberts is 50, and if he serves until he is Stevens's age, he will be on the court until 2039. There is no comparable political position in this country that allows a powerful officeholder, unless called to the next world, to determine his or her own length of service in this one.

Give it a full read and see about his *suggestions* for re-examining these "lifetime" tenures on the Supreme Court.

Karen on 08.07.05 @ 11:48 AM CST [link] [ | ]


"Congress' passage of a porcine obscenity of a transportation bill crafted by GOP leaders was further confirmation of the Republicans' emergence as big spenders every bit as reckless as the Democrats. The $286 billion measure – supported by every San Diego-area lawmaker – contains many worthy projects. But the final tab was inflated by $23 billion to cover the cost of 6,371 special requests from lawmakers – more than 40 times the "earmarks" seen during the Reagan years. How out of control was it? Not only did Alaska Republican Rep. Don Young, the worst porkmeister in history, succeed in securing hundreds of millions of dollars for roads and bridges that will barely be used in his near-empty state, but he also got $3 million to pay for a documentary about Alaskan infrastructure improvements. In other words, he got taxpayers to fund a movie about his success in snagging pork. We are not making this up.

But such excess is the norm since George W. Bush took office – and the bloat goes far beyond the rise in defense and homeland security spending after 9/11. Domestic outlays went up by 36 percent during his first term, putting Bush in LBJ's class as a big spender.

So the next time you hear a Republican lawmaker describe himself as a fiscal conservative, please groan aloud. This isn't Ronald Reagan's GOP. It's Don Young's. And the nation is much the worse for it."

Transportation bill reflects GOP profligacy San Diego Union-Tribune.

Even Irwin Seltzer (Weekly Standard) while delusionally daydreaming in this article title Goldilocks Economy, that "...if [the bAdmin] had the skills needed to explain to voters that it has been a fine steward of their economic interests, these legislative extravagances notwithstanding. For we are living in an economy that is about as good as it gets." [Cough...Ghaaak... Sputter!! Excuse me while I spew coffee out through my nose. LOL] has this to say about the highway bill:
"...And the highway bill ($286 billion over six years, up 31 percent from the last highway bill) makes the energy bill seem like chump change. It contains so much pork, including many hundreds of millions for everything from bike paths to bridges-to-nowhere in South Carolina and to no one in Alaska (both states homes to key committee members), that only a president who feels his economic record needs shoring up would consider signing it. It is, after all, $28 billion above the president's veto limit of last year, a difference that only Washington politicians such as House speaker Dennis Hastert would dare precede with the adjective "only."

Maybe Mr. Seltzer forgot to add the qualifier of "this is as good as it gets" for an economy under The Biggest Spenders of All Time - Robber-Barons of the GOP and their Deficit Genius/ What-Me-Worry-About-Red-Ink President.

Karen on 08.07.05 @ 11:29 AM CST [link] [ | ]


And also in the "Brilliantly Funnie" Category --Is the return of DaliWood [from a short self-imposed blogging haitus - and *possibly* under the influence of that *bloggie virus* sweeping the nation.]

At Last My Love Has Come Along:

"The Dali is always interested in helping his followers find the true happiness of enduring love. With that in mind, he's launching DaliDates, a free service that will bring together quality singles in the fervent hope that they'll find bliss. Oh sure, you could waste your time and gobs of money at e-harmony.com (or largefriends.com for horny porkers), but the Dali will never charge you for happiness. It's a gift.

With some amusing *entries* [and pictures] of followers seeking DaliDates™. TOO Funnie!!!

:-) [Glad you're back DaliWood!! *wink*]

Karen on 08.07.05 @ 08:35 AM CST [link] [ | ]


Oh, Wiskey Bar does IT again. [And I just can't resist Terrible Clever and Brilliantly FUNNIE Stuff. "Oh, don't ask why. Oh, don't ask why..."]

So give a full read to Radio Daze, which has this opening:

President's Radio Address; Crawford, Texas:

"THE PRESIDENT: Good morning. Like me, many across this great land are taking lengthy vacations this month, to escape the roasting hot weather made possible by my bold policy of global climate enhancement. However, it has been brought to my attention that a relatively small number of families are not enjoying the summer nearly as much as I am, because their fathers, mothers, brothers, sons and/or daughters have been wounded and/or killed in the War of Heroic Action against Terrorism for the Future of a United Christian Kulture -- or, as my NSC counterterrorism experts sometimes call it: WHATtheFUCK?"

Bilmon yer ON FIRE and Hitting on all Cynlinders!!!

Karen on 08.07.05 @ 08:07 AM CST [link] [ | ]

"The Soy of Sex" ???

You decide.

From this article: Vegan Vixens Bite Beef Eaters:

”…Meet the Vegan Vixens, a group of scantily clad California models and actresses who have joined forces to titillate, tantalise and ultimately transform the beef-loving American male and his traditional dependence on a diet of burgers, steaks and ribs.

After years of listening to somnolent vegetarians drearily denouncing the horrors of the slaughterhouse and promoting the virtues of cabbage, an aspiring actress with the improbable name of Sky Valencia felt the vegan message — of total abstinence from all animal products — was not getting through.

She decided that it was time to try cleavage and bawdy jokes about cucumbers, not to mention a party at the Playboy mansion and the key ingredient in the modern American media diet, a row about a naked breast.

What started as a light-hearted attempt to portray the vegan lifestyle has turned into a television phenomenon. After only five episodes on a Californian cable channel, the Vegan Vixens are attracting national attention. One New York newspaper dubbed them “the soy of sex”.

So far they have had no discernible impact on US meat consumption, which still weighs in at more than 65lb per capita per year, but men who would never dream of ordering a veggie burger are suddenly searching for the Vegan Vixens website.

“Party with the world’s sexiest vegan girls while they arouse your senses and put you under their spell,” promises a trailer for the series. “It’s like no other show you’ve ever seen.” …”

Karen on 08.07.05 @ 07:54 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Can’t keep a A Devil Zombie Down…

Novak “may” be suspended from CNN (or a mutually agreed upon “leave of absence”) But Ole’ Carrion Bob [A.K.A. The Prince of Darkness] just can’t SHUT UP.

He’s just got to stay busy and penned this ditty that appeared on Real Clear Politics yesterday: Mutually Assured Scandal.

But don’t go getting all excited. It is NOT about his role in the Plame matter or any futher answers to those questions. Nor is it about his inexcusable hissy-fit on CNN. It’s just about some little tit-for-tat moves by the GOP in retaliation for ethics charges against House Majority Leader Tom DeLay. [And not much on that either.]

But more to prove that - a lá Dr. Frankenstein's "Monster" - one can reanimate a Corpse and keep it writing columns Long After it’s “Expiration DATE.” LOL

Karen on 08.07.05 @ 07:32 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Getting Wired(less) in America....

"...But Hermiston [Oregon] is actually a global leader of our Internet future. Today, this chunk of arid farm country appears to be the largest Wi-Fi hot spot in the world, with wireless high-speed Internet access available free for some 600 square miles. Most of that is in eastern Oregon, with some just across the border in southern Washington.

Driving along the road here, I used my laptop to get e-mail and download video - and you can do that while cruising at 70 miles per hour, mile after mile after mile, at a transmission speed several times as fast as a T-1 line. (Note: it's preferable to do this with someone else driving.)

This kind of network is the wave of the future, and eastern Oregon shows that it's technically and financially feasible.

Indeed, we need to envision broadband Internet access as just another utility, like electricity or water. Often the best way to provide that will be to blanket a region with Wi-Fi coverage to create wireless computer networks, rather than running D.S.L., cable or fiber-optic lines to every home.

So if the first step was to get Americans wired, the next step is to make them wireless...."

When Pigs Wi-Fi by Nicholas D. Kristof (NY Times).

Karen on 08.07.05 @ 06:57 AM CST [link] [ | ]

The Picasso...

Back In March we had a Family Field Trip to downtown Chicago to do some touring and take pictures. I posted this picture of the family in front of The Picasso:


Then in early July got this request from Jon Mills, a designer with Novem Studios, to use this photo of the Picasso sculpture in downtown Chicago for a background of a website he was designing.

Sounded interesting.

So, Jon sent a message the other day that this was complete and included a link to view how the art work turned out. To see this, click on this link to Organize Records and Then Select the “CONTACT” button on at the top of the page.

Kinda Kool!! And I like the tonality and high contrast of the image.


Karen on 08.07.05 @ 06:37 AM CST [link] [ | ]

And, as always, I'm late to the party....

The Volunteer Tailgate Party, that is.

For those of you who are unclear on the concept, the VTP is the Rocky Top Brigade's answer to the various "Carnival of..." collections of favorite posts by random or not so random bloggers.

Not that it's anything to crow about (I don't think it is, myself), but this month's edition of the VTP does include a couple of submissions by yours truly. Ones you've already seen if you are a regular here, but what the heck. It's rare that I consider anything I do worth submitting, so sit back, get a beer and sandwich (if you're on a dial-up connection), and enjoy the pretty pictures after they load.

Len on 08.06.05 @ 10:06 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Making golf more interesting.

I have a running argument with my friends who are golfers.

I think golf (whether as a participant or a spectator) is just plain BORING!!!!!! Incredibly dull. Hypnotic, and not in a good sense. Or, to use a favorite line from George Carlin's masterful riffs on the subject, "It's like watching flies fuck. I get more excited picking out socks."

However, there are ways that one could certainly make golf a much more interesting pastime (at least for the spectators). Like injecting some element of danger into it. Randomly placed landmines on the course (concentrated on the greens, perhaps). Quicksand traps. And of course, fierce, man-eating large mammals (or reptiles) scattered around the course:

When I shared this with one of my golfer friends, she expressed doubts about the ability of a human being to outrun a charging bear. But she's not heard the established wisdom, so I took the opportunity to remind her of it.

Really, if you find yourself in this situation, you don't have to outrun the bear. You just have to outrun the slowest member of your foursome.


[NOTE: For the story behind this picture (which isn't a fake, though the actual story's not quite as interesting as the picture itself), hie thyself to The Urban Legends Reference Pages.]

Len on 08.06.05 @ 09:59 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Thought for the Day:

At various times, this movie wants to be different things. For a while, it's a Top Gun clone. Then it's War Games with a dose of the Star Trek episode "A Taste of Armageddon". ("War has to be messy!") Ultimately, it turns into Knight Rider in a Plane. It will come as no surprise that Stealth fails to provide any three-dimensional characters. The action, while high on pyrotechnics, is low on suspense. I suppose the aerial dogfights are cool - all five minutes of them (if you add them up). And the sight of Jessica Biel in a bikini is definitely eye-catching. But that's two minutes, tops. And to get to that scene, you have to wade through too much bad dialogue and predictable plotting to make it worth your while.
--James Berardinelli [on the film,

Len on 08.06.05 @ 09:07 AM CST [link] [ | ]

A Day Late...Again...

Ig Nobel tickets go on sale today:

[Which was Yesterday. Bleh!! And if I hadn't been *distracted* with inanities - I might have noticed earlier.]

But if you ever had a fancy to see this Prestigious Awards Ceremony in Person:

"IG NOBEL TICKETS go on sale this Friday, August 5, at noon (Boston time).

The ceremony will occur on Thursday night, October 6, at Harvard's Sanders Theatre. The event always sells out. So... it's a good idea to get tickets early."


Karen on 08.06.05 @ 08:49 AM CST [link] [ | ]


Now, don't get Me wrong... I like Babies, and sometimes I like Dolls (having bought many for my daughters- times 3). But YIKES-- this is just kinda CREEPY looking as a "Lifelike Newborn Doll":

Baby Grace Doll

Doll (42k image)

Product of the The Ashton-Drake Galleries.

[But at $129.00 to $249.00 these Dolls are not inexpensive for yer average 4-year old who wants to play "Mommie." But even American Girls Dolls run $80 to $100 per Doll, and add up with accessories, books and gear to quite a bundle of Bongo-Bucks to outfit.]

Karen on 08.06.05 @ 08:28 AM CST [link] [ | ]

English Channel Swimming....

...And NO That's not Like TeeVee or Internet "Surfing"...

"It isn't often that a young person does something alone that captures the attention of the whole world.

On this day in 1926, 19-year old New Yorker Gertrude Ederle became the first woman to swim the English Channel.

She chose a day so rough that steamship trips were canceled.

She not only completed the swim, but her time of 14 hours and 31 minutes broke a record that had stood for more than 50 years. A powerful swimmer, Ederle had won three Olympic medals and set 29 records before her channel adventure.

Her crossing turned her into an international celebrity and sparked a jump in the popularity of swimming. Today, some 55-million people in the U.S. enjoy swimming, ranking it only behind exercise walking and camping as Americans' most popular recreational activity."

Courtesy of US News Wire.

Karen on 08.06.05 @ 07:03 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Carrion Bob's Last Hurrah...

Bilmon at Wiskey Bar has written an absolute GEM of a HOWL about that incident with Robert "The Walking Dead" Novak "blooper." It's called (appropriately) Death Takes A Holiday:

"Reversing their earlier decision to keep the unburied corpse of Novak on the air, CNN executives have announced that the zombie propagandist's decaying flesh will be "temporarily" entombed in a lead-lined refrigerated crypt at the Hanford Nuclear Energy Reservation in Washington State.

Network executives acted Thursday after Novak's body staggered to its feet in the middle of a joint interview with the mummified remains of James Carville, and vomited a noxious heap of its own decomposed organs directly into the lap of CNN host Ed Henry. The reanimated corpse then lurched off the set, leaving a trail of wriggling maggots and liquified fecal matter behind it..."

And it just gets better from there. TOO Funnie!!!

But LONG overdue on CNN's part to declare Ole' Carrion Bob unfit for public consumption and a health hazard to the Nation.

Karen on 08.06.05 @ 06:56 AM CST [link] [ | ]

More FUN Reading...

I might have to get this book soon (tho' I'm not quite through my summer reading list as of yet - been a bit slow with all the other distractions):

Greenspan's Fraud: How Two Decades of His Policies Have Undermined the Global Economy by Ravi Batra.

With this "description"...

"For two decades Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan has held reign over economic policy, outlasting three presidents. His long tenure has had a profound effect on global economics and on individuals.

In this hard-hitting exposé, international bestselling author Ravi Batra takes sharp aim at Greenspan's policies since he came into power. Greenomics, Batra argues, has extracted trillions of dollars from the American middle class and sharply benefited the rich, while protecting big business.

Batra proves that Greenomics has also been responsible for periods of irrational exuberance, and exposes the wild inconsistencies in his social security plans. Greenspan's Fraud explores Greenspan's influences and motivations and the discrepancies between his words and actions, while revealing how his policies have national and global impact."

Karen on 08.06.05 @ 06:43 AM CST [link] [ | ]

And counting....

The George W. Bush Countdown Clock

Len on 08.05.05 @ 05:52 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Hoping For Peace...

Christopher Dickey (Newsweek) has this latest piece:Pre-Emptive Peace:

”…[T]hinking back over the last two and half years, that I had told what were essentially the same stories many times in many different ways. Before the invasion of Iraq, I had warned against the dangers of occupation, the likelihood of civil war and the spawning of new terrorist movements. "After the shock and awe, the sweets and flowers, the anarchy and atrocity, Iraq could well be called disarmed and dangerous," I wrote the week Saddam Hussein's statue was hauled down in Baghdad.

I was wrong about the sweets and flowers. We never saw them. But all the rest came to pass even more quickly and brutally than I’d anticipated. So there is an undertone of sadness and anger, but also of genuine incredulity, that runs through many of the columns. And that just won’t go away. Every day there are new events that hammer home the same essential problem: a basic misreading by this administration of the realities of the Middle East and, because of that, a fundamental negation of common sense.
Well, as I’ve found myself saying often over the last couple of years, let’s hope. But the insurgency in Iraq has grown worse, the terrorism (which is related but not always the same) has grown worse. And as that Iraqi Army stands up, you can bet its generals will see democracy as an obstacle in their efforts to crush their enemies. The United States has a record dating back at least a century trying to establish what used to be called “apolitical constabularies” in countries it occupied. But as soon as its local men got strong, and the U.S. military decided it could leave, those locals became strongmen.

Looking back over the 99 previous Shadowland columns, there's a narrative there. The historian Barbara Tuchman might have called it "the march of folly": a story of grand designs with unintended consequences, the bold strokes of vainglorious men—President George W. Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld—foiled by the complex nuances of societies that they evidently thought they could dominate without bothering to comprehend. They were going to fight a pre-emptive war to build permanent peace. What they gave us was a war we never needed to fight, and no hint of peace in sight...."

The entire article is very well written with links to the earlier pieces he has covered about this evolving and worsening War for Peace. Give it a full read at the link above.

Karen on 08.05.05 @ 03:05 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Social Bunnies

As you may [or NOT] have been following lately in the World of Karen, Techno-Dweeb™; I have entirely revamped our home office and PC’s [but have my PC yet to wipe and reinstall XP. *Sigh*]

This entire fiasco of epic Techno-Headache proprotions was owing to certain children and their *whining* over a SIMs game.

Now that they are able to play SIMs again, we have uncovered a new feature in SIMs 2: The Social Bunny.

If your character is poor at socializing, or has failed to adequately meet and greet enough friends to the point of his “social” monitor decreasing to “empty” – A Giant Bunny drops from the sky: The Social Bunny.

SocialBunnie (141k image)

The purpose of The Social Bunny is to interact and talk to your SIM to build up it’s socialization skills and social monitor points back to an acceptable level. All the social practice your SIM needs.

Ahhh!! Just what we could use in the Real World™-- Eh? A Social Bunny to aid the socially disaffected and ill-prepared. Or just to alleviate that awkwardness of poor-social skills.

Wouldn’t that be great!!! Something we could all use more of - Social Bunnies.

[And mercifully, when it’s job is done, The Social Bunny takes a big *HOP* and disappears back into the SIMs programming. We should all be so lucky!!]


Karen on 08.05.05 @ 11:17 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Bird Blogging...

In honor of a Friday Posting from certain retired Blogger who is *missed* around here: I had to post this picture of a Red Headed Whooping Crane (and a short story of where this photo was taken.)

Crane1 (150k image)

Crane2 (170k image)

We are in the midst of an Office move from Broadview to Elmhurst and have been driving between the two areas loading up boxes.

Near our old Office is a peculiar little cemetery located in the heart of an Industrial Building / Office Complex. I say "peculiar" because it seems so out of place in that locale – tho’ it clearly existed before the complex was created and grew surrounding this tranquil island of peaceful resting places for the dear departed. It's also a cemetary still actively in operation as there is yet room for more graves and occassional additions to its inhabitants are interred there.

We’ve always remarked on the cemetary's Odd, out-of-character with it’s current environs feeling. But as we drove up to it on this past Saturday-- Lo and Behold was this magnificent Red Headed Whooping Crane - also out of its environs and quite a spectacle to behold.

Not that I needed to take (or post) two pictures, but more to show the SIZE of this thing (as compared to the headstones in the background) you can see how TALL it is. Taller than me I am sure, if I’d been able to stand along side of it.

So for a “Friday Bird Blogging” - Enjoy!!!

Karen on 08.05.05 @ 09:56 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Blog's Away....

"Earlier this week, Technorati, a Web site that indexes blogs, released its semiannual "State of the Blogosphere" report. It records a steady, and astonishing, growth. Nearly 80,000 new blogs are created every day, and there are some 14.2 million in existence already, 55 percent of which remain active. Some 900,000 new blog postings are added every day - a steady increase marked by extraordinary spikes in new postings after incidents like the London bombing. The blogosphere - that is, the virtual realm of blogdom as a whole - doubles in size every five and a half months.

If the blogosphere continues to expand at this rate, every person who has Internet access will be a blogger before long, if not an actual reader of blogs.
...But blogs are often just a way of making oneself appear on the Internet. It's like a closed-circuit video camera that catches a glimpse of you walking by an electronics store window filled with televisions. There you are in all your glory, suddenly, if not forever, mediated. Starting your own blog used to require a certain amount of technical expertise. Now you can do it from within popular Web portals like MSN and AOL, using tools that make it almost as easy as sending e-mail....

Interesting statistics, but [as Len has often pointed out] the attrition rate is also very HIGH in the blogging world. [Except those of us afflicted with that "Bloggie Virus" who just can't seem to stop finding things to say and comment about. Blog's Away....]

Karen on 08.05.05 @ 07:24 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Fake Science 101

"...There are several reasons why fake research is so effective. One is that nonscientists sometimes find it hard to tell the difference between research and advocacy - if it's got numbers and charts in it, doesn't that make it science?

Even when reporters do know the difference, the conventions of he-said-she-said journalism get in the way of conveying that knowledge to readers. I once joked that if President Bush said that the Earth was flat, the headlines of news articles would read, "Opinions Differ on Shape of the Earth." The headlines on many articles about the intelligent design controversy come pretty close.

Finally, the self-policing nature of science - scientific truth is determined by peer review, not public opinion - can be exploited by skilled purveyors of cultural resentment. Do virtually all biologists agree that Darwin was right? Well, that just shows that they're elitists who think they're smarter than the rest of us.
...[Fake Research] doesn't have to attract significant support from actual researchers to be effective. All it has to do is create confusion, to make it seem as if there really is a controversy...."

Paul Krugman (NY Times).

Karen on 08.05.05 @ 06:59 AM CST [link] [ | ]

A random thought on World Jump Day....

After writing my original post, it occurred to me that this might just be an elaborate hoax, so I took a few seconds to check The Urban Legends Reference Pages, better known to many as "snopes.com". So far, the ULRP doesn't have any information about "World Jump Day", but I'll be keeping my eyes on that site just in case.

Len on 08.05.05 @ 06:57 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Thought for the Day:

Career highlights? I had two. I got an intentional walk from Sandy Koufax and I got out of a rundown against the Mets.
--Bob Uecker

[Obssessive baseball fan note: When Uecker claims to have gotten an intentional walk from Sandy Koufax, he's probably not exaggerating. Although a career .200 hitter, for some reason Uecker was one of the few players in the National League at that time who could consistently get hits off Koufax. In fact, although the Cardinals had signed Uecker as a backup to regular catcher Tim McCarver in 1964, Uecker wound up being the starting catcher for the Cards' home opener that season precisely because the Dodgers were in town, Koufax was starting that game for them, and as a batter Uecker came as close to "owning" Koufax as any other batter in the National League.]

Len on 08.05.05 @ 06:50 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Exhausting our Energies...

"...we are in a war. It is a war against open societies mounted by Islamo-fascists, who are nurtured by mosques, charities and madrasas preaching an intolerant brand of Islam and financed by medieval regimes sustained by our oil purchases.

Yes, we are financing both sides in the war on terrorism: our soldiers and the fascist terrorists. George Bush's failure, on the morning after 9/11, to call on Americans to accept a gasoline tax to curb our oil imports was one of the greatest wasted opportunities in U.S. history...."

Thomas Friedman (Ny Times).

Karen on 08.05.05 @ 06:47 AM CST [link] [ | ]

A day for the physics-challenged...

as Dave Palmer put it on the SKEPTIC mailing list. World Jump Day is July 26, 2006 at 11:39:13 GMT (I know, Greenwich Mean Time is so, like, obsolete, but that's what it says on the website so that's what I'm using).

The idea is that if they can get 600,000,000 freaking, brain-damaged idiots participants to all jump in unison at the appropriate time, the shock of 600,000,000 people landing on the earth will jar the earth into a new orbit. This, according to the website, will somehow "stop global warming, extend daytime hours, and create a more homogenous climate."


Actually, Cecil Adams already addressed this issue (sorta; the question posed to Cecil was "If every man, woman, and child in China each stood on a chair [Note: for analytic purposes, jumping off the ground and climbing on a chair is "equivalent" --LRC], and everyone jumped off their chair at exactly the same time, would the earth be thrown off its axis?", but that's close enough for our purposes). Cecil's answer:

The possibility of an actual test thus being remote, I have been forced to rely on my considerable powers of inductive logic, to wit: given the principle that every action has an equal and opposite reaction, when the Chinese get up on their chairs, they would essentially be pushing the earth down in the process of elevating themselves. Then, when they jumped off, the earth would simultaneously spring back, attracted by the gravitational mass of one billion airborne Chinese persons, with the result that the Chinese and the earth would meet somewhere in the middle, if you follow me. The upshot of this is that action and reaction would cancel each other out and the earth would remain securely in orbit.

Just for fun, however--after you've been doing this job for a while you get a pretty bizarre notion of what constitutes a good time--suppose 1,000,000,000 Chinese, give or take 27,000,000, were somehow to materialize atop chairs without their having to elevate themselves thereto. And suppose they jumped off.

Having performed astonishing feats of mathematical acrobatics (requiring the entire afternoon, I might note--sometimes I can't believe the crap I spend my time on), I calculate that the resultant thud in aggregate would be the equivalent of 500 tons of TNT. Not bad, but nowhere near enough to dislocate the earth, which weighs 6 sextillion, 588 quintillion short tons.
So I suggest that, on World Jump Day, you just ignore the jumpers. However, if you want to heap oodles of quite deserved abuse on them, be my guest.

Len on 08.04.05 @ 09:33 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Meanwhile, speaking of the Cardinals broadcast....

Apparently, it's official: the new flagship station for the St. Louis Cardinals Radio Network is KTRS, AM 550 (a station that will always be "KSD" to me, since that's what its call letters were back in Ye Goode Olde Days when the St. Louis Post-Dispatch owned KSD and its "sister" station KSD-TV (now KSDK)), ending the 52 year reign of KMOX, AM 1120, as the radio home of the Cardinals. An interesting thing about the deal: the Cardinals are taking a 50% ownership interest in KTRS, something they'd never get if they stayed at KMOX.

One of the "special" things about the Cardinals' affiliation with KMOX was that, as a high powered "clear channel" station, far-flung Cardinals fans could pick up the KMOX signal pretty much coast to coast. This is most assuredly not the case with KTRS. Interestingly enough, it appears that someone was thinking of this, as the announcement of the new affiliation included hints that the Cardinals and XM Satellite Radio were to ink a deal that would offer discounts on XM service to Cards fans.

But even with Wayne Hagin and Mike "Moonman" Shannon behind the mike, it won't quite be the same. I still feel like it's the end of an era.

Special Acknowledgement: Props to my best buddy, Dave, who emailed me the early Post-Dispatch story reporting that rumors of the change of affiliation were starting to percolate out. In the best of all possible worlds, I would have blogged this earlier, but, alas, Real Life™ is interfering.

Len on 08.04.05 @ 09:17 PM CST [link] [ | ]

How things change....

Listening to the Marlins-Cardinals game tonight, Mike Shannon is remembering things in 1967. Field box seats right behind home plate cost $3.50 apiece, tax included (as the Moonman kept telling us).

And now? Well, doing some idle mucking around the Cardinals website, I can't even find a game with seats available in that area for sale. But the Field Box Infield seats (sort of the "same" sections down the baseline, vice behind home plate) now cost $60.00 apiece (at that rate, tax better be included), so the Field Boxes behind home plate are probably lots more.

After all, as Bob "Mr. Baseball" Uecker pointed out, talking about catching Phil Niekro's knuckleball:

It was great. I got to meet a lot of important people. They all sit behind home plate.
And those important people can afford to pay a lot to see a ballgame. Meanwhile, $3.50 won't buy you a beer, much less a ticket.

UPDATE: As I was finishing this up, my dad called to shoot the breeze, and we talked a bit about this. According to his sources, field boxes behind home plate go for $160 apiece. However, before you blow a gasket, keep in mind the other thing Dad told me: these seats are part of the high-end field boxes, where your (or more likely, your company's, your law firm's, your supplier's, etc.) $160 buys you valet parking, a sumptuous buffet in the Cardinals Club, suitably submissive peons who scurry to and fro to take your food and drink orders and bring them back to you, so you don't have to take your eyes off the game... I've watched a game from these seats (though by the visitors' dugout, not behind home plate), and frankly, if money is no object, these seats are well worth the price.

Len on 08.04.05 @ 08:30 PM CST [link] [ | ]

"IF Ever I Would Leak You"....

This one is a GEM too good to pass up: The Capital Steps have done a musical version about the Karl Rove Leak of the CIA "SECRET" Operative Identity of Valerie Plame to the the tune of "If Ever I Would Leave You". This one is a HOWL and these folks are very clever!!

So, click on the link and give it a listen. :-)

Karen on 08.04.05 @ 03:53 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Gotta LOVE this one...

From Dana Milbank (Washington Post) on Our Fearless Leader's Reprising a War With Words.

"..."We actually misnamed the war on terror," [Bush] said. "It ought to be the Struggle Against Ideological Extremists Who Do Not Believe in Free Societies Who Happen to Use Terror as a Weapon to Try to Shake the Conscience of the Free World."

Or, if you prefer to abbreviate, SAIEWDNBIFSWHTUTAAWTTTSTCOTFW."

And it's recently Reprised War between the Prez and his bAdministrative Aides in this updated version from Dan Froomkin's (Washington Post) piece: War: The Metaphor:
"...The much-discussed would-be change in locution to "global struggle against violent extremism" -- from G-WOT to G-SAVE -- had become a source of mirth to some administration critics."

Karen on 08.04.05 @ 03:22 PM CST [link] [ | ]

More False and Misleading GOP Activities...

Ah, but ya got to hand it to them for their *ingenuity* and *machinations* --

A new organization of high-level GOP operatives, cynically named the American Center for Voting Rights ("ACVR"), released six press releases this week to tout its new "report" accusing Democrats and liberal organizations of massive "Election Fraud" in the November 2004 Presidential election. The releases and report contain false and misleading information intended to advance GOP plans to disenfranchise millions of voters via legislation calling for national voter registration databases and a demand for photo IDs at the polls. Though the report claims to focus on "Election Fraud" by both parties, in fact, it documents almost exclusively only incidents of alleged voter registration concerns, and only those which involve left-leaning voting organizations.
Despite mountains of confirmed evidence to the contrary, the releases and report attempt to portray the Republican party and its highly paid operatives around the country as having had nothing do with Election Fraud, Voter Registration Fraud, or the thousands of reports of Voter Disenfranchisement and Voting Machine Misallocation in predominately minority areas around the country last November.

ACVR outrageously claims to be a non-partisan, tax-exempt, 501(c)(3) group, but is in fact run solely by high-level GOP operatives. Executive Director Mark F. "Thor" Hearne, was the National General Counsel for Bush/Cheney '04 and Press Spokesman Jim Dyke, was the 2004 RNC Communications Director responsible for ensuring operatives dressed in "Flipper" costumes were present at John Kerry campaign events.
The six most recent ACVR press releases, each dealing with a different state, have followed the recent Pentagon PR tactic of reusing a quote over and over, changing just a word or two, and hoping that no one will notice. However, according to the Associated Press, the Pentagon last Friday apologized for doing this and ordered the "egregious" practice to cease. The ACVR is apparently just getting started.

The attempts to mislead Americans into believing there is a "Voter Fraud" epidemic in this country is false, unsupported and disingenuous. This past June, the Cleveland Plain Dealer, citing a recent investigation by the Coalition on Homelessness and Housing in Ohio and the League of Women Voters, reported that of 9,078,728 votes cast in Ohio in 2002 and 2004, only four were fraudulent. Clearly, rampant voter fraud in Ohio is "a myth" being used to impose new restrictions on voters in future elections.

In contrast, it is well established that Republican Operative Nathan Sproul and Associates was paid millions of dollars by Team Bush to register Republicans and subsequently shred thousands of Democratic voter registration forms in key swing states such as Pennsylvania, Minnesota, Oregon, Michigan, Ohio, Florida and West Virginia. In fact, according to the Baltimore Chronicle and others, Sproul is now the subject of a broad criminal investigation. "Just as the Bush Administration did during its run-up to war and the Swift Boat Veterans did when attacking John Kerry, ACVR creates phony and misleading information and releases it to the press as if it were true. It then uses the resulting press articles to argue in support of its corrupt agenda," said Friedman. "These tactics are an affront to all good Americans who support true democracy."

VelvetRevolution supports the right of American citizens to vote in free, fair, open, transparent and verifiable elections. It opposes national Voter Registration Databases and Photo ID requirements because they will greatly restrict a free democracy in America.

Courtesy of US News Wire.

Karen on 08.04.05 @ 03:12 PM CST [link] [ | ]

“Sponge-Brain” Dobson...

...Is at it again.

The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) was extremely disturbed by Dr. James C. Dobson's comments in a Focus on the Family radio broadcast this week comparing embryonic stem-cell research to the medical experiments carried out by Nazi doctors during the Holocaust.

"There is no legitimate comparison between stem-cell research, which seeks to find a cure for disease and to counter human suffering, and the perversion of science and morality represented by the actions of Nazi doctors who deliberately tortured their victims in medical 'experiments,'" said Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director. "While reasonable, decent people may legitimately differ in their views of embryonic cell research, it is a gross distortion - and an offensive misuse of the Holocaust - to compare stem-cell research to the hideous barbarities of Nazi pseudo-science."

In a letter to Dr. Dobson, the League called on the Focus on the Family chairman to immediately repudiate his remarks and apologize to those offended by his statements in the August 3rd radio program. The letter noted that Dr. Dobson's suggestion that the Nazi experiments could have resulted in "discoveries ... that benefited mankind" was "especially odious."

The Anti-Defamation League, founded in 1913, is the world's leading organization fighting anti-Semitism through programs and services that counteract hatred, prejudice and bigotry.

Courtesy of US News Wire.

Karen on 08.04.05 @ 03:00 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Domo arigato, Mr. Roboto

We've just received word that yesterday, semi-pro miniature golfer and prominent NashVegas nightlife blogger Mr. Roboto hung up his spikes and retired from blogging (though not from the semi-pro miniature golfing tour, AFAIK).

Good by and good luck, Mr. Roboto! You're always welcome in the comments here, as I'm sure you know. You'll be missed (and not just because of the fact that there will be fewer pictures of Nashville hotties on TNF).

Len on 08.04.05 @ 12:54 PM CST [link] [ | ]

I'm jealous.

Brock has attracted the first troll that this humble blog has attracted (as far as I'm aware; I'm not combing the archives to verify that). We've just received the following comment on Brock's post Happy to be there:

Why don't you move to Iran, North Korea, China, Syria, or Cuba and tell me how you like it there.
George Herbert Walker Bush
Of course, the sniveling coward used a fake email address: GeorgeHWBush@Texas.Com

Let me say it first: Jackass.

Len on 08.04.05 @ 12:08 PM CST [link] [ | ]

August in Memphis, and must be a slow news day....

More on the parks flap. Since writing the post linked to there, I've learned that the attorney to the Memphis City Council advised the council that it had no power to rename the parks, but the City Mayor (Willie Herenton), did. Mayor Herenton then took the question under advisement (either implicitly or explicitly; I don't recall reading which).

This morning, at a press conference, Mayor Herenton made a bold statement standing up for what's right and just by first declaring that he speaks as Mayor of the City of Memphis, not as a private citizen of African-American descent (thus paying obesience to the radical black faction), declaring that he would not rename the parks (thus paying his obesience to the Southern heritage faction), and then bravely passing two-thirds of the buck to the Riverfront Development Corporation (with respect to the ultimate decisions regarding Jefferson Davis and Confederate Parks) and passing the remaining 33 and 1/3 cents to the University of Tennessee (with respect to the ultimate decisions regarding Forrest Park, which is located across the street from the Memphis campus of the university's Health Science Center (i.e., schools of medicine, dentistry, pharmacy, nursing, social work, allied health professions and graduate health sciences, and associated clinical medical facilities), by recommending that the parks (and therefore the right to rename them or not) be conveyed to those entities. [NOTE: The preceding passage is a test of your browser's ability to correctly parse the HTML "sarcasm" tags...]

Wow, what a way to dodge the bullet and duck responsibility. I have to confess being seriously impressed.

Interesting comment of the day: Riverfront Development Corporation president Benny Lendermon is quoted as asking, "But I'd also be interested in why the city is making this offer."

Apparently he took that saying about Greeks bearing gifts to heart.

And, by the way, we're still scheduled to hear from Rev. Al Sharpton yet, so further hilarity will no doubt ensue. Stay tuned!

Len on 08.04.05 @ 12:02 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Animals All Around…

Just a few of Today’s Animal Stories in the Local paper.

Toxic Fish

Alligator in Antioch

Piranhas in Wauconda

Korean (K)loned Dog

Human Bird Flu

People and Pig Deaths in China

Cow Loving Goose (Lucy) Killed when Stepped On

Giant Panda Birth in San Diego Zoo

4-Foot Ape on the Loose in Elgin

[Courtesy of The Daily Herald.]

But I am sure there are more Wild Stories out there in this Animal Planet !! :-)

Karen on 08.04.05 @ 10:41 AM CST [link] [ | ]

George Carlin had it nailed....

about the First Iraq War, talking about George Bush the Elder:

Even the man's name--Buuuuussssssshhhhh--is the name for a secondary sex characteristic... Almost the genitals without really being the genitals. Now, if this man's name had been George Boner, maybe he would have felt better about himself, and we wouldn't be in this mess in the first place.
Over at Lean Left, they're citing some research that suggests that "aggressive conservatism" might just be correlated with doubts about one's masculinity:
“I found that if you made men more insecure about their masculinity, they displayed more homophobic attitudes, tended to support the Iraq war more and would be more willing to purchase an SUV over another type of vehicle,” said Willer said. “There were no increases [in desire] for other types of cars.”
Nice to have one's basic instincts confirmed. :-)

Len on 08.04.05 @ 08:40 AM CST [link] [ | ]

More Personality Quizzes....

Couldn't resist taking the "Harry Potter' personality quiz [Hat-tip to BSTommy] and here's my result:

Pirate Monkey's Harry Potter Personality Quiz
Harry Potter Personality Quiz
by Pirate Monkeys Inc.

I keep turning out to be similar things. (Was Jean Luc Picard in two different Star Trek quizzes - actually three times since I took one quiz a second time to see what would happen if I answered slightly differently...but came out the same. Interesting!!) Which [overall] is - GOOD - since it reflects I exhibit the same personality with at least some consistency. LOL

Tho' I love wearing my tee-shirt that says:

"Which one of my personalities do you find offensive?"


Karen on 08.04.05 @ 08:29 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Hmmmmmm... Maybe there is a God....

From James Berardinelli (no internal links; scroll to post of August 4 titled "Burn, Bay, Burn"):

So Michael Bay's The Island is a box office disaster of Heaven's Gate proportions. Even with overseas sales and DVD proceeds figured in, this movie looks set to lose a ton of money.
Damn, that's quite an accomplishment.

But what I want to know is, how big a financial disaster was Battlefield Earth? Heaven's Gate proportions? Worse? Better?

Len on 08.04.05 @ 08:28 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Tech Post of the Month (maybe year)....

Are you a Firefox user? If so, have you ever noticed that despite the fact that Firefox has an integrated pop-up blocker function, some pop-ups seem to sneak through?

Well, Pete Bevin has found the answer: Apparently, some Evil Person discovered that popups can be called up from within Macromedia Flash... and when you do that, it avoids Firefox's native pop-up blocking.

The answer? Well, one is probably to use FlashBlock. I've installed FlashBlock on my work machine as an apparently successful solution to an unrelated problem, and the stealth pop-ups appear to have stopped on that machine (vice my home machine, which I've not yet installed FlashBlock on). But Pete details another way (The Short Version: you can configure Firefox to disallow the calling of pop-ups from plugins--not just Flash, incidentally, so it may be A Good Thing to so configure your Firefox install, even if you've installed FlashBlock). Go follow the link for the details.

Credit: Josh Schulz, who pointed me in this direction.

Len on 08.04.05 @ 08:05 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Thought for the Day:

Under perhaps the best Washington Post headline of the summer – "Bush Backs Rove, Palmeiro, 'Intelligent Design'" – Dan Froomkin reports that the President goes along with the ex-Ranger's story: "Rafael Palmeiro is a friend. He testified in public and I believe him."

But which Palmeiro does Bush believe? The one who said, "I have never used steroids. Period," in March – or the one who said Monday, "I have never intentionally used steroids. Never. Ever. Period."?

More Bush: "He's the kind of person that's going to stand up in front of the klieg lights and say he didn't use steroids, and I believe him. Still do." Even though Bush hasn't been a baseball owner in more than a decade, he hasn't forgotten how to look the other way. Somehow he still finds time to practice.
--Bruce Reed

Len on 08.04.05 @ 05:48 AM CST [link] [ | ]

USA to GOP: Drop Dead!!!!

Well, I can dream, anyway. But the truth is, the voters of Ohio's Second Congressional District came damn close to telling the GOP to drop dead.

I've mentioned Paul Hackett earlier. He's the Marine Reserve major, Iraq war veteran who was running for the Congressional seat in the Second District in Ohio.

Nope. He didn't win. But he came damn close. In a district where the Democratic candidate polls maybe, 30-40%, Major Hackett polled about 48%. The GOP candidate, Jeanne Schmidt, who should have won in a 60% (or more)-40% (or less) landslide, won by only 4 percentage points. I think Steve Gilliard said it best:

This is a GOP district which went 62-35 for Bush last year, now, nine months later, a well-known long time GOP legislator running in the Ohio GOP heartland, barely eeked out a win, in a district which hasn't sent a Democrat to Congress in 25 years.


Understand this: yesterday, thousands of Bush-supporting, longtime Republicans went into the booth and voted for a Democrat who attacked the President. A pro-choice moderate against the head of the local pro-life outfit.

These are people who haven't voted Democratic since 1980.
I'm not a Democrat (though their politics, being almost within hailing distance of the center lately, are more agreeable to me than that of the Rethugnicans), but I gave some money to the Kerry campaign in 2004. As a result, I got an email today from DNC Chairman Howard "He speaks for me" Dean:
No, Paul Hackett didn't get elected to Congress yesterday. But he received 48.2 percent of the vote in a district where the Democratic candidate received only half that in the last four elections.

The formula is simple. Paul Hackett didn't apologize for being a Democrat, didn't hold back from criticizing a president who has failed to lead in Iraq and at home, and took a strong Democratic message into the heart of a Republican stronghold.
Hopefully, that'll demonstrate that the Democratic Party is not only not dead, but just might shape up into a credible opposition party in time for the midterm elections....

I know I have at least one reader who may be seriously depressed by that news, but that would be A Very Good Thing.

Len on 08.03.05 @ 08:05 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Happy to be there

Congressman Jon Porter (R - NV) has returned from a visit to Guantanamo, and had this to say:

Many of these detainees have never had dental treatment ever. Now they have anesthesia and they have all the modern technology treatments, so a lot of them are actually very pleased because they are living better than they ever have. Many of them are happy to be there.


Josh Marshall.)

Brock on 08.03.05 @ 08:01 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Deja vu all over again....

From my best buddy Dave (still holding down the fort in St. Louis) I learn that as part of the "Final Season in Busch Stadium" festivities, they held a re-enactment (of sorts), by Beatles impersonators homage band "Liverpool Legends", of the last concert The Beatles played at Busch Stadium. The show took place before last Monday's Cardinals-Marlins game.

It was "Yesterday" all over again in downtown St. Louis.

Nearly 40 years after the Beatles played to some 23,000 fans on a soggy August evening, the not-quite-so-Fab Four returned for an encore performance Tuesday at Busch Stadium.

It was a decidedly drier - and significantly less frenetic - atmosphere that greeted the mop-haired look-alikes as they played to a small, but appreciative, gathering before Tuesday night's Cardinals-Marlins game.
Interestingly enough, unlike, say, a lot of Elvis impersonators and other acts which play to the seemingly endless nostalgia for defunct rock singers and acts, the "Liverpool Legends" have a connection of sorts to the originals:
The Liverpool Legends are managed by Louise Harrison, sister of the late George Harrison. Harrison said before Tuesday's concert that she was a young mother when she attended the Busch Stadium concert on Aug. 21, 1966, not long after the stadium opened.

She described the atmosphere that evening as electric.

"We were all mobbed," she said. "My children were 4 and 6 at the time and, to this day, they don't like to get into crowds."

Harrison, who makes her home near Mount Vernon, Ill., said she travels with the Liverpool Legends, a Chicago-based group, as a loving tribute to her brother and the other Beatles.

"The whole Beatles experience has been very positive for me, as it has been for the entire planet," she said. "Theirs was a message of love and peace, and it may be even more important today than it was back then."

Len on 08.03.05 @ 09:40 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Let the hilarity ensue....

Apparently, one of the big agenda items here in Memphis is a proposal to rename several city parks that are named for the Confederacy (Confederate Park) or for Confederate leaders (Forrest Park and Jefferson Davis Park). As big agenda items go, it strikes me as pretty silly, but then again, it is August in Memphis, and apparently not much goes on to amuse a body in Memphis in August.

Well, according to CG at Mama said there'd be days like this, there are reports that, apparently, onetime Democratic Presidential wannabe Rev. Al Sharpton is going to get himself involved in this one.

I'm going to keep an eye on this story now. You just can't buy entertainment like this, at any price.

For a slightly more sane rundown on the issues involved:

Len on 08.03.05 @ 09:12 AM CST [link] [ | ]

"It's Meeeee-me!" (that's a play on "meme"; apologies to Aaron for bastardizing his post title....)

Aaron (Dr. Abby's beau), has finally posted again. And in so doing, he picks up on a potential blog-meme that's occupied Dr. Abby as well. Go check it out; it's seriously weird. I thought for a minute I was having a drug flashback, and the weird thing is I don't take drugs (at least not unless they're prescribed by a duly licensed physician or available over the counter).

Len on 08.03.05 @ 08:50 AM CST [link] [ | ]

autoegocrat is in love again....

and this time his inamorata isn't in North Carolina, but is much closer to home. He's gone and actually endorsed State Senator Rosalind Kurita (D-Clarksville) for the primary to determine the candidate who goes on to contend for Bill "Cat Killer" Frist's seat in the U.S. Senate.

Color me much less enthusiastic (but I'm much less enthusiastic about Tennessee politics, period, since the political spectrum here seems to range from psychotically wingnut right all the way over to the "on a clear day you can see the center" right, with the possible exception of Shelby County, which is in its own little universe), but her main selling point: she's not Harold Ford, Jr.

And I heartily approve of that.

Len on 08.03.05 @ 08:33 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Bush flip-flops yet again (well, maybe)...

First it was "The Global War on Terror". Then, recently, we learned that it's all PR, and the name had been changed to "The Global Struggle Against Violent Extremism".

Now over at No Quarter, Larry Johnson (former CIA and State Department counter-terrorism expert) informs us that Bush is having second thoughts about that name change (well, that's assuming he had first thoughts about it, which on reflection strikes me as a most dubious assumption):

Stop the presses. WOT--the War on Terrorism may still be alive. The counter terrorism community is abuzz over the President's comments yesterday at a principals meeting of the Homeland Security Council. Bush reportedly said he was not in favor of the new term, Global Struggle Against Violent Extremism (GSAVE). In fact, he said, "no one checked with me". That comment brought an uncomfortable silence to the assembled group of pooh bahs. The President insisted it was still a war as far as he is concerned.
More to the point, though, Mr. Johnson shows why this seemingly insignificant semantic flap is symptomatic of a more serious problem:
The battle over language and the confusion within the National Security Council is an unfortunate reminder of the chaos that is afflicting the Bush Administration's effort to deal with terrorism. Unfortunately, every agency and department is doing its own thing without strong, clear direction or control from the White House. Makes longtime bureaucrats long for the days of Richard Clarke, when at least there was someone in charge.

While the Bush Administration has trumpeted that it is waging a war on terrorism rather than treating it as a law enforcement problem, the reality is that the terrorists do not present a target that can be readily attacked with military assets. In fact, the major captures of terrorist targets, such as Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and Hambali, have been carried out through intelligence operations or thru police round-ups.


The sad reality is that there is still no one in charge of directing a coordinated U.S. Government policy to combat terrorism. General Wayne Downing, who was put in charge in October of 2001, tried to do so but was slapped down by Don Rumsfeld. Downing resigned in frustration after spending less than a year on the job. Since then we have seen a virtual game of musical chairs, as different folks move in and out of the NSC slot responsible for coordinating terrorism policy.

At the end of the day this episode is a reminder of why Bin Laden is still at large. We cannot even agree on what to call the fight against Islamic radicals (FAIR is already taken as an acronym). We had WOT, thought about WOE, moved to GSAVE and may go back to WOT. Someone needs to find out WHAT is happening.
And to think that one of the reasons we elected the Nitwit in Chief (giving him the chance to inflict his deputy nitwits on us) is that some deluded percentage of the electorate thought that Sen. Kerry would be "ineffective" in countering terrorism.

Where on earth did we get the impression that Dumbya Bush was effective at it? I sure as hell don't see any evidence in support of that proposition.

Len on 08.03.05 @ 07:34 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Plenty of blame to go around....

A most excellent post by Juan Cole: Fisking the "War On Terrror".

One thing that Professor Cole notes, and that we should think long and hard about, is that the ultimate responsibility for the Mess in Mesopotamia goes all the way back to recently sainted late President Ronald Reagan, whose foreign policy fuckups got radical Islamism off the ground to begin with.

Granted, Dumbya Bush has taken foreign policy incompetence to breathtaking new heights. But he didn't invent it. Not by a long shot.

Thanks to Bryan at Why Now? for calling my attention to this (unfortunately, Prof. Cole's blog has slipped from my daily read list in a recent blizzard of work-related activity that's taking me away from other pursuits).

Len on 08.03.05 @ 07:08 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Speaking of “Blogging Too Much”…

....Is this Newsweek piece: Soldiers: War on Milblogs’:

”In his Weblog from Iraq, Spc. Leonard Clark of the Arizona Army National Guard spoke out against a war he thought a "travesty." According to his battalion commander, he also jeopardized operational security (OPSEC).

Late last month Clark was charged with reckless endangerment and failure to obey an order. He was demoted and docked pay.

"They are finally going to put a stop to me," Clark wrote before his blog shut down. Military personnel in Iraq must now register their "milblogs" with the higher-ups, who will review them quarterly. …”

Karen on 08.03.05 @ 06:58 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Bloggers tell too much???

Bloggers learn the price of telling too much by Martha Irvine (AP – Courtesy of Daily Herald)

“…Some are, however, finding that putting one’s life online can have a price.

A few bloggers, for instance, have been fired for writing about work on personal online journals. And Maya Marcel-Keyes, daughter of conservative politician Alan Keyes, discovered the trickiness of providing personal details online when her discussions on her blog about being a lesbian became an issue during her father’s recent run for a U.S. Senate seat in Illinois (he made anti-gay statements during the campaign).

Experts say such incidents belong to a growing trend in which frank outpourings online are causing personal and public dramas, often taking on a life they wouldn’t have if the Web had not come along and turned individuals into publishers.

Some also speculate that more scandalous blog entries — especially those about partying and dating exploits — will have ramifications down the road.

“I would bet that in the 2016 election, somebody’s Facebook entry will come back to bite them,” Steve Jones, head of the communications department at the University of Illinois at Chicago…”


I’ve always said that now that I’ve begun this Blogging with Len and Brock, I’ve probably scotched my chances to Run The World!!!

Drat!! Yep, someone will dig up these Bloggie Reminiscences and I’ll never Be Elected to That Exalted High Office in a time when [Finally] Women Run The World™.


Karen on 08.03.05 @ 06:39 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Thought for the Day:

The DeLay machine has made the House of Representatives (and at a secondary level, all of capitol hill) as corrupt as it's been for upwards of a century, perhaps more than a century if the true analogue is to be found in the 1880s and 1890s. But a lot of the current Democratic leadership still remembers the days before 1994. And though they may want to clean things up a bit, and certainly want to drive the Republicans from power, I think a lot of them don't want to change things that much. Because it'd be nice to have the perks from the old days back again. That's not surprising. That's human nature.
--Joshua Micah Marshall

Len on 08.03.05 @ 06:08 AM CST [link] [ | ]

More from the "So True It May Not Be Funny" Department:

From The Onion: Report: Our High Schools May Not Adequately Prepare Dropouts For Unemployment

WASHINGTON, DC—A Department of Labor report released Monday finds that America's high schools are not sufficiently preparing emerging dropouts for the demands of unemployment.

In a letter introducing the report, Labor Secretary Elaine Chao explained that schools routinely fail to impart dropouts with the critical lying- and sitting-around skills they need to thrive in today's jobless market.

"Our public high schools place too much focus on preparing kids for professional careers," Chao said. "This waste of resources leaves our dropouts, the majority of whom have no chance of ever finding a job, wholly unprepared to sleep till 1 p.m., or watch daytime television while eating ramen noodles out of an upturned Frisbee."

According to the study, America's weakest academic performers also drop out of high school without ever having learned to steal beer money from their housemates' change jars or wash their hair with bar soap.


Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings defended the nation's public-school system.

"Educators do a lot to ensure that the most hopeless students slip through the cracks," Spellings said. "Arbitrary rules, irregularly enforced discipline, and pointless paperwork are just the first things that come to mind."

She added: "Easy grading encourages students to be sloppy and late handing in homework—a skill that makes future deadbeats very competitive in stonewalling landlords and bill collectors."

Chao said educators need to think outside the classroom and give kids some real off-the-job experience.

"Increasing suspensions and expulsions is a good start," Chao said. "Furthermore, scoliosis exams should be made more routine, so students learn to adapt to the all-underwear wardrobe typical of the non-working class."

Chao also suggested that schools hold more blood drives, which would prepare dropouts for visits to their local blood-plasma donation centers for quick and easy cash.

Len on 08.02.05 @ 07:29 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Might have Made a BIG mistake…

…Showing this article -- Furby has `evolved,' but it still won't help clean your room -- to my daughter, Cory.

”Remember Furby? You may have gotten one for Christmas in 1998, when the first bird-beaked, big-eared creatures were introduced.

They were cute in a creepy way, and became a big hit--more than 40 million were sold. The toy was discontinued in 2000, but loads of Web pages devoted to Furby sprung up, including numerous hacking sites, and even a Furby plastic surgery site.

Now Furby is back, and it has "evolved." Bigger, and with six times the memory, Furby also is more lively, thanks to advanced voice recognition and new robotic technology Hasbro calls Emototronics. …”

Now, I’m going to have to search through endless toy bins in the crawl space to find one of these techno-critters for her to play with. And Yipes…these things NEVER shut UP.

[And as a funny aside, scared the crap out of our movers when they picked up a packed box and it began “Singing” in furbish!!! LOL]

Now, you tell me whether the Furby doesn’t look like My Chinchilla- Chin-Ho.


churchmouse (39k image)

Chin-Ho, The Chinchilla

See a resemblance??? :-)

Karen on 08.02.05 @ 11:38 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Inaccurate Silly Quizilla Type Thing:

A Star Trek Personality Test:

Take the Star Trek Quiz

No, I'm not Quark. Not by a long shot. I'm Reg Barclay if I'm any Star Trek character, but Reg wasn't even a result in this one.

Someone screwed up baaaaaaad.

Credit: Chris Lawrence at Signifying Nothing

Len on 08.02.05 @ 08:20 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Yep. That's what we're looking at.

Over at Fanatical Apathy, Adam Felber gives us a peek at The Bolton Diaries, Week 1:

August 3, 2005

Not a lot happened today. A little staff meeting in the morning to “share our feelings” about yesterday’s dust-up. Several underlings expressed their wish for a supportive, productive work environment. I then expressed my desire to cram a cantilevered desk lamp up each and every one of their asses. I think we found some common ground there (lol!).

Afterwards there was a “Security Council” meeting. Translation: The same pricks who were too busy picking out new panties for their boyfriends to get with the program on the Iraq thing wanted to get together to “rap” about the War on Terror. I waited until they’d gabbled in frog-talk for 20 minutes ( nobody’s going to make me wear those stupid earphones), and then I stood on the table and said, “Oooh, your opinions are sooooo valuable to me and the United States! Wait, let me take that down! No, wait, I have a better idea - let me share

Then I “dropped trou,” took a dump on the desk and walked out. Oh yes, yes I did. Left ‘em with something a little more relevant to think about. Ah, diplomacy. ;-)

August 4, 2005

I fucking
hate this place.
Credit: Tom at Pretty War

Len on 08.02.05 @ 07:29 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Just When Ya thought The waters was Safe...

....Comes this Fish poisoning Story [from last week, I KNOW, but I've been BiZeE!!! :-) ] from the Daily Herald:

"Fish poisoning sickens 5 people:
Grouper with buildup of naturally occurring toxin was consumed at Kane County restaurant

Ciguatera poisoning is an illness caused by eating fish that contain toxins produced by marine microalgae called Gambierdiscus toxicus, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

About 30 cases of ciguatera poisoning get reported each year, CDC statistics show, though health care providers are not required to report the illness, so the actual number of cases could be higher.

The illness can lead to severe headaches, nausea, vomiting and neurological symptoms causing tingling, numbness or temperature reversal in the mouth, where cold feels hot and hot feels cold.

This type of fish poisoning has no cure except for treatment of specific symptoms.
“There is no culpability of the restaurant with this type of issue,” Gross said.

Ciguatera poisoning occurs mostly from the consumption of barracuda, grouper, snapper, jacks, mackerel and triggerfish, the CDC said, particularly with fish caught on reefs in the Caribbean, and near Florida and Hawaii.

Overall, cases of toxic seafood poisonings are more common in the summer because the algae grows better in warmer months.

Health officials said the poisoning is rarely fatal and symptoms usually clear up in one to four weeks.

Yikes. Tho' I enjoy seafood -- Grouper, Snapper and these other fish will be off my list till this HOT Summer weather is Over and Gone. No need to push it with Toxic fish algae gowing in these extreme conditions. I'll wait for cooler conditions. :-)

Update: There are also additional articles about dead fish, birds and marine mammals increasing along the Pacific Coastal waters: Effects of global warming?
"Marine biologists are seeing mysterious and disturbing things along the Pacific Coast this year: higher water temperatures, plummeting catches of fish, lots of dead birds on the beaches, and perhaps most worrisome, very little plankton — the tiny organisms that are a vital link in the ocean food chain.

Is this just one freak year? Or is this global warming?
Scientists say things could very well swing back to normal next year. But if the phenomenon proves to be long-lasting, the consequences could be serious for birds, fish and other wildlife.

This much is known: From California to British Columbia, unusual weather patterns have disrupted the marine ecosystem.

Karen on 08.02.05 @ 07:12 AM CST [link] [ | ]

More about Ice Cream...

I posted about "National Ice Cream Day" [July 16th]- Another FAB Faux Holiday.

Well, an Ice Cream Sandwich sounds pretty good, Len. But ya can't beat Homemade Ice Cream in this piece from "American Profile" and a little Ice Cream History too:

"....In George Washington’s day, ice cream was made by what was called the “still pot” method. Milk, cream and sugar were put in a pewter bowl, and the bowl was set in a larger pot that was surrounded by ice and salt. It was stirred occasionally and took about four hours to harden. In the 18th century, ice and sugar were scarce and expensive.

“So ice cream was a food that was not enjoyed too often by too many,” says Ed Marks, an ice cream historian in Lititz, Pa. (pop. 9,029).

In 1843, Nancy Johnson invented and patented the first hand-cranked ice cream freezer. The machine reduced freezing time significantly, from several hours to about 20 minutes.

“Suddenly, there was all kinds of (hand-cranked) freezer competition and a proliferation of stores selling ice cream,” Marks says. “But basically, it was a retail business. You made it there and sold it there.”

The process of making ice cream has changed greatly since the days of the hand-cranked freezer. Nowadays, a small ice cream shop can mix up 40-quart batches, while commercial manufacturers use a “continuous-freezer process” that can make several thousand gallons of ice cream a day with one freezer.

Significant Dates in Ice Cream History

1843—Nancy Johnson invents and patents the hand-cranked ice cream freezer.

1851—Jacob Fussell of Baltimore opens the world’s first wholesale ice cream factory.

1878—William Clewell of Reading, Pa., invents the first ice cream dipper. Before that ice cream was not dipped or scooped, but spooned.

1892—Chester Platt, owner of Platt & Colt’s Pharmacy in Ithaca, N.Y., pours cherry syrup over vanilla ice cream for a customer, who names the creation a Cherry Sunday, for the day on which it was served.

1896—New York City street vendor Italo Marchiony creates the ice cream cone and has it patented.

1904—Pharmacist David Strickler creates the first banana split in Latrobe, Pa.

1905—Walkers Ice Cream in Warren, Pa., discovers how to use an ammonia brine to operate its freezer, eliminating the need for ice.

1919—Prohibition arrives and beer makers become ice cream makers. Their advertising dollars promote American interest in ice cream."

And there is also a recipe for making Homemade Vanilla Ice Cream!! Yummy. :-)

[Tho' I suggest an Electric powered Ice Cream Maker, unless ya have Lots of Hands to turn that Crank.]

Karen on 08.02.05 @ 06:54 AM CST [link] [ | ]

More Faux Holidays....

My sources (the same sources that informed me that yesteday was Girlfriends' Day) now inform me that here in the U.S. today is National Ice Cream Sandwich Day, or National "Pretty Is As Pretty Does" Day. So take your pick.

I suppose that I'll have an ice cream sandwich to celebrate.

Len on 08.02.05 @ 06:39 AM CST [link] [ | ]

More Falafel falls from the Mouth of “Loofah Man”

David Corn has this interesting Tid-Bit (and transcript) about getting dissed by Bill Loofah Man O’Reilly.

Loofah, it seems, can’t manage his No-Spin Zone anymore without drooling, slobbering and outright sliming anything and anyone with personal attack references:

”… David Corn is so beneath what we do here, it's a waste of my time. Number two, no one knows who he is. Number three, he's an irrational leftwing bomber that why would I bother with him? I'm not going to take a call like that. We want to take good calls, the calls that people can identify with. You know, why don't I challenge all of these slimy, sewer dwellers? I don't have time to do it. You know, we got a lot of stuff to do here on The Factor. We got a lot of causes that we're involved with that mean something. I'm not going to go after these idiots. I mean they're just, you know, beneath contempt….”

And WHO Listens to this SHIT from the Not-News-Fox-Network????

Given his penchant for “talking dirty” it sounds like it’s SHOWER TIME for Mr. Loofah (and perhaps a bar’o’soap for his filthy mouth too…long overdue.)

Karen on 08.02.05 @ 05:58 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Thought for the Day:

Everybody seems to have agreed to tiptoe around the report that Judge John G. Roberts said he would recuse himself in a case where the law required a ruling that the Catholic Church might consider immoral. According to Jonathan Turley, a professor of law at George Washington University, the judge gave this answer in a private meeting with Sen. Richard J. Durbin, D-Ill., who is the Senate minority whip. Durbin told Turley that when asked the question, Roberts looked taken aback and paused for a long time before giving his reply.

Attempts have been made to challenge Turley's version, and Sen. Durbin (who was himself unfairly misquoted recently as having made a direct comparison between Guantanamo, Hitler, and Stalin when he had only mentioned them in the same breath) probably doesn't need any more grief. But how probable is it that the story is wrong? A clever conservative friend writes to me that obviously Roberts, who is famed for his unflappability, cannot have committed such a
bêtise. For one thing, he was being faced with a question that he must have known he would be asked. Yes, but that's exactly what gives the report its ring of truth. If Roberts had simply said that the law and the Constitution would control in all cases (the only possible answer), then there would have been no smoke. If he had said that the Vatican would decide, there would have been a great deal of smoke. But who could have invented the long pause and the evasive answer? I think there is a gleam of fire here. At the very least, Roberts should be asked the same question again, under oath, at his confirmation.

It is already being insinuated, by those who want this thorny question de-thorned, that there is an element of discrimination involved. Why should this question be asked only of Catholics? Well, that's easy. The Roman Catholic Church claims the right to legislate on morals for all its members and to excommunicate them if they don't conform. The church is also a foreign state, which has diplomatic relations with Washington. In the very recent past, this church and this state gave asylum to Cardinal Bernard Law, who should have been indicted for his role in the systematic rape and torture of thousands of American children. (Not that child abuse is condemned in the Ten Commandments, any more than slavery or genocide or rape.) More recently still, the newly installed Pope Benedict XVI (who will always be Ratzinger to me) has ruled that Catholic politicians who endorse the right to abortion should be denied the sacraments: no light matter for believers of the sincerity that Judge Roberts and his wife are said to exhibit. And just last month, one of Ratzinger's closest allies, Cardinal Schonborn of Vienna, wrote an essay in which he announced that evolution was "ideology, not science."

Thus, quite apart from the scandalous obstruction of American justice in which the church took part in the matter of Cardinal Law, we have increasingly firm papal dogmas on two issues that are bound to come before the court: abortion and the teaching of Darwin in schools. So, please do not accuse me of suggesting a "dual loyalty" among American Catholics. It is their own church, and its conduct and its teachings, that raise this question.
--Christopher Hitchens

Len on 08.02.05 @ 05:00 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Breaking baseball news....

Rafael Palmiero of the Baltimore Orioles has been suspended for 10 days for violation of the MLB banned substances policy. Just about every source for the story that I've seen has stated that the suspension is for testing positive for steroids. Given that the MLB banned substance policy, unlike that of the minor leagues, is quite narrow (in MLB only steroids and recognized "drugs of abuse" such as cocaine and heroin are banned), and given that Palmiero isn't issuing indignant statements saying that he tested positive for one of those drugs of abuse ("It's cocaine!!!" "I was shooting up smack!!!!" "I was doing crack with a whore!!!!"), the odds are it's probably steroids that he got fingered for.

By happy coincidence, Baseball Prospectus is in the middle of their "Free Preview" week, so if you're interested you can read Will Carroll's quite informative "UTK Special" on the Palmiero case for free until Wednesday ("UTK" stands for "Under the Knife", Carroll's "medhead" Baseball Prospectus column about injuries and other medically oriented baseball news).

Len on 08.01.05 @ 06:19 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Posh Pads (Really Posh...)

And for a few places I Won’t be Buying and/or living in soon - Forbes has generated this list of Most Expensive Homes:

” The most expensive homes in the world are, for the most part, pretty much what you would expect: opulent, private and capable of making the neighbors sick with jealousy. What is surprising, however, is that in some parts of the world, they can be relatively modest, and even a bargain. …”

Oh, Right-O. After I make me first Billion or so…I’ll just have to get on the Realtor’s list of upcoming clients. Ha, ha, ha!!!


Pictures of these Bargains can be found at this link: Courtesy of AOL.

Karen on 08.01.05 @ 05:07 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Been a Loooong Day So far...

And this is just about HOW I woke up this morning too - Brought to you by Engrish.

And Yep... It is time to Occur - And it's been a good day in the Waiting for Me.


Karen on 08.01.05 @ 04:59 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Willfully Wasting Wifi??

Now here is one that I can really see eye to eye with on a purely intellectual level about whether - by allowing your home Wifi to be broadcast unencrypted into the public realm or street, you ought to be “allowed” to then make a claim against anyone who might be tempted to use IT -- OR this claim that You simply Can't Steal Wifi:

Like many in the tech community, I found it rather disturbing that someone could be arrested, and then charged with stealing a WiFi signal.

If you decide to water your lawn and turn on your sprinkler, and the run-off travels across the sidewalk, off of your property, and enters the drain, and then I come along and start to collect that water and put it into a bucket, you can't convict me for stealing your water. I never entered your property, never took a step onto your lawn, I simply never trespassed.

WiFi works the same. If you have a wireless connection in your home, and that connection spills over onto the street, how is that any different? While the signal, like the water, originated from your property, it has also left the property and entered into public property. In fact, I could say that when your signal leaves your house and enters my house, you are trespassing. So why not start arresting homeowners with WiFi?…”

Seem to be lots of Geeky Passion on both sides of this issue too. [See the comment section of this post.]

Courtesy of Digg.Com

Karen on 08.01.05 @ 04:52 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Ex-Gitmo prosecutors: "Military Commissions are rigged."

From ABC News--the Australian one, not the U.S.one: Leaked emails claim Guantanamo trials rigged

Leaked emails from two former prosecutors claim the military commissions set up to try detainees at Guantanamo Bay are rigged, fraudulent, and thin on evidence against the accused.

Two emails, which have been obtained by the ABC, were sent to supervisors in the Office of Military Commissions in March of last year - three months before Australian detainee David Hicks was charged and five months before his trial began.

The first email is from prosecutor Major Robert Preston to his supervisor.

Maj Preston writes that the process is perpetrating a fraud on the American people, and that the cases being pursued are marginal.

"I consider the insistence on pressing ahead with cases that would be marginal even if properly prepared to be a severe threat to the reputation of the military justice system and even a fraud on the American people," Maj Preston wrote.

"Surely they don't expect that this fairly half-arsed effort is all that we have been able to put together after all this time."

Maj Preston says he cannot continue to work on a process he considers morally, ethically and professionally intolerable.

"I lie awake worrying about this every night," he wrote.

"I find it almost impossible to focus on my part of mission.

"After all, writing a motion saying that the process will be full and fair when you don't really believe it is kind of hard, particularly when you want to call yourself an officer and lawyer."

Maj Preston was transferred out of the Office of Military Commissions less than a month later.

The second email is written by another prosecutor, Captain John Carr, who also ended up leaving the department.

Capt Carr says the commissions appear to be rigged.

"When I volunteered to assist with this process and was assigned to this office, I expected there would at least be a minimal effort to establish a fair process and diligently prepare cases against significant accused," he wrote.

"Instead, I find a half-hearted and disorganised effort by a skeleton group of relatively inexperienced attorneys to prosecute fairly low-level accused in a process that appears to be rigged."

Capt Carr says that the prosecutors have been told by the chief prosecutor that the panel sitting in judgment on the cases would be handpicked to ensure convictions.

"You have repeatedly said to the office that the military panel will be handpicked and will not acquit these detainees and that we only needed to worry about building a record for the review panel," he said.
Kudos to MAJ Preston and CPT Carr for putting what's right over careerism.

Len on 08.01.05 @ 12:01 PM CST [link] [ | ]

New blogroll addition

Dr. Abby's Dr. Dad (who most totally rocks) has just launched a new group blog, 3 Old Men. Apparently Dr. Dad's already got a couple posts up, and they look good. Go give him some love and encouragement, now!

Len on 08.01.05 @ 09:57 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Bush give world "the finger" again; in other news, dog bites man....

Reuters informs us that this morning President Bush gave the U.S. Senate and the rest of the world a hearty "fuck you" by giving "Revoltin' John Bolton" (™ and © MadKane) his expected recess appointment to be U.N. Ambassador.

The silver lining to this dark cloud: Bolton's going to be so ineffective that it'll be fun watching him fuck up. There's simply no way he can be effective at this post, but his ineffectiveness will be so entertaining it'll be worth the price of admission.

Len on 08.01.05 @ 09:39 AM CST [link] [ | ]

From the "So True It May Not Be Funny..." department

From today's Ironic Times:

Congress OKs Far-Reaching Energy Bill
Reaches far into your wallet for big oil companies.

Len on 08.01.05 @ 08:33 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Faux Holiday today?

My sources tell me that it's Girlfriend's Day in the U.S.. I don't know if I buy that; it's the first I've ever heard of it, not to mention that Hallmark doesn't seem to be inundating us with ads for "Girlfriend's Day" cards.

On the other hand, I'm surprised that Hallmark hasn't started marketing "Girlfriend's Day" yet; that seems to be about the only neo-Valentine's Day "supplement" they haven't come up with yet...

Len on 08.01.05 @ 08:05 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Thought for the Day:

You don't need to be a Kraftwerk fan to know that Germans are as famous for their precision-engineered electronic music as they are for their automobiles.
--Philip Sherburne

Len on 08.01.05 @ 06:46 AM CST [link] [ | ]

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